Laos & Cambodia Adventure

From: $3,799

per person dbl occ

Dates: Jan-Dec - see all dates

Total Days: 15

Activity Level: 3

Reserve This Trip

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Price:

2014

REI Member: $3,799

Non-member: $4,175

2015

REI Member: $3,999

Non-member: $4,400

Additional Fees

2014

Internal airfare: $275

Single supplement: $1,099

Holiday supplement: $299

2015

Internal airfare: $275

Single supplement: $999

Holiday supplement: $399

Trip Dates:

2014

  • Nov 2–16
  • Nov 30 – Dec 14
  • Dec 21 – Jan 4 H

H = Mandatory holiday supplement applies.

2015

  • Jan 18 – Feb 1
  • Feb 15 – Mar 1
  • Nov 1–15
  • Nov 29 – Dec 13
  • Dec 20 – Jan 3 H

H = Mandatory holiday supplement applies.


Or, book a
private departure.

Group Size: 4-14

Activity Level: 3

Activities:

  • Hiking
  • Road Cycling
  • Kayaking

Accommodations:

Hotels, 14 nights

Trip Highlights

  • Hike, cycle, and kayak Laos and Cambodia, gems of former French Indochina
  • Travel under tropical canopies and through forests of orchids
  • Visit with local people, sample authentic cuisine, and discover ancient history
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Luang Prabang and Angkor Wat

Discover the wonders and beauty of former Indochina while hiking, cycling, and kayaking through Laos and Cambodia. Our journey reveals forests of wild orchids and towering bamboo, surreal 9th century temples growing from the jungle floor, and thousand-year-old tributes to Hindu and Buddhist deities.

Starting in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we cross the Laotian border and cycle through rice paddies and rural villages. The Nam Ha Conservation Area offers us incredible hiking, while we learn about the country's culture and history along the way. Iconic Pak Ou Caves hold superb kayaking, while the town of Luang Prabang mesmerizes us with its ancient secrets. In Cambodia, we have ample time to explore Angkor Wat, robed in the roots of giant silk-cotton trees, and other remarkable temple complexes.

Our trek by foot, bike, and kayak keeps us close to the land and culture, offering an up-close view of these amazing countries. Join us on an adventure in Laos and Cambodia that you'll never forget!

Itinerary Summary

  • Day 1 - Our adventure begins in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
  • Day 2 - Soar through jungle canopy on a zipline tour en route to Laos.
  • Day 3 - Visit ethnic minority villages; cycle past rice paddies and jagged peaks.
  • Day 4 - Hike in the unspoiled Nam Ha wilderness with a local minority guide.
  • Day 5 - Cycle Laos' northern highlands to the tranquil village of Nong Khiaw.
  • Day 6 - Kayak to boat-accessible Pak Ou caves, filled with Buddhist sculptures.
  • Day 7 - Explore the palaces and Wats of Luang Prabang, "the jewel of Indochina."
  • Day 8 - Cycle to the Khuang Si waterfalls and hike to the top for great views.
  • Day 9 - Take an all-day hike through the mountains to a remote rural village.
  • Day 10 - Arrive in Siem Reap, Cambodia! Cycle to the ancient Roluos temple.
  • Day 11 - Explore Sambor Prei Kuk on foot before cycling to nearby Kampong Tom.
  • Day 12 - Visit the temple of Bantaey Srei, a jewel of Khmer architecture.
  • Day 13 - Explore magnificent Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and the Bayon Temple.
  • Day 14 - Cycle Angkor's "Big Circuit" with stops at many iconic temples.
  • Day 15 - Explore the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake departing home.

See full itinerary

Trip Itinerary and Details

Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.

  • Day 1 - Our adventure begins in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

    Your trip begins today in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Transfer to our hotel and spend the afternoon relaxing after your long flight in what has been called Asia’s most livable city.  Chiang Mai, still known as a center for silver jewelry and woodcarving, was an important stop on the southern branch of the ancient Silk Road.  The name Chiang Mai means “new city,” a moniker that has stuck for 700 years.  The city was founded in 1296 as the capital of the kingdom of Lanna (short for Lan Na Thai, meaning "A Million Rice Fields").  We’ll meet our guide this evening and have a brief trip overview followed by a traditional Thai dinner along the banks of a meandering river.  Dinner included.

  • Day 2 - Soar through jungle canopy on a zipline tour en route to Laos.

