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We've given each of our tours a comfort rating and a tour pace, walking or cycling grade to give you a general idea about the level of activity on each tour and the standard of accommodation you will be staying in at the end of your day's adventure.
Often you'll stay in different styles of accommodation during your tour; so we make an average rating across the entire tour. For more information on where you'll stay each night, please refer to the day by day tour itinerary.
Cameras and video-cameras are permitted in Burma. Restrictions on photography include military facilities and any structure considered strategic (including bridges and train stations though this last may be loosely enforced).
The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these trip notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations.
Bagan - Hot Air Balloon US$300-350 depending on Premium or Regular service and time of the year (due to high demand there can be issues with availability, please inform your tour leader on the first day of the tour if you are interested in doing the activity); Traditional massage US$10; Optional sunrise US$8; Half day bicycle hire US$5; Mount Popa Excursion US$42 (based on group size of 3-4 person)
Rangoon - Scott Market, extra sunset visit to Shwedagon Pagoda US$4 transfer and US$5 entrance fee
Hanoi - Water Puppets show from US$6; Cyclo tour of Old Quarter $6
Hue - Trip to countryside from US$15
Hoi An - Cooking class from US$26
Ho Chi Minh City - Trip to Mekong from US$40 depending on group size
Siem Reap - Helicopter flight over Angkor temples from US$130-260
Luang Prabang - Waterfalls from US$10
Due to high demand, if you are planning on taking the optional hot air balloon excursion you may wish to consider booking this in advance to secure your place on the flight. Please refer to your tour notes to check which days you will be waking up in Bagan and therefore able to do the excursion. We do not recommend booking on the day you are due to leave Bagan in case an early departure is planned. The balloon excursion does not form part of your included Explore holiday package. You can book and pay with the balloon operator directly: http://www.easternsafaris.com/balloonsoverbagan_home.html
Local Crew: Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognized part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. In order to make things easier for you, the Tour Leaders may organise a group’s tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour.
Local Currency:Burma: Kyat. Vietnam: Dong. Cambodia: Riel. Laos: Kip.
Recommended Currency for Exchange in Burma: US$. The official rate is far different from the market rate, we recommend you consult your tour leader for advice regarding the best place to exchange. The new exchange booth in Rangoon airport offers a good exchange service since November 2011. Carry all your funds in U.S. Dollar Cash or Euros cash, larger denominations tend to get better exchange rate. NB - PLEASE ONLY BRING NEW U.S. DOLLAR BILLS (BIG HEADS INSTEAD OF SMALL) AND THEY SHOULD BE NEW AND IN A PRISTINE STATE. ANY OLD, TORN OR MARKED NOTES WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. U.S. Dollar bills with the series CB will not be accepted for exchange. Please contact your tour leader for money exchange, do not attempt to change money on the street in Rangoon. Taxis accept dollars if agreed beforehand.
Recommended Currency for Exchange: In Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam all major currencies are exchangeable in the main towns but US$ is the most useful currency (cash) to hold as it can be exchanged and used in most places.
Where to Exchange: All major towns.
ATM Availability: Available throughout the trip except in Burma.
Credit Card Acceptance: Other than in the main cities in Vietnam there is very limited credit card use. Do not expect to be able to use credit cards in Burma.
Travellers Cheques: Travellers cheques can be changed in Hanoi and Saigon however this may be time consuming and more costly therefore we recommend you only take these as a backup in case of an emergency.
*Cheap local fare in a small cafe or restaurant. **Typical food in a simple, reasonably comfortable mid-range restaurant.
It is a condition of joining any of our tours that you must have valid travel insurance. It must indicate that you have cover for (at least) medical expenses and emergency repatriation in the event of illness or injury. We also strongly recommend your policy includes cancellation protection as all deposit paid are non-refundable.
If you require travel insurance for your tour, Explore Worldwide is an appointed representative of Campbell Irvine Limited, who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services authority. Our travel insurance policy is specially tailored to the needs of the adventure traveller and will cover you for any included activity on any Explore trip. You can either purchase this at the time of booking or call us 0844 499 0901 after you have booked.
Burma: A regular TOURIST VISA can be obtained by applying directly to an overseas Burma (Myanmar) Embassy. It may take a few days or longer depending on the particular embassy and time of year. UK and Irish nationals can either apply directly or through Visaswift - our partner in visa processing - www.visaswift.com/explore.aspx or 0207 4051616. A regular TOURIST VISA's validity expires 90 days after issue and only allows a 28-day, single-entry visit. Those nationalities who do not have a Burmese Embassy in the country in which they reside please contact us directly to discuss visa on arrival.
Laos: An entry visa is required by UK, USA, CAN, AUS & NZ citizens. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. Laos visa is obtained on arrival in Luang Prabang and at a cost of US$30 for NZ & AUS citizens, US$35 for UK & USA citizens and US$42 for CAN citizens. For other nationalities between US$30-42, please consult your travel agent. 1 passport photo is required.
Vietnam: An entry visa is required BEFORE departure by UK, CAN, AUS, NZ and USA citizens. The visa should be obtained before leaving your respective countries and is NOT available on arrival. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate.
Cambodia: An entry visa is required by all UK, USA, CAN, AUS & NZ nationals and can normally be obtained upon arrival at the border at a cost of about US$20 (please also bring a passport sized photo for the visa. Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A and B. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on different prophylaxis available against malaria. Although not compulsory, travellers may wish to immunise themselves against Japanese encephalitis. If travelling from a country in the yellow-fever zone within 6 days prior to entering Burma you will be required to produce a yellow fever vaccine certificate.
The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider.
Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.
We strongly recommend that you check your government’s travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs, including advice re: the legality of and local attitudes towards same-sex relationships. For UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Advice follow the link athttp://www.explore.co.uk/Traveladvice/
The area is tropical – ‘cool’ from November to February, (15°C to 27°C); ‘hot’ from March to May (up to 38°C and hotter still in Bagan); ‘wet’ from June to October (rainy, hot and muggy). Rangoon and lowland areas are sticky all year round, but the northern highlands (Luang Prabang, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap) are more temperate with a drier heat. The so-called ‘cool’ season can get quite chilly in the uplands and in Northern Vietnam during the night and in the morning so bring a fleece/jumper and heavy weight trousers.
Unfortunately it does occasionally happen that luggage does not always reach its destination on the same flight as its owner, or possibly it may be damaged in transit. If you are unlucky enough for this to occur, it is important that you file a PIR (Property Irregularity Report) with the airline before leaving the airport. This is essential when you come to make a claim either against the airline or from your travel insurance company
Pack essentially for hot weather. An umbrella or lightweight rainwear can be purchased locally if needed. Laundry facilities are widespread. Please note that a special dress code applies to all temple visits on this tour. Please dress conservatively and respectfully covering your torso, shoulders and legs to below the knee and we recommend easily removable footwear for convenience as you can only enter sacred sites barefoot. In general, as Burma, Laos and Cambodia are traditional, conservative and largely Buddhist culture we recommend you do not wear revealing clothing. Bring a swimming costume for hotel pools.
Mobile phones: Your mobile will not work in Burma. It is possible to buy a local SIM card for $20 in order to make/receive international calls, as long as your phone is un-locked. SMS messaging is not possible. WiFi is available in most hotels.
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