How have you guys been? I can’t begin to express the joy I feel to be able to write a blog post again with my usual cup of green tea. Don’t get me wrong, travelling was FUN, but I did miss blogging cause my days were so jam packed that I never even touched my laptop in Bali. But it was definitely a good break away from social media 🙆
Ok enough small talk because this is going to be a long post. Today I am going to be starting the first part to my 3 Part series on my first Contiki Trip! The reason I decided to review this trip was not because I am a travel blogger or any of that sort because trust me I am not. It’s just that when I wanted to do this trip, even though I heard countless reviews about Contiki, I couldn’t dig up much on this specific trip. It was more like a leap of faith and a “one-time thing”, but boy am I glad I did it!
So what is Contiki?
Contiki is a tour company that offers a wide variety of travel packages for 18-35-year-olds. In short, you basically travel with a bunch of other travellers between these ages. Their trips include Europe, USA & Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America & Asia. They offer a huge variety of trips from camping to cruise trip and even festivals! The lengths and prices of these trips vary, but one thing assured – they are budget trips! You can find more details about the trips HERE.
What is the Bali Island Hopper Trip?
So Indonesia is made of up 17,000 islands and on this trip, you only “Hop” around 3 of them, which makes you wonder how big the world really is. What I liked about the 3 Islands chosen by Contiki was the diversity of each of them. Gili was beaches, sunsets and partying while Lombok was all about the serenity and greenery. Bali on the other hand as you can imagine was all touristy with shopping, nightlife and sightseeing. It’s an 8-day trip that kick starts in Seminyak (Bali) where you meet your Contiki family, moving onto to Gili T. for 3 days, Lombok for 2 and them back to Bali. It costs about €815 which equals to approximately AED 3400, which I think is a really good deal for the 8 day trip as it includes hotels, 8 meals, boat transfers from island to island and an Ubud day trip! More details HERE!
So I am a bit of a perfectionist when to comes to planning things and travelling to ANOTHER COUNTRY? Well, you can imagine the number of emails I sent to Contiki haha. I wanted to be sure of everything and anything but their customer service was great, and I often received a reply within 24 hours.
From my research, I learnt that because Contiki is a budget travel option, you shouldn’t expect to be staying in 5-star hotels with the best of facilities. This kind of worried me because my boyfriend is too much of a clean freak. Even though I convinced him to do the trip, I kept wondering if he was going to kill me at the end of it haha. But I was definitely in for a pleasant surprise because apart from Seminyak the hotels we stayed in were amazing! With private beaches, spas, great pools and restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, the hotel in Seminyak was close to the beach, had a great bunch of restaurants and shopping areas around, but that was the only one that felt like a “budget stay” as compared to the others.
They say your tour manager makes or breaks your Contiki trip and ours definitely made it AMAZING. See your tour manager is not a tour guide or a babysitter, what they basically do is ensure the whole trip runs smoothly, arrange all your activities, give you a list of fun things to do in each city and make sure everything is on time. If you face any problems, require help, or need more information on the Island, food, language or even laundry. Your tour manager will have the answer to it all, trust me. Our Tour Manager, Chamani, would make us Planners for each Island with details about what we would be doing on each day, where we’d be eating, timings, closest ATMS, etc. Free time ideas would include places to eat at should you not want to join the rest of the group, good spas (Chamani approved because some of them can be a bit shady), etc.
What I loved about the trip was that nothing was set in stone, just because everyone is eating at Exile today, doesn’t mean you have to as well. You can do whatever the hell you want on a free night or day, and Chamani would often have great options for us to choose from or plan fun things for us like a movie night on the beach. Again you can go to it or totally skip it; it’s on you.
Apart from the food and accommodation, this trip includes a day trip to Ubud which was honestly one of the best bits of the trip. You get to visit and see a bunch of things on this trip that I will be elaborating on in the coming posts.
Contiki offers you a bunch of things you can add to your trip for an added cost. On your first night, your tour manager will give you a little sheet where you can choose what you want to add. This includes snorkelling (US$ 40), Certified Dive (US$38), Intro Discovery Dive (US$ 65) and a Tiu Kelep Waterfall Day trip in Lombok (US$40). I’ll go into detail on which ones of these you should do and why later on.
Asia, in general, has a tipping culture which wasn’t too new to me because I am from India. But don’t be surprised if drivers, tour guides or restaurants expect tips, cause it’s normal. There’s also a 16% tax in Indonesia with an additional 5% service tax, so the restaurants or stores you go to could already have these included, or these would be added to the total amount of your bill – again don’t be surprised.
The people you travel with or your “Contiki Family” will be the best part of your trip, so cherish it. We were lucky to have quite a diverse group with people from all parts of the world. We had more girls than guys, but that’s nothing new cause a lot of people who have done Contiki in the past said that its always like that. To be honest, I am glad that our ratio wasn’t that off as the next group we saw come in cause I just feel like there would be too much drama with 30 girls and 4 guys haha.
Phew, that was a long post eh? The reason I went all out was because I get how it is with travelling, you don’t want to leave a single stone unturned. Part 2 to the series will be all about the beautiful Gili Islands, things you should definitely do and not do – Stay tuned 😘
Thought of the day : We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.
Until next time,