Southeast Asia for Older Teens: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia
$6,695 + Airfare + $600 Intra Trip Flights
Jul 12 – Aug 1
|Who can go on this trip?||
Students from around the world!
|Places we visit:||
Luang Prabang, Sa Pa, Ha Long Bay, Hanoi, Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh, Koh Tao, Bangkok
|Optional group flight there:||
Los Angeles to Luang Prabang
|Optional group flight back:||
Bangkok to Los Angeles
Get ready for the ultimate Southeast Asia experience! On this program just for older teens, you will get off the stereotypical tourist track and experience some of the region’s best hidden gems in Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. The journey begins in charming Luang Prabang, nestled on the Mekong River with magnificent mountainous terrain, French colonial architecture, hill tribe settlements, Buddhist monasteries, and of course, elephants! From there head to Vietnam and experience the stunning beauty of Sa Pa and Halong Bay. Wander through the rice terraces, get a taste of local life, and relax on the water while enjoying everything this beautiful country has to offer. Spend some time in Hanoi, shopping at the markets, exploring the Old Quarter and sampling Vietnamese cuisine on with a mouth watering culinary tour.
Hop over to Siem Reap to explore the famed temple complex of Angkor Wat, then to Phnom Penh to discover the history of the Khmer Rouge in this emerging metropolis. In Thailand you’ll experience the island paradise of Koh Tao with its pristine beaches, crystal clear waters and magnificent snorkeling. Finally, complete the adventure with a couple of days in bustling Bangkok.
On This Program You Will:
- Feast your eyes on panoramic views of Luang Prabang from atop Mt. Phousi
- Spend some time making friends with elephants and trek through the mountainous jungles of Laos
- Play in the cascading turquoise pools of the Kuang Si waterfalls
- Participate in the Alms Ceremony in Laos while giving Alms to Buddhist Monks
- Learn how to cook a traditional Laotian feast at a hands on cooking lesson
- Spend a day of service with local children in Luang Prabang and help teach them how to read
- Explore the stunning terraced hillsides and rice terraces of Sa Pa as you learn about life in rural Vietnam
- Sail in a traditional junk boat through stunning Ha Long Bay, one of the 7 new wonders of the world
- Marvel at the bioluminescent water in Ha long Bay
- Explore Angkor Wat
- Learn about the infamous Khmer Rouge, witnessing the effect it has had on the country
- Snorkel and scuba dive* incredible reefs on a private day cruise in the Thai Gulf Coast
- Get the tan of your life while enjoying the pristine beaches of Koh Tao
- Grab a bargain at Khao San Rd
- Savor the best Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese and Laotian food you will ever eat!
- Treat yourself to an authentic Thai massage
- Try incredible local delicacies, including fried tarantula!
*Scuba diving is optional
DAY 1: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FROM LOS ANGELES
DAY 2: CROSS THE INTERNATIONAL DATE LINE AND LAND IN Laos
Arriving in Bangkok we will clear customs and catch a quick flight to Luang Prabang.
DAYS 2-6: LUANG PRABANG, LAOS
Nestled in the North of Laos, Luang Prabang is a traveler’s dream that will captivate you with its old world charm We will spend time with elephants, take a boat up the Mekong, try our hand at a cooking class, hike to the top of Mt. Phousi, and play in the most famous waterfall in Laos. We will experience the Buddhist culture by visiting temples and giving the monks alms in the morning, all while soaking in the laid back vibe of the town. One of our days here we will spend our day volunteering with our local partner organization whose mission is to provide books to all of the village children while promoting literacy and reading.
DAYS 6-8: SA PA, VIETNAM
After flying into Hanoi board an overnight train to visit the stunning town of Sa Pa. We will experience the beautiful rice terraces carved into the mountain side, trek through the mountains and discover hidden waterfalls in this magical region.
DAYS 8-12 HALONG BAY & HANOI, VIETNAM
Once we leave the train we will bus to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site, in the South China Sea, famous for its otherworldly peaks and bioluminescent water! In 2010 Halong Bay was named as one of the ‘7 New Wonders of the Natural World’ we will be exploring this wonder by cruising around on our own boat! In Hanoi pay your respects to Ho Chi Minh, whiz around the city in style in a cyclo rickshaw and savor Vietnamese delicacies on a culinary food tour through the Old Quarter.
DAYS 12-16: SIEM REAP & PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
Fly to Siem Reap and visit Angkor Wat, a 12th century Khmer temple that was swallowed by the jungle for centuries. This supremely beautiful temple complex is the largest of its kind and is a must-see for any traveler to Southeast Asia.
