Bangkok to Xi'an Trip Notes

Travel through the highlights of Asia on this epic journey from Bangkok to Xi'an. Visit Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and China and see some of the best this region has to offer.

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Last Modified: 26 Nov 2012
Bangkok to Xi'an
Trip code: TDOXC
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
This Asian adventure takes you on a wild ride though some of Asia's best loved destinations. Get caught up in the energy of Bangkok, marvel at the astonishing Angkor temples in Siem Reap, relax into the laidback vibe of Luang Prabang and see the spiritual side of China at Emei Shan. Discover smiling locals, iconic vistas, stunning environs and a whole heap of fun on this adventure through South-East Asia from Bangkok to Xi'an.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
ThemesImportant notesVisas
MapGroup sizeIssues on your trip
ItineraryYour fellow travellersWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersHealth
Culture shock rating AccommodationSafety
Physical ratingMeals introductionTravel insurance
Physical preparationMealsResponsible Travel
Included activitiesTransportA couple of rules
KittyGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel projects
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsCarbon offset
Spending moneyFinish point Feedback
TippingEmergency contact
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
Style
Basix
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Themes
Overland
Map
Bangkok to Xi'an
Itinerary
Day 1 Bangkok
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand.
The trip starts with a group meeting at 6pm.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Thailand's bustling capital, Bangkok is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food.
Bangkok has so much to offer those with time to explore – why not take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets; 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; or 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.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Aranyaprathet
Drive from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet on the Thai/Cambodia border. Overnight in local hotel.
On the border of Thailand and Cambodia, lies the wonderful city of Aranyaprathet. Lined with casinos and markets, it is a lively place to visit and a great place to use as a stopping over point before travelling further into Thailand or starting a journey into
Cambodia.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 3-4 Battambang
This morning we cross the border into Cambodia and drive to Battambang.
Cambodia's second-largest city, Battambang, (pronounced Battambong) is an attractive riverside town with traces of French elegance, friendly Khmer people and well-preserved colonial architecture.
Afternoon visit to the Killing Caves of Phnom Sampeau.
The hillside site of Phnom Sampeau, where hundreds of people were tortured and killed under the Khmer Rouge, is now an interesting spot to explore. Littered with pagodas and cave shrines the site also has a fantastic view of the rice fields and surrounding countryside from the summit.
We spend 1 or 2 nights in Battambang staying in a friendly local hotel.
The next day is free for you to explore the town of Battambang and the surrounding area. Alternatively, your leader may decide to use this day elsewhere in the itinerary depending on local conditions and the group's wishes.
Included Activities
  • Kampong Loung Floating Village Boat Trip
  • "Killing Caves" at Phnom Sampeau
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 5-6 Phnom Penh
Most of today will be spent travelling as we drive from Battambang to Phnom Penh, stopping en route to visit one of the floating villages that this area is famous for. We will be staying in Phnom Penh for 2 nights at a friendly local guesthouse.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, is set on a major junction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers and boasts some fine examples of French-inspired architecture.
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 next morning we visit the Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and Killing Fields Memorial.
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.
The afternoon is free to explore Cambodia's capital.
If you're in the mood for shopping, stop in at the art deco-designed Psar Thmei (Central Market) which is a great place for browsing, or travel out to Psar Tuol Tom Pong (the Russian Market) for the best range of local souvenirs.
Stroll along the famous Sisowath Quay and enjoy a coffee or cocktail at one of the many cafes while observing the busy river traffic.
Included Activities
  • Phnom Penh - Guided tour Choeung Ek (Killing fields)
  • Phnom Penh - Guided tour of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 7-9 Siem Reap/Angkor Wat
We will spend most of today travelling as we drive from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. We will be in Siem Reap for 3 nights staying in a friendly local hotel.
The small but expanding town of Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor. It's markets are a great place to shop or to try some cheap, delicious street food.
