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The cultural highlights of rural Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and the incredible Angkor Wat temples

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What's Included

  • Completely private tours in Bangkok
  • Luxury Mekong River cruise
  • Private tour options in Chiang Rai, Luang Prabang, Siem Reap and Angkor Wat
  • Luxury accommodation throughout
  • Meet and greet airport service
  • Full support from your Travel Concierge before, during and after your trip
Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

At a glance

When it comes to ancient monunents, mesmerising landscapes and fascinating cultures, South East Asia has it in spades. This 13-day adventure takes you through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and lets you experience its jaw dropping highlights as well as some much more off-the-beaten track destinations.

Your discovery starts in the vibrant city of Bangkok where temples and pagodas sit side by side with skyscrpaers and high-end restaurants. Take to the water and explore a different side to the city as you make your way along the canals, or klongs. As well as visiting the city’s famous Grand Palace, you’ll also witness the morning chanting ritual of the monks at Wat Pho – a very spiritual and moving experience.

From Bangkok you’ll fly to the northern province of Chiang Rai where you’ll spend three nights in your luxury hotel, exploring the beautiful landscape, interacting with majestic Asian elephants and exploring its wonderfully ornate temples. Crossing into Laos is a real adventure as you travel down the Mekong River in a traditional boat, stopping at some of the
Hmong, Yao and Khmu tribal villages. You’ll overnight in Pakbeng before heading to Luanag Prabang, via the remarkable Pak Ou Caves.

In Luang Prabang you’ll join the monks during their early morning alms giving procession, take part in a traditional Baci ceremony and head out to the beautiful Khouangsi Falls. You’ll also visit the MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary and spend time with these beautiful animals.

It’s then Siem Reap, your base for discovering the incredible temples of Angkor Wat. As well as visiting the more famous temples, you’ll discover some of the lesser known ones and head out into the forest on a hidden temple hike. You’ll also get a glimpse of life in rural Cambodia as you head into the countryside outside Siem Reap. A sunrise tour of Angkor Wat is the perfect way to end your epic adventure.

Example Trip Itinerary

Days 1-3

Bangkok

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Bangkok

Accommodation in Bangkok

bangkok-city-lights-thailand
Two nights in Bangkok Two nights in Bangkok

Bustling and energetic, Bangkok has something for everyone. A haven for shoppers, historians, foodies and culture seekers alike, the capital is an integral part of any Thailand itinerary. It has everything from awe-inspiring temples to bustling markets and high-end shopping malls. And, of course there's the food - some of the best in the world!

Morning chanting with the monks at Wat Pho Morning chanting with the monks at Wat Pho

You'll make an early start to visit the revered Wat Pho and witness the morning chanting ritual of the monks. Most find the chanting ritual to be an uplifting and often quite a private experience. After the ritual, you'll get a tour of the temple grounds where you can't fail to be impressed by the mighty 45m famous statue of the reclining Buddha.

The Grand Palace The Grand Palace

Visit Bangkok's former Royal Residence, the Grand Palace, which was home to the Kings of Siam and the King of Thailand from 1782 until 1925. One of Bangkok’s most spectacular attractions, it is made up of numerous buildings and pavilions set around immaculate gardens and courtyards.

bangkok-longtail-boat
Longtail boat along Bangkok’s canals Longtail boat along Bangkok’s canals

Discover why Bangkok is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East.’ Board a colourful longtail boat and cruise along the Chao Phraya River, admiring the Bangkok skyline. See glimmering modern skyscrapers standing alongside traditional wooden houses and fading colonial buildings.

After passing iconic Wat Arun, veer off the main channel and enter the ‘khlongs’ - canals. Zig zag through the Thonburi khlong, an intricate network of waterways oozing with charm. Catch glimpses of traditional teak houses and modern mansions which highlights how Bangkok's waterside communities have evolved through the years.