Journey south to the capital Phnom Penh, historically known as The Pearl of Asia because of the beautiful French colonial architecture. After the devastating effects of the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-79, the city has been recovering steadily and is now one of the most fascinating in Southeast Asia. The poignant, haunting memorials of Tuol Sleng Museum and Choeung Ek are a must for any visitor.
DAYS 16-19: KOH TAO, THAILAND
Spend a couple of magical low key days on this turtle shaped island, which boasts incredible reefs, beaches and scuba diving. We’ll combine all these into one unforgettable private day cruise exploring a number of sites around the island as you snorkel or scuba dive through sparkling blue waters filled with incredible marine life and sunbathe on white sand beaches. Enjoy wonderful Thai BBQ dinners on the beach, relax under the shade of palm trees, get your daily soothing massage and savor your time in paradise.
DAYS 19-20: BANGKOK
Head North to the capital and the hustle and bustle of this modern metropolis. Experience the sights and sounds of the famed floating markets, hunt for bargains and last minute souvenirs along Khao San Rd and sample some of the best Thai food around! Cap off an incredible South East Asian adventure as you enjoy a delicious fancy final dinner, celebrating an amazing few weeks with your new-found best friends!
DAY 21: GROUP FLIGHT DEPARTS FOR THE USA
WHAT KIND OF TEEN TYPICALLY PARTICIPATES IN THIS PROGRAM? WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS TO JOIN?
We have teens join this program from all over the world! They are typically culturally curious teens who are excited about making new friends, stepping out of their comfort zone, expanding their horizons, and trying something new.
This program is only for students who are currently in 11th and 12th grade and approximately 16 to 18 years old. Students living outside of the USA are welcome to join!
Where do we stay?
Our hotels are specifically chosen to be in safe areas and well-suited to facilitating group supervision. We stay in centrally located accommodations, usually within walking distance of the main attractions. This means we do not use large, impersonal chain hotels on the outskirts of cities. We prefer to select smaller, family run hotels where we establish personal relationships with the owners.
For safety reasons, we do not publish the names of the accommodations we use. We do not feel it is safe to publish the name of a hotel where a group of teenagers is staying abroad. After registering, participants and parents are given access to our secure parent website where you will be able to see the names of all of the accommodations for a program.
Do most travelers go by themselves?
Yes, in fact, over 75% of students who travel with us choose to come independently. This encourages teens to step further outside their comfort zone and make new friends. We believe that one of the most rewarding and exciting elements of travel is the new friendships that are formed along the way. If you travel by yourself, you are bound to make new friends from all over the country and even the world. The best part is, you can travel again with your new BFFs on another TFT program the next summer!
Can I bring a friend?
Absolutely! We just ask that if you come with a friend, you and your friend(s) are still open to meeting new people and sharing this special experience with the entire group.
WHAT DO STUDENTS LIKE MOST ABOUT THIS PROGRAM?
Students love that they are able to get such a comprehensive understanding of Southeast Asia on one program. The contrasting locations we visit and the wide-ranging experiences on the program mean they will head home with broadened horizons, incredible memories and lifelong friendships.
What is unique about this program?
This program has been specifically designed to explore more of the lesser-known parts of Southeast Asia. While we still see a lot of the more popular destinations, our time in places like Koh Tao and Sa Pa will expose students to a more complete cultural immersion into this fascinating region.
What is included?
Ground transportation, accommodations, all breakfasts, lunches and dinners, chaperones and guides, program-related activities and admissions, taxes and tips.
Not Included (not intended to be an exhaustive list): Airfare, visas and visa application fees, beverages other than filtered water at meals, activities and admissions not referenced in the itinerary or deemed not program related, such as movies, expenses incurred by the participant that are outside the program description, such as excess baggage fees and damage to hotels, expenses related to unforeseen circumstances, such as transportation strikes and natural disasters, as well as personal and medical expenses.
How do the optional group flights work?
Upon registration, you will be contacted by our International Logistics Team to discuss this program’s flight details. You are not required to take the group flight, although there are several advantages to doing so. The group flight is chaperoned by TFT staff, it offers an opportunity for the students to get to know each other before the program starts, and we get preferred group flight prices on programs that have group contracts (ask for details). Parents are responsible for arranging for participants to get to the group flight airport. Travel For Teens staff are at the airport, greet arriving participants, and help them get to where the rest of the group has assembled. For more information about Flights, visit our Flights page.
WHO LEADS THE PROGRAM?