The next day we get up early for our full day guided exploration of the incredible temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. We will also be able to watch the sunset over the temples.
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.
We spend a full day exploring the temples with the aid of a knowledgeable local guide, learning about the buildings and their fascinating Khmer history.
Our third day is a free day for you to do as you please. Return to the temples to spend some more time exploring, or maybe take some time to relax with a massage or local spa treatment. Siem Reap itself is a lively little town and interesting to wander around.
A visit to the old market is a must, even if you're not looking for souvenirs; wandering through the stalls and surrounding shops the silks, cottons, sarongs, silver and statues are a riot of colour and a feast for the eyes. There's also a long tradition of shadow puppetry in the region, and if you're lucky you might catch a show at one of the local restaurants in the evening.
Included Activities
  • Siem Reap - Guided Angkor Wat & Angkok Tom tour
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 10 Aranyaprathet
Leaving Siem Reap, we will spend most of today travelling, crossing the border back into Thailand in the late afternoon. Overnight in local hotel in Aranyaprathet.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 11 Phi Mai
Morning drive from Aranyaprathet towards Phi Mai. If time allows we will visit the temple complex in the afternoon, before finding a spot where we can bush camp for the night.
Crossing between Laos and Cambodia we overland through the Isan region of north-eastern Thailand. This remote area is often described as Thailand's "forgotten backyard" as it's the least-visited part of the country, despite the fact that it accounts for a third of the kingdom's land mass and nearly a third of its total population. In fact, travelling through these northeastern
provinces offers a unique glimpse of the Thailand of old, a country where rice fields run on as far as the eye can see and silk-weaving is still a cottage industry - and the people here are immensely proud of their cultural heritage and family history and life still very much revolves around family and community.
Exploring the remote temples of Phimai in the remote Isan region of Thailand gives you the chance to learn about the area's interesting Khmer history. This building of this Hindu-Mahayana Buddhist complex started in the 10th century under Khmer King Jayavarman V, which means it actually pre-dates its more famous cousin, Angkor Wat, by nearly a century. The Phimai temples share a number of design features with their more famous Cambodian neighbours, particularly the roof of the 28m tall main shrine, so much so that many people have argued that this may have been a model for the Angkor complex.
Included Activities
  • Phimai Temple Complex
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 12-13 Vientiane
Morning visit to temple of Phi Mai if we did not have time the previous day. Then we continue north through the remote Isan region of Thailand, crossing the border into Laos in the afternoon. Our destination is the old French colonial city of Vientiane. We will be here for 2 nights, staying in a friendly local hotel
Possibly Asia's most laidback capital, Vientiane is a city where daily affairs are conducted at a relaxed pace. Hardly touched by the modernisation that has completely changed the face of other cities in South-East Asia, Laos still has a wealth of cultural delights to discover - on foot, or for the less energetic, by jumbo (tuk tuk).
Next day is free to wander the streets of laid-back Vientiane or perhaps hire bikes or go by tuk-tuk to explore the surrounding area.
Follow dusty tracks along the river to find villages full of friendly children, dogs and chickens. Vientiane's vibrant, colourful morning market (which incidentally is open all day!) is full of local treasures. A great way to round off the day is to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Mekong.
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 14-15 Vang Vieng
Leaving Vientiane, we will spend most of today travelling as we drive north to Vang Vieng. We will stay here for 2 nights basing ourselves at a local guesthouse.
Situated on the Nam Song River, Vang Vieng offers limestone karst scenery, local markets and riverside walks.
The next day is free for you to relax and explore Vang Vieng, or try your hand at one of several adventure activities on offer.
There is plenty to do in and around Vang Vieng. The area is renowned for its many caves, many of which are easily accessible from the town, perhaps the most famous is the cave of Tham Chang, a beautiful cavern fed by a natural spring making it a perfect spot for a refreshing swim. Hire bicycles to explore further afield, or a tour of an Organic Mulberry Farm is also an option.
