Welcome to Bangkok fellow globe roamers, where a glorious adventure of Asia exploration lies ahead of us. After checking into our swanky hotel you may wish to do some DIY exploring, grab a massage or just lie by the pool soaking up those sweet Thai rays. Later the group will join forces to hear what's in store for the trip, then the night is yours. Maybe take to the streets for some authentic pad thai and eye-popping nightlife, or jump in a tuk-tuk and hit the buzzy Patpong Night Market, with its neon lights and vibrant street life.
Bangkok to Kanchanaburi
The Royal Palace and its 61 acres of incredible buildings will be number one on today's to do list. We'll start the day early, with so much to see there's no time to waste. We'll start with a tour of the klongs (canals) and some fish feeding, as well as watching locals go about their day and living life along the river. Just listing today's sites gives us the butterflies, and we'll take it all in with our Local Guide leading the charge. Armed with more Local knowledge than we know what to do with, get ready for ME Time. From shopping, grabbing a massage to indulding in delicious local eats, this afternoon is gearing up to be brilliant.
Bangkok, you've been a dream, but the show must go on! Fast becoming a must-visit in this part of the world, we make tracks to our next destination, the sleepy town of Kanchanaburi to really get local. We jump straight into the way of life here, visiting sites including learning about the darker times past at the WWII Cemetery and the famed Bridge on the River Kwai, with our guide giving us all the info we need on this riverside spot steeped in history. There's nothing like getting some local transport to keep things interesting, so we'll pop into a boat along the River Kwai where we'll reach our home for the night, the The Jungle Raft Hotel, Kanchanaburi. Rooms lit by candle light are what you'll be greeted with, followed by a delicious included dinner of local specialities at dusk. You can even jump in the river directly from your room. Amazing! Because of course here at Contiki we like to keep things a bit special. Tonight as we watch the sunset over the landscape we'll no doubt be toasting our first full day on the trip and contemplating just how good life is.
We’ll wake up in jungle paradise, eat breakfast & if you’re lucky catch a glimpse of the local elephant taking their morning dip. Then, we’ll head to a Sai Yok elephant sanctuary to see how the rescued elephants are cared for. We’ll spend half a day learning about how the haven rescue & care for these beautiful creatures. This afternoon is free to explore Kanchanaburi town.
Kanchanaburi to Chiang Mai via Ayutthaya - Overnight Train
We’ll start our day with a visit to the breathtaking Erawan Falls, one of the most famous National Parks of Thailand, made up from seven levels of stunning waterfalls. Take a quick dip in the emerald green ponds, dive into the clear waters & get that FOMO Insta shot before we head off to our next stop Ayutthaya.
We’ll make a stop in the UNESCO listed city of Ayutthaya, once the capital of Kingdom of Siam before being destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th Century. We'll grab bikes & ride past ornate temples, towering spires and beautiful palaces. Ride past ornate temples, towering spires, and beautiful palaces. Later, we board our overnight train to Chiang Mai.
The laid-back city of Chiang Mai is ours as we wake this morning. Buddhist rituals, traditional architecture & surrounding countryside will see us smitten. The city is yours to make the most of YOU style - maybe that means roaming the old quarter or the city's heart on foot, maybe it means little more than a Thai massage.
And with a ziplining experience on the cards today for those feeling adventurous, we'll be thanking ourselves for this chance to return. Tonight, dabbling in the art of Thai cooking will be one activity that most of us can't resist.
Chiang Mai to Pakbeng
Taking a border hop we’ll cross out of Thailand and into Laos. After collecting our passport stamps we’ll journey to Pakbeng, taking part of the trip by river cruise on a local boat. Remote, traditional, and endlessly charming, Pakbeng is a true traveller’s dream.
Pakbeng to Luang Prabang
Leaving Pakbeng, we make our way to Luang Prabang - get ready for gorgeous waterfalls, biking explorations and a chance to experience the local community and sacred Buddhist rituals.
Ending our Mekong Delta magic we arrive in the much-loved city of Luang Prabang. Temples dusted in gold, historic French mansions, & locals wrapped in saffron robes make this one of the prettiest places in Asia. Our explorations will involve a sunset from a hill-top stupa & a bout of shopping at the local night markets.
A city cycle and a swim under the 60-metre cascades of Kuang Si Falls will provide our daily nature fix, but most of the day is yours to visit palaces & temples & watch local life by the river, or choose to explore any way that suits. Tonight, watch the sunset at a riverside bar, and contemplate just how good life is and how relaxed you already feel just one week in.
Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
This morning early risers will be rewarded with Buddhist rituals kissed by the sun's morning rays. Take part in a sacred Laotian ritual offering alms (food) to Buddhist monks.This morning we take an overland journey to a lively tourist hub filled with opportunities for adventure. It makes leaving the charming town of Luang Prabang a little easier.
Known for its dramatic limestone karsts & world food flair, Vang Vieng will keep you busy. Explore the local rivers and caves or chill out surrounded by like-minded travellers, watching the sun set over the mountains.
Today is yours to conquer Vang Vieng. Stuck for ideas? Grab a pushbike and allow yourself to get a little lost, stopping at swimming holes and weaving through limestone caves, watching life unfold in the pretty countryside of Laos.
Vang Vieng to Vientiane
Today you should wake up feeling satisfied with your Vang Vieng explorations, and ready to peel back the layers of another Laos hotspot.
Welcome to the capital of Vientiane. If you’re expecting a bustling Asian capital, prepare to be surprised; the vibe in this quaint Mekong town is strictly chilled. Apart from seeing the beauty of Pha That Luang stupa & the artistic talent of Patuxai, we’ll use our time here to visit the COPE centre, a local charity that provide prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation services to those who have lost their limbs as a result of unexploded bombs. Our visit here will also provide an insight into Laos’ troubled history, and is a great chance for us to lend a helping hand to the Laotian community.
Vientiane to Phnom Penh
This morning we cross the border sky high, flying out of Laos as we make for the capital of Cambodia.
Although it's easy to find reminders of Cambodia's dark past in the city of Phnom Penh, it is also a place brightened by shy smiles and pretty tree-lined streets. We'll learn about the horrific Khmer Rouge rule by visiting the mass graves of the ‘Killing Fields’ & the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum with our Local Guide. With knowledge in hand, we'll lighten the mood by paying a visit to the Tree Alliance Restaurant, where disadvantaged and former street children are trained up in hospitality skills. And wow, do they do it well; their frozen shakes and mouth-watering menu never fail to impress. Later tonight, the night is yours to explore as you please.
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
Another included flight takes us out of Cambodia's capital this morning, landing us in the heartland of an ancient masterpiece and what is still the largest religious monument in the world.
You could relax poolside this afternoon, before seeing what's going on by night! There are plenty of things you could spice up your night with, like local night markets though probably best to reserve your energy for our early morning visit to an Eighth Wonder of the World and something we know you've all been waiting for.
Prepare to be moved to the core this morning as we journey to Angkor Wat through dawn's hours in preparation for sunrise. Nothing can quite describe the feeling of watching the day's first rays touch this ancient spiritual site, it's pretty much magic. After a siesta and pool hangs to break up the day back at our hotel, we journey back to the temples to explore Angkor Thom and the Tomb Raider temple of Ta Prohm, which is slowly being swallowed by the jungle. With no early rise on tomorrow's agenda, we can let loose on the city's famous Pub Street and the buzzing local night markets.
Depart Siem Reap
We came, we saw, we did it all! After one final delicious Asian breakfast together it's finally time to say goodbye (sob). Team, it's been epic.