Route: Bangkok Chiang Mai Chiang Dao Mekong River Luang Prabang Vang Vieng Hanoi
Duration: 13 days/ 12 nights
Group Size: 4-22
Age Range: 18-60
Transport: Public transport, including overnight trains
Dates: Range of departures throughout the year
Summary: Throw yourself into Southeast Asia’s huge variety of unforgettable experiences in our 12-day adventure tour of Thailand and Laos. Adventure leaders will show you the best of the region’s hidden gems and major highlights so you can get the most out of your trip. Trek through jungle to a remote waterfall, feed majestic elephants and swim in perfectly clear water… Travelling South East Asia will stay with you forever.
Welcome to Thailand! Arrive in the vibrant Asian metropolis of Bangkok to meet your group and adventure leader. Get to know your new travel companions over dinner and drinks in an idyllic rooftop bar. Watch the sun set over Bangkok’s towering skyline before hopping on board the sleeper train to kick-start your trip!
Things to do: Jump onto a riverboat cruise on Chao Phraya River for great views and direct access to some of the city’s main attractions. Visit Bangkok’s cultural highlights, including the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kae. After dinner, head out to Patpong or Nana Plaza for the best bars and clubs Bangkok has to offer.
Wake up to see the sun rise from your train window before arriving in Chiang Mai, the 700-year-old cultural capital of Northern Thailand. Spend a morning getting to know your new friends at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, an eco-tourism project set-up by The Karen Hill tribes Trust. After our elephant encounter return to the hostel pool to refresh. Later we’ll head out to a local food market for dinner and live music. If you’re a foodie you can’t miss the chance to join a cooking class where you’ll learn how to cook authentic Thai cuisine (optional activity)!
Consider yourself a culture vulture? Explore the dozens of temples and cultural delights of Chiang Mai. This city is situated amongst gorgeous scenery – the perfect place to get a deeper understanding of Buddhist culture. If you are looking for a day of adventure and thrills, have a go at zip lining, quad biking, trekking or water rafting down Mae Taeng River. All these activities are located up in the hills, offering plentyiful views as well as an adrenaline rush. In the evening, you have the choice to head down to the markets and then head out for the night – first stop ‘Zoe in Yellow’, the iconic Chiang Mai Bar.
Walk through the countryside and take in the idylic Northern Thai villages on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. Go off the beaten track and hike through thick jungle to waterfalls that remain wonderfully untouched by the outside world. Stay overnight in a local settlement of tree top houses in Chiang Dao – gaze at the open skies and you’ll see why the town’s name translates as “City of Stars”.
Wake up to an incredible sunrise looking out over the Thai countryside. Today we’ll take you on a beautiful cycling route and stop for lunch before driving back to Chiang Mai. On our way to Chiang Kong we will stop at Wat Rong Khun – a pristine temple given a contemporary twist by local artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. Join your fellow backpackers for beers back at the hostel to cap off an awesome day.
At Midday we catch the slow boat to begin the journey down the Mekong River to Laos for the next leg of our adventure tour. The boat is a slow paced and scenic travel experience – a nice change from taking a bus. At 5:30pm we will arrive in Pak Beng village in time to try the local delicacy – ‘buffalo curry’ (you’ll be unguided from Chiang Mai to Pak Beng Village for 1-day).
We continue our journey today, filling up on Pak Beng sandwiches before heading back to the boat. At approximately 4.30pm we will arrive at Luang Prabang – a true jewel in Southeast Asia and a wonderful place to stroll around. In the evening, head to Hmong Market and grab a drink by the river while watching the sun go down.
Spend the morning helping young people improve their English at the Big Brother Big Mouse volunteering program. Speak with the locals and develop your understanding of Laos’s culture. Learn about the ‘farm to table process’ of making rice at the Living Rice Farm. You can experience every part of the process, from planting to ploughing, and, above all, tasting the final product. Alternatively, spend the afternoon at one of the biggest waterfalls of Luang Prabang, Kuangsi Waterfalls. Whether you want to take a dip or explore is completely up to you!
Just 105 miles / 168 km north from Laung Prabang lies Vang Vieng. This village remains a popular stop for travellers to recharge while offering plenty of adventurous activities. In the morning we will take a swim in the Blue Lagoon 2 and go rock climbing. So make sure you have your swimwear handy! We will arrive at the hostel late afternoon where you’ll have enough time to wander through Vang Vieng, relax, and take in its beautiful surroundings.
Explore the surrounding area in a unique way – Spend half a day rock-climbing, cycle to the amazing Pha Ngern view point and take in the scenery, then grab an inflatable and go tubing! Or if you don’t fancy all these thrills let yourself have a bit of R&R!
This morning we’re leaving Laos in a jet plane – fly into Hanoi, Vietnam, where we will take the bus from the airport to our accommodation. Once at the hostel, there’s time to refresh and get ready for our bar crawl in the city’s Old Quarter!
Today is a free day for you, depart at any time if you’re not staying in the Central Backpacker’s hostel or carrying on your journey!