We often get asked many questions about travelling through Southeast Asia. Below are some of our most frequently asked questions. If your questions is not answered here, please contact your sales consultant or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are your booking terms and conditions?
To read our Booking Terms and Conditions, please click here
What happens if my flight is cancelled?
Your agent protects your trip in several ways. If your flight is canceled due to bad weather, mechanical breakdown of the aircraft on which they are scheduled to travel or an organized labor strike (provided the strike occurs after they pay their premium) they can take a later flight. Our 24-hour emergency assistance service can make all the arrangements.
You will be reimbursed for the additional transportation expenses to join their trip, less any refunds paid or payable for their original voucher.
Plus, they will be reimbursed for the cost of any unused land or water travel arrangements.
Do you offer any premade packages? How much is it?
Generally, we customize every tour according to your interest. The tour prices vary depending on the chosen activities and time of booking. We are happy to send you an individual tour offer – just give us a call, send us an e-mail or use the contact form on the website
How to cancel the booking I have made?
Contact us if you booked directly or else contact your travel agent.
How can we transfer payments to you? Do you require a deposit for bookings?
We require an upfront 20% deposit for your reservation. You can pay either by bank transfer or by credit card.
What should I expect if I have booked an airport transfer?
After collecting your luggage and completing the immigration and customs procedures, you will walk through the exit gate. Take your time to look for a burgundy colored welcome sign with the Trails of Indochina logo and your name (as pictured) being held by one of our drivers or tour guides. Airports in South East Asia are often crowded but they are safe. Please take your time to look around and attempt to locate the Trails of Indochina representative.
What happens if I have booked a transfer but cannot find it on arrival at the airport?
Please call the emergency number of the local operations offices listed on your itinerary or service voucher. If you don’t have a mobile or cell phone, please ask the airport staff to show you to the nearest phone booth. Normally the transfer driver is at the airport, and it is a matter of giving you directions so that you can find the driver.
What happens if the hotel cannot find my booking when they arrive?
The first step is for your client’s to ask tour guide to contact the local Operation so that the situation can be resolved straightaway. If the hotel is still unable to find their booking, they must contact us at one of the given numbers of contact person.
In case of emergency on tour, who will I contact?
When on tour, your tour guide is the first point of contact. We have our own operations offices across the region, so emergency assistance is available 24 hours per day. Please see the office contact details listed on your itinerary or service voucher.
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Could we order special dishes? We have a special diet?
For vegetarians/vegans, you will have no problem. Most allergies are easy to accommodate. Halal food is only available in the major cities (although not in Myanmar) and Kosher food is not readily available. For specific requirements, please contact us in advance.
Is food spicy in Southeast Asia?
In some cases, food in Southeast Asia can be very spicy. For example, a Thai Curry, or Lao “laab” salad. However, most of the time, guests in restaurants are able to order the food according to their desired level of spiciness. In even more cases, food is not spicy at all and is served with spicy condiments which you can mix with your food as much or as little as you like.
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How are 5 star hotels rated in South East Asia?
To quote a standard 5 star property, people usually base on flawless guest service, professional staff, accommodation with impressive interior design and immaculate furnishings, and additional services such as spa, swimming pool and health club. However, there remains no international standard to define a five star hotel as each country uses their own criteria to rate hotels. It is fair to say that it is possible to judge different starred hotels in relation to one another within the same country as at least they are subject to the same criteria.
Do most major hotels have a non-smoking room type?
The non-smoking definition in most countries does not necessarily mean it is smoke-free. While most reputable five-star hotels have non-smoking rooms, some lower grade hotels consider non-smoking as simply removing the ashtray.
If my departure flight is later than the regular check-out time, can I keep my hotel room until departure?
Generally not, although it depends on the hotel occupancy that day. It is recommended to speak with hotel reception and they will advise if they can offer a complimentary late check out. Otherwise, most hotels implement a 50% charge for any late check out before 6.00pm and one full night charge for later than 6.00pm. This policy varies for each hotel.
