The world is an amazing place, and the touring options for travellers seem to get more diverse and out there every year. The choice feels endless sometimes, doesn’t it? It might seem hard to know where to start, but there are few better places to do just that than your favourite ATAS accredited travel agent.
(A 2CV tour of Paris. Image credit: 4 Roues Sous 1 Parapluie)
Tourism is opening up new destinations every day. Airlines are flying new routes and farther afield than they ever have before, and cruise and rail lines are taking people to the remotest corners of the planet. Travellers with a pioneering spirit are lapping up these opportunities which, in turn, develop new ones. But not everyone wants to be a first-time visitor every time they travel. Plenty of us have favourite places that we return to regularly, relishing the familiar things and gentle changes that wash through a place over time.
(Feeling like a local in your favourite holiday destination can be a delicious experience)
There’s something lovely about returning to your favourite holiday hot-spot. There’s that sense of familiarity, like you’re kind of a local in your home away from home. You might have a favourite little place for breakfast, or a secret side-street charcuterie, bakery or tiny diner that you daydream about at every opportunity.
What’s not to love about that?
(Exploring Tuscany by scooter. A two-wheeled taste of la dolce vita)
There’s also something nice about seeing a familiar place in a completely new way. It’s fair to say that we’re no longer surprised by the types of tours and experiences find their ways into travel agency brochure shelves each year. Here are some particularly quirky touring options unique to some of our favourite places.
Vintage Vespa Adventures
Anyone who has ever ridden one will know that the iconic Italian scooter is about the most fun you can have on two wheels. Vintage Vespas brim with style, and Vespa tours can be found everywhere from Tuscany to Ho Chi Minh City and places in between.
(Exploring with Vespa Adventures, Ho Chi Minh City. Image credit: Ben Alcock)
Vietnam’s Vespas are a relic of the country’s history as a French colony. When the French were driven from the country in 1954, their Italian-made scooters remained. Many have been lovingly restored and now take centre-stage in a range of city tours including after-dark food and speak-easy tours that take visitors into rarely explored neighbourhoods. Whizzing through chaotic streets, safely riding pillion behind an expert local driver, tasting delicious victuals and drinks on the fly is, for many, the ultimate Vietnam travel experience.
(Vespas are right at home in Italy. Image credit: Pexels)
Even though Vespas feel like part of the furniture through Indochina, nowhere do they feel more at home than in Italy. Not surprisingly, Vespa tours through the Chianti region of Tuscany are a popular option. These self-ride excursions typically include olive oil and wine tasting, castle visits, and wonderful rides through winding country roads dotted with olive groves and vineyards – a two-wheeled taste of La dolce vita.
Ask your ATAS accredited travel agent for the perfect vintage Vespa tour.
See Paris by 2CV
Every visit to Paris feels like a fairy tale. This is a city of astonishing style and beauty, a kaleidoscope of haute-couture and near endless attractions. Paris is oft-visited more than once, and a guided city tour in a classic French voiture delivers a unique perspective on this brilliant city whether you’re a first-timer or an old hand.
You’ll zip through Paris’ narrow streets uncovering local secrets and quintessential experiences in a car that is utterly French and synonymous with freedom, romance and fun.
Carissa Johnson of Spencer Travel Southside in Sydney enjoyed a day exploring Paris by 2CV.
(Paris by 2CV. Image credit: Carissa Johnson, Spencer Travel Southside)
“I recommend it to anyone visiting Paris, whether it’s their first or 40th visit. You can choose your tour time, duration and itinerary. We toured on a Sunday which was brilliant as there were few cars on the road and, because they’re so small, the wonderful 2CVs can easily access places that are closed to regular cars”, says Carissa.
Your ATAS accredited travel agent can put you in the front seat of a 2CV. All you have to do is sit back and let Paris wash over you.
Take Berlin by Trabant
For more than 30 years of the Cold War, a divided Germany fought for supremacy in every field imaginable as super-powers wrestled with and wielded the ideologies that divided it. Through those decades West German factories produced some of the world’s finest automobiles sporting Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, BMW, Opel and Porsche badges.
(Trabant mural on Eastside Gallery section of the Berlin Wall. Image credit: Ben Alcock)
Across the Iron Curtain, on the other hand, East German factories rolled out the Trabant, a car with a one-piece steel chassis and hard plastic body. These days, the Trabant (or ‘Trabi’) is a symbol of the defunct East Germany and a brilliant way to explore Berlin – the once-divided city, ground zero of the Cold War.
(Trabi’s out and about in Berlin. Image credit: Trabi Safari)
Short convoys of Trabis now snake their way through Berlin, following lead car driven by a guide broadcasting commentary to each Trabi’s radio. The tour leads each Trabi off the beaten (urban) track and into parts of the city that once sat behind the Iron Curtain. A brilliant way to explore a city with a story unlike any other.
Karting Around Tokyo
Totally befitting a city that feels like a futuristic virtual reality, road karting tours of Tokyo are big business. With a guide leading the way, karters drive their own (usually glittery) single-seaters around what is appropriately called a ‘course’.
(Karting in optional fancy dress, Tokyo. Image credit: shout.sg)
Courses typically take karters around Tokyo’s major attractions like Skytree, Tokyo Station, Tokyo Tower, Rainbow Bridge, Ginza, Emperor’s Palace, Akihabara and Ueno Park. As you might imagine, the experience is taken up a notch after dark.
We can’t think of a quirkier way to explore this mega-city.
Cyclo tours of Phnom Penh
These iconic pedal-rickshaws have been a feature on Phnom Penh streets since the 1930s, and drivers now rely on business from visitors for their livelihoods.
Join a tour and you’ll find yourself in a three-wheeled, lime-green peloton on a Tour de Phnom Penh that jiggles past the Royal Palace, National Museum, down side streets and laneways, drawing smiles from local passers-by. A brilliant way to explore this intriguing city at street level.
(Cyclo tour of Phnom Penh. Image credit: Ben Alcock)
Whichever way you like to travel, your ATAS accredited travel agent can piece together the perfect travel experience and provide the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve got a professional in the driver’s seat. Be sure to ask for advice on driver’s licence requirements before you book your two or four wheeled adventure.