Thai Indochina Grand Tour Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Destinations:
Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
AOG
Activity Level: Leisurely
Leisurely

You are healthy, enjoy the outdoors and want a relaxing trip. No experience is required.

30 Days Flight Inclusive
28 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

Long lines of saffron robed monks on their alms round at dawn, the luscious green of Vietnam's paddy fields, the shy smile of school children in Luang Prabang: it's the small day-to-day things that make this an unforgettable trip. Not that the bigger things won't wow too - Angkor Wat, Bangkok's Grand Palace, the stunning limestone seascape of Halong Bay or the frenetic pace of Saigon. There's a lot to see in South East Asia, so as they say in Thailand, 'why hurry, why worry'?

At a Glance

  • 24 nights hotels, 1 night boat with twin share cabins, 1 night homestay guesthouse to experience Mekong Delta hospitality, and 1 night sleeper train (soft-bed berths)
  • Travel by train, private minibus, bicycle, boat and 3 flights
  • Some activity in humid conditions
  • Discover a variety of cities and countryside on this itinerary

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the ancient Angkor complex in Cambodia
  • Take a boat trip Vietnam's stunning Halong Bay and discover the Mekong Delta
  • Adjust to the relaxed pace of life in Laos
  • Visit Bangkok's Royal Palace complex and Wat Po 
  • In Phnom Penh visit the Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng and the Royal Palace
  • Crawl through the Cu Chi war tunnels
  • Visit the historic trading town of Hoi An in Vietnam

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is rated Activity Level 1- Leisurely

This holiday is designed so that you can see the best parts of SE Asia using a mixture of private buses, trains and flights. There is a lot to see in the time you are there, but it is paced so that it doesn't feel too rushed. Travel time is kept to a minimum although there are a few longer drives. There is plenty of time for sightseeing and the trip has numerous stops where we spend 2 or more nights in one location. Whilst choosing this trip please note that some of the accommodation will be basic but is clean and tidy.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

The trip is lead by locally qualified Thai, Lao, Vietnamese and Cambodian English-speaking leaders.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
6
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Bangkok
End City:
Siem Reap

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Bangkok

    There will be a welcome briefing with your leader this evening followed by an optional group dinner at a local restaurant.

    Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok or similar

  • Day 2

    City tour; free afternoon

    This morning we travel to the Chao Praya River where we board a long tail boat for a tour of the local canals. Please be advised there may be a possibility of larger groups being accommodated in a bigger boat.  Bangkok was once known as the Venice of the East because of its intricate canal network. We get a glimpse of daily life as we pass locals selling their wares by the river. 

    We will visit what to this day remains the home of the Thai Royal family at the Royal Palace complex, followed by Wat Phra Kaew, home to the Emerald Buddha, one of Thailand's most venerated images. Another highlight is Wat Po, the largest temple in Bangkok, housing a 46m long, 15m high gold-plated reclining Buddha. This afternoon is then free for personal exploration.

    Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Fly to Chiang Rai; to Chiang Khong

    This morning we fly to Chiang Rai and then visit the Golden Triangle, an area so named after the fact that the opium that moved through was worth more than gold pound for pound. We stand at a view point overlooking Burma (Myanmar), the mighty Mekong and Laos. The area's chequered past is covered in the Opium Museum where we learn about the dark history of this beautiful and rich region of Northern Thailand, and we pause to visit the impressive red brick stupa of Wat Chedi Luang. We then transfer to the town of Chiang Khong (2 hours) where we stay overnight.

    Chiang Khong Teak Garden Resort or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Into Laos; travel by slow boat down Mekong to Pak Beng

    An early morning transfer takes us to the Thai / Laos border where we pass through immigration formalities. We say hello to our Laos Tour Leader. We will pass through Laos Immigration, followed by a tuk tuk ride to the river port where we board our private slow boat for the journey to Pak Beng.

    BKC Villa Pak Beng or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Visit Pak Ou Caves; to Luang Prabang

    Boarding our private boat again, we head further down river with Luang Prabang as our final destination. En route we will visit the famous Tam Ting Caves, cut out of the limestone banks which line the river at Pak Ou. These caves are filled with thousands of Buddha images brought by the surrounding villagers as a sign of their devotion. If there is time we will also stop at a number of minority villages on the way but this will depend on the water level, which affects the speed of travel on the river.

