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From: Devon L—- [mailto:devonl—-@gmail.com]
Sent: March 6, 2018 8:51 PM
To: Laurus Travel
Subject: Re: 22-day IndoChina & Bangkok tour review
We had such a wonderful time on our Laurus IndoChina tour! We loved the variety of experiences, food, and lodging that we had (wow, again, so much good food!). We enjoyed the folks with whom we toured, but we also liked our personalized solo touring in Vietnam.
We know from both this and our previous Laurus tour to China that Laurus’ attention to detail and personal service gives us the chance to experience another culture and sights without thinking about logistics or next steps on our trip–exactly what we look for. I believe that any constructive suggestions we have were probably already noted and reported by our guide Jacob Wei. Jacob doesn’t miss anything, which we appreciate.
Jacob is a consummate guide. When we tour with Jacob, we are confident that we will be well-informed about what we see and experience–including historical, cultural, and present/everyday information that background details that enrich our short time in a new country.
Jacob always presents as a well-dressed, well-prepared, comfortable, enthusiastic guide we can depend upon! We relax because Jacob himself appears relaxed and positive, even when he is handling a problem. In fact, Richard and I commented on one time during our tour when we noticed that Jacob must be handling a logistics problem–because he became especially focused and more serious than usual. During these times, Jacob continues to remain calm, approachable, and available to help the folks in his group, however.
Jacob has meticulous attention to detail. He tells us next steps (logistics, rest of the day plan, weather and what we need to bring or expect)–and he checks for understanding and gives us time to think and respond. Did we all hear what he said, do we understand, what more do we need, do we have any more questions?
Jacob is especially aware of and responsive to group dynamics and individual preferences. Jacob makes sure that we know our choices for free time meals and activities. He is aware of our different interests, so he offers to arrange for transportation and guidance if group members want to do different things with their free time. We noticed that Jacob checked with us (and double-checks in private if necessary) to ensure that each of us could do what we most wanted with this time. Jacob has an easy, friendly way doing this so that we are comfortable talking with him if we are concerned about something or need more help.
Jacob is especially skilled at the social gestures that a group appreciates. Jacob is warm yet professional during group welcomes and farewells, making toasts to recognize last nights with those who are leaving our group to go home or to travel to other places. Jacob ensured that we knew who and when tour members were expected to join or exit our group. His way of publicly thanking our city drivers and guides made them felt appreciated and gave us the chance to applaud them. These added touches reflect and reinforce the Laurus brand–fully-guided, small-group, modular touring.
OUR CITY GUIDES and DRIVERS
Huan, Quoc, and Binh were professional guides with good command of English, logistics information, and history. We want to recognize in particular Huan and Binh for their wealth of memorized information about their cities and their ability to make sure that we had good things to do with our free time and transportation planned. They both recognized and responded to our preferences (for example, we slightly shortened our time in a couple of war-related places that are important but important to visit) and provided alternative ways to productively use that time.
Our only suggestion for future Laurus tours isn’t possible in some places, but we did appreciate the audio-guides we used in China which helped us to hear guides in noisy places (like a couple of museums).
Devon L, USA
From: John V
Date: Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 7:42 PM
Subject: 18 day Vietnam, Cambodia & Bangkok
The 18 day Vietnam, Cambodia & Bangkok exposed us to the realities of human suffering in these countries through various wars but also the optimism and durability of people who have risen above these tragedies to build a vibrant new life. We had the opportunity to see constructions from the past, the temples at Angkor, the French colonial buildings in Vietnam and Royal Palace in Bangkok that alone made the trip worthwhile. With experienced guides and excellent hotel accommodations, we felt safe and comfortable throughout the tour, were able to ask any questions we had and I think we reasonably experienced the life and cuisine of the countries.
I liked how Jacob brought up the rear during walks while the local guide lead so no one was lost. The guides were very open about the realities of life in Vietnam and Cambodia creating a difficult picture at times but also one of optimism. Always willing to answer questions. Guides presented important information and training, like how to cross the streets in Hanoi, etc with the street full of motor-scooters. The selection of hotels was excellent, All were comfortable, good rooms etc with excellent responsive service, and the in-house restaurants provided good food at reasonable prices (a convenience). The selection of restaurants and advice for restaurants on our own was excellent, we enjoyed many delicious meals. The bus drivers were amazing – how they got through the traffic without colliding with the motor-scooters that flowed around us amazed me. They were worth every penny of their group tip to which we added on some drives.
To us the crowning element was the visit to the Angkor area and the various temples. The guide was outstanding and the place amazing. Close to that was the visit to the school in Preah Dak. Happily my wife brought extra for the school which was added to that which Jacob brought. The visit was an eye opening experience. After the fact I think we wished we could have known to bring more.
