FAQs

We often get asked many questions about travelling through Southeast Asia. Below are some of our most frequently asked questions. If your question is not answered here, please contact us at hello@trailsofindochina.com

 

Do you offer any pre-made packages?

We offer both pre-made packages based off our sample itineraries, and customised tours catered to individual interests. Tour prices vary depending on the chosen activities, level of accommodation and time of booking.

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. Your driver or guide will be holding a brown-coloured welcome sign with the Trails of Indochina logo and your name. Airports in Southeast Asia are often crowded, but safe. Please take your time to look around and locate the Trails of Indochina representative.

What are your terms and conditions?

To read our booking terms and conditions, please click here.

What happens if I have booked a transfer but cannot find it on arrival at the airport?

If you have a booked a transfer and are unable to locate us, please call the emergency number of the local operations office(s) listed on your itinerary or service voucher. If you don’t have a mobile or cell phone, please ask the airport staff where you may access a phone.

How to cancel the booking I have made?

If for any reason you need to cancel and have booked directly with Trails of Indochina, please contact us. Our booking terms and conditions, and additional terms and conditions, may apply. If you have booked through a travel agent, please contact your travel agent for any cancellations.

What happens if the hotel cannot find my booking when I arrive?

If you arrive at the hotel and they are unable to find your reservation, please immediately ask your tour guide to contact the local Trails of Indochina operations office so that the situation can be resolved straight away. If your tour guide is no longer with you, ask the hotel to contact the Trails of Indochina office in the country you’re visiting.

How can I transfer payments to you? Do you require a deposit for booking?

We require a deposit of 20% of the booking total to confirm the services for your trip. Payment can be made by credit card or bank transfer in the currencies of USD or AUD.

What happens if my flight is cancelled?

Your agent protects your trip in several ways. If your flight is cancelled due to bad weather, mechanical breakdown of the aircraft on which you are scheduled to travel or an organised labour strike (provided the strike occurs after you pay your premium), you can take a later flight. You’ll be reimbursed for the additional transportation expenses to join your trip, less any refunds paid or payable for your original voucher. Plus, you will be reimbursed for the cost of any unused land or water travel arrangements.

In case of an emergency on tour, who should 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 a day. Please see the office contact details listed on your itinerary or service voucher.

 

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). You should advise your doctor which countries you will be visiting and at what time of the year. This is particularly important if you suffer from any medical conditions and/or are travelling with young children.

How can I beat jet lag?

Without careful planning, heavy jet lag can ruin a holiday overseas. While our recommendations may not entirely prevent jet lag, they can go a long way toward reducing the overall symptoms commonly associated with jet lag. We recommend ensuring that your body is in optimum condition to fight against common features which contribute to jet lag, which includes leaving home well-rested, and using the flight to rest and reset. Once you have arrived in country, we recommend staying awake until an early bedtime at least, to help the body adjust to a local schedule.

Why should I consider travel insurance?

Illness, an accident, or a death in the family is often a source of great contention between travellers and their travel agents for cancellation, refunds and compensation on their travel packages. While we can’t eliminate travel risks, travel insurance can 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 very helpful in case of medical emergency evacuation. Travel insurance will likely 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 could arise during that period.

Will I get diarrhoea, dengue fever, or malaria while travelling?

Diarrhoea is the most common medical problem that travellers face. Most cases can be attributed to a change in diet, which exposes you to different strains of bacteria. Other causes are foodborne such as typhoid – a form of salmonella – amoebiasis, giardiasis, or simply too much chilli.

For mild diarrhoea, make sure you keep drinking plenty of fluids including re-hydration salts available at all chemists, or diluted soft drinks. Consider medication such as Lomotil or Imodium only if you need to travel, as they are not cures. For severe diarrhoea 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 involves trekking for several days, you may consider consulting your travel doctor about anti-malarial medication.

How many days in advance should I apply for travel insurance for my trip?

We suggest you purchase travel insurance as soon as your itinerary is confirmed. It is good to note that trip cancellation coverage is not automatic on all travel insurance policies and often carries an extra premium. Please carefully read over your policy to ensure you understand your coverage.

In case of loss, damage or injury, how can I 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; and birth and death certificates for personal accident/life insurance policies. Again, please make sure you check the policy before purchasing travel insurance.

Are there good healthcare facilities in Southeast Asia?

Vietnam: Yes, there are international-standard healthcare facilities in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Danang and Hue.

