Our Raw tours are best suited for those with a sense of adventure, are willing to step outside their comfort zone and don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end. For independent travellers who want to travel with others. Just the ticket for those aged between 18-35 or anyone young at heart who has an open mind, an eye on the budget and a nose for adventure. Authentic experiences that expand the mind rather than hold the hand.
We ask that you read it carefully and that you take the document with you on your holiday. It contains information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, etc, as well as a detailed, day by day itinerary of your trip.
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.
Please note that visa requirements can and do change. It is essential that you confirm requirements with the nearest relevant embassy or check with your travel agent before you travel. At the time of writing, a visa is required by most travellers visiting Cambodia including Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, British and Canadians. All other nationalities should check with the Cambodian Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information.
It is recommended that you obtain your Cambodian visa before you start your travels, but it is possible to obtain a visa on arrival if you are flying into Phnom Penh or Siem Reap or if you are travelling overland from Thailand and Vietnam. Alternatively, some nationalities can obtain a visa for Cambodia (as long as they are arriving at either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap Airports) on-line at: http://evisa.mfaic.gov.kh/
Please note that visa requirements can and do change. It is essential that you confirm requirements with the nearest relevant embassy or check with your travel agent before you travel. At the time of writing, a visa is required by most travellers visiting Laos including Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, British and Canadians. All other nationalities should check with the Laotian Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information. It is preferable to obtain your Lao visa before you start your travels, however visas can also be obtained on arrival in Vientiane International Airport and at the land borders at both Huay Xai and the Friendship Bridge. The process takes 15-30 minutes and requires two passport photos. The cost is normally between US$30-US$40 (varies with different nationalities), but amounts may change and an additional ‘late fee’ is sometimes levied at the land borders if you arrive late in the afternoonThailand
Please note that visa requirements can and do change. It is essential that you confirm requirements with the nearest relevant embassy or check with your travel agent before you travel. At the time of writing, Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Americans and British citizens do not require a visa to visit Thailand for stays of up to 30 days. However, travellers will only get 15 days of stay if arriving without a visa at a land border checkpoint from a neighbouring country. Travellers arriving in Thailand this way and planning to stay in the country longer than 15 days should obtain a Thai visa before they leave home. All other nationalities should check with the Thai Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information. Please note that those nationalities requiring a visa may need to acquire one before they arrive Thailand, as obtaining a visa on arrival may not possible at certain land borders.Vietnam
Please note that visa requirements can and do change. It is essential that you confirm requirements with the nearest relevant embassy or check with your travel agent before you travel. At the time of writing, a visa for is required by most travellers visiting and/or transiting Vietnam including Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, British and Canadians. All other nationalities should check with the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in their country for up-to-date visa information. Your visa must be obtained prior to the commencement of your tour, as visas are not normally issued to travellers on arrival in Vietnam. In fact you will are likely to be denied boarding your aircraft bound for Vietnam without a visa.
Many governments publish up-to-date travel advice for countries around the world. Information is gleaned from both local and international sources as well as ‘friendly’ governments, and the notices are often on the cautious side. Sometimes there will be conflicting information. For example, the Australian, UK and Canadian governments may agree on the nature of the advice; however, frequently they do not. And sometimes the views expressed by a particular government can be coloured by political considerations. We will monitor these travel advisories closely and may alter itineraries or cancel trips as a result. However, it is also your responsibility to stay informed and form a balanced view. We recommend that you visit the websites or contact the departments listed below. Unless otherwise stated, it is not normally the intention of the relevant government travel advice to dissuade you from travelling. Rather, it is to inform you of where and when you should exercise caution to avoid problems. Please also note that, as a responsible tour operator, we maintain constant links with our ground operators and your safety - at all times - is our paramount concern. You can check your government's latest travel advice at one of the links below:
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
U.S. Department of State New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Crossing the border into Laos, it is possible to obtain a visa on arrival at most international checkpoints. The duration of the visa is one month and the cost varies depending on nationality from US$30 - $42. You will also require a passport photo to be submitted with your application.
