South America Xplorer

Adventurous group gap travel at its best in South America. Join us and the rest of the team and travel through South America and eight glorious weeks. Featuring two of the most epic backpacking destinations in the South American continent Ecuador and Peru. Brush up on your Spanish and trek to Machu Picchu before getting involved in the jungle animal sanctuary. All the while you will be immersed in ancient Incan culture. 90% of our travellers travel alone so this is a great way to join a group travel programme in South America.

South America Xplorer Xtreme Gap (8)

Adventurous group gap travel at its best in South America.  Join us and the rest of the team and travel through South America on 7 glorious weeks.  Featuring two of the most epic backpacking destinations in the South American continent: Ecuador and Peru. Brush up on your Spanish and trek to Machu Picchu before getting involved in the jungle animal sanctuary. All the while you will be immersed in ancient Incan culture. Option: Add on a week on the Galapagos!  90% of our travellers travel alone so this is a great way to join a group travel programme in South America.

SOUTH AMERICA XPLORER

South America Xplorer Xtreme Gap (6)Like the continent it is set in, the South America Xplorer programme has it all.

A 7 week South American Adventure combining Spanish lessons, a Trek to Machu Picchu, volunteering at a  jungle animal sanctuary and an optional visit to the Galapagos!

The South America Xplorer is fully guided, so you will have the backup and support of an English-speaking Xtreme Gap representatives throughout.

We start the adventure with a much-needed crash course in Spanish.  This takes place in Cuzco one of the coolest backpacking spots in South America. Then we hit the trails around the Andean landscapes near Machu Picchu, a legendary adventure to Machu Picchu ancient lost city of the Incas.  After the trekking it’s not quite time to hang up your adventurous boots.  We will travel through Peru checking out the pacific beaches and legendary surf before staying in a jungle animal sanctuary.  From here you’ll travel deeper into the jungle and live with a remote Shuar tribe before returning to Ecuador’s capital city: Quito to get involved in a cultural immersion project.  For those interested in pushing this further you can finish this incredible adventure with a visit to the Galapagos Islands (5 days / 4 nights).

Highlights:

  • Discovering hidden lost cities
  • Learning Spanish
  • Hanging out in the cool backpacker city of Cuzco
  • Living in the Amazon with the tribe for a week
  • Hanging 10 on awesome surf breaks in the Pacific Ocean
  • Trekking high in the Andes
  • Backpacking through Peru and Ecuador with an awesome group of new friends
  • Fully guided awesome fun and full on adventure

PHOTOS

THE SOUTH AMERICA XPLORER ITINERARY

The South America Xplorer is divided into different phases and they go like this:

On arrival

You need to fly into Cuzco airport in Peru.  This is the gateway to the Inca Trail as an incredibly beautiful old colonial city located high in the Andes.  On arrival an Xtreme Gap representative will meet you and transfer you to your accommodation.  You will then meet the rest of the group and be prepared for your welcome briefing and orientation.

Part 1: Learn Spanish and hang out in Cuzco

Location: Cuzco, 1 week 

South America Xplorer Xtreme Gap (1)The first part of the South America Xplorer eases you into the travel seemed perfectly.  Set high in the mountains, Cuzco is a stunning location with an incredible blend of Spanish colonial and ancient Incan cultures.  It was the old capital city of the Incan empire, so as you would expect it’s pretty impressive.  This is a great way to acclimatise not only to the altitude but to the different cultures surrounding you.  In your first week you will have plenty of time to explore Cusco (and its great nightlife) plus learn some much-needed Spanish!

Spanish Lessons: 

We include loads of activities in your first week, and you will also have individual Spanish lessons for 4 hours per day, usually in the mornings, with plenty of time to practice what you’ve learned in the fantastic and quirky markets and many tourist sites around Cuzco.

A fantastic student teacher ratio will ensure you learn the essentials quickly and easily.  If you already have an understanding or even advanced level of Spanish it will certainly improve as all lessons are tailored to you.

Free Time:  

Throughout your first week, your afternoons will be free to explore the fascinating city streets, museums and local ruins with the rest of the group.  Cusco has incredible night life as well, as the main travellers hub to people about to start having completed the Inca Trail it attracts people from all over the world.  Nights out in night clubs like Mama Africa or even hanging out at the Cross Keys pub in the Placa De Armas you are sure to meet interesting people from all over the world.

Part 2: The trek to Machu Picchu

Peru Xtreme Gap (44)After the first week it’s time to begin trekking!  We leave early from Cusco by bus to the start of our trek, Mollepata.  This will be an incredible mind blowing experience.  The views of the Andes Mountains, with the associated steep valleys and jaw-dropping landscapes will remain with you for ever.  It’s no walk in the park however, you will be trekking at altitude for about 5 to 7 hours a day.

Snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, llamas and condors.  On the fourth day we will take the train to Aguas Calientes overnight.

Early in the morning, we take the bus to Machu Picchu, following steep mountain paths eventually arriving at the ancient lost city of Machu Picchu.  You can explore the site, and there is a lot to explore!  You will be surprised how advanced culturally the Incas were and there is plenty of evidence still left in the city.

You can visit the sun gate for the postcard picture and also an option to climb the famous hill of Huayna Picchu should you wish to (must be pre-booked in advance). In the afternoon, we return to Aguas Calientes where we catch the train back to Cusco.

Part 3: Northern Beaches Cuzco to Puyo 

Leaving Cuzco and the Andes mountains behind we set off on an exciting overland journey along the northern coastline of Peru into Ecuador! Our first stop will be the bustling Peruvian capital of Lima to discover the city’s streets, parks and plazas and get a feel for the rich history of the country.

Next we depart Lima and follow the coastline until we reach Huanchaco, once the capital of the ancient Peruvian Moche civilisation. Huanchaco is a small town with epic surf beaches. There are also a number of fascinating ruins to explore in the local area. Onward to Punta Sal for pure  beach chill time  where there are a number of optional activities to chose from or just kick back and relax  and hang out with the group.

From Punta Sal we cross the border into Ecuador for our first stop in Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city.  It’s a global heritage site and a great place to explore.  From there we continue our journey inland past stunning scenery to the start point of your next phase of the expedition, Puyo.

Part  4: Amazon Rainforest  and wildlife conservation project

South America Xplorer Xtreme Gap (16)During this part of the programme you get to interact with some of the incredible indigenous wildlife in South America.  Our Animal Rescue Centre helps wild animals that have been rescued from mistreatment and abuse and focuses on saving lives, helping them to recover and, if possible, letting them return to the wild.

You can expect the following types of animals there:   Capuchin, Wooly, Spider and Tamarind monkeys.  Ocelots and Margays, Kinkajous, Coatis and Tayras. Ant Eaters and Porcupines, White lipped Peccaries, Macaws and various parrots, Spectacled Caiman and Boa Constrictors.

There are different areas in need of help and the exact work you will be doing will depend on your personal interests but could include:   Preparing animals’ food, daily feeding and cleaning, assisting in construction and maintenance work to improve animal living conditions, providing care and support to animals, monitoring behaviour and reporting any unusual situations you notice regarding the animals to one of the supervisors.

Living with an indigenous Shuar tribe in the rainforest

South America Xplorer Xtreme Gap (11)After two weeks of the animal sanctuary it’s time to head deeper into the rainforest.  You will live and work with The Shuar Tribe, a remote community whose traditional way of life is threatened by deforestation. During your time with the Shuar you will learn about their fascinating culture and contribute to efforts to sustain their way of life. Past groups have built traditional Shuar huts, taught local children, planted a vegetable garden at the daycare and reforested medicinal plants and trees.

The community will also be keen for you to experience their traditional customs and culture and you will be involved with a number of activities such as face painting with natural Suar, bracelet making, learning traditional Shuar Dance, jungle hikes and attending local pageants or parades

Free Time:  Weekend optional activities in the jungle are varied and abundant – options include rope swings, mountain biking, hot springs, jungle tours, shopping and white water rafting.

Part 5 cultural immersion project Quito 

For the final part of the programme we leave the jungle and head to the city.  Out of the Jungle and into the city; you’ll make a quick stop in Quito before beginning your final  week of volunteering on one of our many community outreach project in and around Quito.

Past groups have done teaching, painted classrooms, designed murals and floor games, fixed up walls or windows and built entire playgrounds in schools from rubble. There’s also plenty of time for playing with the kids and teaching English.

This phase is a chance to really get to know an Ecuadorian community and you’ll come away with many new friends. It’s also a last chance to make trips to Ecuador’s must-see sights like Cotopaxi volcano and the Quilotoa crater lake before your final party night in Quito!

Free time 

Explore the wonders of Quito including meeting the locals, relaxing, sightseeing and shopping…and some crazy nights out!

Option add on Galapagos £650

DAY 1 BALTRA / SANTA CRUZ ISALAND / ISABELA ISLAND

You take a flight from Quito to the Airport of Baltra Island.

Our guides will take you over to Isabela Island.

Flamingo Lagoon which is the largest coastal lagoon found in the Galapagos and is one of the main reproductive sites for the grand majority of flamingos. Dinner and accommodation.

 

Highlights:           Flamingos, svelte birds.

Activities:            Hiking, walking

Type of Landing: Dry landing

Difficulty:             Moderate

DAY 2 ISABELA ISLAND

After breakfast our destination is the rim of Sierra Negra Volcano.

The Sierra Negra Volcano boasts the largest basaltic caldera in Galapagos at 9 x 10 km. The site offers impressive views and the opportunity to observe up to 7 species of finch and a rich display of vegetation. The north side of the caldera provides evidence of its most recent volcanic activity in 2005.

Highlights:           Basaltic caldera, stunning views, finches

Activities:             Hiking, horseback riding, walking

Type of Landing: Dry landing

Diffilcuty:             Moderate

Concha de Perla 

This is the perfect spot for those who love swimming or snorkeling! Concha de Perla is a shallow, calm bay with crystal clear water that allows you to enjoy the fascinating marine life of Galapagos. If you are lucky you will be able to swim with sea lions and penguins. Dinner and accommodation.

Highlights:           Sea lions and penguins.

Activities:             Snorkeling

Type of Landing: Dry landing

Diffilcuty:             Moderate

DAY 3 SANTA CRUZ ISLAND (After breakfast Navigation to Santa Cruz)

Charles Darwin Station

The Charles Darwin Research Station is home to turtles ranging from 3-inches (new hatchlings) to 4-feet long. Sub-species of turtles interact with one another and many of the older turtles are accustomed to humans, stretching out their heads for a pet. The babies are kept until they are about four years old and strong enough to survive on their own.

Tortuga Bay is another destinations to visit on your own on Santa Cruz with baby powder white sand, magic blue waters, marine iguanas, and sometimes flamingos. It is only 2.5 Km from Puerto Ayora on a nice brick path (about 30-45 minutes walking).

Highlights:           Giant Tortoises in captivation, marine iguanas.

Activities:             Walking

Type of Landing: Dry landing

Diffilcuty:             Easy

DAY 4 FLOREANA ISLAND

Post Office Bay is one of the few visitor sites that is visited for its human history. Whaling Captain James Colnett established the wooden post barrel in 1793. At this time whaling was a big industry, ships were typically gone for 2 years at a time. Floreana was a frequent stop for these ships. Outbound ships would drop off letters after rounding the cape and the ships returning home would pick the up and delivered in time by hand. Near Post Office Bay, we explore the north shore of Floreana along narrow channels teeming with life. Rays, turtles and sea lions can be seen gently swimming next to the panga.

Mirador de la Baronesa is a vista point on the northside of Floreana, in La Olla Bay. It is a basaltic rock formation between Cormorant Point and Post Office Bay. You will take a panga ride to reach this point. On the panga you can observe several marine species such as golden eagle rays, sea turtles, sea lions, mullets and eventually Galapagos penguins.

Mirador de la Baronesa is a good place for understanding the mangroves. The red mangrove is characterized by a hanging elongated fruit, which in reality is a new daughter plant that grows from the parent plant, a rarity in the plant kingdom. The red mangrove is a pioneer in the coasts and has a very hard and resistant wood.

This location has a history. It was known to be loved by Baroness Eloisa von Wagner, where she would spent hours watching ships and acquiring knowledge of vessels approaching the island. Within walking distance (30 m) are the ruins of what is known as the House of the Baroness. Dinner and accommodation.

