Best Asia Cruises 2018 – 2019

Here are my top picks for cruises to Asia for 2018 – 2019.

seabourn-cavier-and-champagne-in-the-surf

 

1. Go to India, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka

Relax and explore on this 18-day cruise from Bangkok to Mumbai on the Oceania Nautica. On sea days relax and enjoy the amazing cuisine. Destinations include a busy two-night stay in Yangon and Colombo.  Also, upon booking all guests get to choose between a FREE 3-Night Essence Of Bangkok Pre-Cruise Land Tour or a FREE 3-Night Taj Mahal: The Eternal Masterpiece Post-Cruise Land Tour.

The 18-day Bangkok to Mumbai cruise costs from $3,999 per person, departing April 11, 2017 (855-623-2642; www.oceaniacrusies.com).

2. Japan Intensive during Sakura Season

Azamara Cruises’ has decided to focus on country intensive cruises. On a 15-day voyage in April 2019, the Quest will sail through Japan during Sakura or Cherry Blossom season. Sailing round-trip from Tokyo, the cruise also visits Nagasaki, Hakodate and Busan, Korea.

The 15-night Tokyo roundtrip cruise costs from $5399 per person, departing April 27, 2019 (877-999- 9553; www.azamaraclubcruises.com). Excludes flights.

3. Asia Seas Exploration

Luxuriate with caviar and champagne on Seabourn’s 21-day cruise from Hong Kong to Kobe in April 2018.  This cruise visits Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and China. Seabourn is the only line to offer a unique combination of multiday stops in ports such as Beijing and Shanghai and stops in lesser-known ports of Yeosu, South Korea and Yantai, China. Finally, depart the Seabourn Sojourn in the Japanese city of Kobe and extend your stay to visit Osaka.

The 21-day Asian Seas cruise costs from $14,999 per person, departing April 24, 2018. Excludes flights. (866-755-5619; seabourn.com). 

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Vacationstogo.com and CostcoTravel, a bit misleading

This morning, I thought I found a fabulous cruise deal for an  RSSC Seven Seas cruise.

According to both Costco Travel and Vacationstogo.com,  a cruise from Singapore to Hong Kong on RSSC Voyager departing on Dec 5, 2017, for 12 nights, is now $6799. Vacationsto go.com claims it is an 84% discount from the brochure price of $42,598. Except on the RSSC site, the brochure rate is listed as $28,598.

The itinerary is below.

Date Port Arrive Depart
Tuesday, December 5 Singapore 6:00pm

Wednesday, December 6 At Sea

Thursday, December 7 Ko Samui, Thailand 8:00am 5:00pm

Friday, December 8 Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Thailand 8:00am

Saturday, December 9 Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Thailand 5:00pm

Sunday, December 10 At Sea

Monday, December 11 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam 8:00am

Tuesday, December 12 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam 4:00pm

Wednesday, December 13 Nha Trang, Vietnam 10:00am 7:00pm

Thursday, December 14 At Sea

Friday, December 15 Sanya, China 8:00am 4:00pm

Saturday, December 16 Hong Kong 4:00pm

Sunday, December 17 Hong Kong Disembark

Most RSSC cruises include: 2-FOR-1 All-Inclusive Fares, FREE Business Class Air on All Intercontinental Flights,  BOTH with FREE Transfers Between Airport and Ship, FREE Pre- or Post-Cruise Land Program, FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions, FREE Unlimited Beverages Including Fine Wines and Premium Spirits, FREE Open Bars and Lounges Plus In-Suite Mini-Bar Replenished Daily, FREE Pre-Paid Gratuities, FREE Specialty Restaurants, FREE Unlimited WiFi.

So, I was really excited until I checked the RSSC site where it states: A savings of up to $6,000 per person is available when arranging your own flights and transfers.

Really, there is no deal. Vacationstogo.com and Costco.com just subtracted the cost of airfare and transfers and listed that as the price on their site.  I got really excited for nothing. This is a case of misleading advertising.

 

Azamara, Oceania and Crystal Cruises: Indian Ocean 2018

In Spring 2018, three cruise lines, Azamara, Crystal and Oceania, each have 18-day cruises and the itineraries include stops in Yangon, Phuket, Mumbai, Colombo, and Cochin.

The question is which line has the best trip.

Azamara

Azamara is the newest of the cruise lines that will be reviewed and has the most inconsistent reviews.  Loyalist to the brand, swear by the AzAmazing Evenings, the smaller ship size, the service and the white party. Others have been less than impressed with the size of the rooms, the age of the ships and the branding of luxury.

Azamara Cruises is part of the Royal Caribbean brand. This line is more inclusive. Included with the price of the cruise is:

  • Select standard spirits, international beers and wines
  • Gratuities
  • Bottled water, soft drinks, specialty coffees and teas
  • Self-service laundry
  • Shuttle service to and from port communities, where available
  • Concierge services for personal guidance and reservations

The Azamara Journey cruise sails on April 8, 2018, to the Indian Ocean.

VOYAGE ITINERARY

 
DATE PORT/CITY ACTIVITY ARRIVAL DEPART
SUN 8-APR Singapore, Singapore Embark 5:00 pm
MON 9-APR Port Klang (Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia Docked 8:00 am 6:30 pm
TUE 10-APR Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia Docked 8:00 am 6:00 pm
WED 11-APR Phuket, Thailand Tendered 8:00 am 2:00 pm
THU 12-APR At Sea Cruising
FRI 13-APR Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma) Docked 9:00 am
SAT 14-APR Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma) Docked
SUN 15-APR Yangon (Rangoon), Myanmar (Burma) Docked 6:00 pm
MON 16-APR At Sea Cruising
TUE 17-APR At Sea Cruising
WED 18-APR At Sea Cruising
THU 19-APR Colombo, Sri Lanka Docked 7:00 am 4:30 pm
FRI 20-APR Kochi, India Docked 1:00 pm 6:00 pm
SAT 21-APR At Sea Cruising
SUN 22-APR Mumbai (Bombay), India Docked 8:00 am 6:00 pm
MON 23-APR At Sea Cruising
TUE 24-APR At Sea Cruising
WED 25-APR Dubai, United Arab Emirates Docked 5:00 pm
THU 26-APR Dubai, United Arab Emirates Debark

Pricing starts at $4009 for an inside cabin.  One potential drawback of this cruise is the amount of time at sea, 7 days. Another potential drawback is the time in ports like Mumbai and Colombo.

Crystal

This all-inclusive cruise line has won every award for luxury. Crystal Cruises is known for consistently delivering an exceptional onboard experience with the best entertainment in its class.

Crystal’s all-inclusive cruise features:

  • Fine dining in eight elegant and distinct venues
  • Six-star service and all gratuities included
  • Innovative modern cuisine and globally inspired specialty menus
  • 24-hour room service
  • Exclusive 360° teak Promenade Deck with sweeping views
  • Fitness Center with state-of-the-art equipment
  • Golf instruction with PGAinstructors
  • Kimonos, Frette bathrobes, and 100% Egyptian cotton linens
  • Unlimited fine wines, champagne, and premium spirits
  • Crystal Visions® Enrichment Series and interactive Ocean Views™
  • Magic Castle® at Sea offering special performances and classes.

On March 28, 2018, Crystal Serenity sails to the Indian Ocean.

VOYAGE ITINERARY

DATE PORTS ARRIVAL DEPART
Mar 28, Wednesday Singapore聽(overnight) Embark pm
Mar 29, Thursday Singapore 5 pm
Mar 30, Friday Kuala Lumpur/Port Kelang, Malaysia 7 am 6 pm
Mar 31 – Apr 01 Phuket, Thailand聽(overnight) 4 pm 5 pm
Apr 02, Monday Cruising the Andaman Sea
Apr 03 – Apr 05 Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)聽(overnight) 4 pm* 4 pm*
Apr 06 – Apr 07 Cruising the Indian Ocean聽(Overnight)
Apr 08 – Apr 09 Colombo, Sri Lanka聽(overnight) 12 n 4 pm
Apr 10 – Apr 11 Cochin, India聽(overnight) 12 n 6 pm
Apr 12, Thursday Mangalore, India 8 am 6 pm
Apr 13, Friday Cruising the Coast of India
Apr 14, Saturday Mumbai (Bombay), India聽(overnight) 7 am
Apr 15, Sunday Mumbai (Bombay), India Disembark am

Pricing starts at $8000 for an outside view cabin.  This is the most expensive cruise reviewed. The potential drawback is that with only four sea days will you get to experience all of the onboard amenities.

