We just returned from a five week trip ( 2/7/17-3/13/17 ) to Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. We chose Andrea Ross from Journeys Within Southeast Asia as our consultant.
We shared our interests in the region with her and worked on an independent itinerary over the course of several months. In addition to the final itinerary, we received written material regarding everything we would need to know for the trip including cultural information, common expressions in the language of each country, medical information and local currency and exchange rates.
In addition, she recommended a consolidator who secured us airfare from Boston to Yangon and Siem Reip back to Boston for less than an off season plane ticket to Europe.
The many internal flights, connections, visa requirements at each boarder, drivers and guides required a lot of complex planning, and everything went flawlessly. There was an extensive network of professionals throughout the region.
Everyone was so professional, competent and flexible that any last minute changes we wanted to make were never a problem.
I don’t think we could have had a more intimate experience with the people of each of the countries visited than that provided by Andrea and her team.
Everything couldn’t have gone any smoother. Andrea’s contacts in all the countries and guides were each wonderful in their own unique way. Some of our experiences during our itineraries were so special, especially in Laos. I remember Andrea talking me into going to Laos, and I just said “OK, if you say so.” I enjoyed Luang Prabang so much. It was nice to get into a smaller town, and we really enjoyed all of our experiences there with the smaller villages. Our boat ride down the river, our fishing boat, our whiskey tasting, our lunch with the chief. I really would encourage people to go there before it gets ruined by too many tourists.
Each hotel was beautiful and different enough, so it never felt like we were in the same place. The people at each place were so nice. I even left a satellite phone somewhere along the way. I emailed each hotel, and they all responded, along with the Anantara in Chiang Mai where I actually left it. After 20 or so very polite and helpful emails trying to coordinate the shipping of the phone back to me, I got it! So nice of them. Each hotel treated us with such first-class treatment. I know that was because of your great relationships with them. Many times we were so tired from touring all day, or just too lazy to go out at night. This is unusual for us, but given the length of the trip I wasn’t going to push us too hard (after all, it is supposed to be vacation). We were thankful that each hotel had very nice restaurant choices. We usually skip breakfast and just get a coffee, but each place had such ridiculously great breakfast choices, we had to go for it!
I could go on and on about the many great things that were offered. For us, it was perfect. We are not shoppers or huge spa-and-relax-by-the-pool people, so it was sort of a very anthropological trip, which really suited us. I have already recommended Andrea to someone I just met looking for a special Thailand experience. I have no doubt they will be more than happy with their choice.
Andrea Ross and Journeys Within helped us create a trip of a lifetime. We visited Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand with our 12-year-old son over eighteen days in December and January. Working with someone like Andrea, who had actually lived in the region, was invaluable. Andrea spent quite a bit of time working with us to create an itinerary that fit our family’s interests. We were looking at a very ambitious schedule given the short amount of time we had and all we wanted to see, but Andrea and her team helped make it feel seamless.
The trip went very smoothly and we felt well-taken care of the entire time. Andrea’s in-country offices were in touch at each stop, checking in with us to be sure all was going well and to find out if we needed anything. The JW crew surpassed our expectations in every way, through to the end of our trip. Andrea and her colleagues really know what they are doing.
We can’t say enough about our kind, wonderful, knowledgeable guides. We kept thinking the next one could not possibly be as wonderful as the last, and each time we were proven wrong! Their impressive knowledge of each area made our experience so much deeper than it ever could have been without them and made our time in each location all the more memorable. They were always flexible and willing to go out of their way every time we expressed a special interest or desire to see or experience something.
We really can’t say enough good things about our experience with Andrea and her team. They helped us create an outstanding family trip and lifelong memories!!
The Trader Family
Our trip was to SE Asia: Thailand; Laos; North, Central & South Vietnam; and Cambodia. The trip duration was 25 days, December 25, 2016 to January 18th, 2017. Not only did the planner spend an appropriate amount of time with us on the telephone learning our desires, likes, dislikes and preferences, but we had a face to face meeting with her to finalize all of our preferences and to go over our itinerary. She was an awesome trip planner and having lived in the area to which we were traveling she was able to give us insider information about each leg of our itinerary. She listened to our desires and she planned the perfect trip to accommodate everything we wanted in the trip. Our advice to travelers is to spend time up front, thinking and planning your preferences. Then sit down with a professional to fill in the blanks or add new items that will become your preferences. This trip met or exceeded all of our expectations.
