Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

Simply use the selector below to search our trip reviews and start reading real feedback from real Exodus travellers who have ‘been there and done that’!

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  • Reviewed August 2018
    Lynne Hopkins

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    I really enjoyed the trip. Japan was everything I expected and more. So much so that I want to return in the next couple of years. I loved the fact that quite a few of the train journeys were made by bullet train. We were fortunate to be in Tokyo whilst the Cherry Blossom was in flower. Big tick on the bucket list.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed Kyoto. One of the reasons I want to return to Japan is to spend some more time in Kyoto. One of the highlights was the first sighting of Mount Fuiji - from the bullet train. Don’t think you can get more iconic than that. I enjoyed Matsumoto. I could have spent another day / half day there. Standing in Hiroshima at the iconic site of the exhibition hall was thought provoking. Takayama was good. Actually there wasn’t a location I didn’t like. I omitted the trip to see the snow monkeys though, choosing to spend a morning in Obuse instead to visit the Hokusai museum and wander round the town before rejoining the group.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa was wonderful. So calm, patient and organised. Nothing was too much trouble. She helped me plan out the train journey to Obuse. She did a good job of herding us and keeping us together, especially in the face of one or two individuals who didn’t always appreciate the importance of timing and one who I think was seeking travel advice for an extended stay that was over and above Misa’s remit.....

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Fantastic trip. Was a once in a life time for me but I would love to return. Japan was everything I expected and more.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Lynne Hopkins

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    I really enjoyed the trip. Japan was everything I expected and more. So much so that I want to return in the next couple of years. I loved the fact that quite a few of the train journeys were made by bullet train. We were fortunate to be in Tokyo whilst the Cherry Blossom was in flower. Big tick on the bucket list.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I enjoyed Kyoto. One of the reasons I want to return to Japan is to spend some more time in Kyoto. One of the highlights was the first sighting of Mount Fuiji - from the bullet train. Don’t think you can get more iconic than that. I enjoyed Matsumoto. I could have spent another day / half day there. Standing in Hiroshima at the iconic site of the exhibition hall was thought provoking. Takayama was good. Actually there wasn’t a location I didn’t like. I omitted the trip to see the snow monkeys though, choosing to spend a morning in Obuse instead to visit the Hokusai museum and wander round the town before rejoining the group.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa was wonderful. So calm, patient and organised. Nothing was too much trouble. She helped me plan out the train journey to Obuse. She did a good job of herding us and keeping us together, especially in the face of one or two individuals who didn’t always appreciate the importance of timing and one who I think was seeking travel advice for an extended stay that was over and above Misa’s remit.....

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Fantastic trip. Was a once in a life time for me but I would love to return. Japan was everything I expected and more.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Helen & Joe Winkler

    Great Trip

    We had booked this trip to mark our 40th wedding anniversary and it did not disappoint. The travel arrangements all worked very well and our accommodation was of a very good standard. We had a brilliant guide, who introduced us to a series of memorable experiences, including our first taste of authentic Japanese cooking. The trip lived up to our expectations and was very much in line with what had been set out in the Trip Notes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    In no particular order...... Seeing Mt Fuji appear through the clouds Travelling on the Shinkansen......seriously quick! Seeing the contrast between the countryside and the built up areas as we travelled around Walking The Philosophers Path in Kyoto.....very peaceful Seeing the macaques at Yukanada...the babies in particular were very entertaining Experiencing early morning rush hour on the Tokyo Metro Appreciating the cleanliness of the country...no litter to be seen anywhere Feeling welcome in a strange land

