Best of Indochina Trip Notes

Travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, via Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City and Luang Prabang, and explore the best of Indochina. Visit Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos and see the real South East Asia.

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Last Modified: 23 Mar 2013
Best of Indochina
Trip code: TKRDC
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2012
Breathe in wafting scents of incense as we discover the mysticism, history and ancient traditions of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. This trip covers all the highlights of Indochina, from the majestic Angkor ruins and the pristine beaches of Sihanoukville to the frenetic pace of Ho Chi Minh City, the relaxed vibe of Hoi An and the riverside beauty of Luang Prabang. The warmth and candour of the locals you meet along the way and the delicious range of cuisines on offer perfectly complete this all-encompassing adventure.
TRIP CHANGES 2013
Please note this tour will be 40 days in 2013, instead of 39 in 2012. The tour will now finish in Bangkok, instead of Chiang Mai, and have one less day in Vang Vieng.
The itinerary will be as follows:
Day 1: Bangkok
Days 2-4 Siem Reap
Day 5 Kompong Cham
Day 6 Phnom Penh
Day 7 Homestay
Days 8-9 Sihanoukville
Day 10 Phnom Penh
Days 11-12 Ho Chi Minh City
Days 13-14 Mekong Delta
Days 15-16 Nha Trang
Days 17-19 Hoi An
Days 20-22 Hue
Day 23 Hanoi
Day 24 Halong Bay
Days 25-26 Hanoi
Day 27 Vinh
Days 28-29 Vientiane
Days 30-31 Vang Vieng
Days 32-34 Luang Prabang
Day 35 Mekong River
Day 36 Chiang Kong
Days 37-38 Chiang Mai
Days 39-40 Bangkok
This trip will now depart on selected Sundays, instead of selected Wednesdays.
Exact itineraries and prices will be release on the 1st November 2012.
Table of Contents
StyleGroup sizeEmergency contact
ThemesYour fellow travellersEmergency funds
MapSingle travellersVisas
ItineraryAccommodationIssues on your trip
Itinerary disclaimerMeals introductionWhat to take
Culture shock rating MealsHealth
Physical ratingTransportSafety
Included activitiesGroup leaderTravel insurance
Optional activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel
Money ExchangeJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Spending moneyJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
TippingArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
Departure taxFinish point descriptionCarbon offset
Important notesFinish point instructionsFeedback
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
Explorer
Map
Best of Indochina
Itinerary
Day 1 Bangkok
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Bangkok has so much to offer those with time to explore - why not take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage?
Explore the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Optional Activities
  • Bangkok - Grand Palace - THB500
  • Bangkok - Wat Pho temple - THB100
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 2-4 Siem Reap/Angkor Wat
It's a long drive from Bangkok to Siem Reap (approx. 8-9 hours including border crossing and lunch)
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.
Visit the world-famous Angkor complex. These temples were built between the 9th and 13th centuries when the Khmer empire was the pre-eminent influence in South-East Asia. The temples were believed to represent the cosmic world and were set in perfect balance, symmetry and composition. The intricately carved bas-reliefs and architectural designs are mind-blowing and there are spectacular photographic opportunities at any time of day - watching a sunrise or sunset is a must. The ruins are scattered over an area of some 160 sq km, but the main cluster of temples is close to Siem Reap so you'll have plenty of time to fully appreciate the great archaeological sites of Angkor Wat, the Bayon and the jungle-covered Ta Prohm.
Depending on the season there may be a chance to visit Tonle Sap Lake for a look at local life.
Optional Activities
  • Siem Reap - 1 day Angkor Pass - USD20
  • Siem Reap - 3 day Angkor pass - USD40
  • Siem Reap - Remork transport to Angkor complex - USD15
  • Siem Reap - Landmine Museum - USD3
  • Siem Reap - Remork transport to Tonle Sap Lake - USD10
  • Siem Reap - Tonle Sap boat trip - USD15
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 5 Kompong Cham
Travel by public bus to Kompong Cham (approx 4 hrs).
