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Thailand and Laos

Marry History and Culture with striking scenery! - Trip for singles

Book From   € 1,499,-
GROUP SIZE: 6-24 | 20 DAYS

Thailand and Laos

On this group tour through Thailand & Laos, you will experience both the Buddhist temple culture and the simple life on the Laotian countryside with its 'picture perfect' karst mountains and waterfalls. You visit the mysterious Plain of Jars, enjoy Thai delicacies during our 'foodie tour' and can relax with ease at the paradise island of Koh Chang. There is also plenty for the sports enthusiast, such as rafting, hiking, tubing, snorkelling and diving.

Travel documents

Passport

It is your own responsibility to make sure your passport is valid and that you have a minimum of 6 months further validity after your return date.

Visas

It is your own responsibility to make sure you have any visas, if required. Most nationalities do not require a visa for entry into Thailand. Visas are currently required for Laos and can be purchased upon arrival for USD35. You will need to leave at least one blank page in your passport. Alternatively, contact your nearest Lao embassy, well in advance of travel.

Another option is to use a visa agency such as http://uk.cibt.com/ who can arrange visas for a variety of different nationalities.

You can check visa requirements for different countries through a site such as this one.

Accommodation and transport

Transportation
During the entire journey we have access to a good (private) air-conditioned minibus, allowing us to stop at beautiful places in nature along the way. The bus is non-smoking. The transfers to and from the airport are not included. Any additional transportation costs of optional excursions are not included.

Your will travel by domestic flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai.

This trip provides ample opportunity to get to know other transportation types as well. In order to bridge the larger distance, we use the comfortable overnight train from Vientiane to Bangkok. Here you will sleep in reserved berths in second class in comfortable beds (air-conditioned cabin).

In Laos you take a two-day boat trip on the Mekong River. This 'cruise' is on a 'join in' basis, which means that other travellers from outside the group can participate. It can also mean that with large groups, the group is divided across different boats. It is an adventurous trip on the Mekong River, which winds its way through the jungle and the wild overgrown banks of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. Slowly watch the scenery glide by.

The ferry transfers to Koh Chang are included. On site, you can often rent bicycles. It is also fun to try an optional ride on a tuktuk, or a local taxi in Bangkok or Chiang Rai. When visiting Vang Vieng you can go kayaking or "tubing" (bobbing along the river in an inflated truck inner- tube). There is sufficient variety of transportation here in Thailand and Laos!

NB: Please note that buses in Laos will not always have the same level of comfort as you can expect from a western bus. The infrastructure in Laos is not optimal, the roads are often bumpy and in poor condition. The roads can be especially bad in the rainy season.

Travel Distances

Bangkok airport to hotel: 38 km / 45 mins

Bangkok to Chiang Rai: 800 km / 1½ hours (domestic flight)

Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong: 100 km / 2 hours

Chiang Khong via Pak Beng to Luang Prabang: two-day boat trip on the Mekong River

Luang Prabang to Nong Khiaw: 140 km / 3 hours

Nong Khiaw to Phonsavan: 375 km / 8 hours

Phonsavan to Vang Vieng: 240 km / 5 hours

Vang Vieng to Vientiane: 152 km / 3 hours

Vientiane to Bangkok: 650 km / 12 hours (night train)

Bangkok to Koh Chang: 360 km / 6 hours (by bus and ferry)

Note: The above times are the minimum times and are of course, approximations. The actual time is highly dependent on traffic, border formalities, road conditions and weather.

Accommodation
During the tour we stay in middle class hotels and guesthouses in 2-person rooms with private bathrooms. You stay on a bed and breakfast basis. Most hotels have their own restaurant and usually a garden or terrace. The entry and check-out time at the hotels is usually 12:00.

Some of the planned hotels have a pool; a nice way to cool down from the tropical heat! This applies to the accommodation in Chiang Rai, Vientiane and Koh Chang. In exceptional cases it is possible that other hotels may be used and that they may be without pool. If this occurs, we will try to find a suitable alternative. Of course there is also the possibility to swim in the river at Nong Khiaw and the sea on the bounty island of Koh Chang!

Wifi is available in all hotels, sometimes for a fee, sometimes only in the hotel lobby. Please note that the quality and speed of the internet is not always optimal.

Travellers who book individually for a trip, will share a twin room with another person of the same sex. If you want a room for yourself for the whole trip, this can be arranged. You will then pay a single room supplement (please indicate on booking form). A single cabin is not possible on the night train.

Triple rooms are on a request basis. Please note that a triple room is often a double room with simply an extra bed or mattress added. The room will therefore be less spacious.


