On this program you will travel to the dynamic capitals of Thailand (Bangkok), Laos (Vientiane) and Vietnam (Hanoi). This trip spends a large portion of it’s time in the hidden gem that is Laos. Lesser known than its neighbors Laos was once known as the Land of A Million Elephants. You’ll have the opportunity to visit amazing Buddhist temples and bustling night markets, cruise on the Mekong River, explore majestic caves and endless rice fields, swim under cascading waterfalls and kayak below gorgeous karst mountains.
For this program GEEO will be partnering with the National Resource Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Accompanying the trip will be Jessica Hill Riggs, their academic programs specialist. She holds a dual master’s degree in Southeast Asian Studies and Public Policy from the University of Michigan. Her research interests center on the role of civil society organizations in creating social change in Myanmar and Thailand. Her work has specifically focused on issues of Buddhist social activism and environmentalism, human trafficking prevention, and community-based development. She will share some of her knowledge with the participants and lead discussions on how to bring these travel experiences into the classroom.
Today is arrival day so there are no activities planned. You are free to relax, explore the city & adjust to the frantic pace and humid heat of Bangkok. Please arrive at our start point hotel before 6pm for an important group meeting where you will meet your tour leader and the other group members. Please look for a sign on the hotel’s notice board for the time and location of your group meeting.
At this meeting your tour leader will ask to see your travel insurance, check that you have a visa for Vietnam and complete some other paper work. Please note that you MUST arrive on tour with either your Vietnam visa or the completed paperwork for your Vietnam visa on arrival. Please refer to the visa information section of these trip notes for more information on obtaining your Vietnamese visa. After your meeting, you may choose to head out for an optional dinner to further get to know your tour leader and fellow group members.
We spend this evening in Bangkok. Our hotel is located in Chinatown, next to the central train station and MRT (Subway), and is only a short taxi ride from Khao San Road and the central shopping area of Siam Square, MBK, Siam Paragon, etc.
Enjoy a one-hour long tail boat tour of Bangkok’s famous klongs, or canals. Our boat trip finishes at the Royal Temple of Wat Po. Our included guide will introduce you to Thai Buddhist culture and show you the famous reclining Buddha. When your guided tour ends there will still be time for some afternoon shopping, a visit to the Grand Palace or a stroll through the backpacker area. We will meet back at the hotel within easy walking distance to the train station where we board our overnight train to Chiang Mai.
Tonight’s accommodation is an overnight sleeper train. Beds are dormitory style, with bunks on two layers along the side of the train carriage. There are curtains along each bunk for privacy. Your luggage will be accessible during the journey. The train has air-conditioning and clean bedding is provided for each bunk. There are both Western style and Asian style toilets at the end of each carriage. Food and drinks are served on the train but you can always bring your own food from the shops and restaurants in the train station.
Approximate travel time: 12-13 hours on overnight train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.
Please Note: Due to disruptions of Thai trains in the north during the monsoon season, we may end up needing to use alternative transport.
We arrive in the early morning and have free time to explore for the rest of the day. To fill your free time you can chose from a large range of optional activities or stroll the city independently. Surrounded by rolling hills, Chiang Mai is the cultural center of Thailand. Enclosed by a moat and crumbling walls, the old city features great cafes, shops and over 300 temples. Many visitors come here to attend cooking courses, massage classes or yoga lessons. It is also a mecca of handicraft production, with a long history of silverwork, woodcarving, pottery-making and weaving. The fun does not end when the sun goes down because Chiang Mai has a wonderful night bazaar. The bazaar is a series of covered markets, shops and stalls that offer the best selection of handicrafts in Thailand.
En route to Chiang Khong we visit Wat Rong Khun – the dazzling White Temple.This unconventional Buddhist temple was designed by prominent Thai painter-turned-architect Chalermchai Kositpipat. Be wowed by the temple’s contemporary exterior made up of a mosaic of mirrors. View the interior walls that have a pop culture and sci-fi influence. Find murals of Batman, Superman, Predator, and the Matrix.
We spend one night in Chiang Khong, a small border town which is a part of the trade route between Laos and Thailand. Wander the local food market or sit back and enjoy the slow pace of life as we spend our last evening in Thailand.
Approximate travel time: 5 hours by private transport.
