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Pettitts Travel Traveller Reviews
Reviews of Pettitts Travel
As good as any I have ever had. we went to southern India. We had a brilliant driver who coped so well with the bad roads and ghastly traffic. He was full of information about everything we passed on our journey, very patient if we'd wanted to stop and take photos. We went to a conservation area where we saw amazing wildlife including a panther, a tiger, elephants and birds and more. It was memorable.
As good as any I have ever had. we went to southern India. We had a brilliant driver who coped so well with the bad roads and ghastly traffic. He was full of information about everything we passed on our journey, very patient if we'd wanted to stop and take photos. We went to a conservation area where we saw amazing wildlife including a panther, a tiger, elephants and birds and more. It was memorable.Rating for tour operator:
The planning was perfect. Pettitts thought of everything, we could not have been better looked after.
Two weeks in the Golden Triangle of North India then Goa
Our trip went from Delhi to Agra then Jaipur, by train, with a few days at the Tiger Sanctuary of Ranthambore, then on to Goa. At every stage we were met by friendly, knowledgable,local representatives, with drivers ready to whisk us out of the crowds and on to our next stop. Everything went to plan. Pettitts Travel is clearly a well respected name in India. The hotels at Ranthambore (Fateh’s Retreat: five rooms only and a fantastic ...
Our trip went from Delhi to Agra then Jaipur, by train, with a few days at the Tiger Sanctuary of Ranthambore, then on to Goa. At every stage we were met by friendly, knowledgable,local representatives, with drivers ready to whisk us out of the crowds and on to our next stop. Everything went to plan. Pettitts Travel is clearly a well respected name in India. The hotels at Ranthambore (Fateh’s Retreat: five rooms only and a fantastic location) and Jaipur (the Samode Haveli: a real Rajesthan treat ) were really memorable and added to our great experience of India. After the full sensory onslaught of India and lots packed into each day we relished the calm relaxation of the Goan beach and its warm February sea. And we got to see tigers/dolphins/crocodiles./lots of exotic birds ... And did I mention the Taj and the Moghul Palaces and Forts and Fatepur Siri and ...Rating for tour operator:
I felt confident from the first telephone call to Helen at Pettitts that they would listen to our preferences and come up with an itinerary which fitted our requirements. With a few tweeks to their initial proposal our holiday was planned. A detailed itinerary arrived in the post with lots of helpful advice and a clear plan of what to expect. All of their local agents were waiting at each plane or train arrival and made sure we got our seat or boarding pass on to the next leg of th strip. We felt safe with each of the chosen drivers, whose vehicles were clean and modern. Pettitts run a thoroughly professional and high quality service.
Pettitts delivered.....From taking our brief to reacting to an issue while we were away.
We toured the region of Southern India, visiting Hyderabad, Kerala and its backwaters and Goa. Every step of the way we were met by highly efficient and charming local representatives. The whole series of flights, cars, hotels, tours and a boat worked like clockwork. We were booked into a hotel in Goa which proved to be awful. Pettitts had us out of there and into another hotel, same grade, same price but substantially better within 12 hours...
We toured the region of Southern India, visiting Hyderabad, Kerala and its backwaters and Goa. Every step of the way we were met by highly efficient and charming local representatives. The whole series of flights, cars, hotels, tours and a boat worked like clockwork. We were booked into a hotel in Goa which proved to be awful. Pettitts had us out of there and into another hotel, same grade, same price but substantially better within 12 hours. Fantastic service.Rating for tour operator:
Pettitts had been recommended to us by several friends, all of whom are seasoned travellers. We were not disappointed. From helping us through the briefing process, including a realistic budget for the tour and quality of accommodation, to a sensible itinerary to fit the available time. No change or tweak was too much trouble and their knowledge was excellent. The materials we received for our itinerary were first rate, extensive and of high quality, including Pettitts purple luggage tag!
