South East Asia Unplugged
from $4326
Duration: 35 Days
Take an epic 35-day Lonely Planet Experience that hits the best of the best in South East Asia. From the majestic Angkor ruins and the beaches of Phan Rang to the frenetic pace of Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok, past the relaxed vibes of Hoi An, Chiang Mai and to the riverside of Luang Prabang, you’ll learn the history, meet friendly and welcoming people, eat delicious food and stay with local communities along the way. If you want to capture the true essence of this region, this all-encompassing itinerary is for you. See what all the fuss is about in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia – four shining gems in South East Asia.
  • A slow boat down the Mekong River is one of South East Asia's most classic journeys. You’ll spend a day meandering down the river to Luang Prabang – a relaxing way to discover the region’s natural splendour.
  • Participate in workshops run by local artisans, including an indigo dyeing demonstration in Baan Thung Hong Village, and an ancient pottery class in Bo Suak Cultural Place.
  • Lan Ha Bay is a paradisiacal enclave of green waters and strange rock formations. Explore them by boat and kayak, then spend the night on Cat Ba Island.
  • Enjoy the guidance of a local expert as you temple-hop at the dazzling Angkor complex, one of South East Asia's most stunning sights.
  • Have some fun at Rehash Trash – a sustainable concept in Siem Reap run by women to empower them with skills-based training, and to help you make a treasure out of what may otherwise be considered waste.
  • Bangkok - Thonburi tour
  • Phrae Province - Organics Indigo Dyeing Center
  • Nan Province - Ban Cha Manut Ancient Kiln & Huan Ban Suak Saen Chuen Museum
  • Nan Province - Bo Suak Cultural Place (Pottery Workshop)
  • Nan Province - Nan Art Gallery
  • Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Caves
  • Luang Prabang - Walking tour
  • Vientiane - COPE visit
  • Vientiane - Walking tour
  • Cat Ba Island - Kayaking
  • Cat Ba Island - Boat trip on Lan Ha Bay
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Orientation Walk
  • Phnom Penh - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21)
  • Phnom Penh - The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
  • Chambok - Traditional dancing
  • Chambok - Homestay and activities
  • Kampong Chhnang - Pottery Demonstration
  • Siem Reap - Rehash Trash Recycling Workshop
  • Siem Reap - Angkor Temples Guided Tour
  • Day 1 Location: Bangkok
    Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Bangkok has much to offer those with time to explore, so we recommend you arrive a day or two earlier to see its wondrous sights. You can sample some world-class street food, visit the Grand Palace, wander down the bustling tourist mecca of Khao San Road or indulge in a Thai massage. If you would like to spend more time in Bangkok, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability). After your group meeting, why not get some of the crew together and head to one of Bangkok’s renowned street food markets for some delicious food. Sitting on a roadside plastic stool never felt so good when you’re eating a curry or khao soi (chicken noodle soup).
    Day 2 Location: Bangkok – Overnight Train
    Start the morning by jumping on a public ferry to Wat Kalayanamit and enjoy an included walking tour around the fascinating Thonburi area. See the mixture of cultures with Buddhist temples and Catholic churches as you stroll around. Away from the usual tourist trail, you will experience untouched local villages living by the waterways and visit quaint local markets that have plenty of interesting snacks waiting for you to try. Finish the walking tour at Amulet market and be lured into a shopping frenzy. Enjoy some free time in the afternoon for optional activities. This evening, board your overnight train to Chiang Mai (approximately 13 hours). You will travel by 2nd class and your carriage will be air-conditioned.
    Day 3 Location: Chiang Mai
    Wake up on the train and glimpse the northern scenery as you arrive in Chiang Mai, then transfer to your hotel. Get out and explore this 'Rose of the North', which boasts spectacular temples, delicious food, an enormous night market, a picturesque riverfront and excellent shopping. Hiring a bike to get around town is a great activity or venturing to the Doi Suthep temple is a great choice too. There is so much to do in Chiang Mai and you’ll have two full free days to do as much or little as you like.
    Day 4 Location: Chiang Mai