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa is an excellent leader and nothing was too much trouble for her. She went out of her way to make sure that we all enjoyed our time in Japan. On arriving in our hotel room in Kyoto on the first evening, we found that she had left us a card and gift for our anniversary. The daily arrangements for travel were a masterclass in organisation, always done with a smile. Misa gave up her own time to make sure that we could all make the most of our free days. Some of the group found the food choices challenging, so Misa put a lot of effort into finding dishes to suit their dietary requirements. We learned a lot about Japanese culture and history from Misa and her charm and grace was simply an extension of how we were received by Japanese people in general.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Realise that the food in Japan is totally different from what you are used to. Read the Trip Notes carefully and bring your own snacks and/or be prepared to shop in the local small supermarkets. We had never eaten Japanese before and found that most things were delicious. Everywhere you go, the toilets are spotless. Most do not have hand dryers or paper towels, so do as the Japanese do and carry a small towel or flannel with you for hand drying. There is quite a bit of walking and steps, so make sure you have your walking legs on!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It’s a great experience, well worth trying.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Rita Manni

    An unforgettable holiday

    I loved this trip! We have seen a variety of places and we have learnt learn so much about the Japanese culture. Overall this trip is well organised and I thing that there is a good balance between free and organised time.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I really enjoyed staying at the ryokans, the meals we had there and the onsen experience. The most memorable temple was Daishō-in on the island of Miyajima. The atmosphere was amazing and it felt very spiritual. I found the visit to Hiroshima and the Peace Memorial Park and Museum very touching It was great to be able to see the snow mountain monkeys and spot Mt Fuji from our hotel room window in Tokyo! I loved all the food that we have been able to try Last but not least I loved the kindness and the composure of the Japanese people, their respect towards other people and nature, the technology, the cleanliness ... In a nutshell, I will treasure every moment.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Misa is very organised, knowledgeable, kind and patient. She was very attentive and always made sure we were all right. She has given us very good tips of what to do in our free time. One evening, when she should have been free to rest, she has accompanied me and my husband to the district of Gion in Kyoto's as we had not been able to go with the rest of the group on the previous evening due to personal commitments. She also accompanied the group to Hakone for a day trip on her free day. She has definitively go out of her to ensure all the participants had a good time and has thought us a lot of the Japanese culture.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In our group there were people with very specific dietary needs. I think that they have found it a bit difficult at times to find the right food for them. People with special dietary needs (e.g. vegan, vegetarian, coeliac) might find it a bit challenging to find the right food for them at all times.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would love to go back one day!
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Jim and Rachel

    The serene and the frantic

    A good balance of the ancient and modern, as the trip title suggests. Travelling by public transport helps to convey the flavour of "normal" life in the country rather than a whistle-stop tour of "tourist" destinations.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The overall sense of order and respect for others, even in crowded city centres. The attention given to presentation - of food and everything else.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka took great trouble to ensure we optimised our time by being fully prepared: helpful annotated maps, advice on tickets, and so forth. She took us to a variety of types of restaurant for the optional meals, which are not in the programme, but where in fact the majority of the group chose to eat together. And she was great fun !

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't worry about whether it's cherry blossom time: there are plenty of beautiful sights anyway. Be prepared to pay cash for meals if the group eat together.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The first ryokan didn't quite live up to expectations; it was in a more urban environment than we'd imagined.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Grahame Erskine

    A great experience, a wonderful country and an amazing tour leader.

    A fantastic tour with so much to see in such a short time. Our group leader (Ayaka Tsukamoto) kept us informed of historical and cultural details throughout the tour and she also went out of her way to ensure that everybody was able to get what they wanted from the free time available..

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It is difficult to choose any single inspirational moment from the serenity of the temples when you got away from the crowds, the friendliness of the people or the rush you feel when bullet trains go shooting through the stations at high speed. However, we were lucky to have fantastic views of Mount Fuji on a fun jaunt around Hakone on the various modes of transport.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka Tsukamoto was a brilliant tour leader who was tireless in her enthusiasm and commitment to ensuring we had a fantastic and fulfilling tour. Even on our free days she helped by ensuring we used the most effective transport to maximise our time and in recommending places to visit and where to eat. She took us to restaurants that we would not normally have chosen and these were some of the best restaurants that provided us with great experiences along with the authentic cuisine. Throughout the tour she kept us informed of historical and cultural details and amused us with her anecdotes that gave us an insight into growing up in Japan.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    This is a tour with lots of walking and some long days so that you get the most out of your time on holiday. Using public transport gives you more contact with the friendly Japanese people and is much more ecological than using coaches.
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Jane Twohig

