South East Asia Encompassed

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18 days
from
$3,405 USD
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Trip code: 
ALF
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Cultural Wonders
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

Four fascinating countries in three short weeks 

With stunning scenery, ancient monuments and charming, laid back towns the region of South East Asia is a traveller's paradise. Visiting Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam we are provided with an insight into a patchwork of culture and history that makes this trip incredibly varied. We ensure we visit some remote and rural destinations so that we can soak up the verdant countryside as well as enjoying the frenetic energy of the key towns and cities. South East Asia is also home to some incredible cuisine with colourful markets, fresh seafood and exotic curries providing a mouth-watering array at meal times. The delicious cuisine is a treasure of this fascinating region.

 

Highlights

  • Experience rural and city life in four strikingly different countries 
  • Marvel at the majestic temples of Bagan 
  • Step away from the crowds with a gentle trek in the hillstation of Kalaw
  • Take a boat trip around stunning Halong Bay in Vietnam
  • Adjust to the relaxed pace of life in Laos and delve into the night markets of Luang Prabang
  • Explore the Old Quarter of Hanoi with its myriad of tiny streets 
  • Cruise the Mekong River on a two day relaxing boat journey 
  • Sample delicious Thai street food 

Key information

  • 14 nights comfortable hotels, 2 nights standard hotels, 1 night boat with twin share cabins, all en suite
  • Travel by minibus, boat and 3 flights 
  • Variety of cities and countryside

What's included

  • 17 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 2 dinners
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Yangon

    Start Yangon

  • Day 2

    Yangon City Tour

    Yangon sits under the shadow of the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda. It is 2,500 years old and the most religious site in Myanmar that is said to contain eight hairs of the Buddha as well as 5500 diamonds and other precious stones. As the golden stupa glitters overlooking the city, life goes on in the busy streets below. To the south we will explore dilapidated colonial edifices and busy side streets on our city tour. Downtown Yangon with its unpaved streets lined with old wooden shuttered houses, medicine shops, temples and the more colourful markets offers plenty of photographic opportunities. Close by, we visit Shwe Bontha, perhaps the most photogenic of all streets in the city, with its leafy sidewalks, pavement tea-shops and magnificent colonial buildings. This afternoon is free for you to further explore the warm atmosphere of this friendly city.

    Comfortable Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Fly from Yangon to Bagan

    This morning we take a short flight to the ancient wonder of Bagan (Pagan). There are over 2000 temples and pagodas in many shapes and sizes to explore amongst the 25 square miles of brick that compare to the Angkor kingdom of Cambodia, Chichen Itza and Machu Picchu as one of the world's most spectacular archaeological sites. This is where Buddhism, Hinduism and Nat worship come together in an array of different shrines. There is free time to explore the area by bike or on foot (optional). You may wish to visit Shwezigon Paya, one of Bagan's most famous temples as it is the only temple which is a Buddhist temple as well as a Nat Shrine so it reflects the local beliefs here which combine both religions. This evening we have the chance to enjoy an optional group dinner at a local restaurant.

    Comfortable Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Full day exploring temples of Bagan

    A full day spent exploring the temple complex spreading out as far as the horizon with its peaks of brick stupas that dot the skyline in many shapes and forms. After the former Kings of Bagan introduced Theravada Buddhism in the mid-11th century building commenced, a string of Kings followed building temples to worship their gods. Ananda Pahto with its bejewelled umbrella (hti), Dhammayangyi pahto and Shwesandaw Paya are the largest and most impressive sights we will visit along with the smaller hidden gems well away from the main tourist route which offers unique opportunities to delve deeper into the history. We will finish the day with sunset at a temple with stunning 360 degree views, don’t forget to look behind as the sun hits the many temples nearby, a truly magical experience and a photographer's paradise. For those that would like to do the optional balloon ride, please consult the Optional Extras section.

