For departures after 31 December 2015 this trip has variations.
Please click here for details.
|Laos, Thailand, Vietnam|
Pay your respect to Uncle Ho then hit the cobblestone streets for exploring.
Get your street food fix at the Central Market. There's pho bo, bun bo and pho ga aplenty.
Riverside calm, gorgeous temples, fab food and charming locals. What more could you want?
Journey through spectacular mountain scenery by minibus on the Ho Chi Minh trail, before crossing the border into Laos and heading for the capital, Vientiane. It's a long day (approx. 12 hours)
Bikes are a great way to check out the limestone karsts, caves and cliff faces.
No modern buildings and nothing higher than two floors at this UNESCO World Heritage site town.
Let the Mother Mekong show you her part of the world
Temples, markets and food. In April there's a Giant Catfish Festival.
Reboard the boat and cruise leisurely upriver to Huay Xai (approx 8 hrs)
Disembark at Huay Xai and crossing the river (border) into Thailand
Spend the night in Chiang Khong - an important market town for the surrounding hill tribes and trade with Laos
Try local favourite khao soi (yellow noodles in thick coconut milk curry), topped with crispy fried noodles, wedges of lime, pickled cabbage and shallots).
Check out the Grand Palace on an optional visit, then hit the shops
• Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guide throughout the tour.
• Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Vientiane including Wat Si Saket; and Vinh - the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh.
• Slow boat cruise down the Mekong River to observe local life.
• Free time to explore Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Huay Xai, Luang Prabang and Vientiane.
• Overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
We have chosen a selection of some great optional activities to enhance your travel experience. You will need to cover any additional costs yourself. The below list is not exhaustive and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed below have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Local Tour Guides
By employing and training local site guides to lead our group holidays, there is a two-fold benefit. Firstly, we provide employment opportunities for the local community. Just as importantly is the benefit to you, the traveller. Your tour guide’s friendship, humour, passion and intimate knowledge of the region will be key factors in making your holiday a success.
Tipping has become an accepted part of tourism in South East Asia. Your tour guide will be able to advise you in this area; however, as a guideline we would recommend tipping 10% of the total bill in restaurants and a small tip to hotel bellboys for carrying your bags.
At you pre-tour briefing your tour guide will discuss with you the idea of running a tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then the tour guide pays the tips and keeps a record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour is returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing what is an appropriate amount to tip.
It is customary to tip your tour guide, at the end of the trip, if you are happy with the service. A minimum tip of US$2 per day, from each member of the group, is the usual amount expected.
Infrastructure and Tet Holiday Period
Please note that Vietnam and Laos are developing countries whose infrastructure may differ from what you expect in your homeland. Expect poor road conditions and be prepared for some inconveniences due to such things as restaurants or tourist sites being closed and our regular transport services not always being available, especially so during the Tet holiday period (Vietnamese New Year) and Phi Mai (Lao New Year)
Tet (Vietnamese New Year) Is a time where most businesses will be closed as Vietnamese people usually spend this period returning to their homes and celebrating with their families. This will involve a major burden on all forms of transport, and despite booking in advance, tickets for planes and trains especially are extremely difficult to obtain. Even if bookings are obtained, transport services during this period will be overcrowded and heavy delays are to be expected, so you will need to make sure that you pack your sense of humour. In order to facilitate your travels during the Tet period, we may need to substitute your train/plane journey with a private bus trip, if required.
This is an 'adventure' trip and we hope to expose you to all aspects of the local cultures. Please be open-minded.
Please note that this trip is run by our sister company, Intrepid.
Due to the style of accommodation on our trips it might not always be possible to book you in a single room throughout the trip. If you book a single supplement it will not apply to nights on the overnight trains and homestays. If you are unsure of where a single supplement will apply please check with your travel agent before booking.
Local Emergency Contacts
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, the Gecko's Thailand office can be reached on Tel: +66 898 103 722
ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:
While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Geckos does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for Protection of Animals) advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available here.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
16 July 2014