2019 - 2020 Departure Dates and Cost
Thailand, Laos & Cambodia (14 days) includes Mekong River Cruise
Departures daily with minimum of 2 persons
First Class Hotels/First Class Cruise (Luang Say Cruise): $ 3,450 USD from Bangkok (includes 2 inter-Asia flights)
First Class Hotels / Tourist Class cruise (Shampoo Cruise): $ 3,250 USD from Bangkok (includes 2 inter-Asia flights)
Customized departures to suit any budget and length of travel can be organized for daily departures. Contact us for details.
Day 1: Arrive Bangkok (B)
After you clear customs, you will be met at the airport by a company representative who will transfer you to your hotel. Hotel de Bangkok or similar for 1 night. Your guide will provide the pick up times for tours and transfers. As the transfers and tours on the trip (aside from the Mekong boat trip – 2 days) are private – you can discuss slight alterations locally with your local guides. You may have several guides throughout, each acting as regional specialist. Pre tour nights and city tours can be added on an individual basis.
Optional afternoon ½ day city tour: Bangkok Temples Excursion. Of the several magnificent temples in Bangkok, you will visit the three most unique ones: Wat Traimit, Wat Pho, and Wat Benchamabophit. Wat Traimit houses a striking 3-meter tall Golden Buddha image - a gleaming, 5-ton figure of solid gold. Wat Pho, which features the largest reclining Buddha image in Thailand, and the Chedi of the kings, is Bangkok’s oldest and largest temple. Finally, there is Wat Benchamabophit, a fine modern Thai temple constructed from white Carrara marble with ornate crossbeams decorated with lacquer and gold.
Day 2: Bangkok - Ayutthaya - Lopburi - Phitsanulok (B,L)
Early morning pick up, drive to Bang Pa In for a scenic boat trip or bus to Ayutthaya. Visit Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol and the ancient ruins of Wat Chai Wattanaram. Continue to Lopburi, where we will travel around the city in a pedaled rickshaw. After lunch continue to Phitsanulok. Overnight at Topland Hotel.
Day 3: Phitsanulok - Sukhothai - Lampang (B,L)
Visit Wat Maha That and its highly revered Buddha statue, Phra Buddha Jinaraj. Drive to Sukhothai and visit the ancient ruins at the historical park and Wat Sri Chum with its gigantic Buddha statue. Continue to Sri Satchanalai for lunch. Upon arrival in Lampang we will take a tour of the old city on horse carriages. Also visit Baan Sao Nak, a 100-year old teakwood mansion, and Wat Chedi Sao, whose name is derived from 20 stupas erected on the temple grounds. Monks at this temple prepare medicines from herbs and plants, which promise to offer a number of remedies. Overnight Lampang River Lodge.
Day 4: Lampang - Phayao - Chiang Rai (B,L)
After a visit to the morning market, drive to Phayao with the biggest natural lake in Thailand. Proceed to Chiang Rai. After lunch, visit the hill tribe community project at Ban Lorcha. Drive via Mae Sai, the northernmost Thai town to the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos converge. 2 nights Phowadol Resort.
Day 5: Chiang Rai (B)
Pick up from your hotel for the Golden Triangle and Hill Tribe Villages tour with car and driver. Return to the hotel in the early afternoon and afternoon at leisure. Lunch on own - your guide will advise on some area restaurants.
Day 6: Chiang Rai (Huayxai immigration – Luang Say cruise) – Pakbeng (B,L,D)
Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Huaixai Immigration point for Lao Visa processing. Your passport details will be submitted in advance. You will need to pay $ 42 USD per person and surrender 1 photo. You will be transferred by tuk tuk to the slow boat pier and embark to board the Luang Say Cruise. If looking for a budget alternative – please advise as there is a 3 star option using a different boat and a different lodge approx. $ 100 less)
Luang Say leaves at 9:00am for cruising down the Mekong River to Luang Say Lodge in Pakbeng. A short stop is made at Pak Tha to have the boat documentation signed. A buffet lunch is served on board. In the afternoon, a stop is made en route to Pakbeng to observe a rural life along the Mekong River at Ban Houei Phalam; a Kamu village. The boat arrives at Luang Say Lodge before sunset for an overnight stay and a dinner is served on the terrace overlooking the Mekong River. Overnight in Pakbeng. Accommodation at Luangsay Lodge – standard room
Day 7: Pakbeng - Luang Prabang (B,L)
Breakfast at the lodge. The boat leaves Pakbeng at 8a.m. There will be 2 stops today. The boat first stop opposite the mouth of the Nam Ou River to visit Pak Ou caves where there are two caves ‘Tham Ting’ and ‘Tham Phoum’ and thousands of Buddha images. A buffet lunch is served on board. The afternoon stop will visit Ban Xang Hai, a lao lao village where traditional whiskey is made. The boat arrives approx. 4:30- pm in Luang Prabang at Calao pier.
The crown jewel of Laos, Luang Prabang, is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in South East Asia. Magical and charming, it has preserved its long-standing reputation as a stronghold of Lao culture with its splendid natural scenery and sense of timelessness. In 1995 UNESCO voted Luang Prabang as a World Heritage City. Transfer to the hotel from the pier. 3 nights Villa Santi Hotel or similar
Day 8: Luang Prabang (B,D)
Day of sightseeing in and around Luang Prabang. We include a visit to Wat Xieng Thong, considered as the most beautiful temple. The sim of the Vat represents the classic Luang Prabang temple architecture with roofs that sweep low to the ground. In the compound stand several small chapels housing bronze Buddha images, which were displayed in Paris in 1911. Near the East gate stands the Royal Funeral Chapel. Inside are an impressive 12-meter high funeral chariot and various funeral urns of each Royal Family’s member. The gilt panel on the exterior of the chapel depicts a semi-erotic episode from Ramayana. Continue to visit Vat Visoun, the site of an impressive stupa, That Makmo, stylistically more Srilankalese than Lao. Then stroll Then walk to the nearby Vat Aham, which is one of the city’s major tutelary shrines, dedicated to Deveta Luang (spirit) Pu Gneu Ya Gneu (ancestors). If you still have energy - climb to Vat Phousi hill for an outstanding view over the city. Lunch on your own. Your guide will show you a selection of potential restaurants.