Please note that most nationalites visiting Vietnam will be required to obtain an entry Visa prior to arrival. At this stage, Japanese, Singaporean, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Finnish citizens will be exempted from requiring visas when they enter, so long as their stay in Vietnam is less than 15 days. For all other nationalities, please check with a Vietnamese embassy or consulate in your home country regarding current requirements. It would be easiest to arrange your visa prior to departure for your holiday as it can sometime take up to a week to issue travel visas and longer if there are public holidays in Vietnam such as the Tet (New Year) holiday. Please ensure you have the correct date of validity for your Vietnamese visa, as if the date on your vias is after the date you will arrive, then you will not be permitted to enter. When you get your passport back from the Vietnamese Embassy, please check your visa carefully. Also, if you have more than one passport, please ensure you use the same passport for your entry into Laos or Cambodia as you intend on using in Vietnam. If the Vietnamese visa is in a different passport to the visa for the country in which you are attempting to cross from, you will not be granted entry into Vietnam. Passengers who have incorrect visa details will have to travel back to the nearest capital city to have their visa reissued which makes it an expensive and time consuming oversight.
Crossing the border into Cambodia, it is possible to obtain a visa on arrival at most international checkpoints except for the Tien Bien/Phnom Den border where you will require to have your visa in advance. (This will affect the new Saigon to Angkor cycle tour) The duration of the visa is one month and the cost is normally US$20 on arrival, although sometimes the border guards may request a 'processing fee' of between US$1 - $5 . You will also require a passport photo to be submitted with your application.
On arrival in Thailand, passport holders from 40 countries are not required to obtain a visa and will be permitted to stay in the Kingdom for a period not exceeding 30 days on each visit. These countries include Australia, USA, New Zealand, Canada and Britain among others. Please check this link if you require information on other countries who are not required to obtain a visa. http://www.mfa.go.th/web/2482.php?id=2490 Passport holders from 20 countries are required to purchase a Visa on arrival and it is provided at 32 designated international checkpoints. Applicants should submit the application form duly filled out and to which his/her recent photograph (4 x 6 cm) is attached. The application fee is 1,000 Baht. Please check this link if you require information on countries who are required to obtain a visa on arrival. http://www.mfa.go.th/web/2482.php?id=2491 (Please note that Visa on arrival is not available when crossing from Cambodia into Thailand at the Poipet/Aranyaprathet border)
We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended
Vaccinations may be required or recommended for this trip so you should consult with your travel doctor to obtain the latest up-to-date information. It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return.
For travellers from Australia and New Zealand, we recommend the Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics (see www.traveldoctor.com.au or phone 1300 658 844 for an appointment in Australia). Travellers from countries other than Australia and New Zealand should contact similar organisations or their travel doctor for advice. General health and vaccination information is available to all travellers at
www.traveldoctor.com.au/travelreport. Some vaccines require more than one dose, so arrange for your visit at least 4-6 weeks before you travel.
Malaria: There is no vaccination against malaria, which is transmitted by mosquito bites and is a risk in many less-developed tropical areas in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia. Protection against mosquito bites is essential and where the risk is considered high, anti-malarial medications are recommended. Anti-malarial medications should be discussed with experts as there are different medications available and not all medications suit all people or all destinations. Where malaria is considered prevalent in mountainous regions we prefer that trekkers to altitude try to avoid the use of mefloquine (Lariam) if possible.
We recommend that you photocopy the main pages of your passport, your airline ticket, itinerary, insurance policy, traveller’s cheques and credit card. Keep one set of photocopies with you, separate from the originals. Leave one set of copies at home with family or friends. It is also worth taking some extra passport photos with you in case of additional visas, permits or other unforeseen paperwork.
Remember - the lighter you travel the better! You may be buying things as you go, so you should not bring too much from home. Many people find a backpack the most suitable type of luggage for our holidays. Medium-sized suitcases can also be used; however, you should avoid the large, bulky cases that are difficult to carry. The lockable suitcases on wheels are the best types to use. Be aware that some hotels in Asia are not over-endowed with lifts (elevators) and there may be occasions when you need to carry your luggage up stairs or along railway platforms, etc.