    AOP 180512

    I have just returned from AOP 180512,it was quite a rewarding trip, we saw lots in our travels there was great variety from the rural countryside and small towns to the wonder that is Tokyo.It might be an idea to indicate in the title that travel is exclusively by train (AOP......by train).We had the most fantastic hotel in Kyoto, our hotel in Tokyo was very good also,both were next door to the subway which made travelling around very easy,all train stations have english signs and announcements.There are many many historical and cultural sights to visit and lots of shopping opportunities. This country has everything. It also feels very safe,people can leave their belongings unattended. I witnessed this on several occasions. There are lots of food options also.......

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many moments that come to mind Mount Fuji appearing out of the cloud. The hustle and bustle of Tokyo Visiting Hiroshima Travel by bullet train

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour leader Ayaka Tsukamoto looked after us all very well. She is particularly good at her job,we were always kept supplied with maps that had all the places of interest marked and any other information that we requested. I have a food allergy and she took particular care that food was always suitable for me.I especially thank her for that.......

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack your bags and go....
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Helen Polom

    Ancient and Modern Japan

    A wonderful trip , accompanied by a great bunch of fellow travellers and a guide who made it her job to ensure that we all got the best out of it. We could not possibly have achieved so much in so short a time without the company of our exceptional guide Ayaka who just made everything work like clockwork in the nicest possible way. The whole trip was truly exceptional. Excellent hotel accommodation in Kyoto and Tokyo. The Ryokans are quirky and a good experience of yet another cultural difference. The food at the ryokans was amazing, beautifully presented and a feast for the senses.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Every day provided us with an inspirational moment- In Kyoto the beautiful garden at the Silver Palace, coming across a Geisha in the lamplight outside a tea house, exploring tiny Zen gardens at the minor temples, waiting to begin the most beautifully arranged food all of which is completely alien in looks and flavour. Tokyo, a city of contrasts. It is epic in size and yet manageable via its incredible transport system. Something weird and wacky on every corner. Owl cafes??? Japan has the appearance of familiarity and yet is so culturally different.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka was energetic and enthusiastic. Always on hand to help us make the most of every moment of the trip. Her attention to detail was second to none, ensuring that we managed the busy itinerary and navigated transport systems with ease. In the major cities she provided us with a guide and a transport map that she had annotated with the major sites and suggestions for quirky areas to visit. Always with a smile and an infectious laugh. She gave her time to every person on the trip ensuring that we all gained a personal experience of her country. Her knowledge and information giving was always just enough for us to gain an insight and understanding of the sight or area we were visiting yet she was always willing to expand further to individuals with specific questions. Ayaka was an excellent guide and we would not hesitate to recommend her.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    There is a lot of walking and the pace is fast so you need comfortable and water proof shoes Take an umbrella or buy one when you arrive. When it rains it can be torrential! Be prepared for early starts and very long days. You will often not return to the hotel before 9pm. If you have particular interests research them before you go and your guide will help you to locate shops or museums. Take a good guide book as you will have a free day in Kyoto and another in Tokyo. If you are on the group flight home you will not leave the hotel until 5pm so you have effectively a 2nd free day. Your guide will also be incredibly helpful. Just ask. Breakfasts are not provided. Eating out is possible but local stores sell yoghurts, fruit and some even oats and muesli so easy to have breakfast in your room. The local bakeries are fantastic. The Akibukuro station close to the Tokyo Hotel has an excellent supermarket and takeaway food dept. Consider adding additional days to the end of your trip.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This trip was one of our best. If we didn't have the rest of the world to explore we would return to Japan next year!
  • Reviewed May 2018
    channa ariyadasa

