Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

We made everything from scratch under the direction of an expert Thai chef whose English was excellent
Henry Robles | May 22, 2023

I traveled to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia in May 2023 with an itinerary designed by Sandy Ferguson and Ethan Crowley, and the trip truly surpassed my expectations. I specifically visited the cities of Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang, Siem Reap, and Phnom Penh, and the private Cambodian island of Song Saa. For years, I’d wanted to visit Angkor Wat and surrounding archeological sites, and that was the standout that I expected it to be. An unexpected highlight was visiting the MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary in Laos, where I got face-to-face with the enormous gentle animals and spent time feeding them and walking through the forest with them. This was a recommendation from Sandy and Ethan, not something I envisioned doing. Another highlight was attending an all-day Thai cooking school in Chiang Mai where I surprised myself by learning to cook 5 excellent Thai dishes. We made everything from scratch under the direction of an expert Thai chef whose English was excellent. Lastly, I loved spending five nights of luxurious relaxation at a private island resort, Song Saa, off the coast of Cambodia. In planning my trip, I asked Sandy and Ethan for a stop at a resort in southern Thailand, simply because I was more familiar with them, but the logistics of getting me there given the rest of my itinerary made Song Saa a more convenient choice. I can’t imagine that I missed anything by not going to a Thai beach resort. Song Saa was everything I was looking for: quiet, private, tranquil and luxurious. And because I visited during the low season it felt as if I had the island all to myself. I never would have known about it had it not been for Sandy and Ethan. I would happily spend another week there. At each stop (except for Song Saa), I had a private local tour guide (personally vetted by their office) and driver who handled all the logistics of permits and entry to the various sites. Each spoke English remarkably well and treated me like a family member. Each was eager to show me the best of what their city had to offer but allowed me to adjust the schedule and itinerary to suit my own needs. They never forgot that it was my vacation, not theirs. I would definitely recommend this team for anyone planning to travel to Southeast Asia. I suggest contacting them as far in advance of your planned dates as possible, even if you’re unsure of exactly everything you’d like to see and do. I found the communication from them clear and consistent with reminders, for example, about passports and visas and international flights (which they do not arrange). They were also in touch during the trip when one of my intra-country flights was cancelled and I had to adjust my itinerary slightly—the only hiccup in the entire 18-day trip. Overall, I couldn’t be more satisfied with Sandy and Ethan, and my trip.

Best was our ability to customize the plan every day
Stephen Lichtenstein | April 7, 2023

Amazing Sandy Ferguson trip from 3/15/23-4/3/23 to Vietnam/Cambodia. Guides took care of everything and shared so much of themselves. Hotels were perfect. Best was our ability to customize the plan every day. There was nothing we could ask for that the guides would not try to facilitate. Small restaurants “on the street” were spectacular. We felt so well taken care of, and we feel like we did not “miss” anything. For Sandy and Ethan this is personal. Response time to my many emails was great, with reassuring explanations explaining their recommendations. Go ASAP…the people are so happy to welcome you.

Our guide took us to a quiet place where her family normally gives alms, avoiding other tourists
Catherine Mathis | March 7, 2023

We just returned from a fabulous three-week plus trip to Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam, and Cambodia organized for us by Sandy. While we have traveled a great deal, this trip was among the best, if not THE, best trip we’ve taken. The diversity and specialness of our experiences made it stand out.

Like Napoleon’s army, we travel on our stomachs and the food we had on this trip was extraordinary. One evening in Laos we went to the home of our guide who Sandy has worked closely with for years. We helped prepare dinner, were blessed by the family elders in a baci ceremony for success on our journey, ate the delicious food we had helped cook, and danced and sang with the family. Another night in Cambodia, we ate at a local village restaurant. With travel to Cambodia down due to the pandemic, it’s a great time to visit and we were the only people at the restaurant. After a foot massage and passion fruit mojito, we were escorted to our table overlooking vibrant green rice fields while being serenaded by lovely music. In Hanoi, we went to Bun Cha Sinh Tu and had the famous soup it’s known for. It was table-pounding good. And our Vespa food tour of Saigon which Sandy had strongly suggested was both delicious and terrifying. Driving a motorbike in Saigon should be an Olympic sport and we just rode!

Our excellent guides in Laos and Viet Nam shared with us the experiences of their families during the War and recounted working with American veterans who returned years later as well as a reporter who had covered it. These personal and moving stories touched us and helped us better understand the profound effect of the War on the people who lived through it.

In Cambodia, we went to a Buddhist temple at 5:30 in the morning and meditated. Afterwards, we were showered with lotus petals as part of a blessing ceremony and had breakfast at the monastery as the sun rose. Early one morning in Laos, we gave sticky rice to saffron-robed monks who extended their begging bowls to us. Through this daily ritual, the monks demonstrate their vows of poverty and humility. Our guide took us to a quiet place where her family normally gives alms, avoiding other tourists.

It’s hard to encapsulate all we saw and did because there was so much — seeing the temples of Angkor, kayaking in Halong Bay, boating on the Saigon River, biking through Hoi An. Part of what made this trip so good was the flexibility we had in determining what we would do and not do each day. We had great guidance and suggestions from Sandy but he emphasized this was our trip. We did make last-minute adjustments. For example, on the spur of the moment we decided we wanted to see the Bamboo Circus in Saigon and our guide helped us get tickets four hours before the performance. (I would, however, recommend booking earlier.) Thoughtful planning and flexibility helped make this the trip of a lifetime.

Took us to local restaurants that we would never have found and explained the history of the location
Gina Hagen | February 27, 2023

This trip was exceptional. Sandy Ferguson and staff made everything easy for us, down to his guide to Southeast Asia that answered all our how-to questions. Sandy guided us before the trip to make sure we had trip insurance and visas to both countries to save time, and that we brought the right items with us, while also discouraging lots of luggage.

We had the best rooms in each hotel and knowledgeable (and kindest) tour guides, drivers that took care to ensure we had water and a cold washcloth every time we returned to the car, as well as navigating the motorbikes and cars in busy cities. Our guides met us without any hitches at the airport and were always on time to pick us up. They took us to local restaurants that we would never have found and explained the history of the location to us, as well as being very willing to tell us about their lives and how they lived. It was an immersion that we could not have done on our own. Each guide confirmed our air reservations, which was helpful.

The itinerary was well-planned, with the ability to change anything at any time to meet with our interests. We were able to see much more than we anticipated and fit in so many things, while also having some down time to go to the beach in Hoi An and a few-day cruise.

We could not have taken such an awesome trip without Sandy’s guidance and we appreciate his staff for a flawless trip.

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