China, Burma & Thailand Trip Notes

China, Burma & Thailand

Last Modified: 03 May 2016
China, Burma & Thailand
Trip code: CDVA
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Observe the evolution of these three rapidly evolving nations - each of which have brought their distinct cultural identities with them as they forge ahead into the modern era. Contrast day-to-day life in the emerging superpowers of China and Thailand with the rustic charm of Burma - a country that has only recently opened its doors to travellers once again. Beginning in the thriving metropolis of Kunming, head out into rural China and discover timeless countryside that is studded with temples and quiet villages. Cross into Burma and be amazed by the gleaming vistas of Bagan, dazzled by the ‘Golden City’ of Mandalay and curious toward the nation’s former capital - Yangon. End the trip in Thailand, where the neon lights and buzzing streets of electric Bangkok provide a fascinating glimpse into Thailand’s progression from backpacker haven into a true South-East Asian heavyweight.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinish point description
ThemesAccommodation NotesEmergency contact
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionVisas
Why we love itMealsWhat to take
MapTransportClimate and seasonal information
ItineraryMoney mattersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderTravel insurance
Physical ratingSafetyA couple of rules
Important notesJoining pointResponsible Travel
Group sizeJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Your fellow travellersFinish pointFeedback
Style
Basix
Themes
Explorer, Overland
Is this trip right for you?
- Dragoman tours travel from each destination to the next on one of their purpose-built trucks, this is an overland adventure! There are some long travel days, venturing away from cities and into remote areas, but the rewards are immeasurable.
- Dragoman overland journeys are designed to offer freedom, and many of their routes have a degree of flexibility depending on the destination. As they have their own vehicle, they are generally unrestricted in their ability to alter the schedule in the case of unforeseen circumstances.
- Dragoman use a broad range of accommodation on their trips from good hotels, basic hostels, family-run guesthouses, well-equipped campsites, local family homestays, or wild camping in more remote areas. Note: some of their routes are non-camping routes, depending on the nature of the destination. Please see the day to day itinerary for more detailed information about accommodation on the trip.
- On an overland trip you're more than just a passenger - you're part of the team! Everyone on the journey will get involved to help with setting up camp, pitching tents, shopping for food, and cooking. The more you put it the more you get out!
Why we love it
- Discover Kunming, the modern capital of China's Yunnan
- Relax in Dali's cobbled Old Town
- Hike through the rural heart of Burma's Shan state
- Wander around Burma's last royal city, Mandalay
- Cruise along the Irrawaddy River on a boat
- Explore the archaeological wonders of Bagan
- Visit tiny tribal villages and enjoy the tranquility of Lake Inle
- Marvel at golden-gilded Buddhas in Yangon
- Admire the sunset from Mount Kyaiktiyo
- Travel overland through Burma's southern Mon state
- Be bowled over by the buzzing hive of activity that is Bangkok
Map

Itinerary
Day 1 Kunming
Today will be a free day to explore the city of Kunming until the evening. There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where this important meeting will take place. In Kunming we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Activity
Visit the historic Yuantong and Tanhua Buddhist temples in Kunming CNY 6
Visit the Yunnan University Wu Mayao Museum of Anthropology in Kunming, and learn all about the history of the province
Learn all about the area's minorities at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, and visit the nearby markets

About Kunming:
Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province is known in China as "the city of eternal spring" due to its temperate climate. It's a thoroughly modern city, home to a population of about 6 million - but despite its size it's actually pretty laid-back and is an enjoyable place to while away an afternoon. The Yuantong temple is definitely worth a visit, at over 1000 years old it is the largest Buddhist temple complex in Kunming, or treat yourself to a hair cut from one of the outdoor barbers who offer their services around the Tang Pagodas.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2-3 Dali
This morning we start out journey with a drive to the beautiful lakeside town of Dali. We will have a free afternoon to explore on arrival. Drive time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!). On the following day we will have a free day in Dali to enjoy the many optional activities available in the area, including taking a boat ride out on Lake Er Hai or taking the cable car up Cangtang Mountain. In Dali we will stay in an excellent hostel in private or shared rooms
Accommodation
Hostel (2 nt)
Day 4 Ruli
Today we wil travel throuh Baoshan Country and reach the border town of Ruili. In Ruili we aim to stay in a local guesthouse. Drive time - 8-9 hours.

