Your holiday summary

Holiday type Escorted tours
Country Lao
Price range From £1899
Travel partner Riviera Travel
Duration 15 nights
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Laos, the Mekong and Thailand

Our Thailand and Laos tour combines one of Asia’s best-loved destinations with its least well known neighbour with immediate contrasts. After the bright lights of Bangkok, it’s Luang Prabang in Laos - little more than a village by comparison, with quaint French colonial buildings and a slow pace of life. See the he beauty of the countryside along the banks of the Mekong as we learn about the many ethnic communities in this remote part of Indochina. We also explore some of the lesser known corners of Thailand - the scenic far north-east (the Golden Triangle) and the haunting remains of the Burma-Thailand railway in the south. And that’s all before spending some relaxing days on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand.

The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room; scheduled return flights to Bangkok; thirteen nights accommodation in four and five star hotels and an eco-lodge; daily breakfast, seven lunches, one dinner; guided tours of Bangkok, Luang Prabang, Chiang Rai, the golden triangle and the River Kwai; two day boat trip on the Mekong; all transport as indicated; porterage of one item of luggage per person; services of a Riviera tour manager

N.B. The Luang Say Lodge is built in the local style, without air-conditioning or TVs and the windows have just wooden shutters. Itinerary is subject to change depending on Mekong water levels and flights between Thailand and Laos.

  • Explore the upper reaches of the Mekong in Laos visiting ethnic communities on a two-day boat cruise
  • Return direct scheduled flights from London Heathrow
  • Stay in four and five star hotels, including a riverside eco-lodge
  • Stay and tour Luang Prabang the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site in Laos, acknowledged as south east Asia’s best preserved traditional town
  • Visit the poignant second world war memorial at Hellfire Pass on Burma’s ‘Death Railway’ travelling by train over the Bridge on the River Kwai
  • Travel through Thailand’s golden triangle close to the Burmese border
  • Spend three nights at Chiang Rai’s five star Le Meridien resort
  • Stay in Bangkok visiting the Grand Palace and golden Wat Pho temple
  • Spend three days relaxing on the tropical shores of the Gulf of Thailand
  • Visit the floating market of Damnoen Saduak
  • Daily breakfast and eight meals included
  • Escorted by our experienced tour manager
Not included
Not Included: Laos visa.
Day one

You should arrive at the airport for your overnight flight to Bangkok.

Day two

After an afternoon arrival, you transfer to the excellent four star superior Eastin Grand hotel for two nights with breakfast.

Day three - Bangkok

Bangkok with its Grand Palace and Thai Buddhist monuments, Wat Phra Kaew - the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Palace is Bangkok’s most famous landmark - for 150 years the Siamese Kings’ home and seat of government. Adjacent is Bangkok’s largest temple, the Wat Pho, famed for its huge 46-metre long reclining Buddha, covered with gold leaf and also home to the original Thai massage school. You will discover Bangkok’s klongs (canals), explored by small boat, which quickly lead to a countryside full of orchards, palm trees and paddyfields, plus communities with a water-borne way of life unchanged for centuries.

Day four - Luang Prabang

Today you fly to Luang Prabang in Laos, staying two nights at the three star superior Grand hotel with breakfast included. This afternoon a walking tour explores this small town, with its Royal Palace museum, and by walking through the quiet back lanes you unearth some of Luang Prabang’s hidden secrets. Wat Chomkhong temple is noted for its decorative carvings, but this whole UNESCO-protected area contains a fusion of French colonial buildings and traditional Lao houses. Next it’s the Wat Xiengthong, with its roof sweeping towards the ground, in the classic Luang Prabang style. As dusk falls the enterprising zeal so typical of the emerging world can be seen to be alive and well in the noise and sizzling open-air restaurants of the night market.

Day five - Luang rabang and Kuangsi waterfall

This morning you can witness, and even partake if you wish, in the early morning ritual of ‘Tak Bat’, or offering alms to the monks, a tradition followed avidly and providing photo opportunities. You’ll also visit the market learning how the locals shop for superb fresh produce. Next we explore Luang Prabang’s hinterland, visiting Khmu, Hmong and Lao villages, each home to one of Laos’s principal ethnic groups. Our destination is the Kuangsi waterfall, where you can cool off with a refreshing swim in the turquoise pool or walk along the forest trails. We will have lunch under the shade of the tropical forest. Just adjacent is the Bear Rescue centre whose worthy mission is protecting the rare Asiatic black bear. We return to Luang Prabang by late afternoon so you can explore as you wish.

