Enquire About This Tour Code SEIC Complete Indochina
Duration: 34 Days Route: Bangkok to Hanoi Style: Adventure Tours Price: US$3,219.00
A kaleidoscopic fusion of cultures, cuisines, landscapes and religions, the nations of Indochina offer a deliciously varied travel experience. From bustling Bangkok to the stunning temples of Laos, exploring the history of Thailand’s infamous Golden Triangle, Cambodia’s ancient wonder of Angkor Wat, to the local hospitality in the Mekong Delta to Vietnam’s coastline and Halong Bay for a cruise around stunning limestone islets set in turquoise waters.
The tour that we operate in the reverse direction is Complete Indochina (SECI).
Tour Dossier Introduction
- Dossier Last Updated: 26-03-2015
- Tour Code: SEIC
- Duration: 33 nights / 34 days
- Joining City: Bangkok
- Departure City: Hanoi
- Nearest Joining International Airport: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Intl Airport (BKK), Bangkok Don Mueang Intl Airport (DMK)
- Nearest Departing International Airport: Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport (HAN)
Please check this document just before departing in case of last minute changes to your tour.
Full day Hill tribes tour
Guided tour of Chiang Dao Caves
Visit the Opium Museum
Golden Triangle & Golden Buddha
Vang Vieng bicycle tour
Entry and Guided Tour of the Grand Palace
Guided Tour of Angkor Wat
Entrance to the Genocide Museum & Killing Fields
Guided Tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels
Mekong Delta Overnight Excursion
Hike up Marble Mountain
Visit Hai Van Pass
Halong Bay overnight stay on a junk boat
Guided tour & entrance to caves
25 nights in hotels, 2 nights on overnight buses, 3 nights on overnight trains, 1 nights in homestays, 1 JUNK
13 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
Travel by Overnight Bus, Private Vehicle, Boat, Public Bus, Overnight Train
Tucan Travel tour leader, English-speaking local guide(s) on included excursions
What's not Included
International flights and departure taxes
Domestic flight taxes if applicable
Tips on included excursions, visas, travel insurance, personal items and single rooms.
Airport transfers and pre and post tour accommodation
Spending money – budget for meals, snacks, drinks, limited souvenirs, laundry, tips and any extras
Optional excursions - Please see our optional excursions guide on the dossier page for a comprehensive list of optional activities and excursions available on this tour.
Day 1 to 1 - Arrive Bangkok
The first day of your tour is simply an arrival day with no pre-organised activities. In order to allow time to relax and see some of the sights you may wish to add pre tour accommodation. On arrival please ask at the reception for information on when the pre departure meeting will be held.
Thailand's capital, Bangkok, a crazy and chaotic city! Known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon pronounced or Krung Thep "city of angels" for short, Bangkok was a small trading post at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Bangkok is now the gateway to South East Asia for most travellers and international backpackers come and go and the streets are always buzzing and full of life.
No visit to Bangkok is complete without a visit to Khao San Road, the famous strip filled with markets, stalls and neon lights. From people watching to shopping, and nightlife to food and drink, this is the place to be on a night out in Bangkok. If you're feeling adventurous you might wish to try a fried insect or two!
On a more cultural note, Bangkok also boasts hundreds of Wats (temples), with Wat Arun being the main one visited by most travellers. The Grand Palace is also a popular attraction, and for something different you can cruise along the Chao Phraya River and through the canals. Bangkok once had an elaborate network of canals and was given the nickname, 'Venice of the East', and although some of them have been filled in and converted to streets, many still exist today. Travelling through these canals you will see how the locals live along the riverside - you almost forget you are in a large, bustling city.
Optional Excursions: Thai Massage per hour from – THB 200 • Wat Phra Kaew – from THB 500 • Thai cookery course – from THB 1200 • Bangkok canal tour – from THB 750
Day 2 to 2 - Bangkok & Overnight bus to Chiang Mai
We have a final day in Bangkok before we board our overnight bus to Chiang Mai.
Day 3 to 4 - Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, the 'Rose of the North', is the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. Your first day here is free to get involved in a range of optional excursions on offer. You can take a Thai cooking course, enjoy a relaxing massage, take in a night-time Thai kick-boxing bout (Muay Thai) or haggle the night away at Chiang Mai’s famous evening street bizarre.
The next day we have a full day tour that includes a trek through different hill tribes, and a ride down-river on a bamboo raft. We will be picked up at the hotel in the morning then taken by a local guide in a private Songthaew, which is a converted pick-up truck that has seating at the back - the standard mode of transport for many in Thailand - to our first stop, which will be the beautiful caves of Chiang Dao, with their amazing limestone stalactites and stalagmites, and beautiful white marble Buddhist statues from Burma.
