Essential Cambodia
from $985
Duration: 9 Days
What is essentially Cambodia? Well, this nine-day adventure will show you, taking you straight through the middle of this South East Asian nation full of history, temples and cheap, tasty food. See Wat’s up in Angkor, laugh with the locals in Banteay Chhmar, explore the markets in Siem Reap and see where the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers collide in Phnom Penh. With time before and after to hit up the hubs of Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, this epic adventure will make sure you see the hotspots of Cambodia, without missing a beat.
  • Is Angkor the most incredible thing in South East Asia? Decide for yourself as you temple-hop with an expert local guide around the complex.
  • Appreciate the work of Friends International at their Futures Factory, a dining and creative space, dedicated to training vulnerable Cambodian youth to work in the hospitality industry.
  • Learn more about Cambodia's confronting but important history, with visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.
  • A homestay in Banteay Chhmar puts you right in the heart of everyday village life in Cambodia
  • There's loads of free time to make your own fun and embark on your own experiences – zip-lining over rainforest or a cyclo tour, anyone?
  • Banteay Chmar - Village Walk
  • Banteay Chhmar - Homestay
  • Banteay Chhmar - Banteay Chhmar Temple visit
  • Siem Reap - One day Angkor Pass
  • Siem Reap - Angkor Temples Guided Tour
  • Siem Reap - Home cooked dinner
  • Siem Reap - Street food breakfast
  • Phnom Penh - Futures Factory cocktail class
  • Phnom Penh - Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
  • Phnom Penh - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21)
  • Day 1 Location: Bangkok
    Sawasdee! Welcome to Thailand. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Bangkok has so much going on if you've got time to explore, so we recommend you arrive a day or two early to explore the sights and sounds of this South East Asian hub. Why not hit the canals for a riverboat trip to Chinatown? Visit the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha? Or indulge in some Thai massage? Whatever you do, be sure to sit down with a green curry or tom yum goong (spicy seafood soup) after your welcome meeting.
    Day 2 Location: Banteay Chhmar
    Rise 'n' shine, travellers! After breakfast, you'll depart Thailand and head into Cambodia – your leader will help you through the border-crossing procedures. From Bangkok to Banteay Chhmar it's an 8-hour trip, which includes time to get yourself some lunch, and the time at the border. Banteay Chhmar, which translates as Citadel of the Cat, is our destination for the evening. This charming little village is far off the tourist trail and is dotted with several temples around the area. Take a leader-led orientation walk around to get your bearings. Tonight, you'll experience traditional hospitality staying with a local family in a Khmer house set on wooden stilts. As the day comes to an end, sit down to a delicious Khmer dinner by torchlight in the grounds of the temple or at a local community centre, depending on the weather.
    Day 3 Location: Siem Reap
    After a peaceful night in Banteay Chhmar, take a visit to the temple in the middle of town. Similar to many Khmer temples in Cambodia, they are surrounded by water which, most often, represents the ocean surrounding the Temple Mountain: an architectural representation of the Hindu god’s home, Mount Meru. The Temple Mountain design has influenced most Khmer temples in the Angkor period. The water also helps stabilise the building’s foundation, preventing groundwater from rising or falling too drastically. Afterwards, take a private vehicle to the city of Siem Reap (approximately 4 hours). Once you've arrived, perhaps spend some time looking around the central markets and pick up some of the delicious food on offer. Why not?
    Day 4 Location: Siem Reap – Angkor Wat
    Time to visit the mighty Angkor complex with your guide. Get that camera ready, because it's going to look good, whatever the time of day. Some of this complex is over a thousand years old, going back to the days when the Khmer Empire was top dog in South East Asia. These beauties were known to represent the cosmic world and were set in perfect balance, symmetry and composition. Let your mind be blown as you roam around the site with your leader, and make sure you don’t miss the temples at sunset. The ruins are scattered over an area of some 160 square kilometres, but the main cluster of temples is close to Siem Reap, so you'll have plenty of time to get to grips with the larger-than-life Angkor Wat, the grand Bayon and the jungle-covered Ta Prohm. Tonight, have a special experience as you enjoy a traditional meal in a local family's home.