Day six - Mekong

Today we start a two day boat journey through Laos along the river Mekong. Accommodating 40 passengers, our boat is very comfortable with a bar and kitchen, and with its open sides you can truly experience river life just as it has always been, plus see some beautiful countryside. Meals, snacks, tea/coffee and bottled water are included. A breakfast of fresh croissants and baguettes with homemade jams is served whilst we cruise to the Pak Ou Caves, filled with hundreds of Buddha statues of all shapes and sizes. After our on-board buffet lunch we visit a hill tribe village where you can watch the traditional process of Lao whiskey production. As the sun sets in an explosion of colour we stay in the riverside village of Pak Beng at the Luang Say lodge. Dinner is served on the open-air terrace overlooking the river.

Day seven - Mekong and Chiang Rai

We are way off the beaten track here. Continuing our cruise, we observe traditional village life before crossing back into Thailand early afternoon and transferring to the five star Le Meridian resort in Chiang Rai.

Day eight - Wat Phra Kheow

After breakfast it’s time to discover this region of Thailand. First we see the original Wat Phra Kheow, once housing Thailand’s most sacred Buddha image, the Emerald Buddha which you saw in Bangkok. The work of one of the province’s most famous sons and now one of Thailand’s foremost artists, Chalermchai Kositpipat, can be seen throughout this small town, his tour de force is the remarkable White Temple, undoubtedly Thailand’s most unusual – mostly white and silver with just one room of another colour – the public toilet, which is gold. Started in 1995, it is scheduled for completion in 2070.

Day nine - Chiang Rai province, Mae Sai and the golden triangle

Today we explore the rainforest covered hills deep in Chiang Rai province where the present King’s mother spent many years overseeing numerous projects developing new crops and income thus enabling villagers to eradicate opium cultivation. We visit her Royal Villa with its museum and gardens.

Thailand’s most northerly point is the market town of Mae Sai and with Burma just across a small river, its streets are crammed with remarkably priced Burmese sarongs, cheroots, puppets and intricate embroidery. This afternoon we explore the nearby golden triangle where the Mekong and the Ruak rivers meet, as do the borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma, with a huge Golden Buddha on the riverside. Just downstream is the ancient city of Chiang Saen, a juxtaposition of centuries-old ruined city walls and temples, sitting ‘cheek by jowl’ with modern day villagers’ homes.

Day 10 - Kanchanaburi province, the River Kwai and the Chong Kai war cemetery

This morning we fly to Bangkok, driving on to Kanchanaburi province and the River Kwai, immortalised by David Lean’s film. Constructing that bridge was just one of many tasks set for the thousands of allied POWs as they laboured to build the ‘Death Railway’ under the most terrible conditions. Our first stop is the JEATH museum, rebuilt in the style of the bamboo huts the prisoners of war lived in. From here we take a long-tail boat ride along the River Kwai itself. We visit the Chong Kai war cemetery, on the site of a hospital and prisoner of war camp. Back on our boat we approach the bridge by river, then continue to the four star superior Dhevi Mantra hotel for two nights with breakfast.

Day 11 - Hellfire Pass and the River Kwai

Today you head up country to Hellfire Pass – a deep railway cutting only 500 metres long, although it took Allied prisoners of war more than three months to dig this out of solid rock, working 24 hours a day. One thousand Australian and British servicemen toiled here with just 300 surviving. There is a trail that leads to the pass where you can observe the simple black granite memorial. The excellent museum is operated by the Australian Office of War Graves and has some very poignant testimonies and videos. After lunch overlooking the River Kwai, we board the local train travelling along the line and viaducts built by the POWs before crossing the River Kwai bridge itself.

Day 12 - Damnoen Saduak and Cha-Am beach resort

After an early breakfast we head for Damnoen Saduak and one of Thailand’s most enduring sights – the Floating Market. Here you see and experience the jostling, colourful boats filled with flowers, fruit and food and drink, plying their trade as they have done for centuries. We will take a boat exploring the canals before spending three nights at the four star Regent hotel in the beach resort of Cha-Am. Rooms are upgraded to the Regency Wing and our stay includes breakfast and complimentary afternoon tea.

Day 13 and Day 14 - Free days, Cha-Am beach resort

Two full days at leisure to enjoy the pool and facilities at your hotel.

