smarTours makes it possible to experience more once-in-a-lifetime trips. Since 1996, more than 200,000 travelers have taken a smarTours trip to 40+ exotic destinations around the globe. Our tours are priced "all in" (with airfare from U.S. origination airport) and require only a modest deposit to reserve. Some smarTravelers have taken five, 10 or even 20+ trips with us. smarTours is the smarter way to see the world.
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I have taken several SmarTours over the past few years and have always found that my vacation was great. The guides and planning has always been top notch, the hotels are hit & miss; sometimes very high end, and other times just acceptable. I have met repeat customers on a couple of my trips (those that I have traveled with before) & many of SmarTour guests have taken more than 6 of their trips. I have recommended SmarTours over and over again.
I've taken two trips with smarTours--to South Africa and Borneo--and consider both of them to have been excellent value for money. Like others, I was skeptical about how they could conduct excellent tours with international air included for low prices. But I was convinced. The local guides were excellent; they used what seemed to be top-notch local companies and the hotels ranged from good to outstanding. There are only two drawbacks. First, their groups can be large; filling a bus is one way to achieve economies of scale. Second, they apparently contract with certain airlines, which can result in awkward routings and long layovers. Still, I would--and may--travel with them again.
My husband and I have traveled to Peru/Galapagos, The Best of South America, Israel and Jordan, Cambodia and Vietnam and have recently booked Vienna, Prague and Budapest with smarTours. The value and reliability is what draws us back time and again. We have been very pleased with the quality of the tour directors on every trip. On our most recent, the escort not only took care of those who got ill, arranged for special meals for several in the group, he took pictures throughout the journey which he made into a CD for each of us to bring home. We have recommended smarTours to a number of friends and relatives who too have enjoyed the tours.
I travelled with smartTours at least two times and each and every time it has been a great experience. We stayed at very nice hotels and I will certainly travel with them again.
All of our land trips have been with smarTours, and we have been satisfied and happy with every experience. Our first major retirement trip was in Thailand. We have toured South Africa, east Africa, Scandinavia, China, and several other countries. All accommodations were superior; guides were excellent, and all tours were well planned. We recommend smarTours whenever we talk about great trips.
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I have never rated on the internet before so this rating includes several trips I've taken with you (India, Thailand, Peru). I have always gotten more than my money's worth with smarTours! And had a delightful time. Our guide for South Africa was not our favorite, but the guides in the other locations were EXCELLENT and went above and beyond.
I like SmarTours because they are efficient, well-priced, & don't bombard me with emails or snail-mail or big packets of blah-blah. I know, when I sign up for a SmarTours tour (I have gone on quite a few), exactly what to expect; only the essentials will be covered in the literature; I won't have to read pages and pages and pages of stuff; and all the people touring will be fun and adventuresome. Tour guides are always competent and enjoyable. Thanks, SmarTours. I <3 you.
I certainly enjoyed my trip to Ireland with smarTours. It was just great! My guide was always very friendly and easy to talk to but I didn't have any special needs or requests so it wasn't a problem for him. The customer service team was cordial and the tour was exactly as it was described and advertised to be. We also fortunately had wonderful weather. Ireland is not necessarily known for a day after day of sun but we got it and enjoyed it. It's a real possibility that I would use smarTours on my next trip again too because some of the things they do in Europe are very interesting to me. I just have to look around for a little bit. Overall I had no disappointments at all.
Since SmarTours no longer matches singles, I cannot travel with you any more. In well over 65 countries, I have NEVER paid a single supplement. It's really too bad since I enjoyed my 4 tours with you.
SmarTours gives a Big Bang for the buck... great hotels, knowledgeable tour guides, great itineraries, all make smarTours a great value.
I really enjoyed my experience with smarTours. We've done a number of tours with them and I'd recommend it to my friends. I don't think there was anything that we didn't like about them.
Purchased a Vietnam Angkor Wat tour and Travel Protection from SmarTours for Mar '15. SmarTour refuses to acknowledge that I have bought travel insurance from them, even when so requested by telephone. Feels like they want to keep it open whether they have or they do not have a Contract with the consumer.
Hi Paras, I'm glad you were able to work with Trecia on our team to clarify the issue and come to an understanding!
