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South East Asian Explorer Itinerary

Thrilling Activities, Culture and a Real Adventure Tour in South East Asia

For prices and more details about this trip please visit the South East Asian Explorer trip page.
All activities on this tour require no previous experience and although included, are optional. Lost Earth Adventures provides all instruction, equipment and plenty of staff, as well as entertaining alternatives to planned activities. Please see the info section on the trip details page for this tour’s grading.

Day 1 – Arrive in Chiang Mai

We arrive in Chiang Mai, set amongst dramatic mountains, lush countryside, and jam packed with over 300 temples. The walled city of Chiang Mai is truly the ‘jewel of the north’. With over 700 years of history, this is the perfect place to wander through hidden back alleys and stumble upon ancient chedis, temples and ornate teak houses. The rest of the day will be yours to explore this visually striking and laid back city.

Spend the evening discovering the Chiang Mai nightlife. Explore the many wares of the famous Night Bazaar or cheer for your favourite fighter at a Muay Thai match. Indulge in a Thai Massage or sample the local street fare. Chiang Mai has some of the best food in Thailand! Classics like Khao Soi are not to be missed and for the intrepid, why not try a Chiang Mai specialty… fried grasshoppers anyone?
In the evening we’ll have dinner at a local restaurant. You will be met at the airport by your trip leader.

Day 2 – Rock Climb in the Mae On Valley or Learn to Cook Authentic Thai Cuisine*

Rock climbing – We escape the city and head into the Mae On Valley (1 hour). The stunning 60-metre limestone cliffs of Crazy Horse Buttress await us. It is quite simply, the best place to rock climb in Northern Thailand. We don helmets and harnesses, spending the day climbing with members of the Thai National Team and internationally qualified instructors.

Learn how to cook authentic Thai cuisine – even better, you’ll get to eat it too!

You’ll explore a local market, picking your produce and making a series of dishes, from classic curries, to spicy starters and sweet desserts learning from experienced professional chefs.

*The choice of activity is yours and is included in the price of the tour.

Day 3 – Mountain biking in Doi Suthep National Park or visit an Elephant Nature Reserve and Sanctuary*

Mountain Biking – We ascend by 4×4 jeep to the summit of Doi Pui, high above Chiang Mai. We begin our descent of over 1200 metres on rarely used trails through pine forest, deep jungle, and remote villages, past waterfalls and along mountain ridges. A well-deserved lunch is provided. From first time mountain bikers to expert, down Smuggler, Highlander or Hunter – the choice of descent is yours!

Up Close with Elephants – Visit a nature reserve dedicated to helping abandoned and neglected elephants. Here you’ll feed, bathe and walk with these gentle giants in their natural habitat. Informative, responsibly ran and highly rewarding.

*The choice of activity is yours and is included in the price of the tour.

Day 4 – Through the Golden Triangle to the Land of a Million Elephants

Driving through the infamous Golden Triangle (where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet), we head to the Thai/Laos border, crossing the mighty Mekong and entering into Laos by ferry. Visit the calming Wat Jom Khao Manilat, get a Laos/Swedish massage at the Laos Red Cross or watch as the sun sets over the Mekong. We spend the night in the market town of Huay Xai.

Day 5 – Up the Nam Tha

Early dawn greets us as we embark upon traditional wooden boats, beginning our 200km journey up the remote and rarely travelled Nam (river) Tha. The river carves its way into the centre of Laos, through dramatic limestone cliffs, jungle and villages – places only accessible by boat or foot. It is here that life goes on, much as it has for centuries past. We’ll stop in a traditional Thai Lue Village and have a picnic lunch along the river bank. We will spend the evening in the homes’ of our boatmen, experiencing traditional family life in the village of Ban Kon Kham.

Day 6 – Nalè to Luang Nam Tha

Wake up to tea and a hearty breakfast before we continue up the Nam Tha. We’ll reach the tiny village of Ban Nalè before lunch. Afterwards, we take a local ‘songthaew’ down dirt roads towards the northern city of Luang Nam Tha, close to the Chinese border and surrounded by the magnificent Nam Ha Protected Area. We have the option to take bicycles and visit the surrounding rice fields and tribal Lanten villages – known for their weaving and hand dyed cotton. We spend the evening here in a local guesthouse.

Day 7 – The Road to Nong Khiaw

We drive to Nong Khiaw, a sleepy town along the Nam Ou nestled between majestic 5000ft high limestone mountains. Seek out the caves where locals hid during the Vietnam War or alternatively, this is the perfect spot to sit back and watch the world go by. We spend the night in wooden huts next to the quiet river.