Day 15

Today you will have a late afternoon transfer back to Bangkok airport for your return direct flight home.

Day 16

You arrive back into London Heathrow early in the morning.
Bangkok – Eastin Grand hotel - four star superior

Located close to Bangkok’s Chao Praya river. It is the only hotel in the city with its own direct walkway to a Bangkok Skytrain station and is just one stop from the river or three stops from the Patpong night market. The outdoor pool on the 14th floor offers city views from its infinity edge and there’s also a pool lounge/bar and fitness centre. The hotel’s excellent dining options include an Italian restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, as well as an all-day dining buffet restaurant with an open kitchen and a huge variety of regional and seasonal dishes. All the 390 rooms are air-conditioned with shower, hairdryer, TV, minibar, safe, tea/coffee-maker, free internet connectivity and views of the Bangkok skyline.

Luang Prabang – Grand Luang Prabang hotel - three star superior

Located a 10 minute drive out of town in a quiet spot overlooking the Mekong. The grounds include a pool and a riverside restaurant and bar. There is a free shuttle service into Luang Prabang at fixed times. The 78 simply-furnished rooms are in low-rise two-storey buildings spread out within the grounds and all are air-conditioned, with bath/shower, hairdryer, wc, minibar, TV, tea/coffee-maker and a balcony or terrace with either garden or river views.

Pakbeng Luang Say lodge

Located on a bend of the Mekong, a 15-minute walk from the small village of Pakbeng. The lodge’s open-air terrace bar and restaurant offer views across the river and the surrounding jungle-covered hills. The 20 bungalows all have shower/wc and are constructed using local materials in traditional style – with local teak, rosewood and palm leaf. There’s no air-conditioning but there is an overhead fan and mosquito net and windows have shutters but no glass. Free wifi is available on the terrace.

Chiang Rai – Le Meridien resort - five-star

Located by the side of the Mae Kok river. The resort’s salt-water pool overlooks the river, whilst there is also a spa and fitness centre. Dining options include an all-day dining restaurant, an Italian restaurant with wood-fired oven and char-grill with al fresco dining and an informal pool bar. All 159 air-conditioned rooms are furnished and have a bathroom with bath, separate shower, bathrobes and hairdryer, there’s a tea/coffee-maker, minibar, flat-screen satellite TV, safe, iron/board and balconies offering garden or river views. Wifi is chargeable in rooms but free in the resort’s library.

Kanchanaburi – Dhevi Mantra resort - four star superior

Located right next to the River Kwai, set around gardens and a large pool with a swim-up bar. The colonial-themed lobby leads on to the main restaurant, whilst there is also a spa/fitness centre. The hotel’s Thai restaurant is on a converted rice barge on the river itself. All 115 air-conditioned rooms have bath and separate shower, hairdryer, TV, safe, tea/coffee-maker, minibar and balcony with garden or pool views.

Cha Am – Regent hote - four star

Located on the beach about 10 minutes drive from Cha Am centre and about 20 minutes from Hua Hin. There are extensive gardens with plenty of mature trees and palms. Dining options include Mediterranean cuisine at the beachfront Fluxo restaurant, all-day dining with both outside and air-conditioned seating at the hotel’s main restaurant overlooking the pool, as well as the Grotto pub with live music and a pool table. The hotel’s Alana Spa offers good value, whilst massages are also available overlooking the beach. All Riviera guests will receive an upgrade to the resort’s Regency Wing rooms, which include complimentary daily afternoon tea and access to a separate pool. All 159 Regency Wing rooms are very spacious and include a sitting area, bath/shower, hairdryer, safe, flat-screen TV, minibar, tea/coffee-maker, iron/board, and balcony with pool or garden view.
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Departure date Departing point Departure UK Arrive at Destination Nights Price  
20-Mar-2015 Heathrow Airport 21:35 15:55 15 2199.00 please call
08-May-2015 Manchester 14:00 23:55 15 1899.00 please call
08-May-2015 Heathrow Airport 15:05 00:40 15 1899.00 please call
04-Sep-2015 Manchester 14:00 23:55 15 1999.00 please call
04-Sep-2015 Heathrow Airport 15:05 00:40 15 1999.00 please call
23-Oct-2015 Heathrow Airport 21:35 15:55 15 2199.00 please call
06-Nov-2015 Heathrow Airport 21:35 15:55 15 2199.00 please call
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