April Cole arranged a 24 day journey in Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Saigon), Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Battambang, Siem Reap), and Luang Prabang in Laos for me – aged 73, and my 87 year old husband. She was absolutely invaluable in helping us decide where to go in SE Asia as we had never been there before and what to pass up. We are in good health, and relatively agile, but had several requests: smooth transfers at airports, excellent guides that could assist us in learning about the culture and history of each country, and experiences that would involve our own interests in the arts as well as my husbands in plants and trees and mine in animals.
There is absolutely no way that I, the usual travel planner in the family, could have constructed and developed the trip that April and the excellent ground team in SE Asia (Naida, Narla, et. al.) came up with. From the very beginning, when we were fast tracked and whisked through immigration and passport control in the Hanoi airport after 3 long flights from the U.S., the transfers went perfectly. The activities were amazing: in Vietnam – from a musical evening in Saigon at the home of a world famous mother/son performing duo to crawling into the Cu Chi Tunnels used by the VietCong when no other tourists were around followed by a home cooked dinner at the home of a former North Vietnam war veteran. In Battambang, we rode the bamboo train, and then spent a glorious day relaxing on a private boat taking us along the upper Sanke River to Siem Reap to learn about Angkor Wat, gliding first past the floating villages. My birthday occurred while we were in Siem Reap and April, Naida, and Narla made sure it was properly celebrated. The itinerary already called for a night out Cambodian style, but to that was added drinks, dinner, and a cake and flowers delivered to the hotel room when I returned! The experiences in Laos (a private tour of the botanical garden, giving alms to the monks at sunrise, receiving a baci blessing from the elders of a village, walking with rescued elephants in a sanctuary) were equally memorable.
There is only one trip experience that both my husband and I did not enjoy as much as we thought we would. We wanted to spend some time on boats, and for the most part, were happy that we did with the exception of the Halong Bay cruise. It took too long to drive back and forth (2 hours each way) for too little time on board (less than 24 hours) to enjoy the time at sea. We were only interested in the scenery and not the activities on board. Perhaps a day cruise might have been better for us as I think the younger passengers seemed quite happy with the cruise.
Aside from the Halong Bay cruise, we would do it all over again, do and see more, and stay even longer. And of course, have April and her team do all the arranging.
We planned a family trip to Taiwan to visit my 76 year-old mother’s childhood home and city. Although we had native speakers in our group and public transportation in Taipei is easy to navigate, we decided to work with a travel planner, and I’m glad we did.
Rebecca Newman, who works at Andrea and April’s company, helped to shape the itinerary, recommend hotels, and arrange transportation and a knowledgeable guide. Even with my mother’s local knowledge and much input from friends, we founded added value in Rebecca’s expertise. She tailored a detailed itinerary optimized for a relatively short stay and special experiences like a visit to a tea farm. Most importantly, Rebecca paired us with a wonderful guide who was the perfect match for us in terms of temperament, flexibility, and deep knowledge. We were able to focus on enjoying our family time together without any distractions or worries over logistics and schedules. Rebecca is a wonderful listener, and I highly recommend her.
Choosing really great guides and hotels.. Having me enter and leave Singapore through the VIP terminal, separate from the regular check-in, and regular Customs. Having VIP. service for visa on arrival in Cambodia. The guides in Singapore and Cambodia were very flexible about what I wanted to do and made changes according to what I wanted and circumstances that changed, as opposed to rigidly following the printed itinerary.
Due to a change in circumstances, I had a last-minute opportunity to join my 22-year old son in SE Asia for a 2-week trip. Although I normally enjoy planning travel, I simply didn’t have the time so I contacted Andrea Ross from the WOW list and could not possibly be more happy that I did. What I now know, is it is about more than having time, it is about having the appropriate knowledge — and insider knowledge at that! Andrea and her team took what would have been a great trip to an EXTRAORDINARY trip. Andrea spent time talking with me ahead of time and knew that I wanted to make it a special graduation trip for my son. And it was. We visited Saigon, Siem Reap, Cambodia, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue (which I never would have discovered on my own) and Hoi An. The staff of tour guides she has put together is truly phenomenal — they were all great and Jake and I consider them friends. They were attentive to our needs and also showed us people and places that were off the beaten path. We made a few adjustments along the way, and they were perfectly accommodating and flexible. The hotels chosen, the experiences recommended and planned were all great.
