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Sail down the Mekong, wild swim the pools of a Laotian waterfall and discover Bangkok’s best-kept foodie secrets
Get off-grid in Thailand and Laos
Our Laos and Thailand adventure drinks in a riot of rich experience.
We’ll hunt down Bangkok’s best-kept street food secrets in the backstreets of the capital, and savour local Lanna food in the night bazaars of Chiang Mai. We’ll tackle churning rapids as we white-water raft the Mae Taeng River, and unwind on a languorous two-day boat ride down the Mekong River in Laos.
We’ll meet local tribespeople living in the mountains of the Golden Triangle, and stay in a remote eco-lodge that supports their lifestyle. We’ll soak in the ancient splendour of Luang Prabang, and take part in the giving of the alms with local monks who live there. And we’ll trek through the jungle to the Kuang Si waterfall to wild swim its turquoise pools.
From street barbeques to sleeper trains and remote country cycling, this is a potent off-grid getaway to sate your very soul. Adventurists, who’s in?
Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.
Welcome to Bangkok! Please arrive by 3pm and a private transfer will whisk you to your sleek hotel in one of the city’s best neighbourhoods. The gateway to South East Asia, Bangkok teems with energy, and you’ll be struck by the rhythm of urban life from the moment you leave the terminal. Ancient temples in leafy courtyards are shadowed by highways and super-malls, and street food carts amble along outside 50-storey towers; all played out to the soundtrack of beeping traffic. The pace is relentless, and you can’t help but be swept up in it. We’ll steer clear of tourist traps around Khao San Road and instead take you to insider places that Bangkok dwellers love, kicking off with cocktails at Above Eleven, a chic rooftop bar with sweeping views of the skyline. Get to know your fellow adventure buddies before jumping in a tuk tuk to an excellent Bangkok restaurant.
This morning, we’ll send your taste buds reeling with a foodie foray around the city’s Bang Lam Phu and Bang Phan Thom districts. Forget bland Pad Thai: we’ll unlock the secrets to Bangkok’s hidden culinary gems in a dizzying assault on the senses. Our foodie-obsessed guides wilbl take you to their favourite haunts, tucked away from the crowds down quiet alleyways and back streets. You might try anything from freshly-baked roti to pungent green curry and papaya salad with fermented fish sauce. Feeling brave? Try a green century egg or soup made with fiery Kariang peppers. Come evening, we’ll take an overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai. It might not be the most peaceful night’s snooze, but now’s the time to crack out the cards and snacks as you sweep northwards through Thailand’s vibrant landscape.
Wake up to a new side of Thailand, as the bright lights of Bangkok are replaced by the lush jungle scenery that frames Chiang Mai. Thailand’s cultural heartland is home to a carefree community of artists and digital nomads, drawn by its beautiful old architecture and an easy-going lifestyle. We’ll dig into a lazy breakfast of banana pancakes or rice congee porridge, before hopping aboard a songthaew to Kad Ton Payom market, where you try Northern Thai (Lanna) favourites such as coconut-infused khao soi curry and spicy Chiang Mai sausage stuffed with red curry paste. The afternoon is free time, so sprawl by your hotel pool in tropical gardens, or pop into town for galleries and shops. In the evening, we’ll take a stroll around the Night Bazaar, home to artisan crafts made by local hillside tribes. There’s yet more incredible food, too, from fish ball noodle soup to Thai sweets and even edible bugs.
We’ll begin today in Mae Taeng, a jungle wilderness dotted with mountains, rivers and rice fields. We’ll grab some bikes and cycle a serene eight-kilometre route along country roads to the start of our trek. A two-hour walk will take us through a remote forest valley to the beautiful Huay Sathan waterfall, where we’ll pause for a welcome dip. Then we’ll hike back and drive up to the river camp for white-water rafting, which can only take place if the conditions are right. If so, we’ll brief you on safety, then send you flying on a rollercoaster ride down the churning Mae Taeng River. The winding, 10-kilometre route takes around two hours, and you Flashpackers will need to work as a team to navigate the thrilling rapids. You’ll get drenched, but fear not: dry clothes and hot drinks await at the end. Back in Chiang Mai, toast your courage over a beer or three. Chon gâew!
