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  • The Golden Pagoda at Wat Pha-That Luang, Laos
  • Local food being prepared in Thailand
  • The Buddhist temple of Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda on Inle Lake, Myanmar
  • Exploring Bagans many temples by bike, Myanmar
Route:
Bangkok to Bangkok
Days:
29
Style: Worldwide Adventures
Code: SEML
From:

US$4,279

This tour explores some of South East Asia’s less-travelled destinations. Meet the indigenous hill tribes surrounding Chiang Mai before heading into Laos to learn about the COPE Visitor Centre’s work with the disabled and donate alms to local monks. Flying over to Myanmar, soak up the country’s stunning sunsets, unique cultures and golden pagodas.

About this tour

  • Type of Travel: Public Transport
  • Group Size: Average 10-14. Maximum 16.
  • Recommended Age: 18-65
  • Physical Rating: Asia 2
  • Country: Thailand, Laos, Burma, Myanmar

What you need to know

  • We travel on multiple domestic flights on this tour to ensure you can see as much of these beautiful countries in a short time.
  • Wear modest clothes when visiting temples in Asia and pack shoes that are easy to slip on and off 
  • Always have a few ID photos on you for visas. This is especially important in arrival places such as Laos or Vietnam where photos are needed
  • Pack Light! In addition to there being plenty of laundries around the entire tour, clothes are simply so much cheaper in Asia. Leave the designer gear at home and visit the local markets.
  • The first day of your tour is simply an arrival day with no pre-organised activities. You will meet your Tour Leader at 18.00 for the pre-departure meeting. In order to allow time to relax and see some of the sights you may wish to add pre-tour accommodation.

Itinerary

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Day 1 to 1 - Arrive Bangkok

Thailand's capital, Bangkok, is 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.

Bangkok 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.

As today is Saturday tonight is a great time to visit the massive Chatuchak Weekend Market where you can find almost anything for sale.

Thailand's currency is the Thai Baht (BHT).

Optional Excursions

Thai Massage per hour from – THB 250 • Wat Phra Kaew – from THB 500 • Thai cookery course – from THB 1200 • Bangkok canal tour – from THB 750

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at New Siam II or similar

Day 2 to 2 - Phitsanulok

Today we take the train to Phitsanulok, one of Thailand's ancient capitals and a town of great importance. Although a bustling hub for travellers, our adventure to Phitsanulok takes us off the tourist trail to experience local life and see untouched Thailand

Discover the revered temple Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat which is home to one of the most important Buddha images. The bronze statue is the centrepiece of the temple and is the most copied.

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at Amarin Nakorn Hotel or similar

Day 3 to 3 - Sukhothai

Thailand’s ancient capital Sukhothai is home to the ancient ruins of the former city. A popular highlight of Thailand, it was the capital of the Thai empire for approximately 140 years and translates literally to “Dawn of Happiness”.

The temples and monuments have been since excavated and reconstructed in places, the restoration now naming the destination Sukhothai Historical Park.

The old city has many zones interspersed with lakes and bridges to island bound ruins, and covers roughly 70 square kilometers. We will take a bicycle tour around the World Heritage Site and explore the typical Thai architecture including the Wat Mahathat, one of the most spectacular Buddhas seated amongst the stone ruins .

Included Excursions

Bicycle tour of Sukhothai

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at Vitoon Guesthouse or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 4 to 5 - Chiang Mai

Our journey today culminates in Chiang Mai , the 'Rose of the North', where you can enjoy a Thai cooking course, 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 market.

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

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels at Winner Inn or similar

Meals

2 Breakfast(s)

Day 6 to 6 - Golden Triangle

Leaving Chiang Mai we first stop at the Hmong Hilltribe road side market to pick up some snacks and souvenirs for the day. Continuing on we travel north around Si Lanna National Park stopping at Wat Thaton Chedi, a large temple complex situated on top of a hill. We visit Chedi Kaew, known as the Crystal Pagoda which boasts spectacular views over Thailand and Myanmar.

