Head out of the ordinary and into the exotic during this journey through the borderlands of three diverse countries. You will visit three countries, but the heart of the program will be traveling through the far reaches of the Shan State in Eastern Burma near the border with Yunnan Province in China. From the oxcarts and teashops of Burma, to the traditional rhythm of Thailand’s Hill Tribe region, this trip will take you through one of the most culturally rich – and rarely seen – areas in Southeast Asia.
Before leaving Thailand for Burma, you will load up on supplies for the trip. Across the border, even the basics can be very hard to come by, and the gifts and supplies you will purchase here will go a long way toward improving the lives of the people you will meet on your journey. The real adventure will begin as you cross the border into Burma at the Mae Sai–Taichelek crossing. Rustic Pathways has friends in small places all along this route, and these connections will really open your eyes to what life is like for people in this area. Meet the two orphans we’ve pledged support for, visit the village where we donated a water pipe system, and make countless friends along the way.
The largest city in the Shan State, Kentung is a melting pot of peoples and cultures, and the sights you see here will showcase Burma’s diversity and beauty. Step into Chinese mud brick houses, marvel at the British architecture of the churches and administration buildings, and get acquainted with Buddhism at Shan and Thai temples. If you have never before ventured into the seldom-seen land of Burma, this trip will provide a fascinating introduction to its rich cultures and welcoming people.
Heading north from Keng Tung, you will pass towering peaks, rushing rivers, and pristine terraced rice fields. As you continue north, be ready for some of the most striking views imaginable as you enter the legendary valley known as Sip-Song Pan-na, the “land of 12 million rice fields.” Our friends here will welcome you into their homes, let you hold their babies, and introduce you to life in this region. At the end of the road, you will reach the border with Yunnan Province in China and the final Burmese outpost – Mung La.
After returning to Thailand, you will take a long-tail boat ride down the majestic Mekong River, which snakes between Thailand, Laos, and Burma. See the Golden Buddha, learn some regional history at the opium museum, and stop at an island in Laos. Shop the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, have a traditional Thai massage, and reminisce about your unforgettable experiences in the Golden Triangle. This is one of our most epic one-week adventures ever, and we are thrilled to offer it to students who really want to get off the beaten path!
Prepare for a world-class trip on Singapore Airlines. Prior to your departure, you will have received your pre-departure packet, which will include your Rustic T-shirts, airline tickets, and important contact information.
Once you arrive at your international departure city, our Flight Liaison will help you get checked in to your international flight. Working with our Flight Liaison will be your Flight Leader, who will escort you all the way to Southeast Asia!
Today is lost as you cross the international dateline. Fear not – you will get this time back on your way home.
Arriving in Bangkok, you'll be greeted by many staff and program leaders who have been eagerly awaiting your arrival. From Bangkok you will fly to Chiang Rai, where the Golden Triangle Adventure will begin. After a refreshing shower, you'll head out for a delicious Thai feast and a foot massage before heading off to get some rest for your big day ahead!
Rising to a nice breakfast, you'll have your first look at northern Thailand in the morning light. This is the best time of day here, and looking out at the misty mountains in the distance you'll quickly realize that you are in a unique corner of the world. The first order of the day will be to load up the vans and get ready to head to the super market and stock up on supplies for the trip up to Burma. Crossing the border from Thailand to Burma brings you to the interesting town of Tachilek, where we'll have lunch and obtain the necessary travel documents for the voyage into Burma. Once everything is ready, it's off to the north on one of the region's most scenic drives. This journey will take you through some of the most striking places you've ever seen which will come alive as we take field trips to seldom seen places where we have made lots of friends over the years. As we head towards the plateau of Yunnan province in southern China, you'll feel the elevation steadily rise and the air get progressively cooler. Passing through Tarlay we'll stop for a cup of tea before continuing on to the village of Ba Hote to meet some very special young people. Rustic Pathways students built the water system in this village and offers general support the local school and school children here, who travel from eight nearby mountain villages to study at this makeshift boarding school. Rustic Pathways has also sponsored two orphans to attend this school, and you'll have a chance to stop in for a visit with Ahi Kham and Boo Mee to see how their studies are going. Some of the supplies you purchased back in Thailand prior to hopping over the border will be distributed here later on the trip when we have a bit more time to visit. Meet the village headman and share some tea at his house before hitting the road again. Don't worry too much – there will be more time to relax here later in the trip.
By late afternoon, we'll be arriving in Keng tung, a picturesque Shan style town. Chit Oo- one of our All-Star full-time Burma staff- grew up in this town, and during our time here you'll get to see how the local people really live here with a visit to Chit Oo's family's house. In addition to our full-time RP staff from this area, we also have lots of friends scattered ll around town, and at dinner tonight, you'll have the chance to meet many of them over the next few days as we share many plates of Burmese food and gather together friends from the area.