One other point about the value of working with Andrea and her team — My trip got off to a rough start in that my flight was delayed (I booked that myself) so my arrival was very late and without my luggage. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to resolve it myself, the country director in Vietnam, Mr. Khoa Nguyen literally went to the airport himself to track it down — and he did, resolving what was a major point of stress for me!
Finally, it is clear that “responsible travel” is an important core value of this company — and we were proud to be enlightened by it and participate.
THANK YOU to all our new friends on Andrea’s team – I recommend them without reservation and will also be excited to plan another trip with an expert from the WOW list!
I have used Andrea Ross for other trips, and she always provides unique opportunities and extraordinary experiences.
Anantara Golden Triangle Hotel – elephant walk – spectacular – we actually walked along side elephants and got to touch them and take pictures! It was amazing!!!
The Mekong cruise was also spectacular. Not sure if it’s for everyone. There were just 4 people total on the boat (us and another couple). If the boat was full it may have not been as good of an experience. Being on the river for 2 days taught us about the local people, the threat that hydro electric dams are posing to the river, etc.
Luang Prabang was charming.
Avani hotel was in ideal location / center of town / across from night market.
The trip was well planned and organized. Great staff and guides. Everything was seamless. Enjoyed the special opportunities only a specialist could arrange. We had a private home cooked meal with a former Vietcong soldier who lost an arm during the war. Incredible experience. Home cooked meal with a multi generation family who raised all the food in their backyard. Evening food tour at a Cambodia market with no other tourists.
We traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. We started in Bangkok and it was the day of the funeral of their King. Our local guide did not miss a beat in making alternate arrangements since many of the sites were closed. We asked if we could watch the procession (which pleased her) and it was a sad but a most interesting experience. This was just a small example of the care and detail that the local guides selected by Andrea demonstrated. From the charming woman who played a small concert for us with her son in her home to the incredible chef that taught us how to make pho, it was a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip. One of my favorite days was going by motorbike to have lunch with the nuns at a Buddhist temple. At the last stop outside of Phuket we really wanted to stay at a particular resort. There was nothing available when Andrea and April first tried to book, but their team kept after it and right before our trip advised we had the room we wanted. A wonderful experience – thanks to Andrea and April.
Andrea planned a fabulous trip for our family to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Her secret sauce is really having deep roots in the country (especially Cambodia) and connecting us with projects that truly work to improve life for the people where we traveled. She really understood what would resonate with our kids (highlights included a helicopter ride over Angkor Wat, quad biking on the back roads of Siem Reap, cooking with a family in a village outside of Luang Prabang, and meeting elephants at a sanctuary in Laos). The team on the ground in Asia was enormously helpful when we needed to make last-minute adjustments to our trip. There were three frustrations worth warning about: 1- Andrea is a popular expert and is occasionally difficult to connect with, 2- the village tours felt a little light (a little more surface than I would have expected having done many village tours around the world), and 3- the beach area they chose for us in Thailand was extremely touristy and generally disappointing; not sure I would use them to book a beach again.
Andrea did a great job listening to the diverse experiences that I wanted to include in our family holiday to southeast Asia. She suggested Thailand and Cambodia would be the best opportunity to do all the things that we had on our must do list. We visited temples, villages, played with elephants, volunteered in a community school, met rats that can find landmines, went to the circus, drove ATVs, volunteered in a community school, visited markets and ate the most amazing food. Our guides were the best…so informative while also incredibly flexible and attuned to the needs and interests of my family.
