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Any recommendations for Grand Circle Tours and/or Overseas Adventure Tours

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Mar 26th, 2009, 01:48 PM
  #1
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Any recommendations for Grand Circle Tours and/or Overseas Adventure Tours

I have used both companies once each and was very pleased with the trips. I am considering using one of them again for a tour of China as I am too timid to do it independently. Am looking at a 3 week trip and wonder if anyone has any recommendations? Thank you in advance for any response.

Karen
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Mar 26th, 2009, 08:25 PM
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I have been on many GCT trips and will shortly take my 2nd OAT trip (Thailand). The German Christmarkets are wonderful - these are all river cruises, Italy - the Amalfi coast is a terrific trip as is Spain where you can add on weeks. You are in a condo on the beach and take trips from there. Egypt is really a nice trip and so is Russia. The other OAY trip I took was in Peru where we sailed on the Amazon. That, too, was a great trip.

I have found each trip unique and above my expectations. The company does a great job! In fact, I now travel only with them. If you want a recommendation, which will get you a little extra off of your price for your first trip let me know.
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Mar 27th, 2009, 10:40 AM
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Thank you for your response. I have used both companies, I think what I want to know is if one trip is better than the other. I posted another similar question as I hadn't tagged it for China.

Karen
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Mar 27th, 2009, 06:43 PM
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Although it has been 5 years,we took the OAT 3 week trip that takes you into Tibet. I highly recommend it. Just remember when the watermelon is served the meal is over.
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Mar 28th, 2009, 05:18 PM
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I am a mother of a teenage daughter. Could you comment as to the age group that you have encountered on GCT and OAT tours, when my daughter looked at the photos - she commented that it looked like most of the travelers were older people. I of course, don't care- but for some reason she thinks there will not be anyone on these tours her age??? We went to England on our own just fine last summer and enjoyed being independent of a tour - but not sure if I am comfortable going to say Egypt or Thailand - just the two of us- Mom and teenage daughter. Thanks
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Mar 28th, 2009, 05:59 PM
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My sister and I did OAT to Thailand/Cambodia and loved it. My sister did GCT to China and did not like it at all. Hotels way way out of the way, too many people.

Ages: on the OAT the average age was around 55. My sister, her partner and I skewed it down. GCT sis was way the youngest at 49.
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Mar 28th, 2009, 07:57 PM
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hendrenl, If you can travel to England independently, you can travel to Thailand independently. Thailand is remarkably tourist-friendly. As for the price of closet-sized room in England, you can have a suite overlooking the river in Bangkok.
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Mar 28th, 2009, 08:43 PM
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hendrenl,
On the OAT trip we did to Galapagos and Peru we were the youngest at almost 60. On the GCT to Egypt most people were in the late 60's. One gentleman traveled with his 30 something son.

johnstewart2west,
I am thinking of taking the OAT trip as I would like to visit Tibet.Thank you for the recommendation.

LynnieD,
OAT's groups are smaller generally. I think that's the one I shall choose.

Thank you all for responding.

Karen
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Mar 28th, 2009, 09:18 PM
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Thanks for the info- I think my teenager would prefer independent travel - unless there were other teenagers on the tours- then- that might be fun for her. Just need to figure out where to go- Thanks for the Thailand suggestion. Does anyone have any other suggestions for mom and teen daughter in Asia? Beijing?? Hong Kong?? All suggestions are appreciated. I would like to go some where really different- our trip to England was wonderful- but we are both interested in something - i.e. not Europe- although Morocco was mentioned.
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Mar 29th, 2009, 03:07 PM
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I traveled with my daughter (in her 20s) independently to Thailand in 2006 - and it was easy (thanks in large part to all the help i got from this board!). We just returned from Egypt with Gap Adventures, and although we probably could have done it on our own, it was much more intense than Thailand and we were glad we went with a tour.
Thailand, though, is easy without a tour - and I think we enjoyed it more on our own than we would have otherwise. I think we got lots more interaction with locals than if we'd have been with a group.
Your teen might enjoy something similar to what we did: Bangkok, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang, and Siem Reap. A few suggestions:
Bangkok - night market (and all the usual sights)
Chiang Mai - Elephant Conservation Camp, bamboo raft ride, day hike, night market
Luang Prabang - strolling the town, sidetrip to waterfall, boat ride on Mekong to caves, morning alms gathering ("monk parade") - although if she's like most teens, she might balk at getting up early!
Siem Reap - be selective with the temples (don't miss Ta Prohm), visit a school, do the trip to Tonle Sap lake

My trip report is getting somewhat old, but I suspect most of the details are still relevant/valid (and there are PLENTY of details!):
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...lly-did-it.cfm
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May 2nd, 2009, 08:21 AM
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Maybe a little late to respond here but my husband and I did Egypt independently in '99 and had very little trouble. The only difficulty involved the Egypt Air flight to Luxor that we booked in the US and which there was no reservation for in Egypt - at the time, their US and Egyptian computers "didn't talk". Obviously, we should have reconfirmed on arrival and have now learned a lesson. (However, we got there standby on our scheduled flight and a travel guide in Luxor got us on a return flight a little later in the day than our original.)

