Little Grey Box regulars among you will have heard me speak about my long-suffering and very sweet husband, Matt. Well, today’s post has been written for you by Matt and it is his guide to the top 3 tours he and I have encountered on our travels. – Phoebe.
I’ve done my fair share of tours in my travels, the good, the bad and the awkward. Whilst Phoebe and I were honeymooning in Vietnam recently, we started reminiscing about our past travels. We relived our best fights, closest shaves with death and worst travel sickness stories. We also managed to nail down our top three favourite touring experiences.
#3 We Hate Tourism Tours
At number three is Portugal’s, and more specifically, Lisbon’s We Hate Tourism Tours. We found these guys on Tripadvisor and since we only had a weekend to spend exploring the city it looked a great way to do it… and fast. We signed up for the X-DAY TRIP a week before arriving in Lisbon. A common theme of our favourite tours is how good the tour leader is. Knowledge and safe driving is one thing, but personality and energy make for a far more interesting experience. Our tour leader Marcos had heaps of both. He was a dead set nutter. We loved him immediately.
The tour starts in Lisbon where you’ll be transported in some pretty funky wheels to the hills of Sintra. After that, it’s a day full of amazing sights, local food and red wine-induced laughing. The tour runs for seven hours but the time flew and Marcos rattled off facts about his city and entertained us with stories riddled with his anti-establishment views. We toured the sun-soaked coastline, drinking wine, eating Portuguese tarts and listening to Eddie Vedder. Worth every euro.
#2 XO Tours
At number two is Ho Chi Minh city’s XO Tours. We stumbled across these scooter tours via a news article I found whilst in our Saigon hotel room. We’d done a bit of sight-seeing already but found moving around the city a bit of a pain in the arse. Air quality is poor and walking is hot, humid and life-threatening…. check this video for what I mean. I don’t recommend booking this one on a whim like we did as it’s very popular.
Somehow, we jagged the last two spots on the FOODIE TOUR on our last day in Vietnam and the friendly scooter girls arrived at our hotel to pick us up. Over the next five hours, we ripped around Saigon in the craziest traffic I have ever seen and stopped all over the place to eat some of the most interesting local street foods. Not normally that adventurous with food I’m glad I tried the BBQ’d frog, goat and crab but after seeing and smelling it right under my nose I drew the line at balut. The posse of scooters (we had a party of 20) makes it way across the city to a range of districts we would never have had the chance of experiencing on foot. It was easily the best Dong we spent in Saigon.
#1 Rough Tours
Finally, our favourite tour by a long way is Morocco’s Rough Tours. Having just moved to London the unsuccessful job hunt and gloomy November weather was getting us down. Sick of sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves we decided to head for the warmest climate we could afford to get to. We knew very little about Morocco so it was the ultimate exotic getaway.
Tripadvisor was again our go to where we found them listed as the number one tour operator in Morocco and a couple of days later we’d booked flights and organised a meeting at the Marrakech airport. It was a private tour, and we were unsure how it would pan out being just the two of us and a guide in a 4WD for 9 days driving thousands of kilometres through Morocco. Youseff was our wicked guide, along with his trainee sidekick Said, and together they gave us easily some of our favourite travel memories.
We drove the terrain of the original Dakar rally, wandered through heaving local markets, rode camels into the Sahara desert, sandboarded under the midnight stars and drank Berber tea around a fire singing and playing the drums. The most unexpected thing about Morocco was how amazingly beautiful the landscape is. Youseff was so passionate about his country and his Berber heritage I was hanging off every bit of information he shared with us. Roughtours got us right into the landscape of Morocco.
I felt incredibly small as we drove through the remote desert for hours, close to the Algerian border, looking at the massive expanse of sand and mountains all around us. I would do it all again in a heartbeat and surprisingly it did not cost much in dirhams.