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Trip Report Gate 1 Bangkok, Cambodia, Vietnam (17 Day)

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My wife and I recently took Gate 1's 17-Day Bangkok. Cambodia, and Vietnam and we want to give future travelers our review of the pros (many) and cons (few).

In all, it's a trip I highly recommend. The pros....

1. Price. Unbeatable. We used miles to get into and out of Asia, so we paid Gate 1's "land only" price of around $1900, which includes about 15 nights in mostly superb hotels (including large breakfasts), 4 regional flights, 2 Regional Bus Trips, admission to all major attractions (Angkor Wat, Halong Bay Cruise, etc.), and the occasional meal. I always shop around and tried to beat this on my own and the regional flights alone ate up most of the budget. We probably would have had to stay at rat-infested hostels instead of consistently 4-star hotels to achieve the same price and even then would have probably gone over. Every single hotel included free wifi, by the way, another nice savings.

2. Nice balance of free time and tour time. Straight up, I'm more of an independent traveler then a tour traveler. Of the 40-some countries I've been to, about 35 of them have been solo, so joining a tour is something I do only if the price is off-the-charts unbeatable and I simply wouldn't be able to afford the trip otherwise. The great thing about Gate 1 (or at least this trip) is that you get lots of independent time so you don't have to feel like cattle the whole trip. Also...

3. The tour guides in Cambodia and Vietnam were exceptional. I mean, this is how it's done. They were young, they love their countries and cultures (though in the case of our Vietnam tour guide he also wasn't afraid to give a balanced view of his country's problems), and they want you to love it as much as they do. In their hands, I actually didn't mind being in a tour at all (it also didn't hurt that we got lucky and were only traveling with 10 other people). Being young and hip, they knew the local scene everywhere and made sure you got a taste of it.

4. Cambodia and Vietnam are unforgettable. Angkor Wat, Saigon (what a lively city!), Hoi An, Halong Bay, the food in Vietnam. A top 10 lifetime trip. Bangkok....meh.

Now, one con (and I wrote Gate 1 about correcting this)....

1. The Bangkok portion of the trip is, as of this writing, very poorly organized in marked contrast with the rest of the trip. Really, what it is is an optional add-on, to the more popular Cambodia/Vietnam itinerary (of the 10 people on our Vietnam portion, only 4 of us started in Bangkok) and you're basically on your own there. Again, this is totally fine (I prefer independent travel). The problem is that they advertise a "city orientation tour" that never happens - instead, a "guide" comes to the hotel, gives you a subway map and some tokens, and some tips on where to go. Just be forewarned about that. I was fine with it, but if you're more comfortable being toured around, I recommend calling and getting a guarantee that there will be an actual tour here. This kind of muck-up is very atypical of Gate 1, so I have to believe that their Thailand office is still getting organized or something. But to ensure happy travel before this trip, I would make sure to get clarification beforehand about the Thailand portion.

That's it! Happy travels. I think you'll love it!

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