Andrea Ross from Journeys Within was a wonderful help during every step of our Cambodia trip, from planning to arrival through our return home. She crafted a highly personal journey for my niece and me and her guides and staff were top notch. Our trip included Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Angkor Wat and northern temples, Battambang and a wonderful home stay in the northwest part of the country, from November 12-23, 2016. Andrea clearly loves Cambodia and I highly recommended her to others who want to see both the highlights and the personal side of this wonderful country.
From start to finish Andrea and her team have been a delight to work with. From meaningful suggestions to detailed instructions, we could not ask for more. Even the most exotic of questions were anticipated and we felt ourselves to be in good hands from start to finish. We took an intense two day trip from Bangkok to see Ankor, ending in Ho Chi Minh. December was a good time to visit, the weather is pretty good with only a small chance of rain. From the famous to the hidden temples, from the hotel to the circus, all was seamless and amazing.
April Cole on Andrea’s team at Journeys Within provided our group of four travelers with a truly memorable and well executed SE Asia travel experience. They have or maintain relationships with representatives in every country and thus achieved close coordination with service providers at every point. On our trip through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, guides, transport, services, meals and lodging were all first rate! Our two day river cruise down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang, Laos was one of numerous highlights, along with multiple visits to the Angkor temples – a primary focus of our trip. Engaging the staff early-on in the planning process and having a clear and ongoing exchange regarding desires and priorities are key to ultimately achieving a fulfilling SE Asia travel experience.
Amazing team at Journeys Within that customizes itinerary to personality of traveler. Pre-planning was such a pleasure with quick response and detailed exposition. Above and beyond service provided by Naida Dizdarevic. Excellent partner and will definitely recommend to all and book again in future. Cambodia and Vietnam
Hi Wendy. I wanted to pass along a review of our recent family travel to Southeast Asia with Journeys Within. Myself, my wife, and our 2 children (ages 15 and 9) went on the Journey of a lifetime this past August to Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. This was the 1st time any of us have travelled to that part of the world. Planning such an itinerary on our own was a daunting endeavor, so we connected with April Cole of Journeys Within, who helped us put together a perfect trip for our family – carefully tailored to our interests and needs. She eased our concerns, answered our questions, and got us really excited for our adventure. Each and every destination and each and every accommodation exceeded our expectations. A large part of what made our experience, was the local staff and guides that worked with Journeys Within. Their pride, their hospitality, and the knowledge made all the difference. A further note… Journeys Within also was extremely resourceful helping us modify our itinerary – even on the ground. Sadly, Thailand was affected by terrorist bombings while we were in the North, making our plans to visit the islands unwise and unsafe. And, our modified plan to sail on Halong Bay was cancelled due to a typhoon. Even with all of that, they were able to book us through to a fantastic beach resort in Central Vietnam to close out our trip. All in all – I would highly recommend booking a trip with Journeys Within. We should only be so lucky to be able to go again.
This was our second trip with Andrea and Journeys Within with the first one being in 2009 so that when my husband and I thought about how we wanted to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, Andrea Ross and her team with Journeys Within immediately became a possibility. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts we were only able to get 4 teenagers, 4-40 year olds, and 4-70 year olds together for 2 weeks in late June/July 2016. However, thanks to Andrea and her team, we all feel that we have created memories that will truly last a lifetime and will extend far beyond our immediate family. As a retired travel agent myself and as one who has lived abroad and traveled extensively, I trust my ability to pick the “good companies” and Andrea and her team meet and exceeded all my requirements. From the day with the elephants to climbing over ruins in Siem Reap, we enjoyed a trip that created memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you Andrea and Journeys Within!
