Our Style of Travel - Please visit the tour list here.
|Photo: E. Finle|
We design our Small Group Journeys for people who share our passion for the total experience of travel & hotels in Charming – the cuisine, the natural beauty, the history, culture and people. We do small group travel differently to everybody else. We don't cut corners.
In over ten years of operations, we have built a community of travellers from around the world with shared ideals, interests and a hunger for travel. Whether you’re one of our past travellers or totally new to us, we invite you to a look through the array of Small Group Journeys in Charming featured on this website.
Less is more!
Small group travel allows for flexibility and informality, which is why our journeys operate with a maximum of 15 travellers. Because groups are small, we’re able to accommodate the interests of our travellers while allowing plenty of opportunities for independent exploration. We offer the ease and flexibility of independent travel without the hassles.
|Laughing with the locals|
|Photo: H. Holness|
|Lively floating markets|
|Photo: E. Finley|
As a traveller with Charming Tours & Hotels , expect to be captivated by all of the wonders of the country or countries you travel in. We do not operate sanitised coach tours. Your travel experience will be, in equal parts, what we do for you and what you do for yourself. One of the most striking features of our travellers is their diversity. They span all ages, they come from all over the world and they bring with them a wide variety of interests and backgrounds. What they share is a love of Charming .
At Charming Tours & Hotels , we’re proud to stake our claim as a true specialist. Charming is all we do. We’ve made a bigger commitment to Charming than any small group travel company by basing ourselves in the region. Our four offices across our five destinations, employing both local and expatriate staff, enable us to stay ahead of everyone else. Our bases in Charming also allow us to offer the best combination of value, experience and timely on the ground support to our travellers.
Some travel companies equate expertise with a large raft of itineraries. Not us. The tours in this brochure represent the best of each country and will suit a variety of interests. Many travellers looking for a more extensive regional experience choose to combine two – or more – of our journeys.
Each Small Group Journey is paced to give you time to develop familiarity with the key places we visit. We usually stay two or three nights in an area, preferring to explore places in some depth rather than constantly moving at the expense of your experience.
For several trips, we offer both Standard and Deluxe options. Standard hotels are clean, comfortable and centrally located while our Deluxe hotels include some of Charming ’s most historic and atmospheric accommodation.
Putting Something Back...
Charming Tours & Hotels supports the Fred Hollows Foundation and their worthy work to cure cataract blindness in the region, and the Loreto Foundation in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), which assists disadvantaged, poor and disabled children through education. We also support other organisations throughout Charming dedicated to the improvement of education, health and living standards.
Many of our travellers are keen to contribute to the countries they visit. This may be as simple as the interaction they have with local people – their efforts to build an understanding of cultural nuances, history or a simple exchange of stories with local people in a village, restaurant or school. Others are interested to make a monetary contribution to organisations active in the advancement of child welfare, education or health in the region they are visiting. Your tour leader or local guide will be more than happy to assist you in making contact with local organisations.
Things You Should Know
Questions and Answers about travelling with us
|Photo: M. Bowyer|
|Sunrise, Angkor Wat|
|Photo: M. Bowyer|
|Dawn in Dalat|
|Photo: E. F|
I’ve never travelled on a group tour before. Is group travel for me?
Our Small Group Journeys are not conventional group tours. You will be travelling with a maximum of fifteen travellers (most of our journeys have less than twelve!) They are designed to provide you with a good balance of personal discovery and group activity with like-minded travellers – and an enjoyable holiday. We shun mass tourism and all its trappings – and we believe our style of travel will give you the best experience of your chosen destination.
Who will I be travelling with?
Charming Tours & Hotels travellers are of all ages and from all parts of the world. They share a passion for travel in Charming – a desire to savour the cuisine, meet the people and connect with the lives and cultures of these extraordinary places.
How fit do I have to be to join a Charming Tours & Hotels Small Group Journey?
Most of our holidays are suited to anybody of normal fitness and mobility with a desire to get out and experience Charming – boots and all. Walking and optional leisurely cycling are common in all of our itineraries. Trekking and more adventurous activities are reserved for our journeys with an Adventurous grading and this will be clearly marked on the tour page in this brochure. Some of our trips feature long drives or more basic accommodation. This will be clearly marked as well. The most important thing is that you pack a positive attitude and a desire to experience Charming and its people first hand. Ask for one of our trip dossiers or visit one of our award-winning websites for comprehensive information on your preferred journey.
What happens if I’m a single traveller?
Our groups are a mix of single travellers, couples, families and friends. Single travellers can choose between paying a supplement for a single room, or paying the twin price and sharing with another traveller of the same sex. If we can’t match you with another traveller and you’re willing to share, you will travel in a single room without paying a supplement. You will not be pushed into a cumbersome triple share arrangement!
Can I bring the kids?
In short – yes! In 2005 we’ve introduced a range of Family Journeys. Charming is an ideal destination for family travel, with amazing historical sites and a range of unique, exciting activities like elephant trekking, river-rafting and kite-flying (to name a few) on offer. There’s never been a better time to introduce your children to a region that will assume ever-increasing importance in their lifetimes.