    JOYOUS Japan

    i have been fortunate in doing many trips around the world and i would say that Japan is one of the top 3 countries - why the trip covers the old and extensive past history of Japan - from Shoguns (rather violent times but magnificent buildings, and beautiful artwork) to Hiroshima (moving), and the modern with Tokyo, a city of 13million, and clearly the inspiration for Blade Runner neon city (but without the fog) Japanese people, polite, honesty, impeccable service (only place where you really want to leave a tip - but not allowed too as considered rude), always helpful to lost tourist. I have never visited a country where i have felt so safe at any time of the day

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Hiroshima display was moving. The Silver pavilion in Kyoto, its makes you realise a garden does not have to be just lawn, so beautiful and peacefull But I come back to the Japanese people, I dropped my watch at a Station and some young person ran after me to hand back the watch to me and didnt even wait for me to say thank you

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Ayaka Tsukamoto Clearly in the top 3 of tour leaders i have had with Exodus (around 20 trips) the effort she put in to make sure the trip was wonderful was amazing. On our days off - she spent time making sure we could see everything we wanted and the best way to achieve it i mentioned, just in passing, whether there was an english language Japanese paper - next day there was one at my hotel door we where given guides for each city and in each guide, by hand, each page was circled with things of interest and what would be covered in the tour and where we could go on our days off Ayaka is a very lovely person and was laughing all the time - we were very very lucky to have her Channa

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In Toyko there is two underground companies (Metro/ Toel) and i recommend instead of I/c Pass that you purchase from the ticket office , a metro/toel pass (800 yen- if you have your passport, 900 yen otherwise). Though you can get unused money back from I/C card for 200 yen fee - i found that i kept hopping on and off the tube (easiest way to navigate the city) and would have saved money with the pass Bring an umbrella and good waterproof for the daybag - when it rains it rains heavy all day - there is a reason why Japan is so lush and green
  • Reviewed May 2018
    Gillian Waters

    Fascinating culture, country, food & people

    What we loved about the trip: travelling by excellent, clean & efficient public transport rather than buses. Good mix of tempkes, activities and scenery. Noku hotel in Kyoto was our favourite hotel, excellent location. The people were very friendly, courteous, respectful and helpful. Loved Kyoto and the alps. Tokyo was very tiring. Our guide Ayaka Tsukamoto was very friendly, extremely helpful, great sense of humour, brilliant organisational skills and imparted the right amount of infirmation. What we didn’t like about the trip: Only organise one meal in the first Ryokan instead of 2. The second Ryokan banquet meal was good but the accommodation was very, very old, tired and not very nice at all. The onsens were disappointing too. The description of these experiences didn’t match the reality. Loved the idea of staying in a Ryokan but you need to find better ones, maybe with a nice garden.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The people, culture, efficiency of the transportation system and the food. We organised a trip ourselves to see the Sumo which was excellent and a major highlight. We adored Kyoto and the geishas, the little old streets and the Noku hotel was our favourite of the trip. We loved the alps and the scenery too. Our favourite temple of the trip was a slightly weird one on Miyajimi island which our guide recommended- excellent.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely brilliant. Very friendly, organised, great sense of humour, always made sure everyone was OK and knew how to get to things they wanted to do in their spare time. She was hilarious, great fun and showed us many thinfs we would never have seen on our own. Would have liked to have known a bit more about Japanese peopke’s lives and how things work e.g. health service but it’s very difficult when using public transport. It’s not like being on a bus for hours with the whole group when such information coud be shared with everyone at the same time. Ayaka was always happy to answer our individual questions.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do the Hakone trip. We didn’t and regretted it. I think it should be part of the itinerary rather than an option. Trip notes need updating. Easy to obtain cash from Seven Eleven stores so you don’t need to being loads of cash. We used cards quite easily for meals etc, just not small purchases. We spent a lot less than expected. Wifi was excellent in all types of lodgings. Tip! Use the hotel’s mobile phone in Tokyo and fiwnload the Tokyo metro and google maps. Brilliant! Saved us a lot of time. Tip! Buy a 2 or 3 day metro/subway card. It aaves a lot of money and makes moving around a lot eadier. You need your passport to purchase one though. Book Sumo tickets if it’s on. Very interesting and brilliant fun.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    No.
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