We cross the river border today to Laos by small local boats to Ban Houay Xai and Lao Immigration. Once we have completed the immigration process we take a songthaew (local bus) to our traditional slow boat. As we travel down the Mekong River you slowly adjust to the relaxed pace of life in Laos. A predominantly mountainous country, we have unsurpassable views of the riverside villages, the tropical jungle and the mountains.
Our private boat is reasonably comfortable and spacious. A toilet is available on board. Fruits, tea and coffee, are provided free of charge for you to enjoy. Other drinks, such as water and soft drinks are all available for purchase on the boat.
We overnight in Muang Pakbèng village, a stopover for local traders heading to Luang Prabang. For travelers the town offers an interesting vibe and a good introduction to Laos. Our guesthouse is located some 200 meters from the pier.
Approximate travel time: 30 minutes by private vehicle, 8-10 hours by riverboat depending on river conditions.
Continue down the Mekong for most of the day. We approach Luang Prabang in the late afternoon. Before arriving, we will make a stop outside of town at the Pak Ou caves. This dramatic cave houses thousands of Buddha statues and images and is considered an important spiritual sight by many Lao people. After our visit, we re-board the boat and continue to Luang Prabang, arriving around 5pm. Located at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers, Luang Prabang is one of the loveliest towns in the whole of South East Asia.
Approximate travel time: 8-10 hours by boat depending on river conditions.
The center of the UNESCO world heritage listed town is quite small and is accessible either on foot or by bicycle. You can visit the most impressive of Luang Prabang’s 32 temples including Vat Vixoun, Vat Sene, and Vat Xiengthong. You can pack a picnic to eat on Phousi Hill and watch the sun set over the horizon or rise at dawn to watch the monks walk through the city collecting offerings of food from the locals. Take an afternoon to browse the many textile galleries and relax and enjoy a local coffee in one of the town’s cafes.
We take a tour of the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center – a great chance to learn more about the dress and customs of the local people. We also make a half-day trip out to the stunning Kuang Si waterfalls. Don’t forget your swimsuit. During our stay, we will enjoy a traditional Lao meal in a local home partaking in a traditional Buddhist ceremony and enjoying some Lao delicacies.
We also visit Ock Pop Tock “East Meets West” Living Crafts Center on the banks of the Mekong River to learn from the artisans about Lao handicrafts and the importance of woven textiles in Laos culture.
Enjoy a free day exploring all Luang Prabang has to offer. Options include cooking classes, temple visits, massages, night market shopping, bike riding, and hiking.
Today we embark on a scenic drive through winding mountains to a small village to experience a local homestay. Enjoy traditional Laotian food while getting to know your host family. Here, your local guide will explain the life of the people in this village.
Typically, the group is divided into 2 or more homes in close proximity to each other. Mattresses are placed across the floor in the central living area for sleeping. Each mattress will also include a blanket, pillow and a mosquito net. Bathroom facilities are shared.
The evening meal is eaten together in one of the houses. The food will be very simple and an excellent opportunity to experience typical Lao cuisine. A vegetarian option will be available.
Approximate travel time: 7 hours on a winding mountain road by private transport.
Move to a hotel in Vang Vieng for the night, an ideal location for exploring the limestone karst vistas of the surrounding countryside by bicycle or kayak. There is also the option to go caving.
A drive out of the mountains takes us to one of Asia’s sleepiest capital cities. Enjoy the highlights of Vientiane including Wat Sisaket, one of the city’s oldest and most fascinating temples and Phat That Luang, Lao’s national symbol and one of her most sacred sites. For those who like to shop, don’t miss the Morning Market, which, incidentally, is open all day!
Approximate travel time: 3 hours by private transport.
A short flight on day 12 takes us away from quiet Laos and into the bustling city of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. A leisurely walk through the Old Quarter perhaps followed by a traditional Vietnamese meal are the perfect way to start your visit to this diverse country.
We spend two nights in Hanoi. Our hotel is located in the Old Quarter.
Approximate travel time: 1.5 by plane, 45 mins by private vehicle.
Today we visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, his Presidential Palace and House on Stilts. The Mausoleum houses the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of unified Vietnam.
During the afternoon you will have free time to explore this beautiful city. Visit the Tran Quoc Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, the Museum of Ethnology, or just take a walk through Hanoi’s Old Quarter – a virtual maze of fascinating streets, each one traditionally devoted to a different product or industry. Late afternoon or early evening, we attend a performance of Vietnam’s famous water puppets before sampling one of Hanoi’s amazing eating venues. Ask your tour leader to tell you more about the local Northern delicacies.
