Days
14
Price from
$3,560AUD

Laos and Cambodia are the two hidden gems of the former French Indochina. Starting in Bangkok, we explore the bustling Thai capital before flying to Chiang Rai, then crossing into Laos and spending a week in this unique, but little-known country. We take the slow boat to Luang Prabang, where royal palaces and temples tell the story of the rich Lao culture and heritage. The capital, Vientiane, is a sleepy yet charming town on the Mekong River, with its old buildings still exuding the mood of the French colonial days. Just in the last couple of years the Kingdom of Cambodia has arisen from the ashes of war and internal strife, and its monumental treasures are again on show to travellers. The incredible temple complex near Siem Reap has astounded archaeologists since its rediscovery and subsequent recovery from the jungles, 150 years ago. The famous Angkor Wat is but one of many glorious monuments in that area. Phnom Penh, now reconstructed, still contains vestiges of the French colonial era in its historic architecture.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2016:

From 1st May 2016 this trip will include an additional night in Luang Prabang, replacing the night in Phonsavan. We will also be departing from Bangkok earlier to maximise our time in Chiang Rai and include a visit to the White Temple as well as flying from Luang Prabang to Vientiane rather than travelling by road.


Start
Bangkok, Thailand
Finish
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Country
Cambodia, Laos, Thailand
Style
Peregrine
Theme
Explorer
Code
PALC
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
(2 reviews)
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Laos and Cambodia are the two hidden gems of the former French Indochina.

  • Starting in Bangkok, you will explore the bustling Thai capital before flying to Chiang Rai, then crossing into Laos and spending a week in this unique, but little-known country.

  • Take a slow boat to Luang Prabang, where royal palaces and temples tell the story of the rich Lao culture and heritage.

  • Vientiane is a sleepy yet charming town on the Mekong River, with its old buildings still exuding the mood of the French colonial days.

  • Just in the last couple of years the Kingdom of Cambodia has arisen from the ashes of war and internal strife, and its monumental treasures are again on show to travellers.

  • The incredible temple complex near Siem Reap has astounded archaeologists since its rediscovery and subsequent recovery from the jungles, 150 years ago - boasting the incredible Angkor Wat.

  • Phnom Penh, now reconstructed, still contains vestiges of the French colonial era in its historic architecture.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Please bear in mind that you're travelling in a remote area of Laos, which is less developed than other southeast Asian countries. Please have an open mind and come with an adventurous spirit.

  • On the third night of the trip, you'll be staying in the isolated village of Pakbeng. Conditions are basic but comfortable.

  • The bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge is a painful, but unavoidable part of Cambodia's recent history. You'll visit the Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, which can be confronting and emotional. Please let your leader know if you do not want to visit these sights.

  • We visit a number of temples on this trip, which requires a certain level of modesty. Please bring clothes that cover the arms and pants/skirts that go past the knees. A light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms when it’s hot.

  • It’s important to prepare for hot sticky temperatures during the day and cooler climates in the evening. Layers are the best way to tackle this disparity in weather.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 May 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2015 - 30 April 2016