We stop near the caves for lunch and in the afternoon we continue by Songthaew and on foot through light jungle to experience the traditional lifestyle of the local villages. The terrain here is mountainous and offers magnificent views. We trek to the Ping River, where our bamboo rafts await us. We will navigate down the river, perhaps seeing village women washing their clothes in the river as children play at the edge, before heading back to Chiang Mai in the late afternoon.
PLEASE NOTE: The route for the hilltribe trek is weather dependant so the above description may differ.
Included Excursions: Hilltribe Trek • Guided Tour of Chiang Mai • Bamboo Raft Ride
Optional Excursions: Thai cookery course – THB 800 per person (depending on class size) • Doi Suthep temple by Songthaew (type of Thai vehicle) – THB 300 • Bicycle tour – from THB 800 per day
Day 5 to 5 - Golden Triangle
The next day we discover the Golden Triangle, the infamous centre of Asia's illicit opium production, where Laos, Thailand and Burma meet at a single point close to the Chinese border. Visit the old Opium Museum, the giant Golden Buddha sitting on a boat by the riverside and the stone elephants there to protect him.
Lunch will be taken at Wat Rong Khun, or White Temple, outside Chiang Rai. Many tour leaders have claimed that Rong Khun is the most fascinating temple they have visited and during your visit you’ll be amazed at the decorations, which are in total contrast to the holy elements experienced in most Buddhist temples.
Included Excursions: Golden Triangle & Opium Museum • White Temple
Day 6 to 6 - Pakbeng
We continue in private, air-conditioned minivans to the border with Laos, where we cross the customs ‘hut’ before boarding a longboat on the mighty Mekong River to travel downstream to Pakbeng. Pakbeng is a small village, where the pace of life really slows down and you can relax and enjoy a nice cold award-winning Beer Laos.
Day 7 to 8 - Luang Prabang
We continue our journey by slowboat along the Mekong River to Luang Prabang. Many say this is the most memorable town in all of Laos. Renowned for a fascinating history and some of the friendliest people in South East Asia, Luang Prabang refers to the holy Pra Bang, Laos' most sacred image of the Buddha given to Fa Ngoum.
We have two days to enjoy this sleepy town, which is located 300 metres above sea level on the upper Mekong. As you explore you will see that Luang Prabang is dominated by Phousi - the marvellous hill-top temple that sits in the middle of the town. You'll notice a combination of Lao, French and Lao-French colonial influence as you admire the city's buildings and architectural highlights - all of which you can see discovering the town on foot.
There are many temples to visit in Luang Prabang - over 30 in fact, which is a large number for this small town. Along the way you may encounter some young monks eager to practice their English skills as well.
Optional Excursions: Royal Theatre dance performances – US$20 • Royal Palace – LAK 30,000 • Wat Xieng Thong – LAK 20,000 • Wat Poa Phon Phoa – donation expected • Kuang Si Falls – LAK 20,000 (not including transport)
Day 9 to 10 - Vang Vieng
As we make our way south from Luang Prabang we travel through stunning scenery to Vang Vieng. This peaceful town is situated in a plateau with stunning surroundings of limestone caves and waterfalls, and the area is inhabited by the Hmong and Yao tribes. The limestone caves are renowned in ancient mythology and have featured in the prose of many artists throughout time. Vang Vieng is an excellent place to try the local cuisine and there are markets to indulge in. Feeling energised we will take a bicycle tour off the beaten track through some of Laos' most incredible scenery and view a wonderful sunset across lush paddy fields before arriving for a swim at the Blue Lagoon.
Included Excursions: Bike tour
Optional Excursions: Bamboo rafting/kayaking including visit to caves – US$20 • Caves – most entry fees are US$2
Day 11 to 12 - Vientiane
The capital of Laos is extremely quiet - so quiet that, before 1970, there was only one set of traffic lights in the entire city (a far cry from Bangkok!). We have time to admire this tranquil city with its many murals and markets. Many buildings you will see when you wander the streets are of religious significance. You may wish to hire a bicycle and explore the local streets and markets which are excellent here.
From Vientiane we take a private van to the border with Thailand where, after the formalities, we board an overnight sleeper train which takes us back to Bangkok.
Optional Excursions: Temples – most entry fees are US$2 • Wat Pra Kaeo (Grand Palace and museum) – LAK 5000 • National Museum – LAK 20,000 • Buddha Park – LAK 8,000 entrance (plus transport starting from LAK 80,000)
Day 13 to 14 - Bangkok
We are back in Bangkok in the early morning where we have some more time in this great city. It's a chance to indulge in even more shopping and nightlife, or perhaps take it easy and visit some of the popular Wats in the area. A great market to visit, if not for the best bargain, but for its sheer size, is the 35 acre Chatuchak Weekend Market which has reached a landmark status as a must-visit place in Bangkok. Get there easily by skytrain to Mo Chit station.