What general food and water precautions should be followed in South East Asian countries?
The golden rule is: If you cannot peel it, boil it or cook it - do not eat it. Generally, try to avoid fresh salads or raw vegetables as they may be washed with contaminated water and avoid eating raw shellfish, raw crab and cold cooked meats. Across the countries, regardless of where you are staying, drink bottled water, and make sure the seal is not broken. Beware that ground up ice, although manufactured with clean water, is open to contamination when it is transported as the large blocks come into contact with the ground. Ice cubes are generally considered safe.
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What medical precautions do I need to take before the trip?
It is important to visit your travel medical doctor or specialist travel clinic several months before you travel to allow time for the accurate recommended courses of vaccinations (if necessary). This is particularly important if you suffer from any medical condition and/or are traveling with young children.
How can I beat jet lag?
Without careful planning, heavy jet lag can ruin a holiday overseas. There are two core approaches which may not entirely prevent jet lag but can go a long way toward reducing the overall symptoms commonly associated with jet lag. The first is to ensure that your body is the optimum condition to fight against common features which contribute to jet lag, and the second is to try and ‘trick’ the body into maintaining its natural circadian rhythms.
Some more tips: Avoid alcohol; drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration; stay active throughout the flight i.e. regularly stretch your legs and move around the cabin as much as possible; plan your arrival flight during daylight hours when the sunlight will naturally alert your body.
Will I get diarrhea/dengue fever/malaria while traveling?
Diarrhea is the most common medical problem that travelers face. Most cases can be attributed to a change in diet which exposes you to different strains of bacteria. Other causes are food poisoning such as typhoid - a form of salmonella - amoebiasis, giardiasis, or simply too much chilli.
For mild diarrhea, make sure you keep drinking plenty of fluids, such as re-hydration salts available at all chemists, or diluted soft drinks. Condier medication such as Lomotil or Imodium only if you need to travel, as they are not cures. For severe diarrhea with fever, seek medical attention if symptoms persist for more than 48 hours. Prevention is the best cure, so be careful of what you eat and drink, and also wash your hands before eating
It is very uncommon for tourists to experience any issues with Malaria or Dengue fever while visiting Southeast Asia. Both diseases are carried by mosquitoes and are present here, but both are rare and not prevalent in the main areas where tourists tend to visit. However, if your visit will take you deep into the jungle or trekking for several days, you may consider consulting your travel doctor about anti-malarial medication.
Are there good hospitals/healthcare in Southeast Asia?
Vietnam: Yes, there are international standard healthcare facilities in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Danang & Hue.
Cambodia: Yes, there are international standard healthcare facilities in Phnom Penh & Siem Reap.
Thailand: Yes, there are international standard healthcare facilities in many cities. Thailand, along with Singapore, offers the best standard of healthcare in Southeast Asia.
Laos: No, there are no international standard healthcare facilities in Laos. Although there are good standard local hospitals in Luang Prabang & Vientiane.
Myanmar: No, there are no international standard healthcare facilities in Myanmar. Although there are good standard local hospitals in Yangon & Mandalay.
Bali: Yes, there are international standard healthcare facilities in Bali.
Are there many landmines in Southeast Asia?
Vietnam: There are some landmines in the remote countryside however these areas are not visited by tourists.
Cambodia: There are many landmines in some provinces of Cambodia and several National Government Organizations (NGOs) are working to de-mine the areas. In areas where mines are present, the safe paths are clearly marked. Follow the paths and the advice of your tour guide.
Laos: There are many landmines in some provinces of Laos and several NGOs are working to de-mine the areas. In areas where mines are present, the safe paths are clearly marked. Follow the paths and the advice of your tour guide.
: There are no issues with landmines in Thailand.
: There are no issues with landmines in Myanmar.
: There are no issues with landmines in Bali.