What we found in Egypt was that we could easily afford a private guide, car and driver. That cost us $100 a day then. This was great since we could call all the shots and we visited places like Meydum or the Bent Pyramid where there were NO other tourists - or maybe one other small group at the "crowded" places. This can all be arranged in advance or you can just arrange an airport pickup and the first day's guide/tour, then make up your mind about the rest after you get there - which is what we did. We had a guide some days, took 2 very inexpensive mini-van tours in Cairo to the pyramids and Citadel with 2 other couples two days, and spent some time on our own in Cairo at Khan al Kalili and other places and in Luxor. We found Egyptians remarkably friendly and helpful and also thought we were probably safer (this was a couple of years after the attack on tourists in Luxor) since there were only two of us and not likely much of a terrorist target.
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Jun 6th, 2009, 07:03 PM
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I have done a lot of traveling and found the OAT trip to China to be my favorite of all. I would highly recommend it. One of the highlights was Lhasa, and Grand Circle doesn't include that. We also like the smaller group with OAT. We've taken 8 or 9 OAT trips and all have been excellent. We also particularly enjoyed their trips to Turkey and Thailand. HENDRENL - We took our 16 year old grandson to Costa Rica last summer with OAT. There were 3 other teenagers on the trip. I think if you travel during summer, you might find younger people traveling with their families.
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Jun 7th, 2009, 08:44 AM
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No difference between Grand Circle or OAT in China.
They used the same group of tour guides & tour directors.
One third of the travel times are wasted in scammy shops & factory stops.
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Jun 8th, 2009, 02:35 PM
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I beg to differ with the last post. There are several differences. First and foremost, the itinerary is different. Also, OAT limits the number of passengers to 16, while Grand Circle takes larger groups. They may use the same tour guides, but we found them all to be excellent. Indeed we visited some shops, but found most to be interesting, even if we didn't always buy something, and it certainly was not one third of the time.
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Jun 9th, 2009, 12:06 AM
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The scammy shops & factory stops are interesting for the Chinese local guides, Chinese tour directors and drivers.
At such shopping 'opportunities' they get enormous kick-backs (typically 40%, Junk Antiques & Grade B Jades 50%+) on any purchase tour members make, on prices which may be 10 to 15 times more than is actually reasonable.
Usually 'discount vouchers' are handed out right after stepping off from the tour bus, but these only mark the tour suckers out for an even higher rate of fleecing, and help the perpetrators of these scams to work out what kick-back to give who.
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Jun 9th, 2009, 01:33 AM
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On a typical one day Great Wall/Ming Tomb tour in Beijing.
Most of the tours only give tour members an hour or two on the Great Wall because they want them to spend time in the cloisonne factory on the way there or back.
One hour stay in the cloisonné factory is norm.
The “Friendship Store & restaurant" in Changping county where most tour groups stop for lunch is a tourist trap.
Some groups take their people to hotels with big shops by Badaling for lunch.
Chinese local guides, Chinese tour directors and drivers usually disappear right after they sit their tour members on the dining tables.
They would show up in 90 minutes to two hours so that the lunch goers would have enough time to “enjoy lunch" & “shop till drop”.
The Ming Tomb tour is no more than two hours.
Do a little math of how much travel time are wasted.
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Jun 9th, 2009, 06:47 AM
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"Most of the tours only give tour members an hour or two on the Great Wall because they want them to spend time in the cloisonne factory on the way there or back.
One hour stay in the cloisonné factory is norm. " - yes! My high-end Smithsonian tour did that, along with the "discount voucher". On the other hand, my budget Intrepid tour did nothing of the kind. The only shopping ops in three weeks in China were in Khotan (carpet, silk, jade).

Although I know some people seem to love them, I've suffered through one OAT tour, and wouldn't travel with them (or GCT) again if you paid me.
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Jun 9th, 2009, 08:40 AM
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High-end Smithsonian tour & most tour operators hand over their clients to the ground hosts/scammy Chinese guides.
It's worth paying more for a company that has a foreign tour manager who will accompany the group throughout the entire trip.
These people keep an eye out for attempts by the local operatives to add in extra shopping stops, downgrade hotel rooms and take a cut, and other shenanigans.
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Jun 9th, 2009, 11:36 AM
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"It's worth paying more for a company that has a foreign tour manager who will accompany the group throughout the entire trip. " - My Smithsonian tour had two of them - one tour leader, and one ethnically Chinese study leader. On the other hand, the Intrepid tour had one leader (definitely not a guide), but we had much more independence.
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Jun 9th, 2009, 01:00 PM
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Smithsonian uses Chinese ground operation from Wuhan.
Their so call "tour leaders" are non professional tour directors who simply want a free trip.
Abercrombie & Kent tour uses "professional foreign tour directors".
Pacific Delight tour used to have outstanding foreign tour directors.
They got rid of them one year ago after the ownership changeover.
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