12 Apr 2015 - 25 Apr 2015
If you are wondering whether or not you should take this trip, don't think--just do! You'll never regret it. This is by far the most incredible trip I've ever taken. From the culture, art, food, water sports, people and of course, your amazing tourmates, this is the trip to end all trips (and be the envy of your friends). Two weeks pass by in a flash, but you get a great mix of big city, landmark highlights, nature, history and laughter, not to mention the once-in-a-lifetime experiences and interactions.
My highlights: riding an elephant in the jungle, waterfalls in Laos, giving food to the monks, seeing the sunrise over Angkor Wat, tubing in caves and playing with monkeys... here are some of my photo highlights from Laos:
If you get a chance, go around the Songkran New Yr Water Festival (April 13th or so), which is super humid/hot, but there's a great water fight in the streets of Thailand, complete with supersoakers, partying in the streets and crazy adventures. Our tour guide, Jeenah, was awesome, really fun and knowledgeable about the local culture and hot spots. If you really wanted to, you could just relax and do your own thing, but I recommend doing the optionals, as they were all pretty amazing. There were a few times that you'll have to wake up super early (like 4am) for alms giving to the monks and checking out Angkor Wat, but we were able to beat the crowds (and heat), and the scenery was incredible. This is the second Contiki trip I've taken (1st was Europe), but this trip was really unique as you get to check out the countries by train, tuk tuk (motorcart), bus and boat--so you get a whole different experience than just by bus. To put it simply, be prepared to have your mind blown by everything you see and experience, from the gorgeous art of the temples to the sad genocide museum of Cambodia, to the simple beauty of the Laotian landscape, and even the crazy partying in Thailand.
Food: Thailand--amazing snacks and street food! I was really wary of the drinks, as I was trying to avoid ice (to be safe), but found out later that the ice in Thailand is made with filtered water, so enjoy those fruit smoothies--they're incredible! Laos, try the street crepes--yum! In Cambodia, avoid street food, as the quality isn't so great and you may get sick. Though, in the restaurants, you could get an amazing slab of steak for under $8. Cambodia has a unique "Kampot pepper", which is pretty pricey if you get overseas, but is cheaper there, and has amazing flavor. Also, if you have a weak stomach, stay away from salads and dairy, as it's so hot there, you never know...
If you love shopping, you'll definitely enjoy this trip--everything is super cheap. Luang Prabang is where you could get more handmade, unique items (silk scarves!) and Cambodia/Siem Reap, you'll find great prices for silver jewelry, clothes and other souvenirs. Haggling for the prices is super fun.
Mobile connection in Laos is really spotty at best. Also, English is not really spoken much, so I'm glad I created this Visual Guidebook beforehand. This may be helpful for you too--just point to the pic and smile :)
-Mosquito wipes/spray and lotion (if you get bit)
-Temple Wear: Depending where you go, you'll need a couple tees and pants/capris that cover your knees. You could always buy something there too
-Trainers/tennis shoes: You'll have to walk up hills and some rocky areas; some of my tourmates hurt themselves while wearing flip flops
-Small packet of vitamins/medicine: With the constant go-go-go, lots of folks get sick...
-Earplugs: on the overnight train, this comes in handy
-Tissue paper and wipes/purell: some bathrooms don't have the essentials or soap/running water
-Currency: Cambodia is the only spot that widely accepts American dollars as well as Riel, so be sure to get local Thai and Laos currency as they don't really take the other ones. Small bills are best as most places won't have much change.
Good luck and happy travels!
Review written Jul 2015event 0.3
07 Jan 2015 - 20 Jan 2015
This trip went so quick, but loved every minute of it!
It was a great way to experience every countries culture, history, food, their nature and beautiful monuments.
The trip also allowed plenty metime options to ride an elephant, hug a tiger, go water tubing in caves and much more!
The highlight was seeing Ankor Wat Temple in Cambodia and definitely just how beautiful and kind the people in Laos are.
I went in January and it was very hot, bring LOTS LOTS of undies as you will go through 2 a day from all the sweating! There was 2 places in Thailand up high in the mountains where it was raining and very cold and our group was not prepared for such a dramatic change in weather so bring 2 spare warm jumpers or jackets and warm pants.