    Day 5 Location: Siem Reap
    This morning, take up an awesome street food breakfast in Siem Reap’s local market. Other than this, today is free for you to experience Siem Reap however you want. If you're all templed out, but still feel like something pretty out there, you can opt for an Angkor zip-line course, which will have you soaring like an eagle over the rainforest. There’s also a landmine museum or some pretty great Urban Adventure Tours that you could book yourself in to. You group leader will know the best things to do, so ask them if you’re stuck. If you couldn’t get enough of the Angkor site, no problems! Speak to your leader about the cheapest options, as multi-day passes are available.
    Day 6 Location: Phnom Penh
    Time to head to Cambodia’s capital. Take a public bus through the Cambodian countryside for around 6-7 hours until you reach the bustling city of Phnom Penh (this includes two stops). Phnom Penh sits at the junction of the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers, and used to be known as Krong Chaktomuk (‘City of Four Faces’), as this river junction forms an X crossing, which represents four geographic ‘faces’ of the city and surrounding area. The main centre of the city sits on the Western bank of the Tonle Sap/Mekong rivers. You’ll get the chance to take up a cocktail (or mocktail) making class as part of the Futures Factory project – an initiative begun by Friends International to give at-risk youth the opportunity to gain hospitality skills in a safe, welcoming environment. Don’t worry, you’ll get some snacks too!
    Day 7 Location: Phnom Penh
    Wake up in this bustling city and take a visit with your group to learn more about the country's history and the Khmer Rouge atrocities at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and the infamous Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21). The rest of the day is free to explore the city. If you're in the mood for some shopping then check out the Psar Thmei (Central Market), located in an old French colonial building, for clothing or sarongs. Otherwise maybe stop by the temple of Wat Phnom, the National Museum, Royal Palace or the French Quarter.
    Day 8 Location: Ho Chi Minh City
    Travel by public bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 10 hours including two border crossings and lunch). Your leader knows the drill, so they'll assist you with border crossing procedures. Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and get your first taste of this fast-paced, fun city. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is quite the hub of markets, stalls and Vietnamese history, and much of city life happens on the streets. You'll see it's a combo of all kinds of flavours, old and new, East and West. Try a French baguette, get your pho fix, and have a caffeine hit with some Vietnamese coffee, best shared with the locals.
    Day 9 Location: Ho Chi Minh City
    As there are no activities planned for today, you can leave your accommodation at any time. If you're staying longer, good for you! You might want to go on one of the Urban Adventures offered: Mekong Discovery, Cyclos & Markets, Cu Chi Experience, or Saigon Street Food by Night. Your leader can help you book the tour of your choice. If you would like to spend some more time in Ho Chi Minh City, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    30DEC2020
    Return Date:
    07JAN2021
    1155NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    27JAN2021
    Return Date:
    04FEB2021
    1125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    24FEB2021
    Return Date:
    04MAR2021
    1125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    31MAR2021
    Return Date:
    08APR2021
    1125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    05MAY2021
    Return Date:
    13MAY2021
    1125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    02JUN2021
    Return Date:
    10JUN2021
    1125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    07JUL2021
    Return Date:
    15JUL2021
    1125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    21JUL2021
    Return Date:
    29JUL2021
    1125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    04AUG2021
    Return Date:
    12AUG2021
    1125NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    01SEP2021
    Return Date:
    09SEP2021
    1125NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    17 Sep 2020