I loved my trip to Myanmar and Laos. It was everything I could have hoped for since I wanted a more cultural experience. Some people may not like a local guide at each destination and I felt this way at first, but I ended up loving how each guide was from the area. It provided a more authentic experience as I got to even meet some of my guides’ friends and families. The best part was that April planned the trip so I could visit both countries during their water festivals and new year. I got to sit with my guide’s family and celebrate the new year, which gave me the most authentic Songkran experience. Luang Prabang is the most beautiful city and taking a boat ride to more remote villages to visit families who blessed me for the new year was my absolute favorite memory. And let me tell you, it is extremely hard to choose a favorite on such an amazing trip. Also, she planned it flawlessly so I could go in a hot air balloon overlooking Bagan right before they stopped running. I’ve had many friends go and not have the opportunity to do a hot air balloon because they are booked or they didn’t know the season ended, which I did not know either so I am so happy that someone could make the experience effortless for me. I was extremely hesitant to visit Myanmar at first but ended up falling in love with it. It was nice to hear the opinions of my guides from Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake. I got to meet so many local people that made my experience in each city an unforgettable one. The current political climate can make someone shy away from the country, and I felt that way when I was deciding to go, but I highly recommend going to Myanmar.
Travel to Laos, Cambodia and Thailand 11/15-12/8/2018
Journeys Within planned the trip just as we hoped. We wanted to learn about the culture and get a feel of the people. Their choices of places to stay, guides and experiences met this goal completely. When there was a problem, and there were few, they handled it immediately. The guides were flexible and shared their personal experiences, which gave us insights that are not available any other way. Andrea made choices that really gave insights into each country and directed us to see things that were not necessarily tourist destinations. From washing elephants, to seeing rats find land mines, to cooking a meal on an open fire, to chatting with the most enlightened person we have ever encountered (a Buddhist Monk) this was a trip we will never forget.
If you let Andrea know what you want and spend time refining it you will have a trip to remember.
April was very knowledgeable about the area and what we wanted out of our trip. She suggested a great resort out of the Frey of Phuket city. She also planned some great excursions for us while at the resort.
April also gave us some great tips about visas and travel issues related not only to Thailand but to Vietnam and Cambodia ( which we were visiting as part of a bike trip which April did not plan).
Finally, April had a local agent on the ground who was excellent. Arranging transfers for us and allowing us flexibility in changing our plans.
For our first pleasure trip to Thailand, we selected an agent from the WOW List, Andrea Ross, and April Cole. After a phone interview, an itinerary was offered to us, we tweaked it just a bit, and arrangements were quickly made. We worked with April and she was highly knowledgeable about the area of Chiang Mai and the opportunities for our exploration. The only challenge I presented her was the fact that I am recovering from a badly broken femur, a limiting factor for many adventures.
Even though I would not be able to participate she recommended that I accompany my husband on the elephant adventure and I’m so glad I did. I got great photos of his delight, got to learn about these elephants a bit more, and met some very gregarious young elephants.
April selected what I thought might be a ho-hum activity primarily for me (no walking, educational) which turned into one of our favorites immediately. It’s at the top of my list of favorite things we have ever done. Studio Naenna was by far the most emotionally rewarding, educational and hands-on experience I could have imagined. Aprils’ description of it didn’t really provide us with the full story of what we were about to experience. My husband, a scientist, immediately bonded with Patricia – our instructor – on the chemistry level and we both came away admiring her cause, her passion and the community she serves. Learning about her life’s work was an honor and a joy. She is that rare treasure of a mission-driven woman who has realized her goals. We left wishing we had more time with her. This particular tour was so far off the list of things to do that I had read about we were immensely thrilled to have had the honor of being there. Its what makes using the WOW List agent so worthwhile to have found a gem of an experience like this.
Our local tour guide, Mae, was a delight. Very gracious, well informed, she adjusted some of our itinerary on the spot when my impairment limited what I could do. New arrangements were quickly put in place with our comfort and enjoyment always at the top of her priorities.