This peaceful town was once an important trading hub and is now a great opportunity to experience life in small-town Cambodia.
Explore the serene 11th-century Wat Nokor.
Hire a bike to explore the rural island of Koh Paen, linked to Kompong Cham by an elaborate bamboo bridge (passable only in the dry season, take a ferry in the wet). The locals here make their living fishing, growing tobacco and sesame so it's a good place to go for a closer look at Cambodia's cottage industry.
A little further afield are the twin 'mountain temples' of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei.
Optional Activities
  • Kompong Cham - Wat Nokor - USD1
  • Kompong Cham - Bicycle hire - USD2
  • Kompong Cham - Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei - USD10
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 6 Phnom Penh
Catch a public bus to the capital city of Phnom Penh (approx 3 hrs).
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.
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.
Learn about a brighter period in Cambodian history with a visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.
Explore Wat Phnom, a peaceful temple situated on a hill for which the city is named. According to legend, a 14th-century woman named Penh found sacred Buddhist objects in the nearby river and placed them here on the small hill.
Check out the National Museum. Housed in a beautiful traditional building, it contains many outstanding examples of Khmer craftsmanship.
Take in the sites by cyclo! Tours generally take in the following: central market, US Embassy, Wat Phnom, Mekong river front, independence monument, finishing at the Royal Palace.
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.
Optional Activities
  • Phnom Penh - Killing Fields of Choueng Ek - USD3
  • Phnom Penh - Transport to Choeung Ek - USD10
  • Phnom Penh - Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda - USD7
  • Phnom Penh - Wat Phnom - USD2
  • Phnom Penh - National Museum - USD5
  • Cyclo tour - Phnom Penh - USD3
  • Phnom Penh - Guided tour of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - USD2
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 7 Homestay
Travel by private bus into rural Cambodia (approx 3 hrs).
Our homestay is a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday Cambodian life and in the evening we enjoy a traditional-style dinner. Facilities are basic and multishare with mattresses, bedding and mosquito nets all provided.
Accommodation
Homestay (1 nt)
Days 8-9 Sihanoukville
A private bus takes us to Sihanoukville (approx 3 hrs).
Named for the Cambodian royal family, Sihanoukville has miles of beaches and warm, welcoming people.
Take a boat to one of the nearby islands, where you're free to enjoy a barbecue lunch and relax among swaying palms, white sands and blue waters.
Make a trip out to the Ream National Park - 21 hectares of coastal mangrove forest, which hosts a great variety of animal and bird species.
Optional Activities
  • Sihanoukville - Ream National Park - USD5
  • Sihanoukville - Island boat trip - USD15
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 10 Phnom Penh
Take a local bus to Phnom Penh (approx 4 hrs).
Why not indulge in a traditional massage at the Seeing Hands Massage parlours - they are some of the best in the city and your patronage supports the visually impaired masseurs, whose years of training are sure to work wonders on muscle aches and pains.
Optional Activities
  • Phnom Penh - Traditional Khmer massage - USD5
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 11-12 Ho Chi Minh City
It's a long journey by local bus to Ho Chi Minh City (approx 6-7 hrs)
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.
If you have extra time in Ho Chi Minh City ensure you make a visit to the Reunification Palace - formerly known as the Presidential Palace, it was the site of South Vietnam's surrender in April 1975, and the War Remnants Museum - originally opened in September 1975, it displays old military equipment and other related items from the Vietnam War. In the courtyard you'll find some larger exhibits including a F5A fighter and a UH1-Huey helicopter
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.