    Adventure seekers, ask your leader about white-water rafting or flying like a bird with Jungle Flight ziplining. Today is a free day and there are many optional activities your leader can help you organise. You could also participate in a Thai cooking course or see those amazing Asian Elephants in an ethical way with a visit to the Elephant Nature Park. It’s totally up to you, and your group leader knows all the best people in the right places, so ask them for their recommendations.
    Day 5 Location: Nan
    Take a private minivan to Nan (approximately 5 hours, not including stops). On the way, stop by the town of Phrae, which is very well-known for their production of indigo fabrics – some of the best in Asia. Head straight to the Baan Thung Hong Village, where you’ll get shown the ‘hom’ (indigo) plantation and participate in a traditional workshop. You’ll get a small handkerchief and will be able to try the dying process yourself. Have lunch nearby at a local restaurant, then continue on to Nan. Once arrived, your leader will take you on an orientation walk of the town, then you’ll have the rest of the evening to do as you please.
    Day 6 Location: Chiang Klang
    Make tracks for Chiang Klang today with a couple of stops along the way. Just outside of Nan is Ban Cha Manut Ancient Kiln and Huan Ban Suak Saen Chuen Museum, where you’ll learn about the ancient art of pottery in the region. The Ban Cha Manut kiln has been used in this house for over 800 years; you’ll feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. Take a visit to the nearby museum, and afterwards, head to the Bo Suak Cultural Place for a pottery workshop and get a chance to whip up a creation of your own. Enjoy lunch with your group at an open-air community restaurant with expansive views over the surrounding countryside. Relax with an included meal and be sure to have your camera handy. You may also have time to visit the Nan Art Gallery, set beside the river, showcasing work from modern Thai artists. Onwards to Chang Klang – it's approximately a 2.5-hour journey between towns, and upon arrival, freshen up and join your group leader on a visit to the local food markets, where you may like to taste some regional specialties. Enjoy a dinner with your leader and the group.
    Day 7 Location: Thailand/Laos Border Crossing – Pakbeng
    Leave your accommodation after breakfast and make your way to the Thailand–Laos border. Your group leader will help you complete immigration and border formalities, and then you’ll continue on to the Laos town of Pakbeng. If there is no holdup at the border, you will reach Pakbeng just in time for lunch, so tuck into some good food, and have a chilled-out afternoon. Perhaps rent a bicycle to explore the surrounding countryside and the banks of the Mekong. Your accommodation tonight is a basic guesthouse.
    Day 8 Location: Mekong River – Luang Prabang
    Get on the water this morning and cruise downriver at a nice leisurely pace on your way to Luang Prabang (6–7 hours). This way of ‘slow travel’ is popular among travellers to the region, as you’ll wind down the Mekong River, passing riverside villages and lush forests on the banks. Arriving late afternoon, you'll have time to hit the highly recommended night market food stalls, a great place to mingle with the locals and enjoy a meal with fellow travellers. With temples and French colonial villas lining the Mekong under blazing orange skies, you can see why this city has a reputation for exotic beauty.
    Day 9 Location: Luang Prabang
    Join your guide for a walk around the local area, learning more about Lao culture at the temple of Wat Phra Mahathat. Today and tomorrow are then yours to spend as you please. Take the time to explore the local market by day, where the textiles made by local women will amaze. You can also make the steep climb up Mount Phousi, the spiritual and geographical heart of the city and a prime location to see the sunset over the Mekong.
    Day 10 Location: Luang Prabang
    Your leader can help you organise many optional activities today. Kuang Si Falls, a spectacular spot to swim, is well worth a visit. Also, at the gate entrance to the waterfalls you will have the chance to stop by the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre where you can see the wonderful work being done to rescue bears from poachers and captivity, and provide them with a home. If you want to learn more about the local cuisine you can enjoy a cooking demonstration in the heart of town. Today is all yours to choose your own adventure.
    Day 11 Location: Vang Vieng
    Take a private minibus through dusty villages and winding mountain roads to Vang Vieng (approximately 7 hours). The mountain scenery en route is as impressive as that of your destination. Situated on the Nam Song River, Vang Vieng is surrounded by towering limestone karsts. Please note that the standard of accommodation in Vang Vieng tonight and tomorrow is a little more basic than in some of our destinations.