How many days in advance should I apply Travel Insurance for my trip?
As most travel insurance policy would have trip cancellation coverage, you would be suggested to proceed with the insurance as soon as your itinerary is confirmed.
Why should I consider travel insurance?
Illness, an accident, or a death in the family is often a source of great contention between travelers and their travel agents for cancellation, refunds and compensation on their travel packages. While we can't eliminate travel risks, travel insurance can minimize and protect you against such financial loss. Travel insurance is not compulsory, although it is highly recommended to take out a travel insurance policy before your departure. This will be really helpful in case of medical emergency evacuation. The travel insurance will cover against hospital and medical expenses as a consequence of an accident occurring to the bearer during the period of insurance and/or unforeseen illnesses which arise during that period as well.
In case of loss, damage or injury, what should I do in order to make a claim?
Please contact your insurance company's claims department immediately. You need to fill in a claim form and submit the following documentary evidence to support your claim: Invoices and/or estimates for property damage, loss or theft; full medical evidence and receipts for medical claims; birth and death certificates for personal accident/life insurance policies. Again, please make sure you check the policy before purchasing travel insurance.
Is it safe in the cities?
Generally it is safe in the cities and towns of Southeast Asia. However, wherever there are tourists there are also pickpockets, so please do not carry many valuables when you are out. Use your hotel safe to keep your valuables and the bulk of your cash, credit cards & jewelry.
Are vehicles and boats safe in Southeast Asia?
Trails of Indochina has strict guidelines in places in regards to our vehicle and boat supplier selection. We have procedures in place to inspect and audit our suppliers vehicles and boats annually and our criteria was developed to meet an international standard.
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Where can I find current exchange rates for local currency?
One currency website we recommend is www.xe.com On arrival in your destination, you can find current local exchange rates easily at the hotel reception or at most local banks. The rates offered by the hotels are often favorable to the bank rate as they do not charge commission.
Should I use Credit Cards, Debit Cards and/or Traveler’s Cheques?
In Vietnam, Cambodia. Thailand and Bali, credit cards are widely accepted at most hotels and better restaurants and shops. In Laos and Myanmar, credit cards are accepted in major hotels in main cities like Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Yangon (only). Bear in mind that a surcharge usually applies for credit card purchases at 3% (Visa& Mastercard) or 4% (American Express).
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)
ATMs are now found widely across South East Asia, except for Myanmar. ATMs accept a wide variety of different card types and usually issue the local currency, except in Cambodia where it is USD. There is a maximum daily withdrawal limit, and this varies between different countries and banks up to from approx US$100 - US$400 per day. There will be a local fee for the ATM service, plus your own bank’s charges for foreign withdrawals and currency exchange.
In Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Bali (Indonesia), traveler's cheques are accepted on a limited basis and there is a fee for exchange in most cases. In Myanmar, traveler's cheques are not accepted.
Should I use USD, Euro or the local currency?
In Thailand, Bali & Vietnam, you must change money into local currency. However, the Vietnam Dong is not tradable outside Vietnam so you should only change a little at a time. In Cambodia, Laos & Myanmar, you can make larger purchases with USD but you will need some local currency for day-to-day small purchases like local restaurants, a bottle of water, souvenirs, etc. As a general rule across all countries, if shopping in the market or in a shop where you might bargain, you will probably get a better price in the local currency.
How do I bargain when buying things in SE Asia?
Bargaining is acceptable and common in small local shops and vendors in the market since they do not have fixed price. You can start by discounting 50% of the offered price and slowly bargain upwards. The fixed price concept is applicable in international shops and department stores.
What is the best way to ship items home?
The vendor may be able to recommend a freight forwarder or shipping agent. If you choose to ship items home, we highly recommend that you buy shipping insurance and check the policy details including import tax in your country as shops will not be held responsible for damages or taxes incurred en route. It is better to be safe than sorry.
