Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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

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  • Reviewed June 2018
    Mark Gilbert

    Cycle

    Great trip with lots to see apart from the cycling. Temples,monkeys etc Great guide and team. Would recommend this trip 👌🏻

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Angkor temple.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Probably the best guide I’ve had (rit) and I’ve been on a few trips now.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Jonathan Dusheiko

    Cycling in Indochina

    This was my first cycling trip and really enjoyed it. Great local food and some interesting sightseeing on the trip as well.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Angkor Wat for the first time as we cycled around the various temples.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nut was excellent, very easy-going attitude which made us all relax.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I took a Fabric air-cushioned saddle which was comfortable although still needed padded boxers for the longer 90km days. It is really hot and humid, Buff head band (they do one specifically for cycling) stopped sweat going in my eyes. The Requiem exhibition of photographs by photographers who were killed during the wars in Indochina on the top floor of the War Remnants Museum in Saigon is unmissable. BBQ garden is a nice outdoor restaurant in Saigon near the Independence Palace.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I noticed in Vietnam we were using disposable plastic cups for lime juice breaks when should be reusable as per in Thailand.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    john dingley

    South East Asia in 14 days !

    A great trip, supported by 3 very good teams. The riding was fairly easy - very flat with hardly an incline - , with a great bunch of fellow riders. I dont think we saw the best of Thailand, and it felt like we were out of the country as soon as we started. Temples and Pagodas was the theme of most of the trip, and they didn't dissapoint. We saw monkeys and elephants - too breifly. A lot of people on our trip were more interested in the wildlife, a bit of a shame that more wasnt made of that. Cambodia stole our hearts ! The people were so freindly, the surroundings straight out of "national geographic" pages. A country with such a sad history, but certainly worth a visit on it's own.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The boarder crossing from Thailand to Cambodia was an experience not to be missed - but the highlight of the 2 weeks had to be the temples in Siem Reap. Not only Angkor Wat, but so many other stunning temples to see.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    It was difficult to gel with the team - having 3 teams and 3 bikes in such a short period of time. Because of that, the team leader wasn't as "prominent" as other trips because - in his own words - he was the general manager rather than the tour guide. However, Chai looked after us very well and allowed us to build up a bit of steam on longer sections.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    In Seam Reap, head straight for Pub Street - a very lively atmosphere, not to be missed ! The 5am start to Angkor Wat to see the sunrise, was very much an anticlimax for the views, but worth doing just for the atmospehere of 3000 people at stupid-o-clock all racing there by tuk-tuk. When in Phnom Penh, take an evening river cruise - 2 hours up and down the waterways which was very cheap.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The long, long coach trip from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh was mind numbingly tedoius and was a wasted day. You can fly between the 2 cities for $20, i cant understand why that wasnt an option, you might want to consider it. More should have been made of the "elephant farm" or whatever is was that we passed in Thailand.
  • Reviewed March 2018
    Allistair Stark

