Featured Traveler: Toby, from New York City

Toby has got to be one of the most pleasant, easy-going, delightful travelers who has ever taken our tours, so when he booked Zoom’s tour to Vietnam and Cambodia, we were probably looking forward to it as much as he was!  Read on as Toby shares his experience with Zoom in Southeast Asia.

Zoom: What made you decide to take this particular trip with Zoom Vacations?

Toby: My passion is exploring the world and experiencing different cultures. When I want a culturally immersive vacation with a diverse group of fun and like minded travel junkies, Zoom Vacations is my go-to company. Vietnam was on my bucket list, and this trip offered a nice balance of historical and cultural exploration mixed with the opportunity for a few pool and spa days.

Zoom: It’s been a few years since you have traveled with Zoom. Did you notice any changes?

Toby: The biggest difference I noticed in this trip from my previous Zoom Vacations trips was there were even more opportunities to meet and learn about the local people, like taking Vietnamese cooking classes, and going on a walking tour with a guide through a village and interacting with local residents.

Zoom:  What was your favorite moment from the trip?

Toby: There were so many amazing moments but I would have to say the “surprise” Vespa rides through the city of Saigon was the pinnacle.  It was unexpected and thrilling to watch Saigon transition from dusk to dark on the back of a motor bike whizzing through the streets along with other motor bikes past street vendors and local sites.

Zoom: Did you make new friends on the trip?

Toby: My group consisted of couples and single travelers.  I never felt awkward or isolated traveling solo.  Bryan, our tour leader, is great about making sure that the group is inclusive and interactive.  A number of us still keep in touch through social media. 

Zoom: How were the Zoom Vacations guides?

Toby: I hate to sound like one of those highly caffeinated product pushers on HSN but Bryan is an awesome tour leader and he hand-picks knowledgeable, fun, local guides who feel totally at home leading a gay tour group.  Some of my favorite memories are of personal stories we heard from the guides about the culture in the region and what it was like to grow up in Vietnam and Cambodia both from a straight and a gay perspective.

Zoom: How was the food throughout?

Toby: I am not a big foodie so I am probably not the best person to ask about food.  That being said, the opportunity to help a local family prepare a traditional Vietnamese meal and have dinner in their home was wonderful and quite delicious. Overall the food was authentic and very good. There were a variety of options that catered to different palettes and Bryan made sure, in advance, to accommodate individual dietary restrictions and tastes.

Zoom: What surprised you about Vietnam or Cambodia?

Toby: Two things surprised me on this trip. The first was Vietnam’s long history of fighting off invasions and colonization. Had we understood their cultural history better we would have known this was not a war we could have won on our terms.  The second surprise was how warmly the Vietnamese and Cambodians embraced American visitors in spite of living through a terrible war that they are still affected by. We all felt it as we walked through rural villages and were greeted by the locals.

Zoom: Was March a good time to be in this part of the world?

Toby: The weather could not have been more perfect. It was sunny and cool in the North, and sunny and warm in the south and in Cambodia.

Zoom: How were the hotels?

Toby: I am never disappointed by the hotel selection on Zoom vacations. Between the 5 star Sofitel Legend Metropole with its South Beach style pool to the overnight cruise through breathtaking Halong Bay on a Vietnamese yacht, the luxury ocean side pool and spa experience in Da Nang to the Vegas style luxury Reverie Hotel in Saigon (with a bathroom you’ll never want to leave), there is something to satisfy the most discerning traveler.

Zoom: What were your take-aways from the experience?

Toby: So far I have been on four Zoom Vacations and they have all exceeded my expectations from the choice of boutique hotels, the size of the groups, the uniqueness of the tours and the attention paid to the needs and desires of the group. I especially love the surprise excursions and events that Zoom included in the Vietnam tour that made each day memorable.  

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