Fire up your playlists as we travel five hours northeast through forested peaks to Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai’s charming “little sister” city. We’ll stop en-route at Wat Rong Khun, a Disney-like temple covered in white glass, and the Black House, a sprawling teak complex filled with animal-themed curiosities, created by artist Thawan Duchanee. The rest of the day is yours to spend in Chiang Rai. This small, sleepy city is surrounded by mountains and mist-clad valleys. Take a wander around the stalls in the city centre, or make the most of the serene setting by booking a massage back at your hotel (which also comes with a welcoming pool). In the evening, you could explore the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, a mini version of the one at Chiang Rai, with locally-woven fabrics and handicrafts made by Hmong hill tribes. Excellent street food includes tempura vegetables, freshly grilled kebabs and melons filled with sweet sticky rice.
Get set to dial back to nature today, as we take to the hills around Chiang Rai. We’ll be hiking through the Northern Thai highlands, home to dense jungle, rice paddies and villages built from bamboo and banana leaves. We’ll climb for an hour or so up through bamboo jungle, and stop at a waterfall for a unique bamboo-cooked lunch, before walking back past vast tea plantations. From here, we drive to Chiang Khong, and a unique hillside hideaway set high above the Mekong River. Lanjia Lodge is built in harmony with the surrounding Hmong and Lahu communities, and villagers take care of all guests. This is an opportunity to get to know a bit about the distinct way of life of once-nomadic hillside tribes who live in the area. Activities include bike-riding, birdwatching and craftwork, and a percentage of revenue supports local projects. Sip a cool ginger infusion on arrival, and revel in the jungle wilderness.
Today we cross the border and embark on a languorous two-day boat trip down the Mekong – the lifeblood of Laos. This is a very chilled country and a meandering river ride is the best way to appreciate its mellow soul. Forget wi-fi or crowds, and lose yourself to the gentle put-put of the slow boat, as you drink in the beautiful Laotian terrain. We’ll pass mountain gorges, tropical forest and sandbanks lined by narrow fishing vessels in the Land of a Million Elephants (you may even spot one of these wonderful creatures, too). Make the most of the solitude to get stuck into your Kindle and unwind. You may also want to take part in our simple cooking class, where we’ll teach you how to make basic Lao dishes. In the evening, we’ll dock at Pakbeng, a small village where the Mekong and Beng rivers meet. Grab a pew by the river and get the Beerlao rounds in.
The sweet life is where it’s at today, with hours more sailing on the Mekong. We’ll stop en-route at Pak Ou, to explore the magnificent Tam Ting caves. Accessed by a rambling white staircase cut into craggy limestone cliffs, they sit high above the river, and are filled with thousands of Buddha statues. Back on-board, we’ll host a Laotian language session, so you can get to know your “sabaï dii” from your “la kone” before gliding into the ancient town of Luang Prabang. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this former royal capital is all about the charm. Expect French colonial buildings framed by pink bougainvillea trees, and monks in bright saffron robes strolling between gilded temples. Taking a gentle amble around town and make like the locals with a friendly game of petanque. In the evening, we’ll tuck into a traditional Lao BBQ, where you can grill your own meat over sizzling coal-filled blocks.
A free day stretches ahead today and the delights of Luang Prabang beckon. Start with a lazy cappuccino at your hotel, before hiring bikes to pedal around this supremely pretty town. Stop to pick up some rice lollipops from the morning market, or order a fresh lychee juice from one of the cafés down by the river. Love temples? Check out the ornate Wat Mai palace, and the 16th century Wat Xieng Thong with its famous ‘tree of life’ mosaic. If you want to burn off some energy, climb the 355 steps up Mount Phousi, for 360-degree views of the town. Or, you can simply chill with a massage or a yoga class in town – followed by a snooze on one of the cushioned decks overlooking the Mekong. In the evening, grab your fellow Flashpackers and head for Luang Prabang’s night market, where you’ll find local artwork, silver jewellery, intricately crafted lanterns and more.
We’ll rise before dawn today to take part in the giving of alms; Luang Prabang’s sacred ritual that dates back centuries. Every morning, monks from the town’s 35 wats collect rice for their day’s food. Watch this tradition unfold against whitewashed temple walls, with the sun rising on the horizon. Next, we’ll tackle a three-hour climb up a jungle trail, in the countryside south of Luang Prabang. Your reward at the top is the natural source of the Kuang Si, a three-tier waterfall. This glorious sight is famed for its azure pools that form around the 50-metre cascading drop. After working up a sweat in the tropical forest, cool off with a welcome dip. With turquoise water bouncing off limestone rocks, and the sun dancing through thick green glades, it’s a wild swim like no other. Back in Luang Prabang, we’ll have some free time before gathering together for a farewell meal (sob!) down by the river.