    Trip title

    Essential Cambodia

    Trip code

    TKYA

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2021

    Introduction

    What is essentially Cambodia? Well, this nine-day adventure will show you, taking you straight through the middle of this South East Asian nation full of history, temples and cheap, tasty food. See Wat’s up in Angkor, laugh with the locals in Banteay Chhmar, explore the markets in Siem Reap and see where the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers collide in Phnom Penh. With time before and after to hit up the hubs of Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, this epic adventure will make sure you see the hotspots of Cambodia, without missing a beat.

    Style

    Basix

    Themes

    18 to 29s

    Transport

    Private minibus,Public bus,Remork (Tuk-tuk)

    Physical Rating

    2

    Joining point

    Astera Sathorn Hotel

    143 South Sathorn Rd., Yannawa, Sathorn

    Bangkok

    10120

    THAILAND

    Phone: 22127090

    Fax: 22123610

    Joining point instructions

    Intrepid can assist with pre-booking an arrival transfer from the airport - enquire with your agent. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you have pre-booked an arrival transfer you will be met after exiting the Customs Hall. A transfer representative holding an Intrepid sign will meet you at Exit Door 4. If you cannot find your transfer representative, please go to the ATTA Counter (Association of Thai Travel Agents) near Exit Door 6. Ask them to call our transfer provider, World Travel Idea, on +66 81 658 2727 or +66 81 566 9324. Please note that neither the driver nor any representative should ask you for additional payment. Metered taxis are available outside the airport entrance on the 1st floor. Exit the Customs Hall, go down to the 1st floor and leave the airport at Gate 3, 4, 7 or 8. You will find a table with a “metred taxis” sign. The taxi fare will be the metred fare plus a surcharge of THB50-THB75 (depending on the driver’s use of toll roads). The total fare will be approx. THB400. Pre-paid taxis are also available, where you will be given a docket to pay the driver a set price of THB700. Please avoid taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport.

    Finish point

    Valentine Hotel Saigon (was Aston Hotel)

    27-29 Bui Vien Street, Pham Ngu Lao Ward

    District 1

    Ho Chi Minh City

    VIETNAM

    Phone: +84 838389988

    Finish point instructions

    Intrepid can assist with pre-booking a departure transfer from the airport - enquire with your agent. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to the start of your trip. If you have pre-booked a departure transfer your leader will advise your pick up time the day before your trip ends. Taxi fare from your hotel to the airport will cost approx. VND120,000.00. Please ask your leader or hotel staff for assistance in arranging a taxi.

    Alternate Finish point

    For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.

    18 Nov 2020 (TKYA201118), 25 Nov 2020 (TKYA201125), 30 Dec 2020 (TKYA201230)

    TD Hotel (formerly Blessing Central Hotel)

    267-269 Le Thanh Ton

    District 1

    Ho Chi Minh City

    VIETNAM

    Phone: 84 2838242618

    Important information

    A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 2 (homestay) where you will be in shared accommodation, and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.

    Group leader

    All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    Most national governments provide regularly updated foreign travel advice on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all destinations and activities on your trip. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/travel-alerts We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however, during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Intrepid's operational safety policies can be viewed on our website at the link below. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how safety is being managed on our trips.

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-guidelines

    FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts. PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING: Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities.