    A great mix of temples, scenery and cycling

    Fantastic temples, fantastic food, relatively easy cycling. Wonderful people. You don't need to be a regular cyclist to do this tour - if you follow the Exodus guide on getting cycling fit, you will have no problem. Bus support was excellent, for anyone that got sick, or just didn't fancy a particular cycle etc. The mix of visiting iconic sites like Angkor Wat/ Angkor Thom etc was just right for us. The cycling is nearly flat all the way from Thailand to the Mekong, and the expected/required cycling pace was relaxed. The only issue is heat; the temperature even in 'winter' was low to mid 30 celsius; regular water stops are provided, and acclimatisation helps. The hotels were either excellent - particularly the choices at Start/Finish in Bangkok and Saigon, and also in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and Chau Doc, or otherwise pretty good elsewhere. Almost everywhere had air conditioning, and where not, fans.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The greetings and general friendliness of all local people; particularly children. Quite amazing.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Chaiya Jaisodsai or Chai, who was just great. He made everything so easy for us, and kept everything running smoothly. He introduced himself to us as our General Manager, there to do anything he could to make things easier for us. His favourite phrase was 'No problem', no matter what the issue was, and it really didn't seem to be, even when he was attempting to 'herd cats' ie our group! Exodus has a policy of local guides in each of the countries; Chai being Thai, did the Thailand bit, but we had separate local guides at Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and in Vietnam. The bike teams also change (as do the bikes) at the borders, but Chai stayed with us throughout, so crossing the borders was a breeze with him in control, not to mention him completing almost all of the paperwork for all eighteen of us the nights before! Amongst the other things he organised for us he also got us to eat street foods, which we may not have done without him , such as stuffed frog, tarantulas, crickets etc. Overall we cannot thank him enough.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Cycling: If you are not a regular cyclist, do cycle before going to get saddle fit. (We are not cyclists, and in our early sixties, but did some cycling for three months leading up to going; the Exodus guide provides good advice, though we didn't rigorously follow it) Do take your own cycle/pedals if you have them. Changing them is no problem at all for the cycle team. Do wear padded cycle shorts, and do follow the advice on wearing nothing under them, it just adds to friction. (I was sceptical of this, but am now a convert) Clothes are very easily washed and dried overnight in almost all rooms. The group leader can easily arrange full laundry which is very cheap, but generally only where you are staying more than one night (Siem Reap/Phnom Penh) Consider using or taking Sudocrem or other moisturiser/antiseptic to prevent or treat chafe. The bikes are mountain bikes with disc brakes, so if you take a front pannier, remember that the handlebars are quite thick and your attachments may well not fit. Ours didn't and we were not the only ones! Some in the group had bought relatively cheap velcro fitting ones from Decathlon, which had long velcro straps and fitted well. You will want some way of carrying your camera, phone, and those of us that carried a small rucksack got very sweaty backs. All the bikes have water bottle holders. Water stops are numerous, electrolyte powders were provided, along with a huge amount of snacks with every water stop. We didn't bring our own energy bars etc, and there was absolutely no need to. Cities: If you want to see Bangkok, consider adding extra days at the beginning, this will also allow acclimatisation to the heat. Similarly, consider added a night or two at the end if you want to see Saigon, otherwise there is really very little time to see either. Insects: Malaria is not a problem on this route, but other mosquito borne illnesses like Dengue are, so bite avoidance is important, you will need DEET! If going again we would also buy a knockdown fly spray, as not all the rooms in the hotels were mosquito free, and also to spray under the mosquito net in the homestay on the Mekong (plenty of mosquitoes there!). We would also take a plug in type mosquito coil with tablets for the same reasons.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The only other comment, is really for Exodus. The bus journey from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh is about 6 - 7 hours, and is unavoidable. It was broken for us by lunch at an ancient temple site which we were shown round (apparently a new feature of this years tour), which was great and in our opinion fully worthwhile even though it added some time to the journey time, and by a coffee stop and to taste tarantulas at Skuon, all good fun. But..... the bus we had for this part of the journey was far too small and uncomfortable for this length of trip. We know this sounds like a first world complaint, but the minibuses in Thailand were comfortable, and the bus used for short trips around Phnom Penh was huge and comfortable, so why the small cramped bus (with some bags having to be stored in the cabin) for the longest journey we did?
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Helen Hand

    Wonderful,..but no hairdryer!

    This trip had it all, three amazing countries, good accommodation, wonderful food, excellent company and the most personable, knowledgable, competent guides. We crossed two borders, changed bikes and teams and had one unfortunate incident but all was dealt with professionally and seamlessly. Nut, Mr Tao, Kong, Linn and all those whose names I have forgotten, or cannot spell, were so lovely, they managed to stay cheerful, introduced us to some fantastic eating places, kept us all fed watered and entertained throughout. I think Nut’s guitar playing had the edge over Linn’s singing but both were memorable. All three counteries have so much history, it was truly fascinating and left us wishing we had longer to explore. We learnt so much about rice growing, tapioca, rubber, palm sugar, knife making, spring roll making and the effects of snake wine (don’t try it wearing Lycra Rob). I also learnt how to survive two nights without a hairdryer, helmet head is not a pretty sight! Based on this whistle stop experience we shall certainly return, the cycle Vietnam trip is calling! A big thank you to everyone from Exodus, and to the other wonderful people on the trip for making the whole experience so memorable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The killing fields. How did the world allow that to happen. Cycling through the little villages in Vietnam was just beautiful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Amazing.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Just throw yourself into it and make the most of every moment.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Nope
  • Reviewed February 2018
    Rob Kemmer