    Day 12 Location: Vang Vieng
    Vang Vieng is known as an adventure town, thanks to its unique and varied surrounding countryside. Its many local caves are easily accessible and make for great day trips or half-day trips. Notably, Tham Chang, with its beautiful cavern fed by a natural spring, is an interesting swimming hole. Those looking to relax or perhaps learn more about local niche industry can visit the organic mulberry farm just outside town and enjoy a meal there (guided tours of the farm are available).
    Day 13 Location: Vientiane
    Take a beautiful local bus ride through small villages to Vientiane (approximately 4 hours). Enjoy the slow pace of what is possibly Asia's most laid-back capital city. On a guided walk you will visit the key Buddhist sites Wat Si Saket and Haw Phra Kaew and continue on to Patuxai (Victory Gate) for sweeping views over the city. You will also visit COPE, an organisation dedicated to assisting those who have been injured by the multitude of unexploded ordnance across the country.
    Day 14 Location: Hanoi
    Take an unaccompanied flight from Vientiane to Hanoi (approximately 1 hour). Keep an eye out at the airport arrivals hall where a local representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. This evening, there’s another group meeting scheduled where you’ll meet your Vietnamese group leader and new group joining you for the next stage of your journey. This meeting is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of Hanoi’s many fantastic eating spots, and after a bit of travelling today, you’ll be surely ready for some local food!
    Day 15 Location: Cat Ba Island
    An early start is necessary to get the most out of your day. Take a 7.30 am bus ride and ferry transfer to the steep karsts and tiny beaches of Cat Ba Island, arriving before midday – you’ll have a quick stop to stretch your legs en route. The largest of all the islands in World Heritage-listed Halong Bay, charming Cat Ba will be your base for exploring the limestone cliffs and turquoise water that define this area. Get acquainted with this stunning spot with an afternoon cruise around the bay, enjoying lunch on the boat while floating past the karsts covered in emerald-green foliage. Later, get closer to the water and explore on a kayak, perhaps stopping at one of Cat Ba’s many beaches for a swim. Stay overnight on Cat Ba Island and enjoy the sunset with a cold beer.
    Day 16 Location: Hanoi – Overnight Train
    Wake up in paradise and enjoy some free time lazing on the beach. Maybe go for a swim, kick back with a book or take a stroll along the sand. In the afternoon, head back to Hanoi. Hopefully you’ll have some time to grab dinner with the group before boarding an overnight train for a 12-hour journey to Hue later on. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are the best way to travel long distances and brush shoulders with the locals. Most trains have a dining carriage which serves simple food, but some travellers like to take some fresh bread, cheese, fruit and other snacks for the journey.
    Day 17 Location: Hue
    As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Packed with historic monuments, Hue is also perfectly located to explore the surrounding countryside, which features stunning scenery, quaint villages and the peaceful Tam Giang Lagoon. The bustling Dong Ba Market offers a plethora of goods and foods to see and sample, and it's a good place to try some of the specialities that graced the Nguyen emperors' banquet tables, such as the banh khoai – a royal rice cake. You have a free day to explore, which you could easily spend exploring Hue’s massive walled citadel and the Forbidden Purple Palace enclosed within. Perhaps jump on board a dragon boat and enjoy a cruise up the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu pagoda, or cycle out to one of the Royal tombs such as the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc. Otherwise, set off on an optional motorcycle tour of the sights in Hue and some surrounding villages.
    Day 18 Location: Hoi An
    Continue on your journey and travel to the World Heritage-listed town of Hoi An, where on arrival, your leader will take you on an orientation walk around town. The city was a major trading port with the west from the 17th century onwards, and has various architectural influences from Europe, China and Vietnam. Today, the city is being restored and looks exactly like it did over a century ago. The rest of the day is free for you to do some optional activities or soak up the ambience of the place. You may like to wander Hoi An Market and the street stalls selling paintings, woodwork, ceramics, lanterns and much more. It’s also famous for its talented tailors who can make beautiful items to order within 24 hours, so be sure to check that out!
