The Emerald Triangle
An exploration of the rarely-visited 'Emerald Triangle' where Thailand, Laos and Cambodia meet. Visit the spectacular 4,000 Islands of the Mekong River and World Heritage Wat Phu and Preah Vihear
Off-the-beaten-track Thailand, Laos and Cambodia tour
Our 2-week Thailand, Laos and Cambodia tour – ‘The Emerald Triangle’ – explores the picturesque yet rarely-visited region in the heart of Indochina where the borders of the three countries meet.
Journey by train from the capital Bangkok to the northeastern region of Thailand, known as I-san, where we’ll visit the fabulous Angkor-period temples of Phnom Rung atop an extinct volcano and charming Muang Tham surrounded by lily ponds.
From here, we’ll continue, via the picturesque Mekong-side town of Khong Jiam and spectacular Pha Taem National Park, into southern Laos. Discover the Boloven Plateau and World Heritage Wat Phu, before heading south to the stunning ‘Four Thousand Islands’, where the Mekong cascades into Cambodia over a series of stunning falls. (Some of the world’s largest, yet least known.)
After a boat journey, down what to our minds is the most scenic stretch of the Mekong, into northern Cambodia, we’ll head west to the awe-inspiring site of Preah Vihear – now also UNESCO World Heritage protected – where an 11th-century temple emerges from sheer 600-metre cliffs to overlook the forests of the northern Cambodian plain. After a sunrise visit, a morning’s drive takes us to our final destination Siem Reap with a day at leisure before departure from its international airport.
An unforgettable journey through a little-known but fascinating region of Southeast Asia.
Note that, for those with a few more days to spare, you can extend your tour to discover, or re-visit, the fabulous jungle temples of Angkor.
Here's an idea of what you can expect to do and see day-to-day.
Day 1 - Bangkok - arrival and time to explore the area
Arrival in Bangkok and check-in to a downtown hotel in the City’s lively Banglamphu district. Afternoon to relax, recover from your jet-lag by the pool or explore the area – street-life and local markets. Welcome, local-style dinner.
Extra nights in Bangkok prior to your tour are available
Overnight: Bangkok Transport: Walk, Meals: D,
Day 2 - Bangkok - city tour with a difference
City tour with a difference! Bangkok by public transport; riverboat, skytrain, tuk-tuk and canal boat with stop-offs to take in the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Keow, (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the fascinating Jim Thompson Museum. (Note, alternatives can be arranged for those who have already visited Bangkok). In the evening we’ll board the sleeper train for Surin.
Overnight: Night sleeper train Transport: Train, Boat, Walk, Tuk Tuk, Meals: B, L,
Day 3 - Buriram Province - an Angkor temple atop a volcano
Early morning arrival in the small provincial town of Surin where our exploration of the Emerald Triangle begins with a visit to the spectacular Angkor-period ruins to be found in the area; the dramatic 12th-century Phnom Rung – situated on the summit of an extinct volcano – the well-preserved, picturesque Muang Tham and the hidden border temple of Ta Muan.
Overnight: Surin Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 4 - Khong Jiam - Pha Taem National Park
Time to head eastwards to our day’s destination – the small, scenic town of Khong Jiam on the banks of the Mekong, overlooking Laos. In the afternoon we’ll travel to the nearby Pha Taem National Park for a hike to visit the prehistoric cliff paintings and unusual rock formations before returning to Khong Jiam by boat down the Mekong River.
Overnight: Khong Jiam Transport: Minibus, Boat, Walk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 5 - Pakse - across the border to Laos
Leisurely morning in this quaint riverside town before crossing into Laos for a 2-night stay in Pakse. The afternoon is free to check out the markets, temples and bustling waterfront of this old French river port or try one of the famous, traditional Lao herbal massages?
Overnight: Pakse Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, D,
Day 6 - Pakse - the picturesque Boloven Plateau
Day tour of some of the varied sites of the Boloven Plateau, home to numerous ethnic minorities and the centre of Lao’s coffee growing industry including visits to one of the area’s tea and coffee plantations, a colourful local market and a chance to bathe in the spectacular Tad Yeuang Falls.