    Mid to late afternoon we arrive in the enchanting town of Luang Prabang, nestled in a narrow valley cut by the Mekong and Khan Rivers. This beautiful town was designated a World Heritage site in 1995. The rest of the day is free to explore the town and stroll amongst the ancient red roofed temples and French colonial architecture. There are also a number of interesting temples to visit including Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Wisunalat.

    Luang Prabang Legend Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Luang Prabang; Phu Si Hill and visit Kuang Si waterfalls

    After an early breakfast we will visit Phu Si Hill for stunning views over the city and the Mekong River below. The climb includes 329 steps and the path zigzags its way to the gilded stupa at the summit past various temples. We will also head out to the Kuang Si Waterfall, where we have the chance to swim in the pools.

    Luang Prabang is a centre for markets in the region and there are many opportunities for the souvenir hunter to gather a few special items. For those up at dawn there is the chance to witness the daily parade of saffron-robed monks receiving alms.

    Luang Prabang Legend Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Luang Prabang and Vang Lei

    Today we will journey to Vang Lei, a small village approximately 1 hour from Luang Prabang. Our time here will provide us with an insight into village life as we learn about everyday life but also have the chance to get involved with some of the village activities. Dependent on the season these could include accompanying a fisherman on the banks of the Mekong, sowing or reaping rice in paddy fields or learning how to weave traditional baskets. We’ll also have the opportunity to learn about Laotian cooking and will assist a local family in preparing our lunch.

    Vang Lei is a village that Exodus has worked with for a few years as part of a process to bring rural villages more independence and self-sufficiency through the provision of key infrastructure. You will be introduced to the basics of the work that has been conducted. Late afternoon is free for individual sightseeing or to seize the opportunity to sit back and relax in this pleasant town. 

    Luang Prabang Legend Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 8

    To Vang Vieng

    An early morning departure from Luang Prabang as we drive to the township of Vang Vieng, passing through numerous Hmong villages. Surrounded by lime karsts and set on the banks of the Nam Song (Song River), it is a beautiful location. The stunning drive will take approximately 6 hours to complete on roads that wind their way through the surrounding hills and limestone mountains jutting sharply above the flat river valleys. Watching the sun set on the banks of the Nam Song is ample reward for the day's journey.

    Amari Vang Vieng Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Visit Jang Cave; afternoon free

    In the morning we climb the 136 steps to the Tham Jang caves, used as a hideout by the local community during periods of war. The rest of the day is free to explore. Optional excursions and activities can be arranged and there are plenty of opportunities for walks in the surrounding hills, day visits to the numerous caves that punctuate the limestone scenery, or for kayaking down the Song river. There are a number of Lao and minority tribe villages in the area, which can also be easily reached on a day trip. Bicycles can also be hired for those who wish to tour the beautiful countryside on two wheels. Alternatively just sit back, relax and soak up the beautiful view.

    Amari Vang Vieng Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Drive to Vientiane; afternoon tour

    We leave Vang Vieng in the morning and descend from the hills to the capital Vientiane (translates as Sandalwood City) located near the banks of the Mekong River. We take an afternoon sightseeing tour of this relaxed low-rise city, including Wat Sisaket the oldest temple in the city, and Haw Pha Kaew, a temple which originally housed the Emerald Bhudda now on display in Thailand. The temples themselves are noticeably different in style and character from those found in Thailand and there are certainly fewer tourists!

    In the evening the perfect option is to retire for a refreshing beverage and watch the sunset over the Mekong River.

    Sabaidee at Laos Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Free time in Vientiane; fly to Hanoi

    Today is free to shop or explore Vientiane before we transfer to the airport for our flight to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam (flight times often vary at short notice between the afternoon/evening).

    Lenid Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 12

    To Halong Bay for cruise; overnight on boat

    We make an early start for the approximate 4-hour journey to Halong Bay. This is one of the most stunningly beautiful sights in South East Asia with roughly 3,000 limestone peaks rising directly from the clear emerald sea. We cruise amongst this amazing karst scenery and enjoy a seafood lunch on board. We overnight on board in twin share cabins with en suite facilities.

