Classic Indochina Adventure Trip Notes

Classic Indochina Adventure

Last Modified: 02 Feb 2015
Classic Indochina Adventure
Trip code: TTKKC
Validity: 01 Jan 2015 to 31 Dec 2015
The Indochina spice shelf is as flavoursome and diverse as they come. Thailand offers a hectic flurry of colour and tradition, while Laos provides a subtle and subdued vibe by day and a fiery nightlife once the sun goes down. Cambodia packs a punch of history and has a touch of French tang; and Vietnam’s fresh vibrancy calms the senses, despite being just as chaotic as any of Asia’s big cities. This corner of the world is a favourite for many globetrotters and there is little question why - it’s cheap, has fantastic cuisine, pristine beaches, ancient wonders and relatively good air conditioning in the year-round hot weather. But the main thing that keeps adventurers coming back is the people, with their genuine smiles and generous national spirit.
This trip is run by our experienced sister company Peregrine Adventures. Your group is therefore likely to be a mixture of Intrepid passengers and other like-minded international travellers.
Table of Contents
StyleImportant notesEmergency contact
ThemesGroup sizeEmergency funds
MapYour fellow travellersVisas
ItinerarySingle travellersWhat to take
Also available to purchaseAccommodationHealth
We also recommendMealsSafety
Itinerary disclaimerTransportTravel insurance
Culture shock rating Joining point Responsible Travel
Physical ratingJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Spending moneyJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
TippingArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
Departure taxFinish point Feedback
Style
Comfort
  • Comfort is your style of travel if you want the whole grassroots experience with more inclusions, meals and creature comforts. While accommodation is predominantly tourist class (3-4 star), on some itineraries there is the opportunity to stay with a local family, spend the night on a train or camp out in exotic places (without putting up your own tent of course). Along the way, you'll really experience the destination up close. You'll mingle with locals, enjoy a taste of their way of life and gain special insights from your leader. This is not luxury travel, but real world experiences - just with a softer landing!
Themes
Explorer
Map
Classic Indochina Adventure
Itinerary
Day 1 Bangkok
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand.
Thailand's bustling capital, Bangkok is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food.
Loud, bright, chaotic and delightful, Bangkok is a city of modern excesses intermingled with simple traditions, all wrapped up in the famous smiles of the locals.
Arrive in Bangkok where you are transferred to the comfortable and centrally located hotel.
The day is free for you to explore Bangkok at leisure.
A pre-trip briefing is held in the evening, to meet the other members of your group and discuss the trip itinerary. Please check for a Welcome Notice on the noticeboard located near the hotel lifts which will provide your tour leader's name and the exact time and location of your Welcome Meeting.
Accommodation
Nouvo City Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 2 Chiang Rai
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.
This afternoon we transfer to the Bangkok airport and fly up to the northern city of Chiang Rai.
The charming city of Chiang Rai still has a small-town feel and is a lovely place to explore with a colourful night market and downtown area.
Included Activities
  • Bangkok - Wat Pho temple
  • Bangkok - Grand Palace
Accommodation
Wiang Inn Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 3 Pakbeng
An early start today, as we leave Chiang Rai and travel to Chiang Khong (approximately 2½ hours)
After completing border formalities we take a songthaew across the Mekong River to Huay Xai our first stop in Laos.
For centuries Huay Xai was a disembarkation point for Yunnanese caravans led by the Chinese Muslims on their way to Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai, in ancient Siam. Today it is a hustling ferry town on the banks of the Mekong River.
With last minute snack purchases at a local shop we board our slow boat for the trip down the Mekong River. The pace is very relaxed - a perfect way to observe the local lifestyle close up. Our private slow boat has plenty of room to stretch your legs,toilet on board, comfortable seats and dining tables to sit around and play cards, swap travel stories or enjoy a good book. The scenery is stunning, the pace is slow and it's the perfect way to relax into the slower pace of Laos.
We arrive in the evening in Pakbeng; a colourful village situated at the junction of the Mekong River and the smaller Beng River, hence the town’s name ‘Pak’ meaning ‘mouth’ in Lao. Hmong and tribal Thais are frequently seen on the main street of Pakbeng, and small vendors along the street sell local textiles and handicrafts.
Spend the night in a simple hotel. Please be warned that the accommodation standard is very basic, but also bear in mind that you are travelling in a remote area. Please have an open mind and come with an adventurous spirit!