    After breakfast, we'll head out by minivan into the countryside for an exciting zipline exploration of the jungle canopy. We'll glide through the treetops from platform to platform (some over 100 feet high), gaining a bird's-eye perspective of the surrounding emerald landscape. This afternoon, we'll continue our drive through the mountains to Chiang Khong, a small, lively Thai border-town set along the banks of the mighty Mekong River. We'll have some time to relax on our own tonight as we gaze across the river towards the opposite bank and the tranquil Laotian landscape beyond. Driving time from Mae Kampong to Chiang Khong approx. 4 hours. Breakfast and lunch included.

    Zipline Adventure: Approx. 2 hours.

  • Day 3 - Visit ethnic minority villages; cycle past rice paddies and jagged peaks.

    We'll cross into Laos this morning and, after clearing customs, begin the drive to Luang Namtha in our private vehicle. Our route follows a new road through the verdant mountains and, time allowing, we'll stop along the way at a number of ethnic minority villages enjoying some interaction with the local people. We'll arrive in Luang Namtha for lunch and then set out by bicycle to explore the Luang Namtha Valley, home to a diverse assortment of ethnic groups. During our afternoon spin, we'll pass small villages and enjoy vistas filled with rice paddies and jagged mountain peaks. On our way back to town, we'll stop at a local market before riding on to That Phum Phuk stupa, a religious monument originally built in the 17th-century and reconstructed in 2003 after suffering bomb damage during the Vietnam War. We spend the next two nights in Luang Namtha. All meals included.

    Cycling: 18 miles.

  • Day 4 - Hike in the unspoiled Nam Ha wilderness with a local minority guide.

    We hike in the Nam Ha Conservation Area today (containing some of the largest contiguous wilderness areas in Laos) and meet some of the local people who call this region home.  The main minority groups we will encounter are the Black Tai, who are known for their silk products; the Lanten, a small tribe found in China and Laos who are acclaimed paper makers, and the Khmu, skilled basket weavers who are the oldest residents of the Luang Nam Tha Valley.  Led by a local minority guide, our trek begins in the Lanten village of Ban Nam Dee and takes us through mixed forest, upland fields, terraced rice paddies and across a few small streams.  We’ll stop in the small village of Ban Sida and learn a bit about the lives of its inhabitants including the symbolism behind their various building structures and how thick forest growth separated them from a group of nearby relatives.  After lunch, we can choose to retrace our steps back to Ban Nam Dee or take a more challenging ridgeline route offering expansive views of the surrounding mountains and rain forest.  Back at the trailhead, a waterfall in the village invites us to jump in for a refreshing shower before our return to the guest house.  Note: Our trek is designed by the Nam Ha eco-guide trekking association and all fees directly benefit the guides, the villages and the local economy. All meals included.

    Hiking: 5-7 miles.

  • Day 5 - Cycle Laos' northern highlands to the tranquil village of Nong Khiaw.

    After breakfast, we'll begin our drive across the tranquil highlands of northern Laos to Pak Mong. Upon arriving in Pak Mong, we'll stop for a picnic lunch before jumping on our bikes and cycling the remainder of the afternoon through the picturesque countryside to the village of Nong Khiaw. Nong Khiaw, located on the banks of the Nam Ou River and surrounded by a range of dramatic limestone peaks, is an ideal stopping point on our journey south to Luang Prabang. We have time to stroll around the village and enjoy the scenic panoramas before dinner. Overnight in Nong Khiaw tonight. All meals included.

    Cycling: 17 miles.

  • Day 6 - Kayak to boat-accessible Pak Ou caves, filled with Buddhist sculptures.

    A one-hour drive this morning transports us to the confluence of the Nam Ou and Mekong Rivers where we'll begin an exploration of the nearby Pak Ou caves, known for their magnificent assortment of Lao-style Buddha sculptures left over the centuries by local pilgrims. As the caves are only accessible by boat, we'll climb into waiting kayaks and paddle to the cave entrance where our exploration will begin. Back in our kayaks later this morning, we continue our paddle down the Mekong to the village of Ban Xanghai. Ban Xanghai is well-known for the production of traditional lau- lao (Lao whiskey) and lau-hai (Lao wine) and we'll have an opportunity to watch a demonstration of the distillation process and sample the finished product. Following our village visit, trip members interested in additional kayaking will have the option to continue paddling down the river directly to Luang Prabang. A bus will also be available in Ban Xanghai for those preferring an overland transfer to Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang for the next three nights. All meals included.

    Kayaking: 3-5 hours depending on personal preference.

  • Day 7 - Explore the palaces and Wats of Luang Prabang, "the jewel of Indochina."