We will be taking our third WOW arranged trip next May. But it won’t be our last by far. This is the way to explore the most unique offerings of wherever we might go.
We had a great trip. Andrea understood the way we wanted to travel and set it up perfectly. We wanted to go to Southeast Asia but knew we could not cover everything. We saw many of the highlights but it was not a superficial visit. We went to many places that we never would have found on our own such as a visit with one of our guides family in Cambodia. A really wonderful experience.
Andrea planned a terrific trip for me and my two adult sons to Vietnam and Cambodia. She was very flexible during the planning process – as our needs and itinerary changed. She made great suggestions for some off the beaten path experiences. The hotels and guides she selected were excellent – and not ones I might have arranged myself. When we were disappointed about an aspect of the trip, she immediately dealt with it at our next stop. Highly recommended.
Andrea planned a three week trip to Thailand and Cambodia for us. We have a couple of limitations because of medical issues and she was able to plan around those and change the trip to suit our needs. The trip details were very easy to work out with Andrea. After an initial email, we had several short phone calls and exchanged emails. To a large extent, the guides make or break your trip and all the guides she arranged were friendly, outgoing, and very knowledgeable. Having been on other trips such as this, we found her guides to be exceptional. Her recommendations for hotels were spot on as were her dining suggestions. Fortunately, we did not need her services for any medical emergencies, but she seems to have thorough evaluation/evacuation plan in place with contacts if needed. I would highly recommend Andrea Ross for a SE Asia adventure and would use her again.
Every aspect of our trip to Southeast Asia was superb. We traveled to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam; in each country, we had a special experience. In Cambodia, we had VIP seats at a circus performed by young people who came from dysfunctional families and had been trained in Cirque du Soleil type acrobatics. In Vietnam, dinner with a Viet Cong soldier at his family home and a visit to an architect who rebuilt his house after it was destroyed during the war where his wife served us a spectacular 7 course dinner. Each of our 6 guides was knowledgeable, courteous, flexible and attentive to our needs, whether it was providing cold towels and water, to letting us linger a while longer at spots that captivated our interest. The drivers were equally wonderful. The hotels were great and the pacing was perfect. If you want a personalized, spectacular trip to Southeast Asia, I don’t think you can do better than to book with Andrea and April.
We were gone for 2 weeks. We enjoyed the entire experience with Andrea and her staff. Our trip was well planned out and we just enjoyed everything. The trip was in January of 2018 we traveled to Thailand, Luang Prabang Laos and Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and back to Bangkok. During the trip, we change things around some and Andrea and her staff were great and able to accommodate all of our needs and request. Every time our plane landed and we disembarked we were pleased to those familiar signs with their our names on it. Our tour guides for each city were exceptional and locals from every city we visited.
This was everything we hoped for and a great experience to see South East Asia.
Andrea lives in Southeast Asia with kids so she totally gets what it takes to travel with them. We went to Siem Reap and Singapore in January 2018 and both were a total blast. My 3-year-old went on a quad bike and it brought the countryside alive, it was awesome! The Ko family will never forget this trip.
April Cole and her team, helped us plan a spectacular vacation to SE Asia (Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) in November. The true ‘secret sauce’ to working with them are definitely their local guides – they were all knowledgeable, friendly and charismatic. All in all, we would not have had nearly as seamless, as easy or as fun a time without April and her team and their incredible guides.
Having someone meet us at each airport, skip all the queues and ensure that everything was in order throughout our trip definitely made all the difference. Having a guide to check us in at each hotel as well as escort us back to the airport and stay with us while we check-in was just the cream on top! Journeys Within did an awesome job of making sure that our private vehicles had snacks, water and cold towels. Naida was also on-the-ball with checking-in with us via email throughout the trip to make sure everything was going along as planned.