    Day 19 Location: Hoi An
    Enjoy a free day to further explore Hoi An. Perhaps take a cruise up the Thu Bon River or learn the secrets of cooking delicious Vietnamese dishes. Visit some of the main art galleries or simply wander around the beautifully restored Chinese shop houses. There’s also the option of cycling around the surrounding countryside – a truly relaxing way to get off the beaten track and see rural Vietnam up close. Your leader will be able to suggest activities to help you get the most out of your time.
    Day 20 Location: Hoi An – Overnight Train
    Make the most out of another free day in Hoi An. Perhaps do some of the activities you couldn’t fit into your schedule over the past couple of days, or go pick up your fresh threads from the tailors. There’s also Cua Dai Beach nearby – the perfect place to rest up before continuing on your way. This evening, board another overnight train bound for Phan Rang. Remember, it’s always a good idea to have some snacks and a book on hand.
    Day 21 Location: Phan Rang
    Arrive in Phan Rang early this morning for two days of beachside bliss and relaxation. With arguably the best weather in Vietnam, Phan Rang is a low-key coastal city where swimming, snorkelling and seafood take priority. While you’re here, look out for banh can and banh xeo – egg, squid, shrimp and vegetables cooked into a pancake. Delicious!
    Day 22 Location: Phan Rang – Overnight Train
    Take a break with another day in Phan-tastic Phan Rang. You could squeeze the sand between your toes and grab some rays on the beach, or take a quick ride out to Dinh Cape – one of the most picturesque bays and stretches of sand in the area. Otherwise, perhaps ask your leader where you can get a massage to really get your zen on. Keep in mind that there’s your overnight train journey waiting for you this evening, so get outside and enjoy all that Phang Rang has to see, and eat! Tonight’s overnight train journey will take approximately 7 hours and drop you right into bustling Ho Chi Minh City.
    Day 23 Location: Ho Chi Minh City
    Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City very early this morning and transfer to your hotel. Today you’ll have plenty of free time to explore Vietnam’s largest city. Ho Chi Minh City has a busy atmosphere and many French influences. In your free time, it’s recommended to visit the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum. There’s also the historic Dong Khoi Street, and the chaotic markets of Ben Thanh and Cholon (Chinatown). Ho Chi Minh City has a different style of cuisine to its northern counterpart Hanoi, so be sure get out for restaurant meals and street food with your travel crew. Your group leader has all the best people in the right places, so they’ll know of some delectable places to eat, for any budget.
    Day 24 Location: Ho Chi Minh City
    Today you may be required to move to a different hotel in Ho Chi Minh City for the next section of your trip. Your leader will let you know if this is the case, and will help with the transfer to the next hotel. You have a free day to consider many optional activities. Why not head out of the city and take an Urban Adventure to the Cu Chi Tunnels – an underground tunnel network in the middle of the jungle that was used by the Viet Cong during the war. See urbanadventures.com/destination/ho-chi-minh-city-tours for more information. Tonight, there’s another group meeting planned, usually around 6 pm, where you will be briefed about the next stage of your South East Asian adventure. Afterwards, you could get acquainted (or reacquainted) with your group with a local dinner – your group leader will know of some delicious options nearby.
    Day 25 Location: Phnom Penh
    Travel by public bus through rural Vietnam and Cambodia to Phnom Penh (approximately 10 hours including two border crossings and lunch). Cambodia's capital city is set on a major junction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers and boasts some fine examples of French-inspired architecture. You may want to take a cyclo tour of the city's sights, including the central market, US Embassy, Wat Phnom, Mekong river front, independence monument and Royal Palace. If you're in the mood for shopping, stop in at the art deco Psar Thmei (Central Market) or travel out to Psar Tuol Tom Pong (the Russian Market) for the best range of local souvenirs.
    Day 26 Location: Phnom Penh