Review written Jun 2015event 0.3
10 May 2015 - 23 May 2015
Asia is absolutely beautiful an amazing. Hot, but it's so worth it to go. Asian Adventure is a great taste and intro to 3 great cities and I can not wait to go back for more. The trip is a highlights trip - only twice do you spend more then 1 night in the same city. Laos is a huge surprise, it's now one of my favourite countries. The only downfall was free time was limited - you would get 1-2 hours at most in between contiki's planned activities which was never enough time to venture too far away from the hotel to go see/do something that Contiki doesn't take you to. There are a lot of temples, an temple wear in Asia is dreadful but each is different, and fascinating so go to them all! Do as much as you can as the 2 weeks go by super fast and you want to get as much in as possible. You can always rest and sleep on the plane back home.
Review written Jun 2015event 0.3
04 Jan 2015 - 17 Jan 2015
This trip was my first time travelling overseas by myself and I honestly had never been so terrified/nervous/excited in my entire life! As quite an introverted person I was worried about going by myself and having to make friends, but going by myself ended up being one of the best decisions I have ever made! I met so many amazing people on this trip, and it was easily the best two weeks of my life! Our tour guide Danny was amazing!! He had such extensive and helpful knowledge on everywhere we went - make sure to to go to his restaurant recommendations in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, they were off the beaten track and so delicious! Make sure to bring at least one jumper and pair of pants and some wet weather clothes, we had really unusual weather in Laos and we were all permanently drenched and cold for the majority of Prakbeng and Luang Prabang! Enjoy Vang Vieng, it was easily my favourite place on the entire trip. Go to Kangaroo Sunset and talk to all the staff there, they all have incredible stories to share, and make sure to write your name on the wall! Definitely do all the optional extras as well, like tubing and kayaking in Vang Vieng as they made the trip so much better! Also, on your return flight home, don't book it too early in the morning. Everyone gets absolutely crazy on the last night and I made the mistake of booking a 9am flight from Siam Reap and then having an 8 hour stopover in Bangkok airport hungover as hell without a wink of sleep. But most of all just enjoy it! It was one of the most incredible experiences of my entire life and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to go on this trip and to see so many amazing places and meet so many amazing people. My only regret is not continuing onto Vietnam with everyone!
Review written May 2015event 0.3
17 Dec 2014 - 30 Dec 2014
This was without doubt the best thing I've ever done! I would recommend this trip to anyone! It's action packed and full of wonderful little surprises. Our Contiki tour manager was an absolute Gem, he was so knowledgeable, always willing to help and hilarious! Thanks Soki. Hint: Do all the optionals, it's well worth the small amount of dollars for the unforgettable experiences!
Review written Jan 2015event 0.3
10 Dec 2014 - 23 Dec 2014
I originally decided to do a Contiki tour because it was an inexpensive way to travel through a country I was unfamiliar with. I had little expectations and large preconceptions before leaving. Despite this, I can honestly say that my preconceived doubts were blown out of the water. My Contiki experience was cultural, adventurous, scenic and exciting. Every day was something new and unforgettable. My guide, Kristen Schuster, was informative, caring and easily approachable. Kristen and her flawless organizational skills were impressive to say the least. All in all, I can’t wait to book my next holiday with Contiki.
Review written Dec 2014event 0.3
25 May 2014 - 07 Jun 2014
This two week trip through SE Asia has it all: Grand Temples, Buddha’s, Canal Cruise, Overnight Train, Monk Blessing, Thai Cooking Class, Hill Tribe Visit, Mekong River Cruise, Caves, Bike Tour, Snake Whiskey, Monk Feeding, Waterfalls, Elephant Riding, Kayaking, Blue Lagoon Swimming, Arc de Triomphe, COPE visit, Killing Fields, Karaoke, Quick Flights, Floating Villages, Tuk Tuks, Bug Eating, Night Markets, Angkor Wat Temples, lots of Food, SO MUCH FUN, and much more!
I’m a 26 year old male that traveled solo and ended up in a group of 13 from all over the world. This trip provides you with an authentic cultural experience in each of the countries visited. Everyone’s familiar with Thailand, but Laos and Cambodia were unknown gems. You see the amazing offerings of each country but also get to experience the more emotional side of their day to day lives by learning about what their ancestors have been through, and also their current struggles. You come to appreciate the simplicity of their culture and the happiness that they are so eager to share with you. From the city to the rural countryside this adventure is extremely well rounded. I don’t want to release any spoilers but there wasn’t anything on the itinerary that I didn’t enjoy, it’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster at times, but that’s a good thing.
Traveling with CONTIKI was great; they’ve really planned the itinerary around what young professionals would want to do/see. It was so worry free and easy that you truly get to focus on enjoying the experience of it all. The places we stayed were all really nice and in great locations, the Pakbeng guesthouse is the only ‘roughing it’ stop, but it was enjoyable as well.
This trip filled travel urges I didn’t even know I had and left me wanting to see/learn more about the areas visited, as all good travel should. Honestly, if you’re debating this trip, quit it and sign up now.
Top notch #CONTIKI, thanks to you and Allison our tour guide for the experience of a lifetime, I will be using y’all again in the future!
TIPS for this trip:
-If you go in the summer months bring BANDANAS, they’re great as sweat bands, which will be 24/7 but still worth it.
-Use sunscreen, their sun is strong.
-Find the bamboo bridge in Luang Prabang!
-Don’t drink the night before the drive to Vang Vieng, that’s the craziest road I’ve ever been on.
-Be sure the money you bring is crisp/clean US$, they often turn down old bills and won’t take them. Also bring an ATM card.
-At Utopia, when you take your shoes off, carry them with you, mine got stolen from the front entrance.
-When debating buying souvenirs you can wait until the very end in Siem Reap, their night market has anything and everything, so you don’t have to tote extras around the rest of the trip. Go ahead and buy some temple pants early on though, you’ll use those a lot.
-Do ALL of the Optional Add-Ons, they’re awesome, and probably some of the best experiences of the trip.
If interested you should be able to see my Public Facebook Album at the link below:
Review written Jul 2014event 0.3
17 Nov 2013 - 30 Nov 2013
I loved this trip. I always knew I wanted to go to Asia. This trip was the best introduction into how amazing Asia can be. I'm definitly addicted and want to go back.
Our tour guide was Amazing. She went above and beyond every day. Always giving us ideas of what to do with our free time so that we did not miss anything.
Our tour mates were great - always cracking jokes and the puns. We still keep in touch and are hoping to travel together in the future. The age group was all over the place once group younger one group older. But we all got along. I think there were 30 of us.
Do all of the optionals - If you are like me then #YOLO - How often will you be going back to the same places in Asia? Asia's huge.
Also Asia is cheap - the hotels are amazing b/c they are cheaper then Europe, food is usually $10 or under for a meal. Getting around town is generally under $10. Anything you ever wanted to do - will be more affordable in Asia. Side note - Bring American dollars with you or use debt at ATMs for $.
This trip is jammed packed. If you want to only sleep and party - this is not your trip, sleeping is not part of the deal. Also make sure you sleep before this trip. You will want to go out every night to experience all these amazing cities.
If you want a play-by-play of what is on this trip read my blog: http://andreamcgrath.com/?cat=7
This trip will be one of the top 10 highlights of my life :)
Review written Jun 2014event 0.3
07 Apr 2013 - 20 Apr 2013
This trip truly is an adventure! A lot of fun, but also educational. I love architecture so that was a treat. The group I traveled with were great to meet and get to know. They helped make the trip. The tigers are hard to resist if you get the chance of course. I went during the water festival, and ended up celebrating a little bit w/ the owners of a closed restaurant I unwittingly wandered into. Definitely an experience I'll never forget. I would definitely recommend it.
Review written Mar 2014event 0.3
10 Nov 2013 - 23 Nov 2013
Wow. I've been back from my trip for a few months now and I'm still in awe of all that I've seen and experienced. This trip is non-stop with each city showing a change in culture and different experiences. So many amazing things happened on this trip! To name a few: elephant ride, Thai cooking class, Thai boxing, blessing by a Buddhist monk, visits to countless and unique temples (including sunrise at Angkor Wat!), river boat rides, city bike ride, visits to the hill tribes and floating villages and jumping into a waterfall! This trip really shows you how happy people can be with so little and after suffering so much in past wars (the people of Laos especially being the happiest people I've ever met!) I feel so blessed to have met the people I did (both locals and my tour mates!) and have come back with a new outlook on life! I felt safe everywhere we went and with our amazing guide James, everything was taken care of. An incredible way to see everything you could possible want to in these 3 countries, with no hassle. Would highly recommend. This trip definitely makes you richer :)
Review written Feb 2014event 0.3
04 Sep 2011 - 17 Sep 2011
I went on this tour a few years ago in 2011 and I have just booked another Contiki because I had so much fun on the last one. My tour guide was Cam and he was a very knowledgeable guide but was also very relaxed which made for a really fun 2 weeks!
I met up with some fellow Contiki crew the day before the tour started at the hotel, which was a nice welcome to the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Bangkok was certainly an experience, although I was very glad to make our way north on the overnight train to Chiang Mai in the country. The train was a very different experience but loved it, I did feel sorry for the 2 monks we had in our carriage though.This felt like the real Thailand! I loved the Thai cooking class, and making big flames with my cooking! The Tigers were absolutely amazing, scary at first until I gave him a big belly rub.
The Long neck people in Chaing Rai was very eye opening as I had never seen anything like this before, and they were so friendly. We had a nurse on our trip which was helpful to the locals who had a sick little boy at the time.
The boat was a nice relaxing time, being able to chill out was just what we needed to prepare ourselves for the next week, a great time to read a book!
Pakbeng was a really cute little place, and glad we got to stop by there.The accommodation was nice, as Cam said about the bathroom "you can sit on the toilet, have a shower and brush your teeth at the same time" that's how small it was :)
Luang Prabeng was great fun, the elephants, the water falls, and a night out a Utopia! Riding bikes around the town was super fun with our local guide Tooey! I did miss out on the giving of the alms which is the only thing I regret about the trip ( I turned my alarm off in my sleep ) So make sure you go to bed at a reasonable time for this activity! Once again the accommodation was nice, and they even have a laundry service so take advantage of this!
The bus trip to Vang Vieng was a very long and adventurous journey. It was supposed to take 8 hours it took almost 13!!! These roads were very very very rough due to the wet season and landslides etc. So be patient and remember its about the journey not the destination. We had a lot of fun singing to old classics and taking in all the local village life. We came to a section of the road that was literally a river! we had to stop and take our bags out of the bottom of the bus and put them into the bus as the water was going to go through the baggage area, it was an unexpected event but gave us a real insight into how the Laoation people live. The locals took the flooding as a chance to go fishing, drink beer and laugh at the tourists is the bus!!
After a very long day we arrived in Vang Vieng, this place is amazing! the accommodation is set right on the river amongst some beautiful mountains.
One thing you must do is Vang Vieng is to split up into some smaller groups and go on a local tour. It cost about $15 AUD, but worth every cent. They picked us up from the hotel and took us to a local street and talked all about their way of life, cost of building a house etc. They then took us into some caves and into a water cave on tubes that attached to a rope with headlamps on, meanwhile it was pouring rain, so don't wear anything you care about, buy a Lao Lao singlet or something! I also recommend taking some sandals such as Teva, that way you can wear them in the water without them coming off. Thongs were kind of impractical at times. The we had lunch in a hut by the river which was delicious! Our guides took all of our bags and followed us down the river tubing, making sure we were all ok. I know this part of the trip has been taken off the itinerary, which is unfortunate but I can understand. I am certainly glad I had a local guide with me when we did this for extra safety.
Vientianne was nice, I think we were only there for a night so I don't recall anything too crazy! We did go to a restaurant that had amazing local food that supported a charity.
We flew from Vientianne to Pnohm Penh which was a nice change to a long bus trip. Pnohm Penh was crazy! We hadn't even pulled up to our hotel and young locals were selling us thing through he windows, such as books and sunglasses. This is great if you want some bargains, but be careful, they wont leave you alone!! The tour to the Genocide museum was sad, but its great to have a real insight into their history.
From Phnom Penh to Siem Reap was also by plane! They save the best till last, I LOVED Siem Reap, the accommodation was just beautiful!! Visiting the floating villlages was unique, great photo opportunity here. Siem Reap had some nice shopping and cafes, I even bought and ipad there! I was envious of everyone else with one which made swapping photos with each other a lot easier. So having a computer or some spare USBs is handy at this point as the trip is about to end. Angkor Wat was just crazy!! Especially drinking champagne watching the sunrise up over the landmark. It made getting up early that little bit more interesting!
The last night in Siem Reap will be the best yet as you have made some really great friends. Believe it or not you only met them 1 days ago and you wont want to leave them :(
I went on this tour on my own and don't regret that at all. I am still in touch with some of the girls and guys 3 years on, and plan more trips together as they are all like minded people. That's why your on this trip right?! To meet people from the other side of the world, gain more contacts for your next adventure, visit them in their country!
All in all this was a life changing trip as I am still talking about this trip, it gave me such an unforgettable cultural experience and I still use the Language I learned on the trip on Thai restaurants here is AUS. I recommend using their language as much as possible, just to see the smile on their faces!
I'm sorry for the long review, once I got started i just couldn't stop, so I hope this was helpful - things may have changed from my trip to your trip though.
My next tour is the Thai Island hopper East in April!!
Review written Feb 2014event 0.3
05 May 2013 - 18 May 2013
This trip was out of this world, truly. It was the first part of the larger Indochine trip that continued on to Vietnam...I didn't have 25 days to spare for the whole journey, but felt fulfilled with the three countries I did visit and the people I met on this trip. The tour manager was extremely knowledgeable and fun, had a balance between friendly and organized. We got local info at every new stop with helpful hints. The local guides were interesting and informative, really hilarious in most cases. Our hotels were way better than I'd imagined...all but one had WiFi and only one in Lao was a bit rustic. Expectations were exceeded from the first night.
I'd have to say I had slight reservations booking (being on the older side of the age spectrum) but it wasn't even a factor. Everyone was well-rounded and unique, all taking the trip for their own reasons and most were pretty experienced in travel. Since we kept a good pace to get from place to place, there was a lot of accountability, and people looked out for each other. Friendships were made. There was enough free time built in that you could explore a bit on your own or opt out of certain activities...but most of them were worth taking part in.
As soon as I returned home to see photos of myself hugging a tiger, riding on an elephant's back, playing in waterfalls, dancing in the rain, drinking snake whiskey, w/friends drinking/eating/dancing and just overall having the time of our lives...I realized I would definitely be taking another trip with Contiki. It's well organized and Contiki has made the right choices to maximize the time you have in the locations you visit. Someday when I'm much older and retired I'll take months leisurely browsing through areas...for now I like the pace and social aspect.
Review written Aug 2013event 0.3
12 May 2013 - 25 May 2013
Best time ever! First trip solo and it was so worth it. It was a wonderful experience throughout. Met wonderful people, learned so much about the history and the culture of all the countries I visited, and most importantly, made great friends. I've been back for over a month and can't stop talking about it. I would reccommend this trip to everyone.
Review written Jul 2013event 0.3
14 Apr 2013 - 27 Apr 2013
Travelling to these three countries was one of the most rewarding and eye opening experiences of my life, and I would seriously recommend the Asian Adventure to anyone. This tour provides the perfect mix between partying in the hubbub and excitement of Bangkok and Siam Reap and to the breathtaking sites in Veintianne and Chaing Rai socialising from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and in Pak Beng and the much needed relaxation element of every travelling holiday in Phonm Penh and Luang Prabeng. Not to be forgotten was the awe-inpiring journey along the mighty mekong river, Elephant riding in Laos and the truely unique and stunning white temple. As an added bonus you get a local tour guide with you nearly very step of the way as well as you tour manager, which provides the perfect mix between a travellers experience and a local persons view, not only did I come back more educated about the world but i returned with some amazing photos on facebook, a whole encylopedias' worth of facts and information, a novel worthy adventure, experiences I can brag to everyone I know about for years and most cherished: a more relaxed, open and accepting perspective on things not only in my own country but of the world. Worth every penny and honestly, honestly worth the 5 stars its received. In a word: #NoRegrets
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3
02 Jun 2013 - 15 Jun 2013
changed my life! road elephants through jungles
ate delicious food at every stop. many funny stories to take home
never boring, time to relax! amazing accommodation
tour guide was superb, the best part was the lifetime friends I've made!!
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3
28 Apr 2013 - 11 May 2013
What an amazing trip. These countries are truly different from any place I'd been before. Contiki are really good at creating these adventures that give you the opportunity to be thrown from your comfort zone, whilst still providing the support you need to make it a trouble free trip.
Laos and Cambodia are incredible countries, places that most people don't know anything about. There were several times in Laos when I felt compelled to compare it Never Land. Best experiences of the trip include, elephant rides in Laos, visiting hill tribes in Thailand, Thai cooking classes, market tour in Phnom Penh, bike riding in Luang Prabang, and the boat ride down the Mekong.
I had a great tour group, its the best place to meet like minded people, people who enjoy traveling. There are quiet a few people who do the trips solo, so its easy to make friends. The transport and accom were all great, so long as you remember you're in Asia. Our tour guide was brilliant, her knowledge of these countries was mind boggling, and she went out of her way to assist us in everything we needed. I highly recommend this tour. :)
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3
27 Jan 2013 - 09 Feb 2013
This trip was a life changing experience for me. Everyday was an adventure and i have to thank my tour guide Paddy for that. Even on our free days, he was organising activities for us to do, booking kayaks, bikes, tuk tuks for us. I don't think he ever slept! I know our entire group is so greatful for all his hard work. My favourite country was definitely Laos. And my favourite days were the elephant ride and the kayaking, caving and bike riding (not included). My group were amazing and i have certainly made some friends for life. We all became a family and got on so well. The hotels we stayed at went beyond what i expected. They were lovely. Everyday was a different form of transport. Not your typical bus ride tour. We went on boats, bikes, planes, tuk tuks, an overnight train and a few buses. I definitely recommend this tour! Especially if it's your first time overseas! You will be very well looked after.
Review written Feb 2013event 0.3
23 Dec 2012 - 05 Jan 2013
The name says it all -- Asian Adventure. The whole trip is just an ongoing adventure. You see a different side of Thailand not just the party party white beaches. Laos is one of the most beautiful places and must be visited (even though the tubing has been shut down); you will be pleasantly surprised. Cambodia is so full of history and surprises. I definately didnt want this adventure to end and wish I had continued the journey onto Vietnam. Highly recommended tour. Accommodation, views, travel -- nothing to complain about.
Review written Jan 2013event 0.3
23 Dec 2012 - 05 Jan 2013
Had the absolute time of my life on this tour and would definitely do it all over again! Our tour manager Hugh was fantastic, and really went the extra step to make our Christmas and New Years special.
The highlight of the trip definitely includes the cooking class, giving alms to the monks, the elephant ride and the nights out with my amazing tour group.
The tour covers so many different places and offers so many different types of travel - an overnight train, boat, bus and plane. It is definitely the way to experience South East Asia.
I would recommend this tour to everyone!
Review written Jan 2013event 0.3
22 Jan 2012 - 04 Feb 2012
The Asian Adventure was by far the most exciting and amazing experience I have encountered so far. The culture, food, sites we visited and the people on my tour made the experience a once in a life time opportunity. Asia has defiantly become a favourite place for me because of the times I spent travelling and exploring the three countries on the tour, and I know have a new found respect for the local people. I am so thankful for the wonderful memories this trip provided me with and the lifelong friends I made. I had the absolute time of my life!
Review written Nov 2012event 0.3