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Important Please Note

For departures after 31 December 2014 this trip has variations.
Please click here for details.

Journey Down the Laos Mekong

Introduction

This document contains essential information that you need to prepare for, as well as information you will need during your holiday with Peregrine.

We ask that you read it carefully and that you take the document with you on your holiday. It contains information on visas, vaccinations, spending money, etc, as well as a detailed, day by day itinerary of your trip.


Your Trip

What's Included

• The services of Peregrine's expert English-speaking local tour leaders in both countries, and local guides at some sites.

• Local flights: Bangkok to Chiang Rai and Phonsavan to Vientiane.

• Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Bangkok - the Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Temple of the Reclining Buddha; thousands of Buddha images in Tam Ting Cave; Ban Sang Hai village; Luang Prabang - the procession of monks, Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Wisunalat and the National Museum at the former Royal Palace; Kuang Si Waterfalls; Muang Khun; Plain of Jars; Vientiane - Patuxai Monument, Wat Si Saket, Wat Prakeo and That Luang Stupa.

• ‘Slow’ boat cruises down the Mekong River to Pakbeng village and to Luang Prabang.

• A night in a simple hostel in Pakbeng village - home to tribal Thais, and a night in a basic hotel in Phonsavan - home to the Hmong hill tribe.

• Free time to explore Luang Prabang.

• Arrival transfer.

Summary of accommodation, transport & meals

Transport

Accommodation

Meals

Not Included

Optional Extras

We have chosen a selection of some great optional activities to enhance your travel experience. You will need to cover any additional costs yourself. The below list is not exhaustive and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed below have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.


Preparing to Travel

Visas and Permits

Laos

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 at least 1 passport photos and up to US$60 cash (this may vary too) to fulfil the requirements. There will also be an Immigration Fee of USD1. 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.

The above information has been put together as a guide. We do endeavor to update this information as much as possible but it’s also important that you check for yourself as visas are the responsibility of the traveller.

Thailand

If you are flying into Thailand you will be issued with a 30 day stay on arrival.

If entering by a land border, you will be granted a 15 day stay only (exceptions are citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan who are eligible for 30 day visa at land borders). A visa extension can be obtained in Thailand at an immigration office for approx. 2000THB or 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. If planning to enter Thailand via a land border multiple times during your travels, we recommend you pre-obtain a 60 day multiple entry visa from you embassy or consulate before you travel rather than attempting to obtain a visa at the border on multiple occasions which may result in being denied re-entry into the country.

If you are not from one of the following countries please contact your consulate or embassy for more information on visa conditions for Thailand; Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom and USA.

The above information has been put together as a guide. We do endeavor to update this information as much as possible but it’s also important that you check for yourself as visas are the responsibility of the traveller.

Government travel advice

Many governments publish up-to-date travel advice for countries around the world. Information is gleaned from both local and international sources as well as ‘friendly’ governments, and the notices are often on the cautious side. Sometimes there will be conflicting information. For example, the Australian, UK and Canadian governments may agree on the nature of the advice; however, frequently they do not. And sometimes the views expressed by a particular government can be coloured by political considerations. We will monitor these travel advisories closely and may alter itineraries or cancel trips as a result. However, it is also your responsibility to stay informed and form a balanced view. We recommend that you visit the websites or contact the departments listed below. Unless otherwise stated, it is not normally the intention of the relevant government travel advice to dissuade you from travelling. Rather, it is to inform you of where and when you should exercise caution to avoid problems. Please also note that, as a responsible tour operator, we maintain constant links with our ground operators and your safety - at all times - is our paramount concern. You can check your government's latest travel advice at one of the links below:

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 

UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

U.S. Department of State

New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Passport

Please ensure that you have a current passport well before travelling. It also needs an accurate photo and should be valid for at least six months after you are scheduled to return home. Also check that your airline tickets are in exactly the same name as your passport.

Border Crossing

LAOS

Crossing the border into Laos, it is possible to obtain a visa on arrival at most international checkpoints. The duration of the visa is one month and the cost varies depending on nationality from US$30-US$42. You will also require a passport photo to be submitted with your application.