Optional Activities
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cyclo tour - VND90000
  • HCMC - War Remnants Museum - VND15000
  • HCMC - Reunification Palace - VND30000
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 13-14 Mekong Delta
Head down to the Mekong Delta and visit unexplored Ben Tre where coconut is everything and anything. The fertile delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits and flowers as well as boating along the canals. On arrival, we board our private boat and cruise along the maze of waterways to visit some local cottage industries. Then head to our overnight homestay along the water. We'll be sleeping on simple camp beds in dorm-style rooms. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic.
Rising early to the sounds of the delta coming alive, we enjoy a simple breakfast before boarding our boat, and catching a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Board an overnight train to Nha Trang. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth depending on seasonal variations), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure.
Included Activities
  • Mekong Delta - Boat cruise and homestay
Accommodation
Homestay (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 15-16 Nha Trang
Once referred to as the 'Cannes of the Orient', Nha Trang's sandy palm-lined beach and island-dotted bay still make an idyllic picture, and a cosmopolitan feel prevails in the town itself.
Spend your days here soaking up the sun on a lovely beach, exploring the local markets or checking out the ancient Cham Towers nearby. Make sure you try some of the excellent seafood restaurants.
Board an overnight train bound for Danang.
Optional Activities
  • Nha Trang - Boat trip - VND1273000
  • Cyclo tour - VND90000
  • Nha Trang - Mud baths - VND280000
  • Nha Trang - Boa Dai Villa - VND120000
  • Nha Trang - Scuba diving - USD60
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Days 17-19 Hoi An
Arrive in Danang and travel by minibus to Hoi An (approx 1 hr).
Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is being beautifully restored and preserved. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South-East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago and it retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it.
It's also a shopping mecca – with much to browse and buy. Choose from original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and more. Hoi An has also become famous for its tailoring, with a great variety of fabrics and tailors to choose from. Bring your favourite piece of clothing or even just a picture, and you'll be able to have it copied.
There's no better way to explore the peaceful countryside of Hoi An than by bike. Your leader will take you to places few tourists get the chance to see, past green rice paddies and small creeks, this is a true insight into country living in Vietnam.
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Bike tour
Optional Activities
  • Hoi An - Ancient town - VND120000
  • Hoi An - My Son Cham day trip - VND800000
  • Hoi An - Thu Bon river boat trip - VND100000
  • Hoi An - Bicycle hire - VND30000
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Days 20-22 Hue
Departing Hoi An, we can stop at China Beach before crossing the dramatic Hai Van Pass to the picturesque fishing village of Lang Co. After a quick stop, continue on to Hue (approx 5 hrs including stops).
As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings.
You have a free day to explore. The Dong Ba market, which sells everything imaginable, is a great place to spend some time.
Visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war.
Enjoy a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River, and a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue. It's an active Buddhist monastery with its origins dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who, in 1963, drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. We also visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees, and we may visit what many believe to be the most majestic of all the royal tombs, Minh Mang.
Board an overnight train bound for Hanoi.
Optional Activities
  • Hue - Imperial citadel - VND105000
  • Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda - VND210000
  • Hue - Royal tomb - VND80000
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
Day 23 Hanoi
The capital of Vietnam is a charming city with a population of around four million. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and its thriving Old Quarter, which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South-East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface.
Take a walking tour of the Old Quarter. You'll visit the Dong Xuan market, the biggest wholesale market in northern Vietnam, stroll through the ancient '36 streets' where you can discover an amazing selection of shops selling everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, beautifully embroidered tablecloths. Your leader will point out some of the unique architecture around Hoan Kiem Lake and the myths and legends of the lake.
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and Museum - VND50000
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Army Museum - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Women's Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND25000
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 24 Halong Bay
Drive through the Red River Delta to Halong Bay (approx 4 hrs), stopping en route for refreshments at a handicraft village run by disabled people.
Halong Bay is a breathtaking secluded harbour with 2,000 limestone islands rising from the emerald waters of Bac Bo Gulf. One of Vietnam's most scenic regions, this area of about 1,500 sq km is dotted with innumerable beaches and grottos, created over thousands of years by waves and wind.
