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I have been receiving brochures from SmarTours for years and am always tempted because the prices are excellent. I don't know anyone who has taken one of them and have not been able to find anything on the internet; e.g. <!-- w --><a class="postlink" href=""></a><!-- w -->. Does anyone know anything about them?

We just returned from China. There were only 12 people on our tour. Most of the excursions were 2-6 people and the guide. We absolutely loved it. We would not have been able to afford to go to China any other way. The guides in Beijing and Shanghai were amazing and so hospitable. The hotels were very nice, the included breakfasts were very good and had a lot of variety. The hotels were within a block of the metro so it was easy to get around the city. We would highly recommend this tour group.

My neighbor traveled to Africa with Smart Tours this past March. He thought the trip was great!

I've traveled with smarTours twice--to South Africa and Borneo--and have been pleased both times. The tours are fairly comprehensive for their duration and, in both cases, they used a highly regarded local operator. The guides were good. In fact, my South African guide was one of the best I've had. Hotels in South Africa were not five-star or may not always have been best-available, but they were always clean and comfortable. Hotels in Borneo were better than excellent. All in all, smarTours has given me exceptional value-for-money. Their prices also had me somewhat skeptical, but so far they haven't disappointed. There are two disadvantages you should consider. First, groups are large. We had more than 30 in Borneo and even more in South Africa. One way they keep costs down is by filling the coach. That slows things down a bit and makes the experience a bit impersonal, but you get to know some people you like and spend your time with them. Second, smarTours can be somewhat inflexible. They evidently have contracts with the airlines they use, so the routings aren't always the most convenient, and they wouldn't allow me to break my return flights at the airport at which we were connecting. However, they would allow me to delay my return flight (for $100, as I recall), so long as I took the same flight but on a later date. I'd travel with them again, but as the financial advisors always say, past performance is no guarantee of future returns!

You'll probably get plenty of respsonse re SmarTours as it has been widely discussed on this forum for several years. The majority opinion has been definitely pro, in line with Stan's comments above. My personal experience with them--Borneo and Viet Nam--has been extremely positive. They give excellent value for the price and I was lucky that neither group was particularly large, nor did I have any airline routing complaints. (We had a long layover in Seoul and they gave us a free city tour including lunch at a nice restaurant--not sure why and I doubt if that's typical.)

Re: SmarTours, Here we go again....................................... Seriously tho, great prices but high Single Supplements. So not for me.

There is no doubt about it. Like it or not, SmarTours does a great job at a reasonable price. We have traveled with them to Borneo and also to Scandinavia. Both tours had about 30 people and we too had excellent guides/trip leaders. For the money, you can't beat them; but you must consider that the groups can be very large. How many people does it take to fill up a bus???As for Friendly Planet, they no longer work in tandem with SmarTours. (We found this out the hard way---by taking a FP tour which we thought was the same as SmarTours. It will not happen again.) So although your group may be large, it will not be doubled by Freindly Planet.I don't know why some people get so upset about the mere mention of SmarTours. They provide great value for the money spent, and these days there is a lot to be said for that!Georgia

We traveled to Turkey last year with Smartours. Being seasoned travelers, we expected a reduction in service, accomodations and transportation due to the extremely reasonable tour price.We were pleasantly surprised at the high quality of the above, and most importantly, the knowledge and ability of our tour director. In our opinion, Smartours gives honest value for the money, we will travel with them again

I just returned from a SmarTour trip to Kenya and Tanzania. We left on October 3rd and returned on October 19, 2009. It was one of the best tours I have ever been on. Although Kenya is suffering from a 3 year drought, the parks and animals are still there. The hotels were great and the lack of hot water and electricity did not bother any of us. There were only 14 on the Kenya part of the trip and 12 on the Tanzania part so we were never over crowded or uncomfortable.

What were your 3 and 4 star hotels like in Africa on your recent tour? Recently back from South Africa and not sure I would have wanted to stay in any 3 star hotels at all. Unfortunately this remains an unsafe country, which is tragic so I wonder at the wisdom of using 3 star hotels when even 5 star ones can put you into harms way if you venture too far away from them.

I have taken 6 SmarTours and have never been disappointed. Have also used Pirillo to Italy and also Insight to Italy. Would take SmarTour over Insight any day for anywhere. and Pirillo is great but should be for the dollar spent.

I took a smarTour to Japan this past November. The guide that we had in Tokyo, Takayama and Kanazawa also works as a guide for Tauck World Discovery. In other words, we had a Tauck-quality guide at a smarTours price.

