Multi-Day Tour | Escorted, Group, Private

Upper Mekong & the Golden Triangle (21 days)

Captain's Choice

Vientiane, Laos To Kunming, China

Valid for Departures: 12 Oct 2019 - 01 Nov 2019

Upper Mekong & the Golden Triangle (21 days)

Day 3

Cruising the Mekong, Laos

Day 4

Pak Lai, Thailand

Day 5

Ban Pak Bor village, Thailand

Day 6

Ban Mouang Khai village, Laos

Day 10

Ban Houayxay, Laos

Day 11

Chiang Saen, Thailand

Day 12

Ban Pha Khao , Laos

Day 13

Cruising the Mekong, Laos

Day 14

Guan Lei, China


Day 1
12 Oct 2019
Vientiane, Laos
Settha Palace Hotel Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We check in to Vientiane’s Settha Palace Hotel, where

we stay in Deluxe rooms. Take the afternoon at leisure or

perhaps explore the city. This evening, we gather for a

Welcome Dinner at Belle Époque Brasserie.

Day 2
13 Oct 2019
Vientiane, Laos
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, we embark Sabei Pandaw. Stay within

a classic Stateroom on this double-decked vessel and

enjoy the option of indoor and outdoor dining. Set

out to admire the Siamese style of Buddhist architecture

evidenced within the Si Saket Temple, then pay a visit to

the President’s Hall and Wat Prakeo Temple. We then see

the Patuxai monument, standing in honour of those who

fought for independence from France. Returning to our

ship, enjoy a Welcome Dinner, as we begin our journey

along the Mekong.

Day 3
14 Oct 2019
Cruising the Mekong, Laos
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Spend the day cruising past flourishing jungle terrain

and riverside villages. Gathering for a presentation

on the Lao language, we learn how it descended from

the Tai languages spoken in what is now southern

China and northern Vietnam – its speakers later migrating

south in pursuit of lands fit for their wet-rice cultivation.

This afternoon, our onboard chef demonstrates the art

of preparing local cuisine.

Day 4
15 Oct 2019
Pak Lai, Thailand
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, we cross the border into Thailand.

Stepping from our vessel, our group explores the

stopover town of Pak Lai, with its many French

colonial buildings and vibrant local market.

Day 5
16 Oct 2019
Ban Pak Bor village, Thailand
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, we are greeted by members of a Khmu

tribal village, set amidst the lush jungle on the Mekong’s

banks. We take a walking tour and learn about the local

Khmu people. Afterwards, we survey the, in-progess,

Xayaburi Hydro Electric Power Plant, a massive project

which proposes to be a main source of the region’s power.

Day 6
17 Oct 2019
Ban Mouang Khai village, Laos
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Get to know the people living in a local Hmong village;

known for their modest dwellings that are closely situated

to their neighbours and typically located within mountainous

regions. The seductive turquoise waters of Khaung Si Falls

then lure us in, before we journey to the temple city of

Luang Prabang.

Day 7
18 Oct 2019
Luang Prabang, Laos
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Arriving in Luang Prabang, we set out on tuk tuks to explore

the many Buddhist temples of this unique World Heritagelisted

site. Visit the Royal Palace, resplendent in its intricate,

gold design. Enjoy the afternoon on your own schedule.

This evening, we venture to the night market, which features

a vast array of locally hand-made wares. On return to our

ship, enjoy a demonstration of traditional Lao dancing on

the upper deck.

Day 8
19 Oct 2019
Luang Prabang, Laos
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Rising early to take advantage of our final moments in

Luang Prabang, we witness a custom practiced here each

day by hundreds of monks. Walking through the city, they

receive alms from local people, which provide for their

daily meal. We then make our way to the Pak Ou Caves,

which contain hundreds of small Buddha sculptures.

At the Whiskey Village, we learn the secrets of local

alcohol production, before enjoying our own cocktails

and canapes. We then hear stories of local folklore,

while gazing out at traditional floating fire lanterns.

Day 9
20 Oct 2019
Pak Beng , Laos
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we pay a visit to a local Khmu village. Heading

upstream, we see Pak Beng, set high on the banks

of the Mekong.

Day 10
21 Oct 2019
Ban Houayxay, Laos
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

A Khmu village provides the backdrop to our early

morning walk, before we again cruise along the border

of Laos and Thailand. Following a late afternoon village

walk, we spend the night in the Huay Xai area.

Day 11
22 Oct 2019
Chiang Saen, Thailand
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We reach the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Laos,

Myanmar and Thailand meet. Crossing into Thailand,

we soon come to the northern town of Chiang Saen,

an important distribution point for trade along the

river. Following lunch, we visit the Hall of Opium, which

functions as both a museum on the history of opium and

an information centre on the dangers of drugs. A further

exploration of the town then leads us back to our ship.

Day 12
23 Oct 2019
Ban Pha Khao , Laos
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The Upper Mekong brings us to Ban Pha Khao, where

we disembark and join a walking track. Ascending a

steep hill, we are rewarded with stunning views of the

surrounding jungle and valley below. Local Lao Lu

people host us this afternoon and we learn of their

history and customs.

Day 13
24 Oct 2019
Cruising the Mekong, Laos
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We spend today continuing up the Mekong; relax on deck,

with Myanmar to the left and Laos to the right. Tonight,

we moor in the jungle and learn the intricate subtleties

of traditional Thai napkin folding on board our ship.

Day 14
25 Oct 2019
Guan Lei, China
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

As we make our approach to China, the wooden houses

and local temples of the Akha people come into view.