    Visas

    As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends. PASSPORT You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. As a general rule, most countries require that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets exactly and contact us immediately if there are any errors. We recommend taking copies of the main passport pages and other important documents with you as well as leave copies at home with family or friends. VISAS Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time. It is important that you check your government's foreign travel advisories along with the consular website of the country or countries you are travelling to for the most up to date information specific to your nationality and circumstances. Please be aware that not all visa information found online from other sources may be valid while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Visas can take several weeks to process, so make sure you research the requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for obtaining any necessary documents as well as the application and processing time. Your booking consultant can advise on a visa processing service or you can apply yourself directly through a consulate. Below you will find general visa advice about the destinations on your trip. Due to constantly evolving COVID-19 requirements and restrictions, please refer to your government's foreign travel advice for most up to date information. THAILAND: If entering by air most nationalities will be granted a 30 day stay on arrival. If entering by a land border, you will be granted a 15 day stay only (some exceptions are citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan who are eligible for 30 day visa at land borders). A visa extension can be obtained in Thailand at an immigration office for approx. 2000THB or alternatively you can apply for a Thailand visa in advance from your embassy or consulate that will allow a 30 day stay when entering at an overland border. If planning to enter Thailand via a land border multiple times during your travels, we recommend you pre-obtain a 60 day multiple entry visa from you embassy or consulate before you travel rather than attempting to obtain a visa at the border on multiple occasions which may result in being denied re-entry into the country. CAMBODIA VISAS: If a point of contact is requested for your visa application, please write: Intrepid Cambodia 92 Taneuy Street Wat Bo Village Siem Reap Evisas are now available for most nationalities through the official website: www.evisa.gov.kh Please note there have been reports of fraudulent evisa websites that mirror the official site. Intrepid recommends only using the official website listed above or arranging your visa through your booking agent. VISA ON ARRIVAL Visa on arrival is available for most nationalities at airports or land border crossings for approx. US$35 (cost subject to change). You will need a passport photo for your visa. OTHER VISAS If you are not eligible for an evisa or visa on arrival you may need to submit an application through your local consulate. Allow up to 3 weeks for processing. VIETNAM VISA: Most nationalities are required to obtain a tourist visa in advance to travel to Vietnam. When obtaining your visa you should allow 3 weeks for processing with your nearest embassy or consulate, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Please check with your embassy or consulate for further requirements. While it is possible to enter Vietnam via a land border with an evisa, previous travellers have reported being delayed and asked for additional payments. As entry to Vietnam is subject to local government approval, we have no authority to speed up the process. If this is of concern to you, we recommend getting a Vietnamese visa in your passport prior to travel. Some nationalities are exempt from visas for a stay of a maximum of 15 days, including British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes). This exemption period is currently effective until 30 June 2021, and is based upon meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. If you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance (please contact your relevant consulate or embassy). Please also check requirements if you plan to re-enter Vietnam. Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure. If your visa application asks for a point of contact, please write: Intrepid Vietnam 5th floor HiPT Building, 152 Thuy Khue Street, Thuy Khue, Tay Ho, Hanoi, Ph +84 4 3715 0996. Most nationalities do not require a letter of invitation for Vietnam but if you do need one, please contact your sales agent for more information. BORDER CROSSINGS: Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. The following are the international/administrative border crossings for this trip: Day 2 Thailand to Cambodia The Thailand border is Aranyaprathet The Cambodian border is Poipet Day 9 Cambodia to Vietnam The Cambodian border is Ba Vet The Vietnam border is Moc Bai To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the following website useful: http://www.timeanddate.com DUAL PASSPORT HOLDERS: For travel between countries in South East Asia you will need to travel on the same passport for all border crossings. Immigration authorities will need to see entry and exit from the previous country before allowing you to enter their country. Holders of a Cambodia or Vietnam E Visa may be required to pay an extra service fee when crossing overland between the two countries. This fee is charged by local bus companies as an service fee and will be between $1 USD to $3 USD, subject to change. Please ensure that you have adequate US Dollars in cash when crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia.

    Why we love it

    Is Angkor the most incredible thing in South East Asia? Decide for yourself as you temple-hop with an expert local guide around the complex.

    Appreciate the work of Friends International at their Futures Factory, a dining and creative space, dedicated to training vulnerable Cambodian youth to work in the hospitality industry.

    Learn more about Cambodia's confronting but important history, with visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.

    A homestay in Banteay Chhmar puts you right in the heart of everyday village life in Cambodia

    There's loads of free time to make your own fun and embark on your own experiences – zip-lining over rainforest or a cyclo tour, anyone?

    Is this trip right for you

    Lots of time allocated for optional activities means freedom and flexibility, but it does require a level of independence. Only a few meals are included, so mostly you'll find your own (with plenty of suggestions from your leader, of course). This is a great way to mingle with locals and discover unexpected delights! You'll be spending a night with a local family on this trip. While the accommodation is shared and basic, this is a great opportunity to connect with the local people (and enjoy delicious home-cooked meals!). Read more about the experience here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/cambodia-homestay-experience Temperatures and humidity can be high in Cambodia, especially when walking around sights like the Angkor complex where there may be little shade. Be prepared by taking plenty of drink breaks and wearing appropriate skin protection. Some travellers find an umbrella handy to keep the sun off (this will also come in handy should it rain!). The stories shared at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are confronting and many travellers will find them upsetting. This is an important part of Cambodia's recent history that we feel is important to share, however if you would prefer not to join in these visits your leader will be able to suggest alternatives. You will visit a number of temples on this trip, and this requires a level of modesty. Be sure to bring clothes that cover the arms and pants or skirts that go past the knees. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.