    Take a day to explore the swirl and bustle of Phnom Penh. Included today is a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. These serve as sobering reminders of the violent rule of the Khmer Rouge. Here you can learn more about this confronting but important chapter in history – if you'd rather not visit these sites, simply let your leader know. Otherwise, the rest of the day is free for you to explore. You could visit Wat Phnom, a Buddhist temple shrouded in myth, or the National Museum and its excellent Khmer collection. Perhaps indulge in a traditional massage at Seeing Hands – a great social enterprise supporting visually impaired masseurs. A traditional Cambodian massage may be a little different than you are used to – it’s generally an oil-free, fully-clothed affair. In the evening, perhaps head up to the Foreign Correspondent’s Club bar with your group for a drink overlooking the Tonle Sap River.
    Day 27 Location: Chambok
    Travel by private vehicle (approximately 3.5 hours) into rural Cambodia to the region of Kampong Speu and the village of Chambok. There's a lot of natural beauty to discover here, and the Chambok community is renowned for its ecotourism. A member of the Chambok community will take you on a village walk and be happy to chat about their community’s history, lifestyle and local ecotourism projects. Meet the families your group will spend the night with and settle into your homestay accommodation. In the afternoon, take a walk around the village and head to a nearby waterfall. If it's warm enough, you may even opt for a swim! In the evening, head to the community centre to enjoy a traditional Khmer dinner prepared by women from the community. You'll also be treated to a traditional dance performance – tonight is an experience that won’t be forgotten any time soon.
    Day 28 Location: Kampong Chhnang
    Say goodbye to your homestay hosts and head in a private vehicle to Kampong Chhnang (approximately 4–5 hours). Kampong Chhnang is a central province of Cambodia and borders South East Asia’s largest freshwater lake, Tonle Sap. After you’ve arrived, head to a pottery workshop demonstration where you’ll see how the locals use this craft, plus try it out, if you want! Otherwise, you could book on a boat trip on Tonle Sap lake, passing by the floating villages and fishing boats. This evening, there is also an optional (but highly recommended) experience to have dinner in a local home – you’ll never get over that traditional Cambodian hospitality.
    Day 29 Location: Battambang
    Onwards to Battambang. Take a private vehicle for about 4 hours towards the Thai border, and you’ll hit this town on the Sangkae River. This afternoon is free for you to do as you please. Perhaps head to Wat Banan – an Angkor-era temple perched high about the river overlooking the surrounding region. With around 300 stairs to climb to the temples, it’s worth the exercise, as the largely untouched temples are a sight to behold, and the 360-degree panoramic views over the province are stunning, especially on a sunny day. Otherwise, Battambang’s Killing Fields of Phnom Sampeau are also a sobering reminder of how the Khmer Rouge affected this area. At sunset, an extraordinary sight occurs with thousands of bats emerging and streaming out from the nearby caves, sometimes for over half an hour. If you do decide to go to Phnom Sampeau, be sure to time your visit for this.
    Day 30 Location: Battambang
    With another free day in Battambang, consider one of the optional activities. If you’re feeling active, there’s a cycling tour which takes you around to visit local producers of traditional foods, plus you get a different look at the countryside, with the fresh air cooling you as you ride. Instead, there may be a chance to book into a cooking class in a local home, or head out in the evening for a street food tour – best to ask your group leader, as they know all the best people in the right places.
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    Departure Date:
    13FEB2020
    Return Date:
    18MAR2020
    5090NZD
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    Departure Date:
    05MAR2020
    Return Date:
    08APR2020
    5190NZD
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    09APR2020
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    4900NZD
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    14MAY2020
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    22OCT2020
    Return Date:
    25NOV2020
    4900NZD
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    05NOV2020
    Return Date:
    09DEC2020
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    19NOV2020
    Return Date:
    23DEC2020
    5090NZD
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    Last modified (date)