When packing, consider cultural differences which may mean that some attire that we wear at home is not appropriate in Asia and may be offensive to the local people. Beachwear in towns is not appropriate, nor is 'short' shorts, particularly for women. Light cotton pants are a better option. When visiting sites of religious significance, modest clothing should be worn. Sandals, thongs, flip-flops or jandals are appropriate footwear in the tropics.
Please refer to the specific country section for climate details. When you pack your clothing, consider the climate at the time of year you are travelling and any specific requirements for your trip as at certain times of the year some of the items suggested in the list that follow may not be necessary. Bear in mind that the weather will vary significantly from place to place. The majority of time the weather is warm in South East Asia; however, it may be distinctly cold up in the highlands. If there are specific requirements for a trip, these will be noted in the separate country section, or in the Trip Notes relating to that trip. Please note that in the last few years, the world’s weather pattern has gone somewhat awry. The effects of ‘El Nino’ and ‘La Nina’ are very real and this has resulted in unseasonable droughts followed by unseasonable deluges. Be prepared for the unexpected! Laundry facilities are available in some destinations.
Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.
It is a good idea to take a small medical kit with you, and you should consider packing the following items:
Antibiotics, Lip-balm, moisturiser, sunscreen, headache tablets, antiseptic (e.g. Betadine), anti-diarrhoea tablets (for changes in diet and water), laxatives, band-aids/moleskin/dressing strips for blisters, small scissors/tweezers. Note that moleskin is particularly good for blisters and can be obtained from any pharmacy.
It is also recommended to carry a letter from your doctor explaining any less common prescribed medications that you may be carrying.
Diarrhoea Stomach upsets are not uncommon when travelling through new destinations (usually a 24 - 48 hour 'bug') and this may cause diarrhoea, leading to dehydration. Should you develop a stomach upset you should eat only in moderation and drink plenty of fluids. It is a good idea to carry a couple of sachets of rehydrants with you (such as Gastrolite). We also suggest that you carry one of the common anti-diarrhoea tablets such as Imodium.
Sunstroke It can be quite easy to get sun burnt when you are not accustomed to the sun in new climates. You should take sensible precautions such as wearing a hat and using a good UV sunscreen. Finally, drink plenty of fluids - preferably water.
Water In general, water is not safe to drink in the areas through which we travel. Bottled Water is widely available and most travellers prefer to drink this. Your guide can assist you in regards to the relative safety of tap water and the availability of bottled water on each tour. When walking, or in hot conditions, you must make a conscious effort to maintain your hydration, drinking as much water/tea as possible to offset fluid loss.
The unit of currency is the riel. Notes come in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 riel, although notes above 5,000 riel are not common. Coins are very rarely seen, for they are virtually worthless. The US dollar is also a major currency and commonly used in all day-to-day transactions.
The unit of currency is the kip. Notes come in denominations of 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 kip. Coins are very rarely seen, for they are virtually worthless. Thai baht and US dollars are also frequently used in commerce. Please note that kips are useless outside of Laos and almost impossible to change into other currencies.
The unit of currency is the Thai baht. There are 1, 5 and 10 baht coins, and just to confuse things, 1 baht and 5 baht coins come in three sizes. There is a large 5 baht coin and two smaller coins. There is a new copper and silver 10 baht coin. Notes are in the denominations of 10 (quite scarce), 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht (with the last very hard to change!).
The unit of currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). Bank notes come in denominations of 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 500,000 VND. Polymer notes of 50,000 VND (pink), 100,000 VND (light green) and 500,000 VND (dark green) are now used together with the old paper notes.
Check out www.xe.com for current exchange rates.
You can use your credit card in ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines), which are now common throughout the country. These machines dispense cash in US dollars. Money is safest when carried in the form of traveller’s cheques which, along with cash of major world currencies, can also be changed in banks. However, this will entail allowing for a bit of time spent in banks. There is no need to bring lots of cash with you unless you prefer not to use ATMs. There is also no need to pre-purchase Cambodian riel prior to arriving in the country. Most travellers never need to have more than US$10 worth of Cambodian Riel on them at any one time, as Cambodia is a country that widely accepts US dollars for all cash transactions. If you are taking in cash, please check that all your notes are in good condition and not old, crumpled, marked or torn, otherwise they may not be accepted. Please also be warned that some banks outlets at Cambodian airports may tell you that you will need to change your US dollars cash with them for Cambodia Riel, but this is not true!
