I am planning a trip round Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in September 2014. I will be travelling by myself and it's my first time in Sourth East Asia. I have been researching the tour group - Stray. Just wanted to know if anyone had used them/your thoughts??
I think it may be safer then me flying solo however I want a proper 'travelling' experience and think this may be a bit commercial??
Thanks in advance for any help!!!
#1 nikkihuss has been a member since 8/4/2014. Posts: 2
By definition, you will not get much traction from the contributors on this website to the idea of a tour group.
I have never heard of them, nor have I ever used a tour group for any of my travels. They are overpriced and spend a minimal amount of time in each place, often just shepherding you up to a famous sight to take a few pictures before you get back on a bus. Your desire to have a "proper travelling experience" would be severely compromised should you use one of these.
SEA is one of the easiest parts of the world to get around, there is literally a service for anything you could imagine. I think if you have a modicum of common sense and take the usual precautions (particularly in relation to bus and train operators) then you should be fine.
Apologies if that's not the answer you were after.
#2 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
There is no "proper" travelling experience. Whatever gets you out of your comfort zone and into the world is great.
I've participated in a few tour groups in my travels and actually had positive experiences with them. They have been in Australia, Turkey, and Baja California. The advantages are that planning is easy, you've got a ready-made group of friends for your trip, and you'll often get to places you would never get to as an independent traveler. The disadvantages, as china says, are the one-size-fits-all approach, and that you won't get to decide where you go or how long you'll stay.
I've never done a tour group in Southeast Asia, however, because as china so correctly points out, SEA is one of the easiest parts of the world to get around. If you are looking to jump start your trip, going solo as you are, then maybe book a short tour for the first few days or just the first country. Day trips are also a great way to meet people, have a shared experience with others, and get to an out-of-the-way place that might be more expensive to visit on your own.
Decide what fits your style. Tour groups certainly work for some folks, but indi travel is what most Travelfishers crave. Mix it up. Have fun. Cheers.
I think it's safe to assume that every person on this board will agree with the statements above: that it's easy and safe to travel around SE Asia on your own.
That said, if you're fairly new to travelling and uncertain about doing it solo, there's nothing wrong with starting with a tour group - to get your feet wet (and give yourself a bit of confidence) before you set out on your own. You don't mention how long your trip is going to be: you mention 3 countries so I'm assuming it's longer than a couple of weeks, so you could always book a week's trip around one particular area (say, Northern Vietnam), then set off on your own to continue your exploration.
Actually just reread the above post and realised that's almost exactly what Exacto said.... so, ditto!
I like doing day tours. Sea has heaps and they r cheap.
Problem with 2 to 3 week tours is lack of flexibility and constant moving. U get trucked around like cattle.
Also u get stuck with the same group of people. Its nice to get out and meet the locals or others.
If u only have 3 weeks pick 1 country and see a few nice spots well.
Rushing around like a mad fly isnt fun.
#5 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
I thought the idea with Stray is that you can hop on / hop off the bus, and stay as long as you want at a destination. So it's not a tour in the true sense... but maybe I'm wrong on that. To see what others think about stray just google on ''Review Stray bus'' or similar and see what comes up. I'd suspect most people on this forum don't use the tour groups...
I agree with the posts above. SEA is very easy to get around by yourself. However, one of the advantages of a tour (whether it be Stray, or something like Intrepid Tours which I've heard is also very good) is that you have some company as well. It can be hard to travel on your own at times, and sometimes you just want to hang out with some 'friends' for awhile. Tours are a good way to do this.
Maybe plan to do a short tour (one week or so) just to get you started and to ease you into it. If you like the tour concept, then continue on. If you think you can manage on your own, then do it. Going on your own gives you lots of flexibility to go where you want, when you want, whereas a tour is more rigid. On the other hand, a tour will take the hard work out of working where to stay, and getting from A to B. But all that is relatively easy in SEA.
thank you so much for all of this help and information! I think its all a bit daunting although I really like the idea of taking a few mini tours (I hadn't thought of that) and seeing how I go from there- great advice, thank you!
#7 nikkihuss has been a member since 8/4/2014. Posts: 2
Asia has day tours galore. All the major cities have like 12-15 tours to choose from. The major thai islands all have snorkeling and kayaking tours. Tours booked in sea are much cheaper than paying some company back home.
People normally do tours in Africa or south America when they have limited time and worry about safety and transport isn't as efficient. SEA has plenty of airports and it's so easy to move around.
#8 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148