Insurance

Every Peregrine traveller is required to have comprehensive travel insurance. This covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. You can arrange your own insurance or we can recommend a policy for you. Remember to bring a copy of your insurance policy with you so your tour leader can record the details at the pre-tour briefing. If you arrive at your destination without travel insurance, you'll need to organise this before you can continue on your Peregrine journey.

Medical preparation

Apart from having travel insurance and being in generally good health, some pre-holiday health preparation is advised. We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations and in some places anti-malarial medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental checkup is also highly recommended before departure.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations may be required or recommended for this trip so you should consult with your travel doctor to obtain the latest up-to-date information. It is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain any vaccinations or preventative medicines for the countries you are visiting – or any which may be required by your home country upon your return.

For travellers from Australia and New Zealand, we recommend the Travel Doctor-TMVC clinics (see www.traveldoctor.com.au or phone 1300 658 844 for an appointment in Australia). Travellers from countries other than Australia and New Zealand should contact similar organisations or their travel doctor for advice. General health and vaccination information is available to all travellers at
www.traveldoctor.com.au/travelreport. Some vaccines require more than one dose, so arrange for your visit at least 4-6 weeks before you travel.

Malaria: There is no vaccination against malaria, which is transmitted by mosquito bites and is a risk in many less-developed tropical areas in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia. Protection against mosquito bites is essential and where the risk is considered high, anti-malarial medications are recommended. Anti-malarial medications should be discussed with experts as there are different medications available and not all medications suit all people or all destinations. Where malaria is considered prevalent in mountainous regions we prefer that trekkers to altitude try to avoid the use of mefloquine (Lariam) if possible.

Copies of key documents

We recommend that you photocopy the main pages of your passport, your airline ticket, itinerary, insurance policy and credit cards. Keep one set of photocopies with you, separate from the originals. Leave one set of copies at home with family or friends. It is also worth taking some extra passport photos with you.

What to take

General Packing List

Remember - the lighter you travel the better! You may be buying things as you go, so you should not bring too much from home. Many people find a backpack the most suitable type of luggage for our holidays. Medium-sized suitcases can also be used; however, you should avoid the large, bulky cases that are difficult to carry. The lockable suitcases on wheels are the best types to use. Be aware that some hotels in Asia are not over-endowed with lifts (elevators) and there may be occasions when you need to carry your luggage up stairs or along railway platforms, etc.

When packing, consider cultural differences which may mean that some attire that we wear at home is not appropriate in Asia and may be offensive to the local people. Beachwear in towns is not appropriate, nor is 'short' shorts, particularly for women. Light cotton pants are a better option. When visiting sites of religious significance, modest clothing should be worn. Sandals, thongs, flip-flops or jandals are appropriate footwear in the tropics.

When you pack your clothing, consider the climate at the time of year you are travelling and any specific requirements for your trip as at certain times of the year some of the items suggested in the list that follow may not be necessary. Bear in mind that the weather will vary significantly from place to place. The majority of time the weather is warm in South East Asia; however, it may be distinctly cold up in the highlands. If there are specific requirements for a trip, these will be noted in the Trip Notes relating to that trip. Please note that in the last few years, the world’s weather pattern has gone somewhat awry. The effects of ‘El Nino’ and ‘La Nina’ are very real and this has resulted in unseasonable droughts followed by unseasonable deluges. Be prepared for the unexpected! Laundry facilities are available in some destinations.

Below is a list of equipment and documentation that we suggest you take with you. Please use this checklist as a guide when packing for your holiday.

Travel documents: passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, air tickets or e-ticket receipts, Trip Notes

Photocopy of main passport pages, visa (if required), travel insurance and air tickets

Spare passport photos

Money: cash/credit card/EFTPOS card

Money belt

Small padlocks

Metal chain and padlock to secure luggage on overnight trains – additional precaution

Small first-aid kit

Daypack for use on day or overnight excursions

Watch/alarm clock and torch/flashlight (and spare batteries)

Electrical adapter plug

Toiletries/roll of toilet paper/travel wipes

Insect repellent

Sunscreen, lip balm, sunhat and sunglasses

Earplugs and eye mask (for light sleepers)

Extra pair of prescription glasses (if required)

2 strong plastic garbage bags (for laundry and in case of rain)

Refillable water bottle

Phrase book

Warm clothes - when travelling in cooler climates

Wind and waterproof jacket

Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes with good walking socks

Camera and spare film (or recharge for digital cameras)

Binoculars

Swimwear


Money Matters

Currency

Laos

The unit of currency is the kip. Notes come in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 kip. Coins are no longer in use. Thai baht and US dollars are also frequently used in commerce. Please note that kips are useless outside of Laos and almost impossible to change into other currencies.