Included Excursions: Grand Palace
Day 15 to 17 - Siem Reap
Siem Reap is our base for exploring the famous temples of the Angkor area. The name Siem Reap means 'Defeat of Siam' - today's Thailand - and refers to a century-old bloodbath which you can see commemorated in stone in the celebrated bas relief carvings of the monuments around the area.
Our first day we head out on our included excursion to the most famous temple, Angkor Wat, with a guide to give us an overview of the history and layout of the temple. Our remaining time in Siem Reap can be spent at our own leisure exploring this expansive site armed with our cameras and the knowledge from our guide.
There are over one thousand temples here which attract over one million visitors annually. The temples range from small ruins to the famous Angkor Wat, and the site is said to be the world's largest single religious monument.
Angkor Wat, a UNESCO world heritage site, pays homage to the Hindu god Vishnu and has a dazzling array of beautiful ornate carvings. The many ceremonial structures and temples here were built between the 9th and 13th centuries by the Khmer Empire that spanned a period of approximately 600 years. These temples are some of the most famous in the world and take up an area of approximately 160 square kilometres.
There are superb photographic opportunities here at most times of the day so make sure your camera batteries are fully charged and your memory card is ready to go! Tuk-tuks provide a convenient form of transport around the area here, and you can hire a tuk-tuk and driver for the day if you wish. The Angkor area (in and around the Ta Prohm temple) was the site where the film Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie was filmed.
Included Excursions: Guided Tour of Angkor Wat
Optional Excursions: Tonle Sap Lake entrance including boat ride – from US$7 (depending on group size) • Landmine Museum entrance – US$3 (US$7 including transport)
Day 18 to 19 - Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is Cambodia's bustling capital city with a turbulent past. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonised Cambodia during the 19th century. The city has grown from a small fishing village to what is now the industrial, commercial, cultural and historical centre of Cambodia.
Take a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (a former torture centre) and the Choueng Ek Memorial at the site of the Killing Fields, to learn about one aspect of this country's turbulent past.
Phnom Penh has many other attractions including the Russian Market and National Museum. You could also take a stroll along the river's famous Sisowath Quay and enjoy a coffee or cocktail at one of the many cafes while observing the bustling river traffic. You may wish to take a tuk-tuk ride around Phnom Penh (a tuk-tuk is a motorbike-taxi with an enclosed passenger cabin that can fit around 4 people).
Included Excursions: Transport & Entrance to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Fields
Optional Excursions: Royal Palace – US$6.50 • National Museum – US$5 • The Silver Pagoda – US$3 • Wat Phnom – US$1
Day 20 to 21 - Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City was known as Saigon until the end of the Vietnam War (around 1975). Originally a small fishing village, it is now the most important economic centre in Vietnam and is the largest city in the country.
Traffic in the city is fairly hectic at the best of times but getting around is suprisingly easy by taxi or motorbike taxi, although drivers may not always speak English. Bus is the only form of public transport and motorbikes rule the road; there are around 3 million motorbikes cruising around the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.
If you're interested in the history of the Vietnam War make sure you visit the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Hall. If you're less of a history buff and more in the mood to haggle for a bargain, don't miss Ho Chi Minh's largest market, the Ben Thanh Market. You can buy everything from cosmetics to live ducks here. There are also numerous food stalls at this market, and at the popular night market nearby. The food in Ho Chi Minh is some of the best and most diverse in all of Vietnam so make sure you eat well during your stay. There are also many bars and clubs to spend your evening in.
We head out to the Cu Chi Tunnels. A network of tunnels which was home to around 10,000 people who lived underground for several years during the war. It took about 25 years to build this underground city. It has living rooms, kitchens, hospitals, weapon factories, storage facilities and command centres. At its largest the tunnel system stretched over 250 kilometres from Saigon to the Cambodian border and was three levels deep. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and a feel of what underground life during the American war must have been like.
Included Excursions: Cu Chi Tunnels
Optional Excursions: War Remnants Museum – VND 15,000 • The Reunification Palace – VND 20,000
Day 22 to 23 - Mekong Delta
This morning we travel to the heart of the Mekong Delta, a region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. Life in the Mekong Delta revolves much around the river, and many of the villages are often accessible by rivers and canals rather than by road. The region produces half of the country's rice output which is more than Japan and Korea together.
On our way out, if timing allows, we will visit Cao Dai temple. Cao Dai is a syncretistic Vietnamese religious movement that incorporates aspect of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and even Catholicism. The Temple was begun in 1933 in a unique architectural style that reflects its blended traditions.
We will take a boat trip around the tributaries of the mighty Mekong River which provides an insight into a real perspective of Delta life. We will also visit some local businesses from a floating market, rice paper and sweet making place, ceramics factory and tile making shop, rice processing plant, bonsai garden where you can hold a giant snake, taste local fruits, drink tea or snake wine. It is a great opportunity to purchase some unique souvenirs to support the local community. We will be staying in home stays along with other members of your group.