    We spend the day in Luang Prabang, often referred to as the jewel of Indochina. Our morning walk through this UNESCO World Heritage Site takes us to the former Royal Palace - now the national museum - where we'll view artifacts belonging to numerous past rulers. We'll also explore some of Luang Prabang's amazing Wat's (temples) including Wat Sen, Wat Visum and perhaps the most stunning, Wat Xieng Thong; built in 1560 and brightly decorated with gold and colored glass. A short hike up Mount Phousi, in the center of the city, offers great views of the surrounding temples. In early afternoon, we'll visit nearby Ban Xang Khok, a village specializing in the production of silk, cotton and natural paper products. Dedicated to weaving and breeding silkworms, the inhabitants have produced crafts for hundreds of years using the same colors and motifs. This is an authentic and fun-filled shopping opportunity as a wonderful array of high quality textiles, dresses, bags, scarves and tapestries are available to bargain for. After our village visit, we'll have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure to explore on our own; perhaps to rent a bike and take a leisurely ride through this lovely city, or stroll through the streets and alleyways finding our own treasures and adventures. All meals included.

  • Day 8 - Cycle to the Khuang Si waterfalls and hike to the top for great views.

    The early risers among us will enjoy witnessing long lines of orange-robed monks leaving their pagodas this morning to collect alms and food offerings from faithful local residents. After breakfast, we'll hop on our bikes and begin a 20-mile ride through the countryside to the beautiful Khuang Si waterfalls. We'll hike to the top of the falls via a steep trail and, weather permitting, swim in the cool, clear water at the base of the cascade. This afternoon, we can opt to cycle back to Luang Prabang or return to town by tuk-tuk, giving us some additional time for more shopping and/or sightseeing. All meals included.

    Cycling: 40 miles (20 miles if only cycling one way to waterfalls) over gently undulating terrain without any substantial climbs.

  • Day 9 - Take an all-day hike through the mountains to a remote rural village.

    Today's trek provides a wonderful opportunity to gain an intimate perspective of rural Laotian village life. After a morning pick-up at our hotel, we drive to the Nam Khan River and board a water taxi for the short transfer to the opposite bank. From here we'll begin our hike up a mountain trail to an isolated Khmu village. Appreciating the serene setting, we observe the inhabitants as they carry out their daily tasks. Our guide will be happy to act as translator and facilitate interaction with the local people. Waving our goodbyes, we continue our hike past soaring limestone rock faces and flourishing ferns. Sharing the steep, rocky track with passing villagers heading to market, we ascend to our final destination, Lao Sung Village. High in the mountains, we're welcomed to the village by shy, curious children and their families. We enjoy our lunch in a local home, perhaps playing with the children or hearing stories of village life. After our meal, we begin the return walk down to the river and our waiting ferry. Dinner in Luang Prabang this evening. All meals included.

    Hiking: 7 miles.

  • Day 10 - Arrive in Siem Reap, Cambodia! Cycle to the ancient Roluos temple.

    This morning, we'll catch a short mid-morning flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia in preparation for our extensive exploration of the wondrous temples of Angkor and their environs. The name Siem Reap translates to "Siamese defeated" and refers to the Khmer Empire's 17th-century victory over an army from the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya. After checking into our hotel and having some lunch, we set out on a 10-mile cycle ride to the Roluos group of temples – Bakong, Lolei and Preah Ko – which date back to the late 9th century (the oldest temples in the area) and are tall peg-shaped brick towers. This is the original capital of the ancient Khmer Empire and we'll spend the afternoon walking among the temples and gaining some insight into the history of the Khmer people. Dinner is on our own tonight, offering an opportunity to try one of Siem Reap's many local restaurants. Overnight in Siem Reap. Breakfast and lunch included.

    Cycling: 10 miles over predominantly flat terrain.

  • Day 11 - Explore Sambor Prei Kuk on foot before cycling to nearby Kampong Tom.

    After breakfast at our hotel, we'll travel 80 miles (2.5 hours) to the remote archeological site of Sambor Prei Kuk. A series of temples constructed in the 6th century, a visit to Sambor Prei Kuk offers the chance to explore these little-known ruins in a tranquil and beautiful jungle setting. Upon arrival at the site, we'll begin a scenic 5-mile hike among the temples accompanied by local guides trained through a community-based project created to promote sustainable tourism in the region. At the conclusion of our walk (and after lunch) we'll mount our waiting bikes and cycle over quiet inland roads, past traditional villages, to our small, charming hotel in the town of Kampong Thom. All meals included.

    Hiking: 5 miles. Cycling: 18 miles.

  • Day 12 - Visit the temple of Bantaey Srei, a jewel of Khmer architecture.