Accommodation
Santisouk Guesthouse or similar (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Luang Prabang
Continue on our private slow boat on our journey down the Mekong River, gaining more insights into local rural life along the way.
The Mekong is a maze of flooded fields, floating neighbourhoods and is South-East Asia's tireless artery of life. For the millions whose survival is infinitely tied to its waters, the Mekong's tides have come to mirror the cycles of life itself. No journey to South-East Asia is complete without experiencing the cultures, cuisines and people that live along this unforgettable river.
Before arriving at Luang Prabang we stop at Pak Ou (meaning ‘mouth of the Ou River’), where the famous Tam Ting Cave houses thousands of Buddha images of various shapes and sizes, all brought there by devoted villagers.
Stop at the village of Ban Sang Hai, where they make the potent local rice-wine.
Our travel time will vary greatly, depending on the water levels, but we hope to arrive in Luang Prabang in the early evening.
Nestled in the hills of northern Laos, the tranquil city of Luang Prabang is studded with ornate temples, brimming with colourful markets and enriched by French colonial architecture.
We have the option to rise early to view the procession of monks on their daily outing collecting alms, a practice that dates back centuries. The people of the town wait out the front of their houses with food for the monks to collect and take back to the temple. It is done early as the monks cannot eat anything after midday. By giving food to a monk you ‘het bon’ or make merit, which should augur well for your next life!
Visit the city's major temples, including the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong and and Wat Wisunalat,
After our tour we enjoy the chance to walk around the local shops, which are well known for their hand-weaving and other interesting artefacts.
Visit he National Museum at the former Royal Palace, an interesting structure that dates from the early years of the 20th Century and combines traditional Lao architecture with French colonial influence.
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.
Included Activities
  • Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Cave
  • Luang Prabang - Wat Visunnala
  • Luang Prabang - Wat Xieng Thong
  • Luang Prabang - Kuang Si Waterfalls
Accommodation
New Daraphet Villa or similar (2 nts)
Day 6 Phonsavan
Travel on our Private bus to remote Xieng Khuang Province, (approx 8 hours) an area that was devastated by American bombing between 1964 and 1973. The high altitude means that the weather will be relatively cool.
Visit the province’s old capital of Muang Khun that was largely destroyed in the bombing raids, as well as the nearby villages, home to the Hmong hill tribe who have an interesting local culture and a colourful history. The Hmong people wear distinctive costumes and live at high altitudes.
Spend the night in a basic hotel in the small town of Phonsavan, which is the province’s current capital.
Phonsavanh is the capital of Xieng Khuang Province and home of the 'Plain of Jars', an area covered with huge jars made from sandstone, granite or calcified coral.
Accommodation
Anoulack Khen Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Days 7-8 Vientiane
In the morning we transfer out to visit the Plain of Jars.
Plain of Jars is an archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are littered all over the plateau. It is said that these jars are over 2000 years old, but there is no reliable way of dating them and archaeologists are still mystified as to their original purpose (opinions vary from burial urns to rice whisky vats).
Transfer to the airport to catch our flight to Vientiane - the capital of Laos.
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).
We visit the imposing Patuxai monument (also known as the Anousavari, which translates as ‘Victory’ in Lao) which is Vientiane's version of the Arc de Triomphe and dominates the city's main thoroughfare.
Wat Si Saket is the oldest temple in the city, while the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha image before it was taken by the Siamese in the late 18th Century. We visit both temples and the most famous structure in Laos, the That Luang stupa.
We enjoy an included dinner at the Makphet Restaurant in Vientiane. This restaurant is run by Peuan Mit an organisation founded by Friends-International in Vientiane in 2004, in partnership with the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare to address the needs of street children and young people in Laos. We are happy to support this organisation and the food is amazing!
Included Activities
  • Vientiane - Plain of Jars Site
  • Vientiane - Mouang Khoun & That Foun
  • Vientiane - Wat Sri Saket
  • Vientiane - Pratu Xai
  • Vientiane - That Luang
Accommodation
City Inn Vientiane or similar (2 nts)
Days 9-10 Phnom Penh
Take a flight to Phnom Penh to start the Cambodia section of the trip. Please note you will be unescorted on this flight.
Sua s'dei! Welcome to Cambodia.
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.
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.
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 and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
We have an included dinner at Friends the restaurant after our group meeting. Friends the restaurant is run by Mith Samlanh an organisation working with street children in Phnom Penh. Mith Samlanh offers food, shelter, medical care, training and educational facilities for over 1,800 homeless, vulnerable or abandoned children each day. It's a great restaurant to support and the food is delicious. The frozen fruit shares and Western and Asian fusion tapas dishes has put this restaurant on the must see list of any visit to Cambodia.
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.
Included Activities
  • Phnom Penh - Entrance to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and Choeung Ek
  • Phnom Penh - Guided Tour of Choeung Ek
  • Phnom Penh - Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda
Optional Activities
  • Phnom Penh - Wat Phnom - USD2
  • Phnom Penh - National Museum - USD5
  • Phnom Penh - Cyclo tour - USD4
Accommodation
Ohana Palace Hotel or similar (2 nts)
Days 11-13 Siem Reap/Angkor Wat
A short flight takes us to Siem Reap (approx 1 hour).
The small but expanding town of Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor. This is the most popular destination for travellers in all of Cambodia, perhaps even in South East Asia. The markets are a great place to shop or to try some cheap, delicious street food.
Temple-hop with our local guide to make the most of our visit to 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 we'll have plenty of time to fully appreciate the great archaeological sites of Angkor Wat, the Bayon and the jungle-covered Ta Prohm.
Visit the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) - an Intrepid Foundation project. This centre rehabilitates animals that have fallen victim to wildlife trafficking and is a breeding facility for highly endangered animal species. It's also a centre of education and information for the local population.
For the energetic consider the short trek (approx. 40mins) up the hill to the river of a thousand lingas (phallic symbols) descending into a pretty waterfall. This Hindu site pre-dates Angkor Wat by some 200 years; making it one the most ancient sites in the region.
Enjoy a delicious Khmer lunch with our friends at local organisation, Sala Bai - a training centre that is working with disadvantaged family's to develop a career in hospitality.
Included Activities
  • Siem Reap - Three Day Angkor Pass
  • Lunch at Sala Bai
  • Siem Reap - 2 days with a local guide
  • Siem Reap - Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity
Optional Activities
  • Siem Reap - Khmer cooking class - USD25
  • Khmer traditional massage - USD10
  • Siem Reap - Remork transport to Tonle Sap Lake - USD10
  • Siem Reap - Tonle Sap boat trip - USD15
  • Siem Reap - Landmine Museum - USD5
  • Siem Reap - Kbal Spean (river of a thousand lingas) - Free
Accommodation
Steung Siem Reap Hotel or similar (3 nts)
Days 14-15 Ho Chi Minh City
Fly from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City. Please note you will be unescorted on this flight.
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.
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 and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Check out the Reunification Palace. Formerly known as the Presidential Palace, it was the site of South Vietnam's surrender in April 1975.
Visit 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.
Visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. This former Viet Cong stronghold provides an insight into the resourcefulness and tenacity of the Vietnamese people, as well as a unique sense of what underground life was like during the American War.
Included Activities
  • HCMC - Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
Accommodation
Asian Ruby 1 Hotel or similar (2 nts)
Days 16-17 Hoi An
We depart Saigon and fly to Da Nang and then travel by mini bus to Hoi An (approx 1 hour)
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.
You have time here to explore the beautifully restored and preserved Chinese shop houses, enjoy the vibrant and busy market, visit Cua Dai Beach, cycle to the rice fields and browse the array of art galleries.
With lantern-lit streets, vibrant markets, skilled tailors, artisan shops, ancient houses, colourful temples and beautiful smiles, Hoi An is a Vietnamese wonderland.
Included Activities
  • Hoi An - Ancient town
Accommodation
Hoi An Historical Hotel or similar (2 nts)
Day 18 Hanoi
Transfer to the airport for a morning flight to the capital. Hanoi is one of Asia's most enchanting cities.
Hanoi is famous for its tranquil lake settings, French-colonial architecture, ancient temples, delectable cuisine and as the resting place of the revered former leader, Ho Chi Minh.
We take a guided half-day tour of Hanoi that captures the beauty and the history of the laid-back, tree-lined capital, visiting the major sights including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and paying a homage to Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. You will pass by the Hoan Kiem Lake and visit the historic Old Quarter.
We also include lunch at the KOTO café – an amazing project aimed at providing vocational training and experience in the hospitality industry for underprivileged young people. In the evening there is an option to enjoy a performance of the unique Water Puppets.
Included Activities
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
Accommodation
Lan Vien Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Day 19 Halong Bay
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.
