Today is arrival day so there are no activities planned. You are free to relax, explore the city & adjust to the frantic pace and humid heat of Bangkok. Please arrive at our start point hotel before 6pm for an important group meeting where you will meet you Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. Please look for a sign on the hotel's notice board for the time and location of your group meeting. At this meeting your CEO will ask to sight your travel insurance and complete some other paper work. After your meeting, you may choose to head out for an optional dinner to further get to know your CEO and fellow group members. We spend this evening in Bangkok. Our hotel is located in China Town, next to the central train station and MRT (Subway), and is only a short USD2 taxi ride from Khao San road and the central shopping area of Siam Square, MBK, Siam Paragon, etc. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. The hotel has a small pool and wifi is available at extra cost.
After breakfast on day 2, we leave Bangkok and make way on the long journey to Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is possible to get your Cambodian visa at the border - ask your CEO for details. Once at the border, we will disembark with our luggage and cross the border by foot. This process can take an hour or more so please pack your patience. After the border formalities are complete, we meet our Cambodian bus and continue on to Siem Reap. The scenery is spectacular and the contrast between Thailand and Cambodia is immediate. Angkor, the former capital of the Khmer Kingdom, is one of the wonders of the archeological world. Rediscovered at the end of the last century by French explorers, this vast ruined city is becoming one of the most popular sites in South East Asia. We spend one full day with our professional local guide visiting some of the highlights of this ancient capital, like Sunrise at the magnificent temple of Angkor Wat, the enigmatic Bayon within the walled city of Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm, also known as the 'Tomb Raider' temple. You can purchase a day pass which will enable you to visit many of the highlights of this ancient capital, such as the magnificent temple of Angkor Wat, the enigmatic faces of Bayon within the walled city Angkor Thom and the much photographed temple of Ta Prohm which is slowly being re claimed by the jungle. We spend two nights in Siem Reap. Our hotel is located a 20 minute walk or a short tuk tuk ride from city center. The hotel lobby has computers for guests to browse the internet. Free wifi is also available. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. There is also a nice pool for relaxing after long days visiting the temples. Approx travel time: Private bus Bangkok to Cambodian border: 4 hours by private transport. Private transport Cambodian border to Siem Reap: 2.5 hours
This morning we travel by public bus to Phnom Penh, taking in points of interest along the way. While in Phnom Penh we will witness the darker side of Cambodian history with guided visits to Choeng Ek, the site of the infamous Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng prison, the notorious Khmer Rouge prison where thousands of Cambodians perished. Other options include taking a look at the city with visits to the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda or the National Museum. The huge Russian Market is packed with souvenirs and all the necessities of daily life. Late afternoon is a great time to visit Wat Phnom where the sanctuary for which the city is named once stood. It is a Buddhist shrine, although a Taoist goddess resides here. Numerous monkeys dwell here, also, and it is one of the pleasure spots for residents of the city. A drink in one of the many riverside café’s watching the sunset is a fitting finale to the day. Our hotel in Phnom Penh is located right next to the Central Market and a 10 minute walk to the riverfront. The hotel has twin and double share rooms with air conditioning and en suite bathrooms. Wifi is available. Approx travel time: Public transport Siem Reap to Phnom Pehn: 6-7 hours
An early departure takes us by road to Kratie. En route, we pass through Skuon (a small town famous for its delicious spiders), where it's possible to sample an eight-legged snack. It's recommended that you eat these furry arachnids as you would a crab, by cracking the body open and pulling the legs off one by one - delicious! Once in Kratie, there is the option of trying to spot rare Irrawaddy river dolphins. Our accommodations in Kratie is located on the banks of the mighty Mekong. All rooms are twin or double share and have air conditioning and basic private bathrooms. The hotel is centrally located within easy walking distance of the local markets and many restaurants. Approx travel time: Private bus Phnom Penh to Kratie: 6-7 hours
Today we travel by bus to the Cambodian/Laos border. It is common when exiting Cambodia at Dong Krolor and entering Laos at Voen Kham, that a nominal border fee is imposed by border officials. Please allow USD5 for this. After completing necessary border formalities, we continue our journey to Don Khong Island. Don Khong, with its rice fields, small villages and ancient wats, is wonderfully scenic and perfect for cycling. It is also famous for brewing some of the country's finest national drink, lao-lao. Very fiery, a shot of lao-lao is usually followed with a plain water chaser. Our accommodations in Don Khong has views overlooking the Mekong River. All rooms are twin or double share and have air conditioning and private bathrooms with hot water. Electricity is not 100% reliable on this island and it is not uncommon that we experience power cuts. We are very centrally located within an easy walking distance of restaurants, early morning fish markets, internet and convenience stores. Approx travel time: Private transport Kratie to Laos border: 2.5 hours Private transport Laos Border Don Khong ferry: 45 min Ferry including wait time: up to 30 min