Oceania

This cruise line is known as the retiree line although their clientele is no older than Azamara or Crystal. Oceania is also known as the foodie line.  Jacques Pepin is the chef and it consistently delivers intriguing menus. But Oceania is also known for having poor onboard entertainment. Unlike the other two cruise lines, gratuities and alcohol are not inclusive.

On April 11, 2018, Oceania Nautica sails to the Indian Ocean.

VOYAGE ITINERARY

DAY PORT ARRIVE DEPART
Apr 11 Wed Bangkok, Thailand Embark 1 PM 5 PM
Apr 12 Thu Ko Samui, Thailand 10 AM 6 PM
Apr 13 Fri Cruising the Gulf of Thailand
Apr 14 Sat Singapore, Singapore 8 AM 8 PM
Apr 15 Sun Cruising the Strait of Malacca
Apr 16 Mon Phuket, Thailand 8 AM 6 PM
Apr 17 Tue Cruising the Andaman Sea
Apr 18 Wed Rangoon, Myanmar 8 AM
Apr 19 Thu Rangoon, Myanmar
Apr 20 Fri Rangoon, Myanmar 1 PM
Apr 21 Sat Cruising Bay of Bengal
Apr 22 Sun Cruising Bay of Bengal
Apr 23 Mon Colombo, Sri Lanka 2 PM
Apr 24 Tue Colombo, Sri Lanka 3 PM
Apr 25 Wed Cochin (Kochi), India 10 AM 6 PM
Apr 26 Thu Mangalore, India 9 AM 6 PM
Apr 27 Fri Goa (Mormugao), India 8 AM 5 PM
Apr 28 Sat Mumbai, India 9 AM
Apr 29 Sun Mumbai, India Disembark 8 AM

Pricing is different for this cruise. The cruise-only fares for an inside cabin are $4199.  The cruise fare with OLife Choice for an inside cabin is $5699.  The Olife Choice fare includes Bonus Savings, Airfare & Unlimited Internet plus either FREE – 8 Shore Excursions, FREE – Beverage Package or FREE -$800 Shipboard Credit.

The potential drawback of this cruise is paying for gratuities. However, I have seen some cruise specialist offer it as an added amenity for booking through them.

Which is the Best?

Oceania is the winner. Crystal and Oceania have a very similar itinerary. The separator is the Crystal experience. However, based on the port intensity of the cruise, I am not convinced that a cruiser would recognize the value of a Crystal cruise. Also, even with an upgrade to a deluxe ocean view cabin, Oceania is almost $3000 cheaper than Crystal.  Finally, with only 5 non-consecutive days at sea, cruisers avoid boredom with Oceania’s lackluster onboard activities.

 

 

Travel Tools: Testing for cost, flexibility, and inventory

In my last post, I discussed the tools for independent travelers on Avanti Destinations and TripMasters.

In this post, I am testing those tools for cost, flexibility, and inventory.

Create an Itinerary

The first step of the test is to create a generic itinerary.  Do some independent research and know what cities you want to see.   Then, decide what you want to see in each of these cities. This will make it easier to decide how long to stay, is it 3 days or is it 5 days. Decide what types of hotels you are willing to stay in, is it three stars or five stars. Do not decide the specific hotel, it will create rework and heartache.  The tool may not have the specific hotel that you want to stay in. As an example, I wanted  Essence or La Siesta in Hanoi, neither were in the  Avanti or Tripmasters hotel inventory. Finally, decide how you are getting from and to each city on your itinerary.

*Deciding if you are going solo, as a couple or group, is not a step.  I always plan a trip as a solo.  If someone wants to come it is easier to adjust later.

 Steps:

  1. Decide which cities you wish to see
  2. Decide what to see in each city
  3. Decide how long to stay in each city
  4. Decide the type of hotel, 3 stars, 4 stars, 5 stars, in each city
  5. Decide how you are getting from each city; plane, train or automobile

Then plug that information in the tools.

Evaluate the output from the tool

I made the mistake of building my components out in Tripmasters first with the belief I could  utilize Avanti after for comparison. But to compare the companies products, I had to change about 50% of my hotels. Avanti does not have the large inventory  of hotel options that Tripmasters has for Asia.

Why am I mentioning this?  Well, the original itinerary was much cheaper.

After I built the trip in both tools, I created another version using booking.com and ita. Please see below for that itinerary.

