Last Modified: 12 Nov 2013
Cycle Indochina & Angkor
Trip code: TZXC
Validity: 01 Apr 2013 to 31 Dec 2013
This journey takes us across three countries with contrasting recent histories and subtly different cultures. From the busy streets of Bangkok we make straight for the rolling limestone hills of Thailand's largest National Park, Khao Yai.
Moving into Cambodia we head through shimmering paddy fields to Angkor, the magnificent temple and city complex at the centre of the former Khmer Empire and one of the world's great historic sites. We reach Phnom Penh, where we encounter stark reminders of Cambodia's more recent past. Arriving in Vietnam, we enter the Mekong Delta, a criss-crossed patchwork of rice paddies and waterways, the so-called 'rice bowl of Vietnam'.
We complete our journey in the vibrant city of Ho Chi Minh City where the frenetic pace contrasts with some of the rural areas we have cycled through.
The operator for this trip is our experienced sister company Exodus. Your group will therefore be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Day 1 Bangkok/Khao Yai NP
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand.
Loud, bright, chaotic and delightful, Bangkok is a city of modern excesses intermingled with simple traditions, all wrapped up in the famous smiles of the locals.
If you arrive early, perhaps take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, or wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road; pay a visit to Wat Pho, home to the country's largest reclining Buddha and keeper of the magic behind Thai massage; explore the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha; travel by longtail boat down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous 'khlongs' (canals) of Bangkok. Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital.
Meet the tour leader at the joining point hotel in Bangkok at 9am (subject to change - see final joining instructions) from where you will transfer to the airport to meet the rest of the group.
We will then transfer by bus to our hotel near Khao Yai National Park (3 hour drive). We stay in a pleasant resort with a swimming pool. In the afternoon we have a short warm up ride through the nearby villages (ride approx. 10-20 km).
The verdant and diverse forests of Khao Yai National Park hold a wealth of hiking trails, river adventures, wild animals and stunning waterfalls.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 2 Prachinburi Province
Our route today is over 80 km but we suggest you don't attempt to cycle the full distance unless you are well acclimatised to the heat. The support vehicle follows us throughout the day, meaning you can cycle as much or as little as you like. Our route follows minor roads, byways and the occasional dirt trail as we skirt Khao Yai, which translates as 'the Big Mountain'. We will pass through small villages, and past monasteries and paddy fields. Continuing the ride along country back roads we arrive at our hotel in the late afternoon with time to relax, before sampling some of the local dishes.
Ride approx 82 km.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Sa Keaw
Today we follow minor roads through Thai rural landscapes including rubber and eucalyptus plantations as well as tapioca and rice fields. There are a few easy rolling hills, but the route is mostly flat. The ride ends when we join a busier road before driving the final short distance to the town of Sa Keaw.
Ride approx 67 km.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 4 Aranyaprathet
We leave our hotel early this morning and ride towards the beautiful Pang Sida National Park, where we can stop by a reservoir for a swim and a view of the untouched jungle on the other side.
We next stop for lunch at a wildlife sanctuary before carrying on cycling on quiet and scenic, but well-maintained roads on the way to Aranyaprathet, 10 km from the Cambodian border.
Ride approx 89 km.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Siem Reap
After breakfast we cycle to the busy border and complete customs formalities as we cross into Cambodia at Poipet. We then cycle to the bus station where our bus is waiting to drive us to Siem Reap. Due to years of civil war, Cambodia is poorer and less developed than Thailand, and this is immediately obvious from the state of the roads. Apart from growth in the capital and around Siem Reap, the way of life in the countryside is still very much the same as it has been for centuries.
In the afternoon we ride from Siem Reap past Wat Athvea, a modern temple in the grounds of the ruins of an Angkorian temple finishing up at a market and picnic area outside Siem Reap. Depending on how long it took to cross the border, we will either be picked up here, or will cycle back to the hotel.
Ride approx 25-40 km.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 6-7 Angkor
Today we may choose to have an early start to avoid the inevitable crowds drawn to the wonders of Angkor. The various temples are spread over a wide area and are linked by shady avenues, and meandering our way between them by bike gives us a unique perspective. Our cycle tour will include the jungle-covered Ta Prohm with the amazing roots of the fromager trees clinging to the ancient stones, the largest complex of Angkor Thom including the Terrace of the Leper Kings, the famous Bayon temple with its 37 towers topped with the four faces of the king, and of course the incredible Angkor Wat and its huge moat, long causeway and massive towers.