Included Excursions: Mekong Delta Overnight Excursion
Day 24 to 26 - Nha Trang
Nha Trang is a popular beachside destination for many travellers and is brimming with restaurants, bars and nightlife. You can choose to relax and swim in the surrounding crystal clear waters - try your hand at kite surfing, scuba diving or maybe hit the seas on a catamaran. To really chill out on the seas you could maybe take a cruise around the islands with a seafood lunch.
Optional Excursions: Mud baths – VND 130,000 for taxi, VND 120,000 entrance • Bao Dai’s Villa – US$20 (including taxi) • Cultural dancing – US$30 • Boat trip – from US$10-16 (SCUBA diving is also possible depending on diving qualifications)
Day 27 to 28 - Hoi An
We have free time in Hoi An to explore the handicrafts, ceramics and fabrics that are sold at an abundance of markets. Hoi An is renowned for tailoring; pack your favourite item of clothing and get it copied here! If you're all shopped-out, you might enjoy relaxing on the serene coastal beaches with some local cuisine.
Optional Excursions: Sightseeing ticket (allowing entry to 5 sites) – VND 100,000 • My Son Cham ruins – VND 60,000 entrance, plus transport with guide US$8 • Cookery class – from VND 250,000 • Tu Bon River boat trip – US$20
Day 29 to 30 - Hue
We depart Hoi An and travel north to Hue. The drive takes us across the Marble Mountains and via the scenic Hai van Pass where you will enjoy stunning views of the surrounding coastline and rice paddies.
The time-worn grandeur of Hue has been the stage of many battles from the dynastic rivalry and rebellions of the 17th and 18th centuries, to French occupation and most recently as the site of the Battle of Hue, one of the longest and bloodiest conflicts in the Vietnam War. Its location at the geographic heart of Vietnam has perhaps done it no favours, but uncovering its past and exploring its relics is a delight for travellers in a place where history interweaves and overlaps with modern life.
The picturesque Perfume River winds its way through the city, past the citadels and pagodas that make this a UNESCO world heritage site. Hue is also a centre of artistic and intellectual learning and the community of artists, poets and scholars that have called this place home contribute to making it captivating and engaging city.
Included Excursions: Marble Mountain • Hai Van Pass
Optional Excursions: Thien Mu Pagoda – US$2 • Amphitheatre and elephant temple – free • Various emperor's tombs – VND 80,000 • Imperial Museum & guide – VND 105,000 • Military Museum – VND55,000 + US$3 • Ho Chi Minh Museum – VND 40,000 • Bicycle hire – from VND 30,000 • Perfume River boat cruise - US$2 • DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) tours including guide but no entry fees – around VND 25,000 per sight or US$20
Day 31 to 31 - Halong Bay
We depart Hanoi for the mystical Halong Bay, boarding a traditional Chinese sailing vessel which will take us out to the UNESCO world heritage site. The bay includes hundreds of islands with towering limestone karsts draped in verdant foliage. The boat – called a ‘junk’ – will be our home for the evening and staying overnight in the bay means we have time to explore caves, go kayaking and swimming and soak in the beauty of the area.
Translated, Halong means ‘Bay of Descending Dragons’ and local legend describes a great dragon coming down from the mountains, gouging out the valleys and spitting out jewels which turned into the various islands. Tonight we are treated to dinner aboard our boat followed by a spot of night fishing… if you’re still awake!
Included Excursions: Halong Bay overnight excursion on a traditional Junk boat • Guided tour of caves
Day 32 to 33 - Hanoi
Hanoi offers a beguiling combination of tranquillity and chaos, from the elegance of its crumbling colonial architecture and tree-lined boulevards, to the boisterous cacophony of street vendors and motorcycles. Much can be absorbed of daily life by wandering the streets of the old quarter, tasting local market food, and people-watching around the pretty Hoan Kiem Lake. For the culture buffs there are museums, temples and tombs which offer insight into a city rich in history and character.
Optional Excursions: Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum – free • Ho Chi Minh's house and presidential palace – VND 20,000 • Ho Chi Minh's Museum – VND 20,000 • Temple of Literature – VND20,000 • All tombs and citadels – VND 20,000 • Ngoc Son Temple – VND 5,000 • Fine Arts Museum – VND 20,000 • Military History Museum – VND 20,000 • Perfume pagoda – VND 20,000 • Water Puppet Theatre – VND 60,000-100,000 plus VND 40,000 for camera use
Day 34 to 34 - Depart Hanoi
Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.