Tailor-made tour of the best of Kerala and Karnataka and Mumbai
A private tailor-made twenty day tour of South India with two friends encompassing the city sights of Mysore, Kochi and Mumbai, guided walking in the coffee, spice and tea plantations of the Western Ghats, exploration of the Kerala backwaters in our own two bedroom houseboat and three days relaxation by a beautiful Kerala beach. This was our third such trip organised by Pettitts. Accommodation varied between extremely well-appointed Homestays, ...
A private tailor-made twenty day tour of South India with two friends encompassing the city sights of Mysore, Kochi and Mumbai, guided walking in the coffee, spice and tea plantations of the Western Ghats, exploration of the Kerala backwaters in our own two bedroom houseboat and three days relaxation by a beautiful Kerala beach. This was our third such trip organised by Pettitts. Accommodation varied between extremely well-appointed Homestays, privately owned by delightful and very interesting Indian families, to luxury, but interesting, hotels. First class English -speaking guides were provided at every stage where required including specialist naturalist guides.Rating for tour operator:
Pettitts are extremely experienced travel advisers who have been specialising in travel to the Indian sub-continent for over 30 years. They provide extremely good advice on a very personal basis on where and when to go and a mix of interesting things to do and places to stay, Wherever we have been in our three holidays arranged by them we have found them to be extremely well-known to and respected by local operators and the service we have received has been superb , as has the quality of accommodation and transport. We had one instance where our English-speaking driver's English was not really adequate, and as soon as the point was raised Pettitts arranged for English - speaking support to arrive within a very few hours, even though we were in a remote area at the time . They have proved utterly reliable.
NEPAL - KATHMANDU AND TREK
Superb organisation and guest focus. Efficient and courteous service everywhere we went, and very impressed by Ker & Downey.
Superb organisation and guest focus. Efficient and courteous service everywhere we went, and very impressed by Ker & Downey.Rating for tour operator:
Very responsive. Prompt and full answers to queries. Perceptive approach to tailoring our trip.
Silk Road Trip: We have returned from our epic journey & we had an excellent time. The journey delivered far more than we had anticipated on a number of dimensions. The mountain scenery was stunning & the desert scenery was awesome & not a bit like w
Notes on our trip: Turkish airlines were excellent and the food was some of the best airline food we have had. The help at Beijing airport worked well. Hainan airlines were of average quality. Lanzhou Our guide Nick was good and helpful. Lanzhou is a typical Chinese city with its heart cut out and replaced by skyscrapers. The White Pagoda Temple was a nice park on a hill and had a good view of the city across the Yellow River and the ...
Notes on our trip: Turkish airlines were excellent and the food was some of the best airline food we have had. The help at Beijing airport worked well. Hainan airlines were of average quality. Lanzhou Our guide Nick was good and helpful. Lanzhou is a typical Chinese city with its heart cut out and replaced by skyscrapers. The White Pagoda Temple was a nice park on a hill and had a good view of the city across the Yellow River and the museum was interesting. The Crown Plaza Hotel was a large business type hotel. However after the long trip to out to China it was a good location to recover. Xiahe The road to Xiahe has been rebuilt and is not as interesting as the guidebooks suggest with many tunnels and the villages bypassed. On the way back the new road was closed and we used the old road. Much more interesting and I would recommend this, even though it is slightly longer due to traffic congestion in some of the villages. The Nirvana hotel is potentially very nice but is not run very well with poor staff discipline etc. We ate dinner in a restaurant nearby which was fine & we had added interest as several tables were full of monks from the monastery. The breakfast was a terrible one, slices of white bread and red jam affair. However the hotel is well located for the monastery. The Labrang Monastery lives up to what the guide books say. It has a beautiful location, it is huge and for us the Yellow Hats monks were very interesting. The Lanzhou airport is about 50 minutes from Lanzhou city. Given our itinerary it would have been better for us to have stayed in an airport hotel on our return from Xiahe. Dunhuang The flight to Dunhuang had incredible views of mountains all the way. (We sat on the right) Not to be missed! Our guide Lisa was very good and