Stop to explore Wat Khun Chan, an interesting temple area rarely visited by tourists. Continue to Wat Paknam, another rarely visited temple, and admire its beautiful white stupa. Return to the boat and travel deeper into the khlong network. Arrive at a farm and take a walk through the orchid garden and fruit plantation. After stopping to feed the holy catfish that live in the khlongs, continue back down the Chao Phraya river and towards your hotel.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Bangkok airport

Flight

Flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Chiang Rai

Days 3-6

Chiang Rai

Accommodation in Chiang Rai

white-temple-chiang-rai
Three nights in Chiang Rai Three nights in Chiang Rai

Verdant and mountainous, Chiang Rai is located in the picturesque Golden Triangle region. This is a great base from which to experience Thailand’s more mountainous and adventurous landscapes by trekking, cycling or rafting. We can also arrange visits to the colourful and authentic hill tribe villages or a glimpse into life in Laos or Myanmar.

four-seasons-elephants
Elephant experience Elephant experience

Enjoy spending some time in the company of the gentle giants. Asian elephants are truly beautiful and you can choose to spend your time walking with them through the forest, helping out at bathtime, or enjoying a picnic with these very special and unusual guests. You will also learn about elephant biology, behaviour and conservation from those that live and work alongside these majestic creatures.

four-seasons-golden-triangle-longtail-boat
Golden Triangle longtail boat excursion Golden Triangle longtail boat excursion

Set out on a serene river adventure and experience the cultural blend where the three countries that make up the famous Golden Triangle - Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar - meet.

wat-phra-kaew
Chiang Rai tour Chiang Rai tour

The day starts at the King Mengrai Monument. The monument pays tribute to the ruler who founded Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai and built the foundations of the Lanna Kingdom. From here, climb aboard a three-wheeled rickshaw, or 'samlor'. This classic vehicle is the perfect way to explore Chiang Rai’s quiet streets, traveling at a slower pace and soaking up the sights and sounds.

Stop at the local market for a visit and browse the stalls piled high with fresh produce, joining the locals as they chat with stall owners and bargain for the best prices. Continue by samlor to the Wat Phra Kaew temple, home to a beautiful brass and copper Buddha. Then it’s onwards to the Hilltribe Museum, which is operated by the Population and Community Development Association. Explore the impressive displays and gain a wonderful insight into the colourful ethnic communities that live in the hills surrounding Chiang Rai. Following this, continue by road for a visit to the stunning white temple of Wat Rong Khun with its unusual, and controversial, kanok architecture.

Following this introduction to Chiang Rai, stop for lunch at Chivit Thammada. Enjoy fabulous views of the Kok River while dining on traditional Thai dishes.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Chiang Khong on the Thailand/Laos border

 
laos-boat-mekong
Private transfer from the border to Pakbeng Private transfer from the border to Pakbeng

Once you have crossed the border into Laos, your guide will be waiting for you after the check point. After completing border formalities, board a traditional boat for a trip down the Mekong River. The scenery along this part of the Mekong is arguably at its most beautiful. Enjoy lunch on board as your journey downriver, stopping at some tribal villages such as Hmong, Yao and Khmu.

On arrival in Pakbeng, you will visit a local market and witness colorful hill tribe traders exchanges their goods.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Pakbeng

Days 6-7

Pakbeng

Accommodation in Pakbeng

Overnight in Pakbeng Overnight in Pakbeng

Explore the local market and experience the daily lifestyle of colorful hill tribe traders as they exchange their goods.

pak-ou-caves-laos
Pak Ou Caves tour Pak Ou Caves tour

As you sail downriver, you will pass areas of unspoilt forest with little villages along the riverbanks and perhaps the odd elephant or two with his mahout. You will also visit a fishing village and a rice winemaking village and perhaps even taste some of the infamous beverage known as Lao rice wine. Enjoy lunch on board. You'll also visit the Pak Ou caves, where thousands of Buddha statues are stored.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Luang Prabang

Days 7-10

Luang Prabang

Accommodation in Luang Prabang

Three nights in Luang Prabang Three nights in Luang Prabang

A charming city, spend your time relaxing and soaking up the culture. Visit temples, trek through virgin rainforest to beautiful waterfalls and give alms to the monks. We can arrange a special and unique time in Luang Prabang.

