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SE Asia: Buy tours online before departure or at destination?

Posted by WEBLACKBURN on 1/12/2017 at 07:48

My wife and I will be leaving for SE Asia and the Philippines the end of January 2018 for 6 weeks. I have researched tours/excursions via the internet for weeks, and now wonder if it is best to wait until I arrive to book.
Some of the web sites I have used:
Travel fish
Tours by Locals
Backstreet Academy
Tuk Tuk Safari Tours
Trip Advisor
Cruise Critic

We start in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia and pick up a cruise in Hong Kong for the last two weeks of the journey. I would appreciate any comments or advice on the following itinerary.

Phnom Pehn (3 days) Massage, Russian Market, Killing Fields, Royal Palace on our own

Siem Reap (3 days) Angkor Wat via Tuk Tuk hire there
"Cambodian Experience" buy online Backstreet Academy $52USD pp

Vientiane, Laos (3 days) Tuk Tuk Safari Tours "Live Lao for a day" $70USD pp

Luang Prabang (3 days) "Living Land Organic Farm" $30USD pp

Chiang Rai (3 days) Mekong River trip/Karen Hill Tribe/Golden Triangle still researching
White Temple and tour town on our own

Chiang Mai (3 days) "Flight of the Gibbon" $130 USD pp
Asia Scenic Cooking School 800-1200 baht pp

Bangkok (4 Days) Pandan Tours two private tours
Floating Market $108USD pp
Highlights of Bangkok $108.00pp
"Journey to the Enchanted Kingdom of Siam" dinner show $52.00pp
"Nanta Show" $61.80pp
Hong Kong (2 Days)

Hundred Islands, Philippines (1 day)
Manila (2 days)
Boracay (1 day)
Coron (1 day)
Puerto Princesa (1 day)
Koto Kinabalu (1 day)
Bandar Seri Begawan (1 day)
Kuching (1day)
Singapore Fly back to USA

I will continue to refine and research these destinations. We have booked all our flights and hotels/guesthouses so spending more or less time in a city is not an option.

Thanks for your help.

#1 WEBLACKBURN has been a member since 29/10/2017. Location: United States. Posts: 1

Posted by somtam2000 on 1/12/2017 at 23:49 admin


I think it depends a bit on the individual and, as with hotels, sometimes you'll get a better price booking online, sometimes you won't. Also, as with hotels, some of the best tours fill up and it can be disappointing to hold out on making a reservation, hoping for a better price, only to find there is no availability on the day.

It also depends on you as a traveller, if you prefer to have your ducks in a row so to speak before starting your trip or would prefer to leave some flexibility.

Lastly, bear in mind that any tours you find online are, well, only the operators who have an online presence. For every "city tour" you find online, they'll be a raft of other local operators without an online presence (they may be better or worse—no guarantees!)

I'm not personally familiar with any of the tours you've mentioned though I do know that Backstreet Academy has an excellent reputation. Flight of the Gibbon in Chiang Mai also has reliably good reviews. We have a brief review of it here.

With the Floating Market tour, if it is to Damnoen Saduak Floating market, I'd suggest you may want to reconsider as it is a real tourist trip. We have a summary of some of the floating markets here.

The dinner shows are often very competitively priced online, just make sure you are comparing apples with apples—watch out for poor seating or no transfers to the restaurant/show venue.

Hope that helps!

#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,097

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