Optional Activities
  • Kayaking - USD9
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 16-18 Luang Prabang
Driving from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang, we will spend most of today travelling. We will arrive at our friendly local hotel in Luang Prabang in the late afternoon or early evening.
The atmospheric World Heritage-listed city of Luang Prabang is a favourite of many. Nestled in the hills of northern Laos on the confluence of the Mekong and Khan rivers, it's studded with ornate temples and French colonial architecture.
The next days are free for you to wander the streets of Luang Prabang and explore the surrounding area.
There's plenty to explore here from the Royal Palace and many temples to the sacred caves of Pak Ou a short distance outside the city. You can also make the steep climb up Mount Phousi, the spiritual and geographical heart of the city, and a great spot to watch the sunset over the Mekong.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary, meet your new fellow travellers, and collect the next part of your kitty.
Optional Activities
  • Royal Palace Museum - USD4
  • Luang Prabang - Mt Phu Si - USD2
Accommodation
Guesthouse (3 nts)
Days 19-20 Luang Nam Tha
Drive from Luang Prabang to Luang Namtha. We stay here for two nights at a friendly local guesthouse or lodge.
Luang Namtha is a laid-back town on the banks of the Nam Tha river in northern Laos. It's the most ethnically diverse area in the whole of the country, home to more than 35 minority groups, including the Lanten, Hmong, Khmu and Tai Dam.
The second day is free for activities in and around Luang Nam Tha.
Sample the local food at the night market or just kick-back, relax and unwind.
Close nearby, the Nam Ha Protected Area is a conservation area covering over 200,000 sq km. It's a beautiful, remote, mountainous area, home to a wide array of wildlife including the black-cheeked crested gibbon, tigers and clouded leopards, as well as over 300 species of birds. Whilst we are staying in Luang Nam Tha it is possible to arrange trekking, mountain biking, kayaking and rafting trips that will take you right in to the heart of this protected region.
Optional Activities
  • Bike rental - USD2
  • Guided mountain biking - USD25
  • Kayaking/rafting day trip - USD20
  • One day trek - USD25
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 21-23 Xishuangbanna
Morning drive from Luang Nam Tha to the border. Cross into China and begin our journey north through the southern region of Xishuangbanna. This is China off-the-beaten-track and we are unlikely to see many other tourists here. We spend the next 3 days overlanding through this beautiful area, stopping off at towns, villages and local markets along the way. Bush camp overnight.
Xishuangbanna in China's deep south is a remote region characterised by it's lush, tropical landscape of virgin rainforest, plantations and paddy fields. The area takes it’s name from the Chinese approximation of the original Thai "Sip Sawng Pann" which means "12 rice growing districts". Passing through the small villages and tropical forests you'll realise just how far removed from the rest of provincial China you are. Banna has a real laid-back, South-East Asian feel, more akin to its close neighbours Laos and Myanmar. The area is also home to a large number of indigenous minority groups like the Dai people, with their distinctive colourful dress and customs.
The second day we drive to Jinghong where we stay in a local guesthouse.
The capital of Xishuangbanna prefecture and the administration capital for the Dai people - Hinayanna Buddhists. Stretched along the Mekong River, Jinghong is a popular base for trekking.
Third day is another full day's drive, bushcamping overnight.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nts), Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 24 Shilinzhen
Today we will have a bit more driving to do, before we arrive in Shilinzhen, home to the Shilin Stone Forest. We will spend some time exploring and bush camp overnight.
The Shilin "Stone Forest" is an intriguing maze of towering grey limestone pillars, the tallest of which is 30 metres high. The pinnacles and peaks have been eroded by the wind and rain into bizarre and fanciful shapes. Walking through the "forest" by moonlight which is a surreal and otherworldly experience.
Included Activities
  • Shilin - Stone Forest
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 25 Kunming
Short morning drive to Kunming and civilisation after the last few days bushcamping. We will see a different side to China here, this is a vibrant, modern city, and we will have the rest of the day to explore, staying overnight in a comfortable local hotel.
