Company : Contiki
Duration: 2 weeks to 2 weeks
Approx Costs: 1000 to 1250 £ Pound (UK)
Get into the best of Thailand, Laos & Cambodia in 14 incredible days. Be part of the buzz & bright lights of Bangkok before a change of scene in the Mekong with its rice paddy & sugar fields & coconut palms.
The low key vibes of Laos, with its small villages, saffron robed monks & French colonial past are up next, before Angkor Wat & Ta Prohm in Cambodia's jungle & a slice of Phnom Penh.
1 ARRIVE BANGKOK
Check-in to your hotel and head straight out to explore the massive, buzzing city of Bangkok. It’s a busy urban mix in this city: tuk-tuks flash past shrines and street side BBQs, traditional long-tail boats cruise past high rises, and locals, businessmen, travellers and monks share the streets. Later, meet up with your Trip Manager and fellow travellers and find out about what’s ahead of you. Afterwards, it’s a free night - some of the group might head out and eat together.
2 BANGKOK TO CHIANG MAI
First stop this morning is Bangkok’s incredible Royal Palace. It’s 61 acres of stunning buildings, gleaming spires and multi-coloured murals. You’ll learn about Thai beliefs and the Royal Family’s lifestyle at Bangkok’s most famous site and spiritual hot spot. Visit the holiest Buddhist site in the country, the Emerald Buddha Temple. Your Local Guide will show you the epic murals, incredible architecture and tell you about the visiting pilgrims. Next up: the klongs (canals) of Bangkok - you’ll soon understand why this city is often dubbed ‘Venice of the East’. Get around like a local on a typical Thai boat – it’s perfect for taking in this sprawling metropolis from the water. You’ll see the landmark Dawn Temple, the Royal Barge and some of the major hotels as we cruise along Bangkok’s main artery, Chao Praya River. At night it’s time to go local and board an overnight train to Chiang Mai. This trip is perfect for winding down after your hectic Bangkok experience, so plug in your MP3 and settle in for the night.
3 CHIANG MAI
Wake up in chilled-out Chiang Mai, Thailand’s pretty, second largest city. After breakfast, our Local Guide takes everyone to the stunning Wat Phra That temple and gives you insight into this sacred site that sits on the tallest mountain overlooking the city. Listen to pilgrims ringing bells, take part in Buddhist rituals - maybe even receive a blessing by a Buddhist monk. Check out the gorgeous architecture, highlighted in vivid reds, golds and greens. Keep your camera handy for amazing vistas over the city and surrounding countryside. Afterwards, walk off dinner and take a look around the sprawling night bazaar, where you’ll find bargains, Buddhas, lanterns and fake designer goods.
4 CHIANG MAI TO CHIANG RAI
Travel through a landscape of rice paddies to Chiang Rai, a quiet town that is the gateway to trekking in the surrounding hills. In our optional trip here, you’ll find out about traditional hill tribe people, like the Akha, Yao, Lahu and Karen (long-neck peoples) and their culture. Back in Chiang Rai, take a walk around the former imperial city and see the old city walls. Have dinner amongst the locals at the town’s night bazaar and maybe head to a Thai disco with some friends afterwards.
5 CHIANG RAI TO PAKBENG
Today, cross the border into laid-back Laos, South East Asia’s only land-locked country. Having recently opened its doors to foreigners, Laos has pretty much kept its traditional lifestyle alive with lots of untouched nature and really friendly locals. Travel down the famous Mekong River on our own private boat. Catch some sun, read a book or listen to some tunes as you take in the wild beauty of the countryside. Glide past remote villages, hillside crop farms, bamboo fish traps and watch locals enjoying a swim. Our night stop is the riverside village of Pakbeng, where you’ll truly be off the beaten track and can experience a bit of rural Laos living. We’ll be staying in a simple, local guesthouse. Stretch your legs and walk around tiny Pakbeng’s markets for a closer look at life in this remote trading-post village.
6 PAKBENG TO LUANG PRABANG
Back on board the boat this morning, we continue cruising down the Mekong, past thick forests and mountains. Next stop: the Pak Ou caves. Our Local Guide will fill you in on gorgeous Tam Ting Cave and the locals' beliefs about this sacred spot. The caves are set into a limestone cliff, just above the water where the Nam Ou and Mekong Rivers join. The Tam Ting Cave has been used for centuries as the final resting place for over 4,000 images of Buddha. Get ready for the travellers’ favourite: Luang Prabang. A former mountain kingdom, Luang Prabang is now a colourful cultural hub soaked in history. With a free evening, uncover the colourful stalls at Luang Prabang’s pretty night market. It’s an easy-going place to shop for fabrics, bamboo lamps, paper umbrellas, silks, silver and crafts. Snack on spring rolls, baguettes, noodles or BBQ at one of the open-air street eateries.
7 LUANG PRABANG
Start the day by getting into the spirit of the town and wake up early for the monks’ procession and ritual giving of alms. The combination of first morning light and the monks’ orange robes is great for photos & is a truly unique experience before you farewell Luang Prabang. Today you'll get to take a trip to the nearby Kuang Si Falls for a swim and a bit of nature. The impressive 60 metre falls cascade into cool pools – perfect for taking a dip. You can also do easy hikes around this area or meet the bears of the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre. Culture-wise, pay a visit to the Royal Palace museum for a taste of local history. Sit back on the bank with a Beer Lao and watch daily life, as livestock and produce are loaded onto tiny boats, and locals cool off in the Mekong.
