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Magic Of The Mekong

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Magic Of The Mekong

1-Join tour Bangkok; Klong tour
Arrive Bangkok and check-in at the hotel. If there is time today we will take a cruise along the city’s Klongs (canals) in a traditional longtail boat. If not then we will take this tour on day 14). This is the ideal way to explore Bangkok’s network of meandering waterways that branch off from the main channel of the Chao Phraya River. The excursion will also include visits to the Royal Barge Museum and the iconic Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, which was built to represent the towering slopes of Mount Meru, the home to the gods of Khmer mythology.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

2-In Bangkok; train to Chiang Mai
This morning’s sightseeing takes us by foot and tuk tuk to Bangkok’s major sights. We include the Grand Palace – probably the most impressive of all the sights in Bangkok with its collection of palace buildings, golden stupas, wats (temples) and decorative statues. The most impressive of the wats is Wat Phra Kaeo (‘The Temple of the Emerald Buddha’). Next we visit Wat Pho – the largest of the wats in Bangkok and famous for its 46 metre gold-plated reclining Buddha. In the evening we board the overnight train for Chiang Mai.
Overnight: Basic Overnight Train

3-In Chiang Mai; walking tour of city, optional cookery
Chiang Mai offers a contrast from the heat and noise of Bangkok. Its elevation is just over 300m and the climate is most agreeable. Founded in the 13th century, it owes its prosperity mainly to the teak industry. Today we enjoy an orientation walk of the city, including the local markets and city walls. In the afternoon there’s the option to enjoy a Thai cookery lesson. Perhaps cook a spicy Thai green curry or some noodles!
Overnight: Standard Hotel

4-In Chiang Mai; elephant ride through jungle
Today we head out to the Lampang elephant sanctuary. Established in 1969, it is the largest elephant conservation centre in the country and also hosts an elephant hospital caring for sick and abandoned elephants. We will be able to see elephants bathing and carrying logs and then take a ride on one of these amazing animals through the jungle before returning to Chiang Mai
Overnight: Standard Hotel

5-Drive to Tha Ton; longtail boat to Chiang Rai
This morning we make an early start, driving north through hill tribe country. We’ll stop on the way at a most unusual paper factory where you can get your hands dirty making paper using a truly recyclable material – elephant dung! Continuing to Tha Ton, a small rural town on the Kok River, we board our long tail boats for the lovely trip downstream to Chiang Rai in Thailand’s northernmost province. Chiang Rai has a large hill tribe population, attracted by the cool climate and the rolling forested hills. Legend claims that King Mangrei built a city here after one of his elephants ran off and was later found at this site. Later there will be time to explore the lively town at your leisure, wandering around some of the interesting sights and shops and ending with a visit to the night market.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

6-Drive via the Golden Triangle to Chiang Khong and take boat to Ban Houei Sai (Laos)
Today we travel via the Golden Triangle, the point of confluence between Thailand, Myanmar and Laos then take the local ferry across the Mekong from Chiang Khong to the small village of Ban Houei Sai in Laos, a laidback spot where we can settle back and begin to enjoy the pace of life in Laos
Overnight: Simple Guesthouse

7-Along the Mekong to Pakbeng
We continue along the Mekong River by boat, through the steamy forest, past rugged cliffs and white sandy riverbanks. Travel today is slow but this allows us to absorb the sense of remoteness and timelessness of life on the river. The views are mainly of hills covered with dense vegetation, occasionally dotted with flowering trees, and small fishing villages at intervals along the river bank with nearby rice paddies. We aim to visit a number of villages along our route. We arrive in Pakbeng in the mid afternoon. Ramshackle thatched houses crowd the banks of the river and the warm glow of an Asian-orange sunset adds mystique to the alien, though exotic, setting.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

8-Mekong River journey to Luang Prabang
We make an early start and continue our journey down the Mekong River towards Luang Prabang. The Mekong has long been the major trade route for caravans from Yunnan in China to Chiang Mai in ancient Siam. Even today there are few roads through the undulating countryside, so the river remains the main means of communication. Before arriving in Luang Prabang we will stop and visit Pak Ou Caves where we climb steps up the limestone cliff to reach the sacred Buddhist shrine, crammed with small Buddha images of all shapes and sizes. We arrive at Luang Prabang, the country’s former capital, in the afternoon. Situated among the rolling hills of the Upper Mekong River, this tranquil little town is celebrated for its exceptionally lovely setting. We suggest you climb to the small temple on top of Mount Phousi to enjoy sunset views over the town.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