What is a reasonable amount to tip a tour guide or driver if I am happy with their service?
Tipping is not compulsory but it is greatly appreciated throughout Southeast Asia, especially in the service
industry. For reference, we have provided a general guideline below.
If you are pleased with the services provided by your tour guide and driver, then a tip for their hard work will be
very much appreciated. In general, we recommend around US$10 -15/day/traveler for guides and US$5-7/day/traveler for drivers if less than 4 people in a group. We recommend around US$5-10/day/traveler for guides and US$3-5/day/traveler for drivers if there are 5 people or more.
Hotels and restaurant staff
A tipping of 5-10% of the total bill in restaurants is appreciated. If you stay a couple of days in the same hotel, a
tip to the maid service of $1-2/day is appreciated. For porters, US$1-2/time/room is acceptable.
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If you travel on a local basic boat such as in the Mekong Delta, Nha Trang, Hue, Hoi An etc., a suggested tip
from US$5-10 per boat is appreciated - more or less depending on the group size and the trip's duration. For an
overnight boat trip such as in Halong Bay or river cruises, the suggestion is $10 - $15 per person per night to cover all the boat crew.
How can I use a local mobile phone service?
Mobile phone service is available across in South East Asia, except Myanmar where the GSM network does not support the global network. Ask your guide to bring you to a local phone shop to purchase a SIM card to obtain a local number and prepaid credit. Please make sure your phone set is compatible to the local network. Coverage in rural areas, especially in the Angkor temple areas (Cambodia) is inconsistent.
How can I get in touch with my family, workplace and friends?
Most hotels now have IDD phones in rooms. If you have worldwide coverage, you can bring your own mobile phone and use it to make domestic or international calls. Check with your mobile phone provider for the costs before using it abroad as it may be expensive.
Major hotels these days have wireless broadband access in rooms or public areas. Cyber cafes are popular and are easily found in major towns and cities. In many Internet cafes, you can buy pre-paid international phone cards to dial from a computer to a landline or mobile phone worldwide. Most Internet cafes are equipped with webcams, headsets and microphones suitable for Skype conversations.
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What is the vehicle standard I can expect?
The standard of vehicles across South East Asia varies between countries. In Bali, Thailand and Vietnam, the quality of vehicles is more modern. They offer new models equipped with air conditioning, seatbelts and comfortable seating. Luxury cars such as Mercedes, BMW or limousines are available for hire but incur an extra charge.
In Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, the level of development and tourism is lower than elsewhere in the region, therefore it is necessary for you to lower your expectations of the vehicles. The models are generally older and sometimes they may not be equipped with air conditioning, especially in more remote areas. Wearing a seatbelt is not common practice in these countries and be aware that not all the vehicles in which you travel will be fitted with seatbelts.
Can I rent a car or a motorbike and drive myself?
In most countries, you can rent cars and motorbikes to ride yourself as long as you have an international driver’s license. However, please remember traffic and roads conditions in South East Asia may be very different to what you are used to and we do not recommend this in general.
What is the limit for luggage on the domestic and regional airlines?
Each airline has its own luggage allowance policy. This amount varies between airlines, however, generally the limit is 20kgs or 44lbs for economy, and 30kgs or 66lbs for business class. Excess baggage is charged at a specific rate depending on the individual route.
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Which countries require me to obtain a visa?
Most countries in South East Asia require you to obtain a visa. Please check carefully with your travel agent regarding specific visa requirements for each country you plan to visit as the legislation does change frequently. Thailand offers a free visa on arrival to most nationalities. Other countries including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia (Bali) offer a “visa-on-arrival” service which requires you to pay a fee at the airport, or you may prefer to obtain this in advance through the relevant embassy or a visa agent. For visa-on-arrival in Vietnam and Myanmar, you must submit some paperwork before you arrive. Please check with your travel agent. Please note there can be long queues on arrival at immigration counters.
What do I need to obtain a visa?
Please make sure your passport is valid more than 6 months from the date of arrival in each country you are visiting. Please also remember to check that you have sufficient blank pages in your passport as most visas require a full page. There are varying costs of visas in each country and you are usually required to pay a USD fee to process the visa on arrival. Please check this amount before you arrive so that you can have the correct money available.
When I get the visa on arrival authorization letter, what should I do?
Once you receive the copy of the visa on arrival authorization letter, please recheck all relevant information including the entry date and passport information. Note down the entry date which must be exact as per the date of your arrival flight. Remember to bring this copy along to board the plane to your destination. If you forget, it could be problematic and you might have to fly to a neighboring country and wait for new approval letter.
If my flight home from Cambodia has a stopover in Vietnam which I already visited before Cambodia trip, will I need to get another Vietnam visa?
If your stopover does not involve leaving the airport area then a Vietnam visa is not required. But if it is a connecting flight with a couple of transit hours in between and you want to get to a city for other sightseeing or shopping, then a multi-entry visa is needed.
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What is the weather like in Vietnam?
In general, Vietnam has a tropical climate with average annual temperatures ranging from 22ºC (72ºF) to 30ºC (86ºF). There are two distinct seasons: wet and dry. From April to October, most of the country is affected by south-western monsoons. The rains, which tend to be concentrated in the late afternoons, provide welcome relief to the heat. Travel to very remote areas may be affected by the rains, but overall they should not interfere with your trip.
Packing for a trip to Vietnam can be challenging, as the climate can vary depending on when and where you go. When the weather isn’t ideal in one area, it’s great in another. While Hanoi is cold enough to warrant a coat from December to February, this is an excellent time to visit Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta. Although the temperatures are consistent year round, various parts of the country, at certain times of the year, can be affected by unpredictable storms which may cause flooding.
- NORTHERN VIETNAM (HANOI, HALONG BAY, SAPA)
The north is defined by four seasons with a cold winter and hot summer. The temperature can range from 5ºC (41ºF) in winter up to 35ºC (95ºF) in the summer. From April to October, it is generally warm and humid with average temperature around 31ºC (90 ºF) and heaviest rainfall between July and August. The average temperature during the cold season (December to February) is 20ºC (68ºF). However, in the mountainous regions in the far north such as Sapa, the temperature can at times drop below zero (32ºF). The loveliest time of the year to visit is from September to December when there’s a good chance of clear skies and low humidity.
- CENTRAL VIETNAM (HUE, DANANG, HOI AN)
The average high temperature in the central region is 30ºC (86ºF). Heavy storms and highest amount of rainfall occurs from October to December and is prone to flooding. The best time to enjoy the beach weather and cultural sightseeing is between February to August.
- SOUTHERN VIETNAM (HO CHI MINH CITY, MEKONG DELTA, DALAT)
The south has a dry and rainy season. The highest amount of rainfall is from June to October with 80% average humidity. The average high temperature year round is 32ºC (90ºF). The central highland town of Dalat has a year-round temperate of 18ºC to 21ºC (64ºF to 70ºF) earning it the epithet “City of Eternal Spring”. Beach destinations such as Nha Trang, Phan Thiet, and Phu Quoc Island are warm and sunny most of the year. However, the rainy season varies for each destination: Nha Trang (October to December); Phan Thiet (July to November); and Phu Quoc (June to September).
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What is the weather like in Cambodia?
Cambodia has a tropical climate that is warm and humid with two distinct seasons: rainy season and dry season. During the peak of the rainy season (June to August), the humidity is higher and the temperatures can reach the upper 30ºC (86ºF), From September to early November, it is wet and slightly cooler, Seasonal flooding in Phnom Penh and the rest of Cambodia occurs in late July and early August which may cause disruption to travel. The dry season (November to May) is pleasant from November to February and becomes hotter from March to May, where temperatures can soar as high as 38ºC (100ºF).