Welcome to South East Asia. Arrive into Bangkok today, where you’ll be transferred to the centrally located Hotel. A pre-trip briefing will be held in the evening to meet the other members of your group and to discuss the itinerary. Please check for a welcome notice on the Peregrine noticeboard near the hotel lifts. The notice should provide the name of your trip leader, along with the exact time and location of the meeting. After the group meeting in the evening, perhaps adjourn to a nearby restaurant and enjoy a first meal together (this is optional and at your own expense). The rest of the evening is free to enjoy a quiet drink or visit the bustling night markets of Bangkok.
Accommodation
  • Royal Princess Larn Luang Hotel or similiar (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today take the one-and-a-half-hour flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai. This scenic town is a lot more relaxed than neighbouring Chiang Mai. Visit the privately owned Wat Rong Khun, more commonly known as the White Temple. This contemporary temple is constantly being added to and its strange design features references to Buddhist mythology, human sin and pop culture icons such as Michael Jackson, Harry Potter and Superman. In the evening visit the buzzing Chiang Rai night markets, where you can snack on delicious Thai cuisine or shop for souvenirs and handicrafts.
Accommodation
  • Imperial River House Hotel or similiar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chiang Rai - Wat Rong Kun (White Temple)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today leave Chiang Rai before dawn to travel for around two hours to Chiang Khong. After crossing the border, take a songthaew across the Mekong River to Huay Xai, which is your first stop in Laos. Transfer to the pier and board a slow boat for the trip down the Mekong River. The pace is very relaxed - a perfect way to observe the scenery and local life up close. The private boat has toilets on board, comfortable seats, dining tables and plenty of room to stretch your legs. In the evening arrive into Pakbeng, a village situated at the junction of the Mekong and Beng rivers. Hmong and tribal Thai people are frequently seen on the main street, where vendors sell local textiles and handicrafts. Spend the night in a village lodge.
Accommodation
  • Pakbeng Lodge or similiar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today continue down the Mekong River in your private slow boat, gaining more insight into local rural life along the way. Stop in at Pak Ou, where the famous Tam Ting Cave is home to thousands of Buddha statues. Continuing on, pay a visit to Ban Sang Hai village where potent rice wine is made. Travel time down the river varies greatly with the water level, but if all goes to plan you should arrive into Luang Prabang by early evening. This sacred town, with its gleaming temple roofs, French architecture and mountainous backdrop, is claimed to be ‘the best preserved city in South East Asia’ by UNESCO.
Accommodation
  • Sada Hotel or similiar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Cave
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, you may like to rise early to witness the daily procession of monks collecting alms from the villagers - a practice that dates back centuries. Following breakfast visit the town's major temples, including the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong. After the tour, walk around the local shops and find hand woven handicrafts. Next, visit the National Museum at the former Royal Palace, a building that combines French colonial and traditional Lao architecture. In the afternoon head south of town to the beautiful Kuang Si Falls. Back in Luang Prabang this evening, perhaps explore the popular night market or enjoy a traditional Laos massage and herbal sauna. A late night in Luang Prabang isn't really an option, as the town observes a nightly curfew of 11.30 pm.
Accommodation
  • Sada Hotel or similiar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Luang Prabang - Wat Visunnala
  • Luang Prabang - Wat Xieng Thong
  • Luang Prabang - Kuang Si Waterfalls
  • Luang Prabang - Royal Palace Museum
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day in Luang Prabang. There are many of optional activities to keep you busy. Perhaps try your hand at preparing some traditional Laotian food in a cooking class. You could visit the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, a not-for-profit museum dedicated to promoting the diverse cultures and traditions of Laos' ethnic groups. Guided tours and seminars are available on request. If you feel like getting active, why not climb the 328 steps up Mount Phu Si in the centre of Luang Prabang's old town? The hill is crowned by a gilded stupa, That Chomsi, where you can enjoy spectacular views over the town and surrounding forest. Afterwards, you may like to wind down with a traditional Lao sauna and massage at the massage parlour opposite Wat Visounnarat.
Accommodation
  • Sada Hotel or similiar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today take a 45-minute flight from Luang Prabang to Vientiane. On arrival into the capital, your leader will take you on a short orientation walk so you can get your bearings. The friendly city of Vientiane features a lot of French-inspired architecture and cuisine, so ask your leader where to find the best bakeries.
Accommodation
  • City Inn or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today embark on a tour around the major sights of Laos' capital. Visit the imposing Patuxai monument, which is Vientiane's version of the Arc de Triomphe. Call in at the oldest temple in the city, Wat Si Saket, and the former royal temple of Wat Phra Kaew. This previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha image before the Siamese took it in the late 18th century. Discover the golden stupa of Pha That Luang, which is an important Buddhist monument and the national symbol of Laos independence. Tonight enjoy an included dinner at the Makphet Restaurant in Vientiane. Peuan Mit runs the restaurant, which is an organisation that supports the needs of street children and young people in Laos.
Accommodation
  • City Inn or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Vientiane - Wat Sri Saket
  • Vientiane - Pratu Xai
  • Vientiane - That Luang
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
You will be transferred to the airport, where you will say goodbye to your Lao tour leader and fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Please note: it is unlikely that you will be escorted on this flight.
When you arrive in Phnom Penh you will be transferred to a comfortable and centrally located hotel
A Cambodia trip sector briefing will be held in the evening. Please check for a welcome notice on the Peregrine notice board located near the hotel lifts. This will provide you with your tour leader's name and the exact time and location of your Welcome Meeting.
Keep in mind that you will need to again bring your travel insurance details with you to the meeting.
There is nothing planned until this meeting, so we recommend you take to the streets of Phnom Penh and explore the city.
After a pre-trip briefing, you will adjourn for dinner in the restaurant run by the Friends organisation (closed on public and school holidays when you will dine at an alternative restaurant).
During your free time after dinner, you might even choose to have a relaxing drink at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, a great way to spend your evening.
Accommodation
  • Patio Hotel or similiar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Phnom Penh - Wat Phnom - USD2
  • Phnom Penh - National Museum - USD5
  • Phnom Penh - Cyclo tour - USD4
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Phnom Penh - Entrance to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) / Choeung Ek
  • Phnom Penh - Guided Tour of Choeung Ek
  • Phnom Penh - Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Today, a full city tour will introduce you to the sights of Phnom Penh, a city that lies near the confluence of the Mekong and the Tonle Sap rivers. The private quarters of the Royal Palace are home to King Sihamoni and are closed to the public. You will however, be able to visit the Silver Pagoda that lies in the palace complex, which is the most sacred temple in the country. From the winding Mekong River, French-inspired colonial architecture, and proud Khmer pre-industrial empire, to the more recent devastation of the Khmer Rouge – Phnom Penh remains a living relic of the country’s past struggles and successes.

The bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge is a painful, but unavoidable part of Cambodia's recent history. Your included visits to the Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek tell the story of this tragic legacy.

You can make an optional visit to Wat Phnom, the temple that gave rise to the foundation of the city in the 15th century.

An ideal way to spend your second evening in this city is to relax in a cafe by the riverfront.

Notes: The sites mentioned are a major part of sightseeing in Phnom Penh, but if you don't wish to visit either of them, please inform your tour leader.
Accommodation
  • Patio Hotel or similiar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
You will catch a flight north to Siem Reap today, home of the great temples of Angkor. You'll notice a change of pace here, and wandering the streets you will find an abundance of local eateries and colourful markets.
Your leader will take you on an orientation walk to help you get acquainted with this town.
Accommodation
  • Navutu Dreams Resort & Spa or similiar (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Siem Reap - Khmer Cooking Class - USD25
  • Siem Reap - Khmer traditional massage - USD10
  • Siem Reap - Remork transport to Tonle Sap Lake - USD10
  • Siem Reap - Tonle Sap Lake boat trip - USD15
  • Siem Reap - Landmine Museum - USD3
  • Siem Reap - Kbal Spean (river of a thousand lingas) - Free
Included Activities
  • Siem Reap - Three Day Angkor Pass
  • Siem Reap - Lunch at Sala Bai
  • Siem Reap - Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Spend a full day visiting the amazing temples of Angkor on a guided tour today. Angkor Wat is the largest and most complete structure, and is the only one of Angkor's temples that has its entrance facing west (the others face east). Followed by Angkor Thom, the 'Great Royal City', this temple is famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone. Of all the temples visited today, Bayon temple is the centrepiece with over 200 carved, smiling faces and more than 50 gothic towers.

You also have the opportunity to visit the Sala Bai Hotel School today, where underprivileged local youths learn skills that enable them to find gainful employment in the hospitality industry. Enjoy a lunch prepared by students at the school, but please be aware that this is closed on public and school holidays and an alternative restaurant will be used. After lunch continue onto visit Ta Prohm temple, which has large trees embedded in the stone foundations of the structure - a powerful symbol of nature. End the day with a sunset view of the temples: a special way to see the sun go down.
Accommodation
  • Navutu Dreams Resort & Spa or similiar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Embrace a very early morning start today if you wish to experience a sunrise visit to the Angkor complex (optional). Later in the morning venture to the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), a place that rehabilitates animals that have fallen victim to wildlife trafficking and provides a breeding facility for highly endangered animal species. It's also a centre of education and information for the local population. From here, continue onto Banteay Srei. Famous for its detailed and intricate stone carvings, it may not be a huge temple, but is sometimes referred to as ‘the jewel in the crown of Angkorian art’.

At this point, you can either head back to your hotel or carry on exploring few more temples, such as Preah Khan. This temple contains a maze of vaulted corridors and is another complex that has been largely reclaimed by the jungle. Your ticket for the Angkor ruins also enables you to spend more time exploring this memorable archaeological area or take a free afternoon to explore the town. If you have time, you might like to indulge with a traditional Khmer massage. To cap off an amazing adventure, enjoy a final Khmer dinner on your last night in Siem Reap.
Accommodation
  • Navutu Dreams Resort & Spa or similiar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Your Cambodia Discovery ends after breakfast this morning. You're free to leave the accommodation at any time, as there are no more activities planned. Please note that a transfer to the airport is not included, but your trip leader will be on hand to advise you of your options.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

13 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners

Transport

Boat, Ferry, Plane, Private Bus, Train

Accommodation

Hotel (11 nights), Lodge (1 night), Resort (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Chiang Rai - Wat Rong Kun (White Temple)
  • Luang Prabang - Pak Ou Cave
  • Luang Prabang - Wat Visunnala
  • Luang Prabang - Wat Xieng Thong
  • Luang Prabang - Kuang Si Waterfalls
  • Luang Prabang - Royal Palace Museum
  • Vientiane - Wat Sri Saket
  • Vientiane - Pratu Xai
  • Vientiane - That Luang
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Phnom Penh - Entrance to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) / Choeung Ek
  • Phnom Penh - Guided Tour of Choeung Ek
  • Phnom Penh - Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda
  • Siem Reap - Three Day Angkor Pass
  • Siem Reap - Lunch at Sala Bai
  • Siem Reap - Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity

Reviews

Our Laos & Cambodia Explorer trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 2 reviews in the last year.

Laos & Cambodia Explorer, April 2015

Judith McQueen

Laos & Cambodia Explorer, February 2015

Linda and John Baker

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip. Please note a single room is not available on day 3 Pakbeng.
2. A complimentary arrival transfer is included please advise your flight details at time of booking.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.