    Overnight Boat

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
  • Day 13

    Cruise in Halong Bay; return to Hanoi

    We cruise back to port in the morning and transfer back to Hanoi where the rest of the day is at leisure to wander around the Hoan Kiem lake and perhaps enjoy a coffee and a baguette in a lakeside café or stroll amongst broad tree-lined avenues dating from the French period with its faded colonial charm. One of the more enjoyable ways to get around is by cyclo and this can easily be arranged on the street.

    Lenid Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 14

    City tour of Hanoi; sleeper train to Hue

    We spend the morning sightseeing in Hanoi including a visit to the Temple of Literature; the site of the oldest university in Vietnam with over 2000 graduates, Hoa Lo Prison & the Old Quarter of the city with its '36 Streets' where each street is home to shops selling particular products - e.g. 'silk street', 'gold street', 'paper street' and 'tourist souvenir street'.

    In the afternoon we board the Reunification Express for the overnight journey to Hue, 500km to the south.

    Overnight Train

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Arrive Hue; sightseeing

    Arriving mid-morning in Hue we transfer to our hotel. Hue claims to be the cultural and historical centre of Vietnam, and there is plenty to see. The most outstanding sight is the Imperial Citadel with walls six miles in length. Inside are the palaces and halls of the Mandarins, and the remains of the Forbidden Purple City, where only the emperor, his eunuchs and concubines were allowed. The Forbidden Purple City was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war.

    This afternoon we visit the Imperial Citadel and the famous Thien Mu Pagoda. The pagoda was a centre for anti-government protest in the early 1960's and it houses the Austin car that transported a monk, Thich Quang Duc, to Saigon in 1963 where he burned himself in protest against the president. The photograph of his self-immolation was printed in newspapers all around the world. We continue our journey to visit the mausoleum of Tu Duc, one of the most extravagant mausoleums of the great Nguyen emperors who ruled Vietnam from Hue between 1802 and 1945.

    Park View Hotel or similar

  • Day 16

    Bike ride to local market; drive across Hai Van Pass to Hoi An

    This morning we will take a cycle ride out to the Thanh Toan bridge and a nearby local market. Travelling as the locals do, we discover the sights, sounds and smells of the villages surrounding Hue. Riding past rice paddies and small villages we arrive at Thanh Toan, a small village that is home to a legendary market. There will be time to explore the market stalls before heading back to Hue for our journey to Hoi An. There is the option to get local transport to the village for a small extra cost if you would rather not cycle (approx. 15km cycling).

    Leaving Hue, our 130km journey drives through the beautiful peninsula of Lang Co between the crystal waters of a lagoon and the Eastern Sea, and then passes over the spectacular Hai Van pass ('Pass of the Ocean Clouds'). In Da Nang, we climb the Marble Mountain where we explore the large caves which were used by the Viet Cong as a hospital base during the war. From the mountain peak, there are fantastic views over My Khe Beach and the surrounding countryside leading on to our next destination, Hoi An.

    Hoi An River Green Boutique or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 17

    Sightseeing in Hoi An

    This morning will include a walking tour of Hoi An, the original European trading port in Vietnam dating back to the mid-16th century. It is now a living museum, with attractive wooden merchant's houses and pagoda-style temples with Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European architectural influences.

    This afternoon is free to explore Hoi An on foot as cars are banned from this world heritage site. It is also a marvellous place to wander around and enjoy the thriving riverside market and great silk clothes shopping.

    Hoi An River Green Boutique or similar 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 18

    Free day

    Today is a free day to carry on enjoying this historic town.

    Optionals include a trip to My Son, the Cham civilisation's spiritual home, where Cham kings were buried as early as the fourth century. Although wartime bombing has destroyed much of the site, there are a number of interesting stone towers and sanctuaries. It is also possible to visit My Lai the site of the 1968 massacre that changed public opinion on the Vietnam War, or jump on a bike for a ride through the countryside past local markets, schools and villages before continuing on to Cua Dai beach (5 km).

    Hoi An River Green Boutique or similar 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 19

    Transfer to Da Nang for flight to Saigon; afternoon city tour

    Today we transfer to Da Nang for our flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), an exciting and absorbing city where scooters pack the streets and temples stand defiantly alongside modern developments. Devastated by the Vietnam War, it is now a bustling free market city where anything goes. This afternoon's walking city tour includes a visit to the Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and War Remnants Museum. The Museum has an interesting photographic record of the Vietnam/American War. Please be aware that some images at the museum are very graphic.