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 it's size it's actually pretty laid-back - so it's 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.
Optional Activities
  • Yuantong Temple - CNY6
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 26-27 Dali
Morning drive from Kunming to the small lakeside town of Dali. Afternoon free to explore. We stay here for 2 nights, basing ourselves at a local hotel.
Dali has long been a favourite destination for foreign travellers and backpackers, the laid back atmosphere is enhanced by the spectacular surroundings - snow capped mountains on one side and the vast Erhai Lake on the other.
While much of the old town is being renovated to improve the living conditions for locals, there are still enough cobblestone streets and original stone buildings lining the alleyways inside the old city walls to make wandering around here a real pleasure. Many have been converted into little shops, cafes and bars so you never have to go far to find a place to chill out with a drink.
The next day in Dali is free for activities and giving more time to explore the town and surrounding area.
Optional Activities
  • Erhai Lake boat trip - CNY84
  • Three Pagodas - CNY121
  • Cangshan Park & cable car - CNY150
  • Bike hire - CNY15
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 28-30 Lijiang
Drive from Dali to Lijiang. We stay in historic Lijiang for 3 nights in a friendly local hotel.
The World Heritage-listed town of Lijiang is home to the Naxi people - a matrilineal society descended from Tibetan nomads. You can still see Naxi around town in their distinct blue clothing, especially at the morning markets.
By day Lijiang shows its traditional side - cobbled streets, tiny alleyways and quaint wooden bridges across the canals - which attract literally millions of (mostly Chinese) tourists a year to the Old Town. By night, the contrast with the timelocked surroundings couldn't be more stark as the town becomes party central with karaoke bars and flashing lights!
Explore the Mu Palace, enjoy a traditional Naxi music culture show or wander around the old town and make a wish like the locals do - by sending a candle down one of the many canals on a delicate flower-shaped boat.
The second day in Lijiang is free to relax and explore. You may wish to take an optional trek in Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest gorges in the world. The entire gorge is 16 km long and rises up to 3,900 m above the waters of the Yangzi, one of the most important rivers in China.
It is usually possible to organise a 2 day trek through the gorge, staying overnight in one of the local guesthouses. It’s a beautiful trek that is achievable by most active people. The highlight for many if staying in the homely guests houses along the route – a great place to relax in the peace of the mountains.
If you do not chose to trek, you'll spend these nights in our friendly local hotel.
Optional Activities
  • Mu Family Mansion - CNY45
  • Naxi Orchestra performance - CNY120
  • Bike hire - CNY20
  • Black Dragon Pool - CNY80
  • Jade Dragon Snow Mountain & cable car - CNY240
  • Lijiang - Optional Tiger Leaping Gorge trek - Free
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 31 Overnight Train
Drive Lijiang to Panzhihua where we board the overnight sleeper train to Chengdu. China has one of the biggest and busiest rail networks in the world, and a Chinese train journey can often be an experience in itself.
Located in the upper region of the Yangtze River, is the Industrial city of Panzhihua. The mining operations in this city are nothing short of magnificent. It is a contrasting place, as it is surrounded by rolling hills and lush forests, which make Panzhihua a great place for exploration.
Accommodation
Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 32-33 Emei Shan
Getting off the sleeper train first thing in the morning, it is a fairly short onward journey to Emeishan. We stay here for 2 nights, basing ourselves at a local hotel or guesthouse.
The next day is free to relax and explore Emeishan. There is the option of a hike up the holiest mountain in China.
Emei Shan is one of the holiest places in China. At just over 3000 m high, this mountain has been a centre of pilgrimage for over 1800 years.
Optional Activities
  • Emei Shan - Day trek - Free
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 34-35 Leshan/Chengdu
Drive from Emei Shan to Chengdu, stopping off in Leshan to visit the Dafo Buddha en route.
