Days
17
Price from
€1,650EUR

The highlights tour. See the best of the best in Bangkok, haggle and feast in Chiang Mai, chill on a private slow boat up the Mekong, fall in love with Luang Prabang, explore some rad caves, kayak and hang ten in Vang Vieng and Vientiane, rock and roll in Phnom Penh and explore the temples Tomb Raider-style in Siem Reap.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2016:
On the 13th of October 2016 the Thai Government announced the passing of his majesty, the King of Thailand. Following the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej a 1 year mourning period has been declared in Thailand. In the first 30 days all government offices will fly the Thai flag at half-mast and there will likely be restrictions on the opening hours or selling of alcohol at entertainment venues including pubs and clubs. I. As this is an emotional time for Thailand and its people we ask that our travellers wear dark coloured clothing over the next 30 days as a mark of respect to the much loved King.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017:
In 2017 the trip code for this trip will be GTLCC


Start
Bangkok, Thailand
Finish
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Countries
Cambodia, Laos, Thailand
Code
GTLC
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
4 reviews
Ages
Min 18 , Max 39
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • It doesn’t get more Southeast Asian than cruising down the Mekong River in a traditional-style boat, and lucky you will get two days of if here

  • Get seriously laid-back in Laos and find out why it’s one of the most chilled countries around

  • Jump on an overnight train in Thailand, maybe the best form of transport ever – travelling like a local, making new mates, and waking up in a new place all rolled into one

  • You know a place is special if the UNESCO guys stick it on their list, and exotic Luang Prabang is just that – French villas, Buddhist temples, the mighty Mekong and the tastiest bakeries and cafes

  • This trip hits all the must-sees of Cambodia. Is it possible to fall in love with a pile of stones? You might think so after your time at Angkor Wat

Is this trip right for you?

  • There's a lot of travelling on local transport, with some long travel days. Laos is a less developed country, but things also just take time here. But, hey, you're on holidays, right?

  • Accommodation is basic, but clean and comfortable. The simplicity of life in Laos is one of its many, many charms.

  • Some activities and meals are included, but most are optional. The good thing about this is you have loads of free time and can choose how to spend it. You won't have trouble finding things to do!

  • Be prepared for a lot of walking around Angkor in often hot weather. Be sure to bring suitable footwear and drink lots of water.

Itinerary

Arrive in Bangkok and get to grips with this awesome city. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have these ready for your leader.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bangkok - Chinatown Food Discovery Urban Adventure - THB2149
  • Bangkok - Temple & River of Kings Urban Adventure - THB2465
  • Bangkok - Tuk Tuk Experience Urban Adventure - THB1790
  • Bangkok - Bangkok by Bike Urban Adventure - THB1904
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Kick things off by visiting Bangkok’s most famous sight, the Grand Palace. The rest of the day is yours to do what you like: shop and haggle for bargains or check out Chinatown. Head north to Chiang Mai in the evening on an overnight train (approximately 13 hours), sleeping in an air-conditioned berth. Multi-share compartments are air-conditioned and have bunk beds with sheets and a pillow provided. Your baggage travels in the carriage with you. There's also a food and drink service available on board (they don't let you go thirsty here).

Please see important information in the "packing"' section of the trip notes regarding strict dress code for the Grand Palace visit.

Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bangkok - Grand Palace
Optional Activities
  • Bangkok - Thai Massage - THB250
  • Bangkok - Jim Thompson's House - THB150
  • Bangkok - Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) - THB50
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Arrive in Chiang Mai in the morning. The day is yours – see how many activities you can pack into 24 hours. There are over 120 temples in the city centre alone. You can set off on an excursion to the top of Doi Suthep. There are a few hundred steps to climb, but the views are well worth it. Maybe treat yourself to a traditional Thai massage, or even partake in a cooking class so you can impress your friends in the kitchen when you get home. The night bazaar is a great chance to practice those ever-important bargaining skills.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Chiang Mai - Flight of the Gibbon zipline - THB3999
  • Chiang Mai - Doi Suthep temple - THB50
  • Chaing Mai - Baan Thai Cookery School Half Day Course - THB800
  • Chiang Mai - Thai massage - THB200
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
You'll feel like a real traveller today when you catch the local bus to Chinag Khong via Chiang Rai (approximately 6.5 hours). Get through the border formalities, cross the Friendship Bridge to Huay Xai, and boom! You're in Laos. Huay Xai is a peaceful little town where you’ll have loads of free time. This is a good place to get stuck into your holiday reading, or get into a friendly argument with your new friends about the merits of the book versus the kindle. Some things to do out and about include climbing the Naga stairs to Wat Jom Khao Manilat, and visiting a minority village nearby where they make rice whiskey, noodles and handicrafts (ask your leader about it).
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Board a slow boat for a trip down the Mekong River (approximately 7 hours). This is where the real relaxation starts, as you ease into proper holiday mode. Read a book, play cards, swap travel stories or just watch the amazing scenery pass by. Arrive in Pakbeng late in the afternoon and have a wander around this colourful village. This place is at the junction of the Mekong and Beng rivers. Remember, 'nam' means 'river', so if you say 'Nam Beng River', you're saying 'river' too many times.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Continue on the private slow boat, stopping to stretch your legs and explore the Pak Ou Caves, which contain hundreds of Buddha statues. Arrive in Luang Prabang in the evening and wander the streets of ‘the best preserved city in South East Asia’ (i.e. really, really old and exotic and beautiful). Get a load of those French villas. And that sunset over the Mekong...
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Cave
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy free time for optional activities today. There are many on offer. A trip to Kuang Si Falls is highly recommended if you feel like a swim in nature (and when you see these waterfalls, you probably will). Or visit a Buddhist temple. Afterwards, we think you deserve a rest. Find an herbal steamroom or maybe play some pentanque with the locals (it's a bit like boules). Don’t expect them to go easy on you.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Luang Prabang - Kuang Si Waterfalls - USD2
  • Luang Prabang - Laos Red Cross sauna - LAK10000
  • Luang Prabang - Lao Red Cross massage - LAK40000
  • Luang Prabang - Mt Phu Si - USD2
  • Luang Prabang - Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre - USD2
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy some free time. Whether it's cruising around town or heading to those waterfalls that an Instagram filter couldn't even make more pretty, this is another day in paradise. By now you may have discovered the delicious (and amazingly inexpensive) night market food, which is always a great excuse to mingle with locals and dine with other travellers. For lunch, before the market opens, you might want to try some delicious noodle soup at one of the top-notch French cafes along the main drag.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Transfer to a fan-cooled local bus and head to the village of Vang Vieng (approximately 6–7 hours). This beautifully located adventure gateway lies on a bend in the Nam Song (that's a river, remember). Take in the views of mountains, rivers and big limestone cliffs that are so close you'll feel like you could reach out and touch them. Cross the river and explore the huge caves that line the West Bank. There will be plenty of time to make your own discoveries.

Notes: The mountain scenery on the way to Vang Vieng is spectacular, but the roads are pretty winding. Travel medication may be a good idea if you're prone to motion sickness.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend your day checking out the caves, lagoons and forests as you please. There are more outdoor activities on offer here than you could poke a stick at, so just ask your leader for a recommendation. A solid option is the Tham Nam (water cave). It's a short trip from town, and has a cool spot to swim if you're not game to enter the cave itself. If you are game, rent a torch and let the exploring begin (season depending).
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Vang Vieng - Kayaking on the Nam Song River - USD12
  • Vang Vieng - Bicycle hire - USD2
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
It's almost over, red rover. But first it's time to enter the heart of modern Laos' French heritage – Vientiane, the capital city. You'll take a bus there this morning (approximately 4 hours). When you arrive, you'll visit Wat Si Saket, an extremely old and beautiful temple. Afterwards, enjoy some free time. This town is famous for its diverse, world-class array of cuisine, from French to Laotian and everything in between. So don't let yourself get too... lean. Start with a croissant. You know you could use a break from all of that rice.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Vientiane - Wat Sri Saket
Optional Activities
  • Vientiane - That Luang - USD1
  • Vientiane - Laos National Museum - LAK10000
  • Vientiane - Aerobic class - LAK3000
  • Vientiane - Pratu Xai - USD1
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Transfer to the airport and catch a quick flight to Phnom Penh, (please note you will be unescorted on this flight.) Settle into your hotel and then take the afternoon to check out this busy city. The best way to get into the groove of Phnom Penh is to eat its food, so start with a nom banh chok from a local street vendor.