I would like to converse with someone who has recently taken a smartours trip to Turkey. I would like to know all the pros and cons. How large was the groups. What type of hotels did you stay in and what type of transportation got you from one city to another. How would you rate this compnay.Thanks for a quick reply

My wife and I have been on SmarTours trips to China, the Peru/Equador/Machu Pichu/Galapagos, and we've taken a Russian River trip on the same ship SmarTours used, and happened to have the same guide/escort that worked for SmarTours in the summer (we were on an "end of season repositioning" type trip down the Volga visiting WW-II sites. We've travelled independently, we've gone on cruises, and in total visited over 100 countries. SmarTours in China had us in the same hotels as Globus used. None of the places we stayed with them were hazardous to our health. Yes, we could spend more, and we could spend less. SmarTours' groups do tend to fill the buses, and have more younger travelers (we're "seasoned" citizens) but enjoyed being with families traveling with children. There were some people who made certain things more difficult -- the guy who went to China and only ate breakfast because he didn't like Chinese cuisine, the lady who was baggage overweight after the second city, the two women who made the bus wait while they finished their smokes... None of that was SmarTours' fault nor could the local guide/escort do anything about it other than try to encourage better behavior, or leave the smokers at the Summer Palace to get a taxi back to our hotel. They whined, but they weren't late again.We're planning another SmarTours trip, this time down (or up) the Danube.

I suggest that you read through this entire series of comments on smarTours. You'll find that they range from the damning to the very complimentary. For some reason, this company generates more heat than light on this message board. Still, if you read all the messages, you'll pick up some useful insights into smarTours, pro and con. Then you can decide for yourself if it's the kind of travel experience you'd enjoy at a price you'd be happy to pay.

A group of us have used SmarTours annually for ten years now. Each time we have had a wonderful experience. Our local guides have been excellent and have gone out of their way to accomodate the special requests of group members. Where possible, the hotels have been excellent. Some native couisines have not been to my liking, but that is my fault not theirs. I have seen and done things that I would never have attempted on my own. They have made my retirement exciting and memorable. I look forward to my next trip with them. India here I come!

We have used Smartours 6 times and have never been disappointed. They offer the BEST value for the money. Some of our best guides have been on a Smartours trip and we are still in contact with many of them. GO FOR IT.........

We traveled to Australia/Tahiti 2007 with Smartours and it was great. Everything went rather well. all the excursions we booked were fun. I am now looking at traveling with them again on their Spectacular Greece Tour.

My husband & I went to India & Nepal with Smartours Feb 1. Our tour leader was very well informed, interesting,with a great sense of humor. The "Kings English", as opposed to the local guides "Indian English". The same itinerary as Gate One and one other well known group, the same hotels. Smartours was cheaper and very well run.Dawn

We also travelled to India/Nepal with smarTours -- there were 12 in our group and we certainly did not stay in tired, out of the way business hotels. The tour was run by SITA and they did an outstanding job in presenting India/Nepal to us. Both the logistics of the trip and the quality of guides were typical of a more expensive tour.

I went on the Thailand tour with SmarTours. I had already visited Thailand several times and felt comfortable there, however, the SmarTours itinerary offered a chance for me to easily see some places that I hadn't already visited and I was happy to have someone else handling the logistics for a change. The tour was excellent and so was the guide. She personally saw to it that our tour included places that no other tourists visit. Our accommodations and transportation were also very good. I can say from my previous experiences in visiting Thailand that it was very good value for the money. If the Thailand tour is representative of the overall quality of what you will get for your money on a SmarTour then I believe that you are assured of enjoying a well balanced and well run trip.

I agree that "guest" needs to identify him/herself. I just returned from a tour to South Africa with the Victoria Falls add on with Smartours and it was a trip of a lifetime!!! Our guide was the most informed and patient man I've ever met. We stayed in three and four star hotels. The food and itinerary was outstanding. As for the add-on trips, you go if you want, or as I did, stay by the pool and relax. We were constantly going places and I looked forward to unwinding periodically. I don't what trip "guest" has taken but, as you know, "there's one in every crowd" that can't be pleased no matter what you do, see, or eat. Looking forward to doing the Eastern Europe tour next fall!

Have traveled with Smartours 6 times in the past 11 years and found all of their tours excellent and superior to their main competetors (Grand Circle, Globus, Tragfalgar SAGA etc.) and significantly lower in price. One of the groups groups was as small as 12. The first time I traveled with them I went to Eastern Europe. Their itinerary was nearly the same as one offered by Globus except that it included Warsaw, Krakow, and Auschwitz and the price was lower. I thought that the hotels would be poor but in fact they were all very well located and were of excellent quality. The agents on the phone were always able to answer detailed questions quickly and accurately which is more than I can say for most company agents who respond via phone. I consider them to be an excellent tour company and would not hesitate to recommend them

Smartours main competitor is Friendly Planet. Be sure to check Friendly Planet before out before deciding. Can't compare smartours to those other travel companies because it creates a false contrast if you don't also look at Friendly Planet.

We have gone with smarTours 5 times, and been satisfied with all of them! I understand that the owner of smarTours was formally with Pacific Delight, and decided he could offer cheaper tours that were very good so he formed smartours. I have no guarentee that that is right, but that was what I was told .