Leshan is home to the world's largest outdoor seated Buddha. 'Da Fo' - the Buddha - is carved into a cliff face and is 71 metres tall.
We spend 2 nights in Chengdu, staying in a comfortable local hotel.
It might be one of China's biggest cities but Chengdu has preserved plenty of its traditional flavour and visitors can still find famous tea houses, numerous markets and some of the most interesting food in China. If you like it hot then this is the place to be as Sichuan food is known the world over for its spicy flavours. Must tries are huoguo (hot pot) and mapo doufu (spicy tofu).
Visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding - a non-profit organization engaged in wildlife research, captive breeding, conservation education, and educational tourism. There are about 50 giant and red pandas at the base, some of which can be viewed by the public.
After our early morning visit to the Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre the afternoon is free to explore the city.
Included Activities
  • Leshan - Da Fo
  • Chengdu - Panda Breeding Centre
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 36 Dazu
A short drive to Dazu, where we visit the Bei Shan and Baoding Shan caves, famous for their brightly coloured friezes and carvings. Overnight in a local hotel.
Included Activities
  • Dazu - Bei Shan & Baoding Shan Caves
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 37 Chongqing
Drive from Dazu to Chongqing. Overnight in Chongqing in a local hotel, or straight on to Yangtze Ferry (itinerary will vary depending on ferry schedule).
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 38-39 Yangtze River Cruise
We travel on a local ferry boat used by local people, a much more authentic and interesting way of travelling than on a tourist cruiser. But this definitely doesn't mean slumming it, as most of the local ferries have now been upgraded to good quality accommodation and are often retired cruise boats. We stay in shared cabins (4 members of the group to each cabin) with private bathrooms and air conditioning where possible.
The journey itself is along this great river through the most stunning scenery of the Three Gorges, the Qutang, Wu and Xiling Gorges. The boats usually stop at the Fengdu (Ghost City), Shibaozai Tower, home to the Lanruo Dian (Orchid-like Temple) and at the three Lesser Gorges. However due to local conditions, stops cannot always be guaranteed.
Included Activities
  • Yangzi River - Three Gorges boat cruise
Accommodation
Overnight boat (2 nts)
Days 40-41 Yichang
Depending on the ferry schedule and when we arrive in Yichang, we will either spend one or two nights here. It is a pleasant town on the shores of the Yangtze River, making it a good place to spend a bit of time relaxing and exploring. While we are here we stay in a friendly local guesthouse.
We arrive in Yichang, a relatively small city by Chinese standards that offers a great chance to see typical everyday Chinese life and to really get inside the urban culture.
The second day here is free to explore.
You can checkout a local produce market, visit a park, have a traditional reflexology foot massage or a great value manicure or pedicure, get your hair washed the local way at a neighbourhood barber (with a head massage included) or play table tennis at an outdoor court.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt), Hotel (1 nt)
Days 42-43 Xiang Fan/Wudang Shan
Morning drive from Yichang to Xiang Fan. Afternoon exploring Wudang Shan Mountain Reserve. Overnight in local hotel.
Wudang Shan is an important site for followers of Taoism; a 1600 m mountain, liberally dotted with Taoist temples. To really understand this place you need to understand the principles of Taoism, which would realistically involve a huge amount of careful study - but the basic underlying principles are the "Ways of Nature", essentially the bond that unites man and nature. Taoists believe in "Wu Wei", which roughly means that no action can be done that runs contrary to nature. This is a pretty wide remit, subject to many interpretations, but it's core principles can be seen clearly at Wudang Shan. Here man lives in harmony with the mountain. This is a great place for a hike, exploring the mountain, visiting the temples and meeting some of the Taoists who have made the pilgrimage here. Wudang Shan is also famous for its martial arts; Wudang boxing was created here and subsequently developed into the modern Tai Ji. It may be possible to organise a visit to the local martial art school situated at the base of the mountain.
The second day here is free to further explore this area.
Included Activities
  • Wudang Shan - National Park
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 44-46 Xi'an
Drive to Xi'an. We stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
The imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites. A monument pays homage to the fact that this was the start of the famous ancient trading route of the Silk Road and the city is still surrounded by city walls.
The next day we have an organised visit to see the Terracotta Warriors.
The most popular attraction in Xi'an, and the place that has made the city most famous around the world, is the Terracotta Warriors. The Warriors are certainly an incredible archaeological find, discovered by farmers digging a well in 1976 after being buried for thousands of years. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots all standing in battle formation were commissioned by the emperor of the Qin dynasty as part of his mausoleum and a number of pits are now on view to the public. More pits were recently opened so you may even be lucky enough to see archaeologists at work, carefully unearthing and restoring these ancient relics.
The next day is departure day. There are no activities planned for this day and you may depart at any time.
Included Activities
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Karaoke, entrance - CNY50
  • Great Mosque - CNY25
  • Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50
  • Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
      Itinerary disclaimer
      We must emphasise that the routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only. We intend following the route detailed but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. Or it may be because we find a better, more interesting route. While actually en route, unexpected hospitality, a local festival or a great place to chill out can determine our exact route and itinerary on any given trip.
      Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group.
      Culture shock rating

      Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
      Physical rating

      This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
      Physical preparation
      In these parts of the world you'll need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climate; from hot deserts through to the cold of high mountain areas.
      Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days and dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You'll 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.
      Included activities
      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.
      Kitty
      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 some included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases. Please check our 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 does not cover food while staying in hotels and hostels.
      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.
      As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
      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 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.
      Money Exchange
      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 Laos is the Kip (LAK).
      However, USD are also widely used throughout Laos. 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. Visa cash advances are available in major banks, and ATM's are now available in most towns. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels.
      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.
      Spending money
      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.
      Tipping
      If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is 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, 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.
      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.
      Your crew: Tipping is entirely voluntary. The crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person
      Departure tax
      All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
      Important notes
      LOCAL PARTNER:
      Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.
      MINIMUM AGE:
      The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
      FESTIVALS & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS:
      During public holidays and festival periods in Cambodia and Laos 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/Laos New Year (3 days in mid April), Pchum Ben (3 days in mid October) and Water Festival (3 days in late November).
      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.
      Group size
      Maximum of 19 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:
      www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
      Single travellers
      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.
      Accommodation
      Hotel (25 nts), Guesthouse (13 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (4 nts), Overnight boat (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
      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
      While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
      When travelling on an Overland trip you have chosen a participation camping tour. This means that you will be helping your leader prepare meals for the group. You may also get the chance to help with the shopping!
      Your leader will come up with meal ideas and quantities needed for large groups. Participating in the camp is usually done on a duty roster system with group of 5 or 6 people (depending on group size) having a different camp job each day. If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting.
      Meals
      All meals when camping
      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 675.00
      Transport
      Overland vehicle, Train, Ferry
      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. In East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we 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.
      Joining point
      Viengtai Hotel
      42 Rambuttri Road
      Banglumphu
      Bangkok
      10200
      THAILAND
      Phone: +66 22805434
      Fax: +66 22818153
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact section below for who to contact depending upon your starting location.
      Finish point
      Bell Tower Hotel
      Southwest Corner of Bell Tower
      Xi'an
      710001
      CHINA
      Phone: +86 0297279200
      Emergency contact
      Dragoman 24 HOUR EMERGENCY NUMBER Tel: +44 (0) 1728 862 222 This is an answer-phone. If calling outside UK office hours for non urgent questions, please leave a message. There is a number provided to call for a 24 hour manned mobile, in case of genuine emergency. For further emergency contact details go to:
      Emergency funds
      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
      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.
      THAILAND:
      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.
      CAMBODIA:
      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.
      LAOS:
      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
      We ask all our travellers to obtain their Laos visas at the border, and NOT in their home country. Your tour leader will assist you in obtaining a Laos visa, generally at the border, depending on the current state of affairs, as it can vary.