Highlights:           Post office barrel, nice sandy beach. View, sea turtles, history and          

                               Mystery…stories of the first inhabitants on Floreana

Activities:            Short hike, snorkeling

Type of Landing: Wet landing

Diffilcuty:             Easy

DAY 5 SANTA CRUZ ISLAND

Los Gemelos, or the Twin Craters, are located opposite each other on both sides of the road leading from Puerto Ayora to Baltra. The name is only figurative; not real craters, these formations were created by the collapse of surface material in underground fissures and chambers. The view is breathtaking.

Transfer to the Baltra Airport

Highlights:                Pit craters, Scalesia forest

Activities:                Short hiking

Type of landing:       Dry landing

Difficulty:                  Moderate

 

NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change without notice due to seasonal changes, inclement weather conditions, and adjustments of Galapagos National Park policy.

INCLUDED: transfers, tours, Complete Meals, Accommodation (private bathrooms – air conditioner – hot shower), Bilingual naturalist guide (Spanish-English); Transportation.

NOT INCLUDED: Entrance fee 100.00 usd; ingala immigration control card 20.00 usd, Fee port on Isabela Island $ 5 per person, tips. Water taxi $3, Snorkel equipment $ 5 (mask, tubing and flippers), Additional drinks and Personal expenses.

ACCOMMODATION

Due to the diverse nature of this trip, the accommodation will vary throughout. For example, in towns and cities we use local hotels and guesthouses, camping on the Trek, in the Amazon we use a volunteer guesthouse and traditional stilted huts in the Shuar community.  In the Galapagos (optional)  you will be staying in hostels.

Accommodation in Quito will be in our centrally located volunteer house. All meals are included and will consist of typical Ecuadorian fare. Rooms will be dorm style, 4-6 per room.

Meals

You will be provided with 3 meals a day and the food is typical South American fare. In towns and cities we eat at the guesthouse or local restaurants, cooks provide hearty meals on the trek and in the animal sanctuary volunteers go together to purchase groceries and take it in turns to prepare evening meals. Please note only breakfast is included on Galapagos.  Typical South American foode includes lots of rice, meat, beans, vegetables and fruit, regional dishes vary and local specialities will always be made available!

Staff

Throughout the expedition you will have an Xtreme Gap representative and trip leader. On each project there will also be a dedicated project co-ordinator and team of staff who will work with the leader and volunteers to assign tasks. We also have a team of staff based in Quito to provide further back up.

Transportation

Transport to and from the airport, to each phase and for all tours on the itinerary will be included. Transport can vary from taxi, minibus and local buses depending on the journey. Any extra trips not included on the itinerary will be at each volunteers own cost.

Flights

Flights are always arriving to Cusco (arrive in the morning) and from Quito (leave in the afternoon). Flights to Galapagos (for when you book the Bolt-on)  are from Quito – there is a flight around 9/9:30 am to Galapagos so to get that one.

Trip Frequently Asked Questions

 

The majority of foreign nationals do not require a visa for Peru or Ecuador. However, those with criminal records in Ecuador may still be denied entry. On arrival in the country, the immigration police will normally allow a stay of up to 90 days

There is a National Park entrance fee to the Galapagos Islands of $110 for all foreign nationals. This fee is not included.

If possible, it would be best to get the flight arriving at 11:00.(Iberia/LAN from Lima to Cusco) So arrive on the start date of the trip at 11 am, or earlier in the morning, in Cusco.

You can arrive 1 day early if that’s more convenient, the price is £30 for an extra night (incl food)

The arrival airport is Cuzco (CUZ) and departure airport is Quito (UIO) You are responsible for booking your own flights/transport to the start point of the expedition (at the in-country airport). Information and advice about booking flights will be provided upon booking but please do not hesitate to contact us if you need further assistance. Do not forget to upload your flights details on your personal pages before you go! Call us if you have any questions or need any advice.

You will also need to book return flights from Quito to the Galapagos Islands. These flights are approximately $450 USD and although not included, we can help you can book these flights for you.

Weather Ecuador: The highland dry season is June through until the end of September. In the Oriente, it rains during most months, but August and December through March are usually the driest. In the Galápagos, the wildlife is there year-round. The dry season (June to December) is also cool and often misty. On the coast, the wet season (roughly January to May) sees sunny days with daily afternoon downpours, but it’s the best beach weather. The dry season (roughly June to December) is cooler.

Peru: From June to August is the dry season in the mountains and altiplano (Andean plateau); the wettest months are from December to March. It rains all the time in the hot and humid rainforest, but the driest months there are from June to September. However, even during the wettest months from December to May, it rarely rains for more than a few hours at a time.

Even though you will be provided with food and accommodation in-country, you will need money to do your own travelling if you wish and for any activities not on the itinerary. There will be plenty of things do! Depending on the duration of your stay, we advise you to budget for $60 – $80 or £40-£50 a week.

We can cater for vegetarians. Meals are normally locally sourced and include rice, beans, pulses and some meat (if you want it!).

Upon booking you will be provided with a recommend kit list. You will also have a kit briefing before you go out on expedition and you are welcome to call us with any kit related queries before you go!

Don’t be! By joining our group you will be meeting loads of like-minded adventurers so don’t be put off travelling if you don’t have any mates to come with you.  You’re guaranteed to make loads of friends and have an incredible time on this adventure!

Duration Option Price  
7 (Week)GBP 3950Book Now

INCLUDED

  • Pre-departure briefing and support (in London)
  • Airport pick-up
  • Welcome and orientation briefing
  • All accommodation
  • Spanish lessons
  • All tours on itinerary
  • Project donation
  • 3 meals per day
  • In-country support staff
  • Social activities
  • 24/7 UK emergency backup
  • Please note that due to the nature of expeditions, prices, dates and itinerary may vary.

EXCLUDED

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Spending money
  • Galapagos Bolt On £650
  • Extra flights for Galapagos about £450

Dates

2020

Fri 17th April 2020

Fri 3rd July 2020

Fri 16th October 2020

The Galapagos tour starts on a Monday after and ends on Friday

 

New Zealand Xplorer

The Xtreme New Zealand Xplorer  (Our Awsome New Zealand Travel pass) enompasses all of the xtreme highlights of NZ, bungee jumping, rafting, glacier trekking, volcano walking, as well as taking you way off the beaten track to isolated hill stations, glacial lakes, massive surf breaks, golden beaches and big blue skies.

The Xtreme New Zealand Xplorer  (Our Awsome New Zealand Travel pass) enompasses all of the xtreme highlights of NZ, bungee jumping, rafting, glacier trekking, volcano walking, as well as taking you way off the beaten track to isolated hill stations, glacial lakes, massive surf breaks, golden beaches and big blue skies.

New Zealand Xplorer

New Zealand wow.  Two amazing islands That will simply take your breath away.  This awesome flexible adventure will take you to some of the following places:

  • Hang out with surf dudes staying in a Lodge at Raglan – overlooking New Zealand’s Best surf beach.
  • Go with the globe.  Hang out with glowworms and go caving in Waitomo Caves.
  • Overnight stay on a Marae (Maori meeting house) in Mourea includes your accommodation, hangi (dinner), breakfast and unique cultural experience (Optional $80).
  • Go Xtreme in Rotorua. Geysers, the worlds highest white water rafting drop and bungee!
  • Discover history and culture  at Lake Aniwhenua.
  • Tongariro National Park Do the crossing and it will change your life.  (If you don’t fall in Mount doom).
  • Indulge in Animal conservation in Whakahoro for wild, wilderness activities!
  • Have you ever seen a massive squid?  Well you can in Wellington – NZ’s capital city, home to our national museum Te Papa.
  • Unique overnight and a free day in Abel Tasman National Park. Go sailing or walking or rent a kayak if you’re feeling adventurous.
  • The West Coast is the best coast. Get experienced in  Punakaikiand.
  • Majestic Franz Josef glacier with a free day to hike and explore it. Grab an acts and strap on your crampons it’s time to explore.
  • Spend a few days in Queenstown – the adventure and party capital of NZ! Feeling extra bold add-on the Queenstown adrenaline overload!
  • The stunning fiord of Milford Sound and historic Gunn’s Camp. New Zealand at its beautiful best.
  • Stewart Island’s natural untouched beauty and wildlife or the Catlins wilderness area for seals and remote scenery.
  • The Head for the hills and stay at base camp. NZ’s highest mountain Aoraki/Mt Cook.
  • High country sheep station in Lord of the Rings scenery at Rangitata. Home to some of museums best whitewater rafting.
  • Visit Kaikoura, for the awe-inspiring whale watching and wildlife spotting.

PHOTOS

Full Details

 

  • AUCKLAND TO RAGLAN
  • RAGLAN (VIA WAITOMO) TO MOUREA
  • MOUREA (VIA ROTORUA) TO LAKE ANIWHENUA
  • LAKE ANIWHENUA (VIA TAUPO) TO WHAKAHORO
  • NON-TRAVEL DAY: WHAKAHORO
  • WHAKAHORO TO NATIONAL PARK
  • NATIONAL PARK TO WELLINGTON
  • WELLINGTON TO MARAHAU (ABEL TASMAN)
  • NON TRAVEL DAY: MARAHAU (ABEL TASMAN)
  • MARAHAU TO PUNAKAIKI
  • PUNAKAIKI TO FRANZ JOSEF
  • NON TRAVEL DAY: FRANZ JOSEF
  • FRANZ JOSEF TO WANAKA
  • WANAKA TO QUEENSTOWN
  • QUEENSTOWN TO GUNN’S CAMP
  • GUNN’S CAMP TO INVERCARGILL/STEWART ISLAND
  • INVERCARGILL/STEWART ISLAND TO QUEENSTOWN
  • NON TRAVEL DAY: QUEENSTOWN (RECOMMENDED)
  • QUEENSTOWN TO AORAKI/MT COOK
  • MT COOK TO RANGITATA
  • RANGITATA (VIA CHRISTCHURCH) TO KAIKOURA
  • KAIKOURA TO PICTON OR WELLINGTON
  • WELLINGTON (VIA NATIONAL PARK) TO AUCKLAND

Start Points:

Most travellers start this pass in Auckland. See the Timetable tab for all other departure days and times.

  • Auckland Northbound: Mondays, Tuesdays (Summer-only), Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
  • Auckland Southbound: Tuesdays, Wednesday (Summer-only), Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays (Spring-only).

Trip Frequently Asked Questions

Accommodation is not included in the New Zealand Xplorer.  Why?  Well let’s just think about this.  New Zealand is an incredible place with so much to see and do and has lots of places that you will want to stay for longer.   As this is not a set tour with specific day-to-day itinerary, you can stay longer in certain places should you wish.  So we do not include accommodation to allow the trip to be flexible.  That doesn’t mean you will be stranded, we can pre-book accommodation for you as you go (the guide will sort that out for you on the bus).
As a bare minimum you can do this in 23 days.  But that really is pushing it, we would recommend spending four weeks
Then you should definitely join.  Most of our travellers are solo travellers looking to join a group.  The New Zealand Xplorer is designed to help you meet people easily.  Backpacking in New Zealand is highly social, but this really makes it easy.
Most people start in Auckland although you can start in Christchurch as well.
We would work on the basis of about £30 per day.  You will need to cover your hostel bed for the night and food.  Also if you wish to do any adrenaline activities as you travel these can be fairly expensive, be sure to budget enough for some skydiving bungeejumping!
Just talk to us, hit the e-mail button and send us your question, we are experts at sending people backpacking New Zealand.
Duration Option Price  
12 (Month)recommended 28 days GBP 619Book Now

INCLUDED

  • All transport through New Zealand in one continuous loop
  • Funky drivers and guides
  • predeparture support and advice

EXCLUDED

  • Airport transfers
  • Accommodation
  • Extra activities not included on itinerary
  • Travel insurance

Dates

More dates

 

New China Xplorer 18 Day China Backpacking Tour

An awesome 18 day loop around China starting and ending in Shanghai. Shorter than the 27 day Xtreme China Experience put packs a punch of all the best locations. Mixing the old China with the new in the perfect cocktail of adventure and culture.