9-In Luang Prabang; sightseeing tour
One of the most peaceful experiences in Laos is seeing the safron-robed monks of Luang Prabang walking through the streets at sunrise collecting alms. Today we include an orientation walk which includes a visit to Wat Xien Thong, located in a delightful garden on the banks of the Me Kong River and Wat Mai. In the late afternoon there is the option to ascend the 328 steps to the Mount Phousie for (quite literally!) breathtaking views over this former Royal capital.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

10-In Luang Prabang
This morning we travel by bus to the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls, approx 45 minutes from Luang Prabang. Passing forested hills and several ethnic minority villages, we arrive at the limestone falls that cascade into several clear pools below. This afternoon is left free to enjoy this tranquil World Heritage town, relax by the hotel pool or you can choose to take an afternoon trip by bicycle (optional) to the Lao Loum village at Ban Phanom. Approx 6km from Luang Prabang, the road gently undulates through cultivated scenery and arrives at a well-kept scenic village on the banks of the Nam Khan river. A women’s cooperative has been created at the village to enable direct selling of their woven products.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

11-Fly to Siem Reap
This morning we fly to Siem Reap, our base for exploring the ancient temples of Angkor. This amazing ruined city, built between the 9th and the 13th centuries, deep in the Cambodian jungle, is spread out over some 155 square kilometres, scattered with walled cities and magnificent stone temples, sculptures, causeways and reservoirs. Our sightseeing programme today will include the 2nd Angkor capital including Ta Keo, Kravan and East Mebon, ending with a sunset at Pre Rup.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

12-Exploring Angkor
Over the next two days we’ll explore Angkor’s most stunning sites. We visit Ta Phrom, lying half consumed by the jungle, Banteay Srei with the most stunning carved lintels at Angkor, the famous Angkor Wat and then take a boat out onto the waters of Tonle Sap Lake. Not only is the lake an important source of fish and other water resource for the Cambodian people but it is also the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. It is renowned for its two unusual characters: the direction of its flow changes twice a year and the size of the lake expands and shrinks dramatically with the seasons. In dry season from November to May, the lake drains out into the Mekong River in Phnom Penh while the flow reverses in rainy season, and it’s area increases to 16,000 square km! The lifestyles of the local floating villages are largely influenced by this process. On very few occasions the water level may be too low for us to visit; in this case your tour leader will arrange a suitable cultural alternative.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

13-Exploring Angkor
Before we continue our exploration of the incredible temples throughout the area you may choose to enjoy watching the sunrise over one of the world’s most spectacular man made sites (optional) before admiring more of the majestic buildings and temples of King Jayavarman VII, including Angkor Thom, Bayon and the Terrace of Elephants.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

14-Fly to Bangkok
A morning flight takes us back to Bangkok.
Overnight: Standard Hotel

15-Tour ends Bangkok
Tour ends after breakfast.

Tour includes:

13 Breakfast
2 Lunch
1 Dinner
Minimum Age:
From 7 years
Bus, Train, Boat, Flight, Bicycle
12 nights Standard Hotel
1 night Basic Overnight Train
1 night Simple Guesthouse
Tour Staff:
Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader, Local Guide(s), Boat Crew
Group Size:
Generally 12 – 18

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explore holidaysExplore have been running small group adventure holidays throughout the world since 1981 and have a vast array of experience, knowledge and well established close personal contacts in all the countries in which they operate, which makes them stand out as one of the most trusted adventure tour operators in the UK.

They are passionate about what they do, and above all, simply love nothing more than to travel. The founder directors ran overland trips through Asia, Africa and the Americas in the 1960s and 70s prior to setting up the company, and were determined that the spirit of adventure that was such an important part of those early pioneering days, should continue to play key role as part of the driving ethos of Explore.

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It is little wonder that over 60% of all Explore customers who travel each year have travelled with them previously, Explore are clearly committed to the “travel experience” and their itineraries are always offer that slight “Explore Twist” which makes them even more appealing.

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