Board our boat and cruise the breathtaking bay with its limestone karsts rising from the clear emerald waters. We enjoy a sumptuous seafood lunch on board, explore some of the limestone caves in the area and go swimming during the warmer months.
Stay on the beautiful and relaxing Cat Ba Island. The lovely foreshore is a great place to sip an evening beer and watch the sunset.
Included Activities
  • Halong Bay - Boat cruise
Optional Activities
  • Cat Ba National Park (entrance & transport) - VND120000
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 25-26 Hanoi
Travel by ferry to Haiphong.
Drive back to Hanoi (approx 3 hrs).
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.
Optional Activities
  • Hanoi - Revolutionary Museum - VND15000
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 27 Vinh
There's time for a bit of last-minute shopping or sightseeing before leaving Hanoi. If you haven't yet explored the Old Quarter, this is your last chance to do it. Some of the most delicious 'pho' (beef soup) in town can be found at stalls lining the narrow streets. There are numerous shops which sell everything from designer knock-offs to religious offerings and fresh herbs.
Board our private bus bound for Vinh - enjoy the diverse countryside on the drive to the birth place of Ho Chi Minh (approx 7 hrs).
The bustling port town of Vinh is famous as the birth place of Ho Chi Minh.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 28-29 Vientiane
By private minibus journey through spectacular mountain scenery on the Ho Chi Minh trail, before crossing the border into Laos and heading for the capital, Vientiane, it's a long day (approx. 12 hours).
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).
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.
Take to the dusty streets on foot to visit Wat Si Saket, perhaps the oldest temple in Laos. Close by, and once home to the 'Emerald Buddha', visit the former royal temple of the Laos monarchy, Haw Pha Kaew, with a vast array of Buddhist style sculptures. Continuing on to a symbol for Vientiane, Patuxai, or Victory Temple, head to the top for an unsurpassed view of the city.
Visit COPE, an Intrepid Foundation-sponsored organisation dedicated to assistance those who have been injured by the multitude of unexploded ordinance across the country.
Included Activities
  • Vientiane - Walking tour
  • Vientiane - Wat Sri Saket
  • Vientiane - COPE visit
Optional Activities
  • Vientiane - Buddha Park - USD1
  • Vientiane - Vientiane temples - USD1
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 30-32 Vang Vieng
Take a beautiful local bus ride through roadside villages to Vang Vieng (approx 3.5 hrs).
Situated on the Nam Song River, Vang Vieng offers limestone karst scenery, local markets and riverside walks.
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
  • Vang Vieng - Bicycle hire - USD2
Accommodation
Guesthouse (3 nts)
Days 33-35 Luang Prabang
Take the bus through dusty villages and winding mountain roads to Luang Prabang (approx 7 hrs).
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.
Join our local guide on a walk of the local area, learn more about Laos culture at the ruins of Wat Pha Mahathat and explore the local market where the variety of local produce will amaze.
Head out to the beautiful Kuang Si Falls, where pale turquoise waters cascade over limestone formations. The lovely pool at the base of the falls is perfect for a refreshing afternoon dip.
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.
Included Activities
  • Luang Prabang - Walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Luang Prabang - Cooking demonstration - USD30
  • Luang Prabang - National Museum - USD2
  • Luang Prabang - Mt Phu Si - USD2
  • Luang Prabang - Wat Xieng Thong - USD2
  • Luang Prabang - Royal Theatre - USD20
  • Luang Prabang - Kuang Si Waterfalls - USD2
Accommodation
Guesthouse (3 nts)
Day 36 Mekong River
Board our boat for the two-day journey down the mighty Mekong River to Luang Prabang. The journey is relaxed, so we can experience the slow pace of village life and the breathtaking scenery along the river.
Our river boat is basic in nature, with a toilet, covered roof, and open sides to take in the fresh air. There are seats in the front of the boat and a small open area in the back where you can have a nap on the mat, play cards, read or have lunch.