International Airfare

Departure Leave Cathay Pacific Mon 20-FEB, 00:45 am JFK Arrive Tue 21-FEB, 05:40 am HKG
3h 50m layover at HKG
Arrive Dragon Air Tue 21-FEB 09:30 am HKG Arrive Tue 21-FEB 11:10 am REP
Total time:22hr 25m
Return Leave Bangkok Airways Wed 15-MAR 09:20 am USM Arrive Wed 15-MAR 10:25 am BKK
1h 15m layover at BKK
Cathay Pacific Wed 15-MAR 11:40 am BKK Arrive Wed 15-MAR 3:35 pm HKG
0h 50m layover at HKG
Arrive Cathay Pacific Wed 15-MAR 4:25 pm HKG Arrive Wed 15-MAR 8:15 pm JFK
Total time: 21hr 55m

Itinerary

Date City Hotel Hotel Room Hotel Price Airline Airline price
21-Feb Siem Reap Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat Explorer 161
22-Feb Siem Reap Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat Explorer 161
23-Feb Siem Reap Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat Explorer 161
24-Feb Siem Reap Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat Explorer 161
25-Feb Burasari Heritage Superior 192 Vietnam Air  Ways 145
26-Feb Luang Prabang Burasari Heritage Superior 192
27-Feb Luang Prabang Burasari Heritage Superior 192
28-Feb Mercure La Gare Standard 72.6 Lao Airways 160
29-Feb Hanoi Mercure La Gare Standard 72.6
1-Mar Hanoi Mercure La Gare Standard 72.6
2-Mar Hanoi Mercure La Gare Standard 72.6
3-Mar Caravalle Double Deluxe 165.66 Vietnam Airways 88
4-Mar Ho Chi Minh Caravalle Double Deluxe 165.66
5-Mar Ho Chi Minh Caravalle Double Deluxe 165.66
6-Mar Riva Surya Deluxe Room 264.44 Vietnam Airways 118
7-Mar Bangkok Riva Surya Deluxe Room 264.44
8-Mar Bangkok Riva Surya Deluxe Room 264.44
9-Mar Siripanna Villa Resort and Spa Deluxe Room 95.51 Thai Smile Airways 58
10-Mar Chiang Mai Siripanna Villa Resort and Spa Deluxe Room 95.51
11-Mar Chiang Mai Siripanna Villa Resort and Spa Deluxe Room 95.51
12-Mar Renaissance Koh Samui Resort and Spa Beach front Pool Villa 636.84 Bangkok Airways 261
13-Mar Koh Samui Renaissance Koh Samui Resort and Spa Beach front Pool Villa 636.84
14-Mar Koh Samui Renaissance Koh Samui Resort and Spa Beach front Pool Villa 636.84
15-Mar Koh Samui

 

Cost

The benefit of using each tool is that you are able to search for everything; flights and hotels in one place.

The negative might be the price.

Avanti Destinations was the most expensive by far, $7930 and I was not able to select the room I wanted in Koh Samui. I assume the trip would be more expensive if I was able to make that adjustment.  Also, the cost of regional flights through Avanti seemed padded when compared to Tripmasters. I am unsure how the same flight on Thai airway was $170 more on Avanti.

Tripmaster and I  were within a few hundred dollars.  Tripmasters was $7230 and I was $6952.

As mentioned above, I priced each of these itineraries as a solo traveler. If you want to do this trip as a couple, either add or subtract the cost of air, $2000.6, then divide by 2. Using Tripmasters version, ($7230+$2000.6)/2 = $4615.

Inventory

As mentioned previously, Avanti has fewer hotel options than Tripmasters.  It also has fewer options with regional flights, in terms of routing. This probably is due to Avanti only using preferred airlines and hotels.  Tripmasters indicates which hotels they prefer but allows you to pick ones they do not prefer.  I think Tripmasters has a more extensive inventory which allows the consumer to decide what is best for them.

Flexibility

Each tool initially requests the same options. However, what they do with it is the key difference.   Avanti makes you choose every option. Tripmasters populates lowest cost options and gives the consumer the ability to change it.  Tripmasters does not allow you to add or delete a city once it starts pricing. Avanti is much more flexible and allows you to add, delete or change the order of cities at any point in the process.

 

Overall, I think Tripmasters is a better tool for planning a trip than Avanti. It has a larger inventory of hotels, it does more of the work for you and it gives more realistic prices.

