Overland Thailand and Laos

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Best time to go: January to April, October to December

13 Nights | from £2,995pp

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Holiday type: Tailor-made

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Scratch beneath the surface of Bangkok by travelling like a local
  • Watch for tigers, elephants and spectacular birdlife amid the monsoon forest of Khao Yai National Park
  • Admire the intricate carvings and exquisite architecture of the finest Khmer temples in Thailand and Laos
  • Board an elephant for a ride at Ban Ta Klang 'Elephant Village
  • Explore the little-visited Bolaven Plateau of Laos, cooling off at Tad Fane and Tad Lo waterfalls
  • Sip a sundowner on a beautiful sunset cruise on the Mekong River

Day 1 - London to Bangkok
Maximise your time in Thailand by flying overnight from London to the Thai capital.

Day 2 - Bangkok
You'll enjoy a smooth introduction to this bustling city as you're whisked to your comfortable hotel for a two-night stay. You'll be exploring the city in detail tomorrow, so you might prefer to recharge at your luxurious hotel, the Peninsula, this afternoon –the three-tiered pool is particularly alluring, and various treatments are offered at the spa –but if not, the bustling city unfolds outside your window.
Peninsula Hotel | Meals: Breakfast

Day 3 - Bangkok
Get under the skin of the Thai capital by travelling like a true local. Take a ride in one of Bangkok's iconic tuk tuks, delving between skyscrapers to discover traditional old neighbourhoods, temples and monuments. An essential stop is a visit to the magnificent Grand Palace, with its gilt roofs, vivid wall-paintings and the Emerald Buddha in adjacent Wat Phra Kaew. From here it's just a short walk to the Chao Phraya River –known as the 'River of Kings' –best enjoyed from aboard a public river ferry, providing endlessly fascinating water-level views as you chug along the city's artery. End your insider-led tour at the flower market, where countless vendors display kaleidoscopic arrays of fragrant flowers.
Peninsula Hotel | Meals: Breakfast

Day 4 - Bangkok/ Khao Yai
Watch the sun rise over the mountains in Khao Yai National Park, a lush UNESCO World Heritage site encompassing no fewer than five types of woodland, including some of Asia's few surviving tracts of monsoon forest. The reserve is home to no fewer than 153 species of wildlife, and you might, if you're very lucky, spot tigers, Asiatic black bears, leopards, barking deer or elephants;you will certainly see plenty of tropical birds including colourful flycatchers and hefty-beaked hornbills, and you'll probably spot –but will surely hear –gibbons as they swing through the forest canopy. Cool off in the spray of the Haew Suwat waterfalls, a 25m-high cascade made famous with its appearance in the Leo DiCaprio film The Beach.
Kirimaya | Meals: Breakfast

Day 5 - Khao Yai
There's an unexpected delight this morning as you sample some delicious local wines at the Khao Yai Winery. Enjoy a tour of the vineyard with an expert guide, who'll explain the various grape varieties grown and used to create each wine, and how its expression differs in the region. There's ample leisure time during the day to relax or further explore the verdant landscapes.
Kirimaya | Meals: Breakfast

Day 6 - Khao Yai/ Phimai
If you've ever wondered how those imposing Hindu temples were constructed, today you'll have the chance to find out with a visit to the Stone Quarry Site in Sikhio district, were ancient builders extracted blocks to create the famous Khmer monuments across eastern Thailand, southern Laos and Cambodia nearly a millennium ago. Discover the fruits of those labours at Prasat Hin Phimai, the largest sandstone Khmer temple complex in Thailand, reminiscent of the spectacular temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Marvel at the intricate carvings lining its exterior –trace scenes from the Hindu epic poem the Ramayana around the outside –etched by artisans during the 11th and 12th centuries, when the Khmer empire spanned what's now Thailand.
Dusit Princess Korat Hotel | Meals: Breakfast

Day 7 - Korat/ Surin
There are more ancient treats in store today, with a visit to Phanom Rung Historical Park. The centrepiece is Prasat Hin Phanom Rung, an extravagantly carved and painstakingly restored temple built on the rim of an extinct volcano around the 12th century, and arguably the most impressive of all Khmer sites in Thailand;lose yourself in the stone reliefs graphically depicting the Hindu practices of the Shivaite sect. Compare carvings with a visit to nearby Prasat Muang Tam, an even older Khmer temple built on the plains to the south-east, before sampling delicious regional Isan cuisine at a local restaurant and exploring the bustling city of Korat (officially called Nakhon Ratchisima).
Dusit Princess Korat Hotel | Meals: Breakfast