    Health

    GENERAL HEALTH All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of our group leader or local guide any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while travelling. Below you can find some further information about health issues relevant to the destinations visited on this trip. COVID-19 The safety and wellbeing of our travellers, leaders, crew, staff, and suppliers continues to remain our highest priority as we travel. You can read more about how we will keep you safe on our trips, including our COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safe-travels We will not require a negative COVID-19 test before joining a trip unless it is a requirement of entry for the country. If you are unwell prior to travelling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements. At the group meeting, you will be asked to complete a self-screening health form and report any COVID-19 symptoms as well as any close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you are displaying any symptoms or have any health concerns at this time, we will follow the advice of local health authorities to determine whether medical assistance, isolation or further action is required. We ask all travellers to continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms to their tour leader. MOSQUITO-BORNE ILLNESSES: Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis are widespread in South East Asia. Malaria is also prevalent in some regions, particularly along the borders in mountainous regions. Take preventative measures such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. Seek medical advice prior to travel for medication or vaccination advice. ZIKA VIRUS: There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip. AIR POLLUTION AND SMOKE HAZE: Bangkok and other Thai cities experience high levels of air pollution, which may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. These can be particularly high between the months of December and February. Smoke haze, which usually occurs across parts of north and north-east Thailand during March to April, can also aggravate these conditions. Regular air quality reports are available from the following website http://aqicn.org/city/bangkok/

    Food and dietary requirements

    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. CAMBODIAN FOOD: Wondering what Cambodian food is like? Check out our guide to the local cuisine here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/cambodian-food-guide/ Is it true they eat spiders in Cambodia? Read about it here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/cambodia-eating-spiders/ BREAKFASTS: At some hotels you may have a menu or buffet with choices of Cambodian and Western food. At homestays you will have simpler breakfasts of local foods, eggs, bread, jam, tea and coffee. FOOD ALLERGIES: Travelling in South East Asia with a food allergy? We have some advice for you here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/travelling-food-allergies-south-east-asia/