Bangkok was a completely different experience, much was packed into the day all excellent – the boat ride, the lunch, the visit to the palace and temple. Again the guide, Mr Chatpakorn was excellent, organising the tour to meet our preferences and abilities and teh final transfer to the airport at 5:30 was well handled.
From: Harriet and John H
Date: Thu, Feb 15, 2018 at 5:24 PM
Subject: Thailand & Myanmar Trip
We took Laurus Travel’s 18 day Thailand and Myanmar tour. This was the first time that we had taken a tour of this type and we really enjoyed it. The group was small and our fellow travellers were very interesting. The arrangements (internal flights, transfers to our hotels, etc) all worked well and the quality of the accommodation was excellent. The local tour guides were pleasant and well informed. We wanted to include a river cruise towards the end of our itinerary, Laurus was able to facilitate this and rearranged the last few days of the itinerary to accommodate our request.
We can recommend them without any reservations and will certainly consider taking another of their tours in the future.
John and Harriet H
West Vancouver, British Columbia
From: kathleen F S
Date: Thu, Feb 15, 2018 at 6:40 AM
Subject: 21 day Indochina and Bangkok
This trip was our second with Laurus: we went to China with them 10 years ago. This company is truly excellent–as attested to by the fact that EVERYONE in our group was a repeat client. The itinerary is creative and not cookie-cutter; the guides are fantastic in their knowledge and concern for the traveller; the hotels are excellent; the tour attracted highly educated and sophisticated travellers which added immeasurably to our experience. Overall: A+ from this academic!
From: Michael M
Date: Sat, Jan 27, 2018 at 9:18 PM
Subject: Goodbye Julius
Thanks again for the great trip and all of the many stimulating conversations that we had. We were extremely lucky to have you as our tour leader. We certainly have a much better appreciation of Myanmar now than we had before. As I told you the other day, I would say that the temples, pagodas and stupas collectively rival anything that we saw at Siem Reap.
From: Karen S
Date: Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 5:23 AM
Subject: Thank you!
We are just getting home from our trip to SE Asia that surpassed our expectations. It was a fantastic experience from start to finish. We were thrilled with our tour leader, Jacob, who was helpful and went above and beyond in his role to make our experience the best that it could be and to offer advice for free time activities that were most often experienced as a group. We felt very safe at all times. Each local tour guide was knowledgeable and shared interesting stories. The drivers were all very skilled and buses air conditioned, comfortable and there was never a shortage of bottled drinking water. The air conditioned accommodations and food were both enjoyable. I sometimes think that we ate our way through SE Asia. Each day was more interesting than the day before. Laurus Travel website advice re clothing, currencies, no individual tipping policy, visas etc was most helpful. We very much enjoyed our group members and we have memories to last a lifetime. It was truly a trip of a lifetime for us.
Thank you Laurus Travel.
Bob and Karen S
My husband and I just returned from the 13-day tour of Vietnam with Jacob from Beijing as our team leader. He was our Beijing local guide during our China Tour last year. We were overjoyed to have him as our tour leader this time with only nine of us in our group. We had a great time and I cannot say enough good things about Jacob. He took good care of us, always made sure that all our needs were met, questions were answered, and listened to our suggestions. Above all, he was a great travelling companion during the entire trip, always sharing stories and jokes with the group, sometimes joining meals and sight-seeing with us on our free time. I really feel safe and well taken care of at all times.
Overall the itineraries of the Vietnam tour were well planned. We particularly enjoyed the Halong Bay overnight cruise. It was an excellent idea not to return to Hanoi on the same day because firstly, the bus trips to and from Halong Bay and Hanoi would be too long and tiring to accomplish in one day; secondly, we would be too rush[sic] to be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery and all the interesting activities that the Bay had to offer; thirdly, the junk boat that we stayed overnight in was fun, nice and relaxing.
For the rest of the tour, we enjoyed visiting the museums, palaces, mausoleums, the lantern factory, and the Cu Chi Tunnels. However, in our opinion, there were too many visits to the local market in every city: Hanoi, Hue, HoiAn (one was enough for us) and the one-hour river cruise in HoiAn was not necessary (not much to see and very windy) since we had to take the boat again (2nd time for 20 minutes) to go to the cooking school. We did not want to go on the boat and to the market again so we missed the cooking classes directly following (I would have enjoyed the cooking lessons). Instead my husband and I spent our time at the beautiful pool in our very luxurious Royal HoiAn Hotel (by Sofitel). It was a good alternative.
All the meals provided were delicious. All the local guides were knowledgeable. We particularly enjoyed Loc in Hanoi with his very good sense of humour. Accommodation was very nice particularly the hotel I mentioned above. The exception was the one in Hue. The hotel hallways and rooms had a musty smell.
All in all we had a wonderful time in Vietnam. Thank you for all your good work. We have no hesitation in recommending Laurus Travel to our friends and relatives. We would love to be your third time customer in the near future especially if we have Jacob as our tour leader!