Festivals

SONGKRAN FESTIVAL

Songkran is the Thai New Year and is celebrated on April 13 in Thailand. The Thai word Songkran comes from Sanskrit and means "move" or "change place". In this case, a change in the position of the sun.

In big cities often Songkran lasts three days. During this period, the residents of the cities go back to their home provinces, together with their families to enjoy this feast. The modern Songkran is also called "the feast of the water" because during the three days anyone has the chance of getting wet with water. Along the way entire families with buckets of water, garden hoses and water guns wait ready to throw water at unsuspecting passers-by. Pick-up trucks driving slowly round, filled with people in their midst have a large water barrel. They use big boxes to throw water at everyone they encounter. Often they have picked up a large block of ice from somewhere to continue making water. People with umbrellas and those that are still dry become the targets. Some have tubs with white menthol powder mixed with water. Everyone has fun and because it is so hot, it's actually quite welcome to be cooled with the water!

In the morning the monks wash the Buddha images (as a way of begging to get enough rain for the rice fields) and often small animals are released from their cages. Also during these days the grandparents, older relatives and teachers are honoured by the younger generation. With their palms together, young people pour scented water over the hands of the elderly. In return they get wishes for good health, long life and prosperity.

Tour leader

Our tours are led by trained, local English speaking tour leaders. We know that our travellers appreciate being accompanied by these local tour leaders who, compared to their counterparts (living outside of the destination) have more detailed knowledge of their country. He/she knows the area well, can provide background information and ensure that the trip goes smoothly. He/she knows what to do if something were to go wrong, but is not a "walking encyclopedia". Therefore we would like to refer you to study a good travel guide (book) in advance of travel.

Your tour leader understandably expects a tip at the end, if she/he has completed the job well. Shoestring pay the tour guides a wage which is higher than that of most adventurous travel companies. Our guideline for tipping is between € 1, - and € 2, - per passenger per day (the equivalent thereof).

Trip rating

This is a Category B holiday

The difficulty of our travels varies greatly. Added to this is the fact that difficulty is a very personal perception. To give an impression of the difficulty of a particular holiday we have developed a classification system.

Category A: Light travel for everyone to do. Short distances, good hotels, travel at a slow pace.
Category B: For everyone to do as well. Sometimes long distances. Good hotels and camping facilities, sometimes an adventurous overnight experience, travel at a normal pace.
Category C: Good to do for anyone who prepares themself well and is flexible. There are tougher parts of the journey, such as longer distances or walking tours. Several nights can be spent in basic accommodation.
Category D: A relatively difficult journey, travelling long distances, often primitive accommodation or tents, and challenging walking tours.

The Thailand and Laos tour is a Category B holiday. It can be made by any reasonably healthy individual. Travelling distances are mainly relatively short but in the summer the trip is considerably more difficult than during the rest of the year. Although in the cities we stay in simple medium-priced hotels, remember that you are travelling in a developing country with much lower living standards than you are used to at home. Also, roads may be temporarily blocked because of the weather or owing to their state of repair, in which case a detour is unavoidable. A flexible and positive attitude is just as important as a good physical condition.

Sustainability

We know that travelling to remote corners of this planet has its effects. At Shoestring we really try to make an effort to keep our impact to a minimum. We try to avoid the use of plastic water bottles on our treks through Nepal and we do not dump our litter during our trips through Africa. All of our staff have been trained to take special care to ensure we make as little impact on the environment as possible. 

Furthermore we support a lot of local projects which are mostly related to clean drinking water or making sure that children get vaccinated against illnesses such as tuberculosis. On most tours you will be able to visit some of the projects we support through our local agents. Find out more about the different projects Shoestring are involved with, how you can make a difference and our environmental policies here

Insurance

Travel insurance, including medical repatriation insurance, is mandatory. It is not included with our packages and it is your responsibility to purchase suitable travel insurance. Make sure that it covers all the activities that you are likely to undertake, such as rafting and trekking. Many ‘free’ insurances that come with banking packages, credit cards etc, are quite often inadequate to cover you on our tours, so make sure you check the policy before you travel. You should enter your travel insurance details via your my.shoestring account and you are required to give a copy of your insurance policy to your tour leader upon arrival. Without proper insurance like this, you will not be allowed to join the tour as we will not be able to respond adequately in case of an emergency if you do not have the right insurance.

Address

Shoestring International
Entrada 223
1114 AA Amsterdam-Duivendrecht, The Netherlands.
www.shoestring.com                    

You can call us on number +31 20 6850203 or +44 (0)1306 744797 and email us at info@shoestring.com           

Opening hours Monday to Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM (Local times in Netherlands).

Country information

More country information about THAILAND

More country information about LAOS

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions about THAILAND

Frequently asked questions about LAOS

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