    Comfortable Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Bagan to Kalaw via Mt Popa

    We start the day with a visit to Mt. Popa, the core of an extinct volcano considered the abode of the most powerful Nats (spirits) and still an important Nat worship centre as well as one of the major pilgrimage destinations for locals. For the energetic, there will be time to climb the 777 steps to the shrine at the top of the hill. There is also the option to sit with the locals at the bottom of the shrine and learn about their pilgrimage to this holy site. Just keep an eye out for the groups of monkeys who may like to share your lunch! We continue to our overnight destination of Kalaw. Situated in the Shan State, Kalaw is a popular, peaceful and quiet former British hill station. At an altitude of 1320m and nestled amongst impressive alpine scenery it is pleasantly cool (it can even be chilly in the evening or early mornings) and a great place to escape the tropical heat. The town has retained its colonial atmosphere but has an eclectic mix of Shan, Bamar, some Indians and ethnic tribes such as Pa-O, Palaung and other tribal minorities from the surrounding plateau.

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Walking the rolling hills of Kalaw

    Amid gnarled pines, tea plantations and bamboo groves, and accompanied by local guides we explore the surrounding hills of Kalaw on foot. Our walk will take in the daily life of the local villages where we may have the opportunity to drink tea with a village chief and in season we should see the inhabitants planting or harvesting the local crop. The tracks we walk on are centuries-old trading routes used by the Pa-O, Palaung and Danu ethnic minorities for moving their cattle and harvesting their crops. The views of the surrounding countryside are spectacular which few westerners get the opportunity to see. The trek is moderate on well-trodden undulating paths. However, it can be hot. We will be walking for approximately 5 to 6 hours in total but if needed there is the option to leave the trek halfway through at the lunchtime viewpoint and take a vehicle back to Kalaw. Approx. 3 hours walking half day and 5 to 6 hours full day. Of course, there is also always the option to opt out of the walking altogether and instead relax in the beautiful countryside. 

    Comfortable Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Kalaw to Nyaung Shwe/Inle Lake (via Pindaya Cave)

    We leave after breakfast and travel east to Inle Lake. Our drive traverses undulating hills and dense farmlands, stopping at Pindaya caves where we will explore the caverns and tunnels en route to the magnificent Inle Lake. There are more than 8000 Buddha images within the Pindaya limestone caverns and meditation chambers. Pilgrims flock to the caves and install new Buddha images within this labyrinth of tunnels and chambers and there are many from around the world. We should arrive at the village of Nayaung‐shwe at the north end of Inle Lake in the afternoon. 

    Comfortable Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Boat ride on Inle Lake

    Today we board a traditional long tail motorized boat for a sightseeing tour of the lake. We’ll have the chance to observe the unique fishing technique of leg-rowing by the fishermen as well as floating farms which are built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud that is anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. There is a lakeside market that rotates through five different sites around the lake. Here the locals come to sell their traditional wares early in the morning and return to their village in the afternoon. The market serves most common shopping needs and depending on its location, we may be able to visit it. We will also visit Indein on the western banks of the lake, this intricate pagoda complex has hundreds of Shan style stupas clustered together on the hillside. Although this area is now being reclaimed and renovated following years of decline, walking amongst these hauntingly beautiful ruins intertwined with forest remains a highlight for many and has a very Indiana Jones feel- a fantastic photographic opportunity. This afternoon is left free to enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

    Comfortable Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Fly to Tachileik, cross into Thailand

    After breakfast, we’ll take a flight to Tachileik where we should have time to explore the sprawling market upon arrival (flight time dependent). We’ll next say goodbye to Myanmar as we cross the border into the northern Thai town of Mae Sai. We then visit the Golden Triangle, an area so named after the fact that the opium that moved through was worth more than gold pound for pound. We visit the viewpoint that overlooks Myanmar, the mighty Mekong and Laos. The area's chequered past is covered in the Opium Museum where we learn about the dark history of this beautiful and rich region of Northern Thailand. We end the day with a spectacular drive up to the mountainous area of Doi Mae Slong. 

    Basic Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Doi Mae Slong to Chiang Rai

    We’ll start our day with some free time to explore the small town of Doi Mae Salong. The atmosphere here is reminiscent of a small southern Chinese village, and the region is famous for its Chinese tea traders. Do make sure you enjoy a cup of tea in a traditional Chinese tea house overlooking the mountains. We’ll visit a tea plantation so we can learn all about the traditional methods for growing and processing tea. The local markets are also worth a wander around where you can see products made by the many hill tribe people of the area, including the Akha. In the afternoon we’ll drive to Chiang Rai, our overnight spot for the evening.

    Comfortable Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Visit famous White temple, onto Chiang Khong

    Today we make our way to the Laos border, pausing en-route at the famous Wat Rong Khun (known also as the White Temple). This temple is unlike any other in the world and was constructed by the famous Thai artist, Chalermchai Kositpipa, in 1998. Compared with the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, this temple is comprised of ornate reliefs and mirror decorations and uses modern references such as Superman, spaceships and even the Matrix to tell the stories of Buddha’s life. We will also visit the Black House, another work of art that has put Chiang Rai on the map. We’ll continue onwards to Chiang Khong. Formerly known as 'Juon', peaceful riverside Chiang Khong remains an important market town for trade with Laos.

    Comfortable Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    First day of Mekong River cruise

    Today we board our slow boat for the two-day journey down the mighty Mekong River to Luang Prabang. The journey is relaxed, so you can experience the slow pace of village life and the breathtaking scenery along the river up close. The riverboat is basic with a toilet, covered roof and open sides to take in the fresh air. There are seats in the front of the boat and a small open area in the back where you can have a nap on the mat, play cards, read or have lunch. We will dock at the small town of Pak Beng (after about 6 hours) to spend the night. 

    Basic Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Second day on the Mekong, end Luang Prabang

    Boarding our private boat again, we head further down river with Luang Prabang as our final destination. En route we will visit the famous Tam Ting Caves, cut out of the limestone banks which line the river at Pak Ou. These caves are filled with thousands of Buddha images brought by the surrounding villagers as a sign of their devotion. Mid to late afternoon we arrive in the enchanting town of Luang Prabang, nestled in a narrow valley cut by the Mekong and Khan Rivers. This beautiful town was designated a World Heritage site in 1995. The rest of the day is free to explore the town and stroll amongst the ancient red roofed temples and French colonial architecture. There are also a number of interesting temples to visit including Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Wisunalat.

    Comfortable Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Luang Prabang tour and Kwang Si waterfall

    After an early breakfast we will visit Phu Si Hill for stunning views over the city and the Mekong River below. The climb includes 329 steps and the path zigzags its way to the gilded stupa at the summit past various temples. We will also head out to the Kwang Si Waterfall, where we have the chance to swim in the pools. Luang Prabang is a centre for markets in the region and there are many opportunities for the souvenir hunter to gather a few special items. For those up at dawn, there is the chance to witness the daily parade of saffron-robed monks receiving alms.

    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Luang Prabang to Hanoi

    We’ll leave Luang Prabang today for our flight to Hanoi where a frenetic energy thrives alongside traditional Vietnamese culture and a colonial charm permeates the broad tree-lines boulevards, most noticeably from the faded French architecture. Whether you’re buying baguettes and inexpensive coffee from the grand doorways of a past era, drifting alongside Hoan Kiem Lake or roaming the animated streets, Hanoi offers a delicious first taste of Vietnamese culture. Even crossing one of many manic roads serves as a memorable experience!

    Comfortable Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 16

    Halong Bay

    Early start and 4-hour transfer to Halong Bay. A boat awaits us, ready to cruise along the legendary Halong Bay, otherwise known as ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’. Legend has it that Halong Bay’s islands were formed by a dragon’s plunge into the waters. Carving crevasses on its way, the dragon left what is now roughly 3000 exquisitely eroded limestone peaks rising from emerald waters. Soak up the enigmatic atmosphere this karst scenery creates before enjoying a seafood lunch served on board.  The evening is yours to unwind upon tranquil waters. The night is spent in twin share cabins with en-suite facilities.

    Overnight boat 

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 17

    Halong Bay, back to Hanoi

    This morning we continue to enjoy the romantic scenery cruising amongst the islands as we return to the jetty. We then drive back to Hanoi where this afternoon we take a walk through the Old Quarter. This is a maze of narrow streets that are named after various crafts or specialities: Paper Street, Silk Street, Basket Street etc. The shops themselves have very narrow frontages but are actually quite deep; they are known locally as 'tube' shops. Street vendors tempt you with noodles, snacks and stir-fried delights from shoulder panniers, all adding to the charm of Hanoi's historic heart.

