Should I purchase insurance?
Yes! This must cover medical care and emergency evacuation/repatriation. Also keep hardcopy of emergency contact numbers as well as insurance policy number.
What are the main vaccination and health procedures?
Before travel please consult a general practitioner for up to date advice on recommended vaccines and malaria prophylaxis.
Is there anything I can do to better prepare for a situation requiring first aid?
All guides have basic first aid training and carry a small first aid kit. But each client should also bring personal first aid supplies including antiseptic wipes, antiseptic liquid/cream, steristrips, sterile gauze and bandage as well as oral rehydration sachets.
What about the weather?
Hanoi and the north of Vietnam have a distinct winter and summer season with the mainly dry winter lasting from November through to April with average temperatures of 18-20 c. Summer lasts from May to October and is hot and humid with temperatures around 30c. Hue and Danang in the centre of the country have very hot, dry weather from February to August with temperatures reaching the mid 30s c, and the possibility of some quite heavy rainfall between September and January. Ho Chi Minh City and the south have a hot, dry season from December till April with average temperatures around 28c and a rainy season lasting from May through to October. It rarely rains for long periods even in the rainy season with most rain coming in short, heavy bursts.
Laos enjoys a tropical climate and most of the year is hot and humid with two distinct seasons.
The rainy season lasts from May through to October with hot and humid weather at 30 plus Celsius.
The dry season begins in November with cool temperatures of 10-20 c giving way to hot and dry weather from March through to May when the temperature can reach the high 30s.
Vientiane has a minimum temperature of 19 degrees Celsius in January. In mountainous areas, in winter however, temperatures can drop to as low as 14-15 degrees Celsius and even as low as freezing. The average precipitation is highest in Southern Laos, where the Annamite Mountains receive over 3,000 mm. annually. In Vientiane rainfall is about 1,500-2,000 mm., and in the Northern provinces only 1,000-1,500 mm.
Cambodia can be visited at any time of year. The ideal months are December and January, when humidity levels are relatively low, there is little rainfall and a cooling breeze whips across the land, but this is also peak season when the majority of visitors descend on the country.
From early February temperatures keep rising until the killer month, April, when the mercury often exceeds 40°C. Sometime in May or June, the southwestern monsoon brings rain and high humidity, cooking up a sweat for all but the hardiest of visitors. The wet season, which lasts until October, isn’t such a bad time to visit, as the rain tends to come in short, sharp downpours. Angkor is surrounded by lush foliage and the moats are full of water at this time of year. If you are planning to visit isolated areas, however, the wet season makes for tough travel.
Thailand can best be described as tropical and humid for the majority of the country during most of the year. The area of Thailand north of Bangkok has a climate determined by three seasons while the southern peninsular region of Thailand has only two.
In Northern Thailand the seasons are clearly defined. Between November and May the weather is mostly dry, however this is broken up into the periods November to February and March to May. The other northern season is from May to November and is dominated by the southwest monsoon, during which time rainfall in the north is at its heaviest.
The southern region of Thailand really has only two seasons — the wet and the dry. These seasons do not run at the same time on both the east and west side of the peninsula. On the west coast the southwest monsoon brings rain and often heavy storms from April through to October, while on the east coast the most rain falls between September and December.
Overall the southern parts of Thailand get by far the most rain, with around 2,400 millimetres every year, compared with the central and northern regions of Thailand, both of which get around 1,400 millimetres.
Myanmar has three seasons. Cool Season – October through February with average temperatures 20-24 C The Hot Season – March through May with average temperatures 30-35 C The Wet Season – June through September with average temperatures 25-30 C The ideal time to visit Myanmar is during the cool season. However, even during the wet season, Yangon normally receives morning and afternoon showers while rainfall in Bagan and Mandalay is very low. The weather around Inle Lake and in Shan State is quite pleasant all year round but cold at night from December to February.
What should I pack?
Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia & Laos. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat is a good idea in the rainy season. During the winter months warm clothing is needed for visiting the north of Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos. Visitors to Buddhist countries should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting religious buildings and shoes should be removed before entering a private home.
What you take will naturally depend upon where you are travelling and the style of journey you are undertakng, and it can often be difficult to decide what to pack. Nevertheless, the following should act as a useful checklist of essential items worth thinking about taking.
> Passport: ensure that it is valid and in good condition with empty pages available. Make a photocopy as well
> Copy of visa
> Insurance: ensure that it will be valid for the whole journey
> Copy of your itinerary and list of emergency contact numbers for your tour operator
> Insurance: 24-hour emergency contact number and next-of-kin contact details
> Debit/credit card cancellation numbers
> Contact details for friends/family with international dialling code
> Airline tickets
> Money belt: ensure that it is discreet and comfortable to wear
> First Aid kit: basic travel kit to cover basic mishaps which may occur along the way
> Personal Medication: with international doctors’ notes to ensure easy passage of medication across international borders
> Sun block: high UVA protection ideally
> Sunglasses and sunhat
> Comfortable walking shoes
> Mosquito spray and insect repellent
> Long sleeve top and trousers are useful to protect against mosquitoes at dawn and dusk and the sun throughout the day
> Camera, battery and memory cards
> Padlock: use one with a code, not a key
> Apart from credit cards, bring small bills in US dollars. Thai Baht can also be used in Laos
What can I do to improve safety on my trip?
Safety is our most important consideration. Be aware that trekking can be dangerous and accidents can happen. You can never do too much to look out for yourself. Always notify the guide if you feel sick particularly at altitude. And if you don’t know,ask?
What sort of transport and support are available for bicycling tours?
Tours are supported by either a private air-conditioned bus, minibus or jeep, dependent on the style of tour you have booked. The support vehicle is there for clients who need to take a break from cycling, to carry spare bike parts, and will carry refreshments such as water, snacks and soft drinks to make riding more enjoyable. The support vehicle will follow at a discreet distance and during transfer sections, the bikes will be carried in the bus where necessary. On occasions when riding off road on single track trails which are inaccessible to vehicles, support will be by motorbike. The guide will carry water and the first aid kit with him/her until the trail rejoins the main track where the bus will be waiting.
|1-4 pax||16 seater van ( with some rear seats removed)|
|5-9 pax||16 seater van + truck|
|10-16 pax||30-35 seater bus + truck|
What sort of transport and support are available for trekking tours?
All equipment and luggage will be carried by porters or by jeep/motorbike. Please try to keep baggage to a minimum weight. Often a cook will accompany the tour. Depending on the nature of the trek, there will be a private air-conditioned bus, minibus or jeep for transfer between destinations.