    26 Jan 2020

    Trip title

    South East Asia Unplugged

    Trip code

    TTRDC

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020

    Introduction

    Take an epic 35-day Lonely Planet Experience that hits the best of the best in South East Asia. From the majestic Angkor ruins and the beaches of Phan Rang to the frenetic pace of Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok, past the relaxed vibes of Hoi An, Chiang Mai and to the riverside of Luang Prabang, you’ll learn the history, meet friendly and welcoming people, eat delicious food and stay with local communities along the way. If you want to capture the true essence of this region, this all-encompassing itinerary is for you. See what all the fuss is about in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia – four shining gems in South East Asia.

    Style

    Basix

    Themes

    Lonely Planet Experience

    Transport

    Boat,Cycle rickshaw,Overnight sleeper train,Private minibus,Train,Local bus,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 description

    Situated in the centre of Bangkok's business area, Astera Sathorn is a cozy hotel close to many of the area's main attractions. Situated within walking distance to Silom Road and Sathorn Pier, guests can easily access the riverfront, and Chinatown is only two kilometers away. Hotel services include outdoor pool, separate sauna and steam room, fitness center, free wireless internet in the room, satellite TV and laundry service.

    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

    Astera Sathorn Hotel

    143 South Sathorn Rd., Yannawa, Sathorn

    Bangkok

    10120

    THAILAND

    Phone: 22127090

    Fax: 22123610

    Finish point description

    Situated in the centre of Bangkok's business area, Astera Sathorn is a cozy hotel close to many of the area's main attractions. Situated within walking distance to Silom Road and Sathorn Pier, guests can easily access the riverfront, and Chinatown is only two kilometers away. Hotel services include outdoor pool, separate sauna and steam room, fitness center, free wireless internet in the room, satellite TV and laundry service.

    Finish point instructions

    Intrepid can assist with pre-booking a departure transfer to 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. You can expect to be picked up three hours prior to your flight. If your transfer has not arrived within 15 minutes of the scheduled pick up time, ask the hotel staff to call our transfer provide, World Travel Idea, on +66 81 658 2727 or +66 81 566 9324. Taxi fare from your hotel to the airport will cost approx. THB700. Please ask your leader or hotel staff for assistance in arranging a taxi.

    Important information

    1. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) for train tickets. Ticketing fees may apply for amendments to details within 45 days of departure, and in some cases you will be required to cover the cost of issuing a new ticket. 2. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Days 2, 16, 20 & 22 (overnight trains), Day 7 (guesthouse) and Day 27 (homestay) where you will be in shared accommodation, and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information. 3. A visa for Laos is required for this trip and must be obtained prior to arrival. Please see the Visa section of the Essential Trip Information for more details.

    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

    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service 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 areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. 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 valuable 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. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

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

    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.

    BICYCLE HELMETS Bicycle helmets are not provided on the optional cycling activity in Vang Vieng. If you wish to wear a bike helmet we recommend you bring one from home.

    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. Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking 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. LAOS: Most travellers require a visa to Laos. On this trip we cross between Thailand and Laos at the Huey Kone – Naam Ngeun border crossing on Day 7. This border crossing recently discontinued their Visa on Arrival facility and also does not permit crossing into Laos with an e-visa. For these reasons, all travellers must obtain a visa for Laos in their passport from a consulate prior to joining this trip. If you have extra days before your trip you may be able to obtain your visa at the consulate in Bangkok, otherwise you will need to apply in your home country. Please ensure you check opening hours and processing times to ensure you will receive your visa in time. VIETNAM VISA: Most nationalities are required to obtain a tourist visa in advance to travel to Vietnam. An eVisa is available for some nationalities including passport holders from Australia (from 2018), France, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America, valid for a single entry of a maximum of 30 days stay in Vietnam. For information on obtaining an eVisa visit the immigration website: https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/ Evisas take up to 3 days to be processed. You will need a clear electronic copy of your passport data page and passport photo, and to make a non-refundable payment as outlined on the immigration website. Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure. 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. If you are obtaining a tourist visa in your passport from an embassy or consulate, you should allow 3 weeks for processing. The cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Please check with your embassy or consulate for further requirements. 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. 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. 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.

