Maximise your time in South-east Asia by taking an overnight flight from the UK.
On arrival in Chiang Mai, meet your A&K guide for transfer by private vehicle to your hotel. During the three-hour journey, you can choose to stop at the charming Mae Kajan hot springs and the famous Wat Rong Khun – also known as the White Temple – an intricate art exhibit. The last leg of your transfer is by riverboat, taking you along the Ruak past atmospheric bamboo jungle and delivering you to the Four Seasons Tented Camp. This remote retreat overlooks three countries and features just 15 tents.
Today, take advantage of the Four Seasons’ excellent activities. Join a guided excursion to the Golden Triangle, beginning with a longtail-boat ride on the iconic Mekong. Cruise to where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet, before hopping onto dry land for a journey by tuk tuk or songthaew. You’ll visit the historic Buddhist temple of Chedi Luang and stop by a bustling market. Alternatively, head to the hotel’s ethical elephant camp to learn all about the loveable pachyderm and its conservation, while meeting the local population of Asian elephant.
It’s an early start today as you cross from Thailand into Laos. Meet your A&K guide in the hotel lobby, who will transfer you to Chiang Khong on the Thailand-Laos border in a private vehicle. Then it’s over the Friendship Bridge to the slow-boat pier in Huey Xai. Board the Luang Say boat for a relaxed cruise down the upper Mekong River, stopping in Pakbeng this evening at the rustic but charming Luang Say Lodge, taking in images of rural Lao life along the way. Dinner is served on the terrace overlooking the Mekong River.
After breakfast, depart by boat for your journey to Luang Prabang. Your first stop along the Mekong today is at Ban Baw village where you can see a traditional hill tribe’s way of life. Your boat ride continues to the Nam Ou river’s mouth, where you’ll stop to visit the Pak Ou caves and their numerous small Buddha statues. Then it’s onward to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Luang Prabang. Arriving before sunset, you will be transferred to your luxury accommodation in time to enjoy a traditional baci welcoming ceremony.
Today, enjoy a farm-to-plate experience. Discover the types of crop grown here, lend a hand in a vegetable garden, then learn how to turn harvested rice into delicious kaopun (Lao noodles). Afterwards, hike through the forest to the nearby Kuang Si Falls. This three-tiered waterfall is famous for its sixty-metre cascade and inviting turquoise pool – just the place to cool off. Finally, head to Laos Buffalo Dairy. You’ll tour the farm, meet the buffalo, help feed the calves, and sample the diverse produce made from buffalo milk – everything from cheese to ice cream.
Rise early this morning to partake in the local, communal ritual of tak bat (the giving of alms to monks), before enjoying breakfast back at your hotel. Next, fly to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, for transfer by private 4x4 to the jungle resort of Shinta Mani Wild, part of the Bensley Collection. With an ethos of sustainability and conservation at its heart, this eco-luxe tented camp immerses you in nature. You can arrive in intrepid style with a zip line ride over a waterfall, followed by a glass of the resort’s signature cocktail.
Spend your next two days how you choose, taking advantage of the various exciting excursions and tailor-made activities available. You can join wildlife rangers on an anti-poaching patrol; navigate hidden backwaters by kayak; mountain bike between villages; or forage in nature’s larder accompanied by expert naturalists. Then return to relax at your 15-tent jungle retreat, taking in views of verdant trees, sparkling waters and the sky peeking through the canopy.
Bid farewell to the Cambodian wilds and catch your flight to Myanmar’s cultural capital, Yangon. On arrival, meet your A&K guide for transfer to your hotel for the next two nights: Belmond Governor’s Residence. This charming, colonial-style mansion boasts a calming atmosphere throughout. In the evening, head out to experience the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda after dark. This millennia-old marvel looks even more spectacular when illuminated by hundreds of oil lamps and candles. Admire Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist sight as flickering flames reflect in its gilded, jewel-encrusted façade.
Today, discover Yangon's people and places as you explore the city on foot. Stroll along busy boulevards to admire a range of old-world architecture and learn about the cultural influences that have shaped this place. Stop at the iconic Strand Hotel for a drink and chat with Ma Thanegi, author and former personal assistant to leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi. Then browse a dazzling array of produce at the city’s biggest and busiest marketplace, Bogyoke Aung San Market, before meeting artisans who produce hand-made goods from homewares to jewellery.
After checking out, fly to Kawthaung – a town on the southern tip of Myanmar’s mainland. From the jetty you will embark on a luxury speedboat ride to the island of Wa Ale, nestled in the Lampi Marine National Park. This eco-resort, the first of its kind in the Mergui Archipelago, is surrounded by nature. Spend your days snorkelling and diving the abundant reefs and caves here; enjoying daily yoga classes; and witnessing the exotic marine life. Accommodation comprises just 11 tented beach-villas and three treehouses, giving you a real sense of exclusivity.
Say goodbye to South-east Asia today, as you return home full of tales to tell about this diverse region. Take the speed boat back to Kawthaung jetty, then depart from either Yangon or Phuket.