Money is safest when carried in the form of traveller's cheques. However, in Laos, you should carry a fair amount of your money in cash, for a lot of places (especially outside Vientiane and Luang Prabang) do not change traveller's cheques. Most major foreign currencies, such as Australian, U.S. and Canadian dollars, English pounds and Swiss francs, are easily changed. If you are taking cash (US dollars suggested), all notes must be new and not marked or torn. If notes are torn, crumpled, nicked or old it may be difficult to change them. If you are taking traveller's cheques, American Express and Thomas Cook are the most widely accepted. In capital cities or major regional centres some (not all) credit cards can be used on occasions, although these tend to be up-market places. Generally, do not rely on using your credit cards outside Vientiane.
There are plenty of money changing facilities in Thailands cities. Authorised money changers generally offer the best exchange rates but it’s worth it to shop around. Thailand also has a plethora of ATMs, which can also be used to get cash advances on credit cards. Look for ATMs displaying Maestro, Cirrus, Mastercard or Visa symbols. Traveller's cheques can be changed at most hotels, banks and currency exchange booths. In large cities there is no problem cashing cheques. You should consider where you are heading to, taking into account any public holidays, and cash enough money to see you to your next major town. Your tour leader will brief you at your pre-departure meeting on the specifics relevant to your particular trip. Credit cards are accepted in many shops, restaurants and hotels, but should not be relied on as your only form of funds. There are currency exchange booths in the arrival hall of Bangkok Airport which offer the standard rate.
Credit cards have recently become more acceptable in Vietnam and ATM machines are now available in all the major tourist centres, including Saigon, Hoi An and Hanoi. The easiest manner to change money in Vietnam is to carry US dollars in cash as this is widely accepted throughout the country. However, it is not safe to have all your money in cash, so we suggest carrying half in cash and using an ATM card (Cirrus or Meastro). Traveller's cheques in any of the major currencies can be exchanged in the bigger cities, although banks in the provincial centres may take only US dollar cheques. If using traveller's cheques, please carry your purchase receipt, as this may have to be produced before you can cash your traveller's cheques in certain banks in Vietnam. Note that traveller's cheques attract a commission fee of around 3% and are sometimes difficult to cash. It is recommended that you change money through banks, hotels and authorised moneychangers only: it is easy to be short-changed if you change money on the street. You can also change money in banks at the airport, upon arrival in Vietnam.
You will need to take money with you to cover sightseeing, entrance fees, meals and drinks. Other costs to consider are drinking water, tips, laundry, souvenirs, additional activities during free time and possible delays. It is much better to come with more than you would expect to spend and to end the trip with a surplus, rather than being caught short! It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies that could happen en route. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the source and be reimbursed later by your insurance company. How Much Money? In our trip notes we have suggested an appropriate allowance for additional meals. This does not include alcoholic drinks, e.g. beer. In addition to this you should carry sufficient funds for optional activities, additional sightseeing, shopping and tips. As a guideline we suggest that you allow $US15-20 per day (or maybe less!) in Asia would allow you to eat and drink reasonably well. Emergency Funds In the unlikely event of an emergency of a personal nature or unforseen changes to the Gecko's schedule, we recommend you have access to an additional US$300 to cover any costs that may arise as a result of these events.
In our trip notes we have suggested an appropriate allowance for additional meals (US$400). As a result of customer feedback we recommend you allow a figure of between US$300 and $400 for your DRINK and SNACK requirements, additional to the amount suggested in the brochure for meals. Use a higher figure particularly if you are travelling during the hot season when you will require more fluids.
In addition you should carry sufficient funds for extra sightseeing and optional activities.
Shopping is a personal thing that, again, varies enormously. On average, people spend anywhere between US$50-$400 on souvenirs, art, tailor-made clothes etc.