We dock at the small town of Pak Beng (after about 6 hours) to spend the night. Our guesthouse here is very basic - a standard accommodation in this small trading port.
It can be quite cool from November to February so make sure you have some warm gear packed for this period. Due to dam construction upstream, water levels aren't as reliable as in previous years, and when the river is at its lowest from February to April, part of the journey may occasionally need to be made by land.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 37 Chiang Khong
Reboard our boat and cruise further before crossing the border into Thailand and our overnight in Chiang Khong (approx. 8hrs).
Formerly known as 'Juon', peaceful riverside Chiang Khong remains an important market town for the surrounding hill tribes and trade with Laos.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Days 38-39 Chiang Mai
Take a private minibus to Chiang Mai (approx 6 hrs).
The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous temples and an interesting old city area. This 'Rose of the North' is also known for its beauty and the friendliness of the local people.
There are so many things to do here - spectacular temples, delicious food, an enormous night market, picturesque river-front and fantastic shopping. Join your leader on a walk through the old city, or undertake the many optional activities available. Chiang Mai is a great place for hiring a bicycle, climb to Doi Suthep temple, sign up for a Thai cooking class or loosen those muscles with some traditional Thai massage.
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.
Optional Activities
  • Chiang Mai - Doi Suthep temple - THB50
  • Chiang Mai - Bicycle tour - THB750
  • Chiang Mai - Thai cooking course - THB850
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
      Itinerary disclaimer
      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.
      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

      Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
      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.
      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.
      The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, Intrepid has established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. Intrepid aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you.
      A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
      Money Exchange
      The official currency of Thailand is the Baht (THB).
      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 - notes should be 2006 series onwards. Clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Notes should be 2006 series onwards. Torn, dirty or old notes, as well as the $2US note will be refused in most businesses. ATMs also dispense in both KHR and US$.
      The official currency of Vietnam is Dong (VND).
      Some establishments will accept US currency (USD), but usually only for large purchases and in some restaurants and hotels that cater to tourists. It's not possible to exchange Vietnamese Dong outside the country, so convert or spend all your Dong before leaving.
      The official currency of Laos is the Kip (LAK) however, US$ are also widely used throughout Laos.
      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. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels. 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.
      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'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.
      Departure tax
      All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
      Important notes
      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).
      TET:
      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.
      WET SEASON:
      During the rainy months (approx. June to October), our mode of transport can be changed at short notice due to weather conditions.
      FLOODING:
      The Cambodia/Thailand land border is occasionally closed due to flooding. If this is the case, we may need to alter the itinerary and fly - at the travellers expense.
      TRANSPORT VARIATIONS:
      Occasionally the road between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang may be closed due to road conditions in which case we will have to fly between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. This will be at your expense, but we will endeavour to notify you of the road situation as early as possible. In this situation we would spend an extra night in Vientiane or Luang Prabang.
      Group size
      Maximum of 16 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 (8 nts), Overnight sleeper train (3 nts), Homestay (2 nts)
      OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
      The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
      TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
      Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
      CHECK-IN TIME
      Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
      PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
      If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
      WINDOWLESS ROOMS:
      Some hotels in Vietnam and Cambodia have windowless rooms, or windows that don't necessarily have a view. This is often due to high population density in large cities, however local building standards also don't require rooms to have windows. We do request rooms with windows, however they aren't always available.
      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.
      Meals
      11 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 2 Dinners
      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 600.00
      Transport
      Private minibus, Bus, Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Ferry, Tuk-Tuk, Songthaew
      LONG TRAVEL DAYS
      There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning.