Day 8-10 – Trek into the Jungle

We take a boat one-hour up river and arrive in Muang Ngoi Neua. It is a small fishing village set amongst a dramatic backdrop of limestone mountains, dense jungle, fields of rice paddies and hidden caves. After lunch we trek for about 3 hours to Ban Phayong, a small Hmong village and will relax here as the sun sets in the distance. The Hmong in this village practise both Animism and Buddhism.

Traditionally the Hmong are excellent hunters and we might see villagers coming back from a hunt carrying homemade guns and arrows with bamboo grubs, wild birds and other wildlife. In the morning we will continue with a local Hmong guide through the forest, jungle and citrus fruit trees, stopping by the Nam Ou for a picnic lunch.

The Khmu village, Ban Sop Kong is just a short ways away, across the river. We’ll drop off our belongings at our home stay before trekking through rice fields and narrow footpaths to a hidden waterfall, surrounded by the dense jungle canopy. This is the perfect place for a refreshing swim and the chance to perfect your river bathing skills!

After a night spent in Ban Sop Kong we’ll travel back to Meung Ngoi Neua via a small fisherman’s boat. The afternoon is free to relax in your hammock or explore the surrounding area at your leisure. There is a fantastic cave a short 40 minute walk from the village, which you can swim in and explore for several hundred metres.

Day 11 – The Mighty Mekong to Luang Prabang*

We continue our adventure onto one the most spectacular river journeys in the country, converging onto the Mighty Mekong – the lifeline of Laos. After stopping at the holy Pak Ou Caves, we’ll arrive in the UNESCO-protected ancient capital, Luang Prabang.

Luang Prabang is World Heritage listed, and for good reason. The former royal capital has outstanding examples of temples and traditional Laos architecture, alongside buildings with a distinct European flair, reminiscent of when Laos was part of French Indochina. Combine this with a fantastic night market, great food and friendly locals and you’ll understand why we love this town as much as we do! Luang Prabang is small and best explored on foot.

*Please note that there has been a recent development and completion of a dam between Nong Khiaw and Luang Prabang, which means that the full journey between the two cannot be made entirely on boat. There is an option to take road transportation and join the Nam Ou by boat after the dam so there is still opportunity to visit the Pak Ou Caves and experience the beautiful scenery on the river.


Day 12 – Luang Prabang and Kuang Si Waterfall

For centuries, in the calm of early morning a procession of hundreds of monks from the town’s 33 temples have walked the streets, clad in orange robes collecting alms. Devoted Buddhists specially prepare and offer food to the passing monks and they eat only what is given to them in this daily procession. This is an awe-inspiring and incredible experience to witness.

After a hearty breakfast, we will continue onto the fairy tale-like Kuang Si Waterfalls. There is the option to take a 2-3 hour forested walk through organic citrus farmland of banana, papaya and oranges, sugar cane fields and thick jungle to the source of the falls. From here you can see incredible views of the 50 metre high turquoise rush of water, before heading down to its gently cascading pools. Welcome to paradise! It is here that we’ll stop for lunch and have a well deserved and refreshing swim.

In the evening we’ll indulge in a traditional Laos BBQ, and have the rest of the evening free to relax, explore the markets or experience the nightlife.

Day 13 – Vang Vieng*

In the morning we will drive to Vang Vieng, a sleepy town, surrounded by superb karst crags and caves, situated along the Nam Song. The road to get there is winding but it is one of the most beautiful roads in SE Asia.

Vang Vieng is an adventurer’s playground! Whether you’d like to indulge in a ‘memorable’ tubing experience, explore some of the nearby caves, go rock climbing on the crags, cycle to surrounding villages, visit a hidden blue lagoon or simply relax and beat the midday heat along the river, the choice is yours.

*Activities mentioned are not included in the tour price.

Day 14 – Kayaking on the Nam Lik 

We begin kayaking in the village of Hin Heup, starting a relaxed paddle down the Nam Lik, passing by jungle and local villagers. Continuing further, the rocky banks become steeper and the river faster moving. We then scout our line before descending a set of grade 2-3 rapids!

A traditional Laos style lunch is served on banana leaves along the riverside. We have time to relax, swim or for a pure adrenaline rush, jump off a 60-foot cliff! We kayak for a little while longer on tranquil waters before heading back to Vang Vieng. We stay overnight here.

Day 15 – Fly Home

Unfortunately it’s the end of this adventure. Lost Earth Adventures tour services end after breakfast. Transfers to Vientiane Airport are complimentary. See you next time!

Go back to the South East Asian Explorer trip page.

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