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Beautiful Northern Thailand

From US$ 1,465 US$ 1,392
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highlights
  • Experience rural Thai life from a local's perspective with a homestay in a small village and a trek through scenic and enlightening hilltribe villages
  • Even the transport on this trip is an adventure – discover the joys of travelling on overnight sleeper trains, longtail boats, songthaew and raft houses
  • Visit the home of the infamous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, learn about its dark history and the construction of the railway during the war
The Beautiful Northern Thailand tour starts and ends in Bangkok. The Beautiful Northern Thailand is an Explorer tour that takes 15 days taking you from Bangkok, Thailand and through other destinations in Asia.

This was the tour that started it all for Intrepid - and it remains one of our most popular. Northern Thailand is among the greatest adventure destinations on the planet and this journey shows why - hiking among hilltribes near Chiang Mai, drifting down the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi and calling in to visit friendly and colourful villages. Come along and see why this has become the benchmark for all other Intrepid Travel journeys.
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Thailand's bustling capital, Bangkok is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place, and have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection. Bangkok has so much to offer those with time to explore, so perhaps arrive a day or so early and take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage. After the meeting tonight, perhaps gather your fellow travellers together and tuck into some world famous street food.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Bangkok - Grand Palace - THB 500
  • Bangkok - Chatuchak Market visit - THB 100
  • Bangkok - Bangkok by Bike Urban Adventure - THB 1904
Begin the day with a river cruise down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous ‘khlongs’ (canals) (approximately 1 hour). Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital. Pay a visit to Wat Pho, one of the ‘trinity’ of Bangkok temples, with a 46-metre long gold plated Buddha reclining inside. Even the feet of this statue are incredible, three metres long and intricately decorated with mother of pearl. The temple grounds are equally fascinating, filled with beautifully decorated stupas, halls, and shrines. Hop on a local bus and travel northwest to Kanchanaburi (approximately 4 hours). Located where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers converge, Kanchanaburi is home to the infamous 'Bridge on the River Kwai'.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse
This morning you’ll get an insight into the darker side of Kanchanaburi’s history with a visit to the Kanchanaburi War Cemetary (POW Cemetary) which was one of the first museums to attempt to educate the public and keep alive the memory of the Asian and POW workers who died constructing the infamous ‘Death Railway. Then travel to Erawan National Park (approximately 1.5 hours each way), where you can explore the famous seven-level waterfall or simply swim and relax. The falls are considered the most beautiful in the whole country, with glacial blue waters rushing through the forest into bamboo-shaded pools perfect for a refreshing dip. If you want to make the climb all the way from level one to level seven it’s about a ninety-minute hike, with the uppermost level usually quiet and with a stunning view over the jungle below. Be sure to pack your swimming gear, but also appropriate footwear if you’re going to make the walk. Level seven features a triple cascade that gives the falls their name – Erawan is the mythological three-headed white elephant that carries the Hindu god Indra. Tonight you can explore the rows of street vendors in town and grab a drink overlooking the River Kwai.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse
Today you’ll then spend a memorable day and night floating down the Mae Glong River in a raft house. The raft house is towed by a boat, and it is your transport down the river, your lounge room for the day to sit back and enjoy the sights, and your bed for the night. This is a unique way to travel and sets the scene for pure relaxation. Spend the afternoon temple-hoping down the river, stopping off to see the cave temple of Wat Baan Tham, a Chinese temple called Wat Tham Khao Noi, and a Thai temple called Wat Tham Suea. There’s also plenty of time for card playing, reading a book, or just taking in the view down the river. This really is an Intrepid style of travel!