    Why we love it

    A slow boat down the Mekong River is one of South East Asia's most classic journeys. You’ll spend a day meandering down the river to Luang Prabang – a relaxing way to discover the region’s natural splendour.

    Participate in workshops run by local artisans, including an indigo dyeing demonstration in Baan Thung Hong Village, and an ancient pottery class in Bo Suak Cultural Place.

    Lan Ha Bay is a paradisiacal enclave of green waters and strange rock formations. Explore them by boat and kayak, then spend the night on Cat Ba Island.

    Enjoy the guidance of a local expert as you temple-hop at the dazzling Angkor complex, one of South East Asia's most stunning sights.

    Have some fun at Rehash Trash – a sustainable concept in Siem Reap run by women to empower them with skills-based training, and to help you make a treasure out of what may otherwise be considered waste.

    Is this trip right for you

    This is a Lonely Planet Experience powered by Intrepid, made for travellers who value their independence but also want the benefit of a local guide and a group of like-minded travellers. The itinerary has a mix of included activities and free time when your leader will offer suggestions. Please budget spending money for optional activities you want to partake in. Even if you are on a tight budget, there are plenty of free or inexpensive activities, such as temple visits, tuk-tuk transport, river and countryside walks and local markets to explore. Travellers who do some research in advance of travel as well as take the chance to chat to their leader about options available will get the most out of their time in each place. The accommodation on this trip is mostly simple – a combination of simple hotels, guesthouses and a homestay. Some rooms will have air conditioning, some rooms will have a fan 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 The unhurried pace of Laos can be frustrating to travellers used to more urgency. It can also mean things don't always go to plan or aren't in a rush to get done! Buses can break down, journeys can take longer than expected, and guesthouse rooms are sometimes not ready on arrival. The key to enjoying Laos’ laid-back atmosphere is plenty of patience and going with the flow. Depending on where you come from, the weather in South East Asia might be hotter and more humid than what you are used to. We recommend checking online for what the typical temperatures will be at the time of the year you are looking to travel to see what to expect – this website might be useful: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/vietnam/weather-in-vietnam It can get colder than you might expect in northern Laos in January, with an average temperature of 16° C, so you'll need some warm clothes if travelling at that time. The roads between Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang offer breathtaking views, but the catch is that there are a lot of twists and turns. Past travellers recommend those prone to motion sickness to bring some medication with them from home. This trip involves a lot of public transport and some long days of driving, so some patience will go a long way towards your enjoyment here. Sit back, relax, watch the scenery go by, and embrace travelling like a local. We cover a lot of distance on this trip, including on overnight trains. Accommodation and amenities are shared and basic, but the experience of rubbing shoulders with the locals makes it all worthwhile. For more about what this experience is like, see our blog post here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-expect-on-an-overnight. The stories and history shared at the 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 for travellers to know. If you would prefer not to join these activities your leader can recommend some optional alternatives.