Baci ceremony Baci ceremony

Experience a Baci ceremony, which is an integral part of Lao culture. Held to celebrate a special event, marriage, a homecoming, or a departure, it is based on an ancient belief that the human being is a union of 32 organs and the 'kwan' (or soul) watches over each of them. The Baci ceremony is said to realign the kwan and the body. A village elder will wrap a white cotton thread, white is Laos' colour of peace, good fortune and warmth, around your wrist while chanting an invocation to strengthen the power of the blessing. Enjoy this authentic experience in a local house and feel refreshed and enlightened with this ancient practice. The ceremony will be followed by a meal in one of the local houses and washed down with a local cider, Lao Hay.

Early morning alms giving Early morning alms giving

Wake up before dawn to witness and participate in offering alms to hundreds of saffron-robed monks. This early morning ritual dates back generations in Laos and is an awe-inspiring sight. The monks walk through the streets of Luang Prabang accepting offerings of food from local residents and businesses. Rising early also gives the chance to wander through the fresh market on the way back to the hotel for breakfast.

Khouangsi Falls and village tour Khouangsi Falls and village tour

Drive out to the beautiful waterfalls of Tat Khouangsi. Below the 90m drop of the main cascade are a series of pools, connected by smaller falls and cascades. At low water levels, the water is an unbelievable turquoise, and swimming in the lower pools is a great way to cool off. On the walk through the forest to the falls, you will also pass the Free the Bears project – home to a group of rescued Asiatic Black (Moon) Bears and one Malayan Sun Bear. They are often searching for food hidden in their enriched environment enclosures, or simply sleeping. The route home offers the chance to stop at the villages of Ban Ou, Ban Ouay and Ban Thapene, home to some of the different Lao ethnic groups.

sunset-wat-xieng-thong
Luang Prabang city tour Luang Prabang city tour

Explore the UNESCO -protected city centre to appreciate its unspoiled Laotian-colonial fusion architecture, taking in notable Buddhist temples. Visit the Royal Palace Museum, Wat Xiengthong, with its traditional roofs sweeping low to the ground, the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun, Wat Sene, the city’s oldest temple, and the shrines of Wat Aham and Wat Mai.

MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary

MandaLao Elephant Sanctuary is set on the banks of the Nam Khan river, near the village of Xieng Lom. Pioneering the non-riding elephant experience, MandaLao is the first camp of its kind, offering interactive and memorable interactions with the animals, where visitors have a chance to connect with the elephants in a more positive and natural way.

Starting with an in-depth introduction to elephant behavior, take a boat across the river to meet ‘Kit’, a 10-month old baby, and his mum. During this first meeting guests are encouraged to interact with and feed the elephants - one of the surest ways to form an instant friendship! Before an easy two-hour trek through quintessential Lao countryside, and up a small creek, join Kit’s handler in scrubbing the elephants down using natural materials found in the jungle. Walking alongside the animals, you will sense their pure joy at being in the water. Your guide will explain how MandaLao’s training techniques differ from traditional practices - techniques
that the sanctuary hope will be adopted throughout the region.

Returning to the camp, enjoy a delicious fresh Lao meal made from organically grown produce. Relax on the balcony, and enjoy the view over the river and hills before your short journey back to Luang Prabang.

Village and temple tour Village and temple tour

Meet your guide at the hotel and take a short transfer to the pier where you'll board a local ferry that crosses the Mekong River towards Ban Xieng Man village. Continue walking through the village and visit some of the temples in the area, including Wat Chomphet, Wat Longkhoun and the Tham Sakhrine cave. Return back the same way by evening.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Luang Prabang airport

Flight

Flight from Luang Prabang to Siem Reap

Transfer

Private transfer to your hotel in Siem Reap

Days 10-13

Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

Accommodation in Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

Three nights in Siem Reap, exploring Angkor Wat Three nights in Siem Reap, exploring Angkor Wat

During your time in Siem Reap we can arrange privately guided specialist tours to show you the best of the city, Angkor Wat and the Khmer temples in the region.

Phare Circus Phare Circus

Phare Circus works mainly with disadvantaged young people. They learn circus skills, theatre performance, music and a range of visual arts. It combines local traditions with new creative and innovative genres. Daring athleticism is combined with stories that speak powerfully to Cambodia’s not-too-distant history; for example, escape from tyranny is depicted through tightrope walking. The dark subject of a young girl trying to deal with memories of atrocities, is depicted by breathtaking acrobatics in which seemingly impossible goals are achieved. More than simply a circus, Phare is an amazing blend of traditional and modern theatre, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling and contortion beautifully choreographed and performed in a story about Cambodian lives and society.