Angkor Wat really is a spectacular as all the guidebooks and newspaper articles have led you to believe, and nothing can quite prepare you for your awe-inspiring first glimpse of the temple's five majestic towers. Angkor literally means "city" or "capital" and that's exactly what the huge temple complex once was - the ancient capital of the Khmer empire. Angkor Wat itself is usually recognised as the most impressive temple within the complex, both in terms of its grandeur and its sheer magnitude. As you approach, the intricacy of the layout becomes apparent, and close up, every nook and cranny reveals itself to be filled with fine detail; around every corner a new feature surpasses the last. Throughout the day the colours of the stone seem to change, the spires golden in the dying light at dusk.
The following day we will cycle outside the main Angkor complex to the outlying temple of Banteay Srei, 35 km from Siem Reap town. Our route takes us past paddy fields and through pretty villages. Banteay Srei was built in the 10th century and contains some of the finest examples of Khmer sculpture. Although much smaller than the later temples, here all of the buildings are covered in exquisite carvings. In the afternoon as we cycle back to Siem Reap we can stop and visit a few of the less visited Angkor temples.
Siem Reap town is pleasant to wander around. The market has plenty of interest and excellent shopping, and there is a vibrant nightlife. This afternoon there should also be time to visit the Tonle Sap Lake, which is a branch of the Mekong River. This optional trip includes a boat trip to see the floating fishing villages. If you plan to do this visit, you may need to miss part or all of the bike ride back to Siem Reap, depending on timings.
Day 6: Ride approx 35 km
Day 7: Ride approx 70 km
- Siem Reap - Tonle Sap boat trip - USD15
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 8-9 Phnom Penh
This morning, just outside Siem Reap, we visit a school we are helping to support. We then leave our bikes for the next couple of days as we head towards the busy capital. A bus journey of 5-6 hours along the National Road 6 takes us to Phnom Penh. We will have a couple of stops, one in the town Skuon, which is known for its local delicacy of fried spiders. We should reach the capital by mid-afternoon.
Wandering through the broad tree-lined boulevards dotted with old colonial villas you'll find that the city has managed to retain much of it's original charm, especially as it hasn't (yet) been overwhelmed by too many towering high-rise developments. Life in Phnom Penh centres around the lively river-front area where in the evening the locals come to take in the air, snack on the street hawkers food and enjoy the impromptu waterside entertainment along the long grassy promenade. The capital is also a fantastic place for souvenir shopping and with it's great range of restaurants it's the perfect place to sample Cambodian cuisine.
The fortunes of Phnom Penh have shifted dramatically during its history, and the terrible years of the Khmer Rouge and subsequent civil war of the 1970s and 1980s have scarred the country. During our stay we visit two sites which give us a vivid impression of some of the horrors.
Confront Cambodia's tragic past on a guided tour of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former school which served as a Khmer Rouge torture centre. It's estimated that more than 20,000 people were held and tortured here.
Head out to the Choeung Ek Memorial, where a stupa made up of some 8,000 human skulls marks the site of the infamous Killing Fields. This was the execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng and standing in this peaceful setting it's almost unthinkable to imagine that to date nearly 9000 corpses have been exhumed from the area.
While visiting these gruesome spots may not appeal to everyone, we feel they give us an important understanding of what the country and its people had to endure just a few decades ago
Learn about a brighter period in Cambodian history with a visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.
The most popular destination for visiting shoppers is undoubtedly Russian Market, a square block of covered stalls between Streets 440 and 450. There is an interesting mix of paraphernalia, pirated gear and religious icons on offer but you must be prepared to bargain hard. Central Market is an art deco city landmark and a good place to buy silk and fabrics, as well a range of souvenirs.
- Phnom Penh - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
- Phnom Penh - Guided tour Choeung Ek (Killing fields)
- Phnom Penh - Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda - USD7
- Phnom Penh - Russian Market - Free
- Phnom Penh - Wat Phnom - USD2
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 10 Chau Doc
This morning we transfer south out of Phnom Penh to the town of Takeo. Here the road becomes quieter and we mount our bikes for the 36 km ride to the Phnom Den/Tinh Bien border. Once border formalities have been completed we meet our Vietnamese leader and cycle approximately 28 km to Chau Doc.
