Thailand & Laos
Our fascinating Thailand and Laos tour combines one of Asia’s best-loved destinations with its least well known neighbour. We also explore some of the lesser known corners of Thailand - the scenic far north and the Golden Triangle, as well as the haunting remains of the Burma-Thailand railway. We finish by spending some wonderfully relaxing days on the beaches of the Gulf of Thailand. Selected departures continue to Luang Prabang in Laos - with its quaint French colonial buildings and a charmingly slow pace of life set in a charming riverside location on the upper reaches of the Mekong.
Bangkok is one of Asia’s most vibrant cities. Outwardly it’s ultra-modern, with soaring glass skyscrapers and luxury shopping malls, yet at heart it’s a traditional Buddhist society, full of hushed street corner shrines and neighbourhoods of small houses nestling around communal courtyards. We visit all the major sights including the extensive Grand Palace, home of the revered Royal Family, site of the amazing Emerald Buddha, as well as discovering the city’s more intimate riverside life.
Heading west to the province of Kanchanaburi, better known by its most famous river, the Kwai, you’ll see the poignant site of the Bridge over the River Kwai. This was just one of many bridges, viaducts, cuttings and embankments built under horrific conditions by thousands of Commonwealth POWs on the 415-mile ‘Death Railway’ between Thailand and Burma. You’ll cross the bridge itself and visit Hellfire Pass: a walk along the huge railway cutting is a deeply moving experience.
Remarkably, Thailand was the only country in SE Asia not colonised by the West, so an exploration of its unique history is an intriguing journey: our tour visits Ayutthaya, the ancient capital city of Siam for five centuries. Going back in time even further to Thailand’s golden age we’ll discover the ancient 13th century Sukhothai kingdom, exploring some of the most interesting sites in its beautifully maintained Historical Park.
Chiang Rai, bordering Burma and Laos, is located in Thailand’s beautiful ‘Golden Triangle’. Once the centre of extensive illicit opium production, today the region’s ethnic communities have transformed their way of life – mainly through the efforts of the present King’s mother. A keen gardener, she supervised the creation of a beautifully landscaped garden that’s arguably Thailand’s finest. The cooler temperate climate is perfect for a huge range of highland flora, including rare orchids.
One of the highlights is the two days we spend in the hills just outside the city of Chiang Mai, the slightly higher elevation affording a welcome respite from the tropical temperatures. A walk through the old city gives a glimpse of its glorious past as capital of the 18th century Lanna Kingdom. You’ll visit Chiang Mai’s most famous temple, Doi Suthep, with its superb views and there will also be time to relax in our beautiful resort.
Then we fly back down to Bangkok and drive to the Gulf of Thailand for three relaxing days on the tropical shores of Hua Hin at the five-star Dusit Thani Resort.
On these selected dates we explore Thailand’s lesser known neighbour, Laos. After decades of isolation under communist rule, Laos has gradually opened up and is wonderfully devoid of mass tourism – it’s like stepping back in time! Luang Prabang is its cultural capital – it’s a unique and remarkable blend of traditional Lao wooden buildings and intricately decorated temples with delightful French colonial villas. At dusk, the main street metamorphoses into a charming open-air market attracting the many minority tribes from the surrounding hills. Stroll along ‘food street’, a long narrow lane full of sizzling barbequed Mekong fish, multi-coloured salads, noodles and vegetables, all freshly prepared in a vibrant kaleidoscope of colour, rushed activity and mouth-watering aromas.
One of the real highlights of any visit to Asia is its cuisine. You’ll have plenty of chances to sample some typically Thai and Lao dishes, both in your hotels and at the bustling food stalls at the night markets, especially in Chiang Rai and Hua Hin. Bangkok has virtually every kind of cuisine you could wish for, whilst Luang Prabang is famed for its excellent restaurants offering a fusion of French and Asian menus.
It’s no surprise that Thailand is known as the land of smiles – the people are genuinely friendly, polite and welcoming. So come with us and explore the cultures, scenery, cuisine and people of these two amazing and very different countries.
- A superb tour combining two of Asia’s most enchanting countries, with amazing scenery, wonderful cultural legacies and some of the world’s most engaging people
- Return scheduled flights from London Heathrow and Mancheter
- Premium economy flight upgrades available from Heathrow
- Stay in four and five-star hotels, including a charming riverside eco-lodge
- Visit the poignant WWII memorial at Hellfire Pass on Burma’s ‘Death Railway’, travelling by train over the infamous ‘Bridge on the River Kwai’
- Stay in vibrant Bangkok visiting the Grand Palace and stunning golden Wat Pho temple
- Travel through Thailand’s famed scenic countryside, tracing the Kingdom’s history to Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, two of its most significant historical sites
- Tour the unspoilt beauty of northern Thailand and the Golden Triangle close to the Burmese border
- Spend three days relaxing on the tropical shores of the Gulf of Thailand at the excellent five-star Dusit Thani Resort
- Tour and explore Luang Prabang, the incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site in Laos, acknowledged as SE Asia’s best preserved colonial town
- Daily breakfast and eight lunches included
- Escorted by our experienced tour manager
- WHAT'S INCLUDED
- The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Scheduled return flights to Bangkok; domestic flights as mentioned; all transfers; fifteen nights accommodation in four & five star hotels, plus an eco-lodge; daily breakfast & nine lunches; guided tour of Bangkok, visit to a floating market, visit to the River Kwai bridge & train trip, Hellfire Pass, guided tours of Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Lampang, Chiang Rai, the Golden Triangle & Chiang Mai; guided tour of Luang Prabang; hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person; the services of a Riviera tour manager.
- NOT INCLUDED: Laos visa
- All British passport holders require a visa for Laos, available on arrival in Laos at a cost of $36 per person. Please ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months from your arrival date and that there is at least one completely empty page. Visa fees are subject to change without notice. All British passport holders do not currently require a visa for Thailand. Whilst care has been taken to ensure that the information provided relating to visa requirements is true and correct at time of publication, changes in requirements after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information. Therefore, whilst we strive to provide the most up-to-date information, we strongly suggest that you re-confirm requirements with the relevant embassy prior to application.