18 day china gap year trip (1)

18 Day China loop starting in Shanghai. An awesome round trip in the best part of China in 18 days. Join our groups to discover the real China. Loads of inclusions and plenty of optional extras. Bamboo rafting, panders, Kung Fu temples, ancient Chinese temples and some of the world’s largest and most modern cities.

 

Xtreme China Xplorer  – Guided China Group Tour

Highlights

  • Visit Shanghai, the biggest city in the world, with a population larger than that of Australia
  • Experience the largest bar crawl in China – the Drunken Dragon Pub Crawl
  • Explore beautiful karst scenery in Yangshuo
  • Visit Amazing sights like Tianfu Square to see the colossal statue of Chairman Mao, and visit the world’s largest statue of Buddha
  • Take an exhilarating bike ride atop the ancient city walls
  • Bamboo Rafting the Li River
  • See pandas at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
  • See the Terracotta Army and stay on a mountain farm in Xi’an
  • Watch Kung Fu at its highest level at the Shaolin Temple
  • Hike the Great Wall then Camp on the Wall, watch the sunrise the next morning
  • Destinations connected by night train with fully flat beds, so no time is wasted travelling

PHOTOS

 

China Xplorer Itinerary

Day 1: Shanghai

Welcome to China! The tour begins in Shanghai one of the most exciting modern cities in the world.  On arrival day you will meet group at the rooftop bar of the Pheonix Hostel.  You have one day to explore Shanghai at your leisure, prior to heading on an overnight train to the stunning Guilin.
Transfer to Shanghai South Station to board a night train to Guilin.
One guide will put you on the train and another will collect you in Guilin.

Xtreme Gap Year China Xplorer (7)

Please note, the China Xplorer is a variation of the more popular Xtreme China Experience.  Very Occasionally, you may have a journey from Shanghai to Yangzhou on your own on the first evening aboard an over night train before meeting the larger group. We will let you know if this is the case.

If you do not wish to do this you have the option of flying into Guilin Liangjiang International Airport and you can meet the group on day 2.

A note about sightseeing in Shanghai. The 1st day is a connection day to get you to the group in Guilin. If you want to spend more time exploring Shanghai, and we recommend do so, you may want to book additional nights at the end of the trip becasue you will be finishing up back in Shanghai.

Day 2-5: Yangshuo

img-30381Enjoy the ride through the ever-changing scenery until the karst mountains appearing in the distance mean you are nearly at your destination. This is a back-packing and climber´s paradise and some of the crags have some interesting names; Wine Bottle Cliff, Twin Gates, The Egg, Baby Frog, Low Mountain and Moon Hill. If you have a 20 yuan note handy the picture on the back was taken in Yangshuo.

Your first free activity in the afternoon is a ride down the River Li on a bamboo raft. As you drift down the river with the soaring mountains above you and the sun setting what could be a better introduction this beautiful place. Yangshuo is famous for its stunning scenery and there are some exciting optional activities.

Accommodation in Yangshou is at Monkey Jane´s Hostel which has a super terrace with great views of the surrounding mountains and river. It is the highest roof-top bar around so definitely the place to go for a few beers while the sun goes down. If you are feeling brave the bar sells snake liquor at 10RMB a shot.

The Li River is where some of the optional activities take place. Kayaking is something everyone knows about but what about deep water soloing. All you have to do is climb up a really high crag, no ropes, and jump off into deep water!

For more relaxing classes try learning Chinese or taking instruction in calligraphy. For a fun group activity the Golden Water caves are great. Cover each other in oozing river mud until you all resemble chocolate biscuits and then jump in the hot springs to rinse it off. This is great fun and great for your skin at the same time.

Forget fishing with rods or nets. Fishing in Yangshuo is done is a slightly different way as the men use birds to catch the fish. Specially trained cormorants dive from boats and catch the fish and come back and spit them out. A snare is placed round their necks so they can only swallow the smaller ones!

For a more unusual activity but relaxing at the same time opt for some Hot Cupping treatment. Heated bamboo or glass cups are placed on your back and as they tighten the impurities and tensions are drawn out of the skin. The Yangshuo farmers love it after a day at fields and who cares if you have up to 30 dark circles on your back for few days!

There is plenty of free time in Yangshuo right up until it is time to board the night train to Chengdu.

Day 6 – 8: Chengdu

Xtreme Gap Year China Xplorer (6)Around 14 million people live in the City of Brocade or City of Hibiscus as Chengdu is also known. Today there is time to get to know the city and maybe try the famous Sichuan Hot Pot. Pots of bubbling and spicy oil surrounded by a selection of meats and vegetables mean you can select your own and then cook them in the boiling pot. Beware the Sichuan Peppercorns, they can be mind-numbingly hot!

On the second day in Chengdu it is an early start and a ride out to the Panda Breeding Research Centre. Panda´s don´t do much but look adorable and search for food. Panda breakfast time is the best time to catch these black and white cuddly creatures tucking into their daily ration of about 20kg of bamboo.

When you get back to Chengdu there is the chance to try out a massage. The masseurs here are blind, or supposed to be, and as their touch is more sensitive than a sighted person they give some great massages. It might be better to avoid anywhere that offers you a ´happy ending´ though.

Once you are suitably relaxed it is time to get on the overnight train to Xi´an. The train ride is 500 miles and takes about 15 hours.

Day 9-10: Xi´an

In the morning you will be taken on a guided tour to see the number one attraction in Xi’an which has to be the Terracotta Warriors. Discovered by farmers in 1974 this is one of the most unforgettable sights of any trip to China. Only a few of the many thousands of the buried soldiers have been completely recovered so far along with 40,000 weapons. Each soldier has unique features and buried alongside them were their horses and chariots.   The First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, died in 210 BCE and the soldiers were to protect him in the after-life.

It takes a lot a top off the sight of all the Terracotta Warriors but if you fancy some exercise there is an optional bike ride round the city walls.

The Muslim Quarter in Xi´an is a lively bustling place where you can find the Beiyuanmen Muslim Market which is a great place for some lunch and to find some souvenirs of Shanghai. There are ten mosques in the area but the most famous is the Great Mosque with intricate carvings, colourful decorations, courtyards and gardens. The main Prayer Hall of the mosque can hold up to 1.000 people and is lavishly and ornately decorated. The grounds are open all day to people of all beliefs but non-Muslims are not allowed in the Prayer Hall.

For some night time entertainment check out Big Wild Goose Pagoda and sit and watch Asia´s biggest sound and light show. Afterwards, find one of the many karaoke bars and maybe have a group singsong. Karaoke or KTV as it is known is incredibly popular in China and even more so in Xi´an with nearly all the venues being night clubs combined with karaoke bars.

There are many homeless people in Xi´an and tonight there is the chance to give something back to this amazing country by helping out at a soup kitchen. Not just soup but pots of tea, noodles and steamed buns are provided by the volunteer organisations come rain or shine.

Day 11 –  12 Shaolin

Shaolin kung fu TempleAnother early start as we head northwest of Dengfeng out into the thickly wooded mountains. Reputed to be the ´Number One Temple Under Heaven´ not only is the temple the home of Shaolin Kung Fu but it also on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Established in 495AD the temple takes its name from the nearby Shaoshi Mountain and as well as Kung Fu it is where Chan Buddhism originated. The complex of the Shaolin Temple has 7 main halls and there are many interesting photo opportunities.

Day 13 – 16 : Beijing

The morning is for relaxing before heading off to the Great Wall for an overnight camping experience and to see one of the world´s most impressive feats of engineering. The journey out to the Great Wall of China is by bus and this takes about two hours, depending on the traffic out of Beijing. Once the bus is clear of the suburbs the scenery changes to mainly forests and mountains stretching as far as the eye can see.

Nothing can prepare you for the reality of the Great Wall of China. The sheer scale of this iconic structure snaking off into the distance will take your breath away as you stroll along the fortifications and wonder just how it was constructed. The locals call it the Wild Wall and after hiking a short distance you will find a deserted place to set up camp. Watching the sun go down over the Great Wall is a magical experience and one you will never forget.

Up early in time to catch the sun rise across the Great Wall and after some memorable photos it is time to return to Beijing. The rest of today and tomorrow are at leisure in Beijing to get to know the city better.

Xtreme Gap Year China Xplorer (9)For dinner Beijing style find the Night Market. There are food stalls with many recognisable dishes to try and some not quite so! Many of the offerings are on skewers and while strawberry-on-a-stick sounds delicious some of the more exotic ones might have the odd beetle, silk worm or scorpion on! The signs are in Mandarin Chinese and English so if you are not sure if it is a lizard or lamb kebab hopefully the signs will help. The skewers are displayed raw and then deep fried in large woks to order. This is a great fun activity in a group and will certainly sort out who has the strongest stomach!

If you are not feeling too queasy after all the weird and wonderful foods you have seen, and maybe eaten, there is an amazing acrobatic display at the Chaoyang Theatre. The award winning Beijing Acrobatic Troupe will astound you with their contortions, twists, turns and balancing acts.

Tiananmen Square is a must-see. Chairman Mao died in 1976 and has lain in state in his crystal coffin in the Mausoleum here ever since. He wanted to be cremated but his final wishes were ignored and he is visited every day by thousands of people. On the eastern side of Tiananmen Square is the National Museum for anyone that wants a whistle stop tour of Beijing history.

A few streets from Tiananmen Square is the Forbidden City which was home to many Emperors and their retinues from the 15th century onwards. Surrounded by a high wall and a deep moat the city is a fascinating place with about 9,000 rooms spread across 1,000 or so wooden buildings. The Palace Museum is also here with stunning treasures and works of art on display.

To see how the other half live, escape from Beijing city to the edge of the beautiful Kunming Lake to visit the Summer Palace. Spread over acres and acres of beautiful gardens there are pavilions, towers, bridges and other man-made ancient structures numbering well over 3,000. Two of the most interesting are the Marble Boat and the Seventeen-Arch Bridge.

Other notable places in Beijing are the Bird´s Nest Stadium from the 2008 Olympics and the Water Cube. They are both interesting to look at through the day by probably better viewed at night when they are lit up.

Day 17-18: Hangzhou & Moganshan

18 day china gap year trip (2)
A breath of fresh air between two major stops. Discover a stunning mountainous area that has accommodated Shanghai’s elite; from the old colonialists to Chairman Mao.

“In heaven there is paradise, on earth there is Hangzhou”. Once an ancient capital of China and rumored to have been visited by Macro Polo, Hangzhou is an eclectic mix of old and new, built on the stunning banks of West Lake. Famous throughout China for its beauty and culture, Hangzhou has become one of the most visited tourist cities in the world.

At the end of day 18 you will have covered Thousands of miles together and shared many experiences which will stay with you for a lifetime. But it is time start saying goodbyes as your group departs for home or maybe onto other exciting countries.

Optional Activities & Consise Itinerary

This tour is designed to allow you lots of freedom to explore and see the sights, and there are plenty of exciting optional activities on offer in each location along the route. Here is a breakdown of what happens each day with optional activities:

Day 1: Shanghai

  • Meet group at the rooftop bar of the Pheonix Hostel. leave luggage at the hostel if necessary.
  • Transfer to Shanghai South Station to board a night train to Guilin.
  • One guide will put you on the train and another will collect you in Guilin.

Day 2-5: Yangshuo

  • Try your hand at cooking up some traditional Chinese foods at this friendly and practical local cuisine institute
  • Group Lunch
  • Unmissable Activity: Cruise down the Yulong River on these Chinese style Gondolas.
  • – Bamboo Rafts! Bikes included riding around! (please make sure you wear a helmet at all times when you are riding your bike!)
  • Optional: Cormorant Fishing
  • Optional: Bike Ride to Moon Hill and a cave complex including mudbaths and hot springs
  • Optional: Enjoy Deep Water soloing or Rock- Climbing, both highly recommended!
  • Optional: Experience Chinese traditional therapies such as Hot Cupping
  • Optional: Enjoy kayaking on the Li River (must be back by 13.00!)
  • Optional: A true treat, experience what life is like on a farm by visiting your Adventure Leader’s home village
  • Board minibus to North Bus Station and then board your bus to Guilin
    Say goodbye to your second Adventure Leader and board train to Chengdu

Day 6-8: Chengdu

  • Arrive in Chengdu and meet your next Adventure Leader, before transferring by metro to your hostel.
  • Optional: Massage from blind Masseuse.
  • Mandarin Lesson 1: Have a Mandarin Lesson with your Adventure Leader
  • Optional: Watch a traditional Sichuan opera performance
  • Unmissable Activity: Gather up to go see the Pandas at the world’s main, and biggest, Giant Panda Breeding & Research Center.
  • Optional: Leave to Leshan to see the world’s largest stone Buddha.
  • Optional: Wander Jinli street and the Tibetan districts independently. (Chengdu is right next to Tibet, or Xizang in Mandarin, so there is a large ethnic community here).
  • Optional: Sample the famous Sichuan Hot Pot if you dare!(Legendary Spice!)
  • Have a night out in Chengdu
  • Optional:Visit Wenshu Monastery, Sichuan Province Museum, People’s Park and a traditional Tea House
  • Take bus or metro to Chengdu North Railway Station
  • Say goodbye to your Adventure Leader and board your train to Xian

Day 9-10: Xi’an

  • Arrive in Xi’an and meet your next Adventure Leader
  • Check-in to your hostel
  • Optional: Explore the Bell Drum towers, Muslim Quarter and Great Mosque to learn about the history of the Silk Road, towers , mosque and some local legends.
  • Enjoy a dinner of local street foods at the Muslim Quarter. Relax after dinner by visiting the local Silk Road market nearby.
  • Optional: Volunteer at a the Star Sun Home
  • Un-missable Attraction – Terracotta Warriors – Free
  • Optional: Bike Ride on Ming Dynasty City Walls. Please make sure you wear a helmet!

Day 11-12: Shaolin

  • Board a private minivan then a bus to DengFeng, the closest village to the Shaolin Temple
  • Arrive in DengFeng
  • Optional: Kungfu Lesson & Show at a local Children’s Home run by the Shaolin
  • Temple where the monks teach these children to be Kungfu masters. All proceeds go directly to the Children’s Home.
  • Dinner in the Guesthouse
  • Mandarin lesson: Have your second Mandarin lesson
  • Optional: Visit the flagship of Kung Fu, The Shaolin Temple
  • Optional: Hike to Dharma Cave, a spiritual spot for Buddhist pilgrims, and be rewarded by beautiful views of both the shrines/temples in the area and the views of the area
  • Have a late lunch at the guesthouse then pack and check out
  • Depart to Zhengzhou to board your train to Beijing
  • Arrive at the train station and have some food before your train leaves

Day 13-16: Beijing

Arrive Beijing and meet your next Adventure Leader. Transfer by minibus to hostel. ou won’t be staying the night here, so you won’t be able to get into rooms, but can use the shower rooms, and common areas to relax before heading to the Wall in the afternoon

  • Mandarin lesson: Have your 3rd Mandarin Lesson
  • It’s time for the Mandarin Challenge! Use your freshly learned Mandarin to complete challenges around Beijing’s ancient streets and alleyways. The winning team earns a prize.
  • Mandatory meal at a local farm to obtain permission to access the locals only sections of the unrestored Great Wall
  • Unmissable Attraction – Hike on totally unrestored sections of the Wall before setting up camp on a deserted section of the wall to watch the sunset on one of the Wonders of the World (Please note, due to cold weather before end of April and after September, we stay in a guest house near the Wall instead of camping, but still return to the Wall to watch sunrise in the morning)
  • Unmissable Attraction – Sunrise on the Wall
  • Return to Beijing
  • Optional: Visit the Olympic Bird’s Nest stadium designed by one of the most controversial figures in modern China
  • Optional:A stunning Chinese Acrobatics Performance performed by young talents recruited from around China
  • Enjoyed exclusively by royalty in ancient times, taste Beijing’s signature dish Peking Roast Duck
  • Optional: Take a walk through the globally recognized, Tiananmen Square
  • Optional: Visit the Forbidden City. The largest palatial complex in the world, the grounds boast 980 buildings, and a history of housing 24 different Chinese royalty
  • Optional: Go to Jingshan park for a bird’s eye view of the three palaces: Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace and Tiananmen Square.
  • Test your bargaining skills in the Fake Goods Market!
  • Push your taste buds to the limit at the WangFuJing night market where you can sample most foods you’ve never tried, like scorpion, dog, cat, bugs and more
    Optional: Go to the Temple of Heaven, the largest complex dedicated to heaven worship in the world and where ancient sacrifices were made to bring bountiful harvests
  • Board night train to Hangzhou

Day 17-18: Hangzhou & Moganshan

After breakfast the group will take a minivan from Hangzhou railway station to Moganshan, famed for it’s bamboo forests.

  • Optional: Hike to Moganshan PeakDinner
  • Dinner
  • Have breakfast then check-out, but you can leave your bags at the hostel
  • Unmissable Activity: Bike Trek
  • Lunch at the hostel
    Travel to Hangzhou East Train Station to take your bullet train to Shanghai
  • Arrive in Shanghai and transfer via metro to your hostel
  • Optional: Set off for the Shanghai Drunken Dragon Pub Crawl – a big favourite with our fun-loving travellers!

We often get asked how much extra activities cost. Below we have listed some of the additional activities you can do on this trip. Please note prices do change, and currencies do fluctuate so this is really just a guide it may not be hundred percent accurate, but it will give you a good indication of how much extra to allow for spending money.

  • Entrance to the Great Wall: 45CNY (approx £4.40)
  • Cable car at Great Wall: 55CNY each way (approx £5.35)
  • Toboggan at Great Wall: 45CNY (approx £4.40)
  • Beijing: Forbidden City: 60CNY (approx £5.85)
  • Beijing: Temple of Heaven: 35CNY (approx £3.40)
  • Beijing: Summer Palace: 50CNY (approx £4.85)
  • Beijing: Legend of Gongfu performance: 100CNY (approx £9.70)
  • Beijing or Shanghai: Acrobatic Performance: 100CNY (approx £9.70)
  • Beijing: Opera Performance: 180CNY (approx £17.50)
  • Beijing: Hutong Cycle Tour: 100 CNY (approx £9.70)
  • Shanghai: Yuyuan Garden: 40CNY (approx £3.90)
  • Shanghai: Jinmao Tower: 100CNY (approx £9.70)
  • Shanghai: Huangpu River night cruise: 70CNY (approx £6.80)
  • Shanghai: Oriental Pearl View deck 100 CNY (approx £9.70)
  • Xi’an: Terra Cotta Warriors Museum: 150CNY (approx £14.60)
  • Xi´an: Bell & Drum Towers: 40CNY (approx £3.90)
  • Xi´an: Great Mosque: 25CNY (approx £2.45)
  • Xi´an: City Wall South Gate: 40CNY (approx £3.90)
  • Xi´an: Big Wild Goose Pagoda: 50CNY (approx £4.85)
  • Xi´an: Dumpling Banquet: 80CNY (approx £7.80)
  • Yangtze River: Three Lesser Gorges: 220 CNY (approx £21.50)
  • Yangtze River: Three Gorges Dam: 120 CNY (approx £11.70)
  • Yangshuo: 40 min Calligraphy class: 30 CNY (approx £2.90)
  • Yangshuo: Chinese Language lesson: 40 CNY (approx £3.90)
  • Yangshuo: Impression Light Show: 188 CNY (approx £18.30)
  • Yangshuo: 1 hour Gongfu Lesson: 50 CNY (approx £4.85)
  • Yangshuo: Cooking School & market tour: 150CNY (approx £14.60)
  • Yangshuo: Bike rental: 20CNY (approx £1.95)
  • Yangshuo: Kayaking: 130CNY (approx £12.65)
  • Yangshuo: Li River Cruise: 80CNY (approx £7.80)

Trip Frequently Asked Questions

We include all of the accommodation during this China group tour. We usually use hostels based on shared rooms. There is the option to upgrade your own room at a cost of about £25 per night. Please give us a couple of weeks notice if that is your intention.

We regularly do check Hostels to Make Sure They Are Clean and Secure.

The idea of accommodation in China can send a shiver down your spine, but each hostel has modern showers washing facilities and Internet access.

Some of this trip is spent camping on the great Wall of China, you do not need to bring camping equipment it is all included for you. We spend one night on a traditional organic farm and you will also get the opportunity to sleep in a roundhouse as well.

We sleep on sleeper trains during some sections, this is a great way to travel because you wake up somewhere new without spending  your days on the move. Sleeper trains all have flat beds, and there are a lot of fun. If you wish you can upgrade to first class sleeper cabin on some routes.

Please note this trip does not include food. So you will need to budget approximately £10 per day to cover your meals. The guide will always suggest good places to eat, usually most people eat together. An average meal will cost around 30RMB (approx £3) per person.

If you want to go exceptionally cheap, you can always grab a bowl of noodles or fried rice for as little as 10RMB (approx £1).

You can also get Western food and most of the hostels where you stay and this will cost about three pounds, but hey you are in China take full advantage.

You will need a VISA for this trip. A tourist VISA can be obtained at the Chinese embassy relatively easily. You will need a letter of invitation, which we will send you after you have paid your final balance so we advise you to book early so you can arrange your VISA  in good time.
We usually run groups between 10 and 18 people,the minimum group size is 5. On the first day there may be a smaller group size.
Most of the time but not the same one. We use different guides in different cities. So sometimes you will be put on a train by one guide and picked up at the destination by another.
This trip is most popular with people between 18-25 but we get all ages travelling with us.
Please note, the Beijing to Beijing Loop is a variation of the 25 day HK to HK circuit. From Day 1 – 4 you will be with one group and a different one from Day  4– 18. Occasionally, you may have a journey from Beijing to Shanghai on your own on the first evening but we will let you know if this is the case. 
The group meets up at 4.30pm at the accommodation on the start day. You can arrive anytime before this. If you would like to arrive a day early we can help you book your extra nights accommodation.
The trip finishes at 10pm on the last day and most people spend an extra night before flying home. You will be in Beijing for the last two days so it is possible to fly out earlier but you will miss out on some activities.
Duration Option Price  
18 (Days)GBP 1239Book Now

INCLUDED

  • All transport
  • Detailed predeparture pack
  • Services of English-speaking local coordinators  &    guides
  • All accommodation
  • Fully guided group tour
  • bamboo rafting the Li River
  • Overnight trains
  • Propaganda Museum in Shanghai
  • Shop till you drop in the Nanjing Road
  • Stroll through the Bund checking out Shanghai skyline
  • Wallow in Chinese mud baths
  • Entry to the Panda breeding research centre
  • Entry to the terracotta Warriors
  • Qin ling Mountains excursion
  • A visit to the Shaolin Temple
  • Camping out on the great Wall of China
  • Tiananmen Square and  the forbidden city

EXCLUDED

  • Transfers to and from the airport (although this is very easy)
  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Spending money
  • Optional activities
  • Meals

Dates

Departing Shanghai – Finishing Shanghai

2020 Start Dates
Departure Finish

March 09/03/2020 – 26/03/2020
March 11/03/2020 – 28/03/2020
March 18/03/2020 – 04/04/2020
March 25/03/2020 – 11/04/2020

April 01/04/2020 – 18/04/2020
April 06/04/2020 – 23/04/2020
April 08/04/2020 – 25/04/2020
April 15/04/2020 – 02/05/2020
April 22/04/2020 – 06/05/2020
April 29/04/2020 – 16/05/2020

May 06/05/2020 – 23/05/2020
May 11/05/2020 – 28/05/2020
May 13/05/2020 – 30/05/2020
May 20/05/2020 – 06/06/2020
May 25/05/2020 – 11/06/2020
May 27/05/2020 – 13/06/2020

June 03/06/2020 – 20/06/2020
June 08/06/2020 – 25/06/2020
June 10/06/2020 – 27/06/2020
June 17/06/2020 – 04/07/2020
June 24/06/2020 – 11/07/2020

July 01/07/2020 – 18/07/2020
July 06/07/2020 – 23/07/2020
July 08/07/2020 – 25/07/2020
July 15/07/2020 – 01/08/2020
July 22/07/2020 – 08/08/2020
July 27/07/2020 – 13/08/2020
July 29/07/2020 – 15/08/2020

August 05/08/2020 – 22/08/2020
August 10/08/2020 – 27/08/2020
August 12/08/2020 – 29/08/2020
August 19/08/2020 – 05/09/2020
August 26/08/2020 – 12/09/2020