Depart at any time.
Want more adventure? Book two or more GEEO trips in the same year and receive a discount! GEEO will give you 10% off of the lesser value program(s) (up to 3 programs).
If you don’t see a program that interests you that pairs with this trip, but still would like to extend your time abroad, let us know. We will work with you to find a non-teacher trip from our tour operator’s much larger catalog. Even better, if you are an educator we can still offer you a discounted price on the trip you choose!
Visit our recommended reading page to see the list of books GEEO recommends reading before your program (this is not required reading). We also have lesson plans and Pinterest boards that may be useful for you as you learn about your destination and prepare to bring lessons back to your classroom.
It is very important for you to visit our Terms and Conditions page before signing up for this program.
All cancellations must be submitted to GEEO in written form by emailing your request for cancellation to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not receive a confirmation that we have received your written cancellation request, please call us at 1-877-600-0105. Verbal cancellation requests will not be honored.
All GEEO/G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of G Adventure’s group leaders, which they refer to as Chief Experience Officers (CEO). The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are traveling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues, and introduce you to our local friends. Our itineraries often have plenty of free time to explore on your own.
While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds.
Trip includes light walking and hiking that is suitable for most fitness levels. The heat and humidity are biggest physical challenge. Make sure you stay hydrated!
Half of the people that travel with GEEO are traveling by themselves, so please don’t worry if you have no one who can join you on your trip. Our pricing is based on double occupancy or, in other words, two people to a room. You never have to pay for a single room unless you want one. GEEO can find you a roommate of the same gender. Most of our trips have a “My Own Room” option, also known as a “Single Supplement,” which is an extra fee that will allow you to have a room to yourself. If you want to room alone, please email email@example.com. To see the price for the “My Own Room” option, please click here where you can look up your trip in the extra services spreadsheet.
Day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned. Upon arrival to the city on Day 1 (or earlier if you have booked pre-accommodation with us), please make your way to the joining hotel. Please note: Check-in time will be in the afternoon. Once you arrive at the hotel, look for a note at reception from your tour leader. This note will give the details of your Welcome Meeting on Day 1 (usually between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.), where you will get a chance to meet your tour leader and other travelers, as well as learn more about how the tour will run. If you don’t see a note, please ask reception for details!
When you arrive at the airport we recommend taking a taxi to the hotel.
Some of our programs have an optional airport transfer that can be paid for in advance. If you book the airport transfer, someone will meet you at the airport with your name on a sign and will take you to the hotel. To see the price for an airport transfer, please click here where you can look up your trip in the extra services table.
Should you need to contact G Adventures during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call their local office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so that they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
Emergency Contact Details:
G Adventures Local Office, Bangkok, Thailand
Open Weekdays 9am – 5pm (ITC)
From outside Thailand: +66 2 381 5574
From within Thailand: 02 381 5574
After office hours Emergencies:
South East Asia Managers: +66(0)870496074 (Bangkok, Thailand)
If you are experiencing complications with your Bangkok airport transfer that was booked through G Adventures please call: +66 81 847 3034 (081 847 3034 from within Thailand) or +66 86 339 5881 (086 339 5881 from within Thailand)
If you are unable for any reason to contact their local office, they have a toll-free line within North America (or our regular direct line), which will connect you directly with their Toronto office. In the event that you cannot get through, you can reach a member of their Operations department at the mobile number below.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Outside North America: 1 416 260 0999
Please read this article on GEEO’s blog for our staff’s suggestions on the best gear to pack for your upcoming travels. You must be prepared to carry your own bags and be comfortable carrying them up and down stairs, on and off transportation, and to hotels. As a rule we try not to have to walk more than 15-20 minutes with your bags, which is why we recommend keeping the weight of your bags between 22-30 lb. Most travelers carry a backpack or rolling bag of small to medium size. No XXL bags please! A daypack is also essential for carrying everyday items. Space is limited on transportation, so there is a limit of one main piece of luggage per person plus a daypack per person.
There may be a weight restriction for the internal flight on this tour. Each passenger is allowed to carry one checked bag with a maximum weight of 15 kg (33 lbs). Additional bags or excess weight charges may apply. These charges are the responsibility of the passengers.
Laundry facilities are offered by some of our hotels for a charge or ask your group leader where the nearest laundromat is. If you want to do your own laundry, we suggest you bring your own non-polluting/biodegradable soap.