I have made two trips with Journeys Within. The first one was in Angkor Wat, Cambodia on November 2013. We stayed at their JW Boutique Hotel. The whole trip was fantastic.
The second tour was in Bangkok, Laos and Myanmar on January 2015. Excellent in all aspects. Both tours were tailored made to our possibilities and interests. Very well designed and friendly guides everywhere. Not doubt we will soon be preparing our third trip to Asia with Journeys Within.
Congratulations to Andrea Ross and her staff. We also want to recognize and appreciate all the social work they do in such a beautiful region of the planet.
Andrea put together the trip of a lifetime for us! I originally started with a 21 day trip to Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar, but had to cancel because the timing wasn’t right for us. When I contacted Andrea and her team to reschedule, I had done a ton more research, and had between what I had learned and what they had taught me, the end result was a longer, fabulous trip to Myanmar and Cambodia. We wanted to spend more time in fewer countries so we could really learn about the culture and meet the people, and that’s exactly what we got. Between meeting locals and seeing our guides home village (and home), seeing how things are made like silk pashminas and lacquer boxes, and all the wonderful historical sites, we couldn’t have been happier with our trip. In Cambodia we saw most of the temples in the Siem Reap zone, went to Battambang, Phnom Penh, relaxed in Koh Kong, and then headed for Myanmar, which was so different but just as wonderful. The guides were wonderful and very knowledgeable. Our drivers were great (and good drivers, which is saying something in this part of the world!). I would definitely work with Andrea and her team on another trip to any country they are in!
Loved loved loved our trip planned by Andrea Ross. I had contacted other travel agents and gathered other potential itineraries, but before I made a choice I was told by a friend who was a travel columnist for both THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE LA TIMES that I must check with Journeys Within. I spoke with the wonderful April Cole, gave her our criteria, and she produced an itinerary that was (as my friend the travel writer promised) truly unique from any others.
Whereas the others all included a visit to the Hanoi Water Puppet Show (which after checking out on YouTube I said: no thanks) – April had us going on a private food tour through the Hanoi markets with a celebrated chef. The other itineraries all had a private car for touring Bangkok. Well, traffic in Bangkok is slow and exhausting. The Journeys Within Tour was the only one that proposed getting around the city on the SkyTrain, river boats and tuk-tuks which was so much fun and such a smart, great way to really be among the locals.
Our hike into the bamboo forest of Chiang Mai was a highlight as well as our lunch with the village elder in Luang Prabang. Because of Andrea Ross’s history living in SE Asia and the company’s programs giving back to the communities, Journeys Within has access to people and experiences that can’t be duplicated.
In each of the four countries we visited, a local member of the Journeys Within team immediately called to make sure all our needs and expectations would be met.
The guides (sooooo important on a trip like this) were bright, knowledgeable and accommodating. And wonderful people to spend time with. How poignant that our guide in Laos had a father who was killed by the Khmer Rouge. How magical that our guide in Thailand introduced us to a village family that invited us into their hut-like home to sit around their fire and share their rice cakes.
We felt well cared for every step of the way. Andrea Ross, April Cole and their team are all fabulous.
Andrea at Journeys From Within was skilled at helping us decide what kind of trip we wanted customized. She was clearly in love with a country she knows well, and recommended experiences that would help us to know Cambodia and Vietnam. The guides she chose to be with us were just amazing…in that they were generous with sharing their land and people at any opportune moment and were very attuned to our needs as travelers. We would have never had such a rich historical and cultural experience if we chose a different consultant.
I suggest trusting Andrea when she says, “see the city on the back of a scooter behind your trusted guide”… what an awesome experience!
Journey’s Within was an absolutely fantastic travel agency to work with for SE Asia. Everything we did, from the hotels we stayed in, to our guides, to our planned experiences were extremely well organized and top notch. Andrea and her team really worked with us to plan a trip that fit us and our budget, which we really appreciated. When one thing didn’t go well, Andrea and her team were super responsive and quickly went above and beyond to fix the problem. All in all I would totally recommend Journey’s Within to anyone interested in traveling to SE Asia.