Activity

Hike on the scenic mountain of Cangshan and explore the walkways, forests and temples in the area CNY 40
Learn how to make dumplings and traditional Yunnanese cuisine at one of Dali's fantastic cooking classes CNY 150
Discover the ornate 9th-century Three Pagodas of Chongsheng, some of the tallest pagodas in China's
history and the symbol of Dali CNY 120
Head out by bicycle to explore the region in depth and visit various Bai villages and Qing Dynasty bridges en route CNY 50
Experience the incredible ancient art of cormorant fishing with the fishermen of Xizhou on Lake Erhai
CNY 100

About Dali:
Everybody loves Dali. Aside from the beautiful setting with its stunning mountain backdrop, the town is home to the minority Bai people, which makes for some colourful history and culture, not to mention its traveller friendly western style beer gardens and restaurants. With its temperate climate and beauitful natural setting it's the perfect place for some rest and relaxation - be it Cormorant fishing on lake Erhai Hu or enjoying a tradtional Chinese massage.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 5-6 Hsipaw
Border information: exit China at Ruili, enter Myanmar at Muse. Today we will cross the border into Myanmar and make our way to the laid-back Shan village of Hsipaw. Drive time - 6-7 hours.
On the following day we will have a free day for exploration of the area, and will hopefully have the opportunity to take a boat trip on the lake or head out on a day trek to the hill-tribes of the area.
In Hsipaw we will stay in a hotel.

Activity

Trek out to remote hill tribe villages around Hsipaw in Burma's Shan State
Included in Kitty Take a boat trip from Hsipaw to explore the nearby Shan villages MMK 10000
Visit the Sawbwa Palace, once the seat of local authority in the Shan State Hsipaw sits in the valley surrounded by hills which makes it a popular place for trekking. It was once the centre of a small, Shan state of its own but is probably one of the most well known, wealthy and powerful 'saopha' states. The
Saophas were important in regional and national politics from the 11th century until the 1960's. The old Shan palace where the princes of Hsipaw once lived is in the north of town, although it is closed to the public you may be able to view it from the road or river.
About Hsipaw:
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nt)
Day 7 Pyin U Lwin
Today we will continue to the scenic hill town of Pyin U Lwin in the Shan highlands above Mandalay, where we will have a chance to explore the town and the beautiful botanical gardens. In Pyin U Lwin we will camp overnight near the town. Drive time - 4 hours.

Activity
Explore the old hill station town and the botanical gardens at Pyin U Lwin MMK 5000
Take a train along the famous railway between Hsipaw and Pyin U Lwin, a remarkable piece of engineering that brought trade and control to the region during the colonial era USD 2
Trek out to the nearby Anisakan waterfalls (if time allows) MMK 10000

About Pyin U Lwin:
The scenic town of Pyin U Lwin is located about an hour from Mandalay and began as a British military outpost. Later, because of its cool and temperate climate it became a hill station and was the summer capital of Burma, where many people (particularly wives and children) would go to escape the summer heat. There are many attractive colonial buildings and an impressive botanical gardens
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 8-10 Mandalay
Today we will have a free morning to further explore Pyin U Lwin, before our short drive to the enchanting and evocative former royal capital of Mandalay. Drive time -2 hours. On our first full day here we will have a guided tour that includes a morning visit to Mandalay Hill, the world's largest book, the Golden Palace and the Mahamuni Pagoda, before finishing the day at the beautiful U Bin bridge in time for sunset. On the following day we will have a second full day in Mandalay to freely
explore the incredible city. In Mandalay we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nt)
Day 11 Monywa
This morning we will continue our journey to the town of Monywa, stopping en route to visit the Thanboddhay Pagoda and the Hpo Win Daung cave temples.

Activity
Take a boat trip to see the colossal uncompleted stupa at the Mingun archaeological site near andalay MMK 5000
Head out on a day trip to some of the main sights of Mandalay, including Mandalay Hill, the Kuthodaw
and Mahamuni Pagodas, the Shwenandaw Kyaung Golden Monastery and U Bein bridge Included in Kitty
See the famous anti-government comedy show from the Moustache Brothers MMK 8000
Freely explore the area surrounding Mandalay, particularly the beautiful monasteries and temples in the villages of Sagaing and Old Ava MMK 16000
Visit the Gold Pounders' district and the famous Jade Market in Mandalay to shop for local handicrafts and learn about their manufacturing techniques
Freely explore the huge complex of the Mandalay Royal Palace, and visit the many fascinating buildings within
Head out for an colourful evening performance of traditional Burmese music and dance at Mandalay's Mitha Theatre MMK 800

About Mandalay:
In 1857 King Mindo founded a new royal capital at the foot of Mandalay Hill, from where the city took its name. On the death of the King the monastery in which he died was dismantled and removed from the Royal Palace as it was thought it would bring bad fortune. It was rebuilt outside the palace walls, so
when The Royal Palace was destroyed by fire at the end of the 2nd World War the Monastery with its intricate wooden carvings were saved. The city itself is relatively modern, a hub of economic trading as well as being considered the cultural and religious centre of Burma. Mandalay is famous for its hill with its abundance of monasteries and pagodas and is a major site for Buddhist pilgrimages. For those that wish to climb be prepared for the 1,729 steps to the top. The climb up takes you past many
historic stupas and Buddhas of great significance to the pilgrims. There are many stalls that line the route to the top of the hill and the views from the top are incredible, with far reaching views across the plains of Mandalay and the Irawaddy River. At the foot of Mandalay Hill is found the world's largest book; 729 white stupas house the text of the Tripitaka, Theravada Buddhism's most sacred text. The
world's largest iron Buddha is also found here. In Monywa we will stay in a local hotel. Drive time - 6-7 hours (depending on the length of our visit to the pagoda and temples).
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 12 Pakkoku - Ayeyarwady River - Bagan
Activity
Visit the incredible Hpo Win Daung cave temples and explore their Buddha staues and painted murals Included in Kitty
Visit the stunning 14th-century Thanboddhya Pagoda and see its colossal golden stupa and incredible 580,000 Buddha statues Included in Kitty
See the Laykyun Sekkya Buddha statue near Monywa, which at 116m is the second tallest statue in the world (if time allows)

About Monywa:Monywa is found on the banks of the River Chidwin and is home to the Buddhist
temple of Mohnyin Thambuddhei Paya, an incredible site thought to contain over 500,000 images of Buddha. The area is also a hub of agricultural production with the surrounding valley producing a wide range of crops, particularly beans and palm sugar. It is also a centre for the production of cotton and the local patterned longyi/sarongs are reknowned for the strength and quality of their material – 80% of Burma's cotton production is from Monywa. Today we make our way to the ancient town of Pakhan Gyi and the attractive town of Pakokku , where we board a boat to take us on a journey down the Ayeyarwaddy River to Bagan. In Bagan we will stay in a local hotel Drive time - 4 hours to Pakokku.

Activity
Take a boat trip down the mighty Ayeyarwady River to arrive in Bagan Included in Kitty

About Bagan
Bagan is one of Asia's greatest attractions, easily rivalling the Great Wall of China or Angkor Wat, yet it is very little known. The site consists of a huge plain that is covered with literally thousands of temples that stretch as far as the eye can see, set amidst an attractive landscape of fields, small villages and
sandy tracks. The temples were built from the 9th - 13th century and are ornately covered in beautiful carvings whilst the interiors are decorated with extensive frescoes.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 13-14 Bagan
Bagan is situated on the banks of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River and is home to the largest cluster of pagodas, Buddhist temples, stupas and ruins in the world - a place that has to be seen to be believed. We will have 2 full days in Bagan, in which time we have a guided tour of the temple complexes and visit the 10th century old town of Bagan, including a visit to a local handicraft workshop. There will also be plenty of time for free exploration of the area.

Activity
Take a day tour around the multitude of historical sites in and around the ancient capital of Bagan Included in Kitty
See the sunrise over Bagan from an unforgettable morning balloon flight (weather-dependent) USD 330
Take a day trip out of Bagan to see the phenomenal Taung Kalat monastery, constructed on the summit of the near-vertical Mount Popa MMK 40000
Further explore the ancient city of Bagan independently by bicycle or horse-drawn cart MMK 8000
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nt)
Day 15 Kalaw
Today we will drive to the hill station town of Kalaw, where we will hopefully catch the lively market and explore the town. In Kalaw we will camp outside the village. Drive time - 6-7 hours.

Activity
Head out for a day of hiking in the stunning hills surrounding Kalaw MMK 5
Visit the fascinating Pindaya Caves near Kalaw and marvel at the array of statues within MMK 10000

About Kalaw:
As a former British hill station, Kalaw provides much needed relief from the heat of the lower lying areas while the surrounding hills are the home to various ethnic minority groups, including the Palaung, Danu and Pa-O. The town is situated up in the hills, surrounded by pine forest, and has many attractive colonial buildings. There is also a lively market which is well worth a visit.
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
Day 16-18 Inle Lake
Today we have the opportunity for a day walk in the hills surrounding Kalaw, before returning in the afternoon for the short drive to the beautiful Inle Lake, a real highlight of a visit to Myanmar. The area is full of amazing floating gardens and can be explored by bike or on a long-tail boat. Drive time - 2 hours. On the following day we will have a full day tour around Inle Lake by long-tail boat to the floating farms and markets. On the following day we will have a free day to explore the area by bike, hike in the surrounding hills, or visit the local wineries and hot springs. In Inle Lake we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Activity
Explore the famous floating markets of Inle Lake by longtail boat Included in Kitty
Explore the area by foot and head out on a day hike in the beautiful hills around Inle Lake MMK 10000
Hire a bike to explore the wineries and hot springs near Inle Lake MMK 4000
Learn how to prepare a variety of local Shan specialities at a cooking class near Inle Lake MMK 15000
Head out on a bird-watching tour along the lessfrequently visited areas on the shores of Inle Lake MMK 12000

About Inle Lake:
Inle Lake is stunning, surrounded by distant hills which make for a beautiful back drop to the hustle and bustle of lake life. The area is home to the Intha people, who live both in towns around the lake and on the lake itself. Many local houses and temples are built on stilts in the shallow waters of the lake
and floating islands are built from water hyacinth and water weeds. These gardens allow the farmers to grow fruit and vegetables – the sight of floating apple orchards are certainly something different!
The produce from the gardens, with rice from the paddy fields around the lake and lake fish means that the people are pretty self sufficient. The local food reflects this self sufficiency and a popular local dish is htamin gyin - rice kneaded with fish and/or potato into round balls, served with hnapyan gyaw -
twice fried - Shan tofu, fermented bean cakes, fried onions, tomato, chilli and tamarind. The local fishermen are renowned for their distinctive rowing style, where they stand at the stern of the boat on one leg whilst the other leg is wrapped around the oar. This style of rowing developed so the fishermen could get a better view and allow them to navigate through the shallow and plant-dense water – something that is far harder to do whilst more traditionally seated. This leg rowing style is however only practiced by the men; women are seated cross legged to row. Small boats provide the easiest way to get around the lake and lakeside settlements and it can get quite busy at times as people get on with their daily lives. Tourism has become an important part of the local economy and traditional crafts such as the weaving of Shan–bags, silk longyi (sarongs) as well as cheroot rolling, carvings and work from black and silver smiths are now produced for the tourist trade as well as local use.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (3 nt)
Day 19 Naypyidaw
Today we will drive to the unique, bizarre and half-empty Myanmar capital of Naypyidaw, a city constructed in secret during the early 2000s. Here we will have the opportunity to explore the city in the truck. In Naypyidaw we aim to stay in a local hotel. Drive time - 6 hours.

Activity
See the bizarre capital of Naypyidaw, suddenly built between 2002 and 2006 by Myanmar's military
government Included in Kitty
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 20 Yangon
Border information: if joining in Yangon, you will most likely enter Myanmar at Yangon International Airport. Today will be a free day to explore the city of Yangon and the Scott Market until the evening. There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note from your leader when you arrive as this is often a travel day for the crew, and they are likely to arrive during the afternoon. In Yangon we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Hotel for the night: Asia Plaza Hotel
No. 277 Bogyoke Aung San Road,
Kyauktada Township,
Yangon
Tel - +95 1 391071 or +95 1 391070
Email - hotelasiaplaza@gmail.com

About Yangon:
Although not the capital of Burma, Yangon is its largest and most important city, a bustling and lively place that throngs with people, temples and markets. Chief of its many attractions is the Shwedagon Paya, an exquisite temple that is covered in gold leaf and which is always full of pilgrims paying their respects. This is the perfect place for people watching and you can spend a wonderful afternoon hear, chatting to monks and local people as you watch the sun set over the city. There are also a number of beautiful colonial buildings, a lively Indiatown and Chinatown and a great market that is full of many stalls that sell just about anything you could wish for.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 21 Yangon
Today we will have a guided tour of old Yangon, the Kandawgyi Lake, the
Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda and the famous Shwedagon Pagoda.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 22 Mt Kyaiktiyo
This morning our journey from Yangon begins with a drive to one of Myanmar’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage shrines at the spectacular Mt Kyaiktiyo.