Thailand

The unit of currency is the Thai baht. There are 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht coins. There is a new copper and silver 10 baht coin. Notes are in the denominations of 10 (quite scarce), 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht (with the last very hard to change!).

Exchange rates

Refer to www.xe.com for current exchange rates.

Accessing Money

Laos

Money is safest when carried in the form of traveller's cheques. However, in Laos, you should carry a fair amount of your money in cash, for a lot of places (especially outside Vientiane and Luang Prabang) do not change traveller's cheques. Most major foreign currencies, such as Australian, U.S. and Canadian dollars, English pounds and Swiss francs, are easily changed. If you are taking cash (US dollars suggested), all notes must be new and not marked or torn. If notes are torn, crumpled, nicked or old it may be difficult to change them. If you are taking traveller's cheques, American Express and Thomas Cook are the most widely accepted. In capital cities or major regional centres some (not all) credit cards can be used on occasions, although these tend to be up-market places. Generally, do not rely on using your credit cards outside Vientiane.

Thailand

There are plenty of money changing facilities in Thailand's cities and towns. Authorised money changers generally offer the best exchange rates but it’s worth it to shop around. Thailand also has a plethora of ATMs, which can also be used to get cash advances on credit cards. Look for ATMs displaying Maestro, Cirrus, MasterCard or Visa symbols. Traveller's cheques can be changed at most hotels, banks and currency exchange booths. In large cities there is no problem cashing cheques. You should consider where you are heading to, taking into account any public holidays, and cash enough money to see you to your next major town. Your tour leader will brief you at your pre-departure meeting on the specifics relevant to your particular trip. Credit cards are accepted in many shops, restaurants and hotels, but should not be relied on as your only form of funds. There are currency exchange booths in the arrival hall of Bangkok International Airport which offer the standard rate.

Personal Expenses

South East Asia

You will need to take money with you to cover any additional meals/drinks not included in your tour cost. Other costs to consider are drinking water, tips, laundry, souvenirs, additional sightseeing and possible delays. It is much better to come with more than you would expect to spend and to end the trip with a surplus, rather than being caught short! It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies that could happen en route. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the source and be reimbursed later by your insurance company. As a guideline we suggest that you allow US$20 per day in Asia would allow you to eat and drink reasonably well.

 

Optional Tours & Activities: We include many sightseeing activities on most of our trips; however, there are additional optional tours and activities that you may wish to undertake during your free time. These may incur additional expenses. These activities are not a mandatory part of our tours because, from past experience, we have found that our travellers have appreciated some free time whilst on tour.

Airport Taxes

Laos

You will be required to pay airport and departure taxes in most countries. Most of these are added to the ticket price on purchase and you will not need to bother further about them. Others must be paid physically at the airport on departure. All airport taxes in Laos should now be included in the price of your flight ticket and so there should be no need to pay additional tax at the airport. However we recommend that you check with your travel agent for the latest information.

Thailand

You will be required to pay airport and departure taxes in most countries. Most of these are added to the ticket price on purchase and you will not need to bother further about them. Others must be paid physically at the airport on departure. All airport taxes should now be included in the price of your flight ticket and so there should be no need to pay additional tax at the airport. However we recommend that you check with your travel agent for the latest information.

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 of our destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.
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 tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$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-US$2 per day for drivers.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$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-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping. At your group meeting on Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour 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.


While you are travelling

On arrival

On arrival into Bangkok you will be met by a representative of Peregrine and transferred to your hotel.

If arriving into Suvarnabhumi Airport (also known as Bangkok International Airport), after you have collected your luggage and walked through the customs counter please make your way to EXIT 6 and look for a representative holding a sign with your name on it.

