Thailand, Vietnam & Laos holiday
(3-4*) & most meals as per itinerary.
(Visas & local tips not included.) Return flights from the UK from £600, optional single room supplement £425 (Fully licensed, ATOL protected.)
Description of Thailand, Vietnam & Laos holiday
Voted number 1 in Wanderlust Magazine's top 9 long journeys for 2020.
Between our starting point in Thailand’s Chiang Mai and conclusion in Hanoi, much of this swathe of rugged mountains remains remote and rarely visited yet, on this unforgettable 3-week tour, you’ll discover some of Southeast Asia’s most spectacular and unspoilt scenery and some of its friendliest residents.
We’ll take you through northern Thailand and Laos’s Golden Triangle – large parts of which were off-limits until relatively recently – to the charming World Heritage Town of Luang Prabang. Nestled in the mountains and aside the Mekong itself, we’ll explore the well-preserved colonial architecture and ancient temples as well as surrounding landscapes before heading over the mountains to another UNESCO-listed site, the enigmatic Plain of Jars.
The next leg of our tour takes us through dramatic limestone, karst scenery and the unusual ‘Hidden City’ cave complex of Vieng Xai, over the border into Vietnam’s Pu Luong National Park and the celebrated rice terraces of Mu Cang Chai. We’ll stay in delightful and well-appointed eco-resorts, hike through the varied and magnificent landscapes with plenty of opportunities to meet some of the myriad, still very traditional minorities who call these far flung mountains home.
An enthralling, memorable and highly original tour.
1. Discover the ancient temples, bustling markets and quiet lanes of Thailand's charming Chiang Mai
2. Tour of the infamous Golden Triangle region: border markets, scenic landscapes and ancient cities
3. Explore the temples, colonial architecture, narrow lanes and bustling markets of World Heritage Luang Prabang
4. Spectacular karst mountains, rice terrace-filled valleys and myriad hill tribe villages of Vietnam's remote northwest
5. Journey through some of Southeast Asia's most spectacular, yet least-known, landscapes
6. Discover the delicious and contrasting cuisines of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam in local cafes, street markets and even a jungle picnic
1. Add on a 2-day trip and boat cruise of World Heritage Halong Bay
2. Head back into the mountains by train for our Sapa mini-tour of the old mountain-top French hill-station
3. Take a domestic flight to Phu Quoc for some quality ‘R and R’ time on this lush tropical island
4. A drive from Saigon Airport sees you in a beachside resort at the famous coastal town and dunes of Mui Ne
5. Fly to Nha Trang for some island time on unspoilt Whale Island with snorkelling, diving and nature hikes
6. Hanoi to Siem Reap allows you to add on our superb tour of Angkor Wat’s jungle-clad temples
Note groups sizes are 2 to maximum 12 persons with most meals (local-style) included and accommodation in comfortable 3-4* hotels.
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3 Reviews of Thailand, Vietnam & Laos holiday
Reviewed on 06 Feb 2023 by Carol JacksonThe most memorable part of the holiday was the riverside stay and both cruises on the Mekong for me but the markets were a close second... Brilliant. Read full review
Reviewed on 08 Mar 2020 by Lissa WaiteChallenging, fascinating...Also on 2 separate occasions our guide prepared “picnics” for us in unusual places and it was amazing to see how meals could be conjured up using a machete, available bamboo and banana plants and some ingredients from the market we had brought along. Read full review
Reviewed on 26 Nov 2019 by Sharn DuffThe absolute highlight of our trip was the interaction with our guide Pong and driver Noi during the Laos. Read full review
PlanetOur aim is to provide a genuinely small group, low impact tour including a mixture of popular and off the beaten track sites on our itinerary. By limiting groups to small sizes (maximum 12 persons) we aim to reduce the impact on both local communities and the environment whilst allowing for greater interaction with said communities.
It also results in a higher guide/customer ratio thus greater facility for supervision and individual assistance and allows us to use smaller hotels and restaurants and employ the services of more genuinely ‘local’ operators perhaps not otherwise well equipped for larger groups.
By combining the well-known tourist sites with rarely visited destinations this diverts tourist revenue and contact with responsible tourism into areas not usually benefiting as well as providing a more authentic view of the region visited. Rarely visited sites and districts on this tour include: Luang Nam Tha, Nam Ha Protected National Biodiversity Area, Xieng Khouang ancient city, Sam Nuea and Viengxay Caves, (all Laos) plus Pu Luong National Park, Tu Le and Nghia Lo districts, Vietnam.
Providing suitable, relevant information for our customers; to help them to gain a wider understanding of our style of tourism that focuses on learning, genuine interaction with the local communities, reciprocity and cultural exchange processes is also a key element of this tour.
As with all our tours national park visits are included and activities such as birdwatching offered which we hope will encourage protection of the natural environment and provide financial incentives for doing so.
All hotels are small and independently owned with proven responsible travel credentials and all (fully-licensed) guides and drivers are locally employed.
Meals are provided in either locally-run restaurants or local-style cafes, market and street stalls. All products are locally sourced and all staff are local residents. The emphasis is also very much on traditional Thai, Lao and Vietnamese food which we hope increases an interest and pride in the region’s cuisine.
Additional food products - for takeaway lunches, picnics etc – are deliberately purchased from local bakeries and /or fresh produce markets rather than chain supermarkets.
All transport is locally owned – whether minibuses or boats and tuk-tuks for shorter journeys.
With regards souvenirs our clients are also encouraged to buy from either markets or outlets attached to aid and educational organizations such as Luang Prabang’s Ock Top Pop for example rather than the large, purpose-built souvenir stores.
We ensure to the best of our ability that all accommodation used on this tour employs sound environmental and social practices in terms of recycling, water conservation and product sourcing as well as employment policies.
By explaining our methods and the reasons behind them local agents, guides and hotels are encouraged by us to adopt further responsible tourism practices themselves and guides and drivers are provided with additional training in this respect.
Furthermore, accommodation is specifically chosen with location in mind so that at any given destination on the tour most key sites are within easy walking or cycling distance thus keeping vehicle use to a minimum on the itinerary. This also negates the need for any form of taxis during free time as guests can walk or cycle to any points of interest.
To reduce transport all staff are locally employed. Lunches and dinners are all Vietnamese style and taken in local eateries which use 100% locally sourced products. Again, any inclusive meals consist of traditional Vietnamese fare so are heavy on vegetables and sustainably-sourced fish, light on meat and lack any dairy products.
PeopleThis tour includes visits to the following projects: Free the Bears and Ock Top Pop (both Luang Prabang) and Mines Advisory Group (Phonsavan).
Entrance fees and/or donations help the following aid projects: Free the Bears (Luang Prabang), Ock Top Pop sustainable silk weaving organisation, Mines Advisory Group (Phonsavan) while a portion of ticket fees at: The Plain of Jars, Luang Prabang Fine Arts Centre, Luang Prabang National Museum, Kuang Si Waterfall, Viengxay Caves and numerous other sites goes towards restoration, conservation and local development as well as providing revenue and employment.
On a general level, leaders and guides provide suitable, relevant information for our customers; to help them to gain a wider understanding of our style of tourism that focuses on learning; genuine interaction with the local communities, reciprocity and cultural exchange processes. To be aware of the potential impact of tourism on the local society, culture and environment, and to behave and dress appropriately with a respect and appreciation for local customs, mores and traditions and a respect for the ecology of areas visited. Our guides and leaders thus facilitate communication of our values to both travellers and local communities, educating them in sustainable tourism practices.
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