I read your WOW List as I was researching my first trip to SE Asia. I had previously already contacted a couple tour companies I had googled but neither one had gotten back to me in a timely manner and I was starting to get worried. Thanks to your website, I read about Andrea Ross of Journeys Within and I contacted the company on a whim. Andrea promptly replied! She turned out to be an absolute pleasure to work with in customizing our trip. She was so accommodating to my group’s endless changes (in # of ppl going, who was going, etc). And we had an absolutely amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience of a trip. We started in Bangkok at a work mtg and then started our tour from there. The highlights of the trip Andrea arranged for us were:
1. The elephant reserve in Chiang Mai. That was a day of wonder that we will never forget! Feeding/bathing/riding these gentle giants and playing with a 3 month old baby was absolutely amazing.
2. Angkor Wat – we felt honored to spend several days touring the complex with our guide Hoeum Vanith, who was impressive in knowledge/photography skills/humor/patience. We loved our time there.
3. Halong Bay – We did the Dragon legend indochina junk cruise and the views just left us speechless! The rooms on this boat were very luxurious and service on this boat was outstanding – great staff, great food/drinks, great activities.
Thanks to Journeys Within, despite the whirlwind schedule I had custom planned for us, every stop went like clockwork… Our guides were well versed and all had a great sense of humor, which we appreciated. We had wonderful accommodations, and the transport to/from each location made our trip a smooth dream come true. So, I wanted to say thank you for the suggestion. We would recommend Journeys Within to anyone traveling to SE Asia in a heartbeat! Thanks to them we have memories that will last us a lifetime.
In February 2013 the Journeys Within team organized a most memorable and imaginative tour for us, starting in Vietnam (North to South – definitely the best way round); on to Cambodia and Myanmar.
At every stopping place we were welcomed by exceptional guides, whose only aim was to ensure our comfort. We were impressed throughout, not only by their knowledge, but also their obvious passion for their country and commitment to the Journeys Within philosophy – excellence and philanthropy – instilled by Andrea.
There was also much fun and laughter along the way!
A friend and I traveled to Cambodia and Thailand for just over two weeks in February 2016 and enjoyed everything we did!
The hotels Journeys Within chose for us were perfect and we loved the variety of the days’ itineraries. Alongside the ‘must-do’s’ such as visiting palaces and temples we had fun adventures: riding the cane train in Battambang; elephant care (and a ride) neat Chiangmai; experiencing Journeys Within Our Community in Siem Reap, visiting markets and stopping at homes in villages with their own specific income source varying from duck farming to silk production…
We used Andrea and her team for our trip to Myanmar in February. From the first moment I spoke on the phone with her it was clear that it was going to be a good experience. Andrea knows Southeast Asia (and Myanmar is probably the less familiar place). Whatever I asked for, Andrea organized it: from the Italian speaking guide to the bike ride in the countryside. We never had a problem during the trip , not with the airlines, or the hotels or the restaurants. The really outstanding part of our trip were the three guides she booked us with . They were professional and knowledgeable as expected but they also were flexible, responded to our needs immediately , changed the itinerary in a minute and surprised us with visits to special places not part of our original itinerary. Now I understand when she told me “I can’t book you with an Italian speaking guide because I don’t know them” (even though in the end she found one for part of the trip) . The guides on site made the difference from a nice trip to an exceptional one. We will use her again soon.
We traveled to South East Asia- northern Vietnam and Luang Prabang, Laos – with Journeys Within Andrea Ross and April Cole. Our trip, January 2016, was extraordinary. Having been in the region 20 years earlier, we had very specific places we wanted to revisit or explore for the first time. Our guides were smart as well as sensitive to our changing needs. Each day turned out great, even if we made some unscheduled adjustments. We also joined a National Geographic tour for the second half of our trip and traveled up the Mekong River, through Cambodia, to Siem Reap. We regret not booking the entire adventure through Journeys Within. Nat. Geo. was not able to accommodate any individual requests or arrangements. In fact, Journeys Within stepped into Nat. Geo. time and arranged a most remarkable meeting between my husband (a Vietnam Vet) and a Viet Cong gorilla who had lived in the tunnels of Cu Chi, under my husband’s base camp! (April made this extraordinary meeting possible, when Nat. Geo. didn’t even respond to our request.) Journeys Within made all our internal flight arrangements. There was a big mix-up when we tried to pass through Phenom Penh. Luckily we had local contact numbers for all our stops and the airport travel agent was able to reach our local contact and get us on our flight. Those emergency numbers do pay off. Journeys Within put together the trip we wanted, in the price range we asked for, with excellent accommodations and great restaurant recommendations. Can’t say enough good things about Andrea and April. Susan Steinberg, State College, PA
Andrea Ross and her Journeys Within team did an excellent job helping us plan our trip, and that level of consummate professionalism was maintained throughout the trip and after our return home. We traveled throughout Cambodia for two weeks in the summer of 2014, a journey that would not have been so memorable were it not for the expertise of those at Journeys Within. From the initial refining of our tailor-made itinerary with Andrea, to the trip follow-up questionnaires, we could not have been more pleased with the level of service, which is why I’ve recommended Journeys Within to several friends planning Asia trips.
Journeys Within did an outstanding job of listening to my travel requests and then recommending and delivering exactly what I wanted. Both Cortney and Andrea were always available both before and during my trip to assist and respond to questions. Our guides, hotels, and experiences truly exceeded our expectations. I would recommend them and their organization to anyone with out hesitation.
They quickly responded to my emails and calls. All questions were answered accurately. Air, and car travel arrangements went without a hitch. Guides were always on time and knowledgeable.
Wendy – I traveled over the Christmas holiday to Thailand with Journeys Within. I wanted to let you know that they were AMAZING to work with. We did so many amazing activities including hiking through the tribal villages of Chang Mai with a local guide to spending the day at Patara Elephant Farm which was a truly once in a lifetime experience to learning so much about Buddhism and Thai History with our local guides. April Cole at Journeys Within really understood what we were looking for and put together a custom program with fantastic accommodations particularly in Koh Yao Noi. I would highly recommend this travel company to anyone looking for a unique, highly customized, seamless travel in Thailand.
We started with a custom trip to Vietnam, Siem Reap, Chiang Mai and Bangkok three years ago. We’re going back to Southeast Asia this fall with friends because we loved both Southeast Asia and Journeys Within so much. In between our own trips, we have recommended Journeys Within to four other couples who have all been as delighted as we were, and have recommended Journeys Within to their families and friends. I think the highest compliment we can pay is that we are using them again and unhesitatingly recommending them to friends.
Entire team both here and in Southeast Asia have been incredibly knowledgable, cheerful, helpful and professional in all matters, large and small. Excellent at customizing trips to your taste and budget. Only wish they were also in other areas of the world.
We knew we wanted to go to Vietnam, but hadn’t done any research or planning ourselves. We had firm dates for our ability to travel, only six weeks lead time and basically trusted the trip, including visas, to Andrea Ross. Andrea and her team were great to work with and were happy to make itinerary modifications to suit our wishes. The team on the ground in Vietnam was polite, punctual, flexible, and supported our wishes for changes (and additions) to the itinerary.
We LOVE Journeys Within! Andrea Ross is absolutely wonderful to work with! The trip she planned to Vietnam/Cambodia was perfect! Every detail was thought out, discussed, and her experience in this area was exceptional! We came home with a beautiful, moving and life-changing feeling. Our next trip to Myanmar & Thailand is in the works thanks to Andrea! We will always plan our trips with Journeys Within and Andrea! The only downfall is she doesn’t do the whole world :) Thank you Andrea and the Journeys Within team for making our travels extraordinary!
My wife and I used Andrea and the Journeys Within team for our trip to Thailand and Cambodia in December 2014. What an unbelievable experience!
Because of their incredible efficiency and superb planning, we really felt that we got to see so much and, more importantly, experience so much within a relatively short amount of time. Thanks to Journeys Within, every detail was taken care of and there were ultimately no issues along the way. Had there been any issues, we always felt that Journeys Within was available to help resolve any problem.