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What is the weather like in Laos?
Laos has two seasons. The rainy season runs from May through October and the dry season from November to April. For the most part, Laos is hot, although there is a good deal of fluctuation between summer and winter temperatures at higher elevations. The capital, Vientiane, ranges from the upper-20s Celsius (mid-70s Fahrenheit), in January to mid-30s Celsius (mid-90s Fahrenheit) in April and May. In the mountainous region, however, temperatures can plummet to near freezing in December and January. During the rainy season, the highest precipitation is in southern Laos.
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What is the weather like in Thailand?
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.
- NORTHERN THAILAND (SUKHOTHAI, CHIANG MAI & CHIANG RAI)
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 later of these two periods has the higher relative temperatures. 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 average high temperature for this region is 32ºC (90ºF) and average low is 21ºC (70ºF), although it can drop down to as low as 8ºC (46ºF) in the winter months.
- CENTRAL (BANGKOK, AYUTHAYA)
The central region of Thailand has a hot, tropical climate with daytime temperature reaching the mid-30 ºC (91,4F) throughout the year. November to February is the driest time of year and the most popular with tourists. March, April and May are the hottest months, and the rainy season runs from May to October. During the wet season short showers are likely during the afternoon, though some days it will rain all day.
- SOUTHERN (KOH SAMUI, KRABI, PHUKET)
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 peninsular. On the west coast the southwest monsoon brings rain from May through to October, whilst on the east coast the most rain falls between September and December. The average high temperature is 33ºC (91ºF) and average low is 25ºC (77ºF).
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In general, the best time to visit Thailand is from November to February when the northeast monsoon is blowing cool dry air. During this cool season, the temperature ranges from 18ºC (64ºF) to 32ºC (90ºF) in Bangkok, while in northern and northeast Thailand, temperatures can get quite cool with morning temperatures as low as 8º C (46ºF) to 12º C (54ºF) with the occasional 20ºC (68ºF) day. Nights can be particularly chilly and at high altitudes the temperatures can and do drop below freezing.
Should I visit Myanmar?
Many people around the world do object to travelling to Myanmar due to the policies and history of the government.
As a responsibly minded tour operator we aim to concentrate the tours which we operate in Myanmar in the hands of privately run, local businesses. Where feasible, we select quality hotels and airlines which are not government owned, nor associated with owners who are connected to the government. We employ local drivers and guides directly so that there is no need to book through a government agency. The tourism sector now employs approx 300,000 Burmese nationals, not including spin off businesses such as trishaw drivers, restaurants and local artisans who also enjoy the benefits of increased travel.
Admittedly, it is impossible to visit without some money going to the government. There are visa fees, airport departure tax and tax on some land services which does feed back to the government, however, this is a relatively insignificant amount as it forms less than 1% of their total GDP. We believe that the benefits of the above arguments far outweigh the small revenue which the government receives and we support travelling to Myanmar.
Is it safe?
The tourist areas in Myanmar are generally safe even though there are still some governmental issues and occasional protests.
What is the weather like in Myanmar?
The hottest season in Myanmar falls between March and mid-May (average temperatures 25º-38ºC or 77º to 100º F), when the rainy season begins. The rains last from mid May until then end of Sep (23º-33ºC or 73º to 91ºF) and are followed by three months of relatively cool weather (average temperatures 18-24ºC or 64º to 75ºF). It can even get down to near freezing at night around Inle Lake.
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What is the weather like in Bali?
Bali has a tropical climate with year round temperatures averaging 31ºC (88ºF). High humidity can be expected during the wet season between the months of October to April. The dry season between the months of May to September have the lowest humidity.
The wet season brings daily rain and quiet overcast days with the most rain recorded between December to February. Occasionally rainfall can also be expected during the dry season but usually at night or very early morning. June to August there is usually a very refreshing cool breeze all day long. The central mountain area is typically cooler than the lower coastal areas mainly especially at night.
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