awaken your senses in south east asia

vietnam marketEver wondered what it’s like to travel through South East Asia with no sound? Earlier this year Intrepid’s Nicola Gibson and fellow leader Savath had the pleasure of leading a group of 12 deaf travellers on the Great Indochina Loop. The trip gave them the opportunity to experience new pleasures and emotions throughout South East Asia, that may have otherwise gone unnoticed…

“When you travel through Indochina, try covering your ears and let your other senses override to experience the following… Spring rolls, Pad Thai, pancakes, even crickets and silk worms, the smell of street food cooking fills the air in Bangkok. Absorb the atmosphere of the vibrant non-stop city, as the bright lights of bars and tuk tuks whiz past you in the street.

Doi Suthep Temple in Chiang Mai is magical at 6.00pm in the evening, when the monks gather for their ritual chant – but have you ever smelt the aroma of the incense sticks and watched the smoke wind into the sky whilst feeling the vibrations of the beating drum, through the air of the peaceful serenity that surrounds the temple?

Sailing down the Mekong for two days is relaxing with much to see, but have you ever smelt the freshness of the air, as it blows gently over your face and lures you into a sense of escapism?

Complete serenity and spiritual awareness is the only way to describe the feelings of being lucky enough to witness the daily morning ritual of Buddhist monks quietly padding down the streets in Luang Prabang, collecting offerings from the locals, in the giving of the alms ceremony.

Cruising through clusters of soaring limestone monolithic islands, it is one of those moments you feel blessed to be away from the rat race, as you engulf the natural beauty of one the natural wonders of the world, Ha Long Bay… then it’s time to refresh and dive into the emerald waters of the bay.

Look on in amazement, as motorbikes whiz past, carrying trees, animals, pictures, furniture (you name it, they carry it). Strike up a competition with your travelling companions to see who can spot the most people on a bike – our record was a family of five!

Get lost in Hanoi, with women scurrying through back alleys wearing conical hats, smiling to reveal a mouth full of black teeth from chewing on beetle nut. Locals sit on stools, enjoying noodle soup, nattering and playing games. But watch yourself, you need your wits about you to cross the infamous roads as the motorbikes weave around you – when you get to the other side, it’s time to rest and enjoy the $0.25 Beer Hoi

Admire the splendor of the tombs of Kings past and the craftsmanship of the Forbidden Imperial city in Hue, as they restore the fabulous grand city. Step back and observe water buffaloes ploughing fields and farmers planting or cropping the fields of lush green rice paddy fields. Gaze down onto the beautiful Perfume River and encounter remnants of the war, with American and French bunkers behind, the battle field of Bunker Hill on the horizon and the spectacular view of the jungle and mountain ranges disappearing into the distance.

Waiting quietly for the sun to rise over Angkor Wat, exposing the grandeur of the largest religious building in the world, pinch yourself yes you are here, to explore the ancient magnificent temples in the city of Angkor. The grand finally to your tour of Indochina!”

Tour South East Asia with Intrepid on trips like these great small group adventures:
Great Indochina Loop – 29 days
South East Asia Discovery – 22 days

Private Group Adventures:
For groups of 8 or more people we can organise a private departure of one of our amazing adventures, or tailor-make an Intrepid-style itinerary just for you. For more information please visit

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* photo by Sharon Mathews – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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