Famous for floating houses and ethnic diversity, Chau Doc features Chinese, Cham and Khmer communities with their mosques, temples and churches.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 11 Mekong Delta
In the morning we transfer by road to Long Xuyen where we take a public ferry across the river. From here we ride along a lovely, quiet backroad, lined with small villages and dwellings, towards Vinh Long. Leaving the bikes on the mainland, we take another boat (approx 20 minutes) to reach our homestay on an island in the Mekong delta, known as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam. After settling in we can explore the area on foot.
The rivers and canals of the Mekong delta form an amazing network of waterways. The area is famous for its abundant rice production, but in many areas farmers are now moving to more profitable fish farming and fruit and vegetable growing. The evening is tranquil as we have dinner at the homestay and enjoy some Delta hospitality. We spend the nights sleeping at a simple guesthouse built in the style of a local house. Bedding, a mosquito net and a small towel are provided.
Ride approx 50 km.
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Days 12-14 Ho Chi Minh City
We leave the delta by boat, stopping en route for a look at the Cai Be floating market. Here large boats moor up in the Mekong River, weighed down with fruit and vegetable produce. Local traders and shop owners buy in bulk in this strictly 'wholesale' market. A little further on we make a short stop to see local cottage industries producing such items as popped rice, popcorn and other homemade products. We then continue by bus to Cai Lay where we take a scenic ride through fruit orchards and along the Mekong riverbank. Back on the bus in My Tho we drive on to the heat, hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City.
Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds, and is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives in Vietnam's largest city gives it a dynamic atmosphere and the French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. Much of city life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors, who have their wares spread out on the footpath and sell everything from soup to sophisticated electronics.
The following day is free to explore Saigon. The Saigon River, Ben Thanh Market, Reunification Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral are all within easy walking distance. Alternatively a short cyclo ride will take you to the War Remnants Museum, with an interesting (if a little gruesome) photographic record of the Vietnam/American War.
For those that are interested, your leader can arrange an optional visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels, located two hours outside the city. Used by the Viet Cong during the war, the network covers three levels and approximately 240 km of tunnels. Originally these were very narrow but some areas have been widened to allow tourists to explore the system. Not recommended for claustrophobics!
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
- HCMC - Cu Chi Tunnels - USD25
- HCMC - Reunification Palace - VND30000
- HCMC - War Remnants Museum - VND15000
Hotel (2 nts)
Also available to purchase
Bike hire is not included in the tour price and should be arranged at the time of booking. The cost will be added to your invoice. The bike type is Trek/Specialized mountain bikes with front suspension.
Very occasionally a bike of your size may not be available. We may be able to offer you a bike of a different but acceptable size, or otherwise you must bring your own bike.
If you plan on taking your own bike, please notify your sales consultant at time of booking so the bike hire charge can be removed from your invoice.
- TZXC Local Bike Hire - Cycle Indochina & Angkor - Exodus (TZXC)
- TZXC SingleSupplement (TZXC)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
Road quality is generally good tarmac in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, with some easy dirt roads in Thailand and Vietnam. Conditions will be hot and humid and there are some long days, but there are very few hills. Traffic levels in South East Asia are higher near the larger towns, so you should be comfortable riding occasionally in traffic. Though many of the roads are in good condition you should expect potholes and occasional poor road conditions. We cycle an average of 47 km (29 miles) per day over 11 days of cycling.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
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 for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The official currency of Thailand is the Baht (THB).
The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat. ATMs are now available in most towns and visa cash advances are available in major banks. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Traveller's cheques can be difficult to change. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels.
The official currency of Cambodia is the Riel (KHR).
Unofficially however, US currency (US$) runs the country and is the currency you should bring, mostly in cash. Clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Notes should be 2006 series onwards. Torn, dirty or old notes, as well as the $2US note will be refused in most businesses Traveller's cheques can be difficult to change. Visa cash advances are available in major banks, and ATMs are are now available in most towns with most dispensing both KHR and US$. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels.
The official currency of Vietnam is Dong (VND).
The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). ATMs are now available in most towns and visa cash advances are available in major banks. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Traveller's cheques can be difficult to change. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels.
It's not possible to exchange Vietnamese Dong outside the country, so convert or spend all your Dong before leaving.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
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. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2-3 per day for local guides.
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 we suggest US$1-2 per day for drivers.
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$2-4 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.
In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
At your group meeting on day 1 your tour guide will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.
Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, Exodus.
The minimum age of clients on this trip is 16 years. Please note that teenagers aged 16 or 17 must be accompanied by (and share accommodation with) a parent or legal guardian.