I went to South Africa with SmarTours this past November, and I can confidently say that choosing SmarTours to lead me on that 2-week safari adventure was one of the best decisions of my life. They made the entire experience effortless; from the moment I arrived in Cape Town and met my smiling tour guide, Ron, and the rest of my travel companions, the two weeks that followed were seamlessly prearranged and organized better than I ever could have done if I arranged the trip on my own (not to mention sizably more wallet-friendly too!). As a group, we travelled all throughout South Africa. We visited Swaziland, visited Nelson Mandela’s home, went on a leisurely walk with clumsy one-year old lions, observed magnificent animals in Kruger Park from merely inches away, and that’s only to name a few.
All the while, I didn’t have to think about or plan a single thing; I simply got to enjoy myself and bask in the lifelong memories I was creating each and every day. I would recommend SmarTours to anyone looking to safely explore the world’s most incredible destinations, meet wonderful people from all over, and not break the bank in the process. I look forward to booking my next overseas journey with SmarTours as soon as I can make up my mind where to go... After touring South Africa with SmarTours, I frankly can’t imagine traveling any other way :)
I want to be fair in my review, but I also need to be completely honest. I am giving smarTours three stars because there were some parts of the trip that I felt were outstanding, like our tour guide in Shanghai, Allie, she was amazing! College educated as a tour operator and it showed in everything she did. Our tour guide in Beijing is another story all together. His answer to everything was that he had been doing this for twenty years! It showed! He was a long-time disgruntled employee and it would be highly advised for him to seek another line of work. Name withheld for obvious reasons!
I thought the hotels were fine, but surely not the 5 star hotels that they had promised in their tour description, not even by China standards. Thank goodness for the amazing breakfast buffets at both hotels, it completely made up for the absence of the couple of dinners that we were told would be included. My husband and I both feel very blessed to have gone to China and to have met so many amazing people on our tour. We probably would not have been able to afford it without smarTours, but I think they should be more accurate in their tour descriptions. Be honest about the hotels and what's included. We certainly would have still gone, knowing the hotel was only a 3 star and that only breakfast was included.
Terrible tour guide. Guide gave wrong instructions for airport embarkation... my daughter almost got left behind in Buenos Aires. Lousy hotels, food and service.
My husband always says "you get what you pay for." I have been on three Smartours, and two were marginal at best. The Jewels of the Adriatic was fantastic due to a great itinerary and a superb tour guide named Roc. Most of the people on the recent South American Odyssey felt the tour was lousy; many said they would never take Smartours again. Some of these people had taken many other Smartours and felt this was not up to snuff.
Vivian, thank you very much for your feedback. We are glad to see that you are booked on two additional trips with smarTours, and we will reach out directly to better understand your concerns about this tour. The vast majority of the travelers on this tour wrote overwhelmingly positive feedback to us directly.
Several weeks ago I sent a deposit to smarTours for an April trip to morocco. Shortly after, the ebola situation appeared and I decided it was unwise for me (or anyone) to go to Africa until we know it is not a threat. I contacted smarTours less than 3 weeks after I sent in the deposit. I know they hold the deposit but I thought under these unusual circumstances, they would refund the $300. I was told they wouldn't but if I took another trip within the year, they would apply the deposit. That seemed a solution. Today I got a letter saying they would apply the deposit AFTER taking $150 off for a change fee. I have been a customer for years, although that is not significant, but I think it is unconscionable that under this unusual health threatening situation they would penalize me (and others?) for what I consider a logical decision.
Hi Annette, thank you for your feedback, and we're glad that we could clarify everything with you.
I had been on a SmarTours in 2011 to Turkey and very happy. We joined with 5 others on a tour to Scandinavia. We were disappointed with SmarTours this time, and will NEVER join another SmarTours; in fact, there were about 16 total on our tour that basically said the same thing - and some had been on SmarTours numerous times.
First sign was when we had to take our own luggage from the bus to the hotel and later, bring it down to the bus. We had NEVER been on any tour in which this was done. SmarTours skimped on paying porters. The only time that luggage was not lugged by us was the last day in St. Petersburg (extension) as we were being taken to the airport to go home.
Another sign was the original writeup on the Website gave certain hotels that were certainly 4-stars; however, in one instance, the Copenhagen hotel was switched from First Vesterbro hotel to SP34, very much a downgrade. We had to move our luggage about 1/2 block to the hotel, go up 2 steps to get in, then another 3 steps to put into an open "library room" temporarily because our rooms were not ready by afternoon, where we had to retrieve them later ourselves; there was some worry that luggage could disappear in the meanwhile. SP34 rooms were small; you had to be careful to step UP into the room, as well as the bathroom, requiring a bit of care to make sure you didn't stub your toes. Instead of the usual closet(s) storage, there was a sliding door on an exposed track where it was very easy to stub - and cut - your toes.
There was no a/c in the room, because "Danes are extremely 'green' and it seldom gets this hot" - this hot being 86+ degrees and humid. So, we had to open the windows, no screens, and was serenaded into the early mornings with music, laughter, and roaring motorcycles. When we mentioned this to the tour director, we were told that NO hotels in Copenhagen has a/c. A quick check on the Internet showed that this is totally incorrect; in fact, First Vesterbro hotel HAS a/c! Breakfast was ... extremely skimpy, closer to being a Continental breakfast, with a few cold cut meats type and that was basically it. We were told that the hotel was undergoing renovation - thanks, SmarTours.
Tour guide initially seemed very dictatorial, insisting that I move from a bus seat as "we are all rotating seats" - which only lasted that ONE day; after that, everybody sat where they wanted! She did seem more cordial later, even going with us on an "open day" to different sights. She did not go with us on the St. Petersburg extension, notifying us about 5 or 6 days into the tour; apparently, not enough of us signed up to make it worth while for SmarTours to pay her, plus expenses, to go to Russia.
SmarTours itself -- there doesn't seem to be any extra help if needed, and their hours where you can reach them is practically normal business hours, M-F -- and NO 'emergency' telephone number to call during non-business hours. The attitude is "the tour starts with the plane ride to Stockholm and ends when you get back to JFK airport, and there will be a tour guide to help you during this time" and anything outside of that - you are on your own. There were about 15 of us that needed the documents for the tour ahead of the " we send out the documents ONLY 10 days before the tour starts". Some of us were on another tour and obviously cannot be home to receive the documents. Nor was an option of email given out. Very inflexible. I do not want to think of what little help SmarTours could give us in a situation the previous year, where with another travel company, a couple in our group had flight delayed almost 24 hours due to T-storms and missed the first day of the tour. That company worked overtime, working with airlines, etc., and got our friends there a day later - I don't think SmarTours would have done ANYTHING to help in that situation, since "the tour hadn't started yet". "Ain't our problem" seems to be their attitude.
Finally - tour guide in Russia was good, knowledgeable, helped us throughout the extension ... but did seem to have a bit of an attitude. If you asked a question, sometimes he takes it the wrong way and thinks that you are knocking Russia, or he would tell you that things CAN be different outside of US. Listening to the questions objectively, none of us thought we were challenging Russia or him, and yet, he did seem to think we were tearing Russia down. Bad attitude or maybe complex. He did his job well, humorous, knew a lot of things, so can't fault him there.
My issue with SmarTours is that they are holding me to a non-refundable deposit agreement which I did not agree to, when we had a medical condition that caused us to cancel in sufficient time. I have filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of New York and have taken my complaint to the Attorney General - Eric Schneiderman. I would encourage all who have had issue with SmarTours to do the same. Consumer Hotline 1 (800) 771-7755.
Hi Toni, thank you very much for your cooperation on this matter, and we are glad that we could come to a resolution/understanding on this!
I am not surprised that Sun Tours does not care about its customers' comments noted on this site. The only thing that Sun Tours is concerned with is that its customers precisely follow every word of instructions. There can be no deviations, no changes for any reason are allowed and Sun Tours ensures that the customer will spend time and money because it did not follow Sun Tours' often senseless rules.
Several years ago, we took their guided trip to India; it was wonderful but we were charged an additional $400 when we wanted to spend an extra week there. We wanted to go to Moscow before the riverboat cruise; our request cost us additional funds for smarTours and then smarTours delayed emailing the location of the ship until three days prior to embarkation.
The ship itself, the Surikov, was awful: the very small room had separate twin beds that were actually wood planks covered with 3" mattresses and there was an impossibly small bathroom with a shower as part of the unit; intermittent television and Wi-Fi, poor A/C, and incredibly boring food. The good news is that the crew and especially the guides and staff satisfactorily performed the Herculean task of keeping the customers content notwithstanding the wretched conditions aboard the ship. Otherwise, the journey was great. Go, but be prepared for uncomfortable surprises.