Notes: The raft house has Western style toilets and shared bathrooms with showers. There is an open plan living area that is fully covered and so offers plenty of shade, but the sides are open to take in the views and to feel the breeze while moving down the river. At night time the raft house will be moored, and the living room becomes the sleeping area. Thai style thin mattresses are placed on the floors with sheets provided, and everyone will sleep in the one area. Mosquito nets are also provided. Delicious Thai food will also be served on the raft house.
Accommodation
  • Rafthouse
After your river adventure, you’ll disembark and travel by private mini van to Ayutthaya, via Suphanburi (approximately 5 hours). Day rooms will be arranged, as you take an overnight train later tonight. Ayutthaya was the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai, and it became one of the most powerful in Asia with over 1 million residents by AD 1700. Trading brought great riches to the city, and merchant tales tell of golden palaces, elaborate ceremonies, and breathtaking temples. You’ll see the remains and reminders of its golden age with a guided tour of the picturesque ruins and temples spread across the town. The rows of headless Buddhas at Wat Phra Mahathat, sacked by the Burmese in the 18th century, are very atmospheric, and a Buddha head surrounded by Banyan tree roots is perhaps the most photographed site in all of Ayutthaya. This evening you’ll head north to Chiang Mai on an overnight train journey, accommodated in air-conditioned sleeping berths (approximately 13 hours).

Notes: Multi share compartments are air-conditioned, with bunk beds; sheets and a pillow provided. Your baggage travels in the carriage with you. There is a food and drink service available on board. Sometimes the air conditioning on the trains can make the carriage quite cold so we recommend you bring a jumper and long pants for this journey.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train
The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous temples and an interesting old city area. Renowned for dazzling beauty and extremely welcoming locals, the ‘Rose of the North’ will leave you spellbound. Chances are, you won’t want to leave. When you arrive in Chiang Mai, your day will be free. There are a number of optional activities for you to choose from, so you can do as much, or as little, as you like. Perhaps simply have a traditional Thai massage before heading down to the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, a shopaholic’s dream. There are also many Thai cooking schools offering courses for budding chefs, sure to help you impress your friends when you return home. Or get active with a bicycle tour to discover the city and surrounding countryside from a different perspective; temples and ruins, the McCain institute for handicapped artists, and possibly a sticky rice factory are just some of the sights you may visit.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Chiang Mai - Thai massage - THB 200
  • Chiang Mai - Bicycle tour - THB 950
  • Chiang Mai - Thai cooking course - THB 800
Today is a free day for you to spend how you wish. While Chiang Mai's markets, temples and cooking schools offer more than enough to keep visitors busy, there's also the option of a very special outing to an Elephant Nature Park. In a country where the cruel industry of elephant riding is still big business, elephant nature parks provide a sanctuary for rescued, injured and orphaned elephants. You’ll be greeted by an expert guide, who'll tell you stories of rescued elephants and explain the issues surrounding elephants in South-East Asia. You'll then have a chance to feed the elephants from a viewing platform. Lunch (for you) is also provided, followed by elephant bath time. After a safety briefing you'll be free to jump in and help out scrubbing and bathing the elephants (be sure to bring some shorts/swim gear and a change of clothing). Alternatively, just sit back and watch these wallowing creatures so clearly enjoying themselves.

Return to Chiang Mai for a final evening in the city – make sure to sample some delicious traditional northern Thai food. The signature dish is kao soy, yellow wheat noodles in a curry broth, traditionally served with chicken or beef.
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Chiang Mai - Elephant Nature Park
Set off by road to the Golden Triangle region, the area where Thailand meets Myanmar and Laos. Travel by public bus, maybe chatting with the locals, from Chiang Mai to Mae Chan (approximately 4 hours). Then transfer to a private minivan to continue onto Doi Mae Salong (approximately 1 hour). The atmosphere in the charming town of Doi Mae Salong is reminiscent of a small southern Chinese village, as it was settled by former Chinese Nationalist soldiers who fled from (then) Burma in the 1960s. The region is famous for its Chinese tea traders and you can enjoy a cup of tea in a traditional Chinese tea house overlooking the mountains and tea fields. Check out the interesting markets, where you may see produce and crafts made by hilltribe people like the Akha.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse
Jump in a private mini van and visit the point of the Golden Triangle, where the Thailand, Myanmar and Laos borders meet. Stop at the border town of Mae Sai, a great place to do some souvenir shopping; full of colourful shops stacked with Chinese, Thai and Lao goods, all at some of the best prices around! Pay a visit to the House of Opium Museum for a deeper insight into opium culture and this area’s problematic, drug-filled past. Then you’ll begin one of the highlights of this whole trip, when you’ll spend a few of days with the locals – head to a small Thai village and stay in the home of some local friends. There will be plenty of time to experience the quiet village life before sampling a traditional northern Thai khantohk dinner. Not only that, but this evening you’ll also enjoy a traditional Thai musical performance from our local friends’ children's band. Staying here is a true privilege and a chance to experience the real Thailand, something very few travellers are able to do.