You can leave luggage behind at our Hanoi hotel and pack an overnight bag. It is a three-hour drive to famous Halong Bay,
We travel to Bai Chay (Halong City West) where we board a boat for an exploration of the bay, enjoying a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available), as well as spending a night on board. We visit one cave in the area and, in the warmer months, there is a chance to enjoy a swim. Conditions may be somewhat more communal compared to staying in a hotel, however it is a wonderful experience to be spending a night on the bay – weather permitting, the views at sunset are incredible. Bedding and towels are provided.
All boats that we use have twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning. There may also be the chance to do some kayaking (optional and extra cost involved) on Halong Bay.
BOAT SHORTAGE:
Due to recent unforeseen late changes by local authorities in Halong Bay a large proportion of boats are now no longer permitted to stay overnight, thus resulting in a shortage of boats. To ensure we can accommodate all Intrepid travellers overnight on a boat we are occasionally using a larger boat (approx. 12 cabins) and splitting our groups across different boats. An Intrepid group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.
Included Activities
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
Accommodation
Overnight boat (1 nt)
Days 20-21 Hanoi
In the morning we sail back to the port, where we disembark and drive back to Hanoi. (approx 3.5 hours)
Free time to wander around and enjoy some of the city’s other attractions. Perhaps some shopping on Hang Gai Street or afternoon tea at the Metropole Hotel?
The tour ends after breakfast on Day 21.
Accommodation
Lan Vien Hotel or similar (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
  • TTKKC - Single Supplement 2015 (TTKKC)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
  • Cambodia & Vietnam Discovery (TKKCC)
  • Laos and Mekong Discovery (TLKA)
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.
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
On this trip, we have included gratuities for the essential services that you will receive as part of your tour package. This will cover tips to drivers, specialist local guides (where applicable), restaurant staff for included meals, porters, bellboys and other hotel staff, including room-cleaning staff.
This amount DOES NOT include a tip for your tour leader, so you may wish to set aside some funds for this. It is customary to tip your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $US2-4, or the equivalent in any currency used on the trip, per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
You also wish to put aside some money for your own tipping, such as when you are doing our own optional sightseeing or activity that involves local guides and/or drivers or when joining in optional groups meals or dining out on your own. In these instances, we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. The amounts can vary greatly according to destination, so we suggest that you ask your tour leader to give you guidance on what are appropriate amounts to tip.
Departure tax
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Important notes
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.
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).
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 traveller's expense.
MINIMUM AGE:
The minimum age on this trip is 15. Please note that triple cabins are not available. If travelling with a child, the child will need to share with one of the adults, and the other adult will share with another adult passenger, or pay a single supplement.
PASSPORT DETAILS
Please note for all flights in Vietnam, full names as per passport are required, including middle names. Please provide your exact name as per passport at the time of booking.
Group size
Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
Your group will be a mixture of Intrepid booked passengers and other international like-minded travellers from our sister company Peregrine Adventures.
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 accommodation (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.
A Single supplement is included on this trip. Please note the following nights the supplement is not available,
Day 3 Pakbeng
Day 19 Halong Bay
Accommodation
Steung Siem Reap Hotel or similar (3 nts), New Daraphet Villa or similar (2 nts), City Inn Vientiane or similar (2 nts), Ohana Palace Hotel or similar (2 nts), Asian Ruby 1 Hotel or similar (2 nts), Hoi An Historical Hotel or similar (2 nts), Lan Vien Hotel or similar (2 nts), Nouvo City Hotel or similar (1 nt), Wiang Inn Hotel or similar (1 nt), Santisouk Guesthouse or similar (1 nt), Anoulack Khen Hotel or similar (1 nt), Overnight boat (1 nt)
LAOS HOTELS
You may may find the hotels in smaller towns in Laos such as Pak Beng and Phonsavan to be a lower standard compared with other accommodation you experience on this trip. This is due to the basic infrastructure and limited choice of hotels in these areas. Despite this we hope you enjoy the laid back nature of these destinations.
Meals
20 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners
USD 400.00
Transport
Plane
Joining point
Nouvo City Hotel
2 Samsen Road, Pranakorn, Banglamphu Bangkok 10200 THAILAND
Banglumphu
Bangkok
10200
THAILAND
Phone: +66 22827500
Joining point description
A modern 4 star centrally located hotel in the Bangamphu area which is also known as the Old Bangkok City. The hotel is only 15 minutes walk from Khao San Road. and walking distance to many Buddhist temples and the Grand Palace.