Day by Day Itinerary
|Day 2||Overnight bus to Chiang Mai|
|Day 3||Chiang Mai|
|Day 4||Chiang Mai|
|Day 5||Golden Triangle|
|Day 7||Luang Prabang|
|Day 8||Luang Prabang||B|
|Day 9||Vang Vieng||B|
|Day 10||Vang Vieng|
|Day 12||Vientiane & Overnight train to Bangkok||B|
|Day 15||Siem Reap||Cambodia|
|Day 16||Siem Reap|
|Day 17||Siem Reap|
|Day 18||Phnom Penh|
|Day 19||Phnom Penh|
|Day 20||Ho Chi Minh City||Vietnam|
|Day 21||Ho Chi Minh City||B|
|Day 22||Mekong Delta||BD|
|Day 23||Overnight train to Nha Trang||B|
|Day 24||Nha Trang|
|Day 25||Nha Trang||B|
|Day 26||Overnight bus to Hoi An||B|
|Day 27||Hoi An|
|Day 28||Hoi An||B|
|Day 30||Overnight train to Hanoi|
|Day 31||Halong Bay||LD|
(B - Breakfast, L - Lunch, D - Dinner included)
For tours that include the option of a single supplement, a ✔ will indicate in which destinations single rooms are available. The detailed and day by day itineraries above are provided in good faith and it is our intention to adhere to the published route. Changes may be made before or during your tour for operational or safety reasons or to incorporate improvements. Impromptu changes may also occur whilst you are travelling as a result of one-off circumstances such as an excursion being closed on a particular day, weather conditions or transport. Delays are rare but occur occasionally and for this reason and the reasons above this itinerary should be considered as a guide only. Published transport times are approximations and may vary depending on local conditions.
This is an Adventure Tour, we see a destination from the locals' perspective using a variety of transport and staying in small locally owned accommodation. There is a maximum of 16 travellers with an average group size of 8-12. All our Adventure Tours are priced per person on a shared room basis meaning there is no compulsory extra payment for those travelling on their own. Please read the Adventure Tour travel style dossier to ensure you understand the style of travel you are undertaking: http://www.tucantravel.com/travel-styles/dossier/adventure-tours
I'd like my own room
If you are a solo traveller, a single room is available on most occasions at an extra cost. Price information can be found on the price page of each tour. This must be booked in advance.
Joining hotel details
For the Adventurous Angkor, Cambodia or Wat and South East Asian Peninsula tours beginning on 17th January 2015, your joining hotel is as follows:
New Siam II Hotel
50 Trok Rong Mhai
Tel: (+66) 2 282 - 2795
Fax: (+66) 2 629 - 0101
For all other tours, your joining hotel will be:
17 / 1-2 Chanasongkhram
Tel: (+66) 2 629 - 2121
Fax: (+66) 2 629 - 5831
There are safe deposit boxes for your use (you will get an itemised receipt). Please leave all of your important documents, money and travellers cheques here when you go out but remember to carry some form of ID and a photocopy of your passport with you.
It is advisable not to wear chains or expensive looking watches or jewellery while in major cities. You should also keep your camera concealed when not in use and carry daypacks on your front for extra safety.
Arriving in Bangkok
When arriving at Bangkok International Airport we recommend that you obtain some Thai baht as soon as you arrive. There is an international ATM inside the airport, as well as money exchange offices offering a good rate. The rate will always vary slightly depending on where you go, it may be worth changing a small amount of money at the airport for your transport, and then finding a bank or money exchange within the town centre. There are many ATM’s and money exchanges close by to the hotel should you want to change them after checking into the hotel.
Airport transfers are not included in the tour price and must be booked separately in advance through Tucan Travel. If you have booked an airport/hotel transfer with us, please look out for someone with a sign which has your name, Tucan Travel, or both after exiting the customs hall.
If you arriving in to Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) and have an arrival transfer booked, please turn right after exiting customs and walk to the end of the corridor. Your driver will be waiting outside Coffee Corner holding a Tucan Travel sign with your name on it.
If you have booked an arrival transfer with us and you are going to be delayed by more than two hours, you must advise us of the delay at least six hours before arrival. If we are advised in time, we will make every effort to reschedule your transfer and your driver will be asked to wait for two hours after your new expected arrival time. However, if we are not made aware of any change, the driver will only wait for two hours after the original scheduled arrival time and after this point it will be up to you to arrange transport to your hotel at your own expense. Please contact us on the emergency contact details below if you are likely to be delayed.
Making your own way
If you would prefer to make your own way to and from your hotel, a public taxi is the easiest. At the airport, exit the customs area and turn right. Ignore all touts in the airport terminal offering taxi services and proceed down to Level 1, following the blue signs for “Public Taxis”. Outside the arrival building on the first floor (one floor down from arrivals) you will see the “Public Taxi” desks.
Tell the dispatcher your destination as the Erawan House Hotel, Soi Chanasongran, Thanon Prah Artit, Banglampu. He or she will give you a slip of white paper. Hold onto it, do not give it to the driver, because it has instructions on what to do in the unlikely event of any problem. The dispatcher will give another part of the form to the driver.