8 LUANG PRABANG TO VANG VIENG
This morning’s spectacular drive winds its way down to riverside Vang Vieng, known for its dramatic limestone karsts (rock formations) and outdoor adventure activities. With cliffs, tunnels, caves, caverns and a river, there’s plenty of ways to get active and turn up the energy levels. Vang Vieng is a backpackers’ hub, so it has loads of different restaurant choices. Eat local, feast on some Indian food or grab an Italian-style pizza with your travel buddies.
9 VANG VIENG
Today, get hold of a map and take off at your own pace to explore the surrounding countryside. Cover more on a bike (your Trip Manager can organise one for you). There are a whole lot of limestone caves, swimming holes, tunnels and bunkers once used against invaders to discover. Or maybe you prefer to relax riverside and soak up the chilled-out Lao vibes of this stopover. Wind down the day with your friends and catch a sunset at a riverside bar or an island watering-hole.
10 VANG VIENG TO VIENTIANE
This morning it’s on to Vientiane. Compact, cosmopolitan and the nation’s capital, Vientiane shows influences of old Chinese and Vietnamese merchant family traditions, French colonialism, expat lifestyle and socialism. Get your bearings when you take a city tour with our Local Guide and your Trip Manager.
11 VIENTIANE TO PHNOM PENH
Travel by plane into Cambodia this morning, a country with fantastic food, mind-blowing ancient temples and a complex history. Phnom Penh is the capital and a bustling, busy city with pretty tree-lined boulevards and gleaming palaces. It also holds stark reminders of the country’s dark history. Learn about the Khmer Rouge and Cambodia’s troubled, recent past when we visit the ‘Killing Fields’ mass graves. Our Local Guide will then take you for a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum where you can walk through the prisoners’ former living quarters and see the chilling documentation of atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. Often our Guides have a personal story they want to share about their experience during the regime.
12 PHNOM PENH TO SIEM REAP
Catch a flight this morning and land in small-town Siem Reap, where cafes, bars and restaurants spill out of French style shophouses. We’ll jump on a private wooden boat and head out on Tonle Sap, South East Asia’s biggest fresh water lake to experience a unique way of life. Our Local Guide will tell you about the floating villages found here. We also make a stop at a crocodile farm in the middle of the lake. Back on land, you can explore more of Siem Reap at your own pace.
13 SIEM REAP
Get ready for an incredible day with a visit to the jaw-droppingly beautiful Angkor Wat Temples. Start early with a visit to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. Our Local Guide will share epic stories of the Khmer Empire, telling you about the sacred sites found here and the Hindu gods that feature on the amazing wall sculptures. After a guided tour around this stunning UNESCO World Heritage site, we head back to the hotel for a break. Use the time to cool off in the pool or to have a siesta during the heat of the day. In the afternoon, we return to the temples to take a look at Angkor Thom, with its four massive faces carved out of rock – each one looking towards different compass points. Imagine what the 19th Century explorers originally uncovered when you see Ta Prohm temple slowly being swallowed by the jungle - this was the temple made famous in the movie ‘Tomb Raider’. Tonight, play some pool, hang out with your friends and venture down Pub Street for a fun night out.
14 DEPART SIEM REAP
Our tour ends this morning after breakfast. Say goodbye to your travel buddies and Tour Manager.
I absolutely loved this tour! It was the easiest way to not only see the tourist hotspots but to also experience the local culture. You didn’t have to plan anything because the tour guide (Chamani was my tour manager) knows exactly what they are doing and has the best advice on where to try food and which activities are truely worth it. It is definitely a fast paced tour if you choose to do everything like I did but there was the option to do your own thing if you wanted to. I can’t recommenced this tour enough as it was my first solo trip. Yes I was nervous when I arrived in Bangkok but the people you meet on the tour, your tour manager and the local guides make you feel more than welcome.
I travelled to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia with Contiki when I was 34 then Vietnam when I was 35. I can honestly say its party/crazy reputation is unfounded. Yes, it's massively sociable and yes you will go out at night (if you choose to) but it is by no means a crazy club 18-30 type vibe. There are so many early starts that you absolutely have to be on time for that you cannot go overboard with the partying!
Moreover, if there are any big nights out planned you are certainly not obliged to go. I'd say though that one of the best parts of the trip is spending time with fellow travellers so it's worth taking advantage of every opportunity on the trip to make friends. And who doesn't hate a case of FOMO?? I'd highly recommend Contiki for travellers in their 30's and I was gutted when I aged out! #noregrets #contikifamily
I traveled with Contiki through Asia and it was my first « alone backpack » trip. This company made my trip ao much nicer and safer! Everything is organized for you, you don’t have to be worried about your flights/bus/hotel cause someone from their company is payed to stress over these things for you! You also meet so many great souls and amazing people! Would do it again and would recommend it for anyone in any circumstance. I loved the Asian Adventure and if you have the chance to travel on it take it. Contiki is by far the best travel company 💕