Tet is Vietnam's New Year festival, held annually in late January or early February based on the lunar calendar. While this can be a fascinating time to travel and experience this event, expect some shop closures and busier than usual local transport. Opening hours at some tourist sites may also be affected or closed. Although we make all reasonable efforts to avoid disruption, a flexible approach from the traveller is appreciated.
CAMBODIAN FESTIVALS & HOLIDAYS:
During public holidays and festival periods in Cambodia many businesses may close, transport may be extremely busy and travel times may increase. During these times please be patient and consider these moments as an opportunity to interact with the locals. Particularly worth noting are Khmer New Year (3 days in mid-April), Pchum Ben (3 days in early October) and Water Festival (3 days in late November).
The following departures are Premium departures - TZXC130907 and TZXC131130.
On these departures we stay in a range of
excellent hotels, ranging from comfortable modern properties to
older properties bursting with character. Many have pools, and most
have excellent facilities as well as restaurants serving tasty local
specialities and international dishes. As hotels are located in slightly
different locations than the hotels we use on our standard departures
then some days of the itinerary maybe slightly altered.
BIKE HIRE: The cost of bike hire is not included in the cost of this trip. You may choose to hire one at an additional cost (approx GBP100) or bring your own. We use Trek/Giant mountain bikes with front suspension. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
Maximum of 18 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Hotel (13 nts), Guesthouse (1 nt)
Most of the accommodation on this trip is generally in good quality private hotels (mostly 3-star) but you should also be prepared for some basic nights at border towns and away from the cities. All the hotels have either fans or air conditioning and we will normally have twin rooms with private facilities. Please note that double beds are not always widely available in South East Asia.
Food is cheap in SE Asia and you can generally avoid the spicier food if you wish. Western food is readily available almost everywhere. Vegetarians are well catered for but please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. Please note that in SE Asia the availability of certain specialized products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free or dairy-free, is minimal or non-existent and we strongly recommend you bring these specialized dietary items from home. You may find it beneficial to bring some 'cycling snacks' with you from home; high energy snacks are not readily available locally. For snacks and drinks during the rides, a kitty is normally arranged.
Bicycle, Minibus, Support vehicle, Ferry
We use private coach/minibuses, which will be quite comfortable, usually with air-conditioning. There are a couple of long driving days on this trip (up to 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.
We use different vehicle set-ups in each country, as our vehicles do not cross international borders. In Thailand we have 100% vehicle support. There will be one or two support buses, plus a support truck for the bikes and baggage. In Cambodia, there is 80% vehicle support. On the circular rides around Angkor we are followed by a bus, which will carry bags and drinks, but will only have space for a few bikes, should some of the group wish to opt out during the ride. In Vietnam we have 100% vehicle support with vehicles to carry both clients and bikes.
Generally we use different staff and vehicles for each country, but all groups will be accompanied by one experienced cycling tour leader from start to finish, either Thai, Cambodian or Vietnamese. The tour leader will be assisted by a second cycling leader, and if required local guides from each country.
Khao Yai Grand View Resort
74/2 Moo 14 Prachinburi, Khao Yai Road Tambol Noen Hom, Amphur Muang
Khao Yai National Park
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Your centrally located hotel in HCMC
Ho Chi Minh City
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
Australia: No - not required
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: No - not required
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required
If entering by air you will be granted a 30 day stay on arrival. If entering by a land border, you will be granted a 15 day stay only. A visa extension can be obtained in Thailand at an immigration office for approx. 2000THB. 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.
Australia:Yes - on arrival
Belgium: Yes - on arrival
Canada: Yes - on arrival
Germany Yes - on arrival
Ireland: Yes - on arrival
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
South Africa: Yes - on arrival
Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
USA: Yes - on arrival
Visas can be organised either in advance or on arrival. Check with your embassy or consulate and allow approx 3 weeks for processing. It is also possible to obtain your Cambodian visa on arrival at the airport or border crossing for approx. US$25 (cost subject to change) - you will need a passport photo.
If a point of contact is requested, please write: Freedom Hotel, Road #6, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
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
When obtaining your visa you should allow 3 weeks for processing, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Check with your embassy or consulate for further details. Some nationalities are exempt from requiring a visa if their stay is less than 15 days, but if you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance.
Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure.
If your visa application asks for a point of contact, please write: Intrepid Vietnam 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu St, Hanoi, Vietnam Ph +84 4 3715 0996.
Issues on your trip
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.