When you get into the taxi, make sure the meter is on and showing 35 baht and ignore any 'helpful' advice from the driver to strike a cash deal off the metre. On arrival at the hotel, you will pay the fare on the meter, plus an airport surcharge of 50 baht that is not shown on the meter. In addition there may be optional expressway tolls of 75 baht which you should pay directly to the driver at the two toll stations. Typical costs would normally be around 400-500 baht in total (including metered fare, surcharge and tolls).
When you arrive on day one of your trip, you should find some local information at the hotel lobby. Your tour leader will be staying in the hotel and should have put up a welcome note to let you know what room they are in. A pre-departure meeting is usually held in the afternoon or early evening of day one. You will need to bring the following important items to the meeting with your tour leader:
- Your passport, including any necessary visas and at least one photocopy to give to your tour leader
- Vaccination certificates if relevant to any destinations on your tour
- Travel insurance policy and a photocopy to give to your tour leader
- Your travel voucher
- Your local payment in US$ cash (Budget Expeditions only)
Missing the tour departure
If you miss the start of your tour, please ask at the reception of the hotel for a message from your tour leader which will give you instructions on how to catch up with the group. Any associated costs will be at your own expense (although, depending on the reason, you may be able to claim these from your travel insurance so ensure you keep all receipts).
If you know in advance that you are unlikely to arrive on time, please contact Tucan Travel immediately so we can inform the tour leader. Tucan Travel cannot be held responsible should your airline/boat/coach be delayed and we are unable to refund any unused portion of your tour.
Punctuality is very important and throughout the tour your tour leader will give you the time to meet in reception. Tour leaders will often post notes at reception with meeting times, so remember to always look out for these.
Although rare, delays can occur and we therefore advise you not to arrange your onward travel too close to the end of the tour. We take no responsibility for any missed flights or additional expenses If the group arrives late into the departure city at the end of the tour.
Emergency Contact Details
In the unlikely event of an emergency, please contact our Asia Destinations Manager on +44 (0)203 129 3763
Emergency contact details are a service for emergency calls only. We respectfully request that you consider the urgency of your enquiry. Non-urgent enquiries should be made during office hours. Visit contact us page for office hours.
Keeping in Touch
Your tour leader will point out internet cafes in all major cities and towns and Wi-Fi may be available in some hotels. Mobile phones may not work locally depending on your network. If you have an unlocked phone you may be able to purchase a local SIM card. Hotel details, apart from the joining hotel, are not given in advance and are subject to change, so if someone needs to contact you urgently during your tour the best method is to contact our office who can pass a message on to the tour leader.
For personal spending money we recommend bringing US dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euros to exchange for or use alongside local currency. Travellers cheques are not accepted everywhere and can be expensive to exchange, but offer a more secure way of transporting funds. While bank cards provide a very good way to access funds overall, it is not recommended to rely on them as your sole source of funds as cash machines do not always work and may not be available in remote locations. Carry a mix of cards and cash with you, including notes in small denominations.
ATMs are fairly commonplace and pay out in local currency, except in Cambodia where US dollars is the main form of currency. If the ATM doesn’t work after the first two attempts, find another machine as it may retain your card the third time. Always make sure no one else sees your PIN number when using ATMs.
Your spending money should cover some meals, optional excursions, souvenirs, drinks, laundry, border and airport taxes and any visas obtained locally. We provide guideline prices for optional excursions in the itinerary to help you budget, but ultimately the amount you will need to budget for your trip very much depends on your individual requirements. We recommend bringing extra money to cover emergencies or unexpected situations.
Tipping is a part of the life in Asia, but you should not feel obliged or pressured to tip if you have not received good service. A gratuity of 10% of the total bill is recommended in restaurants. Gratuities are usually expected for local guides on included and optional excursions. Tips are also appreciated by Tucan Travel tour leaders at the end of your tour and we recommend an average of $2-$4 per person per day for the duration of your tour. This is only if you feel that their service was up to standard and is completely at your own discretion.
The best advice when packing is to travel light and leave space for souvenirs in your bag.
It is important to bring luggage you can carry and lift comfortably, potentially up several flights of stairs in hotels where elevators are not available and between bus/train stations and hotels. There may be times when you have to get your luggage through crowded streets which may be cobbled or store your luggage in lockers. Luggage too large for lockers will have to be left insecurely or carried for the duration of the day.
We recommend a frameless backpack or a sports type shoulder bag which fits comfortably on your shoulders, as they are less bulky and easier to handle than rigid suitcases or framed backpacks. Suitcases are not suitable for our tours and are not recommended. Tucan Travel takes no responsibility for damage to your luggage while on tour.
In addition to your main bag, you will need a small daypack for your everyday excursions. Try to keep this bag as light as possible and make sure that all main sections of your bags can be padlocked. This daypack should have enough room to carry food and snacks for long hikes and treks and space to carry belongings for overnight excursions.
