South East Asian Odyssey Tour Itinerary
Adventure Tour Through the Best of Thailand and Laos
For prices and more details about this trip please visit the South East Asian Odyssey 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.
Welcome to Bangkok, a pulsating city of fascinating contrasts! Glistening temples stand beside towering skyscrapers, while traditions of the past mix with a modern cosmopolitan metropolis. Bangkok with its soulful charm is a city you won’t forget.
You will have the afternoon free to discover hidden temples, energetic markets or indulge in authentic Thai street food! In the evening we’ll have dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 2 – Wat Phra Kaew & Grand Palace
In the morning we will explore the awe-inspiring ancient home of the Thai Royal Family. The Grand Palace is nothing short of amazing and also holds Thailand’s most sacred site, Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
The afternoon will be free to explore. In the evening, we will drive via mini-bus to Ayutthaya, the old capital of Siam.
Ancient monasteries, ornate temples, and well preserved ruins dot the landscape of this once thriving ancient capital of Siam. Ayutthaya was destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century and the remains of this UNESCO World Heritage Site give a glimpse of the splendour of its past. Day 3 will be spent exploring this laid-back city the best way possible – on bicycle! Or, for the Easy Rider in you, rent a scooter, hit the open road and discover this ancient land.
Tantalise your taste buds at one of the best food markets we’ve ever discovered! The Bang-Ain night food market stretches for an incredible half-mile selling everything from fresh grilled fish and hand picked mango to the classic Pad Thai, all using the freshest of ingredients. This is a food lover’s dream!
Overnight 1st class, a/c sleeper train to 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?
Day 5 – Rock Climb in the Mae On Valley or Learn to Cook Authentic Thai Cuisine*
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 6 – 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.
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.
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 or get a Laos/Swedish massage at the Laos Red Cross. We spend the night in the market town of Huay Xai.
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.
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 10 – 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.
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.
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.
We continue our adventure onto one of 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.
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.
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 18 – 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.
We have the morning free in Vang Vieng before heading to Vientiane and onwards to the border. After border formalities we will take a 1st class overnight sleeper train back to the frenetic streets of Bangkok.
Day 20 – Bangkok
We arrive in the morning and have one last day free to explore this incredible city. Shop ‘till you drop at MBK or Asia’s largest market at Chachuchak, cruise the narrow back-roads of Chinatown, treat yourself to a traditional Thai massage, eat from the fantastic street food stalls, discover Bangkok’s canals and waterways, find absolute bargains at the Night Market and the backpacker haven of Khao Sahn Road or just sit back and see where this fantastic city takes you!
We’ll have a group farewell dinner at a local restaurant in the evening.
Day 21 – Fly Home
Unfortunately it’s the end of this adventure. Lost Earth Adventures group services end after breakfast. Transfers to the airport are complimentary. See you next time!
Go back to South East Asian Odyssey trip page