Flashpackers, it’s time to say goodbye! Your guide can help you to arrange your transfer to the airport. If you’re thirsty for another South East Asian experience, why not look to Vietnam and Cambodia? It’s just a short flight away from Luang Prabang, and offers adventure galore. Wherever you head to next, let the spirit of Laos and Thailand burn bright within you. You’ve feasted on Thai street food in the alleyways of Bangkok, and tackled churning rapids in the valleys of Chiang Mai. You’ve met hill tribes living in the Golden Triangle, and stayed in a unique eco-lodge in the depths of the wilderness. You’ve taken a slow boat down the Mekong River in Laos, passing sacred caves and bamboo villages along the way. You’ve wallowed in waterfall pools, and been wowed by wondrous temples. All this, with night markets, boutique hotels and a Lao barbeque thrown into the mix. What’s not to love?
Browse a selection of our favourite hotels, for a flavour of where you may stay on this trip.
Villa Maly’s spacious rooms. Dining is alfresco either with a poolside BBQ, or at the more formal Le Vetiver.
The traditional Lao therapies at the spa are a highlight – or take stroll around the tropical gardens for a quick and free destress.
This new hotel has all the trappings of a trendy hotspot: sleek room decor, walk-in rain showers, a rooftop pool and bar, free wifi and a fitness centre. Throw in all-day dining with international appeal and you have the perfect city retreat.
A home away from home (that also just happens to have a library and a concierge).
This restful eco-retreat is run in partnership with the local Hmong and Lahu villagers. Expect a sensitively-run refuge where you can lounge on the deck, drink tea and look out across the Mekong River.
Peace and serenity rule but if you find yourself hankering after adventure, the lodge can arrange horse riding, trekking and birdwatching in the surrounding forest.
"I had never traveled solo before and didn't know what to expect, however my worries were quickly put to rest as the Flash Pack customer service answered all of my questions and worries. It was an amazing experience, from start to finish. A wonderful, energetic guide, we stayed in lovely accommodations, always had fun planned activities and sightseeing, and all the food tastings were amazing. And of course, a great group of like minded people who I now call my friends. I would travel using Flash Pack again in an instant!"
"The trip was very well organized and everyone on the happiness team was extremely responsive leading up to the start of the trip. The local guide on the trip, Tony, was fantastic and he really went out of his way to ensure we all had an amazing and unique experience. The tour itself was almost exactly as advertised, with really nice accommodation, top notch activities and very off-the-beaten path experiences. It was great to have a group of like-minded people to travel with. I highly recommend Flash Pack and will definitely take another trip with them soon."
"I’ve taken 3 trips with Flash Pack and never been disappointed. In fact, I’m usually left in awe of the experiences they put together. My friends all have travel envy! Flash Pack has changed my life by transforming solo travel from a burden to a gift."
"Flash Pack is what they said they are - for solo travelers in their 30s and 40s. Definitely worth the price and the experience is priceless!"
Fly into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) or Don Mueang Airport (DMK) and out of Luang Prabang International Airport (LPQ). If you can, arrive before 3pm in time for your welcome meeting (although we would still arrange an airport transfer for you any time you arrive). You can depart anytime on day 11.
Our accommodation at Pakbeng in Laos is basic and not up to Flash Pack’s usual standards – but options are limited in this remote region and we only stay there one night.
Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control. From time to time we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh.
We take safety very seriously on Flash Pack adventures – read more here.
Joining the Flash Pack community comes with a few special guarantees...
We bring together like-minded people in their 30s and 40s on incredible adventures and 98% travel solo. Want to know more about your group? Get in touch.
We know the world’s best bits. Think sleeping on a secret island in the Philippines and lunch with a sumo in Japan. You’ll always enjoy a comfortable stay in handpicked hotels, too.
We pride ourselves on the fact our guides know their destinations better than anyone. From Lee in Vietnam to Nayla in Argentina, with Flash Pack you really are guided by the best.
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