    Cititel Park View Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 20

    Visit Cu Chi Tunnels; free afternoon

    Today we leave the city behind us and head north to visit the infamous Cu Chi tunnels. Used by the Viet Cong during the war, the network covers 3 levels and approximately 240km of tunnels. Traditionally these were very narrow but some areas have been widened to allow tourists to explore the system. Claustrophobes may prefer to stay outside in the sunshine! In the afternoon we return to Saigon and the rest of the day is free for individual exploration.

    Cititel Park View Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 21

    To Mekong Delta; visit riverside village and floating market

    We drive to Cai Be in the Mekong Delta via a Cao Dai temple used by devotees of this strange indigenous religion that fuses all the great religions of the east and west. The author Graham Greene toyed with the idea of converting to Caodism. The Mekong is locally known as the rice bowl of Vietnam and produces much of Vietnam's fruit, sugar cane and coconuts. En route we pass magnificent countryside. We will board a boat in Cai Be and visit and some small cottage industries. Recently, Cai Be floating market is becoming less crowded and smaller as fruit trading is mostly now done by trucks due to the bridge being built. However, this is still a great opportunity to see a local market and the trade being conducted traditionally on a smaller scale.

    We then take a relaxing sampan cruise along quiet water coconut channels in the afternoon before arriving at our accommodation. The evening is tranquil as we have dinner on an island and enjoy some 'Delta' hospitality. We spend the night sleeping at a simple guesthouse built in the style of a local house. Bedding, a mosquito net and a small towel are provided.

    Mekong Homestay Guesthouse

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Dinner
  • Day 22

    To Chau Doc

    After a morning walk through the village we board our boats once again and cross the main channel to Vinh Long where we re-join our vehicle for the drive further into the Mekong Delta and the small border town of Chau Doc. After checking into the hotel, the evening is free to wander the town, which is situated on the banks of the Mekong River.

    Chau Pho Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 23

    Transfer into Cambodia and on to Phnom Penh

    After driving approximately 1 hour to the Tinh Bien / Phnom Den land border we will bid farewell to Vietnam and cross into Cambodia. We continue by road to Phnom Penh (approx 3.5 hours).

    Ohana Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 24

    City tour including the Royal Palace and the 'Killing Fields'

    Phnom Penh still retains a frontier atmosphere and today we have a full day of sightseeing in Cambodia's capital city.

    The day of sightseeing will include the beautiful Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, so named for the solid silver tiles that make up the floor. Thankfully the complex escaped the worst excess of the Khmer Rouge rule. Similar in style and scale to the Grand Palace in Bangkok, the Royal Palace has significantly fewer visitors and there is plenty of time to wander among the traditional buildings. There is also time today to shop at either the impressive Central Market or the sprawling Russian Market, a souvenir hunter's paradise!

    We visit Tuol Sleng museum or S21 (Museum of Genocide), which graphically displays the horrors of the 4 years when Pol Pot systematically ordered the murder of between 2 and 3 million Cambodians. Tuol Sleng was originally a school but was used as a torture and interrogation centre between 1976 and 1979. It is a sobering and disturbing place to visit. Please be aware that the images at the museum are very graphic. We complete our day with a moving late afternoon visit to the 'killing fields' of Choeung Ek. A football-field-sized area surrounded by farmland, the killing fields contain mass graves for perhaps 20,000 Cambodians, many of whom were tortured before being killed.

    Ohana Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 25

    To Siem Reap

    Today we have a long drive to Siem Reap (approx. 7 hours). En route we stop at the town of Skuon, famous for its local delicacy - fried spiders.

    We will also stop off at Sambor Prei Kuk, Cambodia's most impressive group of pre-Angkorian monuments and some of the oldest structures in the country. We'll pause for a traditional Khmer lunch at a community restaurant before continuing our journey to Siem Riep.

    Angkor Holiday Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
  • Day 26

    First day exploring Angkor temple complex

    We spend two days exploring the temple complex at Angkor. We visit the incredible Angkor Wat, the many temples inside the Royal City of Angkor Thom, including the magnificent Bayon, which is comprised of 54 intricately carved towers in one single temple. The Bayon certainly left an impression on an early traveller in 1925 who stated 'we stand before it stunned. It is like nothing else in the land.'