You will be required to pay airport and departure taxes in most countries. Most of these are added to the ticket price on purchase and you will not need to bother further about them. Others must be paid physically at the airport on departure. All airport taxes in Laos should now be included in the price of your flight ticket and so there should be no need to pay additional tax at the airport. However we recommend that you check with your travel agent for the latest information.
You will be required to pay airport and departure taxes in most countries. Most of these are added to the ticket price on purchase and you will not need to bother further about them. Others must be paid physically at the airport on departure. All airport taxes in Thailand should now be included in the price of your flight ticket and so there should be no need to pay additional tax at the airport. However we recommend that you check with your travel agent for the latest information.
International airport departure taxes are included in the price of International airline tickets.
If you have booked an arrival transfer with us:
On arrival, after collecting luggage and clearing customs, a representative will be waiting at EXIT 6 with a Geckos welcome board
If you have any problems or cannot find our staff, please call the following number: Miss Lyn 081 658 2727 or Klang 081 566 9324 and wait at the Association of Thai Travel Agents. Alternatively ask reception to contact World Travel Idea for assistance.
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, PEAK South East Asia Office can be reached on Tel: +66 898 103 722
Bangkok new Suvarnabhumi (pronounced 'Suwannaphoom') International Airport is located in the Samut Prakan District, 30 kilometres east of the city. It is serviced by taxis and buses into downtown Bangkok. If travelling by taxi to your hotel use only authorised taxis and not the touts who frequent the arrivals hall. The meters in metered taxis into town should read no more than 350 Baht, but there is an additional 50 Baht for airport surcharge and 70 Baht for tolls. Allow for a total of just under 500 Baht (approximately US$14). From the arrivals hall in Level 2, passengers should head down to Level 1, where the taxi rank is located. All airport buses, no matter where you get off, cost 150 Baht (approximately US$4) per person. The airport bus is not a recommended option for first-time travellers to Bangkok.Another alternative is the Airport Rail Link that has just been completed. It offers a fast alternative for those wishing to use it. It travels regularly offering a 15 minute express train or a 30 minute journey stopping all stations. It travels (return) from Suvarnabhumi Airport to downtown Bangkok ( Makkasan Station) and offers full check in facilities. It cost 150 Baht per person.
If you have NOT pre-booked an arrival transfer, you must find your own way to the joining hotel.
On arrival at your hotel please check the notice board in the lobby for a note from your tour leader, which will advise you of the actual time of the Welcome Meeting. Please bring your passport and travel insurance documents to the briefing.
Generally, your room will be available from around midday as Check In and Out times are midday according to hotel policy. Sometimes it may be available mid-morning but this is in no way guaranteed. If your flight is scheduled to arrive in the early morning you may have to wait until a room becomes available. Alternatively you can book one night's 'pre-tour accommodation' which will ensure that your room is ready whenever you arrive. Please refer to the 'Additional Services' panel in the pricing page of our brochure. When arriving early after an overnight rail journey, it is not always possible to check into your hotel immediately. Please be patient and wait for your tour guide’s instructions. Normally the leader will arrange a day room for guests to share if it is not possible for all rooms to be ready at once. Rooms must generally be vacated by 12.00 noon unless you have made prior arrangements with the hotel reception. If you want to keep your room for longer you may have to pay an additional charge. Please ensure that you settle all bills (eg mini-bar, phone calls) when you check out. If you are sharing a room with someone who is checking out before you make sure they pay their bills at reception or you collect some money to cover their bills as you will be asked to pay upon check out.
Please ask first if you want to take someone's photograph. This is just a normal courtesy and if you are refused permission please abide by that person's wishes. At certain ancient sites, and in most museums, photography (video or still) may be forbidden, or may incur an extra charge for camera-use. Do not take photos of buildings, structures and personnel of potential military significance (including airports, bridges, and police stations).
Travelling with us can provide you with some really rewarding travel experiences. Our tours visit countries where travel modes and lifestyles are often not as sophisticated as our own. There is also a laid-back attitude amongst workers and there will often seem to be huge amounts of red tape and bureaucracy when doing the simplest things. You will enjoy your trip much more if you slip into the rhythm of local life and are prepared to take things as they come.