Vancouver, British Columbia
We had a truly wonderful time on the tour. The tour guide and local tour guides were great! The schedule and activities were perfect! The hotels were fine although we offer the comment that the hotel in Hue could be improved on. We are spreading the word on your agency and Vietnam tour here in LA amongst friends and my work colleagues and too hope to connect with you in the future!
Marina Del Rey, Clifornia
From: ADOLPH B—–
Sent: Monday, March 6, 2017 2:00 PM
Subject: Our 19 day Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangkok trip from Feb. 2 to Feb. 20
We would like to thank Julius for his negotiation with local suppliers to do the upgrades for the hotels and the added meals.
All of the hotels were outstanding ( 5 Star ) and we appreciated having such nicely located hotels in so many cities. The staff members of the hotels were friendly and accommodating. They even help negotiate all of our rides on the Tuk Tuks……quite an adventure for us.
The breakfasts were amazing with so many choices of food. The lunches and dinners were also delicious and we enjoyed the local food. We have, however, not cooked rice since we arrived home but that will change soon.
The transportation was excellent ( air conditioned vans )and the drivers were experienced drivers who maneuvered through traffic that was congested with cars, bikes, motorbikes, motor-scouters, Tuk Tuks and many people.
Jacob, was wonderful and we so enjoyed having him along on our trip. He was attentive to questions and found the answers. He would update us of any changes that were occurring on the trip. If there were any problems Jacob was eager to know about them and would address the hotel or restaurant about the matter. We felt that Jacob was like a family member.
The local guides were excellent. They were knowledgeable and happy and most of them had a great sense of humour. It was fun to see and hear how proud they were of their town, city and country.
We enjoyed all of the cities and places that we travelled. We really liked the overnight cruise aboard one of Paradise Cruise’s luxury junks. The sandy beach and limestone cave full of stalactites and Stalagmites were amazing. Ho Chi Minh City has so much history. We crawled through the CuChi tunnels. Siem Reap was so interesting with the archaeological sites and artifacts in Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Every stop/ city had something unique. The royal Grand Palace in Bangkok was spectacular, and the National Museum was informative. We found the long tail boat ride on the Chao Phraya River okay but felt that perhaps it was not the best way to get to our farewell dinner. The farewell dinner was excellent.
The connecting flights within our trip went smoothly and Jacob did a superb job of looking after us.
Thanks again to Laurus Travel for a memorable and fun filled holiday to be talked about for many years.
Brenda and Adolf B
From: Denise and Lee F
Date: Wed, Mar 1, 2017 at 2:11 PM
Subject: Re: Laurus Travel Tour Review
To: Laurus Travel <email@example.com>
I think I am over my jet lag and will make an attempt to give you some feedback about our trip.
Will begin with the very small negatives. For us, there may have been a bit too many visits with Budda in museums and temples. We realize Budda is a very important part of the culture but after awhile our brains just shut down unless we were seeing something extraordinary (i.e. Emerald Budda for one). My husband chose to sit out on 2 museums – one I wished I had joined him but the other one, I think he missed out on (the one that included seeing the Thai King’s funeral chariot – quite amazing!). The only other comment is meant only to save Laurus some money. On one of our short domestic flights, we were served a pre-ordered meal which turned out to be too spicy to eat. We probably wouldn’t have bothered mentioning it except that one of the ladies brought it to Jacobs attention and we certainly didn’t want to seem ungrateful.
Now for the good part!! This second tour with Laurus proved that we had not made a mistake by booking with your company for a second time. The accommodations, buses, vans, night on the boat in Halong Bay and restaurants were wonderful. Someone asked me for a highlight of the trip and I told them there were so many I couldn’t just choose one! So here are a few that stand out: boat tour of Halong Bay, Lantern making factory (such fun!), Red Bridge cooking class (what a hilarious chef), War Remnants Museum (so very sad,but interesting), Chi Cu tunnels (amazing), Killing Fields and Genocide Museum (stunningly sad), Angkor Wat & other ruined temples (fabulous), the one room school (eye opening – such sweet children), and lots and lots in-between 🙂
Now for Jacob, our fearless leader!! What a gem you have in him as a tour leader and guide. We began to think he could read our minds!! All we had to do was wonder out loud about something and the next thing we knew, he would have found out for us if he didn’t already know. He is very professional and made sure everything was as perfect as it could be for us. And, he was such a good sport as we dragged him around Bangkok after dark in search of adventures. I hope we didn’t give him too many grey hairs! After we had him as our local guide in Beijing we assumed that we’d never meet him again so were delighted to see him in Hanoi. He was part of so many wonderful memories for us. Definitely a 5-star tour guide working for a 5-star tour company…!! We have in the past and will again in the future not hesitate to recommend Laurus Travel to all our family and friends.
Thank you again for a wonderful trip!!
Lee and Denise F
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