Overnight: Pakse Transport: Minibus, Walk, Meals: B, L,
Day 7 - Champassak - down the Mekong to Wat Phu
Back on to the Mekong River for a boat trip south to the small, historic town of Champassak. Afternoon visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phu – a pre-Angkor, Khmer temple dramatically situated on a mountain-side overlooking the valley of the Mekong.
Overnight: Champassak Transport: Boat, Walk, Tuk Tuk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 8 - 4,000 Islands - south by road and river
Time to head south with a ferry across the Mekong and visit to a small but atmospheric ruined jungle-temple, before arriving on Khong Island in the beautiful 4,000 Islands archipelago. Afternoon free to explore the village and waterfront or just take in the views from our resort’s pool or a strategically-placed riverside cafe.
Overnight: Don Khong Transport: Minibus, Boat, Meals: B, L,
Day 9 - Done Khone - by boat through the 4,000 Islands
A morning tour of the unspoilt island before a delightful boat journey weaving through the ‘4,000 Islands’ – a stretch of the Mekong River of truly outstanding natural beauty straddling the Lao, Cambodian border – takes us to our next destination, picturesque Khone Island.
Overnight: Khone Island Transport: Minibus, Boat, Meals: B,
Day 10 - Don Khone - Khone Phapaeng Falls and freshwater dolphins
Explore some of the islands by boat, tuk-tuk and on foot*. Visit Southeast Asia’s, and indeed one of the world’s, largest waterfalls, the stunning Khone Phapaeng Falls – and with luck catch a glimpse of some of the rare freshwater dolphins which still inhabit this stretch of the river.
*A kayaking option can be arranged for the energetic
Overnight: Khone Island Transport: Boat, Walk, Tuk Tuk, Meals: B, L, D,
Day 11 - The Mekong - down river into northern Cambodia
Continuing down the Mekong we’ll follow the picturesque jungle-lined river into Cambodia and the remote town of Stung Treng. Here we’ll visit a traditional silk weaving workshop before continuing overland, west to Preah Vihear, for our night’s accommodation in a comfortable, chalet-style resort at the foot of the mountains.
Overnight: Preah Vihear Transport: Minibus, Boat, Meals: B, D,
Day 12 - Preah Vihear - sunrise and morning drive to Siem Reap
Early start for a sunrise visit to the awe-inspiring site of World Heritage Preah Vihear Temple perched atop a sheer 600-metre cliff! From here we’ll continue overland with a morning drive to our final destination Siem Reap, with an afternoon at leisure before a farewell, Khmer-style dinner.
Overnight: Siem Reap Transport: Minibus, Meals: B, D,
Day 13 - Siem Reap - morning at leisure and departure
Morning at leisure and end of the tour with departure at your convenience.
Airport transfers are included if you purchase the ‘with flights’ package. If you purchased your own flights, airport transfers can be arranged.
Extra accommodation in Siem Reap after your tour, is available if required.
Overnight: Departure Transport: Walk, Meals: B,
The nitty-gritty, the things you need to know, the answers to your burning questions.
