We usually plan our trips by ourselves, with no usage of any agency. This time, since we did not have the time and the destination (Cambodia) would have implied some researches in advance, we preferred to go for an agency. Evaneos was suggested by some friends and we gave it a try. When entered Evaneos system, I discovered that the “local contact” was an Italian guy, Roberto, living in Italy….I was a bit surprised (how can a person living in Italy being the local point of reference in Cambodia???) but I didn’t care too much. The briefing to him was simple and clear: I want to see as much as possible and stay in great hotels. The budget therefore was pretty high for a trip in a country like Cambodia. The Italian guy, I prefer not to mention his name, has been very helpful at the beginning , providing us with all the information requested. Overall that I did not care too much to every single detail, since, as said at the beginning, I did not have time to do that. Important: the whole trip was structured as it follows: few relaxing days in koh rong managed by myself and then Cambodia trip managed by Evaneos
The trip: Few days before the departure, my flight from Bangkok to Sihanoukville was canceled, therefore the only solution I had was flying from Bangkok to Phnom Penh and then drive to Sihanoukville. I therefore asked to the Italian guy a help/advice on how to get to Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh since I was supposed to land at 6.30 pm in a country not particularly well known for the transportation system. Even though it was not part of the Evaneos trip, the guy gave me different options (taking a taxi from the airport or booking, private car booked by him). Since, again, I didn’t know what to expect, given the late time I was supposed to land and the length of the drive in front of us (6 hours), I went for the private car booked by him, asking for a comfortable car. The price request was $90 while the taxi fare was $50-$60. I accepted the extra cost for the reasons above and the fact that I was expecting a “luxury”or very comfortable service. The car, an old lexus suv, was punctual at the airport while the driver did not speak English at all and we were not offered any water along the way. After 4 days in koh rong, the day before the departure, talking with other guests of the resort, I discoveres they paid $50 for the same trip with a lexus suv, a driver speaking English and they were offered water along the way (WHAT???). I did not write any complain to the Italian guy since we still had many days in front of us but my point is: if I contact a local person, I expect to get all the insight i.e. telling me that the service level of taxi in Cambodia is extremely good and there are no problem to drive even during the nights, that the cars are basically all lexus, with no difference of service,. If I would have received all this info I would have gone for the normal taxi, saving $40 but unfortunately, I was not. But this is the minor part of the bad experience had with this guy.
The days after we visited Phnom Penh with a very good guide and we did all the things listed in the program. We then went to Battambang and we changed the guide (it was planned): immediately, after 2 hours, we both (my girlfriend and myself) realized he was not at all able to do his job. His English was really bad and he basically didn’t know anything about the place we were visitng, the situation was particularly irritating with some embarrassing situation (the guide was asking to the local people information about the temples, he was telling us that the adv along the road was a beer advertsing….). At a certain point, sick and tired, I asked to stop, I went to a coffee shop with wi fi and I sent an email to the Evaneos Italian guy explaining the situation and asking for a change since this guide was supposed to stay with us till the end of our Cambodian trip (3 days more)……. The day went by as you can imagine, with us very irritated by this guide that was trying to explain something but at the end just saying banal and basic info (at a certain point he pointed a bank by the street saying: this is where Cambodian exchange money…….???) once in the hotel I immediately checked my email and the answer from the Italian guy was LITERALLY this: I am very surprised about the guide feedback, he is a trusted one and we never received bad comments. He comes from Siem Raep so he knows better this part of Cambodia, you will see the situation will improve in the next day. Bye bye. Needless to say I went crazy, the email was unacceptable in my opinon, particularly in the light of the amount of money I was spending for this trip, besides he clearly admitted that the guide did not know part of the trip. Unfortunately I had already paid 100% of the travel (evaneos rules) so I did not have any point to leverage on against this bad behave. Instead of replying back him immediately I searched in the brochure Evaneos gave me, some alternative contacts and I found Mr Vichy, a real local contact working for an agency collaborating with Evanoes: he has been excellent! In one hour he was able to find a new guide for the following day and another one for Siem Raep. That is the level of service I was expecting also from the Italian guy but it was not. After the confirmation by Mr Vichy, I called the Italian guy saying I was very disappointed and that I was going to express all my concerns about his behave in the socials so that everybody would have known. At that point the guy said I misunderstood his email and that he was trying to fix the problem………no comment
- A part from the Italian guy, the service provided by Evaneos were good but not worth the price we paid
- For the price I paid, I was expecting a better level (hotels, accommodation, etcc..). I think there are too many people involved (Italian guy, local contact, etcc) and everybody has to earn money
- If you have time and you are used to travel, plan the trip by yourself
- If you want to go to Cambodia with Evaneos, do not use the Italian guy : if I would have followed his suggestion (not to change the guide) the trip could have turned into a real nightmare..