We had the opportunity to speak with Journeys Within before planning our itinerary to specify interests, budget, etc. One of the primary interests we listed was experiencing the culture. If you are interested in culture and truly understanding and diving into Southeast Asia while also traveling responsibly, I cannot imagine a better experience than the one we had with Andrea and her team.
We loved all the places we visited, but Chiang Mai was our favorite. Tien, our guide in Chiang Mai, was the best guide we have ever had in all our travels. With her quiet demeanor, she was so kind, unassuming, knowledgable, and just fun. Andrea and Journeys Within have definitely opened our eyes to the beauty and culture of the region. It has been almost six months since our trip and there is rarely a day that my wife and I do not reminisce about this incredible trip or tour company. We will definitely use Journeys Within for any future travels to Southeast Asia and would recommend everyone else do so as well.
I don’t think I can possibly say enough good things about Andrea Ross and her team at Journeys Within. On a whim, I went to Asia in December 2014 to meet a lifelong friend. Andrea planned our trip and it was THE most amazing trip I’ve ever taken. I’ve been all over the world, and didn’t know what to expect. Andrea’s recommendations, accommodations, itinerary, and knowledge of the countries was bar none..incredible! She was so easy to work with, as was her team. They made sure things were what we wanted. The guides were always so helpful, meeting us at the airports, with an English-speaking guide and driver.
Andrea was always very prompt to answer any and all questions we had. She was very professional and accepted any and all feedback we had. Our trip was planned with a lot of different activities that I would never have planned on my own. She treated my friend and I like we were family. That’s how personal and awesome she is!
If you want a trip of a lifetime, choose Andrea and Journeys Within. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I am already looking forward to planning and booking another Asia trip through Andrea and JW!
We loved working with Andrea and the Journeys Within team. When I started looking at a trip to Thailand and Cambodia, I saw Andrea through the Conde Nast travel specialist site and contacted her to have a phone meeting. Not only was she prompt in responding but her knowledge, her eagerness to understand what kind of travelers we were, and finally, her true passion and commitment to the region made it easy to decide to work with her. Her guides were not only knowledgeable but also personable, and we had many great conversations in the car, at a meal, and more, learning about their lives, the culture, and the history.
But Andrea and Journeys Within did some other things that I thought were really incredibly useful. Before we left, our pre-departure package included books to read…which I loved. When we arrived at a site, we received a package that included some basic phrases, how to handle tips, restaurant recommendations, spa hints and more. When we left, we were asked to complete evaluations of the services, and she read them! We know because we crossed paths with her in Siem Reap that she actually makes sure to experience any new activity she will recommend for her clients and have her guides do it too. There were also activities or places that we had not thought about before, and were we ever glad that Andrea recommended them. We loved our river trip down the Mekong to Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang had not been on my list and quite honestly, it was one of our favorite places—intriguing, friendly, small, easy to walk around and charming. We had great cooking classes in Luang Prabang and Bangkok.
Finally, Journeys Within’s commitment to community development is impressive. We were very moved by our visit to a village where Journeys Within our Community had a water project. We also liked her recommendations for local restaurants or other stops where local people were being trained in a vocation. We haven’t yet set a date but when we return to Southeast Asia to visit Vietnam, we will be working with Journeys Within. I highly recommend Andrea and her team.
When I began talking with Andrea Ross I was planning a trip to Burma. When I signed off on my three-week Southeast Asia tour I was off to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Why? Because Andrea listened, Andrea asked questions, Andrea knew her territory. My favorite place was Luang Prabang, Laos. I felt the spiritual vibe in that place and spending an afternoon with the local school children was a joy. The Mekong Riverview Hotel was wonderful with the BEST bed I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying in my travels. Journeys Within provided a creative, responsible tour that my wife and I will treasure always.
Andrea designed a private tour to Angkor Wat, Luang Prabang and Burma. It was a dream come true with wonderful guides, magnificent sites, and fascinating interactions with locals. I would recommend her highly and her company Journeys Within which is doing unbelievably charitable work. We traveled winter 2014.