    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 cope with 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, Intrepid Travel reserves 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 at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. 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. There's no obligation to do this though. INCLUDED BREAKFASTS: At hotels you’ll often have a buffet with choices of Vietnamese and Western food. At homestays you will have more basic breakfasts of local foods, eggs, bread, jam, tea and coffee. Take away breakfasts for early starts may be very simple such as a piece of fruit and a bread roll. DIETARY REQUIREMENTS: Check out this guide to eating in Vietnam for vegan, vegetarian, gluten & peanut free travellers: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/vegan-vegetarian-gluten-free-vietnam/ 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 a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). We recommend USD700 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. LAOS: The official currency of Laos is the Kip (LAK), however, USD are also widely used throughout Laos. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Visa cash advances are available in major banks, and ATMs are present in most towns. The use of credit cards is restricted mainly to major hotels, more upmarket shops and shopping centres. 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.  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.  TIPPING If you're happy with the services provided, a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Carrying small notes of local currency will make tipping easier. It is best to avoid tipping with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes, as this can be regarded as an insult. OPTIONAL TIPPING KITTY On Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips for drivers, local guides, and hotel staff (excludes restaurant tips). The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the 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. Please note this is a combination trip made up of 3 sections. There will be the option of contributing to a group tipping kitty on all sections of this trip. Day 1 Optional tipping kitty for this section: THB 520 per person Day 14 Optional tipping kitty for this section: USD 12 per person Day 24 Optional tipping kitty for this section: USD18 per person YOUR TOUR LEADER You may consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, 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 of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please 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 the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting. 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 you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes). Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are also convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. 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 & CLOTHING: The average temperature in Northern Laos in January is just 16 degrees Celsius. Colder than you might expect for South East Asia! Bring a warm light weight jumper and trousers when travelling in the winter months (Nov to Feb), and a jacket too if you tend to feel the cold.

    Climate and seasonal

    SONGKRAN: The Songkran Festival is celebrated to mark the Lao New Year. The festival runs from the 13-15 April 2019. Traditionally houses and villages are properly cleaned in preparation for the New Year, flowers are gathered to decorate Buddha images and young people pour water over the elders for good luck. Songkran Festival is often referred to as the “water festival” as it is also 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. The following departures will be operated during Songkran: 12th of April 2018 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. LAOS FLOODING & LANDSLIDES: The rainy season in Laos normally runs from May to October, coinciding with the typhoon season in South East Asia. Mountain areas are particularly vulnerable to landslides in the rainy season and flooding may occur along the Mekong river basins and elsewhere. Occasionally roads between Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng and Vientiane may be closed suddenly due to road conditions. Should this occur, your itinerary may be rerouted to fly between destinations and you will need to use your contingency funds to cover the cost of this change. TET (20-24 January 2020, 11-16 February 2021): 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. 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 (25 - 27 January 2020) Khmer New Year (14 - 17 April 2020) Royal Birthday of the King Sihamoni (13 - 15 May 2020) Pchum Ben Day ( 27-30 September 2019, 16 - 19 September 2020) Water & Moon Festival (10 - 12 November 2019, 30 October - 2 November 2020) CAMBODIA SEASONAL FLOODING: 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.

    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. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. 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

    Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: 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. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. 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: +66 898 103 722 Intrepid's local Operator: +84 (0)903 117 770 Intrepid’s Local Operator: +855 92 555 969 Intrepid's local Operator: +66 89 810 3722

    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 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/au/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. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because 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 Laos include: * Mandalao Elephant Conservation Promoting ethical elephant care and creating jobs in the community. https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/mandalao-elephant-conservation 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 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 * Rehash Trash empowers women with employment while caring for the environment in Cambodia. https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/rehash-trash For more information, or to make a donation please visit: https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/page/projects

    Accommodation notes

    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. DAY ROOMS & EARLY CHECK IN: Please note in some destinations we will provide use of day rooms. These rooms are provided for shared group use before or after overnight train journeys. We have some days where we arrive at our destination before check in time and a day room is not included. If you have booked a Single Supplement for your trip, it will not apply to these day rooms. Your leader may be able to assist you in booking a room for your sole use (depending on availability) until our regular trip rooms become available for an additional charge. Please talk to your leader at the Welcome Meeting if this is a service you would like to request.

    Transport notes

    OVERNIGHT SLEEPER TRAINS IN VIETNAM: Compartments will be 4 berth to 6 berth depending on seasonal variations and the group configuration. We aim to secure 4 berth compartments where possible. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Passengers of different genders may be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. On occasion the group may be split between several carriages, however your leader will coordinate and give further information on the trip.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen 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 credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

    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. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

    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 print and review a final copy 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 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 may be 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 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.

    Accommodation

    Guesthouse (11 nights),Homestay (1 night),Hotel (18 nights),Overnight sleeper train (4 nights)

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