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Australian tour package or book our own.

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Australian tour package or book our own.


My wife and I are travelling to Indochina for the first time, we would like to visit Hanoi, Halong bay, Luang Prabang, Siem Riep and Ho Chi Minh. We have been given a package that includes all flights (inc international), accommodation and most tours which equates to roughly $10,000 for 3 weeks not including spending money.

Is this reasonable?

We are expecting to stay in middle class accommodation and really want to 'experience it properly' and get a feel for the culture.

We feel competent and confident enough to book flights and accommodation ourselves and book tours through the hotels when we get there, it is the time and effort that is the issue and having it all booked through one travel agent makes things easier.

We are aware Air Asia does cheap flights throughout Asia, is it as simple as us booking a flight just like Australia and getting a taxi/ tuk tuk to your hotel?

So our question is, is the comfort factor of having a travel agent book costing us considerably more? And are we more likely to run into any hiccups if we book ourselves?

We appreciate your experience and assistance.

Nha Trang, Vietnam
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1. Re: Australian tour package or book our own.

I can't remember a single post ever that would suggest buying a package from an overseas (not Vietnamese) agency. All of the destinations you quote are very easy to do yourself.

Since you already know where you will be going, TripAdvisor should help you nail the details. I wouldn't be surprised if you saved 40-50%.

rural West Aussie
Destination Expert
for Perth
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2. Re: Australian tour package or book our own.

For $10,000 if self booked I would expect more like 3 months in SEA, not three weeks =:-O

perth australia
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3. Re: Australian tour package or book our own.

my wife and I have just returned from 3 weeks in thailand and vietnam,

We have been to vietnam (4 times) cambodia, laos, thailand, sarwak and china since 2008.

We have a rough idea what we want to do and see.

We book our return airfares to KL as we normally fly airasia. Then fly to where we want to start. We book a hotel at our first destination before we go for the first couple of days and if possible get a airport pick. You are then at the start and can organise what you want to see from there just book flights/bus etc as you go.

ALWAYS USE TRIP ADVISOR for tour ideas etc. dont get stuck using hotel tours as they are usually a bit more expensive and are usually very touristy(shopping?)

Booking hotels flights etc online is easy.

As for touring this way, we are never lost, we just see things we didnt expect. lol

cost example 2years ago we flew to K.L then siem reap (angkor wat etc) bus to Phnom Penh (2 days),water taxi to vietnamese boader, 3 days on a sampan down the mekong to Cai Bi 3days in hcm, 2days in dalat with dalat easy riders, flew to danang and then 4 days in Hoian and then flew home via K.L 23DAYS

2 x people $4,000 aus with spending money. most hotels were around A$30 which in vietnam is 3star and good.

Hoian was a splurge as we paid A$60

Air fares in vietnam with vietnam airlines very cheap.

We are 60.

Give it a go you will love the freedom of doing it yourself.

Los Angeles...
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4. Re: Australian tour package or book our own.

You can fly to L-P from Ha Noi via Vietnam Airlines. You can also fly VA from L-P direct to Siem Reap, at least I did when I did the trip a couple years ago. And yes, you can fly VA to Sai Gon from SR.

Lodgings will most likely be your greatest expense for 90 nights, so it depends on your definition of 'middle class'. Fifty dollars a night on average should cover the variances you'll encounter, some higher and some lower. Many here pay far less than $50/night and those lodgings can certainly be had. Use Tripadvisor and a hotel website like Agoda to check out hotel reviews and prices. That should get you in the ballpark. Good luck and Happy travels!


Destination Expert
for Nha Trang
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5. Re: Australian tour package or book our own.

Boy $10,000 for 3 weeks is very expensive especially as you are in middle class accommodation. I would send the itinerary that is costing $10,000 to a few travel agents in Vietnam ( without the price ) and see what they charge. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

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6. Re: Australian tour package or book our own.

After our first trip we have always done it ourselves and yes you will save a significant amount of money. The downside is you won't see as much as people on a tour will see. We did Thailand/Laos/ Vietnam and for a while we were running parallel with some other Australians who were on a tour. While we were rattling around in dodgy minbuses their tour guide got them across the bridge into Myanmar for half a day. Having said that, we were able to choose all our accommodation and our other experiences, so we still felt that we had the better overall experience.

If you do it yourself then you will need a lot of time to research - I mean a real lot of time. You need to carefully research visa requirements, ensure that your flights are timed correctly with your Hotel check in/ check out dates, double triple check names and details on flight bookings. I build a spreadsheet and set up check lists. You need to bring Hotel vouchers with you and re-confirm the bookings.

I find all that planning builds the excitement so if you're preapared to do the hard yards then it's worth at.

Happy travels!

Geelong, Australia
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7. Re: Australian tour package or book our own.

Wow $10,000, that's expensive! I booked flight through Australian travel agent flying Vietnam Airlines. Then I went through a local Vietnamese travel agent for accommodation, VOA, internal flights and transfers. Worked out half what I was quoted in Australia.

Edited: 20 May 2014, 02:00
Destination Expert
for Cambodia
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8. Re: Australian tour package or book our own.

Another vote for DIY - our last trip (just a month ago) was 2.5 weeks in Vietnam and a week in SR - Air Asia Sydney to HCMC via (o'nite) KL, HCMC to Hue, Hue to Hanoi and Hanoi >SR with Vietnam airlines, SR to KL with Air Asia. 2D/1N cruise on Halong Bay, 2 berth sleeper return to Sapa, accommodation in 2 or 3* places (some with a pool) for way less than $10k for both of us. HOtels were mostly booked direct or via agoda, and we used a wonderful agent in Hanoi for the train tickets, Halong Bay cruise and our visas.

And just as an aside,there is way more to these 3 countries than just the cities you have listed.

Are your visas included (probably not) - you will need a multiple entry visa for Vietnam as it appears this tours starts in Hanoi then goes via Laos & Cambodia and back into Vietnam

Edited: 20 May 2014, 07:49
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9. Re: Australian tour package or book our own.

Hey guys,

Thank you for your reply's and experiences.

We have concluded to do it ourselves.

Pre-book return flights and our first nights accommodation and take it from there.

From my understanding we have to have Vietnam's visa's done before we go? Cambodia and Laos we do as we cross the boarder?

Does anyone else have any do's and donts? Bewares? or any further information?

I appreciate your assistance.

pacific palms
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for Mui Ne
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10. Re: Australian tour package or book our own.

I join the chorus that says that quote is typically overcharging in the OZ tradition-like NRMA tour costs !

I think you can do this for $4-5000. There are some tricks even getting out of OZ at a reasonable cost. Air Asia to KL overnight or better still Scoot to Singapore overnight as well. These should cost $600 odd each, return, depending on seasons of course, but worth having a look at. I use Scoot regularly on my way to HCMC and find staying in Singapore gets me into my hotel in HCMC at 9am fresh and ready. Allow an extra $150 for a hotel there.

In VN (don't know about other Asian places) your 3 star Hotel in HCMC is about a 4-5 star in OZ. These pages are a great starting point for researching.

Yes the so called comfort cost is extreme and still no guarantee of a trouble free holiday, afterall the OZ agent will not be with you and you'll be in the hands of the same VN agents that you can buy online from home.

Cheers Ross