Today, we'll take it a bit easy and explore the many sites to be seen around Keng Tung city. There is lots to see and do here, and we have lots of friends to stop and check in with along the way. We sponsor several students in this area, including Ah Lee, who gives us special access to the freshest bread and baked goods around. Siyama Si Pin is a 74 year old Burmese teacher who was raised and educated in the British colonial period in Burma who loves to share her afternoon tea with visiting Rustic students at her lovely house on the lake. You'll see Yat Taw Nu, the Standing Buddha, see local arts and crafts being made, and buy them directly from the artisans. See Shan style houses and some beautiful buildings that still remain from colonial times. After taking some time to clean up, we'll head out to Chit Oo's house for dinner. You'll meet his younger brothers and his parents who will treat you to some home cooked gyat tha hin (chicken curry) and myin kwar uat (vegetable salad) that you'll never forget. Hear stories from Chit Oo's family about how life has changed in this area before returning to the hotel to get some rest for the big day ahead.
After breakfast at the hotel, we'll stop at the morning market to grab fresh supplies and then head north out of town. The drive today will take us through is spectacular, and will take us past dozens of tiny settlements and countless water buffaloes. This area is populated by a colorful mix of Hill Tribe minorities including Akha, Shan, Tai loi, Akhi, An, Waa, Lisu and Lahu peoples. The further we go, the higher into the mountains we will rise. Towering peaks, rushing rivers, and pristine terraced rice fields abound in this cool high altitude climate. Crossing into the remote Wa State and into one of Burma's most beautiful valleys known as Sip-Song Pan-na, "the land of 12 million rice fields". The rice fields end at Mung La, the town which is the last stop border town before the road heads in to China. Entering Mung La, you'll certainly feel like you've entered a different country. In this town, Burmese currency is not accepted, and the Burmese languages are seldom spoken. Influences from the Chinese side of the border run strong here, and Yunnan and tribal dialects are more often spoken than those which you have heard thus far. We'll be checking in to our hotel by early evening, enjoy some tasty local noodles, and have a quick look around town before heading off to sleep for the night.
Today, you'll wake up to some fresh baked Chinese doughnuts and sweet tea for breakfast before heading over to the Chinese border for a look to the other side from a Mung La hilltop. Check out from Mung La, we abandon our vans and jump into the back of 4wd trucks to climb up the dirt road tracks to the Tai loi village of Wan Nyat. Set high in the mountains, the people of Wan Nyat live in giant Tai Loi houses which are very distinct from other tribal homes. Accommodating up to 7 families in one home, you have the chance to share tea and social time in a place almost totally disconnected from the modern world. Just outside of the village is a 400 year old monastery where you will spend time with the local Buddhist monks learning about their life in this part of Burma. The monks will hold a string ceremony to bless you and wish you a safe journey. Rustic students and staff who have had the chance to visit this village in the past have come away truly affected by what a powerful experience spending time here is – have your camera ready, and expect to see things that most people only read about!
Returning to Keng Tung, we'll share another evening at Siama Si Pin's house, were you'll have another chance to hear some stories and share some experiences with her. The neighborhood restaurant cooks some of the best Shan-Chinese food around, and you'll enjoy this time with her while reflecting on the amazing things you've seen over the past few days.
After breakfast, we'll hit the road again back to Keng tung to Tachilek, we'll again stop at the Ba Hote village to see our friends Ahi Kham and Boo Mee. On the way back, we'll distribute many of the goods we purchased before heading to Burma, and make sure that the water system we installed for their students is still working properly. Crossing back into Thailand, we'll head down to Chiang Rai city, where you will be staying for the last couple days of the trip. This evening, you'll have the chance to relax with a foot massage, enjoy a Thai feast, peruse the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, and feel like you've just arrived back in the future.
On your last full day of this amazing adventure, you'll head up the geographic "Golden Triangle" of Chiang Saen, the point at which Thailand, Laos, and Burma converge. Here, you'll see the Golden Buddha and learn some fascinating history at the Opium Museum before hopping aboard a chartered long-tail boat ride which will take you between the three countries of Thailand, Laos, and Burma. You'll stop off at an island in Laos to be sure you've checked-off the third country for the week. Shop for some Lao gifts, listen to the distinctly different language dialect, and take some photos to prove you've made it this far. It's all just another day on the Golden Triangle Adventure, and as you head back to Chiang Rai for your final evening, you'll certainly feel like you've accomplished something over the last week! We'll get together for a final feast and a memorable slideshow on the last night, and you'll have the chance to share some of the amazing photos you've gathered on this program. Buy some last minute souvenirs before heading off to bed for your big travel day tomorrow.
