Actually there is none with this trip! The passes do not include accommodation because you can choose how long you want to stay in one place and where. If you want the tour leaders to book you a bed, it is no problem, you can do it on the bus as you travel. This way we make it easy for you and you do not have to look around in the hot sun to check out accommodation options and haggle on prices.
Get off the beaten path and visit Laos! Let us take you off the beaten path on our backpacker trip in Laos. Starting in Bangkok Thailand, you can head through one of the most rewarding countries in South East Asia, and experience the joys of tubing, waterfalls and mind boggling scenery and beer Lao!
Backpacking in South East Asia: Trip Highlights
Backpacking in South East Asia´s incredible Laos, Cambodia and Thailand!
Discovering mountain villages, with incredible views and a country set back in time in Laos. Find out why people rave about Luang Prabang and Vientiane on our blog and not forgetting there is the awesome tubing experience, drifting down a river in an inner tire stopping off at bars and rope swings all the way down.
Cambodia will amaze and horrify you with an incredible history and people. See the horrifying S21 Genocide museum in Phnom Penh, relax on an undeveloped island in Koh Tunsay and speed down an abandon railway on a bamboo cart.
BACKPACKING IN SOUTH EAST ASIA HIGHLIGHTS:
- Trek to mountain villages, see a way of life less known, and most of all be greeted by a heart warming “Sabaidee”
- Travel on trains, buses, longboats and tuk tuks up Thailand and around Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, the friendliest and least discovered country in Asia!
- This is the first guided bus travel network in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam! Connect from Thailand on trains and traverse Laos from north to south to Cambodia and then on to Vietnam, or choose a section that appeals to you.
- We have an extensive range of South East Asian bus tours and travel passes for all time frames.
- Your pass is valid for 12 months so take your time to explore!
- ´Jump-on´ and ´jump-off´ the trip anywhere that you want along the way around our comprehensive route.
- Go further off the beaten track and save money with unique down-to-earth stops, local culture and amazing activities.
- Travel with like-minded people, and get guidance from our legendary guides and local drivers.
- Our guides organise your accommodation at each overnight stop from guest houses, backpacker hostels, budget hotels, ecolodges and camping.
- Backpacking in South East Asia trip time depends on the pass you take you can do it in 10 days or 3 weeks or even longer if you need. Starting in Bangkok, you can travel to Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, enjoying a free day in Chiang Mai, before meeting Xtreme Gap crew private boat in Huay Xai, Laos. A superb combination with any of our Thailand programs you can experience a whole different side to Asia.
MAKE IT A BIGGER TRIP!
By combining exciting programmes like the Xtreme Thailand Experience at the start and finishing with the Vietnam Experience you can turn these trip in to an epic adventure!
Did you know you can add Vietnam and Cambodia to your itinerary with our South East Asia Xplorer? Check it out!
Vietnam is an assault on all the senses, breath in the amazing smell of the coffee plantations in Da Lat, Taste amazing Pho, see incredible locals at the Ban Ma Thout home stay, hear the incredible story of the Ho Chi Minh trail in Vin Moc and touch beautiful golden sand beaches and the finest silks in Hoi An.
Backpacking in South East Asia Photos
Backpacking in South East Asia: Full Details
The ancient former Thai capital of Ayutthaya was founded in the early 1300s and quickly became one of world´s largest trading ports. History tells of a lavish city, laden with golden palaces, huge monasteries and temples. The city was burnt almost to the ground in 1767 when the Burmese invaded, and today only a fraction of the impressive city remains. In 1991 the significant cultural value of this historic city´s ruins were recognised when it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Pha Tok Cave The Pha Tok Caves were used by the Laos people as a secret stronghold and hideaway from the America bombings during the second Indochina War in the 1960s and 70s. The cave was accessed by a long bamboo ladder, of which the remains can still be seen today.
- Pak Ou Cave Located on the convergence of the Mekong and Ou Rivers north of Luang Prabang, Pak Ou Cave is an ancient pilgrimage site containing thousands of Buddha images placed there over hundreds of years.
- Tham Jang Cave Tham Jang Cave is one of many limestone caves located near Vang Vieng in central Laos. The cave was used as a bunker during the war in the early 1900s and is now a popular sacred site for the locals. A crystal clear spring is located deep inside the cave, which is a popular swimming spot.
- Tad Leuk Waterfall – Tad Leuk Waterfall is a popular but uncrowded swimming spot situated inside a national park. The picturesque flat, sandstone waterfall is surrounded by native flora and fauna and lots of bush walks.
- Kong Lor Cave Situated underneath tall karst mountains, the 7 kilometre long Kong Lor Cave is lined with beautiful limestone stalic tights and stalic mights. Travel through the pitch black, windy cave by guided narrow boat using headlamps to see. The river is also popular for swimming in.
- Mahaxai Caves Located 12kms west of the town of Thakek in southern Laos, Mahaxai is a complex of caves in the surrounding limestone mountains. This is also a popular mountain climbing region and eco tourism site.
- Turtle Lake or Hong Dao – Located on the Xe Champhone Wetlands in south, central Laos is a large lake important in local mythology because of the many turtles that live in the lake. These turtles are considered sacred.
- Hotay Pitok Library- Located on the Xe Champhone wetlands is an old Buddhist Repository where thousands of Buddhist manuscripts written on reeds and bamboo are stored.
- Tad Ngeuang – This waterfall is located on the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos. It is one of the highest waterfalls in the region and you can take a refreshing swim in the pools.
- Wat Phu – located in Champassak Province in southern Laos was the capital of the Khmer Empire before it was moved to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Vieng Thong Hot Springs – located in western Laos these natural hot springs are popular with the locals for the treatment of all sorts of ailments. You can take a bath with the locals or cook an egg in the boiling waters at the spring source.
- Vieng Xai Caves – located in western Laos near the Vietnamese border this complex of caves was the stronghold and head quarters of the Phathet Lao during the Secret War during the 60’s and 70’s.
- Plain of Jars – located around Phonsavanh in western Laos, these giant stone jars litter the countryside around the township. No one really knows their origin or use but there are a number of local legends shedding light on the story of the jars.
Along the way, we stop to see and do cool things which are included with your trip but you might also want to do some extra activities too! With a Travel Pass you pay-as-you-go for these activities. Your Tour Leader will be able to recommend activities at each destination and you can book these through your Tour Leader and pay directly to the operator.
Meet your Tour Leader back at the Stray Bangkok Shop in the morning to depart for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya. We arrive mid-morning, allowing you plenty of time to explore the ‘Venice of the East’ by bike or boat.
Ayutthaya is the former capital of the Siamese empire and was once a grandiose city, but many of the ancient monuments were ruined when it was attacked by an invading army. Nevertheless, it is still a fascinating historical park that offers a glimpse of bygone splendour. This afternoon we board our overnight train and head for the city of Chiang Mai.
- Overnight train or bus
- Bike or boat trip around Ayutthaya Temples.
- Temple entry in Ayutthaya
We arrive into Chiang Mai train station between 8am – 11am. Chiang Mai is a popular place to hop off for many travellers and an amazing city full of endless activity options, such as Thai cooking classes, bike tours or Muay Thai kickboxing. There are over 300 Buddhist temples to discover, you can visit the old walled city, see the Tapae Gate or pick up a bargain at the famous night market and check out the lively music scene.
Today is free for you to explore this historically rich city or partake in one of the many adventure activities on offer. If you’re looking for a bit of adrenaline we recommend Thailand’s most popular activity, the Flight of the Gibbon. This is an amazing tree-top adventure where you’ll swing like a monkey (or gibbon) and zip, fly, climb and crawl your way through an amazing jungle playground on the longest zip-line in Southeast Asia. This evening you can enjoy dinner at one of the many great restaurants then browse the night market, take in a ladyboy show or the Muay Thai boxing or head out for a few drinks with friends.
This morning we depart Chiang Mai to head for the Thailand-Laos border. We’ll make a stop near Chiang Rai to check out the famous and intriguing White Temple (Wat Rong Khun). Wat Rong is a unique modern Buddhist temple that features some curious statues and murals that include images from Star Wars and The Matrix, Freddie Kruger’s head hanging in the trees and a giant Predator emerging from the garden. We stop here long enough to grab a snack, stretch our legs and take a few photos before we continue on to cross the border into Laos. Once in Laos we take a short tuk- tuk ride into the chilled out town of Houay Xai, our stop for the night.
Leaving Houay Xai you’ll board our private slow boat up the Mekong River to the tiny secluded village that will host you for an overnight homestay experience. Sit back and soak up this incredible journey as you wind your way through lush farmland, thriving jungle and rugged mountain scenery, drifting past water buffalo, locals fishing, and kids splashing in the shallows. We arrive in the village in the late afternoon. Here you will get a taste of traditional Lao village life by staying with a family in their home. Experience a special Baci (welcoming) Ceremony, swim in the river, visit the school and help the kids with an English lesson. Play a game of football with the kids, explore the local temple, go fishing and don’t forget to try the local whiskey.
We wave goodbye to the village and jump back aboard our private boat to head downriver to the famous limestone Pak Ou Caves. Pak Ou is an important pilgrimage site for Lao people, and here you will see thousands of Buddhist images that have been placed throughout the caves over hundreds of years.
Jumping back on board our boat a short trip takes us to the UNESCO World Heritage town, Luang Prabang. Luang Prabang has an old world feel that gives you the sense you’ve stepped back in time into a picturesque postcard setting.
The fusion of French colonial architecture with traditional Lao design set against a backdrop of misty mountains and lush green jungle makes this a truly majestic place.
Today is free for you to enjoy all this UNESCO World Heritage town has to offer. Luang Prabang is home to the National Palace Museum, Wat Xieng Thong (the oldest monastery in town), and has many ancient Buddhist temples and sacred sites to explore.
Many people take a trip to the famous Kuang Si waterfalls, where the bright turquoise spring waters looks like it’s been photo-shopped, or you can get hands on and become an organic rice farmer for the day on the Rice Experience.
You can spend the day cycling or trekking to rural villages, take a cooking class, and tonight head to the night market for a hassle-free bargaining experience and some delicious cheap local food.
It’s an early start as we head south through mountainous terrain, on one of the most scenic journeys you’ll experience on the Laos travel route.
Travel past mountain hill-tribe villages, vast green valleys and rolling hills; and we’ll make a special stop at the ‘loo with a view’. Our journey today takes us to the little riverside town Vang Vieng, best known for being the spot where you can take tubing trips down the Nam Song River stopping along the way at riverside bars and enjoying the beauty of Vang Vieng’s landscape as you float downstream. Upon arrival into Vang Vieng start partying or kick back and watch re-runs of old TV shows playing at the bars around town!
With its stunning natural scenery, adventurous outdoor activities and reputation for a party scene, it’s no surprise that Vang Vieng is a popular spot for travellers. The tubing experience is more sedate now than in days past, but it’s still a real highlight to float down the river soaking up the beautiful mountain surrounds. Aside from tubing, Vang Vieng offers great rock climbing and kayaking options. We also recommend visiting the Blue Lagoon, one of the best natural swimming holes in Laos. The fun doesn’t stop after an adventure filled day either! This evening, check out one of several international restaurants for a taste of home or head to one of the bars to really get the party started.
River tubing, cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, caving, visit the Blue Lagoon.
Today we cruise through to the capital of Laos, stopping at the impressive Tham Jang Cave that was once used as a bunker in the 19th century during a Chinese invasion. On arrival in Vientiane your tour leader will point out the city’s main attractions including Putaxai, Pha That Luang, That Dam, the Presidential Palace, and the COPE centre – a non-profit organisation that educates visitors and raises awareness for victims of UXO (Unexploded Ordinance) and the Secret War. After check-in at our centrally located accommodation, you are free to explore the city, get a massage, go shopping, or people watch at one of the local restaurants by the river.
Today you will be collected from your guesthouse in Vientiane mid-afternoon and be taken by tuk-tuk to Thanaleng Train Station. Here you clear Lao customs; pay your departure fee then board a connecting train which takes you over the friendship bridge to Nong Khai in Thailand.
You complete Thai immigration at the train station and have time for a meal or drink across the road before boarding the overnight train to Bangkok.
Your journey finishes when you arrive in Bangkok in the early morning.
Accommodation is not included with your travel pass, giving you the flexibility to stay where you like. Your tour leader will reserve a bed for you at our preferred accommodation in each destination if you request it. If you would like to stay at the preferred accommodation, just let your driver know, and pay on arrival. The option of a shared or private room is usually available. Our preferred accommodation is a mix of family-run guesthouses, hostels, homestays and hotels. If you choose to hop-off and stay a few nights, it is your responsibility to book the extra nights.
A Rough Idea of Price
All of our gap year holidays are completely customised to your needs and prices will therefore vary based on things like the time of year and level of accommodation; but we want to give you as good an idea of how much this itinerary will cost.
16 Days - Tom YumBook Now
36 Days - Mekong PassBook Now
- Pre departure information
- Pick up at different locations in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia
- Reservations for extra tours and accommodation will be made by the guide
- Flexible hop on hop off Tour Pass
- All Transportation
- Services of the Tour Leader
Frequently Asked Questions
Light clothes for the wet season (May Oct) and something warm for the dry season (Nov Mar), especially for the north of Laos and Thailand; a good travel medical kit supplied by a doctor (for any inconveniences, dietary or otherwise); your travel insurance details; sunscreen; bug repellent (at least 30% deet content); girls – a sarong for swimming in remote areas, Lao culture requires modesty; a poncho or light raincoat (it can rain even in the dry season in the north), shoes/trainers for walking and a good sense of adventure!
The best (and easiest) way to carry gear around Laos is in a sturdy backpack. You can bring a suitcase with wheels but you may find yourself dragging it down a dirt track! Bring a smaller day pack so you can carry bug repellent, a camera, sunscreen and water.
things may change depending on the group, driver, season and local conditions. On our bus routes you can break your journey and spend longer anywhere along the way.
We pick up from selected locations in each town (specific accommodation places and our offices). You need to advise us before 5pm the day before you want to depart where you want to be picked up. Please login to your bookings to confirm your departure time and place. Please note we do not visit all departure points every day, only if we have confirmed pickups, so please ensure you let us know where you will be waiting.
Western food is sparse outside the main centres of Laos so be prepared and open minded about eating local food. At our stops we recommend tasty restaurants but when you get into local villages and home stays be prepared to eat simple local fare, with maybe the odd wildcard ingredient (which is part of the fun). Supermarkets are not the norm but we will point out places where you can stock up on food for the day. Please note vegetarian meal options are not always available but excellent fruit and vegetables are plentiful at the local markets.