    Comfortable Hotel 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 18

    End Hanoi

    End Hanoi 

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Myanmar (Burma)

Nearly all nationalities require a visa to enter Myanmar (Burma), and this must be obtained prior to departure. Passengers without a visa will not be allowed to enter the country.
For further information see http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/Burma.pdf
For nationalities where there is no Burmese embassy please contact the Exodus office for assistance.

Thailand

A visa for Thailand is not required for British nationals for stays of 30 days or less. If you are unsure of the requirements please check with your nearest Thai embassy.

Laos

A visa can be obtained on arrival for most nationalities. The cost depends on nationality - it is currently US$35 for UK passport holders, and you will require 1 passport photo. For further information see the FCO website and look under 'Entry Requirements'. When you enter Laos, make sure you get an entry stamp in your passport. Not having a legitimate entry stamp could lead to arrest or a large fine.

Vietnam

A visa is no longer needed for British, German, French, Spanish and Italian citizens travelling to Vietnam (for all purposes) for a period of up to 15 days, and on the basis of meeting all conditions prescribed by Vietnamese laws. The visa exemption period will end on 30 June 2018. All other nationalities require a visa to enter Vietnam and this must be obtained prior to departure. For further information see http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/Vietnam.pdf or the FCO site and check under Vietnam / 'Entry Requirements'.

Vaccinations

As you visit four countries on this trip, each with different health issues to contend with, we would suggest that you speak to your travel nurse or doctor before travelling. 

Myanmar There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations for this trip are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria on this trip is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Thailand There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. 

Laos There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Malaria prophylaxis is essential and we suggest that you seek advice from your GP or travel health clinic about which malaria tablets to take. 

Vietnam There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Tetanus, Polio, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Diphtheria. The risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

General advice

Zika fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are known risks in places visited on this trip. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Eating and Drinking

17 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner included.

The food on this trip is a real highlight for many. Southeast Asian cuisine is known for its abundance of freshly prepared dishes with strong aromatic flavours. There is a focus on herbs and citrus to ensure each dish packs a punch; chilli does feature highly too but is easily avoided if desired. Typically most dishes will come with rice and many are often served in a banana leaf with a variety of dips and herbs served separately. The four countries visited ensure a different culinary experience every time you cross the border; ensure you try the freshly made Mohinga noodles from the street stalls of Yangon, the delicious Larb in Laos and the Banh Xeo (huge sizzling pancakes) found in Vietnam cannot be missed!  Western food is readily available almost everywhere with the exception of some of the more rural spots. Vegetarians are well catered for throughout but if you have a specialist diet (vegan, gluten free etc) you may find it useful to bring some substitutes with you. 

Weather

Yangon Weather

Chiang Mai

Hanoi

Is this trip for you?

This holiday is designed so that you can see the best parts of SE Asia using a mixture of private buses and flights. There is a lot to see in the time you are there, but it is paced so that it doesn't feel too rushed. Travel time is kept to a minimum although there are a few longer drives.The journey between Bagan and Kalaw will take approximately 7 hours including rest breaks etc. The journey from Kalay to Inle will take approximately 5 hours but this includes the stop at Pindaya Caves. 

 

 

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels, Boat & Guesthouse

You will spend 14 nights in comfortable hotels, 2 nights in standard hotels and 1 night sleeping on a boat with twin share cabins. The accommodation is generally good quality, but you should also be prepared for a couple of basic nights. Single rooms are available for a supplement for 15 hotel nights only, please enquire for prices. Please advise the sales team at the time of booking if you require a single. Please note that the single supplement will not cover the night in Pak Beng due to limited accommodation options.

Call for general departures:
1 844 227 9087
Call for tailormade trips:
1 800 267 3347
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

The mountains will always draw us back to this majestic country: and now, with the return of a very special trip, the

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Call us on 1 844 227 9087