A land of floating markets, free-roaming elephants, a secret history of dark war, and some of the best food in the world. Travel by train, plane, and boat. Explore deep and dark caves, dive into crystal blue lagoons, and bike the rolling mountains of northern Laos. Learn about local agriculture, freedom fighters, and more. This whirlwind experience of Southeast Asia will leave you changed in more ways than you could ever imagine. It will challenge your cultural norms and give a renewed hope for humanity. It will awaken your tastebuds in ways you never imagined. No one should go through life without experiencing the rich, vibrant culture of Southeast Asia.
The day is open for arrivals, exploration, and relaxation. Enjoy time exploring the dizzying streets, ride a tuk-tuk, and eat to your hearts content. Grand Palace, China Town, Khao San Road, and more are all great landmarks. In the evening, we come together for dinner, introductions, a welcome bag, and trip overview. Later, feel free to explore the bustling night markets, perhaps even catching live music or karaoke.
Today we visit Samaritan Creations, a haven for victims of the sex trade industry in Thailand. Their mission is to provide restoration and empowerment so the women are able to build and sustain life outside of the darkness in their past. We spend time sharing stories over lunch, creating bonds sure to last for years. Next, visit with Pakistani refugees who fled their upper-class neighborhood in a night of terror, never to look back. The remaining time is allowed for exploring on your own. Night markets, shopping centers, and more span for miles.
Bangkok floating markets are world famous and not to be missed. Today we visit one of the most famous floating markets, known for it’s vibrant atmosphere. Try coconut pancakes, boat noodles, and try to not be overwhelmed with all the colors, smells, and cultural formalities as you float past the shops. In the evening, jump on the train for an all-night ride to Chiang Mai. Comfy airconditioned sleeper cars allow for private and safe travel to the next destination.
In Chaing Mai, see the famous Doi Suthep, a gold temple boasting panoramic city views. A tour of a Hmong Hill Tribe Village allows full immersion into another way of life. In addition to the historical treasures, there are plenty of shopping areas to explore and local food to taste, cat cafes, temples, and night bazaars.
Today, explore the famous Doi Inthanon National Park, part of the Himalayan mountain range. A mountain biking and hiking combo ensures an adrenaline-pumping day with breathtaking views. You will see coffee farms, Hmong villages, and more along this serene tour. A well-earned authentic Thai lunch is served before wrapping up and heading back to the hotel to clean up and enjoying a free evening.
Today, we make our way to the capital of Laos, Vientiane. A short 1-hour flight to Udon Thani followed by a bus ride (about 3 hours) into the capital of Laos has you on the next adventure. We begin our time in Laos with a visit to the COPE Visitor Centre to learn of the ‘secret war’ of unexploded ordinances and the ongoing – yes, ongoing – impact of war. During your time in this country, you are sure to see plenty of men, women, and children with missing ligaments. The COPE centre tells the story of why.
Today is spent learning of Laos agriculture, it’s history, and Agroasie, an organization working to empower the local farmers to keep more control of their earnings and crops. A visit to harvest centers allows more insight to the challenges in way of progress. A quick stop at a local school is a pause for fun and games. Afterward, relax, walk the historic Mekong River, and watch the sunset.
An early start on the road for Vang Vieng makes for a day packed with unforgettable experiences. Roughly 4 hour drive time into the mountains, past rice patty fields, and through local villages slows the mind down from the hustle and bustle in Vientiane. First, we hike into Tham Phu Kham cave. A short climb through forested hills and then into the limestone cliffside allows for amazing displays of stalagmites and stalactites. A labyrinth of chambers leads you deeper and deeper into the darkness, climbing over ledges and wading through water. Don’t worry – we provide a headlamp so you can see where you’re going and stay with the group. After tackling the darkness, reward yourself with a refreshing dip into the Blue Lagoon! Challenge your fear of heights by jumping off the tree into the crystal blue water. Next, make a quick 20-minute trip to the elephant sanctuary. Here, learn about the giant historic creatures while seeing them in their natural habitat. Explore, interact, and take pictures with the elephants in their natural environment. The sanctuary’s top priority is protecting the Elephants. It’s a perfect opportunity to experience and contribute to it’s preservation. At the end of the tour, we make our way back to Vientiane.
After several full days, enjoy a free day in Vientiane to explore, shop, and relax. May we recommend a traditional Thai massage, coffee and pastry at Common Ground, and a meal of the most famous Lao dish, Laab?
Today is departure day for those returning home, or for others, a travel day to Cambodia for another life-altering experience. Farewell, friends!
Interested in a private tour, alternate dates from what’s listed, or other questions or inquiries? We’d love to help!