After stopping for lunch in the border town of Thaton, our next visit is a Akah Hilltribe village. Here you can learn how these indigenous people go about their daily lives. Entrances to all Akha villages have a wooden gate known as a “Spirit Gate”. Admire the fascinating carvings marked on the sides and keep your eyes peeled for similar markings on the roofs of the houses within the village!

All this exploring is thirsty work so our next stop is the Shwi Foung Tea Plantation! Admire the magnificent views and perhaps sample some of Thailand's wonderful jasmine or green teas. We travel on to our final destination, the small town of Sop Ruak, the centre of the Golden Triangle. Before checking into our hotel, we will visit the Golden Triangle viewpoint where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar all meet on the Mekong River.

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at Yopensok Resort or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 7 to 7 - Chiang Rai

The next day we discover the old Opium Museum where you can learn about Asia's past illicit opium production and the history of the Golden Triangle. Next we will see the giant Golden Buddha sitting on a boat by the riverside and the stone elephants there to protect him.

En route to Chiang Rai we will explore Wat Rong Khun, famously known as the White Temple. 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 both inside and out! We will also visit the Black Temple. Compare the two, and see the stark contrasts not only in colour but in architecture and design too! We end our day in Chiang Rai, and our hotel is situated near the popular Night Bazaar Market. Haggle for gifts or sample a freshly-cooked pad thai in this vibrant night spot.

Included Excursions

Visit the Opium Museum & Golden Triangle,Visit the White Temple & Black Temple

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at Baan Pordeedin Guesthouse or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 8 to 9 - Luang Prabang

Today we have a flight to Luang Prabang. On the way to the airport we will stop at the Cashew Nut shop to pick up snacks for the journey. Many say that Luang Prabang is the most memorable town in all of Laos. Renowned for a fascinating history and some of the friendliest people, 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. Here we will visit the monks at sunrise who collect alms that are donated by the locals.

There are many temples to visit in Luang Prabang - over 30 in fact, which is a large number for this small town.

Included Excursions

Visit the Monks collecting alms

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)

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels at Treasure Hotel or similar

Meals

2 Breakfast(s)

Day 10 to 11 - Vang Vieng

As we make our way south from Luang Prabang we travel past stunning scenery to Vang Vieng. This peaceful town is situated on 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. Here we will take a tuk-tuk tour off the beaten track through some of Laos' most incredible scenery and see the local villages and paddy fields.

Included Excursions

Countryside tuk-tuk trip in Vang Vieng

Optional Excursions

Bamboo rafting/kayaking including visit to caves – US$20 • Caves – most entry fees are US$2

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels at Vilayvong Hotel or similar

Meals

2 Breakfast(s)

Day 12 to 13 - 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.

Laos was a victim during the Vietnam War and is actually the most bombed country in the world. During the fighting 270 million submunitions were dropped on Laos between 1963 to 1974, and many of those failed to explode, still remaining live in the ground.

In Vientiane, we visit the COPE Centre and learn about the UXO problem in Laos and how the country is managing the situation. We learn about the work undertaken by COPE to provide disability services for people affected by the bombing. As part of the exhibition, you can also watch a number of excellent documentary films where you can learn more.

Included Excursions

COPE Centre

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)

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels at Mali Namphu Hotel or similar

Meals

2 Breakfast(s)

Day 14 to 14 - Bangkok

Today we fly to Bangkok where we can enjoy dinner and spend the night before flying to the breathtaking country of Myanmar tomorrow

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at New Siam II or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 15 to 15 - Mandalay

Welcome to Myanmar, more formally named the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and previously and possibly better known in many countries as Burma.

Mandalay, a name that evokes splendours of old Burma, captured by Rudyard Kipling in poem Mandalay. “This is Burma” he wrote, “and it is quite unlike any place you know about!” Destroyed by a fire and heavily bombed during World War Two, the Burma of old is more difficult to find but when you do, it astounds you.