All rooms have free WiFi, air conditioning, hair dryer and a fridge.
www.nouvocityhotel.com
Joining point instructions
Private arrival transfers are available at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. After exiting customs go outside and 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
If you are making your own way to the hotel, 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 US$12 (THB400). Non-metered taxis are also available, where you will be given a docket to pay the driver a set price of US$20 (THB700).
Normal check in time at the hotel is after 14:00.
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.
Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
Finish point
Lan Vien Hotel Hanoi
37A Ly Thuong Kiet St
Hanoi
VIET NAM
Phone: 84 437228888
Fax: 84 437606060
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, Burma & Phillipines) and Tel: +855 92 555 969 (Cambodia). 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 refer to:
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, 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$500, 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 (exceptions are citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan who are eligible for 30 day visa at land borders). A visa extension can be obtained in Thailand at an immigration office for approx. 2000THB or alternatively you can apply for a Thailand visa in advance from your embassy or consulate that will allow a 30 day stay when entering at an overland border.
If planning to enter Thailand via a land border multiple times during your travels, we recommend you pre-obtain a 60 day multiple entry visa from you embassy or consulate before you travel rather than attempting to obtain a visa at the border on multiple occasions which may result in being denied re-entry into the country.
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 at least 1 passport photos and up to US$60 cash (this may vary too) to fulfil the requirements. There will also be an Immigration Fee of USD1. 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.
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$30 (cost subject to change) - you will need a passport photo.
If a point of contact is requested, please write: Intrepid Cambodia 468 Sivatha Bld Siem Reap
E visas are now available for most nationalities through the official website www.evisa.gov.kh
From 01 October 2014 the E visa cost will be USD30 (visa fee) plus USD7 (processing fee)
IMPORTANT - please note the Cambodia Government has reported many fraudulent E visa websites that pretend to be official e visa websites. Intrepid recommends only using the official E visa website above or by contacting your travel agent.
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.
Most nationalities do not require a letter of invitation for Vietnam but if you do need one, please contact your sales agent for more information.
What to take
INTERNAL FLIGHT LUGGAGE ALLOWANCE:
Checked luggage allowance is a maximum 20kg, with up to 7kg carry on luggage. Any excess luggage charges can be paid directly to the airline at check-in.
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 and always using repellent. Please note that this mosquito is most active during daylight hours however care should be taken at all times.
BIRD FLU
There have recently been a number of isolated cases of Bird Flu in Asia. While the risk to travellers is very low, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of local authorities and the World Health Organisation. WHO recommends basic hygiene practices to limit the risk of infection:
• Avoid visiting live animal markets and poultry farms
• Avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with animal faeces
• Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes
• Do not attempt to bring any poultry products back
• Do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds
• Exercise good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing
For further information please visit: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/avian_influenza/en/index.html
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 and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your 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:
MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING:
Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City.
WATER SAFETY:
Take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It is expected that anyone taking part in water activities are able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
RENTING MOTORBIKES, QUAD BIKES AND JET SKIS
There have been incidents of scams involving rental of motorbikes and jet skis in areas frequented by tourists and expatriate residents in some regions of Cambodia including the town of Sihanoukville. Due to safety concerns we do not recommend renting motorbikes, quad bikes or jet skis in Cambodia.
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.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
SWIMMING POOLS:
You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.
SEAT BELTS:
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
LIFE JACKETS:
Intrepid will provide life jackets for private boats, but cannot guarantee that all public ferries will have enough life jackets or life rings for all clients.
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 by wearing sleeves and long trousers. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in areas of predominantly hot climate. In many rural areas women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.
ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:
While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including the World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for protection of Animals) advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link:
In recent times orphanage tourism has become popular in Cambodia. Intrepid Travel does not support unscheduled or random visits to orphanages and children's institutions, as these are a child's home - a place that should be safe and respect their right to privacy and dignity. Undoubtedly the majority of travelers have best interests at heart, but the reality is orphanage visits can negatively impact the children. For more information on how you can help protect children during your travels, see:
http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/rt/ChildSafe_Traveller_Tips.pdf
http://www.childsafe-international.org/
This trip may include some pre-arranged visits to organisation's that have been vetted by Intrepid Travel, and these will be facilitated by your group leader.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
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 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.
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 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.
* 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.
Feedback
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.