Just a few of the many highlights
Rarely visited Phnom Rung atop a volcano, the UNESCO sites of Wat Phu and Preah Vihear, the awesome Khone Phapaeng Falls and serene 4,000 Islands are just a few of many highlights
- Travel by train to the rarely-visited, I-san region of Thailand with some of the most spectacular & best-preserved Angkor temples
- Journey by boat down the mighty Mekong to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Wat Phu Temple
- Down the Mekong again and into northern Cambodia for a visit to another World Heritage Site - the awe-inspiring Preah Vihear
- Discover the spectaular landcapes, unusual rock formations and prehistoric rock paintings of Thailand's Phae Taem National Park
- Wonderful landscapes of southern Laos include the Boloven Plateau, Khone Phapaeng Falls and 4,000 Islands
- Meet plenty of friendly locals and of course sample the contrasting and delicious cuisines of Laos and Cambodia
Air Departures (UK)
- 8 May 19 2,200 GBP
- 4 June 19 2,200 GBP
- 1 July 19 2,200 GBP
- 28 July 19 2,300 GBP
- 16 August 19 2,200 GBP
- 5 September 19 2,200 GBP
- 13 October 19 2,200 GBP
- 5 November 19 2,200 GBP
- 28 November 19 2,200 GBP
- 26 December 19 2,400 GBP
- 9 May 19 1,400 GBP
- 5 June 19 1,400 GBP
- 2 July 19 1,400 GBP
- 29 July 19 1,400 GBP
- 17 August 19 1,400 GBP
- 6 September 19 1,400 GBP
- 14 October 19 1,400 GBP
- 6 November 19 1,400 GBP
- 29 November 19 1,400 GBP
- 27 December 19 1,400 GBP
Guaranteed Places Left Special Price Solo Traveller Closed
*Air departures are from the UK. Land departures start from Bangkok
*Land departure dates correspond to the FIRST day of the itinerary.
We choose our hotels based on a combination of location, comfort and convenience. Here is a *selection of the types of hotel/rooms you can expect to stay at on this tour...
Nanda Heritage Hotel, Bangkok view
- Based around a beautifully restored 1920s teak family villa
- The award winning design combines traditional and modern
- Great central location for restaurants, cafes and shopping
Pakse Hotel, Pakse view
- Splendid views from the hotel's rooftop bar and restaurant
- Sip a cold one as you watch the sun set over the Mekong
- Central but quiet location in the old port town
Seng Ahloune Resort, 4,000 Islands
- Scenic riverside location
- Located on Khone Island in Sth Laos's scenic '4,000 Islands'
- Traditional style wooden chalets
Inthira Hotel, Champassak
- Stay in a beautifully restored old French villa
- Great location in the centre of Champassak Village
- Excellent in-house bar and restaurant
City River Hotel, Siem Reap view
- City River is out first choice in Cambodia's Siem Reap.
- Rooftop pool; spa, riverside location, super friendly staff
- Only a 5 minute walk from the bustling Old Market district
*This list should be considered a guide only, hotels/rooms may change (without notice) depending on availability.
Visa Info & Notes
Visas – Thailand: No visa in advance is required. A free 30-day visa for Thailand is issued on arrival at an international airport.
Visas – Laos: No visa in advance is required. A 30-day visa can be obtained for you at the border. Approx. $38).
Visas – Cambodia: For most nationalities, a visa on arrival is issued at the borders though please do check beforehand. Visa fees and conditions are subject to change but are usually $30 payable in cash in US dollars.
All: A passport photo is required for both Laos and Cambodia while tourist visas for both are valid for 30 days from entry.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry and you may be refused entry if your passport is damaged, in poor condition or does not have at least 2 blank pages remaining.
Meals: breakfasts are generally hotel buffets with lunch and dinners based on local food. Lunches on the road are typically simpler dishes such as variations on noodles or fried rice while your tour-leader will generally order more elaborate-style dinners consisting of a selection of local fare. The cuisine shows both Thai and Vietnamese influences though with plenty of unique dishes too.
Thai cuisine needs no introduction while much lesser known Lao fare is somewhat similar though commonly accompanied by ‘sticky’, rather than plain rice. Dishes in both countries can be spicy so please indicate your chilli tolerance levels to your tour leader. Both vegetarians and vegans are very easily catered for. For any other likes and dislikes please remind your tour-leader at the start of the tour. A number of meals are not included, which allows you to ‘do your own thing’ or take a break if you’re feeling ‘riced out’.
Accommodation: all choices fall into the comfortable 3* range and are en-suite and air-conditioned with, where possible, pools. We have posted a selection of sample accommodation on the lefthand hotel tab but please note that as we try and avoid the larger hotels, availability, in high season particularly, means we use several options in each destination.
Activities: note that no activities are compulsory and that any offered can be tailored for various fitness levels or alternatives suggested.
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