In the afternoon visit the National museum (formerly King’s Palace) displaying a collection of personal artefacts of the Royal Family. Stroll through lively Central Market where the ethnic minorities of the surrounding villages come daily to trade their goods. Sunset at Vat Phrabat Tai located along the Mekong River. Dinner included at the Elephant restaurant.
Day 9: Luang Prabang - Ban Xongja (B,L)
Way of life touring day. Excursion by car to north through beautiful landscape. Visit small rural villages and experience the lifestyle of the various ethnic groups of the region. Discuss options with your guide as there are many village that might be of interest including Hatkho, a weaving village , or Ban Taidam (Black Tai) where the local people breed silk worms, Ban Chonja (Hmoung). Lunch is Pak Moung where you can admire the beautiful scenery along the Num Ou River.
Day 10: Luang Prabang - Siem Reap (B)
Morning at leisure. Afternoon transfer from hotel to airport for the flight to Siem Reap.Laos Airline QV 513 at 10.40-14.00 Luang Prabang – Siem ReapPay Cambodia Visa Fee $ 30 USD and surrender 1 photograph. On arrival in Siem Reap you will be met and transferred to the Tara Angkor Hotel or similar for 4 nights.
Day 11: Siem Reap (B,D)
In the morning, visit the South Gate (with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk), the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century), Bayon Temple, unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King. visit the most famous of all the temples on the plain of Angkor. A visit also to Senteurs D’Angkor and experience the authentic scents and tastes of Cambodia through a range of traditional handmade products that help create jobs and incomes for impoverished rural communities. See spices, teas, highland coffees and local rice liquors. There are also medical balms and natural massage oils as well as candles and incense.
Continue to visit the most famous temples of Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Angkor Wat’s five towers symbolize Meru-five peaks - the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat, the ocean beyond.Sunset at Angkor Wat followed by dinner at either a local restaurant or the hotel.
Day 12: Siem Reap (B,L,D)
Pick up at 08.00 for a full day exploration to outlying temples. Morning, drive to the remote Beng Mealea temple through the typical Khmer countryside (60 km from Siem Reap). With your guide, explore the long-abandoned ruins of Beng Mealea (11th century), still strangled by the overgrown jungle. A field lunch will be provided at the site.
A further 1-hour drive brings you to Koh Ker, situated in the northeast of Siem Reap. Discover the long-abandoned temples in the forests of northern Cambodia. Also known as Chok Gargyar, it served as the capital of Jayavarman IV (reigned 928-42). His son and successor Harshavarman I moved the capital back to Angkor in 944. There are a remarkable number of religious buildings in the Koh Ker region, considering the short space of time that it was the capital of the empire. There are more than 30 major structures and experts believe there may have been as many as 100 minor sacred buildings in the region. It was also a prolific period for gigantic sculpture and several of the most impressive pieces in the National Museum in Phnom Penh come from Koh Ker, including a huge garuda (half-man, half-bird creature). A field lunch is provided. Return to Siem Reap. Dinner is included back at the hotel.
Day 13: Siem Reap (B,D)
After breakfast, transfer to Banteay Srei temple (10th C), regarded as the jewel in the crown of Classical Khmer Art. Continue to Ta Prohm, one of the area’s most beautiful temples. Ta Prohm has been relatively untouched since it was discovered and retains much of its mystery. Stop at a local village to visit families who are producing palm sugar. Visit Banteay Samre, one of the most complete complexes at Angkor due to restoration using the method of “anastylosis”. The name Samre refers to an ethnic group of mountain people, who inhabited the region at the base of Phnom Kulen and were probably related to the Khmers. No inscriptions have been found for this temple, but the style of most of the architecture is of the classic art of the middle period similar to Angkor Wat. The proportions of Banteay Samre are splendid. A unique feature is an interior moat with laterite paving, which when filled with water must have given an ethereal atmosphere to the temple. Lunch on your own.
In the afternoon, you continue your temple visits to Preah Khan. Built by the King Jayavarman VII, Preah Khan is, like Ta Prohm, a place of towered enclosures and shoulder hugging corridors. Unlike Ta Prohm, however, the temple of Prea Khan is in a reasonable state of preservation and ongoing restoration efforts should maintain and even improve this situation. See Neak Pean where a fountain is built in the middle of a pool (representing the paradisiacal Himalayan mountain-lake), Ta Som and Banteay Samre, built in the third quarter of the 12th century. This complex consists of a central temple with four wings preceded by a hall and accompanied by two libraries, the southern example being remarkably well preserved. Two concentric walls enclose the ensemble. Also visit some one of the villages in the area. Sunset at Pre Rup followed by dinner is included at a local restaurant. If you are short on time, deduct a night in Siem Reap (-$ 90)
Day 14: Siem Reap - Departure (B)
Morning at leisure. You might wish to rent bicycles and tour the area this way. Afternoon transfer to the airport for departure flight to Bangkok. Bangkok Airways #906 1:25 pm/2:20 pm. On arrival in Bangkok trip ends. Transfer home by flight or add extensions in Thailand or in neighbouring areas.
Pre or post-tour extension on an individual basis