Activity
Enjoy a tour of Yangon, including the Kandawgyi Lake and the famous Shwedagon Paya temple Included in Kitty

Explore Yangon's famous Bogyoke (Scott's) Market We take a local pick-up truck up the first two-thirds of the mountain, and then continue the final part of the ascent on foot along a steep and winding path. We end up on the top, next to the Golden Rock. In Mt Kyaiktiyo we will stay in a local hotel. Drive time - 4 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Activity
Take a local passenger truck up to the incredible Golden Rock, one of Myanmar's holiest shrines Included in Kitty

About Mt Kyaiktiyo:
The Golden Rock and Pagoda are an inspiring Buddist Pilgrimage site. The Pagoda is perched on top of the huge granite boulder painted gold by the many pilgrims. The boulder is said to be held in place by a strand of the Buddha's hair that stops this huge boulder from tumbling down the sheer cliffs below.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 23 Mawlyamine
Today we will aim to visit the mushroom-shaped temple rock at Kyauk Kalap and the beautiful Kawt Ka Taung caves near Hpa-an, before moving on to the city of Mawlamyine for the night.
In Mawlamyine we will stay in a local hotel. Drive time - 6-7 hours (depending on the length of our visits to the sites near Hpa-an).

Activity
Visit the beautiful tiled temples inside the caves of Kawt Ka Taung Included in Kitty
Visit the seemingly impossible Kyauk Kalap rock near Hpa-an Included in Kitty
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 24 Dawei
Today we will head south following the beautiful Andaman coast, to the southern city of Dawei. If we have time we will visit the Thanbyuzayat Allied War Cemetery en route. We will stay at a beachfront hotel on Maungmagan Beach (approx 12 Kms away from Dawei) Drive time - 8-9 hours.

Activity
Visit the Allied War Cemetery at Thanbyuzayat en route to Dawei Included in Kitty
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 25 Dawei
Today we will have a free day at the the stunning Maungmagan beaches. Sencond night at a beachfront hotel.

Activity
Relax and explore the beautiful Maungmagan Beach on the Andaman coast of southern Buma Included in Kitty
See the amazing 75m-long reclining Buddha at the Lawka Tharaphu Pagoda in Dawei
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 26 Kanchanaburi
Border Information: exit Myanmar at Htee Kee, enter Thailand at Ban Nam Pu Ron.
Today we will cross into Thailand via the brand new border at Htee Kee, and drive to the town of Kanchanaburi. In Kanchanaburi we will stay in a local guesthouse. Drive time - 6-10 hours (please note that this is a very new border to open up and we are likely to be one of the first foreign vehicles to use it, so there may be delays here hence the wide range for the estimated drive time).
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 27 Bangkok
We spend this morning exploring the Thailand-Burma Railway centre and the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi. This afternoon we drive to Thailand's bustling capital of Bangkok, where we will have free time to explore and enjoy our final meal together! In Bangkok we will stay in a comfortable, centrally-located hotel. Drive time - 3-4 hours

Activity
Visit the notorious Bridge over the River Kwai and the Thailand-Burma Railway centre, and learn all about the history of the Japanese occupation during the Second World War Included in Kitty

About Bangkok:
The chaotic headlong pace of Bangkok doesn't match up with many people's idealised vision of the exotic capital of Siam. Scattered with high-rise buildings of concrete and glass, the city is a sprawling plain that's home to a population of at least nine million, and it often feels even bigger. But under the shadow of the skyscrapers you'll find a heady mix of frenetic markets, noisy traffic, hushed golden temples and early-morning alms-giving ceremonies. One way or another, the place will probably get under your skin - and if you don't enjoy the challenge of slogging through jams of buses and tuk-tuks, which fill the air with a chainsaw drone and clouds of pollution, you can spend time exploring the
impressive temples and museums or shopping 'til you drop.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 28 Bangkok
Today is the final day of the trip and a free day to explore the fascinating city of Bangkok. Please note that if you are leaving the trip in Bangkok there is no accommodation included tonight.

Perhaps get a traditional Thai massage at Bangkok's oldiest massage school in the temple of Wat Pho THB 500
See Bangkok from a different perspective on a canal boat tour THB 1500
Explore the vast royal complex of the Grand Palace, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (the most sacred temple in Thailand) THB 250
Explore Bangkok's incredible Wat Arun temple, one of Thailand's most picturesque temples
Take a cycling tour of Bangkok or the surrounding countryside THB 1000
Discover the many interesting exhibits from all over Thailand at Jim Thompson's House, the museum at the former home of the famous American ex-pat THB 100
Learn all about Thai history and culture at the Bangkok National Museum, the largest and most comprehensive museum in South East Asia THB 40
Climb the steps of the Golden Mount to see the panoramic view of Bangkok from the Wat Saket temple
Itinerary disclaimer
We've allowed plenty of room for freedom and flexibility in our trips. In fact, flexibility is one of the ingredients that makes each of our trips so exciting. This style of travel offers us some unexpected circumstances at times, for example, bad weather and road conditions, technical defects of transportation, inconveniences caused by local operators and authorities, and other circumstances beyond our control. Changes in the program may be required to make the best of the unique situations that we encounter. Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group. Our described itineraries are to be used as a general guide only.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and 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 it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Physical rating