Notes: The accommodation in the homestay is on a basic multishare basis. There will be foldout mattresses on the floor and shared bathrooms.
Accommodation
  • Homestay
Walking through hilltribe villages and meeting the locals is, for many, the highlight of this trip. Visit various villages, each with their own unique language, clothing style and belief system. After breakfast at the homestay and with a lunch pack in your bag, say bye to your hosts and take a songthaew to the Karen people village of Baan Yang Khamnu. After a short walk along the road, hike through green forest and climb through bamboo forest for just over an hour to the top of a hill. Around 50 minutes later you’ll arrive at a lovely waterfall where you’ll break for lunch. Through beautiful forest, crossing streams and climbing up a mountainside, you’ll reach the Akha village of Baan Pha Sert Nai 2 hours later. There are around 46 families in the village, most of whom emigrated from Myanmar around 16 years ago, and you’ll stay with one in their home near a stream with a forest view. You can join in with the local kids playing football or volleyball, or the local girls have many games they can teach you. Lend a hand to help your guide cook a delicious dinner of local food, and enjoy an early evening meal in this memorable location and experience.

Notes: To take the trek you should be fairly fit, as you hike across hilly countryside, and rain or hot, humid weather can pose extra challenges. You’ll walk for up to 5 hours each day, but there's no great rush. The terrain is rural rather than jungle – the hilltribes grow rice and other vegetables on the slopes – and you’ll trek along village tracks. There's also the possibility of some shallow river crossings. Please note, there may be times during the trek when the use of video and/or still cameras may be inappropriate. Your group leader will advise you further. Each person carries his or her own pack for the whole trek (see the 'What To Take' section for luggage requirements). All meals are included while trekking, but you'll need to purchase and carry your own water (please allow approximately US$10 to cover your water purchase for the trek). Accommodation is multishare, sleeping on your rented roll mats on the floor of the wooden/bamboo huts typical of the villages. There are shared squat toilets and basic washing facilities (a hose or water pipe) in most villages. You may also be able to wash in a nearby stream. Warmer clothing and sleeping bags are recommended from November to January, as the nights are usually quite cool during this period. Sleeping bags can be rented locally – ask your leader to organise this for you at the group meeting.
Accommodation
  • Hilltribe village
After breakfast, chat with local women and see the handicrafts that they sell, perhaps choosing to purchase some – spending your money on community enterprises directly can help support community development. Begin your trek at 9am, with a distance of around 5-6 kilometres covered today. It’s a bit longer than yesterday, but the scenery is stunning and, with the cover of the jungle overhead, it won’t be too hot even in the summer. For the next 80 minutes or so you'll walk up a hill though scenic bamboo forest, then descent down to a stream where you can break and splash on some refreshingly cool water. Relax and refuel with your snacks, then continue uphill for 40 minutes to the main trail. Here you can see a Buddha image above a well of clean holy spring water that the locals drink from. 15 minutes or so later you’ll arrive at a Lisu people village, with a beautiful view across the countryside to the village you’ll stay in. Prop yourself on a rock and enjoy lunch under a shady tree. Pass tea plantations for 20 minutes, then an hour later reach Huay Kaew Waterfall. This last section can get quite hot in the dry season, so the waterfall is perfect for cooling off. Climb 15 minutes uphill to the swimming area and luxuriate in the refreshing waters (though beware it’s very slippery in rainy season). Just 10 minutes down the road is the Akha village of Baan Khum Akha, where you’ll stay tonight. The village overlooks a majestic valley surrounded by native jungle, tea plantations and lychee farms. You’ll arrive around 2pm and, after a walk around the village, have time to relax – maybe even with a recuperating massage. Flex your cooking skills as you help the guide with dinner tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hilltribe village
