Laos-Discovery




Hanoi to Bangkok 15 days.



  • Route: Hanoi to Bangkok
  • Length: 15 days
  • Transport: Boat, Bus, Private minibus, Songthaew, Tuk-Tuk
  • Accommodation: Guesthouse, Hotel, Overnight sleeper train

Get ready for a fast-paced adventure through the best of Vietnam, Laos and northern Thailand. This is a region packed to the brim with rich cultures, fiery cuisines, unique customs and breathtaking countryside. And on this trip you’ll be sampling all of them. Whether you're slurping up a steaming bowl of pho at a street stall in Vinh, shopping for handicrafts in Vientiane, ambling through caves in Luang Prabang or gliding down the Mekong in a riverboat, you'll get a wonderful insight into Indochina during this incredible journey of discovery.

trip-grade

 

Basic

Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.

 

countries-visited




Laos

Laos Monks On Bridge


For a small country, Laos is one of the most diverse places in South East Asia.

Luang Nam Tha is a relaxing town in the heart of the country lying on the side of the Tha river. A place for exploration, it is the base for some of the indigenous tribes of the country. For more adrenaline fuelled activities, a trek through the Nam Ha National Park is a must. Also a hot spot for water sports, this protected area is a treasure surrounded by trees and rolling rivers. This national park is a fantastic chance to see some of the beautiful dress of the Laos people. The handcrafted decorative materials are truly remarkable.

Laos is graced with many lovely, relaxed towns, a product of the country's Bhuddest traditions of peace and respect. The soothing effects of the city of Luang Prabang is no exception. With the viberant market, great Franco-Loas food and the near byKuang Si waterfalls it's place most visitors spend at least a few days.

The capital city of Vientiane is home to The Golden Stupa which is the national symbol of Laos. It's a fine example of this relaxed and handsome city.

Like the lands the food too is beautiful. The typical Lao dish of Laap is rich in marinated meat and aromatic herbs. It is a perfect treat after a day of exploring. With a distinct taste, the dishes is best enjoyed with sticky rice and lashings of fish sauce.

Laos is a country that offers a friendly welcome and it does take long to get into 'Laos time' where days are slowly whiled away enjoying the landscapes and culture of one of the gems of South East Asia.

Thailand

Thailand - Floating Market

Thailand lies deep in the heart of South East Asia, and it is a country brimming with Asian culture. Flowing with beautiful national parks Thailand has long been a favorite destinations for travellers.

In the capital of Bangkok is an amazing skyline of glorious buildings. Don't be alarmed by the busy backdrop to this city, as there are many treasures hidden all over. Watch the sunset in a rooftop bar.  Take a trip to the Amulet Market and protect yourself from evil spirits by the goods sold. Or visit the huge Buhadda at Wat Po.

The magnificent Khao Sok National Park is Thailand's most visited national park. There are mountains, waterfalls, rain forests and wildlife. Surrounded by elephants, leopards, tigers and the lesser known serow, banteng and langurs, there is plenty of opportunity to spot the wildlife.

Thai cuisine is popular throughout the world and concentrates on including five tastes. Spicy, sweet, sour, salty and bitter. The blend of these are important and many dishes concentrate on the right balance to make the perfect meal. A traditional dish of Pad Thai consists of chili spices and lime juices infused with chicken, peanuts and garlic on a bed of stir fry styled noodles.

There is a welcoming feel to this country, and with so many activities to try, there is something for everyone in the wonderful country of Thailand.

Vietnam

Round Boats

If you want to spot the breathtaking views of 3000 limestone islands rising out the jade coloured waters, then visit the Titop Islands of Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Hanoi is the capital, and it is a place where the old and new world meet. Where French and Asian cultures mix. Still standing are historical towers and temples, there are over 600 that are spread across the city. A visit to the capital is not complete without a visit to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. The traditional Vietnamese pit orchestra creates a lively atmosphere that interests people of all ages.

You can have a traditional Vietnamese meal. The blends of herbs and sauces added to pork, chicken and fish create some delectable dishes. If you want a vegetarian meal, then there are many to choose from as a lot of people in Vietnam are vegetarians. One dish is Xoi which is sticky rice cooked in coconut milk. A simple dish yet there are so many varieties that are created.

Vietnam is a chance to escape from the rest of the world and explore for days on end. What more could you want from a place with outstanding views, beautiful food and a friendly welcome.


 

daily-itin


Day 1 Hanoi

Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.

You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. 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 all these details to provide to your leader.

The capital of Vietnam is a charming city with a population of around four million. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and its thriving Old Quarter, which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South-East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface.

If you arrive early, why not get your first taste of Vietnam exploring the lovely, laidback capital. You can stroll the tree-lined boulevards to get a sense of the old days, wander the Old Quarter to uncover ancient temples and a rich, religious culture or head to the Temple of Literature, an oasis of calm right at the heart of Hanoi.

Optional Activities

  • Hanoi - Revolutionary Museum, Hanoi - VND15000.00
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature, Hanoi - VND20000.00
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi - VND25000.00

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)



Day 2 Vinh

There's time for a bit of last-minute shopping or sightseeing before leaving Hanoi. If you haven't yet explored the Old Quarter, this is your last chance to do it. Some of the most delicious 'pho' (beef soup) in town can be found at stalls lining the narrow streets. There are numerous shops which sell everything from designer knock-offs to religious offerings and fresh herbs.

Board our private bus bound for Vinh - enjoy the diverse countryside on the drive to the birth place of Ho Chi Minh (approx 7 hrs).

The bustling port town of Vinh is famous as the birth place of Ho Chi Minh.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)



Days 3-4 Vientiane

By private minibus journey through spectacular mountain scenery 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).

Possibly Asia's most laidback capital, Vientiane is a city where daily affairs are conducted at a relaxed pace. Hardly touched by the modernisation that has completely changed the face of other cities in South-East Asia, Laos still has a wealth of cultural delights to discover - on foot, or for the less energetic, by jumbo (tuk tuk).

Follow dusty tracks along the river to find villages full of friendly children, dogs and chickens. Vientiane's vibrant, colourful morning market (which incidentally is open all day!) is full of local treasures. A great way to round off the day is to enjoy a spectacular sunset over the Mekong.

Take to the dusty streets on foot to visit Wat Si Saket, perhaps the oldest temple in Laos. Close by, and once home to the 'Emerald Buddha', visit the former royal temple of the Laos monarchy, Haw Pha Kaew, with a vast array of Buddhist style sculptures. Continuing on to a symbol for Vientiane, Patuxai, or Victory Temple, head to the top for an unsurpassed view of the city.

Included Activities

  • Vientiane - Walking tour
  • Vientiane - Wat Sri Saket

Optional Activities

  • Vientiane - Buddha Park, Vientiane - USD1.00
  • Vientiane - Vientiane temples, Vientiane - USD1.00

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)



Days 5-6 Vang Vieng

Take a beautiful local bus ride through roadside villages to Vang Vieng (approx 3.5 hrs).

Situated on the Nam Song River, Vang Vieng offers limestone karst scenery, local markets and riverside walks.

There is plenty to do in and around Vang Vieng. The area is renowned for its many caves, many of which are easily accessible from the town, perhaps the most famous is the cave of Tham Chang, a beautiful cavern fed by a natural spring making it a perfect spot for a refreshing swim. Hire bicycles to explore further afield, or a tour of an Organic Mulberry Farm is also an option.

Optional Activities

  • Vang Vieng - Bicycle hire, Vang Vieng - USD1.50

Accommodation

Guesthouse (2 nts)



Days 7-9 Luang Prabang

Take the bus through dusty villages and winding mountain roads to Luang Prabang (approx 7 hrs).

The atmospheric World Heritage-listed city of Luang Prabang is a favourite of many. Nestled in the hills of northern Laos on the confluence of the Mekong and Khan rivers, it's studded with ornate temples and French colonial architecture.

Join our local guide on a walk of the local area, learn more about Laos culture at the ruins of Wat Pha Mahathat and explore the local market where the variety of local produce will amaze.

Head out to the beautiful Kuang Si Falls, where pale turquoise waters cascade over limestone formations. The lovely pool at the base of the falls is perfect for a refreshing afternoon dip.

There's plenty to explore here from the Royal Palace and many temples to the sacred caves of Pak Ou a short distance outside the city. You can also make the steep climb up Mount Phousi, the spiritual and geographical heart of the city, and a great spot to watch the sunset over the Mekong.

Included Activities

  • Luang Prabang - Walking tour

Optional Activities

  • Luang Prabang - Cooking demonstration, Luang Prabang - USD30.00
  • Luang Prabang - National Museum, Luang Prabang - USD2.50
  • Luang Prabang - Mt Phu Si, Luang Prabang - USD2.50
  • Luang Prabang - Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang - USD2.50
  • Luang Prabang - Royal Theatre, Luang Prabang - USD20.00
  • Luang Prabang - Kuang Si Waterfalls, Luang Prabang - USD2.50

Accommodation

Guesthouse (3 nts)



Day 10 Mekong River

Board our private boat for the two-day journey down the mighty Mekong River. While our boat is basic in nature, the journey is relaxed - a great way to experience the slow pace of village life and the breathtaking scenery along the river. Dock at the small trading port of Pak Beng to spend the night (approx 6 hrs).

The following morning, reboard the boat and cruise leisurely upriver to Huay Xai (approx 8 hrs).

Prior to the boat departure, ask your leader if you need help to purchase food and drinks for the journey. It can also be quite cold from November to February so make sure you have some warm gear packed. Due to dam construction upstream water levels are not as reliable as in previous years. When the river is at its lowest (Feb-Apr), groups may need to take a bus to Pak Beng instead of the boat. This is due to safety reasons and is advised by our local operators.

Stay overnight in a very basic guesthouse.

Accommodation

Guesthouse (1 nt)



Day 11 Chiang Khong

Reboard our boat and cruise further before crossing the border into Thailand and our overnight in Chiang Khong (approx. 8hrs).

Formerly known as 'Juon', peaceful riverside Chiang Khong remains an important market town for the surrounding hill tribes and trade with Laos.

Accommodation

Guesthouse (1 nt)



Days 12-13 Chiang Mai

Take a private minibus to Chiang Mai (approx 6 hrs).

The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous temples and an interesting old city area. This 'Rose of the North' is also known for its beauty and the friendliness of the local people.

There are so many things to do here - spectacular temples, delicious food, an enormous night market, picturesque river-front and fantastic shopping. Join your leader on a walk through the old city, or undertake the many optional activities available. Chiang Mai is a great place for hiring a bicycle, climb to Doi Suthep temple, sign up for a Thai cooking class or loosen those muscles with some traditional Thai massage.

Board an overnight train for Bangkok (approx 13 hrs).

Optional Activities

  • Chiang Mai - Doi Suthep temple, Chiang Mai - THB50.00
  • Chiang Mai - Bicycle tour, Chiang Mai - THB750.00
  • Chiang Mai - Thai cooking course, Chiang Mai - THB750.00

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)



Days 14-15 Bangkok

Arriving early in the morning, we make our way to our hotel in Banglamphu.

There is plenty to see and do in the bustling city of Bangkok. Relax and indulge in some Thai massage, or travel by longtail boat down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous 'khlongs' (canals) of Bangkok. Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital.

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.

Optional Activities

  • Bangkok - Khlong (canal) guided tour, Bangkok - THB800.00

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)


Also available to purchase

For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.

  • Single supplement


what-else




Itinerary disclaimer

Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.

 

Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.

Culture shock rating

 

Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.

Physical rating

 

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.

included





Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.

optional-extras





A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Imaginative Traveller nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Imaginative Traveller. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.

 

money




Money Exchange

The official currency of Vietnam is Dong (VND).

 

Some establishments will accept US currency (USD), but usually only for large purchases and in some restaurants and hotels that cater to tourists. It's not possible to exchange Vietnamese Dong outside the country, so convert or spend all your Dong before leaving.

The official currency of Laos is the Kip (LAK) however, US$ are also widely used throughout Laos.

The official currency of Thailand is the Baht (THB).

The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). ATMs are now available in most towns and visa cash advances are available in major banks. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange; clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Traveller's cheques can be difficult to change.

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Tipping

If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Imaginative Traveller destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.

 

The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

 

Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

 

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2-3 per day for local guides.

 

Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-2 per day for drivers.

 

Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

 

In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

 

At your group meeting on day 1 your tour guide will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running 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 returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

 

Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

Departure Tax

All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.


other-important-information




TRANSPORT VARIATIONS:

Occasionally the road between Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang may be closed due to road conditions in which case we will have to fly between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. This will be at your expense, but we will endeavour to notify you of the road situation as early as possible. In this situation we would spend an extra night in Vientiane or Luang Prabang.

Group-Size





Maximum of 12 travellers per group.

Single-Travellers




Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

A single supplement is available on this trip. On the following nights a single room is not available:
- Day 10 Mekong River
- Day 13 Overnight train

Accommodation





Guesthouse (7 nts), Hotel (6 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)

 

OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION

The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

 

TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS

Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Imaginative Traveller trips than your own.

 

CHECK-IN TIME

Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

 

PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION

If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.


WINDOWLESS ROOMS

Some hotels in Vietnam have windowless rooms, or windows that don't necessarily have a view. This is often due to high population density in large cities, however local building standards also don't require rooms to have windows. We do request rooms with windows, however they aren't always available.

meals




While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

Meals

6 Breakfasts

Budget for meals not included:

USD 280.00

transport





Boat, Songthaew, Bus, Tuk-Tuk, Private minibus



LONG TRAVEL DAYS

There are some long travel days and some of the transport can be quite cramped and without air-conditioning.

group-leader




All Imaginative Traveller group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Imaginative Traveller endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

 

Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Imaginative Traveller we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

joining-point




Van Mieu Hotel

54B Quoc Tu Giam Street

Hanoi

VIET NAM

Join-point-desc




The Van Mieu Hotel is a 2 star hotel with 28 rooms, located less than a 2 minute walk to the Temple of Literature. Room facilities include phone, TV, AC, ensuite bathroom. The hotel also has an elevator, sauna, and business centre services as well as a nice top-floor restaurant serving buffet breakfast.

www.vanmieuhotel.com.vn/

Join-point-instruct




Metered taxi ranks are readily available and cost approx $12 USD (260,000 VND).

 

A pre-booked airport arrival transfer is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Imaginative Traveller.

 

If you have pre-booked an airport transfer you will be met on arrival, and your driver will be waiting for you as you get out of the customs hall and will be holding an Intrepid sign bearing your name.

 

If you cannot find your pre-booked transfer, or if your flight is delayed, please call our hotline on:
+84 903 117 770.

 

Normal check in time at the hotel is after 13:00.

Alternate-j-Point




For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.

11 Jul 2013 (ITLRK130711), 25 Jul 2013 (ITLRK130725)

Van Mieu 2

159 - Kham Thien St Dong Da Dist

Hanoi

Hanoi

VIET NAM

Phone: +84 462763669

Fax: +84 462763699

Alt-J-Point-Descrip




Van Mieu 2 hotel is located at the heart of Hanoi capital, close to Thien Quang lake, Thong Nhat Park, Ha Noi Station and Dan Chu Cinema.

 

The hotel has 50 rooms which are equipped with modem facilities: elevator, cable TV 32 inch full HD, internet wifi, IDD phone and more.

Alt-J-Point-Instr




Metered taxi ranks are readily available and cost approx $12 USD (260,000 VND).
A pre-booked airport arrival transfer is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Imaginative Traveller.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer you will be met on arrival, and your driver will be waiting for you as you get out of the customs hall and will be holding an Intrepid sign bearing your name.
If you cannot find your pre-booked transfer, or if your flight is delayed, please call our hotline on:
+84 903 117 770.
Normal check in time at the hotel is after 13:00.

Arriv-complications




We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.

 

If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.

 

No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.

finishing-point




New World City Hotel

2 Samsen Road

Banglumphu

Bangkok

10200

THAILAND

Phone: +66 22815596

Finishing-P-Desc




Centrally located and close-by the famous Khoa San road, the New World City Hotel is within walking distance of many of the area's main attractions such as: Grand Palace, National Museum, National Library and Wat Po. Rooms are equipped with private en-suite, air-conditioning, tv, phone & mini-fridge. The hotel has 24 hour reception and a restaurant.

www.newworldcityhotel.com

Finish-point-instruc





A pre-booked departure transfer is available. Please inquire with your agent.

A taxi to the airport will cost about THB700 (US$20). The hotel or your leader can help you organise a taxi.

Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.

emergency



Emergency Contact

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, the Thailand Office can be reached on Tel: +66 898 103 722 (Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Borneo, Indonesia, Burma & Phillipines) and Tel: +855 92 555 969 (Cambodia).

We also have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked. Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

Emergency Funds

Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

visa-information




Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.

 

We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.

VIETNAM:

Australia: Yes - in advance

Belgium: Yes - in advance

Canada: Yes - in advance

Germany Yes - in advance

Ireland: Yes - in advance

Netherlands: Yes - in advance

New Zealand: Yes - in advance

South Africa: Yes - in advance

Switzerland: Yes - in advance

United Kingdom: Yes - in advance

USA: Yes - in advance

 

When obtaining your visa you should allow 3 weeks for processing, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Check with your embassy or consulate for further details. Some nationalities are exempt from requiring a visa if their stay is less than 15 days, but if you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance.