September 02/09/2020 – 19/09/2020
September 07/09/2020 – 24/09/2020
September 14/09/2020 – 01/10/2020
September 16/09/2020 – 03/10/2020
September 23/09/2020 – 10/10/2020
September 30/09/2020 – 17/10/2020

October 07/10/2020 – 24/10/2020
October 14/10/2020 – 31/10/2020
October 19/10/2020 – 05/11/2020
October 21/10/2020 – 07/11/2020
October 28/10/2020 – 14/11/2020

November 04/11/2020 – 21/11/2020

2021 Start Dates:

Departure Finish

March 10/03/2021 27/03/2021
March 17/03/2021 03/04/2021
March 24/03/2021 10/04/2021

April 05/04/2021 22/04/2021
April 07/04/2021 24/04/2021
April 14/04/2021 01/05/2021
April 26/04/2021 13/05/2021

May 05/05/2021 22/05/2021
May 12/05/2021 29/05/2021
May 19/05/2021 05/06/2021
May 24/05/2021 10/06/2021

June 02/06/2021 19/06/2021
June 09/06/2021 26/06/2021
June 16/06/2021 03/07/2021
June 23/06/2021 10/07/2021
June 30/06/2021 17/07/2021

July 05/07/2021 22/07/2021
July 14/07/2021 31/07/2021
July 21/07/2021 07/08/2021
July 28/07/2021 14/08/2021

August 04/08/2021 21/08/2021
August 11/08/2021 28/08/2021
August 18/08/2021 04/09/2021
August 25/08/2021 11/09/2021

September 01/09/2021 18/09/2021
September 06/09/2021 23/09/2021
September 15/09/2021 02/10/2021
September 22/09/2021 09/10/2021

October 06/10/2021 23/10/2021
October 13/10/2021 30/10/2021
October 27/10/2021 13/11/2021

November 03/11/2021 20/11/2021

Vietnam Xplorer

Discover the exceptionally diverse vietnam with are exciting fully guided Vietnam Xplorer. Backpacking your way up the country from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi, we take you to some incredible locations, from the classic rice paddy vistas, pristine beaches and stunning French colonial towns. You will be exposed to the chilling history of the Vietnam War, world Heritage locations like Hoi Ann with a group of like-minded adventurers.

This flexible trip backpacking trip takes you through Vietnam starting in Ho Chi Minh city and ending in Hanoi. Fully guided with all transport included (we use our own private buses), we will take you to some of the most incredible locations and you will get to see sites normally missed out by the majority of backpackers. A great way to explore this fascinating country in the safety of the group with the backup support of our trip leaders.

 Vietnam Xplorer

Backpacking in Vietnam made easy. Hop on hop off backpacker bus pass.

  • Minimum trip time 14 Days
  • Recommended 18 Days

backpacking in south east asia (17)Vietnam is a fantastic country to visit, but it is also notoriously challenging to go backpacking through. Things operate a little bit differently in Vietnam compared to its neighbouring Southeast Asian countries: Being one of the last remaining communist countries, plus having had a harrowing history of protracted wars with the US and France, the people in Vietnam can be a little bit more pushy towards travellers.

Don’t let that put you off visiting though, Vietnam can be a very rewarding place to experience. Is a truly beautiful country, with mountains, thousands of miles of pristine coastline, exciting energetic cities filled with millions of people going about their daily lives: it’s a lot to take in and will leave a lasting awesome impression.

This trip is the perfect way to experience this country, without the stress and hassle that can be associated with a backpacking trip in Vietnam.

With all of your transport included and the backup and support of Xtreme ´s local guides you can spend as long as you like exploring this country with a hop on hop off pass. It’s a great way to meet other travellers, and hook up with other independent backpackers.

Vietnam Xplorer Highlights

  • Datania Falls
  • My Lai Memorial
  • Marble Mountains
  • Vinh Moc Tunnels
  • Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave

 

Photos

Vietnam Xplorer Itinerary

  • Starts: Ho Chi Minh City any Sunday
  • Ends: Hanoi
  • Minimum travel time: 12 days (we recommend you will want to spend about three weeks)

Starts: Ho Chi Minh City

This trip starts in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday a month. If you are flying in we can add on the Ho Chi Minh ConneXion arrival pack:  includes meet and greet arrival transfer, two nights´ accommodation, daily breakfast at your hotel and Water Puppet Theatre show. This also includes a guided tour of the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. Extensive network of Vietcong tunnels, where you can actually enter the tunnels, Discover more about the Vietnam war, and even fire AK-47s M-16’s and let rip Rambo style on an M-60 machine gun!

We would strongly recommend this as you will want to explore Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnams biggest and most interesting city it’s a great place to visit. So allow enough time prior to your arrival to take it all in.

Ho Chi Minh City is home to the War Remnant Museum which displays harrowing reminders of the American and Vietnamese war, the Saigon Opera House which is surrounded by shopping plazas, and even its own Notre Dame Cathedral  said to be a connection between the physical and spiritual life of Ho Chi Minh people.

ARRIVAL IN HO CHI MINH CITY
Your adventure kicks off in bustling Ho Chi Minh City. If you arrive early in the day, feel free to spend time exploring the narrow streets on foot, hop into a cyclo for a comfortable cruise among the millions of motorbikes or find a restaurant teeming with locals for a taste of the best cuisine. At 6pm you’ll meet your Tour Leader and new travel mates at the Khoi Hostel for a Welcome Night introduction. We’ll cover how the trip works and answer any questions you have about travelling in Vietnam. Afterwards, make the most of your first night by getting to know each other over a delicious Vietnamese dinner and a few cold beverages.

HO CHI MINH CITY – FREE DAY
Today is a free day to explore the hot and lively Ho Chi Minh City. Learn about the history of the American and Vietnam War at the War Remnant Museum, visit the French Colonial Saigon Opera House, browse the surrounding shopping plazas or see a cultural show. Ho Chi Minh even has its own Notre Dame Cathedral, which is said to be a connection between the physical and spiritual life for the Ho Chi Minh people. We recommend taking a trip out to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, a complex of over 200kms of tunnels used by the Viet Khong in the war against the US. Discover how the people lived and survived in these tunnels, built schools and hospitals underground and eventually gained victory. This evening enjoy a traditional performance at the Water Puppet Theatre, or dine out on delicious street food at one of the city’s many restaurants or bars

HO CHI MINH CITY TO DA LAT
Leaving behind the chaos and heat of Ho Chi Minh City, we head for the refreshingly cool climate of Da Lat, known as the honeymoon capital of Vietnam. Our journey today takes us through fertile farmlands that specialise in rubber, coffee and tea, locally produced wine, vegetables and flowers. Just a short distance from Da Lat we make a stop at the beautiful 20 metre Datanla Waterfall, where legend has it K’ho fairies often come to play and bathe at the base of the falls. You can either walk down to the waterfall or, for those who like a little bit of adrenalin, you can drive your own mini rollercoaster to the site. Afterwards we’ll head to Da Lat, where you can spend the rest of the day checking out the large market near the guesthouse, or one of many friendly cafes selling excellent coffee on every corner.

DA LAT – FREE DAY
Da Lat vaguely resembles a French town with sprawling old villas and towering pine trees. It is not on the main tourist trail so locals are curious and very friendly to western visitors. There are plenty of adventurous activities here, but many people choose to go on an adrenalin packed canyoning trip where you abseil over waterfalls and jump off a 5 metre high drop into the pool below. If that’s not for you, you can visit the last Emperor’s art deco-style summer palace, explore the never-ending local coffee or strawberry plantations, or hire tandem bikes at the market and cycle to the Hang Nga ‘Crazy House’ an unconventional exploration of surrealist architecture.

DA LAT TO BAI XEP
Leaving behind the cool climate of Da Lat we’ll head for the Vietnamese coast, stopping for refreshments and for those who want to hop off at the coastal city of Nha Trang. Driving on your destination is the tiny fishing village of Bai Xep located along a stretch of sandy white beach. Kick back and relax in this peaceful village setting, untouched by rampant tourism, where locals wave and greet you with smiles.

BAI XEP – FREE DAY
Today you are free to enjoy this remote coastal location and all it has to offer. Swim, snorkel and take long walks on the beach, learn to paddle a traditional round boat, go fishing and cook your catch for tea, wander the village and get to know the friendly locals or just relax at your comfortable seaside guesthouse.

BAI XEP TO HOI AN
A coastal drive takes us to the popular tourist spot Hoi An. We’ll stop along the way to visit the My Lai Memorial, a site that commemorates an event that marked a turning point in the American War, before arriving in Hoi An. A UNESCO World Heritage town, Hoi An is a must see town, with beautifully restored and preserved French Colonial architecture, funky bars, outstanding restaurants, art galleries, souvenir shops and countless tailor shops. With glorious beaches so close nearby, this is paradise! A great spot to hop off and enjoy the local nightlife; try local delicacies (and beers), then meander home through the motorbike free streets.

HOI AN – FREE DAY
Today is free for you to explore this charming town. Get some tailoring done, take a leisurely cycle to the beach, or just enjoy the tasty local coffee at one of the many restaurants around town. When the sun goes down this is when Hoi An really turns on its charm. Paper and fabric lanterns are lit throughout streets, bathing the historical French colonial and Chinese architecture in a warm glow. Take a sunset stroll through the old town, and try a local delicacy called the ‘White Rose’ – a dumpling stuffed with shrimp or pork bunched into the shape of a rose. Apparently the recipe is a family secret, held by only one family who supply all the restaurants around town.

HOI AN TO HUE
Today you head for Hue, Vietnam’s most liveable city. Here the people are friendly and modern architecture sits side by side with century old buildings. Surrounded by rolling hills and located on the Perfume River, Hue is regarded as the cultural and spiritual centre of Vietnam and is the former home to the Vietnamese emperors. Here you’ll see many elaborately decorated temples and beautiful pagodas, including the seven-storied Thien Mu Pagoda – where the most famous Vietnamese monk is buried, the intricate Citadel and Forbidden Purple City. This is a great place to take a motorbike tour of the Vietnamese countryside. Travel on the back of a motorbike through rice paddies, quaint, rural villages and down tiny roads and discover a little bit of the ‘real’ Vietnam.

HUE TO PHONG NHA
This morning we head for the fascinating Vinh Moc Tunnels, an impressive underground complex that was used by more than 90 families to live and work in during some of the heaviest bombings in the American War. From there it’s on to Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, passing through the provincial town of Dong Hoi on our way to the charming hotel in Phong Nha town that will be our base for exploring the park.

PHONG NHA – FREE DAY
Today we visit the spectacular rural area of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, 45km from Dong Hoi. This area has pristine rivers (perfect for a refreshing dip or kayak) and boasts a number of impressive caves, including the recently discovered Thien Duong Cave. Inside you’ll find glittering limestone walls, phallus shaped stalagmites and stalactites, claw shaped formations, and a limestone waterfall. This afternoon you have the option to go on a guided tour of the ‘Dark Cave,’ suitably named as such because the rock is black. This is an exciting adventure where you’ll explore the caves darkness with the help of a head torch, discover ancient fossils and slide down muddy ridges, all while Asian bats fly overhead. Afterwards, back at the mouth of the cave you can wash off all the mud by spending the afternoon swimming and playing in the river.

PHONG NHA TO NINH BINH
Our journey today takes us through beautiful countryside and stunning limestone karst mountains. We’ll stop along the way for a chance to stretch your legs before continuing our express journey to Ninh Binh. We arrive late in the afternoon and you have time to wander around and acquaint yourself with the town before dinner.

NINH BINH TO HANOI
This morning we venture out in traditional canoes to discover the Trang An Grottoes. Sometimes called the ‘Halong Bay on land’, we’ll coast through caves in the mountains to view stony outcrops and dramatic karst formations towering above flat tranquil waters and rice paddies. After lunch in Ninh Binh, we jump back on the bus bound for the chaotic streets of Vietnam’s capital. Hanoi is an exotic city full of excitement and energy, and thousands of motorcycles that make the simple task of crossing the road seem like a real achievement! There’s an an excellent culinary scene. We recommend dining at Restaurant 69, which is said to be over 300 years old, or trying some of the delicious street food available on every corner, where the saying goes “the lower the chair, the cheaper the beer.”