    We will also see other less-visited outlying temples. Particularly impressive are Banteay Kdei and Ta Prohm, still covered in jungle, just as it was when it first came to light. Discovered in the 1870s and famously described as being 'grander than anything of Greece or Rome' by the French explorer Henri Mouchot, this world heritage site stands alongside the Pyramids and Machu Picchu as one of the world's most spectacular archaeological sites.

    Angkor is a truly magical experience and a photographer's paradise, one of the real highlights of our trip. We will also see other less-visited outlying temples including Banteay Srei, a temple complex devoted to Brahma. One evening we will make our way to the temple complex and watch the sunset over this magnificent scene.

    Angkor Holiday Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 27

    Second day exploring Angkor temple complex

    Today we have a second day exploring the magnificent temples at the Angkor complex.

    Angkor Holiday Hotel or similar

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 28

    End Siem Reap

    For land only clients, the tour ends this morning in Siem Reap after breakfast.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

Accommodation

Hotels, Boat, Guesthouse & Sleeper Train

You will spend 24 nights in hotels, 1 night sleeping on a boat with twin share cabins, 1 night in a homestay guesthouse and 1 night on a sleeper train. The accommodation is generally good quality, but you should also be prepared for a couple of basic nights.

During the overnight sleeper train journey, you will be accommodated in soft-bed berths.

Please be advised that the accommodation listed in each location on the day to day itinerary are the standard hotels used. However, there may be some departures where groups stay at similar hotels of the same standard and quality.

En suite facilities are not available on the night at the homestay guesthouse in the Mekong Delta or the overnight sleeper train journey. 

 Single supplements are available (on request) and only available for 23 nights of the trip (hotel nights- except Pak Beng due to limited accommodation options). Please advise the sales team at the time of booking if you would like to request a single supplement. 

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from £595.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

26 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners are included.

The food on this trip is a real highlight for many. Southeast Asian cuisine is known for its abundance of freshly prepared dishes with strong aromatic flavours. There is a focus on herbs and citrus to ensure each dish packs a punch; chilli does feature highly too but is easily avoided if desired.

Typically most dishes will come with rice and many are often served in a banana leaf with a variety of dips and herbs served separately. The four countries visited ensure a different culinary experience every time you cross the border; ensure you try the freshly made Pad Thai noodles from the street stalls of Bangkok, the fish amok curry in Cambodia for a creamy coconut-based fragrant curry and the Banh Xeo (huge sizzling pancakes) found in Vietnam cannot be missed!  

Western food is readily available almost everywhere, with the exception of the night in the Mekong Delta.

Vegetarian food is widely available, however the offering will be fairly similar in most places within each country. Please advise at time of booking if you have any dietary requirements.

Transportation

Throughout the tour we use a private coach/mini-bus, usually with air-conditioning. There are a couple of long driving days on this trip (over 6 hours). Road conditions are often not good, and progress can be slow.

Boats are used at various points in the itinerary; these are nearly always private, and vary from converted trawlers to small riverboats. In Halong Bay we use a converted rice junk which has private twin cabins with en suite facilities.

The train journey in Vietnam is normally on time, but you may experience delays and departure times can change without notice.

All bookings on flights are made in economy class.

Tet Holiday Period (Vietnamese New Year)

During the Tet holiday period, 3-10 February 2019 and 21-30 January 2020, and two weeks either side of Tet, our itinerary in Vietnam is subject to minor change as despite booking hotels and trains in advance, rooms and seats are difficult to obtain during this busy festive period when people are travelling home to celebrate with their families. It is unlikely that changes will occur and if they do it is likely we will just need to use alternative accommodation.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Bangkok and the surrounding region are hot year round. The rainy season is between May and October when rainfall is abundant but not excessive. This time of year is characterised by more cloudy days and slightly higher humidity. Downpours are usually short and sharp and can be dramatic to watch! November to April is the dry season with rainfall only on a few days per month. April and May tend to be the hottest months before the monsoon. Northern Thailand has a tropical climate with fairly high humidity. The rainy season in the north is also between May and October. November to April sees cooler temperatures.

In Laos the weather will usually be hot and humid throughout with temperatures during the day between about 28ºC and 34ºC. It is a little cooler at nights and can even be slightly chilly from November to January when a light jacket is useful in the evenings as very occasionally temparatures can drop to as low as 15ºC. The region is mostly dry between October to April and then a rainy season from May to September when it tends to come in short heavy bursts with bright sunshine in between.