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.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This day begins with a cyclo sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh, a quirky mix of romantic Indo-China charm, poverty, modern development, friendly locals and cheeky tuk-tuk drivers. After this we recommend taking an optional visit to learn more about the country's history and the Khmer Rouge atrocities at the Choeung Ek Killing Fields and the infamous Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. The rest of the day is free to explore the city. If you're in the mood for some shopping then check out the Psar Thmei (Central Market), located in an old French colonial building, for clothing or sarongs. Otherwise maybe stop by the temple of Wat Phnom, the National Museum, Royal Palace or the French Quarter. Tonight’s dinner is a real treat, as you'll enjoy a home-cooked meal in a local family's home.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Phnom Penh - Cyclo tour
  • Phnom Penh - Home cooked dinner
Optional Activities
  • Phnom Penh - Choeung Ek (Killing Fields) - USD3
  • Phnom Penh - Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda - USD10
  • Phnom Penh - Royal Palace on-site guide - USD10
  • Phnom Penh - Tuol Sleng Prison Museum (S21) - USD3
  • Phnom Penh - Wat Phnom - USD2
  • Phnom Penh - National Museum - USD5
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Today you’ll leave Phnom Penh behind and hop on a public bus (the most exciting of all buses) to Siem Reap (approximately 7 hours), your base for exploring Angkor. Before the temple-fest tomorrow, take an orientation walk around the town with your leader and then enjoy some free time to sample local snacks, haggle for souvenirs at the market or get a pedicure from thousands of tiny fish.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Siem Reap - orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
It’s time for the main event with a whole day to enjoy a guided tour around the unforgettable temple complex of Angkor. Begin with a seriously photo-worthy sunset over the temples, which were built 800 to 1,000 years ago when the Khmer empire was the number one power in South-East Asia. The temples are thought to represent the cosmic world and are about balance and symmetry – simply put, the carvings and designs here are mind-blowing and boggling. The main cluster of temples is close to Siem Reap so you'll have loads of time to get to the best of this archaeological site, visiting highlights like the South Gate of Angkor Thom, the many faces of Bayon, the Elephant Terrace, the terrace of the Leper King, the jungle-covered Ta Prohm and, of course, Angkor Wat.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Siem Reap - 1 day Angkor Pass
  • Siem Reap - Angkor Temples Guided Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today’s a free day in Siem Reap, giving you the chance to kick back and just wander around the town, visiting its market, shops and restaurants, or to otherwise join one of the many optional activities on offer. If you’re still hungry for temples then maybe visit the rose-coloured Banteay Srei, considered to be the best preserved of all of Cambodia’s temples. If you want to see more of local rural life then take a trip into the countryside with a local site guide or maybe a boat ride on Tonle Sap Lake, passing the floating fishing villages there. If you want to get more active then join the Gibbon zip line adventure and get your heart pumping as you fly like a bird through the jungle.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Siem Reap - Three Day Angkor Pass - USD62
  • Siem Reap - Phare Cambodia Circus Ticket - USD15
  • Siem Reap - Urban Adventure Cambodian Cook-Out - USD48
  • Siem Reap - Flight of the Gibbon Ziplining - USD129
  • Siem Reap - Urban Adventure Street Food By Night Tour - USD47
  • Siem Reap - Landmine museum - USD5
  • Siem Reap - Urban Adventures Tonle Sap Secrets - USD40
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Time to say goodbye and thanks to Cambodia as your adventure comes to an end. You can depart at any time on this day.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

4 breakfasts, 1 dinner

Transport

Boat, Local bus, Mekong slow boat, Private van, Public aircon coach, Songthaew, Tuk-tuk

Accommodation

Guesthouse (8 nights), Hotel (7 nights), sleeper train (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Bangkok - Grand Palace
  • Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Cave
  • Vientiane - Wat Sri Saket
  • Phnom Penh - Cyclo tour
  • Phnom Penh - Home cooked dinner
  • Siem Reap - orientation walk
  • Siem Reap - 1 day Angkor Pass
  • Siem Reap - Angkor Temples Guided Tour

Reviews

Our Laos & Cambodia Highlights trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 4 reviews in the last year.

Laos & Cambodia Highlights, July 2016

Emily Blackman

Land of Laobodia, December 2015

Tanja Sattler

Dates & availability

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Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip, please contact your sales agent for more information. On the following nights a single room is not available:
Day 2 Overnight train and Day 5 Pakbeng

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.