China, Laos and Vietnam overland tour

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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2021: 17 Jul
Holiday type
Small group holidays
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group leader
As well as taking care of all the day-to-day practicalities, your group leader is the one who will turn your trip into an adventure. Leaders are extraordinary characters – the kind of person who has spent 14 Christmas days on the slopes of Mount Everest, runs marathons wearing tiger suits to raise funds for their conservation and thinks nothing of leading an overland trip in Sudan or Afghanistan. Fearless and inspiring, group leaders are as important as the destination itself.

Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure. As well as doing crazy things like climbing Kilimanjaro 100 times, they also donate their time to local projects supported by travellers – such as rebuilding Sri Lankan villages following the 2004 tsunami.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Transport / people: On this trip you will be travelling on a mixture of public buses, trains, private charter buses and boats and ferries. By using shared means of public transport we are not contributing to further road emissions and are maximising our interactions with local communities. Also, by running overland trips we reduce carbon emissions by not flying.

Water: Our clients are sent detailed pre departure information before travelling with us which contains information on a variety of ways in which they can reduce the environmental and social aspects of their trip. This includes recommending taking a water bottle with a built in filtration system on the trip with them. In order to encourage this, we have set up an arrangement with a filtration water bottle supplier which not only gives our clients a discount to purchase these bottles but also, donates money to one of our favoured charities for every bottle purchased.

The Impacts of this Trip

On this trip we stay at a variety of small locally run hotels/hostels from rustic river-fronted bush lodges to beach 'bungalows'. We encourage our travellers to immerse themselves in the local culture and to support local enterprises along the way. Our travellers have the opportunity for cookery courses, with local chefs ; In Hoi An, the local tailors are renowned for their expertise and we encourage supporting them and experimenting with your style too!

In Laos we stay in a riverside lodge near the Konglor Caves that provides paid employment to the local community living along the remote riverbanks. Local boatsman will ferry you using their traditional Long-tail boats to the Caves and act as Guides wheile you are there. There are few other options for paid employment for these communities.
In Luang Nam Tha, Laos we hire a local guide and transport for the day and visit local villages and the local market where we purchase lunch items, supporting the local community directly. We also visit a Women's Weaving Co-operative in Laos, where we watch the craftswomen at work and then have the opportunity to purchase their wares.

As a company, we are keen to share the benefits of travel with local communities that would not normally gain from the 'tourist dollar.' As such, in Zimbabwe (one of our other areas of operation) for the past ten years plus, we have been taking a group of approximately 100 children from a Children's Home out on a series of day trips every year, ending the trips with a big party at their Home. Last year we ran this trip in conjunction with Responsible Travel's 'Trip for a Trip' scheme. These children rarely leave the compound they live on. Many have never seen the fantastic scenery and Game that Zimbabwe has to offer. We feel privileged to be able to share some of their country's sights with them. We use our own vehicles and crew to run the trip (along with the Home staff) and we're never really sure who enjoys it the most, our crew, or the children!! We are looking at ways of replicating this scheme in other areas we operate in, such as South East Asia.


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