Whoever is thinking about going to Niagara Waterfalls (the USA side) from New York can choose from several options. The most compfortable is definitely to rent a car and drive to the falls. However, I’m not sure about that it’s the cheapest decision. Personally, when I was there, I decided to go with a 2 day tour, and I found TakeTours on the Internet, who plans several trips to the most popular attractions of the USA and Canada, and some other continents. They provide low-cost tours, which is nice, but they have several disadvantages as well. Fortunately my experience was nice with them, though that 2 days with them were too much. If you ever join them, get ready to hear a lot of Chinese – they are a kinda Chinese company, so there are a lot of Chinese tourists.
In my 2 days package they took me to the Niagara Waterfalls, gave an accommodation in a hice hotel, and on the next day they took us to the Watkins Glen and the Corning Museum of Glass. In the price they included the transportation, the accommodation and the tour guide. So make sure to check prices before booking with them, because you will end up paying a little bit more. They also offer the “Buy 2 get the 3rd free” deal, which I used, so I ended up going with 2 other Hungarians: Dóri and Dani. I remember paying $120 for my trip, I didn’t visit the Corning Museum of Glass, I went by boat at Niagara ($25), and joined the Watkins Glen ($10). They also ask for some dollars for a tip/day, in my time it was $4, but now I see they raised to $8/day.
So what was my trip look like?
On the 1st day, in the morning we needed to head to the Chinatown, in Manhattan to catch the bus. It was a very weird experience, as it was seriously a Chinatown, where people spoke in Chinese, but they didn’t speak English – or they just didn’t want to answer to our questions, who knows! Dóri and me got lost in the beginning, we went to the opposite way, and we realized that we’re in the wrong one after 15 minutes. Fortunately we could make going back to the bus and they didn’t left us there. We got our numbers onto our shirt and we needed to occupy that number’s seat on the bus. We were a little bit sad not being able to sit wherever we wanted, but we needed to accept it.
We started our 7-8 hours drive to the Niagara Falls, as we wanted to see it in daytime, but also in the evening. The buses were OK, not that uncomfortable. Which I didn’t like was that they closed the toilet on board, so once they gave me a very hard time when I needed to rush to the toilet… IMMEDIATELY. I don’t want to give details, but you can imagine! All I want to say is that… I could make it! 😀
At the waterfall they gave us pretty much time to see everything, take the boat tour (or see a movie) and walk around. The waterfall was amazing, and the $25 for the boat was worth for it! They gave us a watercoat, but I didn’t really wanted to put it onto my hair – it was hot summer, so I really wanted to get freshed! After we walked for a while, we went to buy some food and booses so in the evening we could have some fun in the hotel. This was a mistake, as we though we meet with the tourguide at the given time, and we go back to see the waterfalls in light in the evening. Well, no. So we didn’t see it.
The hotel was very nice, there were 2 queen beds in the room, so 3 people fit there easily. We had fun with the vodka and orange juice we bought in a shop, started talking with strangers outside in front of the hotel, who made a picture about us as well. Dóri and me took a ride on the baggage cart as well. You don’t want to hear what happened on the next day, thanks to the very cheap vodka and the very cheap orange juice (hell, we spend $9 on them all together!!!) after we took the bus ride to Watkins Glen. The USA usually have perfect roads, but at that time, it seems we went on a lot of dirty roads. I have to admit that in that time I wasn’t so good at how to avoid getting hangover.
Watkins Glen was nice, I have no idea why it’s not that popular among international tourists.
We went throught the park and immediately headed to the Glass Museum. We didn’t want to go in, as the admission was a little bit pricy (about $20), and we weren’t interested in the museum. We were sitting outside and bought some food, which helped on our (especially my) state. Eventually, we headed back to New York.
All in all, the ADVANTAGES:
- TakeTours is a good, reliable company to go with on tours
- Take Tours is cheap
- Buy 2 get the 3rd for free, and similar deals
- You don’t need to plan anything
- They have pretty good tours all around the USA (East Coast, West Coast, etc.)
DISADVANTAGES (like in any tours in my opinion):
- You’re traveling with many people (usually with more buses)
- You have to be punctual: they will leave you if you’re late by even 5 minutes
- They don’t spend too much time in 1 place – just imagine how the Chinese tourist tours work (take one picture and go)
Last, but not least, a very useful advice for Niagara: a WATERPROOF CAMERA! Mine stopped worked a little after.