Sleeping bags are not required on this tour, but a sleeping bag liner/sleep sheet is optional if you wish to bring one along. Some passengers like to use them on long bus journeys and overnight trains.
Clothing and Footwear
We recommend packing lightweight and durable clothes. Nights can be cold at higher altitude, so it is a good idea to bring at least one pair of warm trousers plus several thinner sweaters / fleeces which you can layer. Please avoid military or camouflage-patterned clothing as it can cause problems and in some countries may be illegal. In some sacred and religious areas you will be required to cover your shoulders and knees as a sign of respect (this often applies to men as well as women). A sarong or light scarf can be very useful in these scenarios.
Good, comfortable walking shoes are essential. These do not need to be expensive boots, but they should have good ankle support and grip, be worn in and ideally waterproof.
- A lightweight water/windproof jacket with hood
- East to pack wide-brimmed hat of cap
- Towel - you will need a towel for most overnight excursions
- Sandals or thongs/jandals/flip flops
There are usually laundromats or laundry services in or near most of our hotels. Hotel services can be pretty costly however your tour leader will be able to recommend cheaper options. If you wash clothes yourself take care not to be too obvious where you hang them as most hotels do not like guests washing and drying their clothes in the hotel rooms.
The power supply in Asia differs not only from country to country but sometimes from region to region within a country.
- Vietnam, Thailand & Laos require a European plug with two circular metal pins
- Singapore and Malaysia requires a three square pin power sockets as in the UK.
- Japan requires a plug with two flat parallel prongs similar to those used in North and Central America. However, the Japanese plug has two identical flat prongs.
- China use a Japanese-style plug with two parallel flat blades; Australian-style plug with two flat angled blades and one vertical grounding blade; British-style plug with two flat blades and one flat grounding blade; South African/Indian-style plug with two circular metal pins above a large circular
- Cambodia uses a European plug with two circular metal pins or Japanese-style plug with two parallel flat blades.
- Nepal uses 2 or 3 round prongs as found in the US. You will also need a voltage converter.
- India use South African/Indian-style plug with two circular metal pins above a large circular grounding pin.
- Central Asia, Indonesia, Russia and Mongolia use a European plug with two circular metal pins.
We recommend bringing a universal plug adaptor with you.
Health, Fitness & Safety
It is important to consult your doctor or travel clinic in good time before your tour departs to determine what vaccinations you require. You may need several vaccinations and/or malaria tablets and you should be aware that some inoculations require more than one visit and can take several weeks to administer. Always carry your International Certificate of Vaccination with your passport.
Malaria can be found in some parts of Asia. The risk is greater in rainforests or other areas at sea level. If required make sure you pack sufficient prophylactics for the duration of your tour and the incubation period after. You should take a good insect repellent (with DEET) and apply liberally and regularly. Flying-insect spray or mosquito coils (containing a pyrethroid insecticide) can help clear rooms of mosquitoes and may be worth bringing.
Pack a Medical Kit
A medical kit is handy for minor wounds and ailments. In areas with limited or dubious medical facilities, an emergency medical kit containing sterile syringes is also advisable. By law our staff are not allowed to administer first aid or give drugs to travellers, so please be prepared with your own supplies.
If you are taking medication, please ensure you bring an adequate supply and a letter from your doctor to avoid potential issues at border crossings.
Fitness & Suitability
This is a public transport-based tour so it is essential that you be able to carry your bags over distances between bus and train stations and hotels, generally for up to 20 minutes. Disruptions happen and while your tour leader will make every effort to ensure your trip runs smoothly, patience, a sense of humour and willingness to get involved and help your tour leader are essential ingredients for a successful and happy group.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions please let us know at the time you book or as early before departure as possible. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may be asked to produce a medical certificate from your doctor approving your participation in this tour. While this would only happen in very exceptional circumstances, if we consider you incapable completing this tour or you have concealed an existing medical condition which is affecting your ability to participate in the tour of Tucan Travel reserve the right to turn you away without reimbursement.
Safety & Security
Asia is generally safe, even more so in a group. Reasonable precaution is advised; do not bring valuable jewellery or watches (even fakes can catch the eye of a thief), do not walk by yourself at night, heed your tour leader’s advice and always keep an eye and a hand on your camera and bags in public places. Tucan Travel cannot accept responsibility for any valuables left in safe deposits in hotels or on public transport.
If you would like to discover more about your destination, including history, geography, climate and language, please have a read of our country travel guides available here: http://www.tucantravel.com/destination-travel-guides/asia-travel-guides.
Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after you have finished your tour with sufficient blank pages for visas and immigration stamps. Photocopy your passport, leaving one copy at home and taking one with you on tour. If you lose your passport while on tour, you will be responsible for any expenses incurred such as extra accommodation and transport while replacing your passport and will not be entitled to a refund of any unused portion of your tour.
