26 February 2017
This wonderful 16 day tour is perfect for anyone wanting to get a real insight into two fascinating countries. Beginning in the pulsating Thai capital Bangkok and ending in Vientiane, the fascinating capital city of Laos, you will travel across the countryside seeing so many iconic sights and meeting the local peoples. Highlights include visits to the famous Bridge over the River Kwai and seeing the stunning temples at Luang Prabang.
On arrival at Bangkok you will be met by one of our tour representatives and driven to your hotel in the city. Relax after the journey or go out and explore on your own and tonight meet your fellow travellers and your tour leader for welcome drinks and a briefing. This is a great chance to get to know your fellow travellers and talk about the adventures that await you. You will also be given a welcome pack containing all the details of this exciting tour.
With a population of seven million Thailand’s capital is interesting, provoking but most of all exhilarating. Known as the City of Angels this bustling metropolis, although modern, is unmistakably Thai. Today you visit some of the top attractions. Explore the canals by boat then continue onto the Grand Palace, the former residence of the much loved Royal family and the resting place for the sacred Emerald Buddha. Visit the huge reclining Buddha in Wat Pho temple and the afternoon is free to discover the local cuisine or go shopping.
Your travels over the next three days will take you through some of the most beautiful rain forest in Thailand - the area around the River Kwai and the town of Kanchanaburi, a journey of three hours. On the outskirts of Kanchanaburi you will enjoy a once in a lifetime experience with Thailand’s royal animal, the elephant. At Elephant World sanctuary you can feed the gentle giants and take them to the river and have the time of your life swimming with them and climbing on their backs. In the afternoon continue on by road to your resort.
Leave your river accommodation for the infamous Hell Fire Pass to visit an Australian-commissioned museum which stands as a moving monument to the wartime POWs who died while building the Burma-Siam Railway. Board the ‘Death Railway’ train, one of Thailand’s most scenic and most popular train rides. Though the views are lovely, it’s the history that makes the ride so special. You travel across the Wang Po viaduct, where a trestle bridge clings to the cliff face – almost every man who worked on this part of the railway died.
Travel east towards Ayuthaya today and spend time visiting some of the more intact and famous of old Ayuthaya’s World Heritage-listed temples before driving to Bangkok Airport for your short flight to Chiang Mai. The walled city of Chiang Mai was built in 1296 as capital of the fabled Lanna Kingdom of northern Thailand. Over the next 600 years the city became a centre for religious worship and a base for the manufacture of refined art work. On arrival check in to your hotel.
This morning you join in an an interactive cooking demonstration in lush surrounds of your hotel. There is no better way to learn Thai cooking but from its origin and this cooking school is an ideal home-style learning environment that is different from most. Learn about the many ingredients commonly used and enjoy your creations for lunch. In the afternoon explore one of Thailand’s most sacred and famous temples, travelling up the mountain to visit Wat Prathat Doi Suthep where you get breathtaking views of the city at dusk.
After all the travelling and sightseeing, today you are free to enjoy Chiang Mai at your own pace. You can shop till you drop, take a trip down the Mae Ping River or just relax by the pool . . . the choice is yours. If the fancy takes you, why not jump in a rickshaw for a ride through the old city, exploring the narrow alleyways and winding pathways passing markets, temples and a vast array of unique 'street life'. Then spend your last night enjoying a group dinner savouring the great Thai food.
Today you leave Chiang Mai and travel to Chiang Rai, the gateway to the Golden Triangle. The Golden Triangle is the name given to the area where Thailand meets its neighbouring countries, Laos and Myanmar (Burma), and is home to some of Thailand’s most picturesque scenery and colourful hill tribes. Tonight meet your new tour leader and the rest of your group for welcome drinks and a briefing on everything you will be seeing and doing in Laos.
Following breakfast, leave for the atmospheric Lanjia Lodge, travelling through the The Golden Triangle. In the 1960s and 70s, much of the world’s opium came through this mountainous and once-isolated part of Asia. Visit the Hall of Opium museum and in the afternoon, arrive at Lanjia Lodge, where your are given an overview of your spectacularly-set accommodation near the Mekong River. Take a walk through nearby Hmong and Lahu villages and in the evening, dine at Lanjia Lodge and watch a cultural performance.
Drive towards the border with Laos, the ‘Land of a Million Elephants.’ The drive east will take you to of one of the great rivers of the world, the Mekong. Here at the border, the Mekong divides Thailand from ‘laid back’ Laos, a sparsely populated country and home to a graceful and unaffected people. After visa and immigration formalities, board your boat for a cruise down the Mekong to the bustling riverside village of Pakbeng, home to the Hmong and Thai Lu people, where you stay tonight.
Today cross the Mekong to mingle with elephants which used to work in the illegal logging industry. Learn about the traditional role of the elephant in Lao culture, and the relationship mahout masters share with their animals. See the elephants being bathed, and take part in feeding. Later, re-board your boat for a six hour journey along the Mekong to Luang Prabang. The trip takes you past precious verdant forest and sleepy villages and includes a stop at the Pak Ou Caves with their thousands of Buddha statues.
Luang Prabang is Laos’ most beautiful and engaging town. Surrounded by mountainous forests and situated at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong rivers, it has a tranquil, old-world charm. French architecture blends delightfully with more than 30 gilded Buddhist temples to create a town rich in atmosphere and history. Begin your discoveries with a walking tour of main sites and in the evening watch a game of petanque then stroll to a tranquil Buddhist temple for sunset drinks and snacks overlooking the river and mountains.
Rise early this morning and see robed Buddhist monks collecting alms, following an ancient ritual. Then, at its most active, explore a local morning market and learn about some of the delectable Lao fruits and snacks which make up the local diet. Later travel to the beautiful Kuang Si falls to swim, explore and be surrounded by turquoise waters and jungle, and visit a nearby bear sanctuary to see Asiatic Black bears rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. Return to town with time to explore some more with an evening option of a cooking class.
Today you fly to Vientiane, located on the Mekong and the country’s capital. The city today is bustling with activity and development, and is growing quickly. Begin with a visit to the grand Patuxai Monument, reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Follow with an exploration of the sombre COPE Centre, which provides prosthetic limbs for victims of exploded ordinance and brings attention to the after-effects of the Indochina war. Tonight, sample Vientiane’s burgeoning dining scene and visit the vibrant night market
Prepare yourself for a day of discoveries, with a morning stop at a local café. A morning coffee has become an innate part of Lao culture, and the beans grown in the south are regarded as some of the finest in the world. Begin your sightseeing in earnest with a visit to the golden-spired stupa, That Luang, then delve into the cloistered corridors of Vientiane’s oldest temple. End the day with a traditional Lao baci farewell ceremony and a musical performance, followed by a feast of traditional ‘jaew’ dips and the famous sticky rice.
It’s time to say goodbye to Laos, its people, and your 16 days of memorable experiences, when your fabulous tour around two countries comes to an end. Time for some more sightseeing or last minute shopping for souvenirs before you are picked up from your city hotel and driven to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey back home. This tour makes a great add on to any longer holiday in Thailand, Burma, Vietnam or Cambodia.
Classic fr £2510pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated