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Laos Trekking Tour

Well organized with good guides. Small groups and well paced and decent time for departure from one city to another.

Jagdev, Aug 2017

reviews proof

Laos Trekking OVERVIEW

TOUR SUMMARY

8 days

Chiang Rai to Luang Prabang

ON REQUEST

Country(ies): Thailand

Tour type: Tailor-made

Group size: Min: 2 | Max: 0

Accommodation: 2 to 3-star hotels, guesthouses & homestay

Meals:

Transport: A/C minibus & boat cruise

Highlights: Trek through the Luang Namtha National Park, take a private boat cruise down the Nam Ou River, uncover the beautiful caves of Pak Ou, explore the UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang

Laos is a wonderful country for trekking and the northern part of the country offers the best choice. This tour cuts across northern Laos taking in some interesting trekking and beautiful boat rides along the way before finishing in the old royal capital of Luang Prabang.

After a comfortable last night in Thailand, this tour starts with a transfer to Huay Xai for the border crossing into Laos. Once in Laos we head north to Luang Namtha, on the edge of Nam Ha National Park where you will spend the next day doing a little trekking (we can also organise 3 and 5 day treks in this area). From here we transfer via the scenic town of Oudomxay, to Muang Khua for a private boat cruise down the Nam Ou River to Muang Ngoi. After a restful night we will be trekking to a T'ai Deng village where we will spend the night in a community bamboo guest house and enjoy a Baci ceremony. The next morning, and after a little more trekking, we head down stream to Nong Khiaw on a long tail traditional boat and have the afternoon to relax before a full day of trekking along the 100 waterfalls adventure trail the next day.

From the wilderness to Luang Prabang, we experience Lao life as it once was with the continuation of alms for the monks and a traditional night market. Your last 3 nights will be spent in this peaceful city with activities such as a city tour and day trip trekking to Kuang Si Waterfall.

ITINERARY

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Day 1 Arrive Chiang Rai and transfer to hotel

Meet and greet at Chiang Rai airport, Thailand when you will be transferred to your hotel where you have the rest of the day at leisure.

OVERNIGHT:

Chiang Rai hotel

MEALS:

None

EXTRAS:

Extra day in Chiang Rai - pre-tour
Single Room Supplement (LATMLT)


Day 2 Huay Xai to Luang Namtha

Today we travel from our accommodation to Huay Xai. Following your completion of border formalities, we head out of the town to Luang Namtha. This road has recently been improved, and is now a very smooth and comfortable drive. We visit hill tribe villages along the road at Muang Phouka and other surrounding areas. We arrive in Luang Namtha in the afternoon where you have the rest of the day at leisure.

OVERNIGHT:

Luang Namtha hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 3 Luang Namtha, full day trekking

The trip starts with a climb up to Phoumpok Stupa a great view point, offering panoramic views of Luang Nam Tha town. We then head into the jungle with your local guide, who will show you the different types of medicines and foods you can collect in the forest. For lunch you will have a wonderful picnic prepared by your guide and some local villagers. They will use bamboo pipes to cook either Black Tai or Akha style food and you will dine in the heart of the jungle.

After lunch, we continue trekking for another 45 minutes, and eventually reach Ban Nammutmai, a picturesque Akha minority village built on the hillside. Here you will learn about the life of this small ethnic minority group. Your guide will translate and explain to you old folklore stories from the locals. After this village visit, we travel by pickup truck to the Lanten village of Ban Nam Jang, where they specialize in the making of Saa paper. The trip ends when we return to the Luang Nam Tha market. Here you will see many of the forest products found along the trail being sold in the market. You will arrive back at your accommodation by mid afternoon.

OVERNIGHT:

Luang Namtha hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch

EXTRAS:

None


Day 4 Luang Namtha, drive to Oudomxay

You have the morning at leisure to relax in beautiful surroundings, before we get back on the road, heading south to the town of Oudomxay. After making a number of stops to admire the scenery, we reach Oudomxay by late afternoon. Overnight in Oudomxay.

OVERNIGHT:

Oudomxay hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 5 Oudomxay to Muang Ngoi via Muang Khua

The local market also attracts numerous ethnic minorities who converge from the surrounding mountainsides or valley to barter and trade their goods. We visit this congregation before setting off on our journey east to the riverside town of Muang Khua. En route we have the chance to visit the intriguing Pra Xack Kham Temple with its sacred Buddha image. The 400 years old legendary statue is said to have many supernatural powers, and is widely worshipped among the faithful local Buddhists. We also stop at the market of Xin Sai, which is very colourful as many of the ethnic minorities meet to exchange goods here. Upon arrival in Muang Khua, we board our private boat for the cruise down the Nam Ou River to Muang Ngoi, arriving there early evening.

OVERNIGHT:

Muang Ngoi hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch

EXTRAS:

None


Day 6 Muang Ngoi, trekking & homestay

This morning, we begin trekking 2 hours to Ban Houay Boor (a Khmu and T'ai Deng ethnic village). After lunch at villager's home in Ban Houay Boor, continue trekking in the afternoon to Ban Na (a T'ai Deng village) and Ban Houaisene, where we stay overnight at community bamboo guesthouse. Before dinner, enjoy a Baci ceremony and traditional music show with the villagers.

OVERNIGHT:

Homestay

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

EXTRAS:

None


Day 7 Muang Ngoi to Nong Khiaw by boat

This morning, after breakfast, we begin trekking through the rice fields and beautiful landscape back to Muang Ngoi. We then embark a long tail traditional boat for a leisurely 1hour trip downstream on the Nam Ou River, enjoying the lush green forests and landscape until arrival at Nong Khiaw. Afternoon at leisure.

OVERNIGHT:

Nong Khiaw hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 8 Nong Khiaw, full day trekking

Full day trekking around Nong Khiaw, or for more adventurous clients the new 1-day 100 waterfalls adventure trail can be enjoyed. For anyone wishing to enjoy a truly stunning experience on the newly discovered 100 waterfalls adventure trail, we'll start the day with a peaceful boat ride on the Nam Ou river. We then explore a small Lao village along the river side before heading into the waterfalls learning about village way of life along the way. Walking through small streams and rice paddies you arrive at the bottom of the 100 waterfalls which were first discovered (by foreigners) in October 2008. The next few hours we see only water and jungle and hear the sound of clear waterfall cascades. The pools around you are very inviting for a refreshing splash. Our guide will lead us through the cascades and prepare a local style lunch on the falls in the middle of amazingly green nature. A small village trail on the top of the 100 waterfalls will lead us back down into the valley offering spectacular views over the landscapes of the Nam Ou valley. Hiking back to the village we will have more time to see the daily life here on the Nam OU riverside village and than head back with a small boat which will bring us back to Nong Khiaw.

OVERNIGHT:

Nong Khiaw hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch

EXTRAS:

None


Day 9 Nong Khiaw to Luang Prabang by boat

Continuing by long tail boat down the Nam Ou River, we stop to visit the mysterious caves of Pak Ou, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by devoted pilgrims. We continue our trip down the river to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang. This former royal capital with its gleaming temple roofs, fading colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop retains a unique charm rarely found in all Asia. You transferred to your hotel by private vehicle by early evening.

OVERNIGHT:

Luang Prabang hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 10 Luang Prabang, half day city tour

This morning we begin our walking tour taking in some the cities most beautiful temples. Depending on the rest of your programme this may include the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, representing the classical Luang Prabang style, as well as Wat Mai and Wat Sene, the oldest temple in Luang Prabang. We also stop by at Kinnaly Gallery, where your guide will show you the different ethnic minorities that live in Laos. We end the tour with a climb up Mount Phousi, which offers a spectacular panoramic view over Luang Prabang and the Mekong River. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

OVERNIGHT:

Luang Prabang hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

None


Day 11 Luang Prabang, visit Kuang Si Waterfall

Leaving Luang Prabang with your private guide and driver, you travel for around one hour and twenty minutes out of the town. On the way you pass through beautiful scenery and rural landscapes with rice terraces and pineapple fields. You visit Ban Longlao a local H'mong village where the culture, customs and language are all different to mainstream Laos. Your trek starts from the H'mong village and takes between two and two and half hours through primary forest and jungle before reaching the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall. Lunch (not included) can be taken at the falls with time for relaxation, swimming and the possibility to climb to the top of the waterfall. Afterwards you return to Luang Prabang in time to catch the sun setting over the Mekong.

OVERNIGHT:

Luang Prabang hotel

MEALS:

Breakfast, Lunch

EXTRAS:

None


Day 12 Luang Prabang, free time then depart

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your departing flight.

OVERNIGHT:

N/A

MEALS:

Breakfast

EXTRAS:

Extra day in Luang Prabang - post-tour


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Included:
  • Transportation in private vehicle
  • Accommodation in twin shared room
  • Domestic air ticket as stated only
  • Private Boat trip as stated in above sights
  • English speaking guide (Other languages available)
  • Admission fee to indicated sights
  • Meals: daily breakfast at hotel, lunch/dinner where stated only
  • Gov't tax and service charge
  • Luggage handling and drinking water

Excluded:
  • Visa stamping fee on arrival
  • International air tickets to/from Laos
  • Travel Insurance (compulsory)
  • Single room (quoted separately)
  • Other foreign language guide (fee may apply)
  • Peak tourist season or special event rates
  • Child or adult in triple sharing room
  • Tipping, drinks, meals not indicated on itinerary

Gallery


Dates and Prices

Please contact us with requests for any amendments to the standard itinerary and for prices to suit your preferred dates of travel and the number of travellers in your party.

Start Date
End Date
Price (P/P)
Offer price
Note

Accommodation

The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.

The Wiang Inn

The Wiang Inn

Chiang Rai


Located in the heart of Chiang Rai City, the Wiang Inn is a 5-minute walk from the famous night market. It features an outdoor swimming pool and 3 dining options.

Local rating

Our rating

 The Wiang Inn The Wiang Inn

Located in the heart of Chiang Rai City, the Wiang Inn is a 5-minute walk from the famous night market. It features an outdoor swimming pool and 3 dining options.

Air-conditioned rooms at Wiang Hotel are decorated with northern Thai furnishings. All are equipped with a satellite TV, minibar and telephone.

Guests can relax with a massage, or enjoy a night of karaoke with friends. The hotel offers laundry and dry cleaning services.

Sample Thai, Chinese and European dishes at Wiang Inn Coffee Shop, or sip cocktails at the Lobby Lounge. Room service is also available.

The Boat Landing

The Boat Landing

Luang Namtha


The Boat Landing Guest House is an eco-lodge in Luang Namtha, Laos' northwestern most province. The bungalows are constructed with local materials in a local Lao style adapted for comfort. The restaurant serves local Lao food with vegetarian options.

Local rating

Our rating

 The Boat Landing The Boat Landing

The Boat Landing Guest House is an eco-lodge in Luang Namtha, Laos' northwestern most province, with access to the Nam Ha Protected Area, the Namtha River and Lao ethnic villages for rafting, trekking, and biking trips. The restaurant serves local Lao food with a large selection of vegetarian choices. The guesthouse is located 6km from the provincial town and just 1km from the airport.

After a day out and about you can come back and relax in comfort and style. On the banks of the Namtha, enjoy genuine Luang Namtha cuisine in our open verandah restaurant while watching life by the river.

The bungalows are constructed with local materials in a local Lao style adapted for comfort. Lounge on the verandah in a grassy acacia grove, watch locals fish for their evening meal, butterflies alighting, children swimming and boats passing up and down the river.

The rooms aspire to tastefully combine local tradition while providing the guests with the comforts of home. Each room has a modern bathroom fitted with solar hot water. Go to sleep soothed by the evening breeze and the night sounds of the river.

Villa Keoseumsack

Villa Keoseumsack

Oudomxay


Udomxai's best guesthouse is in a handsome Lao house with inviting rooms. Crisp linen, decent fittings, varnished floors, TV, Hmong bedrunners, free wi-fi and a communal reading balcony finish it off.

Local rating

Our rating

 Villa Keoseumsack Villa Keoseumsack

Villa Keoseumsack offers a comfortable setting while in Oudomxay. It also provides a hair salon, a 24-hour reception and a coffee bar.

There are a range of facilities available to those staying at the hotel, including a shuttle service, a laundry service and laundry facilities. The property's garden is a peaceful spot to sit and relax.

The comfortable rooms at Villa Keoseumsack include a private bathroom, bottled water and a refrigerator.

On-site dining options include a restaurant, which is an ideal place to have a meal.

Lattanavongsa

Lattanavongsa

Muang Ngoi


In a green courtyard, Lattanavongsa offers 12 solidly-built wooden bungalows. As the first guesthouse to offer en-suite bathrooms, this was once the most luxurious place in town.

Local rating

Our rating

 Lattanavongsa Lattanavongsa

In a green courtyard, Lattanavongsa offers 12 solidly-built wooden bungalows. As the first guesthouse to offer en-suite bathrooms, this was once the most luxurious place in town.

Though the others have now caught up, it remains a top choice and its bungalows are spotlessly clean, have reasonably soft beds, and window screens to keep out mosquitoes and other creepy-crawlies. Of course, each bungalow has its own bathroom with a Western toilet, sink and hot shower (once the electricity is on).

There are no river views here, but porches with plastic chairs and green space give guests plenty of room to congregate. The Lattanavongsa restaurant is further up the road near the boat landing and also exchanges money.

Loas Homestay

Loas Homestay

Ban Na


On a Laos homestay you will stay with a local Laos family and experience the hospitality and friendliness of the local villagers. Stay in a traditional Laos wooden pillar house where amenities are basic, but comfortable and clean.

Local rating

Our rating

 Loas Homestay Loas Homestay

In Ban Na you will stay with a home-stay family in one of the typical village houses. Here you will experience the hospitality and friendliness of the villagers. You will stay in a traditional wooden pillar house and participate in local family life. The homestay in Ban Na is basic, but clean and equipped with mattresses, pillows, mosquito nets, bed linen, French toilets and 'village showers'.
Nongkiau Riverside

Nongkiau Riverside

Nong Khiaw


In a class of its own, Riverside's elegant bungalows are romantically finished with mosquito nets, ambient lighting, wooden floors and woven bedspreads. Each includes an attractively finished bathroom and a balcony for views of the looming karsts.

Local rating

Our rating

 Nongkiau Riverside Nongkiau Riverside

In a class of its own, Riverside's elegant bungalows are romantically finished with mosquito nets, ambient lighting, wooden floors and woven bedspreads. Each includes an attractively finished bathroom and a balcony for blissful river views of the looming karsts. The views get better the further you venture from the striking reception area and restaurant, so ask for a higher-numbered room. The restaurant is surprisingly affordable and has breathtaking views.

All 15 bungalows feature a spacious 40 square meters private room with big private balcony and large bathroom. The balconies faces the river with stunning view of the river and mountains. Due to limited electricity supply there is no air conditioning, but as it's almost never hot in the night time you are more likely to value our very hot showers and bed heaters in the cold season. All rooms have fridge, safety box, electric kettles, free tea and coffee and beds are covered with mosquito nets.

Mekong Riverview Hotel

Mekong Riverview Hotel

Luang Prabang


Located at the tip of the peninsula in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, Mekong Riverview Hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel with views of the great Mekong River and Nam Khan River. Free WiFi access is available in the rooms.

Local rating

Our rating

 Mekong Riverview Hotel Mekong Riverview Hotel

Located at the tip of the peninsula in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang, Mekong Riverview Hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel with views of the great Mekong River and Nam Khan River. Free WiFi access is available in the rooms.

Mekong Riverview Hotel offers a complimentary round-trip transfer to and from Luang Prabang International Airport, located 1.2 miles away. The former royal temple of Wat Xieng Thong is next door and the National Museum is 0.7 miles away.

All rooms are equipped with high standard amenities including air-conditioning, a ceiling fan and a flat-screen TV with international channels. Featuring Swedish-made remote controlled beds, there is also an electric kettle and a refrigerator. Free toiletries and a shower can be found in the private bathroom, with some room types offering a spa bath.

Dishes and drinks can be sampled at the on-site restaurant and cafe. The property offers a 24-hour front desk, tour information and a free shuttle service from the hotel to the town.

Options

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you‘re visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.

All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.

Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.

Single Room Supplement (LATMLT)

Single Room Supplement (LATMLT)

Min numbers: 2 Adults


This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares are not available on this tour, so if you are single traveller then you will need to add this option to your booking.

Price from
£199
per person

This option books a single room in all the accommodation throughout the tour. Room shares are not available on this tour, so if you are single traveller then you will need to add this option to your booking.

Note: The price shown is a low season price. Slightly higher prices may apply during high and peak seasons - the exact price for your dates will be shown on the online booking form and is always available on request.

 Extra day in Luang Prabang - post-tour

Extra day in Luang Prabang - post-tour

Min numbers: 2 Adults


This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport departure transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Price from
£35
per person

This option adds an extra day to the end of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport departure transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Extra day in Chiang Rai - pre-tour

Extra day in Chiang Rai - pre-tour

Min numbers: 2 Adults


This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Price from
£35
per person

This option adds an extra day to the start of your tour, staying in the same hotel as the main tour itself (subject to availability). Your airport arrival transfer is still included. Prices shown are per person and based on two people sharing.

Note: Single room and peak season supplements apply.

Tour Notes

The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.

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  1. Accommodation

We use good quality hotels rated at the 2 and 3-star level hotels and guest houses on this tour. Accommodation is based on twin, triple or double en-suite rooms. Whilst trekking you should expect more basic accommodation. Please visit the accommodation tab of this tour for examples of the hotels normally used on this tour. If you have any specific accommodation requests please let us know and we'll be happy to provide you with a customised quotation.


  2. Transport

Our trips feature a mix of different transport options. We want you to feel like you're really experiencing the country you're travelling through, but at the same time we want you to finish journeys refreshed enough to enjoy the next stage of the tour. With this in mind we use public transport where we think it offers a good local experience & this may include local buses and local ferries. We also use private transportation including jeeps, song- thaews or pickup trucks, and mini buses for sightseeing tours where required.


  3. Transfers

The tour includes a 24-hour arrival and departure airport-hotel transfer service and all other transfers. Arrival transfers will be provided from Chiang Rai Airport (Thailand) and departures to Luang Prabang Airport (Laos).


  4. International Flights

We want to give you as much flexibility as possible when it comes to booking your holiday with us. So, to take account of people with varying travel plans, we don’t include your international flights in the main tour price. We are however very happy to suggest flights to go with the tour. Please contact us with your preferred dates and departure airport and we’ll give you a selection of airlines, times and fares to choose from.

Your airport arrival & departure transfers are included on the first and last days of the tour.

Most of our Thailand tours start and finish in Bangkok, and include an arrival and departure airport transfer from/to Bangkok international airport (BKK). However, some tours also finish on one of Thailand's islands. Transfers back to Bangkok or to one of the nearby island airports can be arranged on request.

  5. Group Size/Tour Leaders/Guides

As we don't offer guaranteed group departures on this tour we can run the itinerary for however many people you happen to be travelling with, starting from 1 upwards. The prices given for this tour are based on a minimum of 2 passengers travelling, so if you have a different number of passengers in your group please contact us for a customised quotation.

In Laos we provide fully trained, local English-speaking guides for all of the sightseeing tours. At Encounters Travel we only use local guides and reps. We feel this gives you the best experience of the country and the sites you are seeing. Please check our website for more details and profiles of some of our most famous guides.


  6. Entrance Fees

The tour price includes entrance fees to all the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary.  You will need to cover the cost of entrance to any other extra sites that you may wish to visit.


  7. Tipping

Tipping is not part of Thai culture but has become customary but not compulsory in the tourist and service industry. Tipping is always optional, and any amounts paid should reflect excellent service. You may therefore wish to tip your guide and driver at the end of the tour.  You should not feel obliged to tip any particular amount, and should consider your personal budget. We are often asked to provide a guide however, and can suggest that approx. GBP 5 / USD 8 per person per day would be appropriate.


  8. Health and Vaccinations

You should ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including emergency evacuation and repatriation.

Recommended vaccinations and other health protection measures vary according to the country you are visiting and where you are travelling from. We recommend you contact your GP/medical practitioner or a travel clinic for current information on vaccinations needed for your destination. You should ensure that you are up to date with vaccines and boosters recommended for your normal life at home, including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions. In addition, additional courses or boosters normally recommended for the countries in this region are:

Thailand: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Vietnam: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.
Cambodia: Additional vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from or having transitted through an infected area.
Laos: Additional vaccinations: Diptheria, Poliomyelitis, Hepatitis A, Tetanus, Typhoid. Malaria map. Yellow Fever certificate: Required if arriving from an infected area.

The above information can change at short notice. For up to date health information & vaccination requirements we recommend that you contact your medical practitioner or a travel clinic.

Malaria: Vaccinations are not available against Malaria, which is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can be very serious and sometimes fatal. You should avoid mosquito bites by covering up bare skin with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers and applying insect repellents to exposed skin. When necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquitoes are most active during and after sunset. You should consult with your GP/medical practitioner/travel clinic about the most appropriate malaria prophylactic medication to take for the regions you are visiting.

Yellow Fever: This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes that bite during the day. A Yellow Fever Certificate of vacinnation may be required as a condition of entry depending on which country you are arriving from, or that you have travelled or transitted through recently (including connecting flights with stopovers of over 12 hours). You can view a World Health Organisation map of areas where the virus is present in monkeys and therefore a potential risk to humans. Please ensure you have this certificate with you and to hand if necessary.

Please inform us of any pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma and any prescription medicine you may be taking. We also need to know about any food allergies or physical disabilities that you may have.


  9. Passports and Visas - Thailand

Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.

Most foreign nationals (including UK, EU, USA, CA, AU, NZ, SA) are granted a visa exemption on arrival for stays in the country of up to 30 days. If you are looking to spend longer in Thailand then you will need to leave the country and re-enter to extend your stay. We strongly recommend arranging your visa in advance if you would like to stay longer than 30 days in Thailand.


  10. Passports and Visas - Laos

Passports should be valid for at least six months after your departure from the country. Please do not bring an almost full or almost expired passport. Visa arrangements are the responsibility of the traveller, and requirements are subject to change by the local authorities.

15-day visas are available for most foreign nationals and cost US$30. These are available on arrival into Vientiane International airport or when crossing into Laos from Thailand, either at the friendship bridge land border or even when crossing over from northern Thailand into Huay Xai. Longer 30 day tourist visas and business visas can be arranged prior to departure either in your home country or by using an agency in one of the neighbouring countries although this will incur a fee. When leaving the country by air there is a US$10 departure tax payable at the airport.

As visa regulations often change we recommend that you check this information with your nearest consulate. Obtaining the correct visa is the responsibliity of the traveller.


  11. Culture and Customs

Dress code
The Thai people consider dressing appropriately to be important and respectful, so please follow their example. This means covering up your swimwear while not on the beach or by the pool, and while shorts and T-shirts are fine, please try not to look scruffy. Remember to take your shoes off before entering local houses or any religious buildings.

Temple etiquette
When entering temples you should wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders. Women may be asked to wear long skirts, not trousers, and shorts are not appropriate for either sex. You may wear a shawl to cover up and these are sometimes available to hire before entry. Again please take your shoes off before entering. 

Buddhist Culture
Thailand is a Buddhist country and Buddhism permeates nearly all aspects of society and culture, resulting in a country with different customs to much of the West. Rudeness and disrespect are frowned upon and you will be judged on your behaviour. Some tips for behaviour to avoid causing offence are; do not touch other people with your feet, point your feet at Buddhist statues or shrines (be careful of this when you sit), and don't touch the head of someone you don't know well. Public displays of affection are frowned upon, so save these until you are in private. You'll find being polite using a few Thai words will really pay dividends (thank you is Kawp Khun Kaa if you are female, and Kawp Khun Kraap if you are male. Your tour guide will provide more information and advice while you are on the tour; please don't hesitate to ask them any questions or for advice.

The Royal Family
The Thai people have huge respect for their Royal Family and this is enshrined in many laws as well. You should bear this in mind when speaking to Thai people and in simple things like remembering that Thai paper money has the King's face on and should therefore be treated carefully.

Drugs and Alcohol
Drugs are illegal in Thailand and heavy penalties including very large fines and jail time can be imposed. Don't think that because you are a tourist you are exempt or will be treated differently. Drinking is legal and you should not worry about having a few beers or cocktails while on tour. However remember to be respectful to your surroundings, fellow group members and the local population.


  12. Time
The time in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos is GMT plus 7 hours. Daylight saving adjustments are not observed.

  13. Voltage
Sockets are two round or flat pronged and 220 volts (Type A, B, C). Universal adaptors are available in most airport shops if you don't have one already. Standard European adapters will work fine, though sometimes they may feel a little loose in the sockets. All hotel rooms have electrical sockets where you can re-charge cameras, phones etc. Hair dryers are normally available on request from the hotel reception if not in your room already.
If you have US appliances (110 volts) you will need a voltage converter as well as a plug adapter.

  14. Money - Laos

The currency Laos is the 'Kip' (LAK).

Common notes:
100 kip
500 kip
1,000 kip
2,000 kip
5,000 kip

It's worth noting that US$ are widely accepted throughout Laos and are often actually preferred for higher value purchases. Travellers arriving from Thailand will also find that the Thai baht is another currency welcomed in Laos. However, when paying in these currencies change will most likely be given in kip which should be kept for more day-to-day purchases and transactions. You can change money at any bank (08.30 & 16.00 Mon-Fri) although a variable commission will be charged. In general, it's a good idea to try and find the lower rates which are usually available through exchange kiosks or hotels. In the capital city Vientiane you can exchange UK£ pound, Euros, AUS$ and other currencies but in the smaller towns around the rest of the country, US$ and Thai baht are preferred.

Traveller's cheques are widely accepted in major cities and do benefit from a slightly better rate but this can be offset by the commission charged to change them.

ATM's have now made it into Laos and these are available in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Viang Vieng. For some reason, Mastercard is sometimes preferred to Visa but a lot of debit cards such as Cirrus and Maestro are now accepted. You can also use credit cards to pay for hotels and some restaurants but credit and debit cards are far from being accepted everywhere so having an alternate way of accessing funds is vital.


  15. What to take
Luggage: Suitcases, rucksacks or fabric holdalls are all fine to bring with you to Thailand, though if your itinerary has many stops and different travel included within it, we recommend packing light and not bring any large cases. You should also bring a small daypack/bag to take out during the day. Your main luggage will normally be left in the hotel during your sightseeing trips – you will not need to carry it far, and there are nearly always hotel porters to assist.

Luggage limits: There is no luggage limit for this tour. However, most airlines restrict you to between 20kg and 25kg for your hold luggage and between 5kg and 10kg for hand luggage. Please check with your airline before travelling to the airport.

Climate and Clothing: There are three reasonably well-defined seasons in Thailand, but unlike in Europe, where seasons are temperature based, Thailand is tropical and generally speaking warm all year round. Rains from the monsoon are the marker of seasons and the rainy season is from June to October. Pre-monsoon is from March to May, when the weather becomes progressively hotter. Post monsoon is from November to February when the weather is cooler. The range of temperature is more marked in the north where pre-monsoon can be very hot, though the heat is much drier than in the south. Winter in the north can feel cool, particularly in the mountains. Take light clothes with something warmer for the winter nights if you are travelling to the north. Some light raingear would be useful in the wet season.

Other items: We recommend you also bring:

  • Cool footwear (sandals are ideal). If you are interested in exploring the reefs, a pair of reef shoes is recommended to avoid injuries. If you are trekking, then bring comfortable and sturdy walking shoes or light walking boots.
  • Swimming costumes – rash-guards/t-shirts are recommended for snorkelling to avoid sunburn.
  • Sunscreens, after sun lotions and personal hygiene products – Please adhere to 100ml restrictions for anything you wish to carry on hand-luggage on flights.
  • Prescription medications (if required) – please bring supporting documents.
  • Power adapter for phones, laptops etc
  • Sunglasses and hats
  • Basic first aid kit and toiletries
  • Money belt
  • Small torch
  • Dive certification card and log book if you intend to participate in SCUBA diving.
  • Sleeping bag if your tour includes any hill-tribe or village trekking

  16. Dates & Prices

This tour is designed as a sample tailor-made tour itinerary. As such we do not offer set group departure dates that you can join. Rather, the tour is available for you to do privately starting on any date of the year. Guideline seasonal prices are given below, based on 2 people travelling. If you would like to adjust the tour itinerary, or there will be more or less people travelling, please contact us and we will customise a price for you.
For many people planning a trip to Laos, the weather will be a determining factor in choosing when to travel. The driest and coolest time to visit Laos is from November to February. You will experience days of cool breezes and low temperatures and miss the monsoon season (May to November). Certain provinces of Laos (Xieng Khuang, Hua Phan and Phongsali) will also get rain blowing in from Vietnam and China from February to May but this northeast monsoon usual bypasses the rest of Laos. This time of year is also Laos's main season for both national and regional bun (festivals) though December to February and August are the peak tourist times. January, in particular, is very busy and booking ahead is advisable. If you are interested in river travel you will best visit during November when the floods have subsided but the rivers are still filled to capacity. This type of travel can be difficult from January to June when water levels are low.Please speak with our reservations team who will be happy to help you in selecting an appropriate time for your tour.


  17. Booking & Payment

If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.


  18. Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...

You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK  to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.
Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.

Note - to comply with insurance sales regulations, our travel insurance policies are only available to customers booking directly with us. If you have booked through a travel agent you will need to arrange your own insurance.

If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.

If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.

IMPORTANT:  We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour.  If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.


  19. Financial Security

We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
Financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers for the land portion of your tour.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.


  20. Responsible Tourism

It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

  • Don't prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn't make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don't expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don't worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don't waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don't litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you're travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It's important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).


  21. Follow Us Online

You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.facebook.com/encounterstravel
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')


  22. Before you travel

It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.

General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.

Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

'Travel Aware' campaign


  23. Entrance Fees

The tour price includes entrance fees to all the tourist sites mentioned in the itinerary. You will need to cover the cost of entrance to any other extra sites that you may wish to visit.


  24. Transfers

Our South East Asia tours all include a 24-hour arrival and departure airport-hotel transfer service, and all other transfers throughout the tour. If you are already in the country then we will provide you with your first hotel details, contact numbers for our local representatives, and details of your first meeting time.


  25. Tipping

Tipping is not part of culture in South East Asia in the same way that it is standard practice in other parts of the world. However it has become more customary but not compulsory in the tourist and service industry. Tipping is always optional, and any amounts paid should reflect excellent service. You may therefore wish to tip your guide and driver at the end of the tour.  You should not feel obliged to tip any particular amount, and should consider your personal budget. We are often asked to provide a guide however, and can suggest that approx. USD 5-10 per person per day would be appropriate for your guide(s).

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