A lot of people availed of tour packages, one because they want convenience (same reason I do), and two, sometimes they're cheaper. That's because you get to share the cost. Also, tour package could be a good way to explore the place when you are not yet so acquainted with the area, less risky. Furthermore, tour packages gets you to places in a short period of time. But let's face it, there's more to the place than that included in the tour. That is why, if you have more time, and if your energy allows it, Do-It-Yourself is still best.
I want to share some tips regarding travels (I am basing it on my recent Hongkong-Macau tour). What is it and what it's not. Some things I think people need to know before thinking of availing or not availing of the tour package. And of course, this is limited to the package that we availed.
1. In availing the tour package, know the inclusions. And do some research on what these inclusions mean. Sometimes, the inclusions sounds so nice and grand, but actually they're just common sense dictated inclusions, or normally part of an ordinary package, but is marketed like it's a special feature of the package. Check out different deals.
2. Breakfast meals, there are packages that says "outside breakfast", ask if this breakfast means they're going to serve the meals in a separate area or is it just meal vouchers. Unlike when we were in Thailand, and in select hotel with free breakfast packages, this "outside breakfast" is actually just a meal coupon. If you'd do the math (in our case) HKD20/per person per meal. But the restaurant where you should avail the coupon serves, on an average meal, around HKD 24 to HKD30. You might want to provide extra budget for meals if you want to eat decently. And do not be surprised that you will see bunch of people lining up with the same coupon that you have. Meaning, you must have availed the same package (most tour package) offered in our country have the same suppliers in Hongkong. So even if you have different travel agencies in your country, you might end up eating in the same restaurant and staying in the same Hotel. It's good, you'll make new friends.
3. It's better if you know where to go in each area, ask what's in the "City Tour" or what's in the "Day Tour" you might just avail a package with itinerary that is not so much of your liking. Try to ask, what places are included or will be visited in the "tour", this might give you an idea, whether you should or you shouldn't avail the package. If you were told of the places included or itinerary, just google the places, read some reviews. It will help you decide. Choose a package that includes an itinerary of most places that you want to go to or visit.
4. Check if there are provisions for "Mandatory Tipping". Yes, almost every guide or driver will ask you for "Mandatory Tipping" and it's part of the package. In our case, we paid HKD100/guide for two persons. In our case, for our guide in Hongkong and another payment for our guide in Macau, even though it's just one tour package that we availed. Reason, it's because we have one guide in Hongkong and one guide in Macau. And yes, they are literally, MANDATORY.
5. Tour Guide will have their way of selling you things or selling you out. Well, not actually selling you. But yes, they will sometime bring you to places that you would probably buy something (and who knows they get a cut either each person they bring or a percentage of what you bought). So be respectful to your guide, be nice, but yes, be skeptic at times. Sometimes, they would sell you items at way higher prices than their prices when you go to the real market place. If you have a lot of extra, buy 'em, you're helping the guide. If you don't have much extra, courteously decline.
6. If part of the itinerary of the tour is a place you want to explore, check the duration in the itinerary. You might not be sooo happy if you'll just be stopped suddenly because it's time to go on board the bus again for another destination.
7. "Free and easy" means you will be on your own. So, check ahead of time, if there are places you can go to, while it's your "leisure" time. If you avail a package for say 4D3N check what activities are included in each day. Just so you know, "free and easy" means no activity. If you don't have much budget, you might end up spending days in a hotel. So make the most out of it. Make sure each activity is well distributed/scattered in different days. Makes the tour more comfortable and worth every penny.
8. Know the details of the places in the itinerary. Some destinations in the itinerary, you would have to spend extra, because it's part of the "exclusions". Example, when we get to the fishing village, we had to pay HKD20/per person for the tour in the fishing village.
9. Tickets included. Check if ticket to-and-from the places are included in the package. And whether you would be taken back to your hotel or not. Fortunately for us, even if the package that we got did not include a transport service from the port or arrival from Macau, we were able to learn to commute from the port to the hotel. So, if you are not so good with directions, either avail a package that provides transport back-and-forth the hotel after the tour or at least check where the taxi stand is. NOTE: Not all taxi drivers understands English, so be prepared to speak to couple drivers before you can get a driver who would understand and agree to take you to your hotel.
These are some things that I think, you might want to know before taking or purchasing your next tour package. It's important to note, that these packages, though seems so great, always remember, that it's still business. Choose the deals that you know you wouldn't think of being "robbed" afterwards.
What are the things you've discovered in availing tour packages or deals?
Feel free to share your insights, discoveries and ideas below. Would love to know them too. 🙂
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