helpful. We did the sand dunes in the afternoon and we agree with your other client that the Chinese have made this into a Disney park! However the walk to the Crescent Moon Lake is very beautiful if you ignore the Chinese tourists. The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel is odd. The hotel is a huge purpose built building but totally soulless; however there is a rooftop terrace with great views of the sand dunes for evening drinks and breakfast. The Mogao Caves were when we discovered the ground agent had used the incorrect passport number. Lisa was very good at sorting this out and luckily we had a copy of Diane’s old Chinese visa with us that had her old passport number on and this was accepted for entry. The caves have had the Chinese tourist make over; however there were a couple of very good video introductions of about 20 minutes with a multi lingual audio. Then we had the standard Chinese tourist attraction bus trip to the caves! The caves were excellent; we were booked onto a tour with a very good English speaking guide who was knowledgeable & funny. In the afternoon we drove out to the remains of the old Great Wall. Although not much remains now, this provided an important link in the Silk Road story, particularly as the old gate house has been restored as this effectively was the entry point to China as it then was. There has been a minor Chinese makeover but the crowds were not too large. The following morning, before we left for the train, we had some time and the guide took us a walk to the Lelyin Monastery, which is about 10 minutes from the hotel. This is a very large Buddhist monastery that has been built recently mostly by donations from around the world. Very quiet and beautiful and we would recommend this as an addition to any itinerary. The train to Turpan was late, apparently due to an earthquake! In the station, steps are an issue with luggage but the guide did a good job organising help to porter the cases to the correct carriage. Space is very limited even in the first class carriage but as our cases are not too large we coped. The journey to Turpan was a bit like travelling across the moon! We have never seen a landscape like we saw. Turpan Arrival at Turpan was chaotic with very few clear directions as to how to get out of the station, many stairs, lifts that were not working and lots of security and the police taking our passports and sending us through a one way door! Some of the other western tourists seemed to have porters on standby at the station to help with their luggage. If this can be pre-arranged it would be good, maybe their local guides had done it. Diane couldn’t get down the steep stairs with a case so I had to haul one down, then leave it unattended until Diane got down the stairs to it, having left the second case unattended at the top. Not ideal. When we finally exited the station, the useless guide Murat met us & then helped us through registration etc. Due to road closures it took some time to get to the Silk Road Lodges Hotel. The manager was very helpful with good English. Given that they tend to ignore Beijing time (they should be two hours behind but are bound to Beijing time) dinner at 9pm was no issue and we had a very nice meal on their roof terrace. The hotel is small and could do with a bit of fettle in places, however the rooms had everything you would want and the public spaces were enchanting. Not their fault but the electrics in our room broke in the night but they sorted them quickly in the morning and opened another room for us to shower in. We visited Gaochang & Bozaikrick Caves. The old city of Gaochang covers a very large site. Now you have to travel around by electric buggy. The drivers just want to take you without stopping so it is important to shout if you want to explore a bit. Our guide contributed nothing, we asked him questions to try to get some contribution from him, his answered were clearly rubbish or “I don’t know”!. We started to listen to the other English speaking guides. Everything on the site was built of mud and it only survived due to the very dry conditions here. The Bozaikrick Caves are in the side of the Flaming Mountain. The caves were similar to the Mogao caves but the frescoes were considerably more damaged. However the location is exceptional with great views of the Flaming Mountain. Next day, on the way to Urumqi, we visited the ruins of Jiaohe. As often is the case we parked away from the site and got on an electric bus with many Chinese tourists. However the site is huge and is free walking along pathways. As soon as we were 50m from the main entrance there were few tourists. Mostly made of mud walls but the maps were informative enough to enable us to appreciate it without the help of a guide! We were there for two hours and could have spent longer with a better guide. The road to Urumqi is mainly through