With a turbulent history, after thousands were killed in a military uprising, Burma changed its name to Myanmar in 1989. Myanmar today has only recently opened its border to travellers after the Military Junta, in control since 1962 was dissolved after years of internal struggle as recently as 2011. As this largely rural country remains unaffected by long term tourism it offers us a wonderful insight into Southeast Asian life.

You have a free day to enjoy Mandalay. Visit the Mahamuni Pagoda with its old Buddha statue. Typically a lively temple, men put gold leaves into the statue. Here you can also shop around for the perfect souvenir, your own small statue made of bronze or wood. If you can't find what you are looking for, the marble carving street should have a treat in store. Walking through the Mahagandayon monastery complex, see hundreds of monks heading to prayers.

Tonight, you can visit the Yadanar night market to get a feel for the real Mandalay. Grab some traditional snacks before enjoying a beer at a famous beer station and a delicious meal at one of Mandalay's traditional BBQ restaurants.

Optional Excursions

Mahamuni Buddha Temple & Paleik Pagodas – MMK 10000 • Bike rental – USD$10

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at Oway Grand Hotel or similar

Day 16 to 17 - Hsipaw

Heading into the Northern Shan State, we travel to Hsipaw, located in the east of Myanmar, Hsipaw is a scenic town steeped in history. Once a Shan royal city, the old palace still stands in the northern part of the town. In 1962 the last Sawbwa, Sao Kya Seng, disappeared during a military coup however his family still care for the old palace and it is possible to pay a visit, meet a descendent of the last Sawbwa and learn about the history of the Shan State over the last 50 years.

A popular area for hiking, Hsipaw is situated in a valley with a number of Shan villages surrounding it. In the late afternoon we can enjoy a guided walk through the paddy fields, passing villages, creeks, schools and monasteries along way. The guide will teach you about Shan life around Hsipaw and show you some home industries like cheroot (cigar) rolling and bamboo weaving. He will explain why each Shan village has a spirit house built at the entrance of the village and make sure you will get to know the spirit of the local people in Northern Shan State

Hsipaw also as a fantastic central market where locals come to trade frequently. You may also enjoy watching the sunset from Five Buddha Hill, accessible by bicycle a few miles out of the town.

Included Excursions

Shan village walking tour

Optional Excursions

Full day Hiking and boat tour - USD $45 per group

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels at Mr. Charles Hotel or similar

Meals

2 Breakfast(s)

Day 18 to 18 - Kyaukme

Heading east, Kyaukme is a small but bustling town with a vibrant Chinese quarter. Kyaukme is flanked by valleys filled with Palaung villages.

From Hsipaw, we will take a local bus today from opposite the beautiful colonial all-wooden post office a short 3 minute walk from the hotel. The local bus will stop at villages along the way, allowing locals to get on or off with their goods, whether that be livestock or vegetables. You will be able to purchase snacks from locals along the route or learn the language by engaging in conversation with your neighbour.

Kyaukme still sees few western tourists and on arrival your tour leader will be waiting for you to take you to the guesthouse where you can freshen up and drop off your luggage before embarking on a full day trekking. Palaung villages surround Kyaukme and with a local guide, you can gain a fascinating insight into the life of these people living in these remote hills. We stop en route in one of these villages for a local meal before returning back to Kyaukme for the night.

Included Excursions

Palaung Mountain Village Walking Tour

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at One Love Hotel or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s), 1 Lunch(es)

Day 19 to 19 - Pyin Oo Lwin

After breakfast this morning, we board a train to take us from Kyaukme to Pyin Oo Lwin. This scenic train journey boasts astounding views as it travels along old train tracks built over 100 years ago. En route, the train will stop at small villages and vendors will climb on board to sell their wares whether they are drinks of local delicacies. Depending on how long the train is due to spend in each village, you may have time to get off the train and wander around. Some locals often spend time in the train station to try to teach themselves english by speaking to any tourists on board. After a few hours on board, we will cross the Goteik Viaduct. This bridge was built by the British in 1899 and at the time, was considered a masterpiece and the longest bridge in the world.