Today, we'll grab breakfast at the hotel and head to the Chiang Rai airport. Students heading home will fly to Bangkok and onwards home, while students connecting to other regional programs will drive to Chiang Mai and connect directly to other regional programs. Safe travels, and your friends in the Golden Triangle will be eagerly awaiting your return!
Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity. The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.
A small backpack is the best carry on bag.
A medium sized duffel bag or large backpack work best. Wheeled bags are OK as long as they are medium sized and can easily be carried like a duffle over rough terrain. 15 kilos is often the weight limit on SE Asian airlines overage costs are the responsibility of the student
CLOTHING ITEMS *Please bring at least a few items appropriate for temple visits, (knees and shoulders covered)
(Please pack all items that could leak in a PLASTIC or ZIPLOCK bags)
*Note: See the following link for ideas on small, personal first aid kits: http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/kit_detail.asp? series=300& seriesNav=Dom&kit =302&kitNO=0125-0292
This is a touring program, but it is edgy and adventurous as you cross into seldom-seen Burma to visit one of the most untouched, pure lands and peoples on the earth. This is an amazing opportunity to see some of the last remaining cultures still existing outside mainstream globalization.
Students like touring and experiencing these gems that are unknown to the world and the tourists that come to SE Asia.
No. A temporary visa is given to you at the border.
We'll be in nice clean rooms with hot water showers and western style beds. At the base house we sleep on comfortable mattresses on the floor.
No. But be prepared to do quite a bit of walking while exploring the country and perhaps a bit of swimming.
Students will have the chance to wash their clothes at least once during the trip.
There are mosquitoes. They’re usually not too bad, but you will want to have a long sleeve shirt and long pants in the evenings. Students are also advised to bring a small bottle of insect repellent containing DEET at least 15%-20% DEET.
There will be ample opportunities to shop! You’ll see all kinds of souvenirs and fun stuff to buy, so budget accordingly. Prices in Asia are on average significantly cheaper than in the West, but be wary that a lot of great deals can add up. Markets and local crafts are huge part of the culture and a great way to support the local community. Here are some approximate, sample prices (listed in US dollars) that should help you prepare a budget: hand-woven scarf = $3; hand-woven shoulder bag = $6; T-shirt = $6; small wood carving = $5; soccer ball = $10.
It’s hot, and humid in the day and a little cooler in the mountains at night. Daily downpours are short and give way to sunny skies. Be prepared for heat and dampness. Synthetic fiber clothes are great because they dry fast much faster than cotton can.
Phones are available nearly every day but we will have limited access to internet during most of the week.
Each trip is staffed by a combination of western (American) and Thai leaders, and in most cases each team will include a nationally licensed guide, a western man and a western woman. We never have fewer than one staff member for every five students.
We’ll eat a wide variety of Thai and ethnic food, as well as a good deal of Western food. Thailand is famous for its food, and this trip will awaken your tastes to flavors you didn’t even know existed. Almost all dietary concerns can be accommodated, but please alert us of any relevant restrictions beforehand just to make sure. Vegetarians Welcome!
We will be drinking all bottled water. Bottled water is safe and readily available.
Every city we visit has a hospital with reliable medical care that caters to hundreds of Westerners every year. For the short time we will be in more rural areas farther from top-quality medical care, our staff will have a clear plan and route to the nearest healthcare depending on the severity of the situation.
Because safety is our number one priority, all of our programs have staff that is certified with First Aid and CPR training. Many of our guides are also qualified Wilderness First Responders, EMTs, Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.
Rustic Pathways does not make recommendations regarding immunizations. You will need to visit your local travel clinic and discuss your specific itinerary with a physician so that they can make medical recommendations for you. For general information about travel around the world, please see the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov
All flights departing from and returning to the United States will have flight leaders. In the event a student is connecting from another country, they may or may not have a flight leader. In such instances, we generally have coordinated with the airlines to escort the students from check-in through customs, and delivered to a verified Rustic Pathways staff member.
All of our programs within Asia connect seamlessly. All trips begin and end on Thursday, thus allowing for easy connectivity and convenience.
The Golden Triangle is a region overlapping the mountains of Thailand, Burma, and Laos, making it one of the most ethnically diverse regions of SE Asia.
Contact Us: For more information about The Golden Triangle Adventure you can email email@example.com.
The Golden Triangle Adventure combines well with the following programs.
Ages: 14 to 18 years old
Length: 11 days from the USA
Cost: $1,695 + $335 Internal Airfare
International airfare is not included in the above cost. Please check our Travel Desk for airfare pricing and specifics.
|Departs Tue||Returns Fri||Availability|
|2 Jul||12 Jul||Available|
|23 Jul||2 Aug||Available|
Dates shown are inclