Excellent value busy trip. If you are used to "activity" holidays you might find it too relaxing. If you are used to luxury holidays still give it a try as 3 star hotels in Thailand/Cambodia & Laos are in keeping with the countries and with the exception of just one night in a poor guest house (Phetsokxai at Pak Bang) all the accommodation had good showers, firm beds and functioning air conditioning.We were taken to a wide variety of restaurants all of which were able to provide authentic food for those who like to try local dishes and european dishes for those who do not.The two long coach trips pass quickly as there are stops every couple of hours plenty to see and the two days on the Mekong are on a private slow boat so you and your companions have plenty of space to stretch.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
Angkor Wat sunrise
Best activity: Optional visit to Elephant Village from Lunang Prabang
COPE providing prosethetic limbs - the guide will refer to this as "The bomb harvesting" museum - there is more to it than that and you can support the charity by purchases or donations etc, very interesting
Marum restaurant in Siem Reap which trains and employs former street kids - a Cambodian version of Jamie Oliver's "15"
- What did you think of your group leader?
NOK in Thailand and Laos was excellent. Humorous, knowledgeable, surperbly oganised and thoroughly enjoying her job. She tuned in to under-currents in the group and gave inspirational low key speeches aimed at anyone not chilled out.
Kimphak in Cambodia was brand new to Exodus and now has been educated about the "tipping kitty" which avoids the need to make daily judgements on fair amounts to tip all and sundry. He was very educated and amiable.
Sam who only had us for one night in Bangkok was able to round us up and make sure we left his native soil safely!
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
If you are prone to a lot of insect bites try Incognito available from Holland & Barratt - I used this throughout the trip and was not biten at all whereas some people covered in DEET stil got bitten.
Freeze bottled water as apart from the long day at Angkor it will stay frozen most of the following day
LADIES; Consider wearing a loose short sleeved dress as this avoids the heat of having a waistband and layer over the top. You will be allowed in all Royal Palaces and temples as long as you have little sleeves & covered knees. Take a shawl or wrap which can be used to cover arms in one of the cave temples on the Mekong. Also one lady soaked it in water and wore as a veil when she was suffering from the heat and also wore it to ward off insects at night
MNEN: If very tall bes careful at Villar Rakhangthong hoel in Luang Prabang as one chap cut his head badly on a low beam over the stairs. ALl men: Take shorts that cover the knees as these are acceptable in many temples/palaces - you will need long trousers in Bangkok for the Royal Palace.
Take a lot more money than the tripnotes suggest - we had a small one course lunch with a drink and one course dinner with two alcoholic drinks each day at a cost of around £20 pp per day. I used a debit card successfuly in Laos. In Cambodia the machinrs sometimes give you $100 bills so you will need to change these down.
You will only need a warm top on the early morning start on the 2nd day of the slow boat along the Mekong - it's never cool at night or in air conditioning so save room inyour lugguage.
If you are not willing to compromiose don't share a room - some members of the party were constantly complaining about their room mates which spoiled the atmosphere at times.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
As Nok our guide told everyone:
You have worked hard to pay for this holiday so you must enjoy yourself! Aimed at some fussy or inexperienced travellers expecting western standards etc I suspect
Think like a Budhist: Smile serenely, stay calm count your blessings andyou will feel contented and not too over-heated!