HANOI
This morning your Tour Leader will take you out to see the main sights of Hanoi on foot. We start our walking tour by visiting the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, then the old Royal Palace Gardens and Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House. From there, we’ll head over to the One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature. The main tour will end at Koto Restaurant and Training Centre for refreshments; those that are feeling fit can carry on to the Old Hanoi Hilton Prison and finish at Hoan Kiem Lake.

This is where your journey with Stray comes to an end, but there is plenty to see and do in and around Hanoi. If you have some extra days to spend here, we highly recommend booking a cruise around breathtaking Halong Bay or making a trip inland to visit the hill tribes of Sa Pa. Both of these excursions can be organised for you by your Tour Leader. We hope you’ve had a blast on your great adventure!

Trip Frequently Asked Questions

On each bus we have two guides, one local one Western. They are there to look after you, take you to some of the more interesting places that usually get left off a typical backpackers itinerary, and they can also help book you accommodation throughout the journey.
As the Vietnam Xplorer is a hop on hop off pass you may not be with the same people throughout the trip. This is because you can spend longer in certain locations if you want to hang out there awhile. In reality friendships form pretty quickly, so most people tend to hook up with the same people and share the same travel itinerary.
Accommodation is not included in this program, we have given you an indication as to how much you should budget at each stop in US dollars. Our driver guides are able to book you into accommodation as you go, so you do not need to worry about booking your own accommodation, however you will need to pay for it locally. Accommodation in Vietnam is inexpensive.
Duration Option Price  
17 (Days)GBP 1315 GBP 1118 (SALE! 15% Off!)Book Now

Included

  • All transport by private vehicles and public transport
  • Activities listed below
  • Services of Xtreme Gap Year guide and driver
  • Detailed predeparture pack

Included activities are as follows

  • Datanla Waterfall entrance fees in Da Lat
  • My Lai Memorial entrance fees near Hoi An
  • Vinh Moc Tunnels entrance fees near Dong Hoi
  • Entrance to the Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave, Phong Nha
  • Boat trip to the Trang An Grottoes
  • Guided city walking tour of Hanoi

 

Excluded

  • Accommodation (budget five pounds per night)
  • Meals
  • Airport pick up
  • Travel insurance

Dates

2020 Start Dates:

March:

07/03/2020 23/03/2020
16/03/2020 01/04/2020
29/03/2020 14/04/2020

April:

07/04/2020 23/04/2020
20/04/2020 06/05/2020
29/04/2020 15/05/2020

May:

12/05/2020 28/05/2020
21/05/2020 06/06/2020

June:

03/06/2020 19/06/2020
12/06/2020 28/06/2020
25/06/2020 11/07/2020

July:

04/07/2020 20/07/2020
17/07/2020 02/08/2020
26/07/2020 11/08/2020

August:

08/08/2020 24/08/2020
17/08/2020 02/09/2020
30/08/2020 15/09/2020

September:

08/09/2020 24/09/2020
21/09/2020 07/10/2020
30/09/2020 16/10/2020

October:

13/10/2020 29/10/2020
22/10/2020 07/11/2020

November:

04/11/2020 20/11/2020
13/11/2020 29/11/2020
26/11/2020 12/12/2020

 

South East Asia Xplorer

A flexible hop on hop off adventure taking in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, starting in the capital of Thailand Bangkok and ending in the capital of Vietnam Hanoi. With the recommended a trip time of 56 days (min 38), this is the perfect guided group backpacking adventure taking in four incredible Southeast Asia countries. All transport, loads of activities included.

A group guided backpacking adventure taking in the main highlights of The North of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Four very diverse Southeast Asia countries, fully guided. If you want to meet people and have fun with a group of like-minded adventurers, this is the way to do it. From big cities like Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi to temples, waterfalls and the most incredible scenery this is a great way to spend two months travelling Southeast Asia after Thailand. All transport and loads of activities included but no accommodation or meals.

 South East Asia Xplorer

A fully guided hop on hop off tour of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

For travellers who have the time, The South East Asia Explorer is a comprehensive trip through Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, starting in Bangkok and finishing in Hanoi.
Discover the sights, sounds and smells of Bangkok, travel north via amazing Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai, before meeting the Xtreme Bus at the Huay Xai border crossing in Laos.
Experience mountains and vibrant cultures in Northern Laos and the amazing wilderness and wildlife in the South; follow narrow mountain roads to scenic rivers and waterfalls, hidden archaeological sites, communist caves and friendly remote villages.
Head into Cambodia to explore ancient temples, pagodas, and palaces, snack on fried spider or enjoy a Khmer BBQ. Chill out in the beach sanctuary of Koh Tunsay, see the rare Irrawady Dolphins and visit the infamous Khmer Rouge S21 prison and Killing Fields. Cycle or trek the Bokor National Parks and get to know the locals in a remote village homestay.
Explore Vietnam’s buzzing cities, travel through stunning mountain scenery, experience Vietnamese hospitality and stay in an local ethnic homestay; explore newly discovered caves, cycle through rice paddies, visit National Parks, swim in secret swimming spots, traverse tunnels from the Secret War; and relax on some of Asia’s finest beaches.

Thailand

  • Ayutthaya Temples
  • Free Day to explore Chiang Mai
  • Visit the famous and intriguing White Temple

Cambodia

  • Preah Vihear Temple
  • S21 Prison & Killing Fields
  • Udong Historical Site
  • Bamboo train ride

Laos

  • Tham Jang Cave
  • Kong Lor National Park
  • Mahaxai Cave
  • Turtle Lake
  • Hotay Pitok Library
  • Tad Ngeuang Waterfall
  • Wat Phu UNESCO Temple

Vietnam

  • Datania Falls
  • My Lai Memorial
  • Marble Mountains
  • Vinh Moc Tunnels
  • Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave

Photos

 

Thailand

 

Bangkok to Chiang Mai (Via Ayutthaya)

Best is to arrive one day Early. The trips sets off on Tuesday and Saturday. If you arrive one day early we would love to meet you at 6 pm in our Xtreme Bangkok shop where you meet your Xtreme guide and group and you can ask all your last minutes questions. Usually the groups wonders off after the intro for a few drinks and hit the sack early for the next day.

At 09:30 am on the departure day we depart for the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya. We arrive mid-morning, giving you plenty of time to explore the fascinating historical park by bike or enjoy a boat journey through the Venice of the East. We leave late evening to Chiang Mai.

If you would like us to arrange one night in the luxury hotel (located right next door to the departure point and the office) this can be arranged for an additional £95. This also includes airport pick up.

Overnight train or bus (price included)

Non Travel Day: Chiang Mai
You have a full day to enjoy this historically rich city, or partake in one of the many adventure activities on offer. We suggest spending time to take in the ancient sights, including the old walled-city and the Tapae Gate, and some of the magnificent 300 Buddhist Temples.
Guesthouse located near the historic, old quarter USD12-20

Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong

After a chilled out morning, we depart after lunch and visit the famous and intriguing White Temple (Wat Rong Khun), then continue on to the border town of Chiang Khong to enjoy our last night in Thailand.
Guesthouse with views across the Mekong River USD20

Laos

Chiang Khong to Pakbeng

A short boat ride across the Mekong River whisks us away towards Huay Xai, Laos. This is where we clear customs before boarding the boat to Pakbeng. Sit back and soak up the incredible journey as the river winds through lush farmland, rugged mountains and jungle. You will spot water buffalo, mountain-side rice paddies, local fishermen, and kids splashing in the shallows. We arrive in the remote village of Pakbeng late afternoon and stay overnight by the river.
Guesthouse near boat ramp USD8-15

Pakbeng to Ban Lad Khammune

Leaving Pakbeng early, we continue our journey down the Mekong to the secluded village of Ban Lad Khammune. Here you will experience traditional village life by staying with a local family in their home. Attend a Baci (welcoming) Ceremony and have a chance to wander around the village, watch the women weaving or try your luck in a friendly game of petanque in the square!
Homestay including accommodation, traditional Baci ceremony and meals USD17

Ban Lad Khammune to Luang Prabang

We wave goodbye to the village and jump back aboard our private boat downriver to the famous Pak Ou Caves. Here you will see thousands of Buddha images that were placed throughout the caves over a period of hundreds of years. A short trip takes us into the stunningly beautiful Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage town with a fusion of French colonial architecture and traditional Lao buildings. This is home to the famous Kuang Si waterfalls, a bear sanctuary, ancient Buddhist temples and many sacred sites.
Guesthouse with fan or AC private rooms close to night market USD12-40

Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng

It´s an early start as we head south through mountainous terrain, taking in the breathtaking views. Upon arrival into Vang Vieng there is plenty of time to go tubing, cycling, kayaking, rock climbing, hot air ballooning, start partying or even kick back and watch re-runs of old TV shows playing at the bars around town!
Family run guesthouse in the centre of the action USD8-30

Vang Vieng to Vientiane

Today we cruise through to the capital of Laos and take a tour of the city´s main attractions: Putaxai, Pha That Luang, That Dam, the Presidential Palace, and the COPE centre a non-profit organisation that educates visitors and raises awareness for victims of UXO (Unexploded Ordinance) and the Secret War. After check in at our centrally located accommodation, you are free to get a massage, go shopping at the night market, or watch the action from one of the local restaurants by the river.
Hotel with modern facilities including WIFI and breakfast USD20

Vientiane to Kong Lor

An early escape this morning takes us away from the crowds and south to Kong Lor, and the Phu Hin Bun National Park. About an hour into the journey we visit Wat Prabat Phonsone, the Buddha´s Footprint  temple, which has become an important pilgrimage site for local communities. There is time before sunset to explore the Kong Lor village and take in the stunning scenery of the surrounding rice paddies and limestone Karst Mountains.
Comfortable guesthouse with spectacular views and just a short 10 minute walk from the cave USD10

Non-Travel Day: Kong Lor

This morning you´re free to head down to the Cave (or Tham Kong Lor to the locals) and venture deep into the 7km abyss! Ride in a traditional motorised canoe and take in the amazing rock formations, swim in the cool waters of the cave entrance. You also have the chance to travel to Ban Tabak village and take a ride in a ‘bomb boat’! These are made from the metal fuel casings of B52 bombers, dumped on Laos during the Secret War
Comfortable guesthouse with spectacular views of the Karst Mountains and just a short 10 minute walk from the cave USD10

Kong Lor to Tha Kek

Today is a short travel day, which includes a stop to view the Great Wall of Tha Kek before heading onto Pha Tam Kam, home of some of Southeast Asia´s best rock climbing and amazing lush, jungle scenery. For the adventurous crowd, there is the option to try out slack-lining or rock climbing, before heading back into town.
Mekong riverside Guesthouse USD12

Tha Kek to Xe Champhone

This is what Xtreme is all about, getting totally off the beaten track! We head into Xe Champhone wetlands – an area so remote that occasionally our Xtreme buses can’t access it, so we have to jump on board an off-road truck! Along the way we visit Old Wat Taleow, a beautiful temple bombed in 1969, then onto Turtle Lake where you might spot soft-shell turtles. Our last stop for the day is the 200-year-old Hotay Pidok Buddhist library. Once here we spend the night with the friendly locals in the Monkey forest, a sacred place and home to hundreds of wild Rhesus Macaque monkeys.
Basic village stay including accommodation and meals USD17

Xe Champhone to Pakse

Driving south this morning we head for the bright lights of Pakse. From here, you can check out the Bolaven Plateau with its cool climate, coffee and tea plantations, and spectacular waterfalls.
Guesthouse with fan or air-conditioned rooms in the centre of town surrounded by everything you need USD8-10

Pakse to Don Det (4000 Islands)

An early start takes us to the World Heritage site of Wat Phou, an ancient Khmer temple. We´ll explore the site and climb to the mountain top temple, before heading south to the 4000 Islands area to experience its laid back lifestyle and natural beauty. We arrive around lunchtime giving you time to cycle across to the neighbouring Don Khone Island and visit Li Phi waterfall or take a boat trip for a chance to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphins.
Rustic style guesthouse USD5-15

Cambodia

Don Det to Phnom Penh

Saying goodbye to Laos, we make an early start to join the public bus for the journey to Cambodia. A short drive will bring you to the Don Kralor Border where you will complete immigration procedures, then continue the journey into Cambodia, once again following the mighty Mekong River. We arrive in the majestic capital of Phnom Penh late evening, and you´ll get a chance to freshen up before meeting your new tour leader for dinner and drinks along the iconic waterfront.
Guesthouse near the main tourist area USD20

Phnom Penh to Koh Tunsay Island

After a tour of the infamous Khmer Rouge S21 Prison and Killing Fields we head for the Cambodian coast, passing through the river town of Kampot. Kampot is famous for its pepper and salt farms and delicious seafood – your local guide will show you the best spot to taste some! From Kampot we head to the old French resort town of Kep where we board traditional Khmer wooden fishing boats for a 30 minute voyage to the island sanctuary of Koh Tunsay. Once on shore you can check out the island or just relax on the beach, and watch the sun go down.
Bungalows on the beach (sleep 4 people) USD25 per bungalow

Koh Tunsay Island to Kampot

Tearing ourselves away from the beach, a short drive takes us back to the town of Kampot where you will have a free afternoon to visit the pepper and salt Farms, do some cycling or trekking in Bokor National Park or take a sunset cruise up the river.
Highly Recommended: Hop off here to head to Sihanoukville to enjoy the beach; local seafood and nightlife!

