Quintessential Asia

Ticking off Thailand, Laos and Cambodia’s classic highlights in 14 days may seem a little ambitious and we’re not denying it’s a fast-paced itinerary. However, it’s an excellent introduction to the region and we guarantee you will want to return and delve deeper into each country.

You’ll visit five of Asia’s most iconic cities: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Luang Prabang and Siem Reap. Whilst there are some similarities (welcoming local people for one), each city boasts its own individual vibe, unique cultural highlights and tasty regional cuisine. A leisurely cruise along the mighty Mekong River in the middle of the trip gives you time to reflect.

At a glance
  • Feel the buzz of Bangkok on tuk-tuk safari
  • Snack on streetfood at a Chiang Mai nightmarket
  • Meet rescued elephants in their natural habitat
  • Cruise downstream on the mighty Mekong River
  • Learn all about rice at a community project near Luang Prabang
  • Explore Angkorian temples with an expert guide
  • Weave through Siem Reap’s streets on the back of a Vespa
Itinerary
Price & Hotels

Bangkok - 2 nights

Bangkok, Thailand’s capital since 1782, is a bustling metropolis that simply mustn't be missed. Bubbling with energy, this city is always on the go, endlessly reinventing itself with fabulous new hotels, a trendy art scene, world class dining and shopping, stunning temples and a deep cultural heritage all very much in evidence.

Day 1 - Arrive Bangkok

On arrival in Thailand, you'll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your hotel.

Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg boat cruises) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these.

Day 2 - City Safari

Includes:

Step into the flow today on a tour of highlights, some well known, others further off the track. The city is kept in perpetual motion by a buzzing public network whose modes of transport span from ancient to ultramodern, and your transportation today will include a traditional longtail boat, the sky train, and the ubiquitous and exciting tuk-tuk - a combination that ensures you get to explore areas of the city that most visitors don't see. You'll cover a lot of ground, but there's is no better way to truly experience the 'City of Angels'. Start at the wonderful Lumpini Park where locals practice Tai Chi in the morning, before a proper exploration of Wat Pho. Visit one of the oldest traditional Thai massage schools in the country, a handicraft community known for the unique art of making monk’s alms bowls, the historic house of Jim Thompson, a mysterious American silk merchant, and the cutting-edge Siam Square. One key highlight is the Grand Palace, where you can see some of the buildings used for different occasions, including the Funeral Palace, Reception Palace, Throne Hall, Coronation Hall, Royal Guest House, and the Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand.

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Chiang Mai - 2 nights

Chiang Mai – Thailand's ‘Rose of the North’ – has a laid-back ambience and pleasant climate, a fine selection of restaurants (many consider Thailand’s northern cuisine to be the best in the country) and a high number of temples & sites of cultural significance. The city is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding valleys and hill tribe regions beyond, and the Sunday market in the city centre offers a more authentic experience and wider array of hill tribe goods than the tourist trinkets more commonly associated with the nightly market in the same area.

Day 3 - Fly to Chiang Mai, Evening street food tour

Includes:

Fly to Chiang Mai where you will be welcomed by your guide and transferred to your hotel. Your day is at leisure until early evening, when your guide will meet you for an evening spent sampling Chiang Mai’s streetfood in a local market. The variety on offer can be overwhelming, and you’ll be navigating some incredibly tempting smells! Our favourite dishes include Pad Thai, deep fried taro & noodle soup, khao soi (a popular northern Thai curry), kanom krok (coconut pudding) and sweet mango with sticky rice, but you guide will introduce you to many local dishes, and teach you how to order. Once you’ve made your selection, pick a seat and sit back to savour the flavours, not to mention the atmosphere.

Day 4 - City Safari & Doi Suthep

Includes:

Take several unusual means of transport on a city safari through Chaing Mai’s highlights and further off the beaten track. Ride a songthaew to the old trader community of Wat Gatekaram for a stroll around the alleyways, and on to the lost city of Wiang Kum Kam. Explore the ruined temples by bike, before taking a cruise on the Mae Ping River. Back on dry land, hop on a samlor (trishaw) and ride to the spectacular ruins of Wat Chedi Luang, which once housed the renowned Emerald Buddha. Continue by tuk tuk to Warorot Market to join the local bustle for lunch, then step into the secret jungle temple of Wat Phalad. Make a final stop at Phra Thad Doi Suthep, the most sacred wat in Northern Thailand, to wonder at its impressive chedi and beautiful murals. As dusk approaches and the tourist crowds leave, stay and listen to the monks’ evening chanting - a really special moment.