desert with some dramatic scenery. Urumqi The Wanda Vista Hotel is a typical modern Chinese hotel, glossy but no character. However, it was very comfortable & the food in the Chinese restaurant was excellent. When we arrived our replacement guide Hassan made contact & immediately rearranged our timings for the following day. The Heavenly Lake trip has been taken over by Chinese tourism. You now drive to the ticket desk and then transfer to buses for a 40 minute ride to disembark about a 20 minutes walk from the lake (or there is a shuttle bus). There are no yurts there now. A short walk gets you away from crowds and we also had a short boat ride. Overall it was quite a long trip for the scenery that we saw. (We would not recommend this if someone was also doing the Lake Karakol trip). Later we went to the Xingjiang Provincial Museum. This is a very good museum with good displays on the Silk Road and the various ethnic groups. Kashgar The flight to Kashgar was fantastic. Sitting on the left hand side the mountain views were exceptional and we had a very good in flight lunch. The Radisson Blu Hotel is essentially a business hotel in a new part of town. Not much to recommend it although the people that had transferred from a different hotel thought it was fantastic! We actually had four different rooms before we had one were the AC worked well enough to keep the temperature below 30c! The town has had the Chinese make over and virtually every bit of character has been bulldozed to make way for the standard issue Chinese tower blocks. The animal market has been moved out of town and there are only trucks transporting stock and no longer any donkey carts. It was interesting to see the goats & sheep & the older Uighar men haggling over the livestock. The non livestock market now sells mostly Chinese rubbish. The old town has been made into a theme park, restored to within an inch of its life. We did go into an old residential area which had some of the charm we had hoped for. The Id Kah Mosque was great and very different from others we had seen. The Abakh Hoja Tomb was also interesting but even this is now surrounded by a Chinese theme park! Overall Kashgar has lost its charm but given it’s importance to the Silk Road there is an emotional reason to visit. The trip to Lake Karakol was incredible and was certainly the highlight of the trip to-date. Three hours of the four hour trip were through the most incredible mountain scenery and at the end the lake sits beneath 7719m high mountains with 11 glaciers visible. Absolutely stunning and the same on the return journey. We would highly recommend this trip to anyone. We stopped off at a small town just outside Kashgar to buy bread & fruit for lunch as the catering at the lake is very “local”. Our guide in Kashgar, Sami, was good, not outstanding but very competent. Kashgar to Naryn We left Kashgar at 8am to get to the first border post when it opened up at 10.30am. Our guide wanted to be first in the queue in case of groups, which was sensible. On route we had our passports etc pre-checked. In the event we were first in the queue but had to wait 30 mins for the Tourugart Port to open. They looked at our photos, books and electronic equipment but there was no hostility! There was one other English couple but no other tourists. The four of us then continued with our respective guides. At the next check point we had to wait for the guards to finish something before they would process us. Cases scanned again. This delay meant that on arrival at the next check point the guards decided it was lunchtime and we had to wait 90 minutes for it to open again. This was just a paper documents check and we went through to a military checkpoint although when we got there they were not interested & waved us through. We then travelled another 10km with fences and razor wire either side of the road to the top of the Torugart Pass. Big metal gates separate the two Countries which of course were locked. The good news was that we could see our Kyrgyzstan guides on the other side. Eventually a guard came, checked our passports and opened the gate. So after 7.5 hours we finally left China! The Kyrgyzstan formalities took 10 mins and we were on our way. Our new guide John & Vladimir the driver were a delight & although there aren’t many historic sites in Kyrgyzstan, John bombarded us with interesting facts about the country & bits & pieces of social history & they were very good company for the whole way through Kyrgyzstan. The journey down to Naryn was delightful with great scenery, very different from the China side. We asked the guide if we could see Tash Rabat. This is an historic caravanserai and should have been on the itinerary. The guides got permission from their office and we went to see it. The Khan Tengri Hotel was a nice small hotel. The guides had dinner with us which was our introduction