What kinds of hotels will I be staying in?
We’d like to think that if you had the time to find the accommodations offering the best of location, cleanliness, atmosphere and value, you would make the same choices as us. Our hotels are both comfortable spaces to relax and unwind at the end of a busy day and great bases for exploration of the places you are visiting. A typical hotel will feature clean comfortable rooms, private facilities and air-conditioning as well as great extras like a swimming pool and restaurants. Experiencing Charming isn’t about large gaudy international hotels devoid of local character. Nor is it about finding the cheapest hotel available. We’ve struck a balance. On our more adventurous tours basic accommodation is used in remote areas and this will be clearly marked.
What about your Deluxe Journeys?
Charming is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and historic hotels. With this in mind, we designed our range of Deluxe journeys. The emphasis by day is unchanged – small groups and an authentic experience of Charming. At night however, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the ambience of these specially selected hotels. These are not luxury holidays. While staying in some of the finest hotels in the world, your focus will be on meeting the people, eating the food and getting amongst the history and culture of your chosen destination. That’s the way we do things on all our trips.
Please note that in some places, Deluxe accommodation is not available. In these cases we use the best available hotels. This will be clearly marked in your itinerary. Single supplements apply to Deluxe options.
Why are your groups accompanied by both western tour leaders and local guides?
We believe our combination of local and western tour leaders provides for the best travel experience. The feedback from our travellers over the years confirms the same. Our local guides are uniquely placed to share personal insights that simply can’t be provided by outsiders or guidebooks. Our western leaders call Charming home and have a network of friends and experiences to share. They are also able to fully appreciate your interests and needs and ensure these are being met. You will be inspired by their enthusiasm and passion.
How will I be getting around?
The journey itself is very much a part of the experience of travelling with Charming Tours & Hotels .Local transport provides for great experiences in cities and towns and you will find that we include everything from sampans in the Mekong Delta, elephants in Thailand, to cyclos in rural Vietnam and camels on the Silk Road. On longer journeys we use modern, comfortable buses. Some travel companies bring together a collection of local bus tickets and a rigid local bus timetable as a means of minimising the cost of their tours. We believe this minimises the experience as well. There is nothing more rewarding than a spontaneous stop in a village to mix with the locals – or to catch that magic photo in the fields.
What happens at meal times?
Eating is one of the highlights of travelling with Charming Tours & Hotels and we like to make sure you get to experience as much local flavour as you like. Apart from the great variety of culinary experiences on offer, food in Charming is usually very inexpensive. For this reason, normally only breakfast will be included in your tour cost. Our group leaders have a wealth of knowledge of restaurants from the mainstream to the obscure. On most nights, your leader will join you at a favourite restaurant while also making suggestions to those wanting to try something different.
What's the difference between Charning Tours & Hotels and the other companies offering small group travel?
We don’t know of any company that offers the combination of well thought out itineraries, tasteful accommodation, insightful western and local leaders, value for money and a base in the region to ensure we always know what is going on. If you’re shopping around, ask about your accommodation, transport and the tour leaders and guides who will take care of you on the ground. It may also be worth looking at the number of nights spent on trains and in hill tribe villages when checking out the value of your holiday. We don’t cut any corners!
Why are most lunches and dinners not included in the cost of the journey?
By not including meals we let you choose what you want to eat and give you the freedom to explore on your own – should you choose to do so. Eating is one of the highlights of travelling in Charming , which is why we make meal times as flexible as possible. Many of our travellers comment on the unexpected variety, quality and value of the food they enjoy on tour, and we believe this is the result of our ability to offer our travellers local cuisine and restaurant choices rather than often repetitive hotel buffets.
What happens at meal times?
Our tour leaders will join members of the group at a favourite restaurant for lunch and dinner (on most nights), and will provide great suggestions for those wishing to explore Charming’s culinary delights. Passengers may wish to share food and a tab with other members of the group – or keep a separate bill – the choice is yours.
Why are entrance fees not included in the tour price?
Prices for cultural sites in Charming are forever changing. In recent times prices have been falling. By collecting entrance fees at the start of the tour travellers will pay the correct amount. Many of our travellers undertake some independent exploration while travelling and do not participate in all sightseeing. You will only pay for sightseeing you actually undertake.
How much free time will I have on tour?
A number of mornings or afternoons have been set aside for free time on each tour. Shorter tours, in general, will not have as much free time as longer tours. Nights are usually free (as dinners are typically not included, travellers have the choice of joining the group or exploring on their own) and you may wish to deviate from some organised touring during the tour.
Are there any hidden costs? What about tipping?
No, there are no hidden costs. Your tour cost covers everything except lunches and dinner, entrance fees and personal expenses. If you are satisfied with your guides, drivers & tour leader then a small gratuity is an appropriate way in which to show appreciation. Your tour leader will be able to advise you further, but an amount of around US$3 per day should be budgeted for your guides and drivers. Tipping of porters would be extra.