Travelling at walking speed, crossing the bridge will be a slow process as the engineer tries to limit any damage to the bridge by taking his time. This means there is plenty of time to capture photos of the valley below and the train navigating the tracks.

We arrive in the picturesque town of Pyin Oo Lwin this afternoon. The city was founded by the British in 1896 and retains its colonial charm. This afternoon you will have time to take a tour of the town and the old British colonial buildings.

Included Excursions

Goteik Viaduct train journey

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at Royal Parkview Hotel or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 20 to 20 - Mandalay

Leaving Pyin Oo Lwin, we take a shared taxi back to Mandalay where we spend the night. You will have time today to enjoy some of the sights of the town you didn’t get to see when you were here earlier on in your tour. Arriving in the morning, you can enjoy a full day of sightseeing culminating at sunset by the bridge.,

Optional Excursions

Mahamuni Buddha Temple & Paleik Pagodas – MMK 10000 • Bike rental – USD$10

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at Oway Grand Hotel or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 21 to 23 - Bagan

Bagan is home to more Buddhist temples than anywhere in the world. They poke out of the trees and have a graceful aging process. It is here that the sunsets are some of the best in the world.

On arrival, we enjoy a half day guided orientation tour of the area where you will see some of the best temples in the region. Discover Ananda, Sulamani, and Thatbyinnyu, the latter being one of the highest monuments in Bagan.

The best way to see the many hundreds of temples in the area of Bagan is by bicycle and the day after arriving in Bagan, we take a guided tour of the site by bicycle The flat landscape makes a bike tour an easy excursion and your guide will show you some of the most spectacular ancient temples away from the crowds. Cycle through the palm trees and bamboo huts finding temples along the way. You can also climb some of the pagodas for impressive views over the temples.

With two full days in Bagan, should you want to visit the surrounding areas, you can take optional excursions to see what else the region has to offer. You can visit Mount Popa, the birthplace of the 37 'nats' of Myanmar which are the protective spirits. You can get off the beaten track by visiting rural villages as well as fruit and flower markets.

One of the highlights of Bagan enjoyed by many, is a sunrise hot air balloon ride offering stunning views over the temple zone. Of course seats are limited and can book up early so booking in advance is recommended to avoid disappointment. Your Adventure Specialist will be able to advise on the best ride for you and how to book.

Included Excursions

Half day Bagan orientation tour,Bike tour through Bagan

Optional Excursions

Rent a bike – USD 10 • Temple Zone – USD 20 • Ballooning over Bagan – From USD 320

Accommodation

3 night(s) in hotels at Thante Nyaung Oo Hotel or similar

Meals

3 Breakfast(s)

Day 24 to 24 - Kalaw

Leaving Bagan, on the way to Kalaw we visit the Elephant Conservation Centre. A community project only recently established here, protects the jungle, the wildlife that resides in it and the traditions of the local people living in the area. The project also protects some of Myanmar’s endangered elephants which, without this protection, may have been hunted down and killed or sold into the tourism trade.

These elephants are ‘retired’ from working life and we will have the opportunity to wash and feed the elephants but riding them is strictly not allowed. Returning to the camp, we will enjoy lunch before continuing our journey to Kalaw. Travelling by private vehicle, we might make multiple stops on the way to Kalaw in local villages. We may learn how to make toddy and jaggery (palm sugar) from the sap of the toddy palm.

Included Excursions

Elephant Conservation Centre

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at Dream Villa Hotel or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s), 1 Lunch(es)

Day 25 to 26 - Inle Lake

Leaving Kalaw after breakfast, we board our another train to take us to Inle Lake. This scenic journey travels through the Shan mountains and you can glimpse the local life as you travel en route. The train has been used by locals and westerners alike for over 100 years and has a distinctive colonial feel to it. This train can't be prebooked so you may be seated in the “ordinary class” giving you a real taste of how locals travel by train.