      Please ensure that you have 3 passport photos and up to US$60 cash (this may vary too) to fulfil the requirements. There will also be an Immigration Fee of LAK5,000. To assist us in processing your Laos visas, please provide your agent with accurate passport details prior to the departure of your trip as these details will be passed on to our leader.
      When crossing the border you will most likely see a lesser entry fee than what you have paid. This is due to the leader having to use a local agent to process the visa which allows the group to cross the border as quickly as possible.
      CHINA (DRAGOMAN OVERLAND):
      Most nationalities require a visa for China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival or en-route. You will need a Single Entry Tourist Visa valid for 30, 60 or 90 days depending on the duration of your trip.
      INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
      Itinerary:
      Please list the destinations you will visit in China in chronological order on your application form. Do not mention Kashgar, Turpan, Urumqi or Tibet anywhere on your application form. While these areas are not off limits to travellers, they are considered politically sensitive, so including these on your visa application could lead to significant delays or your visa being denied.
      Name of Host/Inviting Organisation:
      Jason Tours
      Sichuan China YTS, 2nd Floor
      19 Dongchenggeng Street
      Chengdu 610031
      +86 28 8907 5414
      DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
      * Most embassies request a Hotel List be submitted with your application. A few nationalities may require a Letter of Invitation (LOI). These can be requested from Dragoman by emailing centralasiavisas@dragoman.co.uk
      * Photocopy of your passport
      * Passport size photo (up to 4)
      * Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
      DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TIBET PERMIT APPLICATION:
      Tibet permits are be arranged en-route with the help of our local partners. If you are travelling on an itinerary that visits Tibet you will need to email the following documents to centralasiavisas@dragoman.co.uk as soon as possible after booking and no later than 2 months before your departure:
      * Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page your passport
      * Clear, colour scanned copy of your Chinese visa
      WARNING – TRAVEL TO TIBET & XINJIANG:
      Please be aware that these are politically sensitive areas of China which have in the past been closed to foreign travellers without warning. A change in the political situation can also lead to unforseen delays in issuing visas and permits. We aim to keep our travellers as up to date as possible with any changes, however these are often made without any official announcement by authorities and as such are out of our control.
      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.
      LOCKER SPACE:
      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. You will need to bring your own lock for your locker. We recommend a 20-30mm sized padlock with a long shackle.The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg. Backpacks shouldn't have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.
      SLEEPING BAG:
      Please bring a sleeping bag (4-season is recommended - check what the weather will be like over the dates you are travelling), sleeping mat and a pillow as these items are not provided.
      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. We suggest you bring a mix of normal and rechargeable batteries and the appropriate recharging unit. 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.
      WATER BOTTLE:
      Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. 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. Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilized water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You're free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like.
      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.
      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.
      DRINKING WATER:
      As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
      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. 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:
      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:
      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.
      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.
      WATER SAFETY:
      Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
      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 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:
      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:
      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. 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.
      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 Laos include:
      * COPE works throughout Laos providing essential services to people with disabilities, more than half of whom have been injured by UXO (unexploded ordnance). They are the only provider of prosthetic, orthotic and rehabilitation services in Laos.
      * UXO Lao aims to reduce civilian casualties from land mines and increase the land available for food production and other uses. Intrepid's support for its Community Awareness program allows educational teams to visit villages disseminating safety messages.
      * Peuan Mit Street Children Project works with up to 1400 children every month, helping them to reintegrate back into Lao society and to prevent more children from coming to the streets. They support the children to return to school, find employment and return to their families.
      * Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre is a forested sanctuary that provides bears, rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, an opportunity to live out the rest of their lives, free from pain, suffering, fear and hunger. The centre also works to protect wildlife through strengthening legislation and improving enforcement.
      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.
      Carbon offset
      Carbon Offset C02-e 1407.00 kgs per pax.
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