      Group leader
      All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
      Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
      Joining point
      New World City Hotel
      2 Samsen Road
      Banglumphu
      Bangkok
      10200
      THAILAND
      Phone: +66 22815596
      Joining point description
      Centrally located and close-by the famous Khoa San road, the New World City Hotel is within walking distance of many of the area's main attractions such as: Grand Palace, National Museum, National Library and Wat Po. Rooms are equipped with private en-suite, air-conditioning, tv, phone & mini-fridge. The hotel has 24 hour reception and a restaurant.
      www.newworldcityhotel.com
      Joining point instructions
      Metered taxi ranks are located outside the airport entrance on the 2nd floor. Go out of the customs hall and walk outside the airport where there is a table with a sign saying "metered taxis". The cost is the metered fare plus a THB50 surcharge. If the taxi uses the toll way it is up to an extra THB70. The total fare should be about THB400 Baht (US$11). Non-metered taxis are also available, where you will be given a docket to pay the driver a set price of THB700 (US$20).
      Alternatively Intrepid offer a pre arranged transfer service option. Enquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer you will be met after exiting customs. Look for exit door 6 and our representative holding a sign with your name on it.
      If you have any problems and cannot locate our representative please go to the ATTA Counter (Association of Thai Travel Agents) near exit door 6 and ask to call our transfer company on one of the following 24 hour numbers:
      081 658 2727 or
      081 566 9324
      Normal check in time at the hotel is after 12.00noon.
      Arrival complications
      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.
      Finish point description
      Located in the old town between Tapae Gate and Nawaratana Bridge, close by to the Night Bazaar and Tha Non Kon Dern, Sunday Market. Rooms have tv, air conditioning and there is Wi-Fi access in the lobby.
      www.tapaeplacehotel.com
      Finish point instructions
      The easiest way to get from Tapae Place Hotel to Chiang Mai Airport is by taxi. A taxi will cost approximately THB200 and take 15-20 minutes.
      Emergency contact
      In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Thailand Office can be reached on Tel: +66 898 103 722 (Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Borneo, Indonesia & Phillipines) and Tel: +855 92 555 969 (Cambodia). Intrepid's Vietnam Office can be reached on Tel: +84 903 117 770. For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week (excluding Sunday). For further contact details please use the following page:
      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.
      VIETNAM:
      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.
      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.
      BORDER CROSSINGS:
      Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. The following are the international/administrative border crossings for this trip:
      Day 2 Thailand to Cambodia
      The Thailand border is Aranyaprathet
      The Cambodian border is Poipet
      Day 11 Cambodia to Vietnam
      The Cambodian border is Ba Vet
      The Vietnam border is Moc Bai
      Day 28 Vietnam to Laos
      The Vietnam border is Cau Treo
      The Laos border is Nam Phao
      Day 37 Laos to Thailand
      The Laos border is Houy Xai
      The Thailand border is Chiang Khong
      To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the following website useful: http://www.timeanddate.com
      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.
      CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
      The average temperature in Hanoi and Northern Laos in January is just 16 degrees Celsius - so pretty cold for South-East Asia. Bring a winter weight sweater and trousers when travelling in the winter months (Nov to Feb), and a jacket too if you feel the cold. You will need warm clothes for the boat trip from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai.
      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 ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
      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.
      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:
      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.
      LIFE JACKETS:
      While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
      CYCLING:
      Please note that helmets aren't provided for the sightseeing on bicycles.
      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.
      There has been a recent spate of bag/purse snatchings in Sihanoukville. They normally occur at night and often the assailant is on a motorbike. Travellers are reminded to leave all valuables at the hotel in a security envelope/safety box and to only take out money you will need for the evening. Carrying a bag can make you a target, if you choose to carry a bag, please ensure the bag is slung across the body. Don't walk alone if returning late at night and consider taking a 'remork' (tuk tuk) instead.
      TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
      Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
      SEAT BELTS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
      FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
      Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
      SWIMMING POOLS:
      You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
      BALCONIES:
      Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
      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.
      LOCAL DRESS:
      When packing be aware that 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 the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia 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 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.
      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.
      Carbon offset
      Carbon Offset C02-e 516.00 kgs per pax.
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