For our final day in Chiang Mai, we decided to book a tour to Soi Duthep temple and to visit a Hmong Tribe. We booked through Viator. Then, things went south…
On the Viator website, you are able to verify availability of a tour before booking. We did so, and received confirmation and a ticket for our tour. Unfortunately, a day later, we received notification that the tour was full and would not be able to accommodate us. No big deal; we found another tour to the same place for about the same price and booked that. Again, we received confirmation and awaited the email telling us when we would be picked up (the starting and ending times were not given on Viator).
We waited, and waited, and waited. A day before the tour was to start, we were still waiting. We were given a phone number for the tour company in our confirmation email, so I went to the front desk of our hotel to ask if I could make a local call from there. They said I could, but looked at me strangely when I showed them the number for the tour company. Turns out it was not a local company; they were located in Hong Kong! Instead of calling Hong Kong, I called Viator’s customer service number. I was told that I should call the tour company to clarify the time for the tour. I told the agent that I was unable to do that and requested that she do so. She agreed to, and placed the call. No one answered. Hmmmm; not good. I told her that I needed verification of time for the tour by the time we returned from our tour we were taking that day. If I did not receive it, I wanted the tour cancelled. She agreed.
We went on our river cruise, and when we returned to the hotel, I checked my email. No response from either Viator or the tour company. So, I responded to the email from the agent I spoke to earlier to let her know that we wanted to cancel the tour and get our money refunded. No response. So, I tried calling Viator. For some reason, my phone company would not place a call to the US; I kept getting a message that they were unable to complete the call (though I had successfully called earlier). I sent another email to Viator. A few hours later, I received a response asking me to verify that I wanted to cancel, with the understanding that since it was no longer within the 24-hour window, I would not receive a refund.
Can you guess that I might be a little frustrated by now? I responded with an email outlining what had taken place and suggesting that if the agent couldn’t handle the refund that they forward my email to a supervisor that could and that if that didn’t clear up the problem, that I would be disputing the charge with my credit card company.
A day later, I am still awaiting a response from Viator. Update: 4 days later, I received an email from Viator saying that they were looking into my claim. Another update: 5 days later, I received an email stating that our money would be refunded. Yes!!!
And, the tour company showed up to pick us up for the tour this morning at 8:30. I told them we were not interested in taking the tour at this point since they had refused to communicate with me. How on earth were we to know when to be ready for the tour or even whether or not they intended to pick us up?
So, we now have a free day here in Chiang Mai! We have already walked the Old City and are now sitting on the veranda of the hotel enjoying the day.
There are many other activities here that we could have participated in. We have noticed that this is definitely a “tourist town” – lots of non-local people everywhere in Old Town, most of them in their 20’s to early 30’s. There are several elephant sanctuaries that one can visit. We considered visiting one, but didn’t have enough days to fit it in. Besides, there are also elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Rai where we are headed next. Ziplining seems to be popular, as does trekking. Of course, there are multiple massage places where one can indulge in a 1 or 2 hour massage for a very reasonable price. We recommend Chinola Massage, which was right around the corner from Le View @Prasingh where we stayed. There is a large night market which we did not visit. It was a bit of a distance from our hotel, and we will have the opportunity to visit many other night markets in other cities. We plan on visiting the Saturday Walking Market tonight, which is located a bit closer. The city itself is quite large (4th largest in Thailand), but the Old City is relatively compact and walkable. It is most definitely a more relaxing place to visit than Bangkok! There are multiple temples to visit, though we did not make it to Doi Suthep.
A few more pictures taken around town: