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“The details can’t be explained, they must be seen!…” Trip of the week: Asian Adventure

group of travellers enjoying a boat ride in South East Asia

Eager for a three country, 16 day love affair with South-East Asia? Absolutely chomping at the bit for some actually authentic asian food? Let Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos make all your dreams come true.

It’s got moss-covered temples, vespa and quad bike tours, boat rides through lush rice fields, elephant sanctuaries that actually take care of these gentle giants, and so much more! Introducing Contiki’s Asian Adventure, a trip that will showcase some of the best ofAsia! Not only will you be feasting like royalty for 2 weeks, you’ll also be making brand new friends, learning local phrases, and balancing history and thrill at the same time. This is an epic and tropical voyage that even Indiana Jones would be jealous of.

We caught up with Trip Manager Jasmine to discuss all the best deets of our Asian Adventure trip and her inside scoops did not disappoint! I’m currently researching how to get extra days off work… but you keep reading!

Can you give me 3 reasons why I’ll love this trip?

Culture. Nature. Historical Sights.

“You get a real taste of many facets of Asia’s culture. It’s such a big continent and we visit so many countries, so it’s new and different everywhere we go. Whether it’s diving into a cooking class or trying out Thailand’s national sport [Muay Thai] – you’ll get to sample everything. We also get to meet people from ethnic minority groups and learn about their way of life, and we’re also treated to seeing the Asian LGBTQIA+ community ‘shine like a diamond’ in the Chiang Mai cabaret show!”

“Then there’s the nature aspect. Asian cities are so cool, there’s no doubt about it, but the natural landscapes are just unbeatable. From swimming in a beautiful river surrounded by bamboo to stunning blue waterfalls, quad biking through rice fields and views from mountain temples. The amount of nature in the trip is exceptional, especially when at a glance, it may look like city hopping.”

“Lastly there’s just so much history that we get to explore. You can expect to see temples but there’s a lot of diversity within them. Each temple has its own purpose that reflects what life was like at the time they were built. Lots of them shine with gold, but then you have the twisted vines taking over the ruins at Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia. There’s even one that was built from broken porcelain tea cups back from the trading days in China. The details cannot be explained, they must be seen!”

Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia

Image source:unsplash

This trip is for me if…

“You want to get a great feel for Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, and by feel I don’t just mean the sights, but I mean a real cultural immersion. This trip covers so much, but we have all the time in the world to really deep dive and get our knowledge up!”

Feeling inspired?

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What’s the most spellbinding view?

Views in Laos.

“Laos is such an underrated country, but it’s just crawling with insane natural beauty – it doesn’t get much better! I can’t just pick one view in Laos, so I’m going to go with the view from the slow boat ride between rice fields and the view from our hotel in Vang Vieng.”

“On the boat ride we float between rice fields and, for those that don’t know, these rice fields are on mountains, and so the picture is one of rolling greenery reflected in mirror-like waters. It’s really quite stunning and not a lot of people expect much out of it but they’re always blown away.”

“Then our hotel in Vang Vieng is such a treat because it has beautiful views of the mountains. If you wake up early enough you can catch the morning mist or the sunrise over them and it’s a really special treat to get your day going!”

What’s the tastiest food experience?

The cooking class in Chiang Mai.

“This is such a hard question! But it has to be the cooking class in Chiang Mai with chef Perm. I don’t know how he did it but he was actually able to help me create the best Penang curry I’ve ever had – and I made it myself! Cooking classes are always the best because they’re held by real local and authentic chefs, and the food is always just delicious.”

“Other than that though there’s also loads of little restaurants in Luang Prabang which are so yummy and worth a visit. Two Little Birds has to be up there along with Phnom Penh and Fish Amok on the river. Food in Asia is so cheap and you can get the best noodles for basically nothing in your regular currency.”

Feeling inspired?

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The sweetest stay:

Floating hotel.

“We get an epic special stay on this trip in the form of the floating raft hotel in Kanchanaburi! You can literally jump into the water straight from your bedroom balcony and all the travellers get so excited about this.”

“The hotel is outfitted with hammocks and lanterns which light up in the evening in the most charming ways. This accommodation also scores extra points because it’s an eco-lodge so it’s planet-friendly and the staff and owners make sustainable choices in all facets of their hospitality. It’s great because it’s quite unique to Contiki as well – the hotel isn’t that well known so I think a lot of solo travellers may end up skipping over it…”

Best spot for culture vultures:

Luang Prabang in Laos.

“Luang Prabang is such a charming town dotted with temples everywhere. There are also hundreds of monks that live in the town so running into them is fairly common and if they’re not in a rush you can strike up a conversation!”

“Our included early morning alms giving to the monks is a special part of the trip, and it’s a beautiful thing to take part in that and really embrace the culture. Lao culture is such a well kept secret, it’s hard to know anything about it without going there yourself.”

Feeling inspired?

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Most jaw-dropping included experience:

Erawan falls.

“I’m such a nature lover, personally, so this entire trip is like a personal gift! But the visit to Erawan falls never fails to impress. It’s just incredible, and the waters are crystal clear and blue, like so blue it almost looks fake. These waterfalls look like they’re straight out of a Disney movie, honestly.”

The Free-Time Add On that’ll give my friends the most FOMO:

Quad biking.

“There are a few really cool and exciting FTAs on this trip, but one of the most exciting has to be the quad biking ride in Siem Reap. It’s so, so much fun. We get to ride through the rice fields at sunset and honestly you just haven’t lived until you’ve sat your little butt on one of these bikes and rode into the horizon!”

“The team there also gets great photos of the groups so you’ve got plenty of physical memories to take home with you and brag to all your friends and family about.”

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The thing that’ll surprise me most about this trip?

“How much of Thai, Lao, and Cambodian culture you really get to know, and just how well you’ll get to know the people. Half the fun of travelling is getting to meet people from all around the world, and you definitely get your fill of that here.”

“The trip is also slower than people think – even though we have so many activities planned we’re never in a rush. It’s nice to chill out, and we get to do that on the slow boat day for example: we’re travelling altogether that day, but you get to watch the beautiful landscapes go by and kick your feet up and just relax! Let the river take you where you need to go…”

If this trip was a song it’d be:

“‘Dreamer’ by Axwell. This song just fits the vibe so well with everyone travelling together and experiencing these dreamy places as a group.”

If this trip was a drink it’d be:

“The sweetest and coldest coconut water, straight from the fruit! A coconut just encapsulates the tropical adventure atmosphere of this trip so well.”

Describe this trip in 3 words:

“Beautiful. Cultural. Humble.”

Feeling inspired?

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What’s the funniest story you’ve ever heard/seen happen on this trip?

“All the ‘in jokes’ the groups pick up along the way will always be the funniest to me. Sharing these jokes is what makes each group unique to me, and it’s what helps them all bond as well, which is exactly what we want on Contiki!”

Which part of this trip makes you love your job?

“Just the fact that I get to share all the knowledge I’ve learned over the years. I’ve been doing this for 8 years now so I’ve really gotten to know Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia so well, and I love to be able to give my travellers fun and interesting local tips. For example, in Cambodia the locals like to say ‘Sok Sabai’ which means ‘how are you going?’, but if you say it backwards – ‘Sabai Sok’ – it still means the same thing but not many tourists know this. So, I tell my travellers and then the locals get a kick out of them knowing this obscure little fact!”

“Mostly, though, I just love to see all the genuine connections form, between the travellers themselves, but also between the travellers and the locals, and getting to be a part of that is so special.”

Bangkok, Thailand

Image source:Contiki

Is there anything I haven’t asked about this trip that you think I should know?

“Book the trip! It’s so worth it. And if you do, you should know that no matter how big of a Tomb Raider of Muay Thai fan you are, Laos will still be your favourite.”

Here’s what our travellers have to say:

“I loved all the activities and loved how the trip encouraged me to do things I normally wouldn’t have chosen for myself.”

“Thailand was great. Laos was absolutely unbelievable. Such a hidden gem, and the best place ever. And Phnom Penh in Cambodia is such an international city with amazing food.”

“This is the best trip I’ve ever been on alone. I got to meet great people from all over the world. The activities were all fun to do and never felt forced. Our Trip Manager provided great knowledge and hospitality everywhere we went. 10/10 would recommend!”

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