Cambodia: Yes, there are international-standard healthcare facilities in Phnom Penh and 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: Yes, there is an international clinic located in Vientiane.

Myanmar: Yes, there is an international clinic located in Yangon.

Indonesia: Yes, there are international-standard healthcare facilities in Bali and Jakarta.

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 and jewellery.

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. Several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are working to de-mine these areas. In areas where mines are present, 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 these areas. In areas where mines are present, safe paths are clearly marked. Follow the paths and the advice of your tour guide.

Thailand: There are no issues with landmines in Thailand.

Myanmar: There are no issues with landmines in Myanmar.

Indonesia: There are no issues with landmines in Indonesia.

Are vehicles and boats safe in Southeast Asia?

Trails of Indochina has strict guidelines in place in regards to our vehicle and boat supplier selection. We have procedures in place to inspect and audit our suppliers’ vehicles and boats annually with criteria developed to meet an international standard.

What standard of vehicles can I expect?

The standard of vehicles across Southeast Asia varies between countries. In Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, the quality of vehicles matches modern standards. They offer new models equipped with air conditioning, seatbelts and comfortable seating. Luxury cars such as Mercedes, BMW or limousines may be 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 to lower your expectations of the vehicles. The models are generally older and sometimes they may not be equipped with international-standard 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 motorbike and drive myself?

In most countries, you can rent cars and motorbikes to drive yourself as long as you have an international driver’s licence. However, we do not recommend this due to traffic and road conditions in Southeast Asia being very different to what most of our guests are used to.

What is the limit for luggage on domestic and regional flights?

Each airline has its own luggage allowance policy meaning the luggage limit varies between airlines. Generally, however, 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.

What general food and water precautions should be followed in Southeast Asian countries?

We typically advise guests that 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 have been washed with contaminated water. We also advise against eating raw shellfish, raw crab and cold cooked meats.

What about taking ice in my drinks?

Beware that ground up ice, although manufactured with clean water, is open to contamination during transport as the large blocks may come into contact with the ground. Ice cubes are generally considered safe.

Is it safe to drink the water in Southeast Asia?

Across Southeast Asia, regardless of where you are staying, we recommend drinking bottled water, making sure the seal is not broken. Many hotels and established foreign restaurants will have water purification systems. If you are in a more remote area, or at a boutique property, brushing your teeth with bottled water may be advisable. If you are unsure, please ask your dining establishment if the water is purified.

I have a special diet. Can I order special dishes?

Special diets can be well-accommodated in Southeast Asia. Most allergies can regularly be dealt with. Halal and Kosher food can also be found across Southeast Asia. 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 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.

Where can I find current exchange rates for local currency?

One currency website we recommend is www.xe.com. On arrival at your destination, you can find current local exchange rates easily at airport exchange counters, hotel reception desks or at most local banks. The rates offered by the hotels are often favourable to the bank rate as they do not charge commission.

What is a reasonable amount to tip a tour guide or driver if I am happy with their service?

While tipping is not compulsory, it is greatly appreciated throughout Southeast Asia, especially in the service industry. We have provided a general overview for tipping across Southeast Asia below. For tipping guidelines per country, please contact us at hello@trailsofindochina.com. 

Tour Guide/Drivers: 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 per day, per traveller for guides and US$5-7 per day, per traveller for drivers if there are less than 4 people in a group. We recommend around US$5-10 per day, per traveller for guides and US$3-5 per day, per traveller for drivers if there are 5 people or more.

Restaurants: When dining in a restaurant, a tip of 5-10% of the total bill is appreciated.

Hotels: If you stay a couple of days in the same hotel, a housekeeping tip of US$1-2 per day is appreciated. For porters, US$1-2 at time of service is acceptable.

Boat Cruises: If you travel on a basic local boat such as in the Mekong Delta, Nha Trang, Hue, Hoi An etc., a suggested tip of US$5-10 per boat is appreciated. For an overnight boat trip such as in Halong Bay or river cruises, the suggestion is US$10-15 per person, per night to cover all the boat crew.

Should I use credit cards, debit cards and/or traveller’s cheques?

Credit Cards: In all major tourist destinations, credit cards are widely accepted at most hotels and established restaurants and shops. In smaller towns, at local restaurants and local markets, credit cards will likely not be accepted. Bear in mind that a surcharge usually applies for credit card purchases, typically ranging from 3-5%.

ATMs: ATMs are found widely across Southeast Asia. ATMs accept a wide variety of different card types and usually issue local currency, except in Cambodia where they dispense both Cambodian Riel and USD. There is usually a maximum daily withdrawal limit, and this varies between different countries and banks, typically from approximately US$100 – 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. 

Traveller’s Cheques: Across Southeast Asia, traveller’s cheques are accepted on a limited basis, and at times, not at all. We do not recommend travelling with traveller’s cheques.

How do I bargain when buying things in Southeast Asia?

Bargaining is acceptable and common in small local shops, as well as with vendors in the market as they often do not have fixed prices. We recommend that you start by offering to pay 50% of the suggested price and slowly bargain upwards, negotiating a price you feel comfortable paying. It is good to note that many international shops and department stores will feature fixed prices.

Should I use USD, Euro or the local currency?

In Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, local currency only is accepted. It is good to note that the Vietnam Dong and Myanmar Kyat are not tradable outside Vietnam and Myanmar respectively, so all money should be exchanged before leaving each country. In Cambodia, Laos and 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.

What is the best way to ship items home?

If you plan to shop for larger items while in Southeast Asia, there are several ways you may send items home. At your shop of choice, 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.

Which countries require me to obtain a visa?

Depending on what country you’re from, countries in Southeast Asia may require you to obtain a visa. Please check carefully with your travel agent or your Trails of Indochina sales consultant regarding specific visa requirements for each country you plan to visit as the legislation does change frequently. It is the responsibility of the traveller to obtain any necessary visa or required document prior to departure.

When I get the visa-on-arrival authorisation letter for Vietnam, what should I do?

Vietnam requires many visitors to obtain a visa-on-arrival authorisation letter. Once you receive a copy of the visa-on-arrival authorisation 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. It is good to note that your departure and arrival date will likely be different. Remember to bring this copy along to board the plane to your destination. If you forget, it could be problematic, and you may be denied boarding.

What do I need to obtain a visa?

Visa requirements vary by country. Please check specific requirements for each country you plan to visit prior to departure. You may be required to pay a fee to process the visa on arrival in US Dollars. Please ensure that you have this currency on-hand before arrival into your destination country. Please note there can be long queues on arrival at immigration counters.

f my flight home from Cambodia has a stopover in Vietnam which I already visited before Cambodia, 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 go into the city for more sightseeing or shopping, then a multi-entry visa is needed. If you are switching airlines, or your two tickets were booked separately, you will need a visa to re-enter Vietnam.

Are there any passport requirements?

Please make sure your passport is valid more than 6 months from the date of departure 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. It is advised to have two full pages for each country you will visit.

If I travel on a river cruise between Cambodia and Vietnam, do I need a visa?

Most Mekong River cruises will provide the Vietnam visa service for clients who are cruising from Cambodia to Vietnam, however, this should be confirmed during the booking process. If you are cruising from Vietnam to Cambodia, you will need a visa to enter Vietnam.

Do I need anything else?

Some countries, like Vietnam, require that you submit a passport photo to obtain your visa. Please check specific visa requirements for your destination country. 

If I am doing a shore excursion from a cruise ship, will I need a visa?

Visa requirements for shore excursions from cruise ships should be checked with the cruise company directly. Most ships do provide a blanket visa for all clients who book the cruise.

How are 5-star hotels rated in Southeast Asia?

A standard 5-star property is typically based 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 5-star hotels, 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?

Yes, most hotels we partner with have non-smoking room types.

If my departure flight is later than the regular check-out time, can I keep my hotel room until departure?

Late check-outs may be available on a case-by-case basis and typically depend on the hotel occupancy on the day. It is recommended to speak with hotel reception and they will advise if they can offer a complimentary late check-out. It should not be assumed that late check-out will be guaranteed. Some hotels may implement a 50% charge for any late check-out before 6:00pm and one full night’s charge if check-out is later than 6:00pm. This policy varies for each hotel.

How can I get in touch with my family, friends, and workplace?

Telephone: Most hotels now have in-room IDD phones. If you have worldwide coverage, you can bring your own mobile phone and use it to make domestic and international calls. Check with your mobile phone provider for costs before using it abroad as it may be expensive.

Internet: 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.

How can I use a local mobile phone service?

Mobile phone service is available across Southeast 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 is compatible with the local network. Coverage in rural areas, especially in the Angkor temple areas (Cambodia), is inconsistent.

Responsive to our Client's Needs

We are responsive to our client’s needs and requests supported by a 24/7 Customer Care Hotline