Tour of Ta Prohm and lesser known temples Tour of Ta Prohm and lesser known temples

Travel by road to Srah Srang and then continue to Ta Prohm, pausing to collect your entry passes at the Archaeological Park Entrance. Take your time to walk through the temple from the West entrance to the East entrance where you will rejoin our driver. From the Northwest of Ta Prohm, walk 15 minutes through the forest to the seldom visited temple of Ta Nei. There is a reasonable chance of having this beautiful Angkor temple all to yourself. Pause for a light breakfast around this peaceful area before exploring further. End the morning at Ta Keo temple, known as the 'mountain with bronze peaks', and admire its five-tiered pyramid structure.

Angkor Thom Angkor Thom

Travel by road to the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom. You have the choice of either walking along the path along the city wall to the Death Gate or continuing around by road. En route to the Terrace of the Leper King, you'll stop briefly to see an imposing statue found in Bayon which is now displayed at Vihear Prampeilveng. Begin again at the atmospheric Preah Palilay and walk through the shaded parkland behind the terraces, past Phimeanakas with its beautiful lakes, and the imposing Baphuon to finally reach Jayavarman’s state temple of Bayon at the centre of the city. Explore this important temple with its many captivating giant stone faces. Your guide will point out the most interesting of the detailed bas reliefs illustrating everyday life in the Angkorian era.

sunset-cocktails-angkor-thom-cambodia
Sunset drinks at Angkor Thom Sunset drinks at Angkor Thom

Enjoy sunset drinks at Angkor Thom whilst sailing on the complex's vast moat.

prasat-prei-cambodia
Hidden temple hike Hidden temple hike

Head into the rural countryside in the Angkor Archaeological Park on foot for a half-day country hike on flat terrain (around 9-10km) to some secret and secluded temples.

The walk begins along an ancient irrigation channel to the moat of Angkor Thom, the ancient city. Follow the walls in the shade of tall dipterocarp trees and pass through Angkor Krau village to reach Prasat Prei temple. This consists of a single tower plus a fire shrine, all enclosed by a laterite wall with gates to east and west.

Continue for a mile through bush and small paddy fields to the forest surrounding Prasat Banteay Thom temple. In the thirteenth century, it would have rivalled many of the temples in the main Angkor complex but time and looters have taken their toll on the carvings. There are no roads here so you will most likely have the experience of an atmospheric temple to yourself.

Siem Reap countryside tour Siem Reap countryside tour

Today you will explore Siem Reap's rural landscape beyond its temples, which has changed little since the days of Jayavarman VII. After a short drive from Siem Reap visit a colourful contemporary pagoda to understand more of the importance of Buddhism in these rural communities and seek a blessing from the monks. Buy seasonal fruits straight from the tree, speak to families who have specialised in baking sticky rice in bamboo for over thirty years and gain a hands-on experience of the essential rural skills of the rice harvest, thatching, fishing, or even making a simple meal over an open fire.

Then, take an ox-cart ride through typical villages followed by an easy 20-minute walk to bring you to the vast Western Baray. An impressive engineering feat, this man-made reservoir was once integral to the complex Angkorian rice irrigation system which you will voyage by boat (depending on water level). This will be both an education and an adventure from a slower, more romantic era of travel. Then reach the villa, surrounded by rice paddies, across a stream to the north of a village where tourists are rarely seen and the greetings for visitors are warm and generous. This is a wonderful spot to relax in the quiet of the countryside and enjoy sunset drinks.

sunrise-angkor-wat-cambodia
Sunrise Tour of Angkor Wat Sunrise Tour of Angkor Wat

Visit Angkor Wat, one of the modern wonders of the world, and watch the sun rise behind this ornate temple. Be amazed by the sheer size of the temple and learn how the Khmer Empire prospered between the 9th and 13th centuries, around the time when Angkor Wat was built. Stroll through the intricately carved hallways that show hundreds of fine carvings and discover small shrines still in use today by the local people.

Flights & Transfers

Transfer

Private transfer to Siem Reap airport

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Temples, Terraces and Angkor Wat

13-Day Example Trip
 
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