 

 

 

Tools: Trip Planning

I am in awe of the trip planning tools on Avanti Destinations and Tripmasters.

Each lets you build trips using  components from their inventory of hotels, transfers, day tours and flights.

avanti

Avanti Destination tool

 

However,  the target audience of each is a bit different. Avanti Destinations tool is for travel agents and consumers.  Tripmasters is just for the consumer.

 

Tripmaster

Tripmaster tool

 

Please understand that I am not recommending booking a custom tour through either company. I am only recommending using the planning tools.

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SouthEast Asia: Myanmar the tale of two Tour Operators

Last year, I went a little crazy with the idea that if I was going to SouthEast Asia, I should go to as many countries as possible.   During that period of time, I reached out to two tour operators, Santa Maria and Myanmar Shalom.

According to Fodor and Trip Advisor forums, both operators are very good.

Based on my experience Santa Maria was better at understanding what you wanted and pricing it.

Myanmar Shalom began the experience by sending me a tour meant for someone else. It continued with multiple emails all with some type of mistake and none that represented what I asked for.

As we know, I did not go on the tour but based on my experience organizing it, I would be concerned choosing Myanmar Shalom.

The cost for a 8 day/7 night tour  as detailed below from Santa Maria tours for a solo traveler was $2710

The cost for a 8 day/7 night tour  as detailed below from Shalom Myanmar tours for a solo traveler was $1990

Included:

• All hotel accommodation including breakfast

• All modes of transportation such as:

o Air-conditioned car for all transfers and sightseeing programs

o Private boats for Mingun excursion and Inle Lake sightseeing

o Ferry boat and horse cart for Inwa visit o All domestic flights using private airlines only (Air KBZ, Yangon Airways, Asian Wings, Air Mandalay, Air Bagan)

• English Speaking Guide service for sightseeing tours only (no transfer guide service) as mentioned in the Itinerary

• All entrance fees, excluding museum admission fees • Current Domestic Airlines fuel surcharges

• All Prevailing taxes

Excluded: • Other meals • Any increases in domestic airline fuel surcharges with or without prior notice • Myanmar Visa, Insurance and services not mentioned herein

 

Itinerary 

Day 1: Yangon

 Upon your arrival in Yangon, welcome by our tour guide and transferred to your hotel for check-in. Enjoy private tour and drive through downtown to explore the city centre and its fabulous mix of architecture and sites. The streets are filled with historical buildings many of which have a faded colonial charm not seen elsewhere in Asia. You’ll start at the post office – a lovely historic building, passing by Strand Hotel, Mahabandoola Garden and Independence Monument along the way. Then visit famous Chauk Htat Kyi, home to a 70-meter long reclining Buddha. The feet of the statue carved with traditional symbols and often many locals gathering to pay homage and pray. Photo stop at the Karaweik Hall royal floating barge. Nothing will prepare you for Shwedagon Pagoda, with its glittering gold stupa. At the pagoda observe local pilgrims and monks offering their devotions and enjoy the amazing sunset view at Shwedagon pagoda.

Hotel: KandawGyi Palace Hotel

Day 2: Yangon – Bagan

Early morning flight to Bagan. Begin our exploration by visiting a busy local market and gain an insight into the bustling market atmosphere in Bagan. You will spend the day exploring the architectural masterpieces of this amazing town by visit to a diverse selection of the most important pagodas and temples. In the late afternoon climbing to the top of the Temple for sunset views. Sit back relax and be amazed by the beauty of Bagan as you watch the sun slowly set behind the ancient Pagodas.

Hotel: Aye Yar River

Day 3: Bagan & Villages

More than just temples, our tour introduces you to provide a great overview of Bagan’s history, culture and local lifestyles. Today see the real way of life for most Myanmar people by visiting villages near Bagan to view the local lifestyle. Then you will explore Bagan from a different perspective as you explore the area by Pony cart. The cart can explore areas that cars are unable to enter giving a different feel of Bagan. In the late afternoon transfer to jetty where a private wooden river boat is waiting. Sitting under the shade or on the open-deck you’ll be treated to fabulous views as you cruise down the Irrawaddy River to Shwezigon Pagoda. A private boat tour on the river during sunset time will hopefully show you a spectacular sunset. Relax and enjoy the scenery.

Hotel: Aye Yar River

Day 4: Bagan – Mandalay – Amarapura

Transfer to the airport for your flight to legendary Mandalay, a city of great cultural importance. This morning visit the second most sacred image in Myanmar next to the Shwedagon Pagoda is the Mahamuni Pagoda. Visit local artisan’s workshops of gold leaf making, woodcarving and marble carving. Next visit Golden palace Monastery famous for its intricate woodcarvings. Continue to the Kuthodaw Pagoda, which is known as the world largest book due to the Buddhist scripture carved on 729 marble slabs. Before sunset visit a 200-year-old teak bridge, the most photographic site in Myanmar.

Hotel: Sedona Hotel

Day 5: Mandalay – Irrawaddy River – Mingun

After breakfast you’ll board a private local boat for a trip up the Irrawaddy to Mingun (45 min each way). Visit the Mingun Bell which weighs more than 87 tons and being the world’s largest intact bronze bell, the unfinished Mingun Paya (built with the intention of being the world’s biggest pagoda). Mingun’s other highlight is the Hisnbyume Pagoda, a white-washed temple built to resemble Mount Meru. Throughout Mingun there are small neighborhoods crafting traditional basketry and other artistic items and there is plenty of time to stop and interact with the craftsmen and friendly locals. After returning to Mandalay in the afternoon continues sightseeing and visits the ruined remains of the Royal Palace. This evening, enjoy a commanding overview of the city from the Mandalay Hill.

Hotel: Sedona Hotel

Day 6: Mandalay – Heho – Inle Lake

After breakfast, fly to Heho, gateway to Inle Lake. From Heho drive to NyaungShwe where we pick our boat & transfer to your hotel for check in. Enjoy the full day tour by private boat in Inle lake. Visit the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the most holy religious site in southern Shan State. Be amazed by the local handicrafts, silk weaving, wooden handlooms and traditional blacksmith methods along the way. Visiting Inle Lake is not just about being on the water but also about discovering the Shan and Intha villages on the banks of the river. Pass the endless floating gardens, houses, monasteries built on stilts on the lake. Stop at Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery then proceed to Nampan village and see local cheroot factory (where the Burmese cigars are made) and canoe carving.

Hotel: View Point Lodge

Day 7: Inle Lake – Indein

Begin your day with a visit to the market, which rotates locations every five days and where hill tribe people dressed in colorful, traditional outfits — as they barter for goods and produce. We continue our sightseeing in Inle Lake, maneuvering by boat though long, scenic channnels.  We will visit the fascinating village of Indein, with its complex of ancient shrines and stupas and walk though exotic colonnades of stairways and shop stalls.  We’ll visit the “long neck” tribal women, and weaving and craft villages perched on stilts. See the lake’s unique “leg rowers” – the Intha people row standing up with one leg wrapped around an oar. It is a feast for the senses and a photographer’s dream.

Hotel: View Point Lodge

Day 8: Inle Lake- Yangon Departure

After breakfast, Flight back to Yangon. When arrived Yangon, Day at leisure until transfer to airport for International departure flight

 

SouthEast Asia: Group Tour Companies

Last week, I vacillated between tours on OAT, G Adventures and Gate 1. Remember, I am supposed to be planning my yearly trips as mentioned in this post.

Why am I now looking at a tour of Southeast Asia instead of Thailand?  Well, because I am crazy.

No, because I like the cruise concept.  On a cruise, you only have a few hours in a country or a city. It is a tasting platter for travel. You don’t have to be in a place too long, if you love it you can come back.  I fell on this concept because I once took a trip to Rome, not my first trip to Italy, and it was too long. I am not sure that I will love any of these countries and I really would like to get an overview.  By overview, I mean,  I would like a few days in Bangkok, Laos, Siem Reap, and Ho Chi Minh. I could add Hanoi but really that is all I want to see in the beginning.If I love Bangkok, I can go back and do a tour of the country and so and so forth with the rest.

The trips that sort of have what I want are :

  1. Ancient Kingdoms: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam (Overseas Adventure Travel)
    • However, when I look at reviews for Overseas Adventure Travel, they skew older like 60.
  2. Gems of South East Asia (Gate 1)
    • Only going to Hanoi, not HCM
  3. Discover SouthEast Asia ( G Adventures – National Geographic tours)
    • Really pricey for what you get $5199 for a solo with single room

 

Stay tuned the research is just beginning……