March 2nd to March 12th. The experience was really, really cool. I must admit that I was a little nervous from the beginning! Their company doesn't really provide any information to you over the phone (They all sound foreign, their call center obviously isn't based in New York like they claim), you're just expected to read their site and then set a reservation! So the 4/5 was due to this issue - I mean, I mailed $600 across the country to them and just HOPED I wasn't being scammed. Thankfully, I wasn't and had a great time with my brother. I didn't do too many of the actual Tours while I was there because I wanted to go solo on my own, but both of the guides were pretty decent guys! The crowd was typically an older one, but we met some really nice people.
The seating on AirChina was pretty good, but not reserved. My brother & I requested the "Emergency door seats" for extra leg room. So I recommend either getting to the airport early, or make sure you call ahead to get great seats. We were satisfied with hotels, they were pretty great and what you can expect for a 4-star hotel. Side note: the hotels they chose actually had Foreigner-friendly plugs so I wasted money buying one myself. We stayed in the Penta Hotel while we were in Beijing, and Holiday Inn Downtown while we were in Beijing. They were both pretty prime spots!! Penta was right smack next to the New World Mall, so many beautiful parks, and about a 10-minute taxi ride to Tienanmen Square/Forbidden City. The Holiday Inn was literally the building RIGHT in front of the Shanghai railway (Leads straight to the Bund) which I highly recommend you take a ride on because it is super cheap.
China was a spectacular and very culturally shocking experience. I was shocked the SECOND I got off the airplane by the massive airport and unique smoggy smell in the air. I'll never forget it... So I definitely recommend it - I will go back someday! And you definitely cannot beat the price... $999 for a March date?!! (Don't forget about Visa costs). Below are two pictures I took... In front of Penta, and the view from Holiday Inn.
We toured China and also took Yangtze cruise. Our Tour Director was a freelance person. He never cared enough to wait for everyone on the tour to get their luggage and then go to the bus. Never. Brought bus to the terminal while arriving at a new town. We almost lost four of our fellow travelers. Repeated request by our group members that did not eat meat, were not properly addressed. As a minimum, I would like to see Smartours drop this young tour director. But, the Hong Kong person was absolutely outstanding. He said he could have been our tour manager in China if they wanted it.
Overall China-Hong Kong trip was good but I did not care for the flight arrangements. Smartours has no respect for our time and our health. That is why I will not go with them any more. May The Lord give them better discernment. Unless the business slows down for them, they will not Change. Hotel, looks like First hotel is great, and then there seems to be a downward trend.
I was travelling alone to Kenya where I was to meet my daughter and join the group (of 9) from SmarTours. Since I left from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, I was not with any other participants. There was no one at Kennedy Airport in New York to meet me or tell me where my plane was leaving from. I boarded the plane on time and landed in London where there was an 8 hour layover. There was no one to meet me there. I hung around for an hour roaming from place to place and had SmarTours paged to tell them I was there. No one responded. I finally checked into a hotel room near the airport for some well needed rest. I met the plane for Kenya at the proper gate in time to see the other people on tour. They knew that there was one more person and they knew my name, but the person in charge (from SmarTours) did not page me or look for me.
At the same time, my daughter was meeting me in Kenya and was traveling by herself from Australia. I told her that I had paid for transportation from the airport to the hotel. No transportation was made available for her. She made her own way to the hotel. These were two instances of complete inattention to customers. The trip itself was a delight, but it was scarred by these deficiencies. Their prices were undeniably low, but there is no excuse for their rudeness and lack of customer care.
Our tour guide was excellent, and the first three of five hotels were nice, not great, but nice. The last two hotels were the worst. No porters to move luggage, which meant flagging luggage on our own. I fell at the last hotel, and cut my hand. The hotel told me that smarTours did not pay for porters so that is why there were none. Food was horrible, and breakfast lines at day two hotels were very long.
The office in New York is rude and condescending, not helpful. I am on a smart tour to Scandinavia. It is total confusion, long bus ride of 10 hours today, totally unnecessary, poorly planned and organized, guides and tour operator uninformed. I have traveled extensively with many companies in the past. I will never use smarTours again. This is my first and last trip with them
I was on the SmarTours Danube Discovery Tour from Budapest to Vienna in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, and all flights to JFK airport were cancelled. Our return tour tickets from Vienna to the USA were through JFK. The SmarTours tour director proceeded to dump us at the Vienna airport knowing that all flights were cancelled and then disappeared for 3 days. Austrian/Lufthansa arranged food and lodging for 2 days and nights and told us to return on Wednesday morning, which we did, only to find out that nothing had been done in the intervening time to arrange our return to the USA. SmarTours had not even released our tickets so Lufthansa could book alternative flights for us! After our group held up the Austrian/Lufthansa check-in counter, so that other passengers could not check-in until we were taken care of, Lufthansa managed to get us all booked back to the USA by the following weekend. They then arranged additional food and lodging for us until our various departures. The tour director mysteriously reappeared on Wednesday night long after Lufthansa had made these arrangements.