Andrea and her team planned a trip for us to Cambodia and Thailand that was beyond expectations! Considering that our group was 2 grandparents in their 60s, 2 parents in their 40s, and 3 children ranging in age from 12-7, Andrea had a variety of interests and energy to corral. It was done with great consideration of our needs, excellent knowledge of the areas to be visited, lovely but low-key hotels that focused on attentiveness versus glitz, and just wonderful guides. Our day at the Patara Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai was something none of us will ever forget!
At the end of a trip, my husband and I always try to list past trips in order of how much we loved them. The trip planned for us to Vietnam and Cambodia by Andrea Ross in November 2013 is near the top of the list. After deciding on an itinerary, I put most of the details in Andrea’s hands. What a great decision. The accommodations were charming. The guides were extraordinary. We especially loved Tuan in Hanoi. One night, he brought a couple of friends and took us for rides on their motorbikes. I realize my good fortune to be able to experience what is so integral to the peoples’ lives. It was just a thrill. Then we treated him and his 2 little girls to ice cream at the new 31 Flavors. What fun. He also took us to the top of the building where helicopters evacuated the last Americans at the end of the war and told us the story. It gave me chills.
Ha Long Bay is not to be missed. It’s a bit of a drive out there, but so worthwhile. It was ethereal. Later, in Saigon, we were taken by boat to lunch at a family’s home on the Mekong Delta. It was in the jungle, and only the father spoke any English, but we were welcomed and fed like kings.
Cambodia was amazing, made even better by our Journeys Within Boutique Hotel. We were taken to the preparations for a village festival where we were blessed by a monk with water. What an authentic experience. A few days later, we were taken to Beng Mealea, a crumbling temple that had just opened to the public. But, there was no public there, so we got to climb, explore, and just take in the peace of the place.
We had many incredible meals, none the same, all an adventure. But, the best part of all might be Andrea’s concern for our safety. As it became evident that Typhoon Haiyan was headed straight for our next stop, Hoi An, we were given a couple of options. Based on our decision, Andrea made fast airline arrangements for us to be flown around the storm to Saigon, and then came up with fun activities for the extra days we spent there. Other friends, who had been traveling at the same time, were told by their travel agent to “hunker down.” We felt so lucky to be in Andrea’s hands.
I will tell anyone who asks that you would be lucky to be on a trip organized by Andrea. She makes magic.
Many thanks and kudos to (Cam On in Vietnamese and Aw Kohn in Cambodian/Khmer!) to Andrea Ross, Director of Journeys Within and her U.S., Vietnam and Cambodia team of directors, guides and drivers for arranging a trip of a lifetime!
Andrea created my custom two week 1/25/14-1/8/15 itinerary in less than a month and within my allocated budget. She was wonderful to work with, answering all of my questions on the phone and by email with good information, energy and humor. Also in a timely and responsive manner during the busy Thanksgiving and holiday season no less!
From the time I arrived at each city’s airport, the Journeys Within team were there to welcome me (with a big sign so I would not miss them!), friendly smile and comfortable automobile ready to transport me to my first destination. Their help and kindness were endless (with good English too!) from taking me to/from to educating me about each country’s temples, museums, markets, countrysides and more. In cars and on fun motor bikes, tuk-tuks (motorized rickshaws), bikes and ATVs too!
I could not have experienced and enjoyed each country in such an unique, intimate and seamless manner without the the Journeys Within team, especially since it was the high season of travel. Sites, airports, hotels and roads were booked, expensive and at their maximum filled with tourists from around the world – large groups with their cameras and selfie sticks in hand! Andrea and her team took away the potential stress and wasting of time with their excellent planning and booking of hotels/boats, sites and restaurants, along strong relationships and expert navigation of each country.
I am a new, huge fan of South Asia – the people, sites and food! I am already planning another trip for the 2015 holiday season to Laos and Thailand. With the help and guidance from Andrea Ross and her Journeys Within team of course!