In most countries even the smallest quantity of an illegal substance is considered a very serious offence and can carry lengthy jail terms. Avoid any contact with illegal drugs. Don’t put yourself and others at risk and never carry bags or luggage for other people. Any person found to be carrying or using illegal drugs will be asked to leave the trip immediately without the right to any refund.
Compared to the Western world, Cambodia is a very inexpensive country, however, it does tend to be a little more expensive than its neighbours. You’ll find that costs are a little higher in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap compared to country areas. You can eat quite well for US$2-US$3 a meal, sometimes less if you eat at local markets. A beer will set you back about US$1-US$2 and a litre of water is around US$1.
Laos is a very inexpensive country to visit by Western standards. For example, the average cost of a meal in Laos would be around US$2-US$3. A bottle of Beerlao is around US$0.80-US$1.20 and one litre of bottled water is US$0.50.
Thailand is wonderfully inexpensive. A meal in a restaurant will cost around THB100-THB300, whereas a street snack is only THB30-THB50. A large bottle of Singha beer is about THB80-THB120 and a litre of water will set you back THB10-THB20.
You can eat and drink very well in Vietnam for a very small amount of money, this country is a bargain! A bowl of pho ga or pho bo (chicken or beef and noodle soup) will cost the equivalent of around US$0.60 from a street stall. In a restaurant a meal will cost around US$3-US$7 and if you want to wash it down with a beer, the beer will cost around US$1. A litre of water is only US$0.70 or thereabouts, depending on where you buy it from.
When you are taking a tour that covers 3 different countries, you will be tempted at times to draw comparisons between them. However, you will get the most of your travel experience if you try to understand and respect each culture and the people living there, regardless of whether you preferred the destination you were in previously.
There are some cultural elements that do cross over between countries in South East Asia:
At some of the tourist sites and in the cities it is possible you will come across beggars. This can prove an uncomfortable encounter especially for inexperienced travellers. There are many genuine beggars, however there are also those who find the lifestyle easier than working and these people often see tourists as easy prey. As a general rule, if you feel the impulse to give, you should be discreet in the giving. Never make a show of it, as you will attract a crowd, which brings with it its own set of problems. There are often charities that take care of the needy and it may be wise to give to them rather than to individuals begging.
In places you should dress conservatively to avoid attracting unwanted attention and so as not to offend the local population. This is especially applicable to women travellers. Dress rules also apply at many of the religious sites.
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.
Please note that any travellers of certain nationalities (ie. Australians, Americans, Canadians, British and New Zealanders) do not normally require a visa for Thailand if flying in and staying up to 30 days. However, travellers will only get 15 days of stay if arriving without a visa at a land border checkpoint from a neighbouring country. Travellers arriving in Thailand this way and planning to stay in the country longer than 15 days should obtain a Thai visa before they leave home. On this particular tour (Gecko's 'Thai-Indochina Loop'), travellers staying on in Thailand longer than 15 days after returning to Thailand from Cambodia will need to obtain a double entry visa to Thailand, as any single entry visa will be considered 'used' upon initial entry to Thailand.
All other nationalities should check for visa requirements with their travel agents. Please note that those nationalities requiring a visa may need to acquire one before they arrive Thailand, as a visa on arrival is not available at certain land borders.
Tet Holiday Period
Please note that Vietnam is a developing country whose infrastructure may differ from what you expect in your homeland. 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).
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. Please check with your booking agent when Tet is this year.
Some side notes to keep in mind
This is an 'adventure' trip and we hope to expose you to all aspects of the local cultures. Please be open-minded.
For some departures the overnight train will either depart late in the afternoon or arrive into cities very early in the morning. On these occasions we will have the opportunity to store our luggage and freshen up in multi share day rooms before either we depart for the early evening overnight train journey or checking into our evening accommodation later in the day respectively. Please note if you have booked a single supplement whilst on tour, it will not apply to these day rooms.
Please note that, on your tour, you may link up with passengers booked on other tours in our Asia program.
Please remember that our tours are of an adventurous nature. Our style of travelling means that it is more desirable to carry a backpack and a day pack on our tours.