Before you depart you will be issued with a voucher for your tour and separate vouchers for any extra services such as airport transfers and pre/post tour accommodation. Please print these out and bring them with you. This dossier is updated regularly, so we recommend checking our website for the latest version just prior to the start of your tour.
The balance for your tour is due no later than 60 days prior to the start of your tour and no tour vouchers will be issued until this is received. In addition please send the following details at least 60 days before you depart:
- Passport number, date of issue, date of expiry, nationality and place of issue
- Your full name and date of birth
- Flight arrival details in your starting city
- Special requirements, e.g. special dietary requirements or allergies
Please let us know if you are travelling with another person on the tour but have made separate bookings and we will endeavour to make suitable rooming arrangements.
All countries have visa requirements that are subject to change at short notice. A general guideline for visa requirements is available here: http://www.tucantravel.com/before-you-go/visa-guide, but you must check with your local embassy or consulate for the very latest visa requirement information based on your nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have all necessary visas for your tour. If you would like help applying for visas, we have recommended visa agencies on our visa page that we work with regularly.
Important things to check when applying for visas:
- Does the validity of the visa cover the duration of your time spent in the country?
- Do you require a single or multiple entry visa(s) for your tour?
- Are you required to show additional documentation when you arrive in a country? (Examples include proof of onward travel and travel itinerary)
Some visas are only valid for entry within three months of the date of issue which means on some of our longer tours the visa would expire before you are scheduled to enter the country. In these cases you must obtain the relevant visa during your tour. If it is necessary for you to obtain any visas en-route, please contact Tucan Travel or your travel consultant and inform your tour leader at the start of the tour. If you do not have the appropriate visas, Tucan Travel will not reimburse any expenses incurred in acquiring visas or any unused portion of the tour.
It is best to apply for visas in your home country if possible. If applying for visas by post, please allow plenty of time before departure and send your application by registered mail. Postal applications tend to be given a lower priority than in person applications and can take longer to process.
Special Note: If you have dual nationality it is advised not to obtain different visas in different passports. Although this may sometimes be cheaper, you may encounter problems at border crossings if your exit stamps from one country are not the same as your visa for the next.
Travel Insurance Policy
Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours. You must be adequately insured for medical, hospital, baggage and personal expenses, any necessary extra travel (rejoining tour or repatriation) as well as curtailment and cancellation.
We strongly recommend that all clients carry a copy of their full policy document with them at all times, together with any certificate showing the policy number and emergency contact details. Your tour leader will also ask for a photocopy of your insurance document, so please take this to the pre-departure meeting at the start of your tour. You will not be able to commence your tour unless you can provide proof of insurance to your tour leader.
- Tour Voucher & Vouchers for extra services
- Passport (with photocopies of information pages and visas)
- Tour Dossier
- Cash & credit/debit cards (best to take a mixture and more than one card in case one does not work)
- Travel Insurance Certificate and photocopy for tour leader
- Travel consultant's phone number and email address
- Proof of onward travel, ie airline ticket
Optional excursions are not operated by Tucan Travel and while every effort is made prices may not be up-to-date and are intended as a general guide to help you budget for your trip. Prices for vehicle-based excursions such as game drives are approximate based on the optimum number of participants and the actual price may vary depending on group size.
Sufficient safety equipment such as helmets and life jackets are sometimes not available and Tucan Travel is unable to provide this equipment. If you intend to participate in an optional excursion you may like to consider bringing your own safety gear.
Excursions are run by a local operator or third party with both Tucan Travel and the Tour Leader acting as a booking agent only. Optional activities are not part of the tour and Tucan Travel’s booking conditions do not apply to them. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct travel insurance for the excursions you intend to take part in and Tucan Travel is not liable for any injuries incurred.
We work hard to ensure our tours are sustainably and ethically run. You can read our responsible travel policy and advice on how you can travel responsibly here: http://www.tucantravel.com/about-us/responsible-travel.
Our free Meet Up app, available on Facebook, on iTunes and Google Play is an opportunity to chat with others passengers before you depart or keep in touch when you arrive back from tour. Information on the app is available here: http://www.tucantravel.com/before-you-go/meet-up
Add-ons & Extras
On many of our Group Tours, we spend one night in our arrival and departure cities. If you want to explore these cities more we can book pre and post tour accommodation, city tours and airport transfers for you. Price information can be found on the price page of each tour. We also have Add-ons - short packages that can be booked alongside a tour or on their own and have been carefully designed to ensure you don't miss out on popular highlights.
The possession or use of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our tours. When overseas you are subject to local laws and the penalties for breaking these laws can be harsh. In order to safeguard the interests of the group as a whole, our tour leaders have been instructed to insist that any person found with illegal drugs leave the tour immediately – without refund. The tour leader’s decision on this matter is final. If you need to carry certain drugs with you for purposes of medication, please inform your tour leader and ensure that you carry a copy of your prescription or letter from your doctor.