to Uzbek food which was much better than the guide books suggested. Issyk-Kal Our itinerary had no specific sites on the journey to Issyk-Kul. However the driver had a different itinerary to the guide who like us had no specific sites. So we followed the driver’s itinerary & visited the site where lots of petroglyphs were found & it did have some excellent examples. Lunch was with the guide and driver, again excellent. The hotel Karven Issyk-Kul was not good. It was a bit like a modern holiday camp located on a small private beach. In fact there seem to be only two other guest there which was probably a good thing because if it had been full it would have been awful. In season Isyk-Kal is packed with tourists from Russia as well as local tourists. In our room there was a long list prices to be paid for breakages, something we have never seen before & which suggested that in season the place is rather wild. The hotel was effectively closed for the season, the swimming pool was empty and the restaurant was also virtually closed. The guide took us to a local restaurant for dinner which was great. Oddly breakfast next day was very good. Issyk-Kul came after several long days and we needed space to recover. So although Issyk-Kul was a stop on the Silk Road it was not the place to recover & we were pleased we were not spending longer there. Unless a better hotel could be found I would not recommend Issyk-Kal. Bishkek Again no specific sites on route to Bishkek however we did a detour to see the Burana Tower which is the remains of the ancient citadel of Balasagum. This was a 90min stop and very interesting with a good museum and information boards. And should be on the itinerary. The Plaza Hotel was very well located and is a nice new modern hotel with good English speaking staff. The food was dreadful but there was a lovely roof terrace which was a nice place to have a sun-downer. There is however a very good restaurant just across the road. Our walking tour of Bshkek started at Osh Bazaar which was incredible & one of the best we’ve ever visited. We then did a walking tour of the centre and also went to the Frunze museum which was interesting. Lunch with guide and driver, back to the hotel at 3pm. Our first full day off. Bishkek was an ideal place as all sites were within easy walking distance and there are lots of parks with tree lined paths. We picked up the Orthodox Church and the State Fine Art museum which was great & had many paintings from the soviet era contrasting with paintings post 1991. It was easy to spend a couple of hours here. Lunch was in a local restaurant and back to the hotel for rest etc prior to the very early start the next day. Uzbekistan It was a very early get up for the flight to Osh (see general comments). We waited over an hour for check in to open & when it did it was chaos. A new guide met us off the plane and took us first for a very welcome coffee & then to the boarder. No issues and joking Boarder guards were a relief after our China experience. But when we got through, where is our Uzbek guide? We were surrounded by taxi drivers hassling to take us somewhere but no sign of our guide and no working phone! After 30 minutes I asked a food stall owner if she could phone Ms Nilufar. She was very pleasant and said the guide would be there in 5 minutes. And he was. The issue was the one hour time difference between Kyrgyzstan & Uzbekistan. The Kyrgyz guide informed the Uzbek guide that he would get us to the boarder at 10am which he did and the Uzbek did indeed arrived at the border at 10am. Unfortunately these two 10am’s were an hour apart. Another guide called Hassan who was very good. He took us as far as Tashkent. On route to Fergana we visited the Kumtepa Bazaar near Margilon. This is a bazaar that should not be missed. The part we visited mostly sold clothes and household goods and was quite unique. Later we visited a local potter who was producing some fabulous pots and plates. The Asia Fergana Hotel was adequate for a night on route. Tashkent The long drive to Tashkent took us through some outstanding scenery. The Icahn Qala Hotel is a modern hotel built in the style of a Madrassah. It was a bit disappointing in so far as it was virtually empty & the food was very mediocre. There were no easily reached local restaurants. They did have a very good duo playing local folk music at breakfast time. In the morning we met our guide for the next 12 days in Uzbekistan. She is Eleanora and I suspect she might be the one you mentioned your other clients had recommended. She certainly started well taking us to the Chorsu Bazaar, then onto the subway (worth it to see the Art Deco style stations), the Kukeldash Madrassah and the Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts (excellent). Samarkand Another early start and two hour train journey to Samarkand which was much better than