    Cycling Indochina & Angkor

    The trip was a retirement present to myself and in the months between booking and departing I had intended to get many miles under my (too large) belt. When the time came to leave I was more than a little anxious as I hadn't exactly hit my training targets, had never done this kind of holiday before and was travelling alone. From the moment I first stepped on to the bike I knew that my fears were unfounded, The trip was among the best holidays I have ever taken. The cycling was wonderful, the scenery and ancient sites beautiful, the staff, support, equipment and organisation exemplary and the food delicious and cheap. The accommodation ranged from very good to more modest hotels but all were clean and had en suite facilities. I had paid a single room supplement and was a litle disappointed to be sharing (for one night only) in the delighful "homestay" but this was a very minor inconvenience. The group was large and diverse but here was huge companionship, support and banter between us and the staff ensured that both stronger cyclists and less experienced had plenty of fun and challenge. It was brilliant to experience three different countries and cultures. In each the local tour guides gave interesting and educational background to visits. This part of the world has had more than its share of troubles and it was brilliant to see how each country is responding and developing. Throughout, the local people were welcoming and friendly - in Vietnam, for example, we were greeted by high-fiving children and shouts of "hello" at every village. The days ranged from some long rides in the sun to occasional bus transfers and shorter excursions but all were punctuated by the excellent snack van providing lovely refreshments and fresh water at very regular intervals. In summary I loved it, was sad when it finished and am already browsing the web for the next adventure.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Angkor Wat was simply stunning and the visit to the Killing Fields and prison in Cambodia deeply moving . However for me the high point was more banal. When I was speeding into the lakeside lunch stop after about 45K on day 3, I was on the wheel of the day's cycling leader who turned to me and simply said "strong" and I got such an ego boost. The upshot was that half way through the afternoon I blew up and finished the day near the end of the finishers...but hey it was worth it!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nut was a brilliant tour leader. He was professional, friendly and fun, briefing us well before each day/stage, resolving any problems, taking us to some great restaurants and he also plays a mean guitar.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The trip notes reccommended bringing faourite snacks, gels, fist aid kit etc. None of this was necessary as we were well provided throughout and they took up valuable space in my luggage that I would more usefully have filled with more cycling jerseys, given the heat and humidity on the road. Make sure you have plenty of space on your camera/phone. There was so much to see.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I was posting pictures and short narratives on social media whilst away and these got more "Likes" than anything I have ever posted... says it ll.
  • Reviewed December 2017
    Anthony Lorbach

    Indochina is fantastic

    I booked this trip after doing the Vietnam cycling trip in February. I had really enjoyed that one and suddenly found myself with time off before Christmas, and with the threat of a cold Canadian winter looming, I decided to get some sun while I could. For a Canadian the logistics of this trip required getting the Vietnam visa ahead of time (Thailand didn't need one and Cambodia offered the ability to get one ahead or at the border). Luckily, having been there recently, my Visa came back quickly. The cost was prohibitive for the few days I would be there, but I enjoyed the country so much last time that I couldn't resist. Our guide was professional and knowledgeable. We also had local guides for Cambodia and Vietnam to augment his knowledge. The organization was top notch and things went smoothly, despite having to cross two land borders and meet up with bus drivers and local mechanics, trucks, and bikes. Everything was waiting and prepared for us. I needed pedals installed, but that was taken care of very quickly (three times) and efficiently. Three countries provided lots of different scenery, different food, and slightly different riding conditions. I saw rolling countryside, lots of livestock, rivers, rice paddies, lakes, vegetation....I am biased, but I liked Vietnam the most. The sights built into the tour were awesome and important. I am glad I went and I do not regret it for an instant. The accommodations on the Vietnam only trip were better than the ones on this trip, but there is nothing to complain about on this trip. Rooms were clean and air conditioned. Our group was small so that allowed for a bit more customization to meet our needs that might not have been possible with a bigger group. I appreciated that our guide worked with us. If you want to read more about my trip, I blogged about it almost every day (December 2 onward). Here is a link to the blog. If you have trouble finding it through the dates, look under the My Travels heading. https://todaysperfectmoment.wordpress.com/ I will definitely do another cycling holiday (when finances allow) though I am not sure where. When I got home, the new catalogue was waiting in my mailbox.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing Angkor Wat was amazing. Eating delicious street food for pennies was pretty awesome too. Sitting in the Foreign Correspondents Club in Phnom Penn, drinking a cocktail while overlooking the waterfront was brilliant. Cycling over the new Dam in Thailand was fantastic.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    My group leader was knowledgeable about the locations, terrain, history and took time to answer any questions we had. He was a good cyclist, and took care of the group. Because our group was so small, we had more options than a bigger group would have had.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light. There are several opportunities to do laundry for a low price in each country. The food is amazing--and the beer tastes pretty good too. There is quite a bit of cycling packed into the first few days, so be prepared. There are not too many hills on this trip so you needn't worry about your ability.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    You will not regret taking this trip.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Vicki Nunn