Please note that the accommodation facilities here are basic, but provide you with an authentic experience of how these people live. You may wish to bring an inner sleeping sheet for the train journeys and the village stay, but please note that this is not a necessity. For light sleepers, we recommend that you bring ear-plugs and eye-patches for the overnight rail journey and the village stay.
Occasionally it may be necessary to amend this itinerary for reasons beyond our control. Changes to domestic train schedules occur and sometimes with little notice. 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 (this can be especially so during the Vietnamese Tet holiday period). Any such changes may necessitate some alterations to your tour.
Please note that Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are developing countries whose infrastructure may differ from what you expect in your homeland. Some of the accommodation is of a basic nature, as our aim is to enable you to experience how the local people people live. This is an 'adventure' trip and we hope to expose you to all aspects of the Thai, Lao, Cambodian and Vietnamese cultures. Please be open minded while travelling, as this will allow you to truly experience everything that the region has to offer
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, homestays, Longhouses, village huts, mountain huts, rainforest lodges ,on hill tribe treks, on boats, Camp 5 in Sarawak, Iban Longhouse, ryokan’s and on the Kokoda Track. If you are unsure of where a single supplement will apply please check with your travel agent before booking.
Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Let your local tour guide show your around their home town. Don’t miss Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho. Rest up on your overnight train journey to Chiang Mai.
You’ll come for the 120 temples but you’ll stay for the Thai massage, cooking class, night bazaar and the trek to the top of Doi Suthep.
A bus, bus, then boat takes us to our first stop in Laos. Head to a nearby village for some rice whiskey and a bowl of steamy noodles.
Take it down a notch on a slow boat on the Mekong. Meet some of the colourful Hmong people from a nearby remote hilltribe. Stay the night in a cheap and cheerful hostel.
Three whole days with no travel means you might start to get feeling back in your bum, Show everyone how good your underwater handstands are when we go for a dip in Kuang Si Falls.
Set on a bend on the Nam Song River, this chilled out town is popular for its unexplored caves, kayaking and limestone cliffs.
The Lao capital lies on the banks of the Mekong with some great cafes and bars. Explore by bike or on foot.
You’re gonna see some pretty remote country today, including Ho Chi Minh’s birthplace. Then we board the Reunification Express for our overnight trip to Hanoi. Don’t get this confused with the luxurious Orient Express!
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Strap on your walking shoes for a locally-guided tour of the city. During your free time indulge in a local feast at KOTO restaurant, which gets kids off the street and into a career in hospitality. Tell Jimmy we sent you! *image of Jimmy Pham and the kids (with arrow pointing to Jimmy saying ‘this is Jimmy’!)
Back in the saddle as we cruise the streets on local ‘shopping’ bikes (as they’re known). Check out the Forbidden Purple Palace and some royal tombs.
Meals included: 3 breakfasts
It’ll be love at first sight in this Frenchy chic port town. Hit the beach, the shops or the pavement. Handy tip: scour the fashion mags before you arrive and come armed with ideas for the local tailors to whip you up something new.
Meals included: 1 lunch
Break out the factor 40 because we’re hitting the South China Sea. The crew will catch you a fresh seafood lunch and there's plenty of time to swim and snorkel. Then it’s another night on the train to Ho Chi Minh City.
What’s not to love about Ho Chi Minh City? Pho on every corner, Ben Thanh Market bargains and the friendliest locals you’re likely to find. Who’s game to try squeezing down into the Cu Chi Tunnels?
Meals included: 1 breakfast
It ain’t the prettiest town but all is forgiven when you tuck into your first bowl of amok – Cambodia’s national dish. Take a stroll on the palm-fringed riverfront and a sobering visit to the killing fields at Choeung Ek.
Meals included: 3 breakfasts
Angkor Wat is the obvious highlight but you’ll get a real kick out of counting the faces of Bayon and the jungle of Ta Prohm. There’s a bit of temple overload here, so take some free time to haggle for souvenirs at the market or get a pedicure from thousands of tiny fish.
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Travel day. Yawn.
Finish things off with a bang in Bangers. Catch a Ladyboy show and the view from Sky Bar at Lebua (as seen in The Hangover). It will be hard to say goodbye to your new friends but hey, that’s what Facebook is for.
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3 May 2013
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