All GEEO trips require that the participant have a valid passport. Please see our general FAQ for information on obtaining a passport. As with all of our trips, we try to provide the most accurate information we can, but governments sometimes change visa rules. It is your responsibility to double check the information we provide below by searching here.
For Thailand, Americans do not need a visa for stays of less than 30 days. Please check with your nearest Thai Embassy if you are not American.
Your tour leader will assist with the arrangements for your Laos visa at the start of your trip, so you do not need to get it advance of your departure. You will need 3 passport pictures, and it costs approximately $50.
Americans need a visa for travel in Vietnam and must take care of this before arriving in Vietnam. There are a few ways to get a visa, but our suggestion is to purchase one ahead of time online at this website:
The cost is $25, and it should take 3 days to process.
You will need this info when filling out the form:
“Intended date of entry”: Look carefully at our itinerary for the correct date.
“Purpose of entry”: Tourism
“Intended temporary residential address in Viet Nam”: Church Boutique Hotel Lan Ong in Hanoi
“Name of hosting organisation”: Wide Eyed Tours
“Address”: Add: No 48, Lane 76, Yen Phu Street , Tay Ho Dis, Hanoi , Vietnam
“Allowed to entry through checkpoint”: Noi Bai International Airport
“Exit through checkpoint”: If you fly home from Hanoi, you would enter Noi Bai International Airport. If you are continuing onto our Vietnam/Cambodia program, please enter Moc Bai Landport.
You will need to scan or photograph the ID page on your passport as well as a passport photo. Make sure you print out the visa and bring it with you on the trip.
If you are going on both our Bangkok to Hanoi and Vietnam/Cambodia programs you will most likely be ineligible for the evisa as you will be entering Vietnam twice and will exceed 30 days in country from the start to end of the visa. In that case you will need to get a visa on arrival pre-approval letter and then purchase the visa when you arrive in Hanoi at the airport. We recommend going to myvietnamvisa.com and purchasing their 3 month multiple entry approval letter ($43) with the private approval letter option clicked ($8). At the time of writing (8/7/19) the total fee for this should be $51. You then pay another $50 when you arrive at the airport.
Non-American participants should check with their government or nearest Vietnamese Embassy to find out if they need a visa.
Please be aware that you will require 3 clean pages (minimum) in your passport and at least 6 months validity for this trip.
As currency exchange rates fluctuate, we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com. ATMs are also widely available that distribute the local currency, and this is what we recommend as your primary source of cash while traveling. Please make sure you bring at least $200 USD in cash as emergency money just in case you have trouble with the ATMs or lose your bank card. Major credit cards are accepted in most shops, but they may charge a 2-4% transaction fee. Travelers checks have security advantages, but they can be difficult to change. Visa and MasterCards are useful for cash advances in an emergency situation. Please note that, if you are carrying U.S. Dollars, they should be in good condition (i.e., not torn, wrinkled, or marked on in any way) and printed recently.
It is customary in Asia to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is expected – though not compulsory – and shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is an opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. You may do this individually, or your tour leader will offer to collect the money and tip as a group. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from $1-$2 USD per person per day, depending on the quality and length of the service. Ask your tour leader for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture. Also, at the end of each trip, if you felt your G Adventures tour leader did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference, but we recommend using $20-$25 USD per person per week as a guideline.
We legally cannot give you any medical advice. It is very important to consult your doctor or a travel clinic about which vaccinations you will need for your trip. Please take this seriously!
We often find the best prices for purchasing flights is 60 days before departure, but of course this varies greatly from route to route and year to year. You must wait until this trip is confirmed with the minimum number of required participants before you book your flights. Typically, we reach the minimum number needed at least 90 days before departure. GEEO and G Adventures bear no responsibility for any flights purchased before the trip is confirmed. You can find out whether this trip has been confirmed here.
Your trip begins in Bangkok and ends in Hanoi. Please double check our itinerary for the date by which you must arrive in Bangkok and the earliest time you can depart Hanoi.
There are two components to provide external power to your device: adapters and transformers. The adapter is the plug, adapting the prongs on a standard U.S. two to three-pronged power cord to match the prongs required by the local outlets. The transformer changes the local voltage to that required by your device.
Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam use a combination of both American and European outlets, known as type A and type C plugs. In all three countries the voltage is 220-240 Volts. U.S. outlets are 120V. Most new devices (phones and laptops) can handle the different voltage rates, but some devices only work on the U.S. standard of 120V. Check your device to see what voltage range it handles. Most transformer blocks will have an “Input” line that defines its voltage capacity. For example, “Input: 100-240V” means that it will work on voltages from 100V to 240V. If your transformer can’t handle the different voltage, you’ll need to purchase a voltage converter. You can find world regional voltage converter power packs at various vendors.
Before you decide on traveling with GEEO it is important that you read all of the information about the program you are considering. Remember, our programs are quite adventurous.
Hopefully this is the kind of adventure you are interested in!
While it is our intention to adhere to the routes described on our website, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable, to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The information on our website is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
“I would recommend a cooking lesson at the ‘Little Hanoi’ cooking school. It is amazing and the instructor ‘Tin’ is a culinary artist. Our guide recommend it to us… and it was phenomenal, one of the highlights of the trip, and we stumbled into it on the last day. It’s run by a small family, and ‘Tin’ is their head chef.”
“Even though this trip is rated for a person of average fitness, some of the days were fairly challenging, and I am reasonably fit. I was fine, but some people in the group struggled. I would just mention that you should make sure you can climb a steep hill (embarking and disembarking from the Mekong) and lug your bags around.”
“Stress packing light. Those people who didn’t really regretted it! Mention how HOT is is, so people pack appropriately. Women need appropriate clothes for visiting temples. Make sure you bring Sunscreen and bugspray!”
“I wish I had known where the swimming pools were in advance!”
In parts of Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand, the wet season runs from around May to October. The wet season is characterized by a downpour for a few hours each day rather than all-day torrential downpours. The advantages of this season are somewhat lower temperatures, cleaner air, and smaller crowds.
Please keep in mind this trip offers some free time to pursue activities that interest you. Make sure you look over all of the optional activities and note these additional costs when deciding whether you can afford this program. The prices below are in U.S. Dollars and are rough estimates for budgeting your trip.
See price in top right corner
Roughly $1,000-$2,000 USD
If you require assistance in booking your international airfare we would be happy to help you.
Please note it is mandatory for all of our travelers to have Emergency Medical insurance that covers both emergency evacuation and repatriation to the sum of $200,000 USD. We also strongly recommend purchasing cancellation insurance as well.
$50 for your tour leader, another $30 total for other tips like local guides and drivers.
Variable. Make sure you budget for these types of expenses.
Variable. Please consult your doctor.
$50 for Laos, $45 or $70 for Vietnam
Variable. At your personal discretion.
$100 USD (Suggested donation)
This is only for non-educator guests traveling with an educator on a GEEO trip. Educators and retired educators should not make this donation.
Most optional activities are booked and paid for locally in the local currency. You do not have to decide in advance for which activities you would like to sign up. The prices listed are based on the latest information we have received from our participants and G Adventures. They are not guaranteed to be accurate. Please feel free to use them as a guide for budgeting your trip.
Grand Palace: $11 USD
Jim Thompson’s House: $3.50 USD
National Museum: $1.50 USD
Royal Barge Museum: $1.50 USD
Wat Po: $2 USD
Klong (Canal) Tour: Approx $10-$30 USD, dependent on numbers
Thai massage: $10 USD per hour
(Keep in mind that we have a relatively short amount of time in Chang Mai.)
Bicycle Tour: $30 USD for half day
Thai Cookery Course: $30 USD for half day
Kan Toke Traditional Dinner: $30 USD
Bamboo Rafting: $15 USD plus transport
Royal Theater: $6-$12 USD
Cooking Class: $25 USD
Wat Xieng Thong: $1 USD
Pak Ou Caves: $12 USD including transport
Wat Phu Si and other Temples: $1-$2 USD
Half-day Cottage Industry Tour: $5-$8 USD
Bike Rental: $2 USD
Kayaking Trip: $15-$20 USD
Temple Entrance Fees: $1 USD
Buddha Park: $1 USD plus transport
National Cultural Museum: $2 USD
Hoa Lao Prison, aka “Hanoi Hilton”: $1 USD
Museum of Ethnology: $1 USD plus transport
Temple of Literature: $1 USD
Fine Arts Museum: $1 USD
Women’s Museum: $1 USD
Army Museum: $1 USD
Taxi (to each museum): Approx $3 USD