If arriving into Don Meuang Airport, once you have collected your luggage and have entered the arrivals hall, turn left and make your way to the Domestic Arrivals area and look for a representative holding a sign with your name on it.

The airport representative will then take you to a car/van for your transfer to the hotel.

If you have any problems finding the airport representative please telephone Miss Lyn on  +66 (0) 81 658 2727 or Klang on +66 (0)81 566 9324 and wait at the Association of Thai Travel Agents.

Hotel Check In / Check Out

Generally, your room will be available from around midday. Sometimes it may be available mid-morning but this is in no way guaranteed. If your flight is scheduled to arrive in the early morning you may have to wait until a room becomes available. Alternatively you can book one night's 'pre-tour accommodation' which will ensure that your room is ready whenever you arrive. Rooms must generally be vacated by 12 noon unless you have made prior arrangements with the hotel reception. If you want to keep your room for longer you may have to pay an additional charge.

A word on drugs

In most countries even the smallest quantity of an illegal substance is considered a very serious offence and can carry lengthy jail terms. Avoid any contact with illegal drugs. Don’t put yourself and others at risk and never carry bags or luggage for other people. Any person found to be carrying or using illegal drugs will be asked to leave the trip immediately without the right to any refund.


Other Important Information

Your fellow travellers
On this trip you may link up with passengers booked on other Peregrine tours. You may also be joined by like-minded travellers from our sister company Intrepid Travel.

Local Tour Leaders
By employing and training local guides to lead our group holidays, there is a two-fold benefit. Firstly, we provide employment opportunities for the local community. Just as importantly is the benefit to you, the traveller. Your tour leader’s friendship, humour, passion and intimate knowledge of the region will be key factors in making your holiday a success. Peregrine will use different tour leaders to run the various sectors of this particular trip. We will have separate local leaders for Thailand and Laos respectively.

Thai Etiquettes and Customs
Your tour leader will advise you further on Thai cultural etiquettes during your tour; however, here are some simple ones to get you started.
· Patting a Thai on their head is considered extremely rude and insulting
· Public displays of affection are not acceptable, including holding hands and kissing.
· Losing your temper or showing anger and shouting or yelling will lose respect immediately;
to remain cool, calm and collected at all times is an admired quality in a person in Thai
culture
· When visiting temples, ensure your shoulders and knees are covered. They are places of worship, so it is important to dress modestly
· The monarchy is held in very high esteem in Thailand. Please show the highest level of respect to the king of Thailand and never make jokes about him

Songkran in Thailand
The Thai Buddhist New Year or Songkran is celebrated every year on 13th April, although the associated water throwing festivities can start well before and go on through to a week well beyond this date. Songkran is a time of cleaning and renewal. Thais go to the temple to pray, give food to the monks and clean the Buddha statues with scented water. It is believed these practices will bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year. Water is used to pay respect to your elders, particularly your parents, during the Songkran period. It is poured in small amounts over the hands as a sign of respect. These days the nation erupts into one huge water fight and the small amounts have turned into bucket loads. The date used to be set by astrological calculations, but these days the date is set. Until 1888 Songkran represented the beginning of the year in Thailand. After 1888 the date of 1st April was considered the first day of the year. In 1940 the date of 1st January was recognised as the beginning of the new year, in line with international practice. It is a great time of year to be in Thailand and a lot of fun taken in the right spirit. However you will need to have an easy going attitude to your travels, as when you head outside there is a good chance that you will get wet. In addition to this it is a busy travel time, so you may find that the transport listed in the itinerary is not always the transport you get.

Dry Season Tours
Please note that March and April are traditionally the hot dry months. During this time, the villagers burn their fields before the onset of the wet season, in order to prepare for the following season’s harvest. Whilst travelling at this time of the year, please be prepared for the fact that the fields and jungles are not lush and green, but dry and brown.

Infrastructure
Please note that Laos is a developing country whose infrastructure may differ from what you expect in your homeland. Expect poor road conditions and be prepared for some inconveniences due to such things as restaurants or tourist sites being closed and our regular transport services not always being available, especially so during holiday or festival periods. Hence, changes to itineraries may occur due to circumstances beyond our control.

Single Supplements
If you have booked a single supplement for this trip, please note it is not applicable on the following night:
Day 3 (Pakbeng)
To enquire about booking a single supplement please contact your sales agent.

AMENDED ITINERARY 21SEP2014, 05OCT2014 and 02NOV2014

Due to Laos Airlines cancelling there scheduled flight from Phonosaven to Vientiane we have had to make the following changes to this departure.

Day 1-5 as per normal itinerary

Day 6 extra night in Luang Prabang

Day 7 drive to Phonosaven

Day 8 fly to Vientiane

Day 9 departure day

Due to the amended itinerary we have also included some additional sightseeing activities in Luang Prabang, Baan Pha Nom Handicraft village visit, UXO visitor center visit and an included meal at the Tamarind restaurant in Luang Prabang. All other included activities will be also be provided.

Local Emergency Contacts
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, the Peregrine Thailand office can be reached on Tel: +66 898 103 722

 

Our Style of Travel

Please remember that our tours are of an adventurous nature. Our style of travelling means that it is more desirable to carry a backpack and a daypack on our tours. It is also possible to bring soft suitcases, but large heavy ones can be cumbersome and not always convenient to carry around.
A sleeping bag is not required on this trip. It is useful to carry inner sleeping sheets on all adventure tours.

Please note that Laos is a developing country whose infrastructure may differ from what you expect in your homeland. Expect poor road conditions and be prepared for some inconveniences due to such things as restaurants or tourist sites being closed and our regular transport services not always being available, especially so during holiday or festival periods. Hence, changes to itineraries may occur due to circumstances beyond our control. Please note you may find the hotels in smaller towns in Laos such as Pak Beng and Phonsavan to be a lower standard compared with other hotels, this is due to the basic infrastructure and limited choice in these areas. Despite this we hope you enjoy the laid back nature of these destinations

This is an 'adventure' trip and we hope to expose you to all aspects of the various local cultures. Please be open minded while travelling as this will allow you to truly experience everything that these countries have to offer.


Day to Day Itinerary

Journey Down the Laos Mekong

Trip Length

Trip Code

9 days PAJD

Maximum Passengers

16 people

Countries Visited

Laos, Thailand

Start City

End City

Bangkok, Thailand Vientiane, Laos
Journey Down the Laos Mekong

Day 1: Bangkok

Accommodation: Nouvo City Hotel or similar, Bangkok

Activities:

Day 2: Bangkok - Chiang Rai

Meals included: 1 breakfast

Accommodation: Wiang Inn Hotel or similar, Chiang Rai

Activities:

Day 3: Huay Xai - Pakbeng

Meals included: 1 breakfast

Activities:

Day 4: Luang Prabang

Meals included: 1 breakfast

Accommodation: New Daraphet Villa or similar, Luang Prabang

Activities:

Day 5: Luang Prabang

Meals included: 1 breakfast

Accommodation: New Daraphet Villa or similar, Luang Prabang

Activities:

Day 6: Phonsavan

Meals included: 1 breakfast

Accommodation: Anoulack Ken Lao Hotel or similar, Xiengkhouang

Activities:

Day 7: Phonsavan - Vientiane

Meals included: 1 breakfast

Accommodation: City Inn or similar, Vientiane

Activities:

Day 8: Vientiane

Meals included: 1 breakfast

Accommodation: City Inn or similar, Vientiane

Activities:

Day 9: Vientiane

Meals included: 1 breakfast

Activities:

About this information

The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please keep this in mind when you read it and check with us if you want to be sure about something. The document was correct at time of printing, but you can check online for the most up to date version.  If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!

Your feedback is important

At Peregrine we are always looking for ways to improve our trips and your feedback is invaluable to us and to our tour guides. 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 Peregrine. At the end of your trip we ask that you to take a few minutes of your time to complete our on-line feedback form. Just go to http://www.peregrineadventures.com/tour-feedback for our easy to fill out questionnaire. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

Last Updated

6 October 2014


General Contact Details

Peregrine Adventures

Phone: 855-832-4859
E-mail: sales@peregrineadventures.com
Web: Visit Peregrine"