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Chiang Rai - 2 nights

Chiang Rai is a small city with a laid back atmosphere, home to a handful of interesting temples, and easily explored by trishaw or on foot. The popular night market, where villagers from the surrounding hills sell their wares, is a thriving focal point of the city. Chiang Rai is known as the gateway to the Golden Triangle, the region where Thailand meets Myanmar and Laos, and many visitors use the city as a base for trekking in the Triangle and visiting the region’s famous hill tribes, along with making a special visit to meet some rescued elephants.

Day 5 - Drive to Chiang Rai, explore the Golden Triangle

Includes:

Leave by road for Chiang Rai, journeying deep into the Golden Triangle region. Make a stop en-route at Mae Chan, home to both Yao and Akha ethnic minority people, and Chiang Saen to explore the ancient ruins and temples. Arrive into Chiang Rai in the late afternoon.

Day 6 - Elephant Valley Project

Includes:

Spend a fantastic day at Elephant Valley, Chiang Rai’s first elephant sanctuary. Spread over 40 acres of prime elephant habitat, the project is (currently) home to four former Mae Sot elephant ‘loggers’. Closely modelled on the practises and ideas of the renowned Elephant Valley Project in Cambodia, the sanctuary puts elephant care and conservation at the heart of its ethos. There's no riding, tricks or shows; the elephants are free to wander and graze, break down trees, and play in the mud. It’s a unique chance to experience these amazing animals up close. You'll meet the elephants, and spend the morning learning about each individual by observing them in their natural habitat. After a local-style lunch, it’s all hands on deck to maintain and re-establish this thriving habitat. This is a major part of the project, and can be a mammoth task (pun intended!), so any assistance from visitors is much appreciated. You'll help to plant and harvest crops for the elephants' meals, tidy up the site, and feed the elephants before heading back to Chiang Rai.

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Pakbeng - 1 night

Cruise downstream along the Mekong River towards Pakbeng. This riverside town is the central hub of a region that’s home to many H’mong and minority tribal groups.

Day 7 - Cross into Laos, Mekong River Cruise to Pakbeng

Includes:

Cross the Friendship Bridge from Thailand into Laos, where you will be met by your cruise representative and transferred to the boat pier. Here you will board the Shompoo Cruise for your journey downstream along the Mekong River. It’s a stunning section of this mighty river that begins high in the Himalayas and passes through seven countries before exiting at the huge delta in Vietnam.

As you travel south a stop will be made to visit a Kamu minority village, before arriving into Pakbeng in the early evening. Enjoy dinner in your lodge overlooking the Mekong River.

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Luang Prabang - 3 nights

Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is regularly voted one of Asia's most striking destinations. An ancient, royal city a junction of the Mekong and Khan Rivers, sheltered by mountains on all sides, with Mount Phousi at its heart, rewarding those who conquer its 328 steps with stunning views over the surrounding temples and hills. A city where time has stood still in places and jumped forward in others, Luang Prabang uniquely fuses traditional Lao architecture with recent colonial buildings. Its unique, remarkably well-preserved townscape illustrates the picturesque blend of these two distinct cultural traditions.

Day 8 - Mekong River Cruise to Luang Prabang

Includes:

After breakfast board the Shompoo once again and continue your cruise downstream towards Laos’s cultural capital, Luang Prabang. Stops will be made along the way at minority villages and the Pak Ou Caves, which house literally thousands of Buddha statues that range from a few centimetres to the size of a human. Approaching Luang Prabang in the late afternoon, it’s a wonderful way to arrive at this engaging city. You will be met at the jetty by your guide who will transfer you to your hotel where the remainder of your day is at leisure.

Day 9 - Tak Bat, Walking Tour, Weaving Villages

Includes:

Rise before dawn to witness tak bat - the giving of alms to the monks who leave their pagodas to receive offerings of food from local residents - from a respectful distance. Get an overview of the country’s history at the Royal Palace National Museum, take in the city’s iconic temples, and get a deeper insight into Laos culture at the excellent Arts and Ethnology Centre. See colourful textiles being woven in the surrounding villages and join the crowds climbing Mount Phousi for spectacular sunset views across the Mekong. If you'd prefer to avoid the steps, visit Wat Prabath Tai for an accessible sunset experience and see the monks and novices go about their daily rituals in Wat Aham’s colourful prayer hall.

Day 10 - Living Lands Organic Farm

Includes:

After breakfast drive out of Luang Prabang to the Living Lands Organic Farm, a community enterprise, where you will meet the local farming guide for an informative, but fun morning. Rice is an important part of life in Laos: it’s eaten at every meal and there are over 500 types of rice grown in the country. During your time at the farm, you’ll learn about each step of the rice harvest and cultivation process, and try your hand at the traditional techniques (and basic tools) that have been used for centuries. The morning concludes with a rice tasting session, by which time you will have a much greater appreciation of the work and effort that goes into a simple bowl of rice! Return to Luang Prabang where the remainder of your day is at leisure.

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Siem Reap - 3 nights

Siem Reap is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor, the ruined capital of a historic Cambodian empire, and one of the ancient wonders of the world. The town is booming thanks to these fabled ruins, but remains low-rise by royal decree, and retains much of its original charm. 100s of them lie scattered around Siem Reap, largely hidden by jungle. You’ll have plenty of time to discover them with a knowledgeable guide

Day 11 - Fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia, After Dark Foodie Vespa Tour

Includes:

Take a flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia. There will be plenty of time to relax on arrival until 6pm, when it's time for an evening tour with a difference. Riding pillion on a Vespa, you’ll experience the city by night from a local perspective, enjoying authentic Cambodian food and drink along the way. Start in a chic bar where you'll join your fellow passengers and local guide for a cold beer, before heading to a food market to learn about the ingredients found in Cambodian cuisine. At a buzzing local night market, you'll sample street food, including the country’s infamous bug snacks, and enjoy a picnic style dinner. Although food is the focus of the evening, you'll also stop at a popular local shrine. Finish the evening at a winery, where you'll have the opportunity to taste Cambodia’s famous (and quite potent!) rice wine.

Day 12 - Angkor Temples exploration

Includes:

Begin your exploration of Angkor Wat, and the complex of ruined temples and palaces around it. You’ll be driven between them, so you can fit quite a few in (if you want to), and our guides know when to see the ruins at uncrowded times. If you wish, start the day with the magical (but popular!) sunrise over Angkor Wat, and let your guide know what kind of pace you prefer, whether you want to fill your day with archaeology, or spend some of it on Tonle Sap lake, or even back at your hotel pool.

Day 13 - Village Explorer

Includes:

Explore rural villages, and learn about the daily lives of the local people. You'll be a world away from Siem Reap - it's a perfect opportunity to get ‘off the beaten track’ and gain a better understanding of Cambodian rural life, along with insight into traditional Khmer culture; something few visitors are lucky enough to experience. You'll explore a local market and purchase supplies for your lunch, and travel by an (almost!) pollution-free ox and cart. Still widely used throughout Cambodia, the cart allows you to travel gently along the narrow sandy village roads. Spend time at the home of a local family, where there will be plenty of time to relax and chat (with your guide acting as interpreter) as they prepare lunch using your market produce. You can help if you wish; this is a fantastic opportunity to further your understanding of typical Khmer cuisine. You meal is likely to be very different from those offered in Siem Reap's more westerner-oriented restaurants! Explore the village before returning to Siem Reap via the workshops of Angkor Artwork - all products sold are produced using traditional methods, and the quality of craftsmanship is outstanding.

Day 14 - Depart Siem Reap

Includes:

Transfer to Siem Reap airport for your onward flight.

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 - 4 5 - 6
Standard £2,474US$3,241 £2,165US$2,836 £1,960US$2,568

FuramaXclusive Sathorn

Nicely presented and remarkably convenient, the FuramaXclusive’s central Bangkok location makes it ideal for the start or end of your travels in South-East Asia... See more

Banthai Village

Stylish, bags of character, great value and well located, the Banthai Village is a class act. Set thoughout a cluster of five traditional-style northern Thai house, the charming hotel... See more

Le Patta

For those who prefer to be in the middle of the action, Le Patta boutique hotel is minutes from the attractions of central Chiang Rai, including the famous Night Bazaar... See more

Sanctuary Pakbeng Lodge

Set on the banks of the Mekong River close to the centre of the atmospheric town of Pakbeng, the Sanctuary Pakbeng Lodge provides comfortable accommodation for those breaking the journey between border town... See more

Villa Chitdara

Brilliantly located on Khounsua Road - the quiet central street that slips between Luang Prabang's main night market and Mekong River Street - leafy Villa Chitdara is a small but charming guesthouse... See more

The Moon Residence

Situated in the heart of Siem Reap, with the Old Market, shops and the river on its doorstep, The Moon Residence is a good value, locally owned and run hotel, in a brilliantly convenient location...

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1st Class £2,731US$3,578 £2,422US$3,173 £2,216US$2,903

U Sukhumvit Bangkok

The U Sukhumvit Bangkok enjoys a prime location in the heart of Sukhumvit, with shopping, restaurants and nightlife on the doorstep. The 82 rooms and suites are contemporary in style and spacious.   