In Vietnam, the weather will be hot and humid throughout with temperatures during the day usually between 28ºC and 34ºC. It is only a little cooler at nights. There is quite a range of seasons between the north and the south: the south up to Hue has a distinct dry season between December to April and then a rainy season from May to November when it tends to come in short heavy bursts with bright sunshine in between. Hanoi is cool in autumn, and gets chilly between November and February (with drizzly rain) between 10 - 20ºC. There is no ideal time to visit Vietnam; it is quite pleasant at any time of year, though due to the shape of the country it is unlikely that the weather will ever be perfect for the entire duration of any trip.

Please be aware that the boat trip on Halong Bay can be subject to short notice change if certain adverse weather conditions develop during your trip. These could occur all year round, but especially in monsoon season in Northeast Vietnam (from October to April). Boat trips on Halong Bay are governed by the local authorities who are authorised to make such appropriate safety decisions. If your Halong Bay trip is affected by adverse weather, this could either result in a reduced excursion on Halong Bay for your group, or less likely, the need to re-arrange the itinerary if it is not possible at all to go out on Halong Bay. Whilst this is not a frequent occurrence, our local team and leaders are well equipped to handle such situations and have long offered appropriate options to groups in the instances where this may occur.

In Cambodia the weather will be hot and humid all year round. The dry season runs from November to April with the monsoon between May and October. April and October are transition months. The dry season is characterised by hot days and generally clear skies, though you can expect the odd shower. The monsoon is characterised by short, sharp bursts of rain. The monsoon can be a very atmospheric time to travel in Cambodia, but an umbrella may be useful!

Weather Charts

Bangkok

Vientiane

Hanoi

Phnom Penh

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 30 Days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Malaysian Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Internal flights during the trip are with a local airline.

Long transit in Kuala Lumpur on return, ask at time of booking for details.


Travelling land only: 28 days starting in Bangkok and ending in Siem Reap

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Bangkok in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure. The usual, standard check-in baggage weight allowance is 20kg.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Free Transfers

Exodus offers FREE airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight for this trip, for both Land Only and Flight Inclusive clients. Unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the Exodus start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel, and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance. 

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

 

 

Location start:
Bangkok
Location end:
Siem Reap

What to Take

Essential Equipment

  • Casual clothes. As it is generally hot and humid, light cotton clothing is recommended for most of the trip, though it will be cold in Hanoi between November and early March and you should bring a warm jacket, woolly hat, and trousers if you are travelling at that time. Please remember that you will be expected to cover your legs (to the ankle) and arms (to the elbow) during visits to some temples and palaces. 
  • Bike helmet: these will be available locally however we can't guarantee the quality and fit so please pack your own if you'd rather be confident in the standard and comfort of the helmets. 
  • A first aid kit is carried on each trip, but you should bring your own first aid kit with diarrhoea treatment, painkillers, rehydration sachets, plasters and a blister treatment kit.
  • Insect repellent is also highly recommended. Repellent containing DEET is thought to be highly effective.
  • You may wish to pack a bag that can be used as an overnight bag. For the night in Halong Bay and the Mekong Delta you will be required to leave your main bag behind at the previous hotel for the night.
  • Warm clothes/layers for the overnight train journey, especially in the cooler months.
  • A sun hat and suncream are recommended, and a swimming costume will be well used 
  • Refillable water bottle (1-2 litre capacity)
  • Light waterproof or an umbrella are useful

There will be plenty of opportunities to get laundry done locally at a very affordable price so fine to pack light.

Internal flights in the destination country are subject to a weight limit of 20kg.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure.

Water Included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill sites or get burnt, both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles in order to reduce the amount of plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout so all you need to do is bring a bottle to re-fill along the way. Please add this to your packing list!