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 and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
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.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE:
Plenty of people choose to bring their own bikes on our cycle trips. If you wish to bring your own bike, please note that we cannot guarantee against small scratches and paintwork damage involved in the loading and unloading from support vehicles.
Please note that helmets must be worn when riding on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
EXTRA BIKE BITS:
You may like to bring your own saddle (excluding the seat post), or over gel cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it's your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle at the end of the trip. We can't guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.
A helmet, eye-protection (sunglasses), cycling gloves and water bottles or hydration system (e.g. camelbak). Please note that helmets must be worn when riding off-road on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
RECOMMENDED CYCLING CLOTHING::
Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof / windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting day pack.
FIRST AID KIT:
You should bring a small, personal first aid kit with you including items such as high factor sunscreen, lip balm and chamois cream if required.
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.
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.
There have recently been a number of isolated cases of Bird Flu in Asia. While the risk to travellers is very low, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of local authorities and the World Health Organisation. WHO recommends basic hygiene practices to limit the risk of infection:
• Avoid visiting live animal markets and poultry farms
• Avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with animal faeces
• Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes
• Do not attempt to bring any poultry products back
• Do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds
• Exercise good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing
For further information please visit: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/avian_influenza/en/index.html
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. 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 group 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 group 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:
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 and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING:
Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City.
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 group 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.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
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:
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. 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.
ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:
During your visit there may be opportunities to ride elephants and see them perform. While we believe it's important to give our travellers a choice and respect each individual's decision, we recommend that Intrepid travellers bypass this activity. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link:
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.
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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
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.
* Baan Unrak (House of Happiness) is an orphanage and community relief centre for children and destitute women. Providing shelter, food, clothing, education, employment, love and support for those in need, Baan Unrak currently houses more than 60 children and continues to grow.
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Cambodia include:
* The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) is focused on delivering education and training to increase awareness of the need for conservation and environmental protection. It also provides rescue, rehabilitation and release services for wildlife, and conservation breeding of selected endangered species.
* Green Gecko provides security, education, love and opportunities to Siem Reap street kids through their formative years and into their adult lives. It also supports the children's families and the broader community through long term health, education and training initiatives.
* Ptea Teuk Dong (PTD) works to improve the lives of street families and female victims of abuse or trafficking. The centre consists of a training centre, a school for children and 10.5 hectares of rice fields. Each year they assist almost 200 people with food, clothing, medication, vocational training and housing.
* The Starfish Project helps those unable to access government and other large NGO assistance. Activities include medical care, housing projects, water and sanitation, woman and children in prison, as well as small business assistance. They also run a popular cafe/bakery, massage centre and handicraft shop.
Intrepid Travel also supports the following non-profit organisation:
* The Children's Surgical Centre in Phnom Penh provides free surgery and treatment to children. Intrepid is collecting children's spectacles which are reconfigured and fitted by professional ophthalmologists. If you can help, please bring children's spectacles and give them to your leader at the start of your trip.
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Vietnam include:
* The Blue Dragon Children's Foundation works in northern and central Vietnam with the most vulnerable children: street kids, children with disabilities, the rural poor and victims of trafficking. Their main aim is to help kids go to school or receive vocational training in an effort to help them find their way out of poverty.
* Children's Hope in Action (CHIA) provides vital health and disability programs and educational services to vulnerable families in Hoi An and surrounding rural areas. CHIA’s holistic Special Education program facilitates the social, physical and intellectual development of children who have motor disabilities and little, or no intellectual impairment.
* Cuc Phuong National Park's conservation programs - we're currently supporting the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC), which has specialised breeding and holding facilities for more than 600 turtles representing around 15 of Vietnam’s 23 native species. In addition to providing educational activities and raising public awareness, a major focus of the TCC’s work involves training of wildlife protection officers.
* The KOTO Saigon Training Centre provides training in life skills and hospitality to former street children. Trainees at the Saigon centre will go on to work at KOTO's restaurant in the city (to open in 2011). Travellers may also visit the KOTO restaurant in Hanoi, which also provides training opportunities for disadvantaged youth and great food.
Intrepid Travel also supports the following non-profit organisation:
* The Nguyen Nga Centre (in Quy Nhon City) offers education, training and work placement assistance for disadvantaged people and people with disabilities. Intrepid Vietnam purchases embroidered 'say no to plastic' cloth shopping bags for our travellers and the income to the centre helps to pay their rent.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We realise that our partner company may ask you to complete paper or online feedback following your trip, however we would also like to know what you thought and encourage you to submit your feedback to us too. This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.