Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, following the Mekong River

“A fascinating journey exploring three countries, with the mighty Mekong River as your guide through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.”

Highlights

Thailand | Bangkok guided tour | Chiang Rai | Golden Triangle | Chiang Khong | Laos | Huay Xai | two-day personalised cruise | Pakbeng | Luang Prabang walking tour | Kuang Si Falls | Cambodia | Siem Reap | temples of Angkor | Tonle Sap Lake | Phnom Penh | Choeung Ek Killing Fields | Kampot | Kep | sunset cruise on the Tonle Sap River

Description of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, following the Mekong River

Discover the sites of Bangkok on a guided tour, follow the Mekong on a relaxing two-day boat cruise, temple-hop from Luang Prabang to Vientiane in Laos, see the sunrise at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, then unwind in the quiet fishing town of Kep and the nearby riverside town of Kampot.

Follow the Mekong river through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia on this 16-day Southeast Asia tour.

Start in Thailand and explore colourful, bustling Bangkok on a guided tour before flying to the quieter Chiang Rai in the north of the country. At the Thai/Laos border you'll board a private boat for a two-day cruise following the Mekong River the UNESCO listed city of Luang Prabang and the sleepy capital of Vientiane, before flying to Cambodia. In Cambodia, you'll explore the ancient temple complex of Angkor, then learn about the Khmer Rouge and Cambodia's dark past with visits to Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek (a poignant reminder of a difficult period of Cambodia's history, still in living memory for many Cambodians). To finish the trip, you'll journey south to explore the peaceful coastal town of Kep, the nearby riverside town of Kampot and the beautiful Rabbit Island.

Day-by-day experiences

Day 1:Arrive in Bangkok (Thailand) - Upon arrival at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, you will be met by a representative and transferred to your accommodation. Your guide will meet you at your hotel in the evening to brief you about your itinerary and recommend some great places to eat in this exciting city.
Day 2:Bangkok City Tour & Flight to Chiang Rai - This morning your local guide will take you to Bangkok’s magnificent temples and palaces, including Thailand’s most sacred sites — the glittering Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho with its spectacular 46-metre long Reclining Buddha. After lunch, you’ll transfer back to the airport for a flight to Chiang Rai in northern Thailand, near the Golden Triangle, bordering Myanmar and Laos. This evening you can browse through the bustling Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, where hill tribe people and lowlanders gather to sell their handicrafts.
Day 3:Mekong River Cruise - This morning you’ll take a two-hour trip to the Thai border town of Chiang Khong and then you’ll cross the border by boat to Huay Xai in Laos, where your guide will help you get your Laos entry visas on arrival. You’ll board a private boat for a two-day cruise down the Mekong River, passing beautiful jungle scenery and traditional villages. This evening you’ll spend the night in Pakbeng, a small village in Laos located on the Mekong River halfway between the Thai border at Huay Xai and Luang Prabang in Laos.
Day 4:Mekong River Cruise - Today you’ll continue your cruise south along the Mekong River towards Luang Prabang. You’ll stop to explore the fascinating Pak Ou Caves, which contain hundreds of Buddha statues, before arriving in Luang Prabang in the late afternoon. Luang Prabang has been claimed by UNESCO to be the best-preserved city in Southeast Asia. Here, you can wander the streets and back alleys and you’ll soon discover why so many people fall in love with this beautiful town with its gleaming temple roofs, fading French architecture and stunning mountain backdrop.
Day 5:Explore Luang Prabang - Today, you’ll enjoy a half-day guided walking tour of Luang Prabang. You’ll visit Wat Xieng Thong with its sweeping roof and rare reclining Buddha, and Wat Wisunalat which represents the earliest style of Laotian architecture and Luang Prabang’s oldest operating temple. You’ll then climb 300 steps to the top of Phu Si Hill to take in panoramic views of the city and the Mekong River.
Day 6:Explore Luang Prabang - Today, you’ll have an early start as you’ll join the residents of Luang Prabang as they offer alms to the hundreds of saffron-robed Buddhist Monks who line the streets of the city every morning. This sacred ceremony is quite spectacular and in our opinion certainly worth getting up early to witness it.
Day 7:Explore Luang Prabang & Kuang Si Falls - This morning you’ll travel 29 kilometres outside of Luang Prabang to Kuang Si Falls, a beautiful cascading waterfall surrounded by lush jungle. The best way to see the falls is to trek along a forest trail that winds through local villages and offers views of the mountain landscapes. This three-to-four-hour trek brings you to the beautiful emerald pools where you can take a refreshing dip. This evening, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in a traditional Baci ceremony in Luang Prabang. The Baci ceremony is a combination of Animism and Buddhism and these ceremonies are common to Laos. The ceremonies celebrate events and occasions such as weddings, births, the beginning of a new year, welcoming something or someone important, or the return of someone to the family. The ceremony is followed by a traditional dance and then dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 8:Fly to Siem Reap - Today, you’ll fly south from Luang Prabang to Siem Reap in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Siem Reap is the gateway to the Angkor complex, however there is much more to this historical city than the Angkor temples.
Day 9:Explore Angkor - You’ll start early this morning to explore the famous jungle-submerged temples of Ta Prohm at dawn. Ta Prohm, which featured in the film Tomb Raider, is one of the most atmospheric temples in the Angkor temple complex. Later, you’ll discover Banteay Srei, a temple famed for its intricate carvings depicting battles, scenes of conquest and Khmer daily life. Built in the 10th century and dedicated to the Hindu God, Shiva, this remote temple is one of Angkor’s highlights. Next, you’ll visit the Cambodia Land Mine Museum, located approximately 25 kilometres north of Siem Reap. This museum was founded by a former child soldier whose parents were killed by the Khmer Rouge and it is staffed by victims and orphans of mines. The aim is to educate people about the dangers of landmines, where they came from, who laid them, how they work, and their presence in Cambodia. This afternoon, you’ll take a boat ride on Tonle Sap Lake, where you’ll see floating villages and get an understanding about the local life here, which is ruled by the monsoon rains.
Day 10:Explore Angkor - It's another early start this morning as you’ll visit the temple of Angkor at sunrise. Angkor Wat is the centrepiece of the Angkor temple complex and it's particularly spectacular at sunrise, though can be very crowded (ask your guide for a recommendation if you'd rather a more peaceful sunrise location). The sun rises behind the temple, creating a stunning reflection in the pool in front of Angkor Wat, perfect for an iconic photo opportunity. You’ll take a packed breakfast with you so that you can stay at the temple complex after most of the large tour groups return to their hotels for breakfast. In the afternoon, you’ll visit some of the lesser-visited temples including the majestic Preah Khan, the healing temple of Neak Pean, and then you’ll watch sunset from the upper platform of the crematorium temple of Pre Rup.
Day 11:Fly to Phnom Penh - This morning we will transfer to the airport for a domestic flight to Phnom Penh. Today, you'll take a tour of the capital, beginning at the Royal Palace, which is the home of the current Cambodian Monarch, King Sihamoni. Next, you’ll visit the National Museum of Cambodia where you can marvel at its collection of classic Khmer craftsmanship. Then you’ll enjoy a cyclo tour of the city – your cyclo driver will show you famous landmarks including the Buddhist temple of Wat Phnom, the National Library and Raffles Hotel Le Royal, and then you’ll head to Psar Thmei (Central Market) before winding through the small back streets, such as Street 178, which is lined with art shops and boutiques, and then you’ll pass the Independence Monument, the glittering Royal Palace and the stunning National Museum.
Day 12:Explore Phnom Penh & Transfer to Kep - Today you’ll learn more about the Khmer Rouge regime and its impact on Cambodia. Although the Khmer Rouge ruled the country for less than four years, this chapter of history devastated the county, its heritage and its people. On your guided tour you’ll visit Tuol Sleng Prison Museum (S-21) – this former high school was used by the Khmer Rouge as a centre for torture and interrogation, and now serves as a museum and a memorial. You’ll also visit another important landmark of Cambodia’s tragic past, the infamous Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, which are located just outside the city. Tuol Sleng Prison Museum (S-21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are very emotional places to visit and not suitable for children, however they offer an opportunity to learn about Cambodian history during the time of the Khmer Rouge regime and serve as a poignant reminder of the country's dark past. Later this afternoon, you’ll leave Phnom Penh and head towards the quiet coastal town of Kep.
Day 13:Explore Kep & Kampot - The relaxed fishing town of Kep is famous for its fantastic swimming beach, friendly locals, spectacular sunsets and superb fresh seafood, especially the local fresh crab. Today you’ll have time to explore Kep and you’ll also enjoy a guided tour of nearby Kampot, a lovely riverside town with some of Cambodia’s best-preserved colonial architecture. During your tour of Kampot, you’ll visit a spectacular Hindu cave temple called Phnom Chhnork. Later this afternoon, you’ll enjoy a sunset cruise on the Kampot River before transferring back to your hotel.
Day 14:Explore Koh Thonsay (Rabbit Island) - Today you’ll take a short boat ride to a small simple island called Koh Thonsay (also known as Rabbit Island), where you can spend a relaxing afternoon on the palm-fringed sandy beaches and swimming in the crystal clear waters.
Day 15:Return to Phnom Penh & Tonle Sap Cruise - This morning you’ll have some free time to enjoy Kep before your transfer back to Phonm Penh. This evening, you’ll enjoy a sunset cruise on the Tonlé Sap River during which you’ll pass Cham houseboats and floating villages and you’ll see the sun set behind the majestic Royal Palace.
Day 16:Depart from Phnom Penh - Your Southeast Asia adventure comes to a close. After breakfast this morning you’ll check out of your accommodation and be driven to the airport for your flight home.

Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, following the Mekong River

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

On this itinerary you a boat ride out from Kep to Rabbit Island. There are no developments here other than some very simple family-run bungalows and restaurants and seaweed farming is the only other activity on the island. By travelling exclusively in small, private groups we cause a minimum of disruption to the local environment which much of the community still relies on for their livelihoods.

To ensure that we are offering ground-breaking itineraries and are always keeping up-to-date with the latest developments abroad, our UK staff travel regularly to our destinations.

Our UK office takes a leading role in setting the standards for an environmentally friendly work environment. We work with local government to recycle our waste and continually look for new ways to be greener.

Community

Talk to one of our tailor-made specialists and ask us about Packing for a Purpose. This initiative allows you to use some of your luggage space to take supplies to Pakbeng Lodge in Laos. Here even the most basic supplies will help to support the great work of the associated free community health clinic.

We employ local guides and support staff who we pay fair wages, often exceeding government standards which we still consider too low, and thereby remove the reliance on tipping from travellers for livelihoods.

Our accommodation choices make use of locally owned properties where possible and often include adventurous, authentic choices such as local homestays which therefore involve local people and their communities in the very fabric of our holidays.

We encourage all our travellers to research local customs and read your trip notes before you depart to ensure you are conscientious and respectful in a different culture.

In most cases we strongly recommend that you do not give money to children beggars. If begging is a successful enterprise, parents are encouraged to forsake their children’s education in pursuit of this opportunity.

Talk to us about packing for a purpose and see if you can get involved by making a small material contribution to the communities you are visiting. We have developed partnerships with charities and accommodations throughout Southeast Asia and are constantly working to extend our reach with the help of our travellers.

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