Another 9am trek start takes you uphill though lychee fields, then downhill on a hike that’s easier going than yesterday. Take it easy for the next 1.5 hours or so as you walk through scenery of rice fields and bamboo jungle, stopping in the village of Baan Ja-Jor to take a look around and maybe say hi to the local school kids. Then it’s not too far to the end of the trek at Pha Sert Hot Springs in Mae Kok National Park. You walk for a total of around 3 hours today. Here you’ll have lunch and can relax, swim and reward you muscles in the springs. Transfer to Chiang Rai (approximately 40 minutes), arriving around 1pm. Chiang Mai's 'little sister', Chiang Rai boasts a relaxed atmosphere, a great night market, and a variety of good restaurants. This charming city has a small-town feel and is a great place to explore on foot.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse
Optional Activities
  • Chiang Rai - Mekong River boat trip (1-4 pax)
In the morning visit privately owned Wat Rong Khun, more commonly known as the White Temple, is a must-visit in Chiang Rai. 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. Then return to Chiang Mai by bus (approximately 4 hours). The rest of the day is free to explore. Maybe take a scenic, winding drive up a mountain (around 45 minutes) to one of the country's most stunning temple complexes, Doi Suthep. A 300-step naga-guarded stairway leads you to the temples, and the climb is well worth the effort. The hypnotic atmosphere of chanting Buddhist monks and sweeping views of the city make this a most memorable experience. This evening you’ll get back on the rails for an overnight train to Bangkok (approximately 13 hours). Conditions are the same as Day 5 – soft sleeper class.
Accommodation
  • Overnight sleeper train
Arrive back in Bangkok and spend your day shopping or sightseeing before meeting again for a final night's dinner. Being a weekend, this is a great opportunity to visit the weekend market at Chatuchak, one of the biggest and busiest markets you will ever see. Your leader can also give you other ideas of what to do – places like Jim Thompson's House, the Grand Palace and Chinatown are all great to explore. There's a fantastic array of transport options available for getting around this traffic-choked city and although it's most efficient to stick to the canals, river, and Skytrain, a trip in a tuk-tuk is certainly an experience!
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Optional Activities
  • Bangkok - Jim Thompson's House - THB 150
  • Bangkok - Chinatown Food Discovery Urban Adventure - THB 2149
  • Bangkok - Grand Palace - THB 500
  • Bangkok - Tuk Tuk Experience Urban Adventure - THB 1790
  • Bangkok - Chatuchak Market visit - THB 100
This Beautiful Thailand adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
what’s included
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (4 nights), Hilltribe village (2 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (4 nights), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights), Rafthouse (1 night)
Meals
  • 5 Breakfast, 4 Lunch, 4 Dinner
Transport
  • Private minvan , Public bus , Overnight sleeper train , Songthaew , Taxi , Longtail Boat
Included Activities
  • Bangkok - Khlong boat (canal) tour
  • Bangkok - Wat Pho Temple
  • Kanchanaburi - Erawan National Park
  • Kanchanaburi - The Kanchanaburi War Cemetary (POW Cemetary)
  • Kanchanaburi - Wat Baan Tham
  • Ayutthaya - Temple Ruins Guided Tour
  • Chaing Rai - Opium Museum
  • Homestay - Thai Musical Performance
  • Hill-tribe - 3 day trek
  • Chiang Rai - Wat Rong Kun (White Temple)
what’s excluded
  • International Flights
  • Any international flights to/from Bangkok are not included in this price. We always recommend that you arrive 1 day prior to your tour starting date.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel insurance is not included in this Beautiful Northern Thailand tour. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy. We recommend purchasing it from World Nomads.
Tour details
Booking Type Instant Booking  
Duration 15 days
Tour Type Group Tour - Max 12 participants
guiding method Live guide/instructor
Guide Language English
Starts/Ends Bangkok/Bangkok
image description
Get a PDF file with detailed trip information: Download Trip Notes for Beautiful Northern Thailand
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Good to know Payment