We disembark once more and take a morning stroll

through their village. Favouring the mountainous regions

of northern Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as

southern China, the Akha are a semi-nomadic people

who have traditionally relied on agriculture for their

existence. We spend the remainder of the day cruising

our way further north along the river, before arriving in the

port of Guan Lei. Here, we disembark and take a walking

tour; the surrounding green hills seemingly overlapping

one another as they follow the river in either direction.

Day 15
26 Oct 2019
Jinghong, China
Sabei Pandaw Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Having followed the Mekong river for the last fourteen

days, we now establish ourselves in China, beginning with

the cosmopolitan city of Jinghong. Previously occupied by

both Thailand and Burma, the region has a turbulent history.

The Tropical Plants Research Institute is home to 13,000

varieties of plants, including tropical fruit trees, spice

trees and plants with medicinal properties. We take with

us our newly acquired knowledge of all things botanical,

and relax within the serene setting of Manting Park.

This evening, we are treated to a fascinating cultural

show. Featuring acrobatics, as well as dancers from

38 different ethic groups, the story of China and its

people is revealed.

Day 16
27 Oct 2019
Lijiang, China
Jinghong, China
Grand Hyatt Lijiang Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, we disembark our ship and wander the

surrounds of Dai village and its market. We then transfer

to the airport for our flight to Lijiang. Upon arrival, check

in to the Grand Hyatt Lijiang. This evening, we have the

privilege of being guests at a Naxi Ancient Music show;

these renowned musicians perform traditional music

while dressed in colourful and elaborate outfits.

Day 17
28 Oct 2019
Lijiang, China
Grand Hyatt Lijiang Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today, we pay a visit to the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

Local citizens hold the belief that this mountain range

bears resemblance to a jade dragon. Also recognised

for its biodiversity, over 30 protected animal species make

their home in the surrounding area. VIP seats then await

us at the Impression Lijiang show, a cultural performance

dedicated to the lives of local ethnic groups. We then

visit Baisha village, whose Naxi residents take pride in

their temples, which depict Buddhist deities. We also take

the opportunity to join the locals in a spot of folk dancing.

Day 18
29 Oct 2019
Dali, China
Hilton Dali Resort & Spa Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today, we travel by road to the city of Dali. On arrival,

we visit the Old Town and enjoy Yunnan cuisine. The

charming narrow streets and ancient stone architecture

of the Old Town provide a pleasant back drop as we

stroll through this one-time capital of the Nanzhao

kingdom. Close by, in Zhoucheng, we appreciate the

bright colours and geometric patterns employed by

local fabric producers for their tie dye and batik clothing.

This evening, we stay at the Hilton Dali Resort & Spa.

Day 19
30 Oct 2019
Kunming, China
Dali, China
Green Lake Hotel Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

In Xizhou Village, we meander along the winding paths

that lead us to the workshop of a noodle maker and

the home of a cheesemaker. We absorb their artisanal

knowledge before a local guide accompanies us around

the town, revealing details of the minority Bai culture.

The rare opportunity to hone our regional cooking skills

is then offered and we enjoy a class run by a local family.

This afternoon, we transfer to the airport and board

a brief flight to the city of Kunming. Here, we check

in to the Green Lake Hotel.

Day 20
31 Oct 2019
Kunming, China
Green Lake Hotel Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hundreds of millions of years of erosion have produced

the jagged peaks of the spectacular Stone Forest in

Kunming. Local legend has it that a beautiful girl,

Ashima, was the object of attention of two rivals. After

losing a contest for her hand, the jealous and powerful

Azhi caused a flood, which Ashima became trapped in,

turning her into one of the stones in the Stone Forest.

On the way back to our hotel, we stop in at a village

that is home to the Yi people, one of China’s many ethnic

minorities. We are struck by the colourful and detailed

traditional dress worn by their residents. Tonight, we

celebrate our journey with a Farewell Dinner at our hotel.

Day 21
01 Nov 2019
Kunming, China
None Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Enjoy our final morning on your own schedule. Ours

has been a journey of new world insights, knowledge and

experiences rarely had by others.

Tour Features


Experiences have not been selected at this time


The remote reaches of the Upper Mekong reveal fluid borders, where

shorelines are embraced by lush jungles. On our private charter of the

Sabei Pandaw river ship, we drift through Laos and Thailand, encountering

welcoming riverside communities; their ancient temples attesting to proud

and enduring cultures. Cruising further north into China, we gain insight into

traditional music, authentic regional cuisine and legends of Jade Dragons

and Stone Forests. Join a group of just 24 travelers.

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Antarctic Flyover

By: KC

Reviewed on: 31 Mar 2019

This was the most amazing and enjoyable journey. I booked it on the spur of the moment via Main Beach Travel. I’m thrilled that I did so. From the happy throng at the departure gate, the welcome from the Captain’s Choice staff and interactions with them including photos with the penguin (!) it was obvious that this was not going to be any ordinary flight. The excitement was palpable. It’s not everyday you can say, “I’m going to Antarctica!”. The welcome continued with the very friendly air crew. Over the course of the journey their service and unflagging enthusiasm for their passengers enjoyment was constantly demonstrated. I enjoyed interacting with them and seeing the happiness of a first time flyover crew member. The plentiful food was outstanding. My favourite drink, bubbles, flowed. And a raffle and auction in the air - what fun! The interaction among the passengers was excellent as we took our turn enjoying the most stunning, incredible scenery below. Amazing day. Don’t miss it!