Nee, Sam, Ravi and Nam were all wonderful guides, providing an incredibly unique experience to each city that we visited. We really felt that if we would have tried to book everything on our own without Journeys Within, we would have missed out on A LOT of the local culture and the ‘off-the-beaten-track’ experiences that made this a fantastic journey that we will be talking about for a long time to come.
We would have to say that our entire trip was a wonderful experience, though if we *absolutely* had to choose, the highlights would be:
• Seeing (and eating in) Bangkok like a local with Nee
• Hiking in the mountains of Chiang Mai with Sam and Wat and arriving at the waterfall for a beautiful 3-course lunch
• Having an incredible, private 5-star dinner in a rice paddy field in Cambodia, with our own musician serenading us in the background
• Exploring Hanoi on scooter like a local, touring food markets with the wonderful Ms. Mai (an international award-winning chef), and laughing with Nam
Also, getting wished happy birthday by Ravi and Nam as well as receiving a beautiful birthday gift of a wonderful photograph of Angkor Wat waiting in our room in Siem Reap was totally unexpected and very touching.
We would highly recommend April and her team to anyone looking to visit SE Asia and wanting an authentic, fun and customized trip. Thank you again for an incredible time! Our only regret is that they doesn’t offer travel services for the rest of Asia!
It was wonderful working with Andrea to plan this trip! She was amazingly responsive and truly understood my needs and desires as we planned the trip. She was completely flexible in reworking the itinerary when some obstacles forced a change in plans. As for the trip itself – it was excellent!!! Our guides were the most important “make or break” part of the trip, and they were superb. As we flew to different locations we had new guides, but all of them were full of knowledge, kind, warm, open and their insights and warmth provided for a stellar trip. We felt like we were leaving friends as we moved on through the country. Every guide took great care of us ensuring we were checked into our flights and making sure that we were carefully handed from one location to another. I couldn’t have asked for more and we wouldn’t hesitate to work with Andrea and her team again.
If you are planning a trip to Cambodia / Vietnam, you should look no further than Andrea Ross & her team. Every guide they arranged for us was not only knowledgeable but friendly and even had a sense of humor! They are very well respected within Cambodia / Vietnam and have much integrity with both the traveler and locals. Their hotel suggestions were perfect, including the Java House in Angor Wat which was fantastic. They knew that we shy away from touristy activities and made a point of coming up with creative activities throughout. I would definitely use them again and have already recommended them.
Andrea Ross, April Cole and their team were by far the best travel service I have ever worked with. They were extremely responsive to our requests and planned exactly the trip we dreamed of. All of the accommodations and activities were wonderful and the guides were knowledgeable. We would highly recommend them and we hope to plan a trip back to the area in the future.
Andrea did a fantastic job in planning activities that fit our interests. She has amazing staff in both Thailand and Cambodia. They made our trip a memorable one. The hotels Andrea recommended offered personalized outstanding service. We had a limited time frame and an ambitious schedule, but Andrea and her team made it work.
May/June 2017 Bangkok, Phuket, and Siem Reap.
Excellent service all around. Andrea put together a great trip for us.
The experience was great. After chatting with Andrea over the phone about what we were looking for, she put together a tentative itinerary that hit all the marks. The few things we wanted to tweak, she did so seamlessly. And the guides on the ground were also flexible with minor tweaks to our itineraries, managing to squeeze in everything we wanted, and then some. The one piece of feedback we gave them is that when things changed beyond their control, we would have preferred to be given an option for an alternative plan, rather than just making alternative plans for us. But it wasn’t a big deal at all. The guides were fabulous in all 3 places – really genuine people who truly seemed passionate about their cities/countries and their work.