the Chinese experience. We spent the morning at the Afrosiab Museum looking at the frescoes found in the ancient city of Samarkand. It is a good museum and an interesting subject. Lunch was at an excellent plov restaurant. We had the afternoon off & then visited the Gur-e-Amur Mausoleum in the late afternoon. This is a great time to visit, with good light and no tourists. Later we walked up to Registan Square on our own to see the light show. Next day morning there was visit to a paper factory, pottery and vegetable oil factory. Typical tourist set up with very traditional water powered tools. Despite that it was well done and quite interesting. A visit to Ulugbek’s Observatory followed. The remains are well presented with an interesting museum. We had free time until mid afternoon, then Registan square & Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Although there were still a lot of tourists about it was very nice to be in the square as the sun was going down & the groups were being herded back onto their buses. What can you say about Registan square, except that it is a feast of blue tiles and cupolas? The next day we visited the Jewish quarter, ate Samsas straight from the tandoor; the ex presidents tomb; Shah-I-Zinda mausoleums, which is yet another feast of blue tiles and cupolas and very lovely. After lunch there was a visit to an interesting carpet workshop. Bukhara The train journey to Bukhara was uneventful and not particularly scenic but saved us 5 hours on the road. We arrived too early for check in at our hotel but had an early lunch overlooking the Kalon Mineret & Mosque. We then had a gentle walk back through the old town to the Minzifa which is a charming hotel & located in an, as yet, un-restored part of town. It is very quiet but still only a short walk from “down town”. Our room was very nicely decorated, breakfast was excellent (best yogurt of the trip) and the staff were helpful. The sightseeing here was mainly on foot with the car on hand when needed to skirt round the old town to drop us at a more convenient spot. Bukhara is a whirl of Mosques, Madrassahs, Bazaars and is very accessible and lovely. Our second day of sightseeing was to the summer palace, Bakhauddin Nakshbandi & Char Minar; lunch was more samsa straight out of the tandoor. Bukhara though full of tourists is very relaxed and accessible. We spent the late afternoons on the terrace of a lovely German owned cafe with a glass of wine and excellent cake, people watching. In Bukhara & Samarkand our guide split the sightseeing into complete days & half days instead of giving us a complete day off and this worked very well for us. It gave us a siesta during the hottest part of the day, then a gentle stroll before dinner. Bukhara was very busy & we had to book to get into the better restaurants. Khiwa The road trip to Khiwa was quicker than anticipated, mostly on a good road. The desert landscape changes from rocky, to sandy & then to fertile farming. We had a good lunch stop of an hour at a little roadside cafe that served shishlika straight from the bbq. It was the type of place we wouldn’t have dreamed of eating at but it was surprisingly good. Khiwa is a cornucopia of Madrases, Mosques and palaces. Due to the UNESCO status of Khiwa, the renovation has been more sympathetic than in other places and much of the charm of the place is still intact. Having said that, even at this time of the year it is crawling with large groups (grupers as we call them), blocking the streets and over whelming the small rooms of the Mosques and Madrassahs. Most of the restaurants really only cater for groups and consequently serve really mediocre food. As single travellers you are way down the pecking order when it comes to service. Our guide was really great at finding smaller eating places and booking tables for us. This sounds negative but we enjoyed wandering the streets, especially early morning and late afternoon. A trip up the watch tower was not included but we bought our own tickets and would recommend this as it gives great views over the old town. One day is more than enough to see the major sights. The Malika Kheivak Hotel is very average. The breakfast buffet was vast but largely inedible; the type of hotel that puts out a plate of fried eggs at 7am when breakfast starts that are still there two hours later. We didn’t eat in the restaurant at dinner time but other tourists told us the food was bad. Our first room over looked the terrace of what was a small restaurant when we arrived mid afternoon. By early evening it had quadrupled in size and was very raucous, we had already arranged to move rooms the following morning, which was the correct decision as at 10.15 pm we were jolted awake by very bad ethnic music and singing! The trip into the desert on day two was well worth the effort (a six hour round trip) and we really enjoyed wandering