In Asia you will need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climate, from hot deserts through to cold of the high mountains. Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days and dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up, and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step-up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring. You need to judge if you are physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large, our Asia trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping, so that life is not too rough.
Important notes
Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.

Group size
Maximum of 21 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
GROUP TRAVEL
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.

Your group will be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers from our partner company Dragoman.

Overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip, in accommodation ranging from twin to multi-share.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (2nt), Camping (with basic facilities) (2nt), Guesthouse (6nt), Hostel (2nt), Hotel (15nt)
Dragoman overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels, ranging from twin to multishare. The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hotels.

In Asia it is often not practical to camp when staying in towns and cities, so we use hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of hotel stops depends on the route and area.

Campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. We will also arrange as many village or local homestays as possible, allowing us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
Meals introduction
On an Overland journey you are more than just a passenger, you’re part of the crew - pitching in to set up camp, shopping for food, cooking and generally helping out. We operate a rota system, dividing the group into smaller units of 5 or 6 people, so that these duties are shared equally amongst the group. These jobs will include things like collecting water and firewood, loading the back locker, supervising the kitty and food stores etc. While camping on overland journeys, all meals will be included in the kitty and this means that you will be working as a group to prepare meals and cook for your group. If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting.

A typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, cereal and something hot such as eggs or pancakes as well as tea and coffee. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto, pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.
Meals
No meals included
Transport
Boat, Overland vehicle

There are some long travel days and some rough travelling in areas away from main tourist routes. Windy roads, rough surfaces and cramped conditions make for some challenging travel experiences. On some long travel days we depart early in the morning to ensure we optimise our time at our next destination. If you experience travel sickness we recommend you consider medication to help ease the discomfort.
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).

On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund and overseen by travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals and all included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases.This Kitty price indicated on the trip notes below is indicative only. Please refer to the 'Check availability' page on the website for the up-to-date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.

Your kitty will be collected when you arrive for your trip, either on day 1 or, if on a combination trip, in stages throughout your trip.

You may pay your kitty in a mixture of US Dollars cash and the rest in local currency (amount and type of currency to be agreed by the leader at the start of the trip). Most of our travellers chose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.

If you do choose to pay part in local currency your trip leader will confirm the current exchange rates with you so you will know exactly how much to hand over.

Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.

KITTY CHANGES:
We constantly monitor local price changes and exchange rate fluctuations that could affect kitty expenses. Final kitty contributions are likely to be different from those quoted in the brochure or at the time of booking so you must check the final amount just before departure.

Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
USD 400.00

EMERGENCY FUNDS
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).

We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in China they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.

ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.

Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.

Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

Myanmar’s national currency, the kyat (pronounced chat, and abbreviated K) is divided into: K1, K5, K10, K20, K50, K100, K200, K500 and K1000. ATMs are available in cities and most major towns, although these may still prove unreliable due to frequent power cuts or running out of funds. It's advisable to still bring cash to exchange. Foreign currency is no longer accepted for purchases in Myanmar.

USD is the primary currency to exchange. There is an official exchange rate available through authorised money exchange counters to exchange US Dollars into Kyats. Higher denominations will generally attract a higher rate of exchange. Because of concerns over counterfeit money, US Dollars with the letters AB and CB at the start of the serial number (top left-hand corner of the note) are not always accepted. Notes must be in pristine condition as notes with pen marks, folds or tears are not accepted. Notes should not be older than 2006. Euros are generally accepted as an exchange currency and do not have to be in pristine condition.

US dollars can be changed reliably at Yangon Airport and some hotels. Black market money changers in tourist areas will generally give a lower rate. Your tour leader will be able to advise you on money changing opportunities during the trip. Carrying cash is relatively safe as long as you take the usual precautions. You can exchange any left over Kyat into USD at Yangon Airport when departing.

CHINA:
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. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.