A deposit of 400 USD is required to confirm this tour. For any departures within 22 June 2018 full payment is required.

Travel Insurance

The Beautiful Northern Thailand tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.

Visa

For this Beautiful Northern Thailand tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

CancellationNo additional cancellation fees apply for this Beautiful Northern Thailand tour. You can cancel the tour up to 58 days prior departure and avoid paying the full amount, but your deposit paid is non-refundable. No refund applies for cancellations within 57 days of departure.
Trip Details
  • Last modified (date)

    24 Apr 2018

  • Trip title

    Beautiful Northern Thailand

  • Trip code

    TTSN

  • Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2018 to 31 Dec 2018

  • Introduction

    This was the tour that started it all for Intrepid - and it remains one of our most popular. Northern Thailand is among the greatest adventure destinations on the planet and this journey shows why - hiking among hilltribes near Chiang Mai, drifting down the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi and calling in to visit friendly and colourful villages. Come along and see why this has become the benchmark for all other Intrepid Travel journeys.

  • Style

    Original

  • Themes

    Explorer

  • Transport

    Private minvan,Public bus,Overnight sleeper train,Songthaew,Taxi,Longtail Boat

  • Physical Rating

    3

  • Joining point description

    Centrally located and close-by the famous Khao San road, the Nouvo City Hotel is within walking distance of many of the area's main attractions such as the Grand Palace, National Museum and Wat Po. We use the "canal wing" for all of our Intrepid Original trips that stay at this property and rooms are equipped with a private en-suite. Breakfast is not included but a buffet breakfast can be purchased in the hotel's restaurant. Please also note that no alcohol is served in this hotel, but there are lots of great bars across the road.

  • Joining point instructions

    Metered taxi ranks are located outside the airport entrance on the 1st floor (gate 4 and 7). Go out of the customs hall, down to the 1st level and walk outside the airport where there is a table with a sign saying "metered taxis". The cost is the metered fare plus a THB50 surcharge. If the taxi uses the toll way it is up to an extra THB75. The total fare should be about THB400 Baht (US$11). Non-metered taxis are also available, where you will be given a docket to pay the driver a set price of THB700 (US$20).

    Alternatively Intrepid offer a pre arranged transfer service option. Enquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer you will be met after exiting customs. Look for exit door 4 and our representative holding a sign with your name on it.

    If you have any problems and cannot locate our transfer representative on arrival please go to the ATTA Counter (Association of Thai Travel Agents) near exit door 6 on the same floor and ask them to call our transfer operator World Travel Idea 24hr number 081 658 2727 or 081 566 9324.

    Check in time at the hotel is after 14.00

  • Finish point description

    Centrally located and close-by the famous Khao San road, the Nouvo City Hotel is within walking distance of many of the area's main attractions such as the Grand Palace, National Museum and Wat Po. We use the "canal wing" for all of our Intrepid Original trips that stay at this property and rooms are equipped with a private en-suite. Breakfast is not included but a buffet breakfast can be purchased in the hotel's restaurant. Please also note that no alcohol is served in this hotel, but there are lots of great bars across the road.

  • Finish point instructions

    A pre-booked departure transfer is available. Please inquire with your agent.

    If you have a transfer to the Bangkok Airport your transfer driver will collect you from your Hotel 3 hours before your flight time. If your transfer has not arrived within 15minutes of the scheduled pickup time please ask the hotel / guesthouse reception to call our transfer operator World Travel Idea 24hr number 081 658 2727 or 081 566 9324.