round the remains of Ayaz Kala & Toprak Kala. Not many grupers make the trip so they were very quiet. Before we left Khiwa we had decided not to have lunch in the yurt. Our guide said they were dirty & the food was bad. Looking at them when we arrived she was right; three concrete “yurts” built in the car park at Ayaz Kala. Clearly they were there to cater for groups. On our last night in Khiwa we gate crashed a champagne reception that the Uzbek Presidents wife was having in the reception area of our hotel! We wandered down to meet our guide to go to dinner and were confronted by a dozen well turned out women drinking champagne from paper cups. We thought that they were yet another gruper having a welcome drink. It wasn’t until we noticed several men in black suits, with ear pieces and suspicious bulges under their jackets that we realised we were wrong! Bukhara (2nd visit) We arrived far too early at the airport again, see general comments, and check in when it eventually opened was chaotic to say the least. Upon arrival at Bukhara we visited the pottery at Gijduvan & had lunch there. This was not a great excursion, overrun with groups and very mediocre food. We would have had a better afternoon pottering around Bukhara. The ground agent had managed to get us into the Minzifa Hotel again & we have decided that this is our favourite hotel of the entire trip. Turkmenistan Getting out of Uzbekistan was quite straightforward, getting into Turkmenistan was long winded and bureaucratic. The first hurdle was paying for the minibus to get across no man’s land as we had given all our soms to the guide in her tip. Apparently as foreigners we could have paid in dollars but no one knew this & a very nice Russian Turkmen mother and daughter paid our fares on this side & on the Turkmenistan side. When we got to Turkmenistan we were approached several times by soldiers asking for our passports and asking us where we were from. We thought this was a bit odd but our guide, who was at the final check point, had asked the soldiers to let him know when two British tourists arrived so that he could come to the visa checkpoint to meet us. This he duly did, which was just as well, as there was no logical flow to the various offices and windows we needed to visit to be processed and we would have struggled without him. Another mini bus trip and we were in. Merv & Mary We visited Merv on the way to Mary & we really enjoyed the look around. It hasn’t been widely excavated as yet but you can still get a feel for how vast it must have been. This was a good late addition to our trip. Our guide is very knowledgeable and gave us a history lesson on Turkmenistan from ancient times to independence, with picture shows on his iPad. Although this sounds rather dry, it was very interesting and brought together a lot of what we have learnt about Central Asia over the last few weeks. The Mary Hotel in Mary is very new and very post Soviet. Our room was fine, very large & quite comfortable. Breakfast was a depressing affair; we were pleased that our guide took us to a local restaurant for supper the night before Ashgabat Although the drive from Mary to Ashgabat was long & through flat desert scrub we are glad we did it because we saw a very different Turkmenistan from that presented by Ashgabat. We drove through some very poor looking areas that clearly have not benefited from the oil millions. It was also a geography lesson when we realised we were looking at the Iran boarder and the Karakum canal that is draining the Aral sea. Throw in a sandstorm and dozens of Neolithic mounds and it proved to be quite an educational drive. What can you say about Ashgabat; a confection of marble, fountains and vast parks. Almost vulgar but not quite. We are pleased we did something entirely different for our last two days after all those blue tiled Mosques. The Yyldyz Hotel is bling on steroids but our room was very comfortable with a great view of the town & surrounding hills. The food in the restaurant food was tasty. We were surprised when our guide said he would exchange our dollars for the black market rate of 10 to the dollar, instead of the official 3.5 to the dollar but it meant that everything was very reasonably priced. We paid cash in local money for all our meals; if we had charged to the room we would have been subject to the official exchange rate and everything would have been eye wateringly expensive. We got the impression that this is normal practice. The two flights home were uneventful but there were no beds in business class (presumably because they were short flights on insignificant routes) so we didn’t get much sleep. General Comments: We met a fellow Pettitts traveller called Joy in Samarkand & ran into her again in Bukhara & Khiwa. The local agent in Kyrgyzstan & Uzbekistan instructed the guides to get us to the airport for our local