 

Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure.

 

If your visa application asks for a point of contact, please write: Intrepid Vietnam 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu St, Hanoi, Vietnam Ph +84 4 3715 0996.

LAOS:

Australia:Yes - on arrival

Belgium: Yes - on arrival

Canada: Yes - on arrival

Germany Yes - on arrival

Ireland: Yes - on arrival

Netherlands: Yes - on arrival

New Zealand: Yes - on arrival

South Africa: Yes - on arrival

Switzerland: Yes - on arrival

United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival

USA: Yes - on arrival

 

We ask all our travellers to obtain their Laos visas at the border, and NOT in their home country. Your tour leader will assist you in obtaining a Laos visa, generally at the border, depending on the current state of affairs, as it can vary.

 

Please ensure that you have 3 passport photos and up to US$60 cash (this may vary too) to fulfil the requirements. There will also be an Immigration Fee of LAK5,000. To assist us in processing your Laos visas, please provide your agent with accurate passport details prior to the departure of your trip as these details will be passed on to our leader.

 

When crossing the border you will most likely see a lesser entry fee than what you have paid. This is due to the leader having to use a local agent to process the visa which allows the group to cross the border as quickly as possible.

THAILAND:

Australia: No - not required

Belgium: No - not required

Canada: No - not required

Germany No - not required

Ireland: No - not required

Netherlands: No - not required

New Zealand: No - not required

South Africa: No - not required

Switzerland: No - not required

United Kingdom: No - not required

USA: No - not required

 

If entering by air you will be granted a 30 day stay on arrival. If entering by a land border, you will be granted a 15 day stay only. A visa extension can be obtained in Thailand at an immigration office for approx. 2000THB. Alternatively you can apply for a Thailand visa in advance from your embassy or consulate that will allow a 30 day stay when entering at an overland border.

BORDER CROSSINGS:

Your visa application form may require you to state the dates on which you enter and exit that country. Please note we suggest you list your date of entry a few days before, and date of exit a few days after, your intended dates in case you encounter any delays or problems en route. The following are the international/administrative border crossings for this trip:

Day 3 Vietnam to Laos

The Vietnam border is Cau Treo

The Laos border is Nam Phao

Day 13 Laos to Thailand

The Laos border is Houy Xai

The Thailand border is Chiang Khong


To help calculate the exact dates of these crossings we have found the following website useful -
http://www.timeanddate.com

Issues




While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

 

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

 

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

what-to-take




What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.

Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

CLIMATE & CLOTHING:

The average temperature in Hanoi and Northern Laos in January is just 16 degrees Celsius - so pretty cold for South-East Asia. Bring a winter weight sweater and trousers when travelling in the winter months (Nov to Feb), and a jacket too if you feel the cold. You will need warm clothes for the boat trip from Luang Prabang to Huay Xai.

WATER BOTTLE:

Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

 

fitness




Health

All Imaginative Traveller travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Imaginative Traveller reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

 

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

DENGUE FEVER:

Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing and always using repellent. Please note that this mosquito is most active during daylight hours however care should be taken at all times.

safety




Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Imaginative Traveller itinerary, and Imaginative Traveller makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

FIRE PRECAUTIONS:

Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

BALCONIES:

Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.

SWIMMING POOLS:

You may stay at hotels with unfenced pools and no life guard on duty.

TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:

Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

SEAT BELTS:

Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.

PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:

While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

LIFE JACKETS:

While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.

CYCLING:

Please note that helmets aren't provided for the sightseeing on bicycles.

travel-insurance




Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

Please go to our website for more information:

www.imaginative-traveller.com/travel-insurance

responsible-travel





At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.

Responsible Travel is twofold. It's about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.

Our Aims

  • It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
  • We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
  • Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.

Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.

LOCAL DRESS:

When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.

Rules





Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Imaginative Traveller travellers. Imaginative Traveller's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Carbon




Carbon Offset C02-e 142.00 kgs per pax.


give-us-your-feedback



Your feedback is important to us and to our tour guides and helps shape the quality of our trips. It tells us what we're doing right, what you believe could be done better and what improvements you feel could help future travellers choose and enjoy Imaginative Traveller. Just go to http://on.fb.me/16wYISa for our easy to fill out form. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

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