Arriving at Inle Lake in the early afternoon, there is time to enjoy an afternoon excursion on the lake or in the surrounding hills. The following day, we spend a full day on the lake, travelling by boat between traditional villages built on stilts and inhabited by the Intha people. We visit floating gardens, pass some of the fishermen who row their boats using their legs, balancing precariously on the other. One of the main highlights of the excursion is the lunch made by a local family. You will experience authentic Intha food including the famous tomato salad, meat cakes steamed in banana leaves and more. You will also visit traditional markets in different villages depending on the day we travel. If time allows, we will also visit a cheroot factory where Burmese cigars are made, floating tomato gardens, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda and Intha Heritage House where Burmese cats are bred.

Well known for its weaving, on Inle Lake we have the chance to purchase souvenirs including the Burmese tote-bags and high quality silk fabrics. You can also try traditional Shan cuisine including Htamin Jin, a delicious meal of rice, tomato, potato or fish in round balls, wrapped in crisp fried onion and marinated in garlic.

Included Excursions

Shan mountain train journey,Day excursion on Inle Lake and local Intha lunch

Optional Excursions

Buddha Museum – USD 2 • Bike rental – USD 10 • Boat rental – USD 30 per boat

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels at Hotel Maine Li or similar

Meals

2 Breakfast(s), 1 Lunch(es)

Day 27 to 27 - Yangon

Today we fly to Yangon, a city filled with British, Burmese, Chinese and Indian influences. Despite being a city, here it is common to see locals walking down the street barefoot with natural sunblock from the Thanaka tree rubbed on their faces. There is plenty to do in this bustling city from food tours, local markets, lakes and pagodas.

The largest and most beautiful pagoda is the Shwedagon Pagoda and it is the most religion site in Myanmar. It was originally built in the 6th century AD and has been rebuilt and developed over time to become the sprawling, golden site of today. It is also a meeting point for locals. Children play, monks chat and women gossip while it is possible to pick up some souvenirs from the shops outside the site.

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at Clover City Centre Hotel or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 28 to 28 - Bangkok

Today we fly to Bangkok where we can enjoy a final dinner and spend the night before the end of our tour tomorrow

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at New Siam II or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 29 to 29 - Depart Bangkok

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.

What's Included

Excursions & Activities

  • Bicycle tour of Sukhothai
  • Visit the Opium Museum & Golden Triangle
  • Visit the White Temple & Black Temple
  • Visit the Monks collecting alms
  • Countryside tuk-tuk trip in Vang Vieng
  • COPE Centre
  • Shan village walking tour
  • Palaung Mountain Village Walking Tour
  • Goteik Viaduct train journey
  • Half day Bagan orientation tour
  • Bike tour through Bagan
  • Elephant Conservation Centre
  • Shan mountain train journey
  • Day excursion on Inle Lake and local Intha lunch

Accommodation

28 night(s) in hotels

Transportation

Train, , Public Bus, Private Vehicle, Travel by 4 flight(s)

Meals

25 Breakfast(s), 3 Lunch(es)

Other

Tucan Travel tour leader

What's Not Included

  • Spending money – budget for meals, snacks, drinks, limited souvenirs, laundry, tips and any extras
  • International flights to/from the start/end of your tour and departure taxes  
  • Tips on included excursions, visas, travel insurance, personal items and single rooms.  
  • Optional excursions - On each trip, you may find there are some excursions that are not included. This might be because they are not to everyone's taste or there may be various options of differing value to choose from. More information on the excursions we recommend is listed under each day of your itinerary though prices may vary. If you are after something in particular, don't hesitate to ask your tour leader.

Group

Group Size: Maximum 16. Average 8-12.

Tour Suitability: This tour is recommended for people aged 18-65. For more information on what to expect, click here.

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