Tipping in China is not customary, but in the travel industry it is. Many guides and drivers would usually supplement their income by taking tourists to shops and restaurants from which they receive commission. Intrepid does not encourage this practice as we believe it can be detrimental to our travellers' experience. Instead we try to ensure we pay our drivers, guides and leaders fairly for their services. Tips are still very much appreciated for those situations in which you believe you have received excellent service.

Please don't tip with coins, notes of or less that CNY1, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

Restaurants: Tipping is not common practice at restaurants in China or Tibet.

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest CNY10-15 per person per day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.

Porters: In some hotels a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters.

Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest that you tip only those more involved with the group (for example those that help you with your bags etc). CNY5-10 per person per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.

Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-5 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 isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

While tipping is not a traditional part of culture in Myanmar it is becoming more common as tourism increases, particularly when you have experienced excellent service. If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - may be appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, and inspires excellent service. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader. The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

Hotels / Restaurants: US$ 0.50-1 for porters and restaurant staff

Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$2 per person, per day is generally appropriate.

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2 per day for local guides.

Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$ 2-3 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.

All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Group leader
On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.

While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. Dragoman trips use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.

We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders

On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
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 trip.

We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air 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, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. 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:

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety

TRAVEL ADVISORY:
Where we use a local partner to fully operate one of our itineraries, we use the travel advisory of the country where that operator is based rather than the Australian DFAT advisory. This itinerary is operated by our local partners Dragoman, and as such will follow the British Government (FCO) Travel Advice. To view these travel advisories please log on to:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/

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.

The vehicle has fully lockable doors and windows, which is an obvious advantage, but it will probably be necessary to guard it at times and everyone should be prepared to share in this responsibility.

In most areas there is very little to fear from the point of view of violence. But in all areas 'tourists' are a tempting target for pickpockets and con-men. Always be aware of this and be especially careful when leaving banks or money-changers, in any crowded areas, etc. NEVER leave things lying around - they will almost certainly get stolen. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to always be security conscious and to take all necessary precautions. Great inconvenience and distress can be caused by having your documents or possessions stolen.

A few of our past group members have had the unhappy experience of having their belongings stolen before the trip starts. Beware of carrying your passport and other valuables around with you in cities. We strongly suggest you deposit your valuables in your hotel safe on arrival.

BICYCLE HELMETS
Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles. If you wish you can bring along your own.

OVERLAND TRUCK - SAFETY
One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling.
There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise passengers to leave any valuable jewellery, watches etc at home. Please note: Any personal effects that are left on the truck, even if they are stored in the safe, are left at your own risk and Dragoman cannot be held responsible for any damage or theft that may occur.
Joining point
Red River Hotel (also known as Honghe Hotel)
204 Chuncheng Rd, Guandu,
Kunming, Yunnan, China,
Kunming
650041
CHINA
Joining point description
HongHe Hotel (Also know as the Red River Hotel in English but this name is not widely known or used).
Finish point
Royal Princess Larn Luang Hotel
269 Larn Luang Road, Pomprab
Bangkok
10100
THAILAND
Phone: 66 22813088
Fax: 66 22801314
Finish point description
Situated in the heart of the historic old Bangkok, Royal Princess Larn Luang is close to many of the area's main attractions such as the Grand Palace, ancient temples and about a 15min walk to the famous Khao San Road. Hotel services include 4 different restaurants, fitness centre, day spa, outdoor pool, baggage storage, ATM on site and laundry. Rooms are equipped with private en-suite and air-con. Wifi is available at this hotel for an additional cost to be paid for locally (roughly THB370 per 24 hours). All Intrepid passengers will receive one hour complimentary wifi per nights stay.
Emergency contact
Dragoman have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left home and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

For further contact details please use the following page:

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/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.
Visas
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.

CHINA (DRAGOMAN OVERLAND):

VERY IMPORTANT - Dragoman will require a scan of your passport photo page as soon as possible after booking for all trips in China, please send this to us as soon as you can.

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will need a visa to enter China as a tourist for up to 90 days.

You will need a Letter of Invitation from a Chinese agent in order to make the visa application, and you must obtain the visa in advance. You cannot obtain the visa at the border in any circumstance.

Firstly you will need to apply for the Letter of Invitation through the online visa support documents application form at The Visa Machine – please make this application at the link http://dragoman-visa-support.thevisamachine.com/ as soon as possible after booking or at least 4 months before your trip departs. This form is used to apply for any Letters of Invitation that are needed for a visa application – the service is completely free of charge. These can take several weeks to issue, and will be emailed to you once they are ready.