flights far too early. On both occasions we had to wait two hours for the check in desk to open; the guides knew it was too early but said they had to follow the instructions of the ground agent. Likewise we got to the railway station in Tashkent an hour too early. One of the first things the guides do is to read our copy of the itinerary to check what we expect to see. Sometimes this does not match their version & sometimes we suspect that their grasp of written English isn’t good enough to pick everything out of the narrative. And sometimes our itinary had no specific visits mentioned. We wondered if a list of the sightseeing at the beginning of the narrative might help with this. Some of the descriptions of what we expected to see are a bit out of date, in so far as the tide of modernisation is sweeping across Central Asia & things are not as rural and quaint as they once were. This is particularly true of China. On the Turpan to Urumqi train journey & then again on the Samarkand to Bukhara train we had not been allocated seats together, which we thought was odd given how far in advance we had booked. We sat together & bluffed it out on the Urumqi train & the Guard ended up putting Joy in Steve’s seat on the Bukhara train. We found that Mastercard is not widely accepted in Central Asia, though Visa is. As all our credit cards are Mastercards we were very pleased that we had taken lots of dollars with us & we either paid with these or exchanged them for local currency. We were horrified to learn that as from 1 January Chinese tourists can travel visa free in Uzbekistan & there will be charter flights from China. How to ruin a Country!Rating for tour operator:
Great company, always puts together an itinerary based on our likes etc
Tailored to perfection.
China is hectic, good organisation is essential. Pettitts organised our visit to the minute making our short stay in Shanghai and Beijing productive and fascinating.
China is hectic, good organisation is essential. Pettitts organised our visit to the minute making our short stay in Shanghai and Beijing productive and fascinating.Rating for tour operator:
Our second trip with Pettitts. The last one was in India. This trip was much shorter but our confidence in Pettitts arrangements was fully justified.
Fantastic trip to Bhutan with 2 and 6 year old
We had a fabulous time discovering Bhutan with Pettitts Travel. Pettitts found us an incredibly kind child friendly guide and driver both of whom went far beyond the call of duty to help with the children. It was a most interesting tour, the highlight of which was a snowball fight high up in the mountains with full participation by driver and guide!
We had a fabulous time discovering Bhutan with Pettitts Travel. Pettitts found us an incredibly kind child friendly guide and driver both of whom went far beyond the call of duty to help with the children. It was a most interesting tour, the highlight of which was a snowball fight high up in the mountains with full participation by driver and guide!Rating for tour operator:
The trip was perfectly organised and the Operator made a special effort to find us guides who suited our family dynamic. This made the trip easy, fun and unforgettable.
Private South India trip was well organised.
Trip was excellent. Good information for places we visited,excellent accommodation. Both drivers in Tamilnadu & Karnatak were good,friendly,carrying & excellent in speaking with English.Everywhere guides were excellent..comfortable cars.
Trip was excellent. Good information for places we visited,excellent accommodation. Both drivers in Tamilnadu & Karnatak were good,friendly,carrying & excellent in speaking with English.Everywhere guides were excellent..comfortable cars.Rating for tour operator:
Very good,knowledgeable,good advise in planning trip.
This was our sixth major trip planned and organised by Pettitts on a tailor made basis. It was a wonderful mix of good and varied experiences both cultural and natural. We had an excellent driver/guide who was personable, competent and knowledgeable, all of which added to the enjoyment of the trip. All the hotels were unique in their own way and met the expectations for which they were chosen. One can rely on Pettitts to get it "just right".
This was our sixth major trip planned and organised by Pettitts on a tailor made basis. It was a wonderful mix of good and varied experiences both cultural and natural. We had an excellent driver/guide who was personable, competent and knowledgeable, all of which added to the enjoyment of the trip. All the hotels were unique in their own way and met the expectations for which they were chosen. One can rely on Pettitts to get it "just right".Rating for tour operator:
One can rely on Pettitts to organise personalised trips which are varied and interesting. As a family firm they provide an attentive and personal service