The Trip Director for every trip is a seasoned teen travel professional with extensive TFT experience. Trip Directors often live or have lived and worked in the destination country. Extensive knowledge of the language and culture of the destination is crucial. Our Senior Counselors are experienced, responsible and fun-loving individuals who our participants can share experiences with and look to for guidance and support. At Travel for Teens we pride ourselves on our rigorous staff application process and the professionalism of our full time and summer staff.
It is the job of the counselors to keep the trip fun and exciting, the learning and the laughter in good balance, and to oversee the safety of the participants. Minimum ratios are on average one staff member to every seven participants. Trips may also include one or two Junior Counselors, who are college students with a history of TFT travel, and one or more Counselors in Training (CIT’s) with limited responsibility. CIT’s are not counted in staff-participant ratios.
What are the safety qualifications for our staff?
All of our staff members attend a week-long training session prepare for the upcoming summer and go over safety precautions and protocols. Likewise, every counselor is CPR/First Aid certified and Trip Directors are Lifeguard certified. All staff undergo a rigorous interview process and thorough background check.
What is the average group size?
Group size is important! A smaller group size provides unique opportunities that a large group cannot accommodate. Think of your favorite local restaurant; could it easily accommodate a group of 50 teens? Probably not! Our group sizes average between 14 to 21 students, which means that we are able to comfortably use local transport, enjoy local restaurants, and have a more authentic experience overall! A smaller group size also eliminates the likelihood of cliques, meaning that our groups all tend to bond as a cohesive unit. We guarantee that you’ll have enough people to meet some new best friends, but not so many that you feel like “just a number” or lost in a crowd.
How does this program connect to other programs?
This program can be connected to programs in Asia, Africa, Fiji, Australia, and New Zealand. At the end of the Thailand program, your counselor will escort you to the airport and help you get to your next destination where you will meet up with your new counselors and group.
What is the food like on this program?
In a word – delicious! At TFT, we believe food should be an integral part of the travel experience and always make an effort to eat at authentic establishments when we can. What better way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place than by sampling the local delicacies, and we encourage students to do so whenever possible! Just as we stay away from Americanized hotel chains, we try to avoid restaurants with menus that cater only to tourists because every good traveler knows the best food is found wherever the locals are eating!
Vietnamese cuisine, considered on one the healthiest in the world. Fresh flavors, aromatic herbs and distinctive flavors are what set this cuisine apart, with favorites like a steaming bowl of freshly made Pho or some succulent, crispy spring rolls.
Khmer cuisine the food of Cambodia draws upon Chinese and French influences, contrasting flavors, textures and temperatures. You’ll fall in love with the exotic variety of tastebud tantalising meals, including the traveler’s favorite Amok trey or a Cambodian BBQ cooked on the table right in front of your eyes!
Finally finish the program with some famous Thai cuisine, bursting full of flavor, aromatic smells and vivid color, with lots of attention paid to balance, detail and variety. You’ll savor the best Pad Thai of your life and that’s just to start. Take your pick from hundreds of incredible dishes featuring mouth-watering combinations of rice, noodles, seafood, meats and fresh vegetables. What will your new favorite be?
We also love to have picnics al fresco, and do this whenever possible, which is a great way to taste some local food while sitting out in the fresh air taking in the sights and sounds of our surroundings.
As always, we are willing and able to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, gluten allergies, and other dietary restrictions.
How much free time do we get?
Our counselors are with the group almost always. Everyday we will break up into smaller groups to give our participants some choices and flexibility in their itinerary. At our accommodations, students will have a good amount of free time to enjoy the facilities but will not be able to leave the grounds without one of our staff members. Our time in Luang Prabang, Sa Pa and Bangkok will be fairly regimented to maximize the activities we can enjoy during our time, however there will be some free time to go shopping. Additionally, a lifeguard certified counselor will be supervising the students any time that they are involved in water activities.
Do I need any vaccinations for this program,?
We recommend that you check with your family doctor regarding vaccinations and medical advice for the areas you will be visiting. For more information, please check out the World Health Organization’s website www.who.int/en/. After you register, we will provide you with a list of vaccinations you should consider discussing with your child’s family doctor.
What kind of Visa do you need for this program?
Any US citizen that enters Thailand does not require a visa. Instead you will automatically receive a 30-day stay in the country. Visas for Laos and Cambodia can be purchased on arrival. Visas for Vietnam need to be be organised before arriving in Vietnam and can be applied for by mail or in person at a Vietnamese Embassy. If you are coming from somewhere outside the US, please be sure to check your country specific visa requirements.
Do I need to speak the languages?
No, our skilled staff members will help you get around and even teach you a few fun phrases!