    A taxi to the airport will cost about THB700 (US$20). The hotel or your leader can help you organise a taxi.

    Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.

  • Group leader

    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

    Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

  • Is this trip right for you

    Experience travel in a variety of different ways, using private buses and even local transport like songtheaws. This trip covers a fair amount of ground, so be prepared for some long travel days.

    There is a night at a homestay and two nights in Hilltribe villages on this trip, a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday Thai life. Facilities can be basic and multishare, with fold-out mattresses on the floor and shared bathrooms. The rewards of such an authentic local experience are immeasurable.

    This trip includes two nights on overnight trains between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Accommodation is simple but comfortable – soft sleeper class multishare compartments with air-conditioning and bunk beds, with sheets and a pillow provided. Overnight trains are a real Intrepid experience and one of the best ways to come face-to-face with the country and its people.

  • Food and dietary requirements

    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

  • Money matters

    SPENDING MONEY:
    When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

    We recommend USD310 for meals not included

    The official currency of Thailand is the Baht (THB).
    The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat. ATMs are now available in most towns and visa cash advances are available in major banks. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Traveller's cheques can be difficult to change. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels.

    DEPARTURE TAX
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

    CONTINGENCY FUNDS:
    We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.

    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 Intrepid destinations.

    Optional Tipping Kitty:
    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 for drivers, local guides, and hotel staff (excludes restaurant tips). The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which 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. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader.

    Optional tipping kitty for this trip: THB 500 per person

    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.
    Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult


    The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, Intrepid has established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. Intrepid aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you.

    A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.

  • Climate and seasonal

    SONGKRAN FESTIVAL DEPARTURE 2018
    The Songkran Festival is celebrated to mark the Lao New Year. The festival runs from the 13th to the 17th of April. Traditionally houses and villages are properly cleaned in preparation for the New Year, flowers are gathered to decorate Buddha images, young people pour water over the elders for good luck. Songkran Festival is often referred to as the “water festival” as it is now common to throw water over each other during the festival period.

    Our advice is to be prepared to get wet! Your leader will discuss the festival activities upon day one at the group meeting.
    The following departures will be operated during Songkran:
    1st of April 2018
    8th of April 2018

    Warmer clothing and sleeping bags are recommended from November to January as the nights are usually quite cool during this period. Sleeping bags can be rented locally for approx. THB200, please ask your leader to organise this for you at the group meeting.

  • A couple of rules

    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

    Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders, local operators or locals.

    Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.

  • Accommodation notes

    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

    TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
    Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on our different trips than your own.

    CHECK-IN TIME
    Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

    PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
    If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

  • Transport notes

    OVERNIGHT TRAINS
    Overnight sleeper trains in Thailand are air-conditioned with sleeping berths down both sides of the carriage. The carriage is multishare, and there are curtains that close over the beds. A sleeping sheet and a pillow are provided, and our luggage travels in the carriage with us. There is a western and Asian-style toilet located at the end of the carriage, with carriage lights staying on during the night.

  • Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

    SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

  • Itinerary disclaimer

    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Essential Trip Information a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

    OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES:
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list 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 above 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.

  • Accommodation

    Guesthouse (4 nights),Hilltribe village (2 nights),Homestay (1 night),Hotel (4 nights),Overnight sleeper train (2 nights),Rafthouse (1 night)

  • Physical preparation

    For the trek on this trip the general rule is the more preparation you have done for it, the more you will enjoy it. Although we are not walking at altitude or setting any distance records each day, the trek can still be demanding, as we walk through hilly terrain with our packs, and the temperature is often hot. We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the weeks before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trek to its fullest.

  • Visas

    As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
    Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.

    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

    THAILAND:
    If entering by air most nationalities will be granted a 30 day stay on arrival.

    If entering by a land border, you will be granted a 15 day stay only (some 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.

  • Health

    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

    DENGUE FEVER:
    Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.

    ZIKA VIRUS:
    There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip.

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