    We bid farewell to Sambor Prei Kuk and return to Siem Reap in late morning. Our destination this afternoon is marvelous Banteay Srei, some 20 miles away on a newly paved road. Bantaey Srei (the "Citadel of the Women"), built from reddish-pink sandstone and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, is considered to be a jewel amongst the Angkor temples due to its intricate carvings and distinct coloration. The temple is exceptionally well-preserved and is a must-see during any visit to Angkor. We also make a stop at Banteay Samri, a small but lovely temple that lies along our route. We spend the next three nights at our comfortable hotel in Siem Reap. All meals included.

  • Day 13 - Explore magnificent Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and the Bayon Temple.

    Today is a major highlight as we take tuk-tuks (often described as a motorized, 3-wheeled rickshaw) to the back entrance of Angkor Wat – considered to be the biggest religious structure in the world (originally Hindu, then Buddhist) and one of the best-preserved temples in the region. Built in the first half of the 12th century during the reign of Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat is renowned for its intricate carvings of over 3000 aspara, or "heavenly nymphs", and beautiful bas-reliefs depicting various epic battles and religious events. Over the years, it has become a symbol of Cambodia and is always a source of great national pride. We'll have ample time to explore this unforgettable site and appreciate the interpretation by our temple guide before walking along the giant temple's moat to the nearby fortified city of Angkor Thom. We'll arrive at the city's South Gate and stop for lunch before continuing to the Bayon Temple, located in the exact center of Angkor Thom and decorated with over 200 enormous, smiling stone faces said to resemble the temple's builder, Cambodia's King Jayavarman VII. We'll also stop at the Baphuon temple (which suffered from a poor foundation and became an architectural jigsaw puzzle to restore) and continue through the jungle behind the Terrace of the Elephant and the Terrace of the Leper King. Outside Angkor Thom, we'll visit Thommanon and Takeo temples before heading back to town for the evening. All meals included.

    Hiking: 2 miles.

  • Day 14 - Cycle Angkor's "Big Circuit" with stops at many iconic temples.

    Commuting like the locals, we get out the bikes this morning and ride toward the now familiar South Gate of Angkor Thom. Passing the gate, the beautiful Bayon and the elaborate terraces, we'll continue to the North Gate of the city and out onto the "Grand Circuit". We'll stop to visit the Preah Khan and Ta Som temples and finally, the extraordinary Ta Prohm or "old Brahma" temple, one of the most popular and frequently photographed temples in the complex and an amazing sight with roots of silk cotton trees growing out of the ruined structure. We return to Siem Reap by bike via Banteay Kdei and have the late afternoon free before our final dinner at Viroth's Restaurant celebrating an incredible adventure through Indochina! All meals included.

    Cycling: 20 miles over predominantly flat terrain.

  • Day 15 - Explore the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake departing home.

    We’ll venture off the beaten path this morning and transfer by private vehicle to the UNESCO biosphere reserve of Tonlé Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and one of the world’s most productive inland fisheries.  Once at the lake, we’ll begin our exploration through Kompong Klean, the largest village in the area composed of 4,000 dwellings built on wooden stilts above the waterline.  After exploring the village, we’ll take a boat ride through the nearby canals and observe the floating villages that rise and sink following the lake’s water level.  We’ll enjoy a typical Khmer lunch in a local house before transferring back to the Siem Reap airport for our departing flights.  Breakfast and lunch included.

Note on Itinerary

Although we do our very best to adhere to the schedule above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control including unexpected weather and terrain conditions.

Air Travel

Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate.

Price Includes

All accommodations; all meals as noted on the itinerary; one group airport transfer on Day 1 and 15; all overland and over-water transportation as noted; English-speaking local guides; hiking permits; Angkor entry fees; bicycles and helmets; kayaks and related gear, snacks and bottled water.

Not Included

Air transportation from the U.S. to Thailand/from Cambodia; internal flights from Luang Prabang-Siem Reap (REI Adventures will book your reservations); 2 dinners; airport taxes and entry visa fees (visas for Laos & Cambodia can be obtained upon arrival); guide gratuities; travel insurance; medical immunizations or items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages or laundry fees.

Qualifications

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Trip members should arrive in good physical condition and plan to spend 2-6 hours on most days engaged in a variety of activities. Hikes are all on-trail, some through temple complexes, but terrain conditions can occasionally be muddy and uneven and some hikes will include steep sections and the ascent/descent of numerous stone steps. Our cycle rides are over relatively flat terrain and the group will typically be accompanied by support vehicle for those choosing to skip particular sections. The river kayaking is on flat water. Temperatures on some days may be quite warm requiring participants to focus on staying adequately hydrated. We recommend an exercise regimen beginning at least 2-3 months prior to departure consisting of hiking/walking and cycling in order to prepare for this adventure.

Weather

Thailand, Laos and Cambodia all have tropical climates. Temperatures in the 80s and 90s with a high amount of humidity can be expected during the days, dropping into the 60s and 70s at night. We have chosen the best possible months to visit this region giving us the greatest chance of cooler and drier conditions. That said, we are in the tropics and some rainfall is a possibility at any time of the year.

Single Travelers

If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.

General Information

This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).

We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.

Laos & Cambodia Adventure Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you in choosing your equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary.

Gear Checklist

Provided Gear
  • Bicycles and helmets (required)
  • Trip leader first-aid kit
  • Sit-on-top kayaks and related gear
Official Papers
  • Valid passport
  • Airline tickets
  • Passport size photos (2)
Luggage
  • Duffel bag or soft-sided suitcase. Sturdy, large-sized, able to hold all of your gear
  • Rain cover or large plastic trash bag for your daypack, if it rains
  • Small daypack for carrying water bottle(s), raingear, camera, snacks, etc.
  • Luggage tags and luggage locks
  • Passport security pouch or belt
Travel Clothing
  • A few lightweight, easily washable items for travel and to wear in towns
Outerwear
  • Rain jacket, lightweight, waterproof and breathable, or a waterproof rain poncho
  • Rain or wind pants, waterproof and breathable
Clothing
  • Lightweight fleece or synthetic top
  • Hiking pants (synthetic, quick- drying)
  • Hiking shorts (synthetic, quick- drying)
  • Long-sleeve shirts for sun protection
  • T-shirts
  • Underwear
  • Hiking socks and liner socks
  • Casual socks
  • Swimsuit
  • Sun hat
  • Bandana
Cycling Clothing & Gear
  • Cycling shirt
  • Padded cycling shorts
  • Cycling gloves
  • Cycling jacket or windbreaker
Footwear
  • Sturdy hiking boots/shoes (waterproof, lightweight, and broken in)
  • Cycling shoes or light hikers/running shoes for biking (Clipless pedal/shoe systems are not recommended)
  • Sandals
Travel Accessories
  • One-quart water bottle(s) or hydration system
  • Flashlight or headlamp, and spare batteries/bulb
  • Sunglasses and retainer strap
  • Sunblock and lip balm
  • Toiletry kit
  • Personal first-aid kit, small
  • Insect repellent
  • Several Ziploc plastic bags for wet clothes
  • Small travel towel
  • Baby Wipes
  • Hand sanitizer gel
Optional Field Gear
  • Camera, film/memory card, spare batteries
  • Personal medication
  • Watch with alarm or travel clock
  • Spare contact lenses or glasses
  • Games and toys: Frisbee, cards, etc.
  • Reading and writing materials
  • Hiking stick or trekking poles
  • Favorite energy snacks and drinks
  • Saddle or gel bicycle seat cover
  • Handlebar bag for snacks, sunscreen while biking
  • Ear plugs

Things to Consider

  • Please remember to always pack essential items such as your passport, money, eyewear, hiking boots, a pair of shorts/shirt/sandals, camera, and medications in your carry-on baggage in case your luggage is delayed
  • Bring clothing that is light in weight and color, which ventilates and protects you from the sun.
  • Always test your layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding and bunching up.
  • Make sure boots are broken-in. Bring moleskin for foot treatment. Thin liner socks worn under regular hiking socks may minimize the risk of blisters. The liner sock should be synthetic, not cotton.
  • You are welcome to bring a clipless pedal/shoe system; however, there is a lot of walking and sightseeing while riding, and the terrain is often dirt and/or mud if it is wet.
  • Stuff sacks are great for sorting gear. Use different sizes/colors to differentiate contents.
  • A pack cover or large garbage bags provide good protection for your daypack, should it rain.

Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
REI AdventuresLaos & Cambodia Adventure
 
4.4

(based on 7 reviews)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Activity level (7)
  • Exceeded expectations (7)
  • Guides (7)
  • Food (6)
  • Well organized itinerary (6)

Cons

    Best Uses

        • Reviewer Profile:
        • Casual adventurer (3)
        • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
        • Destination (7), I liked the itinerary (7), Active adventures (6), All the details planned for me (6), Good value (5)

      Reviewed by 7 customers

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      5.0

      What a treat

      By Got to keep moving

      from Portland, OR

      About Me Avid Adventurer

      Site Member

      Pros

      • Activity Level
      • Exceeded Expectations
      • Guides

      Cons

        Best Uses

          Comments about REI Adventures Laos & Cambodia Adventure:

          Traveled in Nov with Angkor Wat being my objective without knowing a lot about Laos. Turned out that Laos was just as impressive. Laos was like going back to the 1950's with internet and cell phone service.
          It was great to do the zip line the first day of the trip. The drives are 4 hours or longer with a stop or two. Some roads are dirt and therefore can be a little bumpy after the rainy season. It was very interesting to see the various ways the rice is harvested (from hand to mechanical). One of our two hikes in Laos had a muddy section in it. People hiked in hiking boots to tennis shoes and some people had hiking poles. Fortunately we did not have any rain or the trails could have been slippery with the clay. The mountain bikes in Laos could use a little maintenance but the mountain bikes in Cambodia are TREK 4300's and worked well. You do bike on some dirt roads and wooden bridges. We did have a woman fall while biking over a wooded bridge and break her arm. The hiking in Cambodia is walking around the temples but you are climbing a lot of stone steps in and out of the temples so make sure you don't have any issues with the sandals you might wear.
          Our guide JIT was amazing and resourceful. Sometimes the itinerary had to be modified.
          We did convert some US dollars into the Lao Kip at the border crossing for buying things from the local people, so make sure your US dollars are somewhat new without any tears or marks even for use in Cambodia. Things are very cheap in Laos. A large bottle of beer (BeerLao) is less than 2 dollars.
          There were some mosquitoes with all the standing water but not very bad.
          The food was very good and not very spicy unless you added the hot peppers or hot sauce.
          If you have never traveled to an Asian country, do it. It's a culture shock.

          • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
          • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
          • Why did you choose this trip?:
          • Angkor Wat
          • What was the highlight of your trip?:
          • The people on the trip, the countries, and the guide.
          • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
          • Be flexible.

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          Don't just sit there. GO!

          By Kaeun

          from Carmichael, CA

          About Me Casual Adventurer

          Site Member

          Pros

          • Activity Level
          • Exceeded Expectations
          • Food
          • Group Camaraderie
          • Guides
          • Once in a Lifetime Experience
          • Well Organized Itinerary

          Cons

            Best Uses

              Comments about REI Adventures Laos & Cambodia Adventure:

              This was truly an adventure. Laos exceeded my expectations. It is a beautiful country with lush green forests and dramatic peaks. The opportunity is right now to see it before it's tourism explodes. Luang Prabang is a great little town with lots of character and ambience (eat at the Blue Lagoon!). Cambodia's temples were equally impressive. It was wonderful to explore Angkor by bicycle. There is no historical/archaeological site here in the US that allows you to still explore and touch as you can in Cambodia. As tourism explodes, I cannot see this being supported forever.

              Some of the best moments were not spelled out in the itinerary. They were in large part due to our wonderful, knowledgeable, and humorous guide, Jit. He brought us together in everything from story telling, having us taste wild plants/shrubs, and feasting on local snacks on our bus rides. In his own words it was "very adventure." It was incredibly liberating to trust the guide with all the details and especially to feel safe about the food and water we were consuming.

              As with all stories there is a yin to the yang. Some of the accomodations in Laos were far from luxurious, but having read past reviews, we braced ourselves for this remote part of our trip. Namtha River guesthouse was super friendly, good food, but we had sewer trouble. There were cockroaches in our end unit at Phaxang. For the most part the accommodations were pleasantly surprising. The Kayaking equipment was sub-par.

              REI, the food was so delicious especially in Laos. It would be nice to have a few more meals where we can pick our dishes and an option to go spicy! The ony exception was the restaurant in Kampong Thom which was very unsanitary/unclean.

              • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
              • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
              • Why did you choose this trip?:
              • Adventure in someplace warm during the winter. It was between this and the Thailand trip, but this one seemed more off the beaten path.
              • What was the highlight of your trip?:
              • Where do I begin? Swimming at Khuang Si Waterfalls, Picnic lunch on the ridge in the Nam Ha Conservation area with spicy eggplant, kayaking on the Nam Bhu river, Bayon temple, the beautiful Sambor Prei Kuk, biking through all those villages in Laos and Cambodia where the little children run to meet you, Beer Lao bonding with the group, delicious snacks provided by our extraordinary guide.
              • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
              • The physical activity level is moderate but the heat adds a new dimension. Hats and light/neutral colored clothing are essential. Bring something for motion sickness if you get car sick - there are some long and winding bus rides in Laos. If you are okay with 60's at night you can probably save some room in your bag and ditch the fleece. Recommend some energy boost/electrolyte gels or mixes.

              (5 of 5 customers found this review helpful)

               
              4.0

              Travel Well for an Awesome Adventure

              By Ryoushi12

              from Okinawa, Japan

              About Me Casual Adventurer

              Site Member

              Pros

              • Activity Level
              • Exceeded Expectations
              • Excellent Support Staff
              • Flexible Scheduling
              • Food
              • Group Camaraderie
              • Guides
              • Once in a Lifetime Experience
              • Well Organized Itinerary

              Cons

              • Accommodations

              Best Uses

                Comments about REI Adventures Laos & Cambodia Adventure:

                The Bad, The Ugly: The Soksay Throne was awful. No hot water; food was awful; group member's had critters inside the rooms; freezing cold at night - no blankets/insulation. Sambor Village was 2nd worst: infested with spiders. Only perk: convinent locations. Previously warned in other reviews, so I was prepared; but alternate hotels are available in same locations. Recommend 1 night without set course menus, and letting us pick the meals for group dinners.

                The Good: Rati Lanna Spa! Treetop adventure! Luang Prabang Night Market! Blue Pumpkin boxed lunches in Siem Reap! Banteay Srei! Shop at Angkor Artisans. November trip only had 1 morning of rain, but got really chilly at night. There's so much, that even with a trip journal - there's no way to describe all the good. Been all over SE Asia with the Navy, but some of my best memories are on this Trip. Jit, our primary tour guide, was hysterical and informative, and always offered extra cycling if we wanted it. The best part of our trip is that we varied from age 25 - 72; it's not as challenging as some of the rides sound, but pay attention to the scheduled car hours. Laos had lots of hours in van time; that was harder than the physical challenges.

                If you are even thinking of booking, do it now!

                • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                • Why did you choose this trip?:
                • Initially shopped NG Expeditions, way too expensive and poor itineraries for Cambodia. Budget, locations, and multi sport attracted me. I booked very last minute, which was no problem; REI Tours Support was amazing! As active duty military on patrol, their support helped me return home to a ready-waiting AWESOME vacation.
                • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                • Wat Rong Khung. Laos food! Hiking Nam Ha. Pak Ou Caves. Nam Ou River at Sunset. Luang Prabang's resturant The Blue Lagoon. Khuang Si Waterfalls was easily my favorite Laos day. Feeding elephants. Traffic jams with watter buffalo. Temple Marathon in Siem Reap: 20+ temples. Do Phuket extension instead of Angkor one.
                • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                • If taking doxycycline, take just before bed to sleep through nausea. Use ziplocks to organize main/hotel suitcase for quick access. East China Air was worst airline for traveling to trip. Come to Chiang Mai 2 days early! All 3 countries have cheap, reliable laundry; pack light. Voltage converter not needed, but adapater was. Take A LOT of $1/$5 bills! Take 2 Camera batteries!

                (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                4.0

                Excellent Experience, Worth The Price

                By Tracee

                from the West Coast

                About Me Adventure Enthusiast

                Site Member

                Pros

                • Accommodations
                • Activity Level
                • Exceeded Expectations
                • Food
                • Guides
                • Once in a Lifetime Experience
                • Well Organized Itinerary

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                    Comments about REI Adventures Laos & Cambodia Adventure:

                    One of the best parts of the trip was biking through Angkor Wat. It allowed for a great experience that one will not otherwise get by merely looking through a bus window. The itinerary is well-planned and excellently executed. It would have been great to have had a 'home stay' option in one of the small villages. This trip is a good value when one considers that nearly everything is included and pre-planned. The participants don't have to worry about anything. I would have rated this as "5 stars" except that some of the participants had mechanical problems with their mountain bikes.

                    • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                    • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Commitment to Sustainability, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                    • Why did you choose this trip?:
                    • I had not been to this region and did not speak the languages. It was important to have a local guide.
                    • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                    • The itinerary was great. The local guide was excellent. The accommodations were better than I'd expected.
                    • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                    • Make sure you're in 'level 3' condition before you go. Considering taking your own bike seat and clip pedals. Definitely follow the suggested gear list.

                    (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                     
                    5.0

                    I'd Love to Return to this area again!

                    By Momcat

                    from New Albany, Ohio

                    About Me First-Time Adventurer

                    Pros

                    • Accommodations
                    • Activity Level
                    • Difficulty with the bike
                    • Exceeded Expectations
                    • Food
                    • Group Camaraderie
                    • Guides
                    • Once in a Lifetime Experience
                    • Superior guides
                    • Well Organized Itinerary

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                        Comments about REI Adventures Laos & Cambodia Adventure:

                        In sumamry the guides were friendly, knowledgeable and professional at all times.
                        The itenary was as described and logical in its execution. All lodging was better than expected. Can't stress enough that one should be in good physical condition to enjoy the highlights of this trip.

                        • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                        • All the Details Planned for Me, Brother recommended, Commitment to Sustainability, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Recommended by a Friend
                        • Why did you choose this trip?:
                        • Traveling with my sister, brother and brother-in-law. It was fully escorted and the iternary was well planned and very clear expectations. All accomadations were clean, comfortable and fun.
                        • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                        • Too many to list but really loved the Zip-Line and the friendliness of the people. I learned to appreciate and respect the various cultures I was exposed to. Loved the Children.Developed a greater understanding of the history of the various peoples. Loved it and will never forget the beauty of the land and the people.
                        • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                        • Take the time to get into shape for the hiking and biking. Always stay hydrated and take electrolytes with you. It is hot and humid to a degree that you probably arn't use to. Pay attention to the suggested gear list REI includes. One will be quite surprised with the high quality of meals experienced.

                        (5 of 6 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        4.0

                        Optimum mix of exercise and culture

                        By Fernando Hernandez

                        from Lakewood, Colorado

                        About Me Casual Adventurer

                        Pros

                        • Accommodations
                        • Activity Level
                        • Exceeded Expectations
                        • Food
                        • Group Camaraderie
                        • Guides
                        • Quality Equipment Provided
                        • Well Organized Itinerary

                        Cons

                        • Accommodations

                        Best Uses

                          Comments about REI Adventures Laos & Cambodia Adventure:

                          Remove the orchid hike trip, when orchids are not in season/bloom. Replace with a city tour of Vientaine.Guides were knowledgeable/friendly and showed active concern for all travelers.

                          Select a better hotel in Luang Namtha. Room was filthy (rat droppings in armoir). 1 water bottle opened but left for guests. Brkft. skimpy. Cleanliness very poor. Cold showers.

                          • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                          • Active Adventures, All the Details Planned for Me, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary
                          • Why did you choose this trip?:
                          • Visit SE Asia and see sights not usually found on average tour packages.
                          • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                          • Angkor Wat and city Luang Prabang
                          • What would be your advice to potential travelers?:
                          • Pack dust masks for bicycling on dusty roads. Bring bicycle shorts! Get your visa in country, it's easy to obtain.

                          (10 of 10 customers found this review helpful)

                           
                          4.0

                          Almost perfect

                          By AdeleG

                          from Oakland CA

                          About Me Avid Adventurer

                          Pros

                          • Accommodations
                          • Activity Level
                          • Exceeded Expectations
                          • Food
                          • Group Camaraderie
                          • Guides
                          • Well Organized Itinerary

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                              Comments about REI Adventures Laos & Cambodia Adventure:

                              Things that were great: our guides "Jit" [*] and "Rith" [*]; Amari Rincome Hotel in Chiang Mai, Villa Maly in Luang Prabang and Angkor Century Hotel in Siem Reap; the hikes in Luang Namtha and Luang Prabang; the bike ride to Khuang Si waterfall; Angkor Wat; Tonle Sap. Things that were not: Namkhong Riverside Hotel and Soksay Thone Resort- both were dirty, the latter had roaches; the trip to Ventiane- it should be skipped. The 6 hour round trip drive to Pha Xay for the orchid hike was way too long and not worthwhile (there were no orchids in bloom and it wasn't much of a hike). Instead, add 2 days to northern Laos with some additional cycling between Luang Namtha and Luang Prabang. Combine that with a boat trip down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang. That would be lovely.Because I planned to leave for Asia 3 1/2 weeks before the REI trip began, I notified the staff at REI many months in advance that I needed the final itinerary before leaving on October 13. When I had not received it by Fri, Oct 9, I called and was told it was not yet complete. I was told it would be sent by overnight mail but did not receive it until Mon afternoon, Oct 12. It would have been nice to have had it earlier.In summary, this was a wonderful trip, almost perfectly well-thought-out and executed.

                              • Why Did You Choose to Travel with REI Adventures?:
                              • Active Adventures, Commitment to Sustainability, Destination, Good Value, I Liked the Itinerary, Travel with Like-minded Outdoor Enthusiasts
                              • Why did you choose this trip?:
                              • I was planning a trip to Bhutan and wanted to add other Asian countries that were off the beaten track. This trip filled the bill beautifully.
                              • What was the highlight of your trip?:
                              • There was no single highlight. I loved northern Laos, particularly Luang Prabang. Angkor Wat and the other antiquities in Siem Reap were amazing. Tonle Sap was such a lovely surprise.

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