To date, I have not even had the minimal courtesy of an acknowledgement of a problem from SmarTours. Needless to say, do not use this company. If there is a problem, you are on your own even though you have paid them for the trip, accommodations, transportation and supposed expert tour guide.
Credit Card Payment Refused/Deposit accepted and not returned: In March of 2012, we sent a deposit of $600 to the above mentioned company in order to secure two places on a tour to South America. At the time, it was very clear to the company that we reside in Israel. As proof, we sent copies of our Israeli passports. The company had no problem with our residence and cashed our deposit check immediately upon its receipt. When the balance of the payment was due, in order to expedite its arrival, we sent a check for $7,656.00 to the company via Express Mail Service. Unfortunately, this check was held up by US customs and therefore it did not arrive in time to secure our reservation. The next option suggested by SmarTours was to pay by credit card. To do this, we had to add $100 per ticket to the price of the tour. We agreed to this option since the check had not arrived and furthermore, by using our credit card which was issued in the United States by JP Morgan Chase, we were assured of travel insurance.
As requested, we photocopied the front and back of the card and filled the authorization form and faxed it to SmarTours. When they received it, they informed us that they could not accept it because the billing address for the card was in Israel and not in the US. Note, the check for $600 that they cashed also had the same (Israeli) billing address as the credit card and was based on the same bank and account. Reviewing their terms and conditions, there is no mention of restrictions on billing addresses for credit cards. Again, our card is a US issued card, but has a billing address in Israel which is where we live and SmarTours was well aware of this.
In light of all this, we asked for our deposit back due to the fact that cancellation of our participation was not due to a decision of ours. It was SmarTours who rejected us. Even though they state that deposits are nonrefundable, nowhere do they stipulate that you cannot use a US credit with an Israeli billing address. We are turning to the Better Business Bureau to intervene on our behalf since we believe we are entitled to our $600 deposit due to the above mentioned facts. We seek a return of $600.00.
In early January, I called to book a trip with Smartours.com to go to Turkey on 10/3 to 10/16, 2012. I was told over the phone to send in $300 to hold my place, so I sent in a check. I called today and told them due to ill health, I could not go. I spoke to Esther and she said the $300 was non-refundable but they would offer a credit of $150 for another trip within a year. I told her I was never told the $300 was non-refundable and had sent the check on 1/13/2012. The invoice with the information that the deposit was non-refundable was not sent out until 1/23/2012. I said the trip was 7 months away and I was not told, but they will not refund my money. I am 82 and need the money now that my health is bad.
We recently returned from 2 weeks in Israel with smarTours and had the best vacation we've ever had. The tour guide was excellent, the hotels were top of the line, and the sight-seeing was wonderful, traveling aboard a luxurious tour bus. Not having cancelled, I can't speak to their policies, but we did purchase insurance just in case.
Had to cancel trip due to extended family illness that was not covered in the trip insurance policy. We canceled 4 weeks ahead of time. The whole trip was canceled by Smartours for a full refund of those who did not cancel. Moral of the story, do not pay in cash! I will not use this group again.
Smartours customer service is extremely rude and disrespectful. When asking questions that couldn't be found on their website, customer service reps consistently interrupted me and the operations manager even hung up on me after she was done talking. They were condescending and over-powered the conversation by talking over me.
The operations manager refused to answer basic questions and demanded an email be sent instead. When inquiring about changing my trip plans (this costs $150 per person), customer service refused to provide me with policy details for this change (what trips it applies to, whether the original trip deposit is used as a future deposit or the cost of the trip, how long in future I can schedule new trip, etc.). Instead, customer service said I needed to cancel my trip plans first and then they would provide me the details. I originally gave Smartours a "non-refundable" deposit of $600 for a trip. After speaking with their customer service, I do not want to go on the trip because of the way they treated me.
Hi George, we are sorry to hear about this experience, and we have worked very hard to improve our customer service over the last several years. It is always a work in progress, but many of our longstanding clients have been remarking about the improvements we've made.
smarTours Company Information
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- 545 8th Ave. Suite 2250
- New York
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- United States