Tour of Laos and Cambodia. We couldn't have wished for a better itinerary and the guides were both helpful and informative. They considered all our requirement and needs as my husband is not as agile as he used to be. They were prepared to be flexible with the itinerary if we need it and offered alternative suggestion to meet our needs.
The Experience Travel company were helpful from the start, calling me to discuss my requirements and my expectations of the holiday. When they sent me the original itinerary I wanted to make some changes and this was done swiftly and without hesitation.
We only had a week in Sri Lanka following a diving holiday in the Maldives, so we chose to visit only two locations to avoid having too much wasted travel time. We first went to Udawalawe National Park and stayed at Kalu's Hideaway. The hotel was great, with a nice pool and an outdoor spa for a massage. The morning and afternoon safaris offered different opportunities to see the elephants and other creatures at different times of the day. In the morning, they were in the shady bushes, while, in the late afternoon, they came out into the open, and we were able to see families of elephants walking and bathing together. We also saw jackals, wild boars, mongeese, rabbits, eagles, and lots of water buffaloes. The safari guide was great at spotting hidden animals for us.
For the last five nights, we headed down to Galle for a bit of relaxation by the coast. Our tour operator was very helpful and organized for us to change hotels after the original booking in Arabella on Boose, which had building work going on and was generally unpleasant. The new hotel, Apa Villa, was wonderful. It had a beautiful pool and surrounding gardens and very friendly staff. The food was tasty too and there was a good wine selection.
We organized a trip to a tea plantation and a turtle sanctuary, as well as some trips organized by the operator. We did a fantastic authentic cooking course in the garden of a local family. We also did a relaxing river boat trip and bike ride into the countryside, where we saw lots of wildlife and local village life. The tour of Galle for was okay, but we found the area to be a bit of a tourist trap, with high prices for gifts and some sneaky tricks played on us by the locals to get us into their friend's shops or tours. Luckily, we did not fully fall for it.
I will remember Sri Lanka for how green it is, the rice fields, the tea plantations, and the abundance of palm trees, which made it feel very lush and totally different from home. The food is a lighter version of a mix between Asian and Indian; the sambals were my favourite and my husband enjoyed the fresh fish.
This was a Sri Lankan adventure that we will never forget. We saw the real Sri Lanka, ate dinner with the farmers, cooked with the families, ate jackfruit at the roadside, and spent time in the wild with the animals. The experience was beyond our expectations. Sri Lanka is an amazing country with truly lovely people.
We traveled through Cambodia and Vietnam. Our whole experience was amazing. The advice we received prior to going, our hotels, the guides, and excursions, everything was great. We would not have changed anything.
This was a special holiday for a family who has rarely been beyond western Europe. We could not have had a better trip that mixed such a variety of experiences: history, culture, wildlife, cookery, delicious food, and relaxation. We mixed top-end hotels with smaller, more quirky individual ones and were led through it all by a wonderful chauffeur guide who seemed able to read our minds!
We cannot praise the planning and organization of our trip highly enough.