Banthai Village

Stylish, bags of character, great value and well located, the Banthai Village is a class act. Set thoughout a cluster of five traditional-style northern Thai house, the charming hotel... See more

Le Patta

For those who prefer to be in the middle of the action, Le Patta boutique hotel is minutes from the attractions of central Chiang Rai, including the famous Night Bazaar... See more

Sanctuary Pakbeng Lodge

Set on the banks of the Mekong River close to the centre of the atmospheric town of Pakbeng, the Sanctuary Pakbeng Lodge provides comfortable accommodation for those breaking the journey between border town... See more

Villa Maydou

Set in a pleasant garden in the very heart of the old town, the Villa Maydou consists of two wonderfully restored traditional Lao houses, both under the protection of the UNESCO world heritage programme... See more

Viroth's Hotel

Not to be confused with the original, smaller Viroth’s hotel, this fresher 1950’s inspired Viroth’s Hotel opened at the beginning of 2015... See more
Superior £2,996US$3,925 £2,686US$3,518 £2,481US$3,250

Riva Surya

The intimate surroundings of the Riva Surya will suit those looking to get away from the more intense parts of Bangkok... See more

Tamarind Village

A true gem, the Tamarind Village offers the perfect balance of city centre dwelling whilst providing a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of Chiang Mai's busy streets... See more

The Legend Boutique River Resort and Spa

Located on the banks of the Mae Kok River, The Legend is a beautifully presented, spacious property built in a classically Lanna Thai style… See more

Sanctuary Pakbeng Lodge

Set on the banks of the Mekong River close to the centre of the atmospheric town of Pakbeng, the Sanctuary Pakbeng Lodge provides comfortable accommodation for those breaking the journey between border town... See more

Maison Dalabua

This charming boutique hotel is located a short walk from Luang Prabang's historical centre and surrounded by UNESCO classified lotus ponds... See more

Shinta Mani Shack

Funky and stylish, the Shinta Mani Shack enjoys a location in the heart of Siem Reap’s French Quarter... See more
Deluxe £3,737US$4,895 £3,426US$4,488 £3,222US$4,220

COMO Metropolitan Bangkok

Amongst Bangkok's most sought-after properties, COMO Metropolitan Bangkok is the ideal hotel for clients wishing to experience the hip and ultra-modern side of the city... See more

137 Pillars House

A stunning home from home in a historic neighbourhood in Chiang Mai, 137 Pillars House has true Colonial style, but meets every modern requirement...

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The Legend Boutique River Resort and Spa

Located on the banks of the Mae Kok River, The Legend is a beautifully presented, spacious property built in a classically Lanna Thai style… See more

Sanctuary Pakbeng Lodge

Set on the banks of the Mekong River close to the centre of the atmospheric town of Pakbeng, the Sanctuary Pakbeng Lodge provides comfortable accommodation for those breaking the journey between border town... See more

Satri House

Previously a residence of Prince Soupha- Nouvong, Satri House underwent extensive renovation in 2008. The result is magnificent and for our money the hotel instantly became a serious contender for Luang Prabang’s boutique hotel crown... See more

Shinta Mani Angkor

So much more than 'just another' deluxe hotel in Siem Reap, the Shinta Mani Angkor is very much part of the city's early heritage. Rebuilt from scratch in 2011, opening again in 2012... See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions

  • We know what you're thinking: where's the beach time? Asia is blessed with some picture-postcard beaches and if you have more time to spare then incorporating a few nights on one of these beaches is certainly possible. Speak to your Destination Specialist for suggestions.
  • Your stay in Siem Reap doesn't have to just be about the Angkor temples; there are a number of other interesting activities you may wish to consider during your stay. One favourite is a boat ride up the Tonlé Sap to Kampong Phluk, the ‘flooded forest’. Accessible only during high water, you’ll pass amongst the tree tops while still seated in your boat! You'll also visit a village on the banks of the Tonlé Sap, before returning to Siem Reap in the early afternoon.
At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.

Whilst many clients are happy with one of our recommended itineraries in its current form (and at the price quoted), there are those who wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination, or even starting from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region, they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and New Year) hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

Inclusive:

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed
  • International flight reconfirmation.

Exclusive:

  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip...)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in 'inclusive'

Please note

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

 

Extras

Flights

We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

Visa

You will require a visa to enter Laos and Cambodia. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

Passport

Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

Insurance

You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Lionel – Indochina tailor-made specialist

'Taking in contrasting cities, temples big & small, culture & wildlife: this 2 week itinerary is a stimulating sample of what Asia has to offer.'

LionelIndochina tailor-made specialist

Speak to Lionel on 01273 670 001

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

Your own private guides & drivers

You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.

Book With Confidence

For peace of mind when booking your future holiday to Asia, we have introduced flexible booking conditions & full financial clarity.