Iím usually the dissatisfied customer in a tour group. I donít fancy being cramped in a small van with complete strangers and identified by a sticker on my chest advertising the tour company. I loathe it when thereís a sudden change in the itinerary, and we end up in a gem shop with overpriced products where the tour guide is sure to get a commission should an unknowing tourist purchases something. Itís even worse when the tour guide snaps me back to reality at the very moment Iím lost in awe and admiration of a temple that was built 500 years ago.
However, despite this indifference to tour groups, I have and still do use them when traveling in Asia. The thought of not having to plan, of not having to worry where the next stop is going to be is all too often very, very enticing.
The booming tourism industry in the Southeast Asian region has thankfully made these tours readily available. With this widespread interest in the tour business, it is usually quite easy to book yourself a tour when you arrive in most provinces in Southeast Asia. However, if you are the kind who prefers to pre-book a tour for your convenience, there are a lot of companies that have gone online to service such a need. The downside, however, is that every wannabe entrepreneur has jumped on the bandwagon, thereby reducing the quality of a lot of these tourism agencies..
So after weighing up the pros and cons, youíve decided to pre-book a tour online. However, before handing over your credit card details. Its essential you consider the big three guidelines to booking a tour to Southeast Asia online. Make sure You get the tour for You!
No. 1 Most Important: Make Sure Itís Not A Scam
Thatís right, scammers have invaded the travel world. Free vacation? Travel agentsí discounts for a non-travel agent like you? They donít exist! If it sounds to good to be true, then more than likely it is.
No. 2 When Booking Online, Make Use Of Customer Support.
Ask them about the tour details, the maximum number of people in the group, any ďhiddenĒ charges, excluded fees (like taxes, meals, entrance fees...etc), and the cancellation procedure. Ask them whatever you want. Make sure youíre going to get your moneyís worth. Make sure your vacation is not going to turn into a nightmare!
When customer support is unsupportive and requesting financial details before answering your questions, go somewhere else, no matter how tempting the offer. If they canít be bothered to attend to you when you havenít given them a cent, you can just imagine what would happen once they have your hard-earned money!
No. 3 Research Goes A Long Way.
This can never be underestimated. We book tours to Southeast Asia online to do away with the planning and worrying. If you are booking with a tourist agency for the first time or with one not recommended by someone you trust, then it is more than necessary to do a little bit of research.
The internet has vast resources where both enraged and satisfied customers can help you make an intelligent consumer decision. Take advantage of this. Go to your favorite search engine (I prefer Google), and look for reviews, complaints and/or recommendations for the tour or the tourism agency you plan to use.
Use the link 'Foreign Language' to learn useful phases for your destination. Choose the language from the drop-down box. Know the words and phrases before leaving home.
Invest in a passport holder. I prefer the kind which is waterproof and worn as belt around the waist. It is worn under your clothes and not seen by others. There is a zipper compartment divided for passport, money and credit cards. It is so comfortable the wearer can sleep with it around the waist.
The type which hang about the neck invites troubles and who wants someone pulling on a strong cord around the neck. Remember to carry the amount of money needed for the dayís activities in your pocket and the rest placed safely away.
UnderCover Passport Money Case at Amazon.com
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