Guesthouse with dorm beds or private rooms USD6-15

Kampot to Battambang (homestay)

A full day today will take us to our village homestay near the provincial town of Battambang. En-route we will visit the 18th Century Khmer stronghold of Udong, where you can hike to the mountain top pagoda or relax in a hammock and enjoy a local Khmer BBQ! We pass through Kompong Chhnang (pronounced kom-pong-ch-nang) with its bustling local market and floating villages along the river and delta area. Our homestay tonight will give you a taste of local family and community life in the village with its seasonal farming, fishing, temple gatherings and festivals.
Homestay in local village including meals USD18

Battambang to Siem Reap

After breakfast with our homestay family we drive into Battambang where we will take a ride on the Bamboo Train before an early lunch and drive to Siem Reap, home of the incredible Angkor Temples.
Guesthouse with dorm beds or private rooms USD8-20

Non-Travel Day: Siem Reap

Today is a free day for you to explore the magnificent Angkor Temples and take in some of Siem Reap´s vibrant markets and nightlife. Your guide will show you the best ones to head to first!
Guesthouse with dorm beds or private rooms USD8-20

Siem Reap – Preah Vihear – Kompong Thom

Today we have an early start on our journey to the northern border region of Cambodia where we visit Preah Vihear, a sacred site and source of ongoing controversy for Thailand and Cambodia. On arrival at Preah Vihear Information Centre we pick up motorbikes for the drive to the top of the mountain, with amazing views over the Cambodia and Thailand. After lunch we continue to our overnight stopping point, the town of Kompong Thom.
Guesthouse in the center of town USD8-16

Kompong Thom to Phnom Pehn

This morning we visit a silk farm where we have breakfast and learn about the silk making process. From here we head for the bustling Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Along the way you will get the chance to sample a crunchy Cambodian favourite, fried spider! This local snack is found in the town of Skon where spiders are bred for human consumption. Once we settle into our guesthouse, you have free time to visit the Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda, Wat Phnom and the Russian Market or mix with the locals as the sunsets over the Mekong River.
Guesthouse near the main tourist area USD20

Non-Travel Day: Phnom Penh

A free day today gives you the chance to explore this energizing capital city and visit the many markets selling silk, silver, gems and antiques.

Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Mihn City

This morning you´ll board a public bus and head to Moc Bai on the Vietnamese border, where you will be processed through immigration (you will need to organise your Visa in advance) and then driven on to Ho Chi Minh City arriving mid-afternoon.
Centrally located hotel or guesthouse USD15-20

Vietnam

Non-Travel Day: Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is home to the War Remnant Museum which houses remnants from the American and Vietnamese war, the Saigon Opera House which is surrounded by shopping plazas, and even its own Notre Dame Cathedral – said to be a connection between the physical and spiritual life of Ho Chi Minh people. We recommend a guided tour of this historically rich city.
Centrally located hotel or guesthouse USD15-20

Ho Chi Minh City to Dalat

Leaving behind the chaos and heat of Ho Chi Minh City, we head for the refreshingly cool climate of Dalat. Known as the honeymoon capital of Vietnam, this could be a good opportunity to pop the question! The journey today is through fertile farmlands that specialise in rubber, coffee & tea; all crops imported by the French. The cool climate here is perfect for growing Vietnam´s only locally produced wine, as well as vegetables and flowers, which are transported daily to Ho Chi Minh City and beyond. We can check out the large market near the guesthouse, or one of many friendly cafes selling excellent coffee on every corner.
Local guesthouse USD10-12

Non-Travel day: Dalat

Dalat vaguely resembles a French town with sprawling old villas and towering pine trees. It is not on the main tourist trail so locals are curious and very friendly to western visitors. There are plenty of adventurous activities here, including a mountain bike ride to Datania Waterfall, or the last Emperor´s art deco-style summer palace, and the never-ending local coffee plantations.
Local guesthouse USD10-12

Dalat to Buon Ma Thout

Driving through stunning mountain scenery we reach the provincial town of Buon Ma Thuot. We stock up on supplies before making our way out to the nearby rural area, and our homestay in an M´Nong ethnic village. Staying right on the shores of the beautiful Lak Lake, we can see local fishermen and farmers working, and even get the chance to take a boat ride across to the other side and return by elephant!
Ethnic Homestay in Jun Longhouses USD15

Buon Ma Thout to Qui Nhon

This morning we head for the coast and the seaside town of Quy Nhon – a popular holiday destination for Vietnamese, but off the beaten track for western tourists! Local hospitality is what makes this town well worth the visit. Jump straight into the warm ocean waters, to wash off the mountain dust from the day.
Local guesthouse USD10-12

Qui Nhon to Hoi An

A coastal drive takes us to this popular tourist spot, and UNESCO World Heritage town, with its beautifully restored and preserved French Colonial architecture. Hoi An is teeming with tailor shops, funky bars, outstanding restaurants, art galleries and souvenir shops. With glorious beaches nearby, this is close to paradise! A great spot to hop off enjoy the local nightlife; try great local delicacies (and beers), then meander home safely through the motorbike free streets.
Local guesthouse or hotel USD15-30

Non-Travel Day: Hoi An

Today is free for you to explore this charming town, get some tailoring done, join a motorbike tour through the countryside, try scuba diving, cycle to the beach, do a cooking class or just enjoy the tasty local coffee at one of the many restaurants in town.
Local guesthouse or hotel USD15-30

Hoi An to Hue

Located on the Perfume River, Hue is regarded as the cultural and spiritual centre of Vietnam and is the former home to the Vietnamese Emperors. We see many elaborately decorated temples and beautiful pagodas throughout the area, the centrepiece of which is the Citadel and Forbidden Purple City.
We highly recommend a countryside motorbike tour through quaint, rural villages and rice paddies to experience something of the ´real´ Vietnam.
Local guesthouse USD10-12

Hue to Dong Hoi

A short drive up the coast this morning takes us through the old DMZ (De Militarized Zone), the border between North and South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, and to the provincial town of Dong Hoi. Dong Hoi is home to the Blind Massage Therapy Centre, and the quiet Nhat Le beach. Here you have the choice to cruise the river front by bicycle, get to know the local fishermen or just chill out at one of the evening street bars, with great views of the large bridge that is lit up with disco lights!
Basic hotel near the river USD12-15+

Non-Travel Day: Dong Hoi

Today we recommend visiting the spectacular rural area of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, 45km from Dong Hoi. This area has pristine rivers (perfect for a refreshing dip or kayak) and also boasts a number of impressive caves, including the recently discovered Thien Duong Cave that is the largest cave in the world!
Basic hotel near the river USD12-15+

Dong Hoi to Cam Lo to Ninh Binh

Our journey toward the national park takes us through beautiful countryside with its stunning limestone kyrst mountains, stopping along the way at the ´real´ Vietnam beach-side town of Cam Lo. This chilled out spot is definitely not on the tourist trail:..yet! We try out the local seafood and have a swim before continuing our express journey on to Ninh Binh.
Locally run hotel with excellent restaurants nearby USD10-12

Ninh Binh to Mai Chau

This morning we head to the Cuc Phoung National Park and Primate Centre, which is home to the many endangered and rescued primates including monkeys, gibbons and other interesting species native to the area. From here, we stop for a swim at the local hot pools, and then continue on to Mai Chau, an isolated, minority hill-tribe haven set amongst towering cliffs. There is plenty of time this afternoon to go exploring in this rural valley of lush greenery and terraced fields of rice paddies.
Local guesthouse USD10-12

Mai Chau to Hanoi

We get the legs moving with an early bike ride through the nearby countryside and villages, before jumping on the bus, bound for the chaotic streets of Vietnam´s capital. Hanoi is an exotic Asian city full of excitement and energy, and thousands of motorcycles making the simple task of crossing the road seem like a real achievement!
This is where your Xtreme adventure ends, but there is plenty to do and see in and around Hanoi if you have some extra days to spend here.
Local guesthouse or hotel USD15-30 or backpacker style dorm USD7-9if

Frequently Asked Questions

Your driver/guide provides you with a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, and trivia as well as recommending and booking activities and accommodation for you around Asia. They are walking guidebooks, always there to help and entertain!
The average age of passengers is about 22 – 26. The majority of people are between the age of 20 and 40 (but we also have older). No matter what the age we find we attract on-to-it people who want to meet other travellers, and get out there and further off the beaten track.
Our buses range from 14 seaters to 45 seaters with an average group of about 20. We keep them smaller so you can see and do more, and because we find that that groups of this size simply work better.
Its perfect for people travelling by themselves. Asia is relatively safe and our smaller group sizes means you can meet more people and your driver is always there for any questions you may have.
Backpacks are recommended but suitcases are fine you don´t need to walk great distances with them (just between the accommodation and the bus). The majority of the time while you´re doing activities they will be stored away (on the bus or at your accommodation). We recommend you bring a good day pack (small backpack) or bag you can carry easily for water bottles, towels, cameras, sunblock etc.
You´ll need to bring a decent pair of sneakers/trainers that you can walk in comfortably. Hiking boots are good but not essential. In summer you´ll find flip flops/thongs are the favoured option!
We includes free days (non-travel days) in key locations, so even if you´re completing your trip in the minimum days required you´ll have time to do activities and explore each of these areas.   We also have free mornings or afternoons in most places for you to do local activities, just relax or and do some necessary laundry!
Most accommodations and activities accept debit and credit cards, so you don´t have to carry too much cash with you. Some cash on the other hand is advisable, because some accommodations may require a cash key deposit.
Your travel pass includes all land transport, guidance, free activities such as walks and the city orientations. Your driver will book accommodation for you if you like but the cost is not included in your pass (you´ll just need to pay as you go).
The bus guide helps you reserve accommodation in all our overnight stops. You´ll be guaranteed a bed with a range of accommodation levels, from hostel dorms to made up private rooms; our driver/guides will help you with this. You are free to book your own accommodation if you wish. You will need to book your own accommodation for the night before you start your trip and let us know where you are staying so we know where to pick you up from. We can recommend places for you to stay if you need help.

 

Duration Option Price  
56 (Days)Flash sale: check with us for discounted pricesGBP 1599Book Now

Included

  • All transport by private vehicles and public transport
  • Activities listed below
  • Services of Xtreme Gap Year guide and driver
  • Detailed predeparture pack

Included activities are as follows

  • Ayutthaya Temples
  • Tham Jang Cave
  • Kong Lor National Park
  • Mahaxai Cave
  • Turtle Lake
  • Hotay Pitok Library
  • Tad Ngeuang Waterfall
  • Wat Phu UNESCO Temple
  • Preah Vihear Temple
  • S21 Prison & Killing Fields
  • Udong Historical Site
  • Bamboo train ride
  • Datania Falls
  • My Lai Memorial
  • Marble Mountains
  • Vinh Moc Tunnels
  • Thien Duong (Paradise) Cave

 

Excluded

  • Accommodation (budget five pounds per night)
  • Meals
  • Airport pick up
  • Travel insurance

Dates

More dates

 

Bali Surf Xplorer 8 Days – Surfing in Bali

You’ll experience amazing surf breaks, super fun nightlife, adventurous road trips, stunning remote locations, classic characters and of course, the surfing will be awesome!! 3 Epic Surf Islands in 8 fully guided days! Bali Red Island In Java & Lembongan!