Some years ago, I found Andrea Ross on your list of travel specialists focusing on Southeast Asia. The recommendation indicated that she was willing to work within any budget, and that appealed to me since I was taking my family of 5 adults to Cambodia and Laos. Andrea planned an excellent and affordable trip for us. The trip went off without a single hitch. Since then, Andrea’s colleague April has planned two more trips for us: Myanmar and, most recently, Vietnam with a return to Cambodia where we met two scholarship students who we have been helping through university, thanks to Andrea’s Journeys Within Our Community Foundation. The focus this company has on improving the lives of Cambodians is very special, and they inspire their travelers to become part of the effort. Our friendship and relationship with our two young women has been inspiring and life changing for all of us. We applaud Andrea’s and April’s commitment to their Cambodian community. Further, I want you to know that the planning, execution, and follow-up just gets better and better. The experiences were one of a kind. The guides were outstanding. And…we had a fabulous time. Thank you for recommending this life-changing company to us.
My wife and I (then fiance), found Andrea Ross after browsing your “Wow List.” We were skeptical about using a travel agent for our honeymoon because I’m a planner and love planning all of the trips we take. But between planning our wedding and wanting a truly elevated level of service where we wouldn’t have to be stressed at all on our honeymoon, we began the research.
We “interviewed” several companies and weren’t impressed. Some even connected us with agents that had never traveled to SE Asia! And then we found Andrea and her colleague April Cole, who is a superstar. From our first prelim conversation, she just “got it”. She asked all the right questions and within 3 days, we had 2 different itineraries that were pretty much right on the money. After some very collaborative tweaking here and there, we had the trip of a lifetime on paper (Thailand and Cambodia for 2 weeks).
Julie and I just got back and can say without a doubt that Andrea and April over-delivered. The hotels, private guides, activities, excursions, meals….everything was over the top and by far culminated in the best trip of our lives. Our goals were to somehow be very active and in that participate in activities that were unique and we hadn’t done before (hike through the jungle, elephant sanctuary, private romantic dinner in Cambodian rice fields, ATV through Cambodian villages) and spend the rest of the time in total veg-out, relaxation mode in a very romantic setting (5 star hotels, incredible service, sunset dinners, etc). Andrea and April checked the boxes on all. Not to mention, they were always available from a communication standpoint with their folks on the ground always a phone call away, and that we were able to give back to the community in small ways through participating in activities via NGO’s.
This is a long testimonial, but I think it’s important for you to know that we a) appreciate your strong recommendation because we wouldn’t have had this experience without your nod of approval, and b) that we strongly suggest you keep recommending them to your travelers in need of a travel specialist that focuses on SE Asia.
Thank you sincerely for your WOW List and for helping to connect us with the best travel specialists we could have asked for.
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 and her team were 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 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 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 Andrea and her team. 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, 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 them. Their pride, their hospitality, and the knowledge made all the difference. A further note…the team 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 Andrea and her team. We should only be so lucky to be able to go again.
This was our second trip with Andrea and her team 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 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!
I have made two trips with Andrea Ross and her team. The first one was in Angkor Wat, Cambodia in 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 Andrea Ross and her team. 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. Their 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, they have access to people and experiences that can’t be duplicated.
In each of the four countries we visited, a local member of the 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 and her team were 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!
Andrea and her team were 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. They 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 Andrea Ross and her team 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 and her team. 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 Andrea and her team, 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 Andrea Ross and her team to anyone traveling to SE Asia in a heartbeat! Thanks to them we have memories that will last us a lifetime.
In February 2013, Andrea Ross and her 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 they 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 Andrea Ross. Nat. Geo. was not able to accommodate any individual requests or arrangements. In fact, Andrea’s team 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.) They 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. Andrea and her team 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 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 on Andrea’s team. 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 Andrea Ross to several friends planning Asia trips.
Andrea and Cortney on her team, 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 Andrea Ross and her team. 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 on Andrea’s team 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 Andrea Ross 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 Andrea Ross’s team so much. In between our own trips, we have recommended them to four other couples who have all been as delighted as we were, and have recommended them 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 knowledgeable, 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, c ountrysides and more. In cars and on fun motor bikes, tuk-tuks (motorized rickshaws), bike s 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!