    Cycling, food, temples, boats, villages, history, villages and cities - a great and varied fortnight!!

    Like cycling Kerala & the a Tropical South (which I can totally recommend) this was another wonderfully varied trip. Loved the fact that there were many cultural, religious, historical and culinary experiences intermingled with cycling in a great part of the world. The cycling in Thailand was not as scenic as we'd hoped but the food and stops to see temples, rubber plantations, etc. made the long cycling days more interesting. We changed bikes 3 times (different bikes and back up teams in each country) which was not ideal but crossing the busy border between Thailand and Cambodia was a highlight for us (like India without the saris!). It was very hot and humid and some of the fairer people were sunburnt on the cloudy days!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    No one thing! The variety of experiences was the best thing about the trip.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nut was great - he looked after us all very well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pad your saddle (take your own if comfy) and not yourself - padded cycling shorts were very unpleasant (they just became tight, sweaty/wet and hot). We ended up cycling in loose thin white t-shirts with loose thin shorts and walking sandals and found that to be most comfortable. You are on a holiday cycling through rural villages after all and not in the Tour de France!!). Despite the trip notes advice most of our group avoided taking anti-malarials and just used repellant (Incognito worked well and avoided nasty DEET products) and many didn't cover up but only one or two bites across the 18 of us were had! As always, an extra day or two at the end of the trip to just decompress and reflect on all you have seen and done is a good call - cocktails and reminiscence by the pool on our first full day in Saigon was a real highlight! And the Water Puppet show in Saigon is a must - bizarre but totally mesmerising!!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you don't like cycling with your bottom in the air, a handlebar extender may be worth taking as in Thailand and Cambodia the bikes had wide and low handlebars which several of us found uncomfortable.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    Peter Baylis

    Cycling Three Countries

    The whole holiday was a great adventure and turned out to be even better than we hoped it would be! So much to see and do, we packed so much in it felt like we had been away for a month! Cycling allowed you to get to see bits of the countries that you would never normally get close too on other types of holidays -Brilliant!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Depends what you call inspirational but the thing that sticks in my mind , is coming around a corner in Vietnam to be faced by hundreds of children, who all turn and look at you and start screaming "hello" and waving at you -made you feel like some sort of Rock Star!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Chai was excellent and looked after us all the way. His knowledge allowed us to stop and try local things as we cycled through the countryside, something you would think twice about if he wasn't with us. Learnt a lot about the local culture from him.
  • Reviewed November 2017
    NICHOLA CARTER

    Absolutely Fabulous Holiday.

    Well where do I start? This holiday was one big adventure from the start, right to the end. I saw and learnt so much.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    So many inspirational moments but I think meeting so many Cambodian people who so friendly and happy, even though their country went through such a terrifying ordeal. They always had a big smile on their faces.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our tour leader Chai was always so professional and calm and so knowledgeable. He always greeted us with a big smile and always did his absolute best to look after us. I just hope Exodus realise what an asset he is to their company.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't bother taking Cambodian and Vietnamese currencies. Just take Thai Baht and US Dollars. Baggy shorts over your cycling shorts was enough to get you into most temples. Take your own saddle or saddle gel cover. I took the saddle I did all my training in and I didn't have a sore bottom all holiday. Try as much of the different food you can.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I am already looking at booking another Exodus holiday for next year. Everything was looked after and prepared for us and the whole holiday ran on rails (or should I say ran on bicycles?).
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