Leaving the island we travel through the beautiful province of Champasak, once the capital of the Lao kingdom and home to Wat Phu. We head to Pakse and then cross the Mekong River to visit Wat Phu with our local guide. Dating from the Angkorian period this is one of the most important and impressive archaeological sites in Laos. While spending the night in a typical Lao village environment may not be full of comfort, it gives you a wonderful real insight into local culture and life that a hotel stay can never provide. Typically the group is divided into 2 or more houses (depending on group size) in close proximity to each other. When it comes time to sleep, mattresses are placed across the floor in central living area. Each mattress comes with a blanket, a pillow and a mosquito net. Bathroom facilities are shared. The evening meal is eaten together in one of the houses with the food provided being very simple - giving you the chance to experience typical Lao cuisine. A vegetarian option is always served and the second option is typically a pork stirfry. Your local guide will spend time explaining the local life of the people in this village. You have the option of swimming in the Mekong. Evenings can get cold, so please bring a long sleeved top. We overnight in rustic homestays on Dong Deng Island. Approximate travel time: Private bus to Ferry to depart Dong Khong: 5 minutes Ferry to the mainland: up to 30 minutes Drive to Pakse: 2 hours Drive to Wat Phu: 30 min Drive back to a private ferry station where we board private local boats to take us to our homestay (20 minutes drive + 20 minutes on the boat) Walk to homestay: 15 min
On the afternoon of day 9 we fly from Pakse to Luang Prabang*. Here we discover the Laos Buddhist and architectural heritage. You will have the chance to visit some of the most impressive of Luang Prabang’s 32 temples including Vat Vixoun, Vat Sene, and Vat Xiengthong. Climb Phousi Hill and watch the sun set over the horizon or rise at dawn to watch the monks walk through the city collecting offerings of food from the locals. Make sure to find the time to browse the colorful textile galleries and relax in the town’s many small cafés. We will have an included trip to the Ethnology Museum and a trip to the stunning Kuang Si waterfall with a local guide. We overnight three nights in Luang Prabang. Our hotel is centrally located within walking distance to Luang Prabang Night Market (Black Market in Laos). All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Free wifi is available. Approx travel times: Boat and bus from Don Deng to airport: 1 hour Flight Pakse to Luang Prabang: 1 3/4 hours Transfer to hotel in Luang Prabang: 20 min *Note that during the low season (Apr-Oct) the itinerary may vary slightly due to no scheduled direct flights from Paske to Luang Prabang. Flights will be routed via Vientiane and may require an overnight stay. This may also occur at other times of the year as flights can regularly be canceled or rescheduled. And on some occasions we may have to fly from Savannakhet to Luang Prabang which is a 4 hour drive north of Pakse.
A scenic drive through winding mountains will take us to the picturesque town of Vang Vieng. Nestled along the Nam Song river and surrounded by limestone karsts. Watch the sunset over the river as well as explore some of the many caves in the area. Our hotel in Vang Vieng is nicely located by the Nam Song river, with spectacular sunset views. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Free wifi is available. Approx travel time: Private transport Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng: 7 hours on a winding mountain road
Leaving early afternoon, a 3 hour drive takes us to one of Asia's sleepiest capital cities. Enjoy the highlights of Vientiane including Wat Sisaket (one of the city's oldest and most fascinating temples), Phat That Luang (Lao's national symbol and one of its most sacred sites), and the Morning Market (an all-day affair selling virtually everything). We overnight in Vientiane. Our hotel is located in a peaceful corner of Vientiane within walking distance to riverside, night market, and museum. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Free wifi is available. In the late afternoon of Day 14 we will cross the "Friendship Bridge" back into Thailand to board the overnight train to Bangkok. Beds on the train are dormitory style, with bunks on two layers along the side of the train carriage. There are curtains along each bunk for privacy. Your luggage will be accessible during the journey. The train has air-conditioning and clean bedding is provided for each bunk. There are both western style and asian style toilets at the end of each carriage. Food and drinks are served on the train but you can always bring your own food from the shops and restaurants near the train station. Approx travel time: Private bus Vang Vieng to Vientiane: 3 hours Private bus hotel to the Friendship bridge Thai border:30 mins Tuk tuks Laos Immigration to train station: 30-45 min Overnight train Nong Khai to Bangkok: 12-13 hours
Our trip ends on arrival into Bangkok (Hualamphong) Railway Station this morning. If you are leaving Bangkok today we recommend that you do not book onward travel until after 3pm, in case of train delays. We are able to organise additional nights accommodation in Bangkok. Please contact us at the time of booking. We look forward to receiving your evaluation regarding this tour itinerary and your CEO's performance. We value your input into what we could improve to make this trip even better and of course love hearing about what we are already doing well! You will be sent a post tour email on your return with details on how to go in line and fill in this simple form. Thank you so much in advance.