You’ll experience amazing surf breaks, super fun nightlife, adventurous road trips, stunning remote locations, classic characters and of course the surfing will be awesome!! Not only that you have swimming Cliff jumping great food and beach parties to look forward to! Surf in Bali, Nusa Lembongan and Java with friendly local surf instructor/guides.

Bali Surf  Xplorer

Good times and good waves with our legendary surf instructor’s.

One of the greatest surf destinations in the world, Indonesia is amazing. You will absolutely love these paradise islands, as you learn to surf or improve your existing surf skills with some of our legendary surf instructor’s.  We will actively go out and hunt the best waves, and head to the outer islands to find the best surf conditions on an incredible a day surf adventure.

Photos

Bali Surf Xplorer

Bali/Java/Lembongan

DAY 01
All pick-ups done by 7-7:30am (from Kuta/Legian/Seminyak area) and meet at the Hub by 8am. You will get to have your 1st surf lesson and intro to surfing in Indonesia with the surf team. After lunch, start our journey to the Island of Java then transfer to Red Island. We spend the next 4 nights in the surf Camp at Red Island which is surrounded by jungle right by the beautiful remote beach. Included meals: L/D

DAY 02
We’re up early for breakfast, surfing, more eating, chilling and checking out this beautiful, secret surf location. Enjoy a beverage while watching the amazing sunset and have a fun night with the Red Island crew. Included meals: B/L/D

DAY 03
Surf, eat, explore, surf, chillax, eat, laugh, sleep. Included meals: B/L/D

DAY 04
Optional G-Land day trip, local village tour and paradise beach or just hang local at Red Island and surf morning, noon and arvo on the playful fun waves of this area. Included meals: B/L/D

DAY 05
Early breakfast and surf then transfer back to Bali. We arrive back in Canggu around sunset for dinner and drinks. Included meals: B/L/D. *Transport can vary between a flight, boat or mini van depending on availability and conditions.

DAY 06
Up for breakfast and enjoy a surf lesson in or around Canggu. After lunch head by fast boat over to one of the most pristine surf and dive islands in the world, Nusa Lembongan. Check in, relax and enjoy tropical island living. Included meals: B/L/D

DAY 07
We will be up early to explore some great surf breaks, enjoy a manta ray snorkel or snorkel safari and continue living the ultimate lifestyle. The opportunity to try stand up paddleboarding and other great water activities are available here on Nusa Lembongan. Included meals: B/L/D

DAY 08
Spend most of day on enjoying everything Nusa Lembongan has to offer. Surf, eat, swim, explore, eat, chillax and then a fast boat back to Bali. We arrive back in Bali around sunset for drinks, new friends, lifetime memories and ready to celebrate an awesome Xtreme Gap adventure Included meals: B or L (depending on surf times)/D

 

This package gets back to our camp in Canggu around 6pm on the last day.

Ideally, we recommend that customers with connecting flights book for the following day in case there are any delays out of our control, however if you must fly on the final day of trip, then the earliest flight that she should get should be around 11pm, as this will give time for any traffic  delays and arrival at airport a few hours before check in.

 

 

Duration Option Price  
8 (Days)No airport pick upGBP 569Book Now
8 (Days)Incl. airport pick up + extra nightGBP 639Book Now
Book 16 or more weeks up front to secure these deals.
Duration Option Price
8 (Days)No airport pick upGBP 569 GBP 558 (Early Bird)
Enquire here
8 (Days)Incl. airport pick up + extra nightGBP 639 GBP 626 (Early Bird)
Enquire here

Book today with a deposit and travel after 23 - Jul - 2020 to lock in the early bird price. "Hurry only limited early bird spots available !"

Terms: £200 GBP deposit required on booking. Full payment 12 weeks prior to trip start.

Included

  • Pre departure information
  • Accommodation as per selection
  • Surf lessons and guiding
  • Transport to the different surf locations: Bali, Nusa Lembongan and Java
  • Meals as per itinerary
  • Transport to the surf spots
  • Daily big breakfast
  • All surf equipment for rent

Excluded

  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance
  • Sun cream (you will need it!)
  • Private sessions 38 euro per session including equipment
  • Airport pickup
  • Airport  drop-off

 

Dates

More dates

Cambodia Xplorer

Discover Cambodia with its exceptionally interesting history, hidden temples and stunning beaches. This is a group guided backpacking tour, with all transport included. Flexible hop on hop off so you can spend as long as you like discovering this amazing country. Start in Cambodia, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, or in Bangkok up to you.

Whilst many people do not include Cambodia in their South East Asia itinerary, they are missing out. Cambodia is a beautiful country with much to offer, but be prepared it has a harrowing Khmer past that has left its mark still very much visible today. If you do visit, you need to respect and understand what happened in the country, so on this trip you will see the killing fields and S 21 prison camp. Once you have taken that in, you will find a new appreciation for the people of Cambodia. Then it is on to lighter and exciting locations, from one of the wonders of the world Angkor Wat, to French colonial cities like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

 Cambodia Xplorer

Why visit Cambodia?

  • Visit one of the wonders of the world the Angkor Wat temple complex
  • Cambodia can be quite sobering, but extremely interesting and a great compliment to the partying in Thailand.
  • Discovering a new Cambodia emerging. Gorgeous beaches in the South exciting historical cities amazing temples
  • Free Connection options from Bangkok
    Start: Bangkok to Siem Reap/Don  Det  to  Siem  Reap
    Finish: Siem Reap to Bangkok/Phnom  Penh to Ho Chi Minh
  • It’s extremely cheap to travel here. And extremely beautiful as well.
  • Why visit Cambodia? To discover more. Not as developed as Thailand, you will leave the country having learned and discovered more about yourself as well as this exciting place. It is a real adventure.

Photos

 

 

Trip Duration: Min 11, recommended 15

Bangkok to Siem Reap

Start days are Wednesday and Sundays. But you can check out the office at 4 pm the day before and have a chat with our travel desk in Bangkok. You’ll leave Bangkok at 9am on an unguided public connection heading across the border to Cambodia. Today your destination is the small, but vibrant city of Siem Reap, best known as home to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Angkor temple complex.

After your early evening arrival, your Cambodia Tour Leader will meet you to welcome you and explain more about how it all works. Afterwards you are invited to join our group for a walk along the iconic Pub Street where you will get to know your new travel mates over a tasty dinner and cold drinks.

This sector is unguided.

Siem Reap Free Day

Today is a free day and we highly recommend you use it to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Angkor temples. Ranked at the top of many ultimate travel bucket lists (including Lonely Planet’s), the awe-inspiring ancient city of Angkor is the largest temple complex in the world. You can easily spend a full day at the site and still only see a small portion of this dramatic architectural wonder, but make sure you check out the famous Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, which most people recognise from Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider movie.

In the evening you have the option to attend the unforgettably unique Phare Circus, a locally run non-profit troupe that provides disadvantaged young people from the community with a place to learn the skills needed to earn their livings as professional performing artists. Prepare to be amazed by how these talented young artists share authentic modern and folk Cambodian stories through an energetic display of acrobatic feats, music and dance.

Siem Reap  to Battambang (Home stay)

Today you depart Siem Reap early enough to arrive in Battambang for a late lunch. After lunch we’ll take a ride on the Bamboo Train, a rail system that was built by the French and destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, but the locals still use it as simple form of transport. Then we make our way to tonight’s village stay, located in the picturesque countryside. You’ll stay in a Cambodian family’s home, experience local community life, visit the school and join in a friendly local game or help the kids with their English. You can wander through the rice paddies, explore the local market, and enjoy a traditional meal with your host family.

Village stay includes accommodation in a Cambodian family’s home, local activities, dinner, breakfast, and contribution to the village fund/project US$18

Battambang to Sihanoukville

A full day today takes us to the popular seaside town on the Cambodian coast. En route we pass through the bustling riverside Khmer town Kompong Chhnang (pronounced kompong-ch-nang), which its local market and floating village. Arriving in Sihanoukville by late afternoon, settle in at your guesthouse and then you are free to wander down to the beach for a refreshing dip or kick back at one of the many beachfront restaurants and bars. tonight join one of the beach parties or have a seafood BBQ on the beach.

Sihanoukvilla Free Day

Today is yours to relax in Cambodia’s premier beach location. Catch some rays on the beach and go for a swim, or do one of the many water sports including, diving, fishing, snorkelling, kayaking or hire a jet ski. Learn to cook Khmer classics like Fish Amok or deep fried bananas at the Traditional Khmer cooking school, take a trip out to the surrounding islands, or hire a bicycle and explore the nearby beaches. Tonight you can head to Ochheuteal Beach for some partying with the rest of the backpacker crowd, or watch the sun go down at Serendipity Beach.

Sihanoukvilla to Kompot

A 3 hour drive brings us to the little riverside town of Kampot where you will have a free afternoon to visit the salt and pepper farms, go cycling or trek in the Bokor National Park. There is an option to take a leisurely boat cruise on the Kampot River: a relaxing boat trip where you’ll just sit back, enjoy a cool beverage and absorb the spectacular views of Bokor National Park and Elephant Mountain as the sun sets over the river. Tonight we recommend sampling the exceptional seafood at one of the many restaurants on the riverfront – try the fried shrimp with green pepper corns, it’s delish!

Kampot to Koh Tunsay (Rabbit Island)

A short drive this morning brings us to the old French resort town of Kep where we board a traditional Khmer wooden fishing boat and travel for 30 minutes to our sanctuary, Koh Tunsay island. Once on shore you can explore the mountainous terrain, relax on the beach, swim in the warm sea waters and just watch the sun go down.

Koh Tunsay to Phnom Penh

Tearing ourselves away from the beach we take the boat back to the mainland. From here we head for the bustling Cambodian capital, stopping for lunch before we take an afternoon tour of the infamous Khmer Rouge S21 Prison and Killing Fields. This evening you are free to explore the city with a visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Wat Phnom, and the Russian Market. See a living art performance at the National Museum, or learn a Cambodian craft, dance or kick boxing at the Backstreet Academy.

Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

This morning we leave bustling Phnom Penh, and make an express return to Siem Reap with your Tour Leader on a public bus. Why not take this opportunity to visit some of the minor sites or visit nearby villages in and around Siem Reap, relax and grab a massage in a local spa, do some shopping or just spend time chilling at your guesthouse.

Siem Reap to Bangkok

It’s time to say good-bye to Cambodia – the trip from Siem Reap to Bangkok is an unguided public bus connection which your Tour Leader will organise for you. To return to Bangkok you will be driven to the border town of Poipet to process through Thai immigration before the last drive on to Bangkok. Expect to arrive at the bus station in the evening. We hope you had a blast on your Xtreme adventure!

Trip Frequently Asked Questions

It depends how long you are travelling for or if you are moving onto another country after but you will not need to pack much for South East Asia. The climate will stay the same all year round which will be in the mid 30´s so light clothing will be best. It will also help if you use a backpack rather than a suitcase as it will be more comfortable for you to travel around with. But if you do only have a suitcase, do not spend your money on an expensive backpack, a suitcase or sports bag will do.
Yes of course you can. We will put you in touch with other group members shortly before your tour. You can also join our Facebook page to interact with your group and others, see pictures etc.
First of all its your responsibility to get the correct visa, but as it stands at the moment (2016) for UK and NL travellers, you can get a Cambodian visa either online or at the border really easily. If you get one in Khao San Road in Bangkok, where they offer to arrange a visa for you, you risk giving your passport to a stranger. You CAN go to the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok, but would be a waste of time and money. Online or at the border is easiest .

Included

  • All transport on private hop on hop off backpacker buses from Bangkok back to Bangkok
  • Pre travel information the day before start date
  • Preah Vihear
  • Wat Nokor
  • S21 & Killing Fields
  • Udong
  • Bamboo train
  • Services in support of to backup driver guides
  • A group of fun like-minded adventure travellers to share the experiences with.
  • Detailed predeparture documentation and support

Excluded

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Entrance to Angkor Wat
  • Airport transfers