The worse part of the tour was the three hour drive there and back and the heat! The Tour itself was an enjoyable and enlightening experience and I would recommend it. Our tour guide gave us explanations that showed his passion for the areas where we explored. (Bang pa in and Ayuthaya, riding elephants and walking around Ruins) Some people complain about the 'greed' of the elephant park, but it is one of the most humane parks in Thailand and the money goes directly into the care and feeding of the animals (they eat a huge amount of food!). These are rescued elephants, mostly from logging industry, so scuttling tourist for their feed is 'easy' work for them. Their mahuts where considerate of their charges, ensuring they kept the elephants in the shade for much of the ride and letting them rest at intervals. It was well work the 3 hr drive!
City Tour Rating:
First taken to a scenic overlook which gave a wonderful view of the beaches and a storm! Our guide gave us an interesting social history of Pattaya. Wonderful massage! (Though wish we had been warned about the tip begging after the massage! It made things very awkward for us as many didn't have any Thai cash on us as we had no plans for shopping.)
Despite that, the tour was good value for money! (It was cheaper than any massage you could get on ship!)
We didn't have a chance to get any Vietnamese money (Cruise ship didnt have any) so it limited our experience. The drive there and back was slow and traffic packed. Our first toilet stop was at a facility that only had squat toilets and none of us women had ever used one before. When in rome and all that, but well there were plenty of facilities on the return that had western toilets. A warning would have been nice!
Our guide was good and he sang for us! He gave an interesting history about Vietnam especially during the war. The tunnels were an overwhelming experience. My dad was a vietnam vet and seeing the traps that the vietcong made and seeing the propoganda materials they had. That said, I am glad I went. The tunnels that you can crawl through were more claustrophobic than I expected which really gave an idea of how these people lived (And these tunnels were widened for tourists.)
On the way there and back you could just see the abject poverty of this country, it was quite sad to see and humbling for a bus load of tourists.