If while packing you find a spare bit of space in your bag please be sure to check out our partner ‘Pack for a Purpose’ to identify items that are needed locally by schools and medical clinics. Your Tour Leader can assist with donating the items. http://www.packforapurpose.org

Optional Equipment

  • We recommend you bring a sheet sleeping bag liner (these can be bought cheaply locally) as the bedding is not always totally clean on the overnight train.
  • A torch 
  • Money belt is recommended
  • Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling. For this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting daysack. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, and eye-protection (sunglasses) and a waterbottle or hydration system (e.g. camelbak) are also useful.
  • If travelling between December and February you may find some long trousers and a warm jumper useful for the two day boat trip on the Mekong. The temperatures can drop on occasion and the boat journey may feel a little exposed.

 

Reading List

Romancing Vietnam: Justin Wintle (Penguin)

Turtle Beach: Blanche D'Alpuget (Penguin), About the boat people.

Vietnam, Now: A Reporter Returns: David Lamb (Perseus Books)

Travels in Siam, Cambodia & Laos:, M. Henri Mouhot, The account of the final journey of the legendary 'discoverer of Angkor Wat.'

Stay Alive my Son: Pin Yathay (Cornell University Press)

The Tragedy of Cambodian history: David Chandler

Stalking the Elephant Kings: Cristopher Kremmer

Practical Information

Passport

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Cambodia

Arriving By Flight:

An electronic visa (e-Visa) facility is available via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Co-operation website at the cost of $37.

A tourist visa can be obtained on arrival for British nationals at most border crossings. Two passport photos are required. The cost is US$30, although an additional express fee of US$5-6 may be incurred at the border. For further information see the FCO site and check under Cambodia / 'Entry Requirements'.

Arriving Overland:

A tourist visa can be obtained on arrival for British nationals at most border crossings. Two passport photos are required. The cost is US$30, although an additional express fee of US$5-6 may be incurred at the border. For further information see the FCO site and check under Cambodia / 'Entry Requirements'.

Important advice regarding E-Visas

Please be advised, e-Visas are not accepted at all border check points when travelling overland. This applies to the following borders/trips:

Tinh Bien, Vietnam/ Phnom Den, Takeo, Cambodia border: AOX- Thai Indochina Explorer and AOG- Thai Indochina Grand Tour

Xa Xia, Vietnam/ Prek Chak, Cambodia (Ha Tien crossing): FIJ- South East Asia Adventure

You can only purchase a tourist visa on arrival at these borders as e-Visas will not be accepted. More information can be found at: 

https://www.evisa.gov.kh/

https://www.evisa.gov.kh/information/port_entry/3

 

Laos

A visa can be obtained on arrival for most nationalities. The cost depends on nationality - it is currently US$35 for UK passport holders, and you will require 1 passport photo. For further information see the FCO website and look under 'Entry Requirements'. When you enter Laos, make sure you get an entry stamp in your passport. Not having a legitimate entry stamp could lead to arrest or a large fine.

Thailand

A visa for Thailand is not required for British nationals for stays of 30 days or less. If you are unsure of the requirements please check with your nearest Thai embassy.

Vietnam

A visa is no longer needed for British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes) for a period of up to 15 days, and on the basis of meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. The visa exemption period will end on 30 June 2021. All other nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam and this must be obtained prior to departure. For further information see here or the FCO site and check under Vietnam / 'Entry Requirements'.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

Cambodia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Laos

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Thailand

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Vietnam

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Diphtheria. The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available, we therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

As you visit four countries on this trip, each with different health issues to contend with, we would suggest that you speak to your travel nurse or doctor before travelling.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Cambodia's Timezone:
Asia/Phnom_Penh +07 (GMT +07:00)
Laos's Timezone:
Asia/Vientiane +07 (GMT +07:00)
Thailand's Timezone:
Asia/Bangkok +07 (GMT +07:00)
Vietnam's Timezone:
Asia/Ho_Chi_Minh +07 (GMT +07:00)

Electricity

Cambodia's Electricity:

230 Volts. Plug types A, C & G; establishments can often take two round pin plugs and/or two flat parallel pin plugs.

Laos's Electricity:

230 Volts. Plug types A,B,C,E & F; establishments can often take two round pin plugs and/or two flat parallel pin plugs.

Thailand's Electricity:

220 Volts. Plug types A, B, C and F. Establishments can often take two round pin plugs and/or two flat parallel pin plugs.

Vietnam's Electricity:

220 volts AC, 50 Hz. In Vietnam all sockets are generally dual US (2-pin plug) /Euro (2-pin type) compatible but it is worth having both adapters with you.