    Money matters

    SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget an appropriate amount for things like optional meals, drinks, shopping, optional activities, and laundry. Make sure you have read the itinerary and inclusions thoroughly so you know what is included in the trip price and what you may need to pay for while travelling. We recommend USD220.00 for meals not included. The official currency of Thailand is the baht (THB). The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency is via ATMs which are available in most towns and cities. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange. Clean bills in small denominations are most useful. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels and more upmarket shops and shopping centres. CAMBODIA: You can use your credit/debit card in ATMs, which are common throughout Cambodia. These machines dispense cash in USD. There is no need to bring lots of cash with you unless you prefer not to use ATMs. There is also no need to pre-purchase Cambodian riel prior to arriving in the country. Most travellers never need to have more than USD10 worth of Cambodian riel on them at any one time, as USD cash is widely accepted. After making a payment in USD, change is often given in Cambodian riel. Many businesses are unable to change larger notes (USD20, USD50 or USD100), so we recommend carrying a mix of denominations. If you are obtaining USD cash prior to arrival in Cambodia, please check that all your notes are in good condition and not old. Banknotes that are crumpled, torn, marked or printed before 2006 are generally not accepted. USD2 banknotes are also not accepted. Please be warned that some banks at Cambodian airports may tell you that you need to change your USD cash into Cambodian riel, but this is not true.  VIETNAM: You can use your credit/debit card in ATMs, which are common throughout Vietnam. These machines dispense cash in VND (Vietnamese dong). Credit/debit cards aren’t accepted for small payments in Vietnam so please ensure you have VND cash to cover daily expenses. Clean banknotes in small denominations are most useful. There is no need to bring lots of cash with you unless you prefer not to use ATMs. You can obtain VND cash prior to arriving in Vietnam, through normal outlets such as banks and currency exchange offices.  TIPPING Tipping can be an appropriate way to recognise great service when travelling. While it may not be customary in your home country, it is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations and is greatly appreciated by the people who take care of you during your travels. It is always best to avoid tipping with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes, as this can be regarded as an insult rather than the goodwill gesture it is intended to be. OPTIONAL TIPPING KITTY On Day 1 of your trip, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of operating a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and your tour leader distributes tips for drivers, local guides, hotel staff and other services included on your trip. This excludes restaurant tips for meals not included in your itinerary. The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any funds remaining at the end of the tour will be returned to group members. We have found that this is easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty is at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader. Optional tipping kitty for this trip: USD 18 per person YOUR TOUR LEADER You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-6 per person (in a currency relevant for your destination), per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length and involvement of your leader on your trip. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. We reserve the right to change an itinerary after departure due to local circumstances or a Force Majeure Event. In such emergency circumstances, the additional cost of any necessary itinerary alterations will be covered by you. Please note we are not responsible for any incidental expenses that may be incurred as a result of the change of itineraries including but not limited to visas, vaccinations or non-refundable flights. Make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last-minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result, there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however, local currency may be needed once in the country to cover these costs. COMMISSIONS Unfortunately, commissions in exchange for recommending particular shops or restaurants are an ingrained part of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye, we’ve tried to legitimise the practise with a centralised fund. Moneys are collected from recommended and fully vetted suppliers and funnelled back into our business. This keeps the trip cost low (for us and for you) and makes sure you only get the best experiences. If you’re unhappy with any places your leader recommends, or feel the quality of the trip is being compromised in any way, please let us know in your feedback.

    What to take

    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg. Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps or handles. If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. A lockable bag or small padlock will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day. Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

    LOCAL DRESS: When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.

    WATER BOTTLE: This trip includes one or more sections in a private vehicle with a water dispenser. We encourage all our travellers to bring a refillable water bottle on your trip to help reduce the use of disposable plastic bottles.

    Climate and seasonal

    SONGKRAN FESTIVAL The Songkran Festival is celebrated to mark the New Year. The festival runs from the 13th to the 16th of April. Traditionally houses and villages are properly cleaned in preparation for the New Year, flowers are gathered to decorate Buddha images, young people pour water over the elders for good luck. Songkran Festival is often referred to as the “water festival” as it is now common to throw water over each other during the festival period. Our advice is to be prepared to get wet! Your leader will discuss the festival activities upon day one at the group meeting. CAMBODIAN FESTIVALS & HOLIDAYS: During public holidays and festival periods in Cambodia some businesses may close, transport may be extremely busy and travel times may increase. The main holidays in Cambodia are: Chinese New Year (11 - 17 February 2021) Khmer New Year (14 - 17 April 2021) Royal Birthday of the King Sihamoni (13 - 15 May 2021) Pchum Ben Day ( 5 - 7 October 2021, 24 - 27 September 2022) Water & Moon Festival (18 - 21 November 2021, 7 - 9 November 2022) WEATHER IN CAMBODIA Any time of the year is a good time to travel in Cambodia, with each season having its advantages. The climate in Cambodia is generally hot and humid throughout the year. Temperatures stay in the 30Cs most of the year, dropping back to the 20Cs at night. There are officially two seasons in Cambodia – wet and dry. During November to May you can expect dry conditions, while June to October will have wetter weather. SEASONAL FLOODING IN CAMBODIA Severe storms and widespread seasonal flooding, including localised flash flooding, can occur without warning in Cambodia, particularly during the local wet season from July to November. The Cambodia/Thailand land border is occasionally closed due to flooding. Should land travel be disrupted and we need to fly, travellers will need to use their contingency funds to cover any additional costs. TET 11-16 February 2021, 31 January - 4 February 2022 Tet is Vietnam’s New Year festival which takes place in late January/early February based on the lunar calendar and is the most important celebration of the year. While this can be a fascinating time to be in Vietnam, you do need to be prepared for some businesses to be closed, tourist sites to be very busy and for transport to be packed as many Vietnamese are travelling around the country. Although we do our best to run trips during Tet as per the scheduled itinerary, it is likely that there will be some changes to transport, accommodation or order of destinations visited. Due to the high demand on tickets at this time, flights and overnight trains may on occasion need to be replaced with day buses. We will aim to communicate any known changes prior to your departure. CLIMATE & CLOTHING: For the majority of the year, the temperature in Vietnam is normally warm and humid, particularly from Hoi An southward. North of here, it can be cool between late November and March. If travelling at this time it is advisable to bring some some warmer clothing, particular if you plan to visit the Central Highlights or Sapa. WET SEASON: Flooding is common across Vietnam during rainy season (June-December) and could also lead to landslides. Typhoons are also common during this period. During these months there may be disruptions to transport and some activities or destinations may need to be changed as a result at short notice.