After your Letter of Invitation has been issued, you can use this to apply for the visa in advance at any Chinese Embassy. You can either apply yourself directly to the embassy, or hire The Visa Machine to make the application on your behalf (which is recommended, especially if you are applying for several visas). Dragoman will also provide a letter confirming your participation in the trip and a list of our hotels, which you may need for the application – in some cases the Chinese Embassy may ask for a day-by-day itinerary with the hotels listed, which we can provide when needed.

It is recommended to apply at the Chinese Embassy in your home country, as your application is far more likely to be approved. Although there is no official reason why you should not be issued a visa at any Chinese embassy, their consular officials are notorious for constantly changing their minds about whether they will approve a visa for ‘nonresident’ applicants, and it depends heavily on the political climate of the time.

IMPORTANT NOTE - Please NEVER mention Kashgar, Urumqi, Turpan, Lhasa, Xinjiang or Tibet anywhere on your Chinese visa application form – this will almost certainly result in your application being rejected. When filling out your Chinese visa form, please only declare the places that are listed on your Chinese Letter of Invitation once it is issued.

If you are asked to provide a host in China on your visa form, please use the details of the Chinese agent that issued your Letter of Invitation (this will be printed on the letter).

You will not need a China visa if you are entering Tibet from Nepal (Northbound Tibet trip), but you will need a China visa if you are going to Tibet from Xi’an (Southbound Tibet trip). Please see the Tibet note for details on the visa requirements for travelling through Tibet.

BURMA (MYANMAR):
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany Yes - in advance
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Netherlands: Yes - in advance
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Yes - in advance
USA: Yes - in advance

If your country of residence has a Burma embassy the process should be straight forward. But for some nationalities you may be requested to provide a letter of invitation from a local Burmese ground operator. In such cases please contact Intrepid to attain this letter and we will forward to you.

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.

Border Information:

Day 5: Exit China at Ruili & Enter Burma at Muse.

Day 26: Exit Burma at Htee Kee & Enter Thailand at Ban Nam Pu Ron.
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).

Most 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 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:

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf

LUGGAGE AND LOCKERS:
Although you will not have to carry your main bag long distances, you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the back locker, so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers, however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is a maximum of 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

CAMPING EQUIPMENT / MATTRESS:
A sleeping bag (we recommend a 3–4 season). It can get very cold at night in winter months in desert and mountainous regions. If you're travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter the weather. Pillows are NOT provided so please bring a travel pillow along.

We don't provide a mattress so please bring your own (a Thermarest / inflatable mattress is recommended).

A simple plastic bag / waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures.

CLOTHING:
You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing, some warm items for the evenings, and long shirts and pants for protection against mosquitoes in the malaria areas. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Some people like to take jeans for evenings out but they can be tough to dry and should not be used for trekking. Avoid nylon and other synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Ex-military or military style clothing and equipment is NOT recommended.

CLOSED-IN SHOES:
As this trip includes camping and/or bush walking we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment.

WATER BOTTLE:
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

BATTERIES/POWER:
Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every couple of days. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt “cigarette lighter” socket which may be used at the crew’s discretion, however, do bear in mind that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets. Hotels and many campsites have electricity and charging of batteries is advised before checking out the following day.

VALUABLES:
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe and the safe on the overland truck to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.

We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
Climate and seasonal information
CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.
Health
All Intrepid 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 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 and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

Intrepid is very aware of the health issues raised by bird flu and SARS and these have been taken into consideration for all aspects of the trip you are about to take. Intrepid reserve the right to make changes to any itinerary in the very unlikely occurrence that an area should suddenly be deemed to be unsafe because of an outbreak of bird flu, SARS or other disease.

DENGUE FEVER:
Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
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
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

LOCAL DRESS:
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 by wearing sleeves and long trousers. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas 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.

The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in China include:

* Beijing Huiling offers innovative services to youths and adults with learning disabilities and teaches people to respect what those with disabilities can do, rather than what they can't. Their activities and training facilitate independence and improve daily living and employability skills in a family-like group home environment.

* Xi'an Huiling provides adults with learning disabilities opportunities to develop their personal abilities and life skills, enabling them to achieve independence as a fully integrated member of the community.

Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Thailand include:

* Friends of the Asian Elephant aims to protect and conserve the welfare of elephants - both domesticated and wild. FAE's elephant hospital provides free medical care and transportation, and is in the process of establishing a nursery in an effort to reduce the high infant mortality rate of domesticated working elephants.

Feedback
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback

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