Money

Cambodia's Currency

 The national currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel (KHR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (August 2018) of approximately 5179 to the GBP, 4030 to the USD, 3087 to the CAD, 4658 to the EUR, 2932 to the AUD and 2684 to the NZD.

In practice the economy of Cambodia as far as the visitor is concerned, runs mainly on US dollars however you will receive some change in Riel, which can be useful for smaller purchases.

Laos's Currency

The national currency of Laos is the Laotian Kip (LAK), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (October 2018) of approximately 10844 to the GBP, 8460 to the USD, 6442 to the CAD, 9634 to the EUR, 5991 to the AUD and 5526 to the NZD.

 

Thailand's Currency

The national currency of Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (September 2018) of approximately 42 to the GBP, 32 to the USD, 25 to the CAD, 37 to the EUR, 23 to the AUD and 21 to the NZD.

 

Vietnam's Currency

The national currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (August 2018) of approximately 29,800 to the GBP, 23,200 to the USD, 17,600 to the CAD, 26,800 to the EUR, 17,000 to the AUD and 16,500 to the NZD.

Although local currency is preferred, US dollars are widely accepted in Vietnam in tourist shops and restaurants. You can obtain Vietnamese Dong before travel or by using an ATM or changing money upon arrival.

ATM Availability

ATMs are now widespread in SE Asia's cities and are the easiest way of obtaining money. There is a minimum 150 Baht fee for all ATM transactions in Thailand.  In Vietnam, it is possible to draw a maximum 2,000,000 VND or approx. 60GBP/80-100USD in major cities in one go. ATMs in Cambodia dispense money in US dollars or Cambodian Riel.

Credit card acceptance is now widespread in cities in SE Asia at restaurants and shops catering for tourists.

If you would like to bring cash there will be ample opportunity for you to change this. Sterling and US Dollars are both easily exchanged.

As you will probably be carrying much of your money in cash, we strongly recommend using a money belt.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You will need about £450‐£500/$580‐$650 for all other meals, which will allow you to eat well. Apart from the food, you should allow money to cover drinks (more if you like a beer/alcohol) and souvenirs.

Optional Excursions 

There are a number of optional activities, which if you wish, your leader can help arrange for you and advise of costs locally.

Vang Vieng Full day kayaking £10/$12, bike hire £4/$6.

Hoi An Tu Bon River boat trip £5/$7, Bicycle Hire per day £2/$3, My Son excursion from £8/$11 depending upon numbers, My Lai excursion from £15/$20 depending upon numbers.

Luang Prabang Support the Laos River Village Project aimed at improving educational opportunities for children in rural communities along the Mekong River by taking a cruise on a book boat £6/$8. Ask your leader for full details. 

Some sites at Angkor may charge a nominal camera fee: your leader will be able to advise you on exact amounts.

Tipping

This is entirely at your own discretion however; we suggest that you allow some money for tips for the local guides and staff. In the countries visited, with the increase in tourism, tipping has become customary. The local staff will probably expect some gratuity and we suggest you allow for this. The leader will suggest to the group that they donate a sum of £45/$60 per person towards a kitty during the main group meeting. This money is then used for tipping of local guides, hotel porters, drivers etc. It is basically to ensure that the hassle is taken out of various activities for you. If you do not wish to contribute to a central pool for tips you are of course free to do so. As the trip is a month long there will be lots of tipping en route!

In addition, a tip for tour leaders at the end of the trip/time in a country is greatly appreciated if you are happy with the service you have received. As a guideline we recommend a contribution of 2GBP/3USD per day for your leader but this amount is just a suggestion and entirely up to you

Our local staff are paid well and fairly for their work with Exodus.

The 'tipping kitty' explained above is entirely separate from any contribution to the tour leader/s. 

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

If you would like to support our projects in Laos and help some Laotian children please consider filling your suitcase up with the following items, or better yet purchasing some of these items in Laos. These can be handed over in Vang Lei and all items will be handed out by our charity partners Baraka Community Partnerships (www.barakacommunity.com) to children and schools in need:    

Pencils, pens, blank note books, marker pens, crayons, rubbers, rulers. Teaching resources such as maps, globes, learning posters. Young children's clothes and shoes and school backpacks. Dental products, plasters and basic first aid equipment. Balls, skipping ropes etc. 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 16 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.