Don't book your transport/tours with Victory Tours
Hello everyone! Just got back with three friends from a 4 day trip to Bali, really enjoyed it!
However, one experience there really put a damper on our trip. On our third day we booked a Toyota Avanza from PT Victory Tour and Travel (http://www.balivictorytour.com), from a counter near to Kuta Beach. It included a driver and petrol for 300k IDR. We thought it was a really good deal since our previous driver charged 375k for the same package (i.e. car, petrol, driver for 10 hours).
A guide and a driver came to pick us up. It quickly turned into a nightmare when we showed the guide our already planned itinerary for ourselves (we would go from our Hotel in Kuta, first to Ubud for lunch and to visit the market and then to Lake Batur and the surrounding region for sightseeing) and he told us that Ubud traffic is 'stuck' in the morning, even worse than that of Kuta, so it would be better to go up to the lake and Kintamani and stop by some batik and silver making factories so as to save time from being in the jam.
We had our reservations about this, but went along with his suggestion. He then proceeded to bring us to shops catered to tourists which charged exorbitant prices on their goods (e.g. a straw woven bag I bought from the Ubud market for 40k IDR was retailing for 880k in the shop!)
After the 2nd shop, we insisted to be brought to Ubud immediately. We reached the market fairly quickly, with no jam that could rival that of Kuta's, by the way. He probably lied to us so that we would go along with his plans. We were disgusted by this.
After we were done with our activities in Ubud, the guide called the agent and passed the phone to us. He said we have to pay 50k extra for going to other places. They seem to have forgotten we actually booked a car, and not a tour package! We reminded the agent of this on the phone and were not charged extra. But then he started to keep tabs on our whereabouts by calling the driver or the guide from time to time. The guide and the driver also became very unfriendly to us. It was very annoying.
We ended our 10 hour trip prematurely at the 8 hour mark as we were not enjoying ourselves at all with their constant grumblings to each other in Bahasa (my friend speaks Bahasa and could understand what they were talking about) and the agent tracking us everywhere we went.
Another side note is that most of the specialty shops that day tour providers bring you to are a ripoff. As I said, the prices are crazy, but we saw a few tourists making purchases all the same. Please do not be tricked. Just don't buy anything if you think there is something wrong. Yes, 880k for a bag and 100k for a small packet of vanilla pods is too expensive!
Overall, the trip left a bad taste in our mouths and we would never again book anything with Victory Tours; we advise you to do the same. It is our bad luck to have ever spoke to the agent at the counter near Kuta beach! Avoid it at all costs!
Unique Suggestions: If you find yourself sucked into the same situation as we did, just be firm and insist on where you want to go. Don't blindly go along with their suggestions, because you know they will bring you somewhere where is it more expensive and less interesting than what you see on this site!
Fun Alternatives: Do your research before going.
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Be careful of Guides if going to Kedisan
Just stayed at Segara Hotel in Kedisan, Kintamani and it is owned by a lovely couple who were all dressed up for Temple the night I was there, they explained the service they were off to and their staff were all very friendly. However, I was hassled at dinner by a 'guide' trying to get me to climb the mountain (Mt Batur). I asked the staff who he was as he had followed my car down from Penleokan (at the top near Kintamani) all the way to the hotel. I was shocked when they told me that he was now 'my guide' and they could do nothing about him. I questioned what they meant and they said that as I came with him he was my guide. I quickly explained that he just followed me and never spoke to me, and they said they were very sorry but they had already paid heim 15% of my room rate and he was 'my guide'. I found this very frustrating and again asked why this guy was getting money. They said that he brought me to this hotel. I quickly explained that I got the hotel from the Lonley Planet and was coming here anyway. They seemed scared of the 'guide', and said they had to pay him or he would threaten them, I was amazed. Later I asked them about their price for to climb the mountain and they told me that I had to use 'my guide'. I gave up trying to explain that he was not my guide as they kept insisting until I realised they were actually scared of this guy.
Unique Suggestions: Make sure you tell these "Guides" that you have a booking already! This is very important as they are threatening local hotel owners into paying them commission and then they hassle you constantly to use only them. They will even hang around you until you agree AND try and sell you a painting at the same time (which is a fake)
Fun Alternatives: It is a lovely area, just make sure you tell anyone that stops you at the top that you already have a booking, this is very important. I spoke to the owners of the hotel and they are literally scared of these people (these "rip off guides" are not from this village, they come every day to take commission from these small family run hotels). You must go and stay in this area as the Lake is beautiful and these families need the business, but make sure you tell the guides you have a booking or reservation1q
The shops at Tempak Siring Temple
When exiting the temple, you must go through a thring of shops - there are so many, you are literally clawing your way through and fighting off people trying to sell you all manner of things. Really unnerving as well.
Unique Suggestions: Just put your head down and get out!
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