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited, and you also agree to travel in accordance with our Responsible Travel Guidelines. The decision of the group leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any traveller or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund. We may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

    Feedback

    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

    Emergency contact

    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time. For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below. Intrepid’s Local Operator: +855 92 555 969

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable, and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers, and staff are trained on these principles and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING: While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including World Animal Protection, advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately, many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive-bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/elephants-welfare ORPHANAGE TOURISM In recent times orphanage tourism has become increasingly popular in Cambodia. Orphanage tourism is what happens when good intentions and reality don’t quite synch up. Travellers who visit and volunteer in orphanages may genuinely want to help, but their efforts can often perpetuate a system where children are separated from their families and, in some cases, abused. That’s why we don't include visits to orphanages on any of our trips. For more on our position on orphanage tourism and the work we are doing to protect children in the countries we visit, see these links below: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/the-fight-against-orphanage-tourism/ https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/why-were-rethinking-orphanage-tourism/ https://www.intrepidtravel.com/sites/intrepid/files/basic_page/files/IG%20Child-Protection-Flyer-LR.pdf

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/ Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Cambodia include: * Friends International helps marginalised children, youth, families and communities in South East Asia and around the world build a better future. https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/friends-international-building-futures For more information, or to make a donation please visit: https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/page/projects Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Vietnam include: * Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation rescues kids in crisis throughout Vietnam. https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/blue-dragon-childrens-foundation * KOTO is a restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of rural and underprivileged youth in Vietnam. https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/koto For more information, or to make a donation please visit: https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/page/projects

    Accommodation notes

    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own. CHECK-IN TIME Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination. PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights. HOTELS: Most of the accommodation on this trip is in hotels (mostly 2 to 3-star). Facilities are often basic, with some properties not having a continuous supply of hot water on occasion. All rooms are either fan cooled or with air conditioning and twin share with private facilities unless stated otherwise in the daily itinerary. Double beds are not widely available in South East Asia. WINDOWLESS ROOMS: Some hotels in South East Asia have windowless rooms, or windows that don't necessarily have a view. This is often due to high population density in large cities, however local building standards also do not require rooms to have windows. We do request rooms with windows, however they aren't always available.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all our trips for those travelling internationally. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. Travellers who reside within the European Union or Switzerland receive basic international health insurance, so travel insurance is not mandatory under European Union Law. However, as this does not cover situations such as emergency rescues, private health care, or repatriation to their home country, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended. European Union or Swiss travellers who decline travel insurance when travelling outside of their home region must sign a Travel Insurance Waiver Form at the Group Meeting. For assistance with travel insurance or other services, please visit the link below: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/booking-resources/our-services

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons, we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SOLO TRAVELLERS This is the beauty of our style of travel: many of our travellers join because they are travelling solo and want to meet and share experiences with like-minded people. As a solo traveller, you will be paired up with another traveller of the same gender as per your passport information. Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour. Pre-trip and post-trip accommodation booked through us will on a single room basis. If you’re not comfortable sharing a room with someone of the same gender, you also have the choice to pay for a single supplement (available on the majority of our trips). If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on an open gender, multi-share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

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