Day 8 - Surin
Elephants have been raised and trained for centuries at the Kui settlement of Ban Ta Klang, known as 'Elephant Village', near Surin;here you'll meet and perhaps ride one of the mighty beasts. Watch traditional weaving and artisans crafting golden brocade fabric at the ancient village of Baan Tasawang, famous for its beautiful silk. Then explore the ornately carved Khmer temple of Prasat Sikhoraphum, built from red sandstone in the 12th century, admiring figures from Hindu mythology beautifully sculpted around the doorways –watch out for the apsaras (female spirits)m the only such carvings in Thailand.
Surin Majestic Hotel | Meals: Breakfast

Day 9 - Surin/ Ubon Ratchathani
Discover the highlights of Ubon Ratchathani, known as the 'Royal City of the Lotus', a major centre of the Isan region –the area of north-eastern Thailand whose language and culture is closely related to that of neighbouring Laos. Find out more about the city's cultural heritage at the National Museum, packed with displays covering archaeology, fine art, handicrafts and folk games. Then drive east to Khong Jiam, a small district on a broad bend in the mighty Mekong River where it forms the border with Laos, in time for a late-afternoon cruise aboard a traditional riverboat to witness the Maenam Song Si ('Two-colour River') –the phenomenon where the brown waters of the Mekong mix with the blue waters of the Mun River.
Surin Majestic Hotel | Meals: Breakfast

Day 10 - Ubon Ratchathani
Head a little way upstream to Pha Taem National Park, where prehistoric cave paintings on riverside cliffs depict turtles, elephants, human handprints and –most striking of all –giant Mekong catfish. Daubed at least 3,000 years ago, this intriguing rock art hints at the lifestyles of the region's ancient inhabitants –and seeing the images of fish traps, similar to those you passed en route, it's clear some aspects haven't changed so very much.
Tohsang Khongjiam Resort &Spa | Meals: Breakfast

Day 11 - Ubon Ratchathani/ Champasak
It's a short hop to the Lao border at Chong Mek, and a fascinating new country. After a quick pause to freshen up at the River Resort, with beautiful river views from the villas set in lush gardens, discover the cultural highlight of a visit to southern Laos: Vat Phou, an ancient Khmer temple complex dating back to the 5th century. Explore this atmospheric mini-Angkor nestling into the hillside, delicate carvings still discernible on its crumbing ruins.
Tohsang Khongjiam Resort &Spa | Meals: Breakfast

Day 12 - Champasak
Turn south and board a private boat for an exclusive tour of Si Phan Don –the '4,000 Islands'. Though that number is an exaggeration, these lovely river islets offer genuine insights into rural Lao life. Explore the picturesque island of Don Khone by bicycle, tracing the route of an abandoned railway and admiring old French colonial buildings and the beautiful waterfalls of Liphi and spectacular Khone Phapheng, where millions of litres of water dash against the rocks and surge into Cambodia.
The River Resort | Meals: Breakfast

Day 13 - Champasak
Venture into the misty heights of the Bolaven Plateau, a cool highland region famed for its plantations of strawberries, spices, tea and coffee –and, yes, for even more dramatic waterfalls. Visit both tea and coffee plantations as well as admiring Tad Fane, an impressive twin-chute waterfall thundering over 100 metres down steep cliffs into a gorge, and beautiful Tad Lao falls, where you can lounge in the pool at the base of the cascade. Laos is home to a variety of minority peoples, and you'll meet a few of them with a visit to local villages en route back to Champasak. A cruise along the Mekong, drinking in the sunset (and perhaps a local wine or beer), is the perfect way to round off your adventure in Laos.
The River Resort | Meals: Breakfast

Day 14 Champasak/ London

From Champasak you'll head to the regional airport for the regional hop to catch your onward flight back to London.
Meals: Breakfast

Pricing

At A&K all of our journeys are individually tailored to suit your needs and timescale. As a guide, this 14 day suggested holiday will cost from £2,995 per person, based on two sharing including international flights.

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Meet the Orient & Indian Subcontinent Team

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Annie, Brandon, Debbie, Margaret, Vicky Smith, Lynne and Rachel - are experts in designing travel experiences across the region to suit your personal needs, interests and budget.

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Useful info

Thailand Map

Best time to be there

November to March. April is often the hottest month of the year, and also the month of the celebratory 'Songkran' festivals. May to October is the rainy season, with short bursts of rainstorms refreshing the green paddy fields once more.

Fly to

Bangkok (British Airways/Qantas/Eva Airways/Thai Airways)

flying time

11 hours 30 minutes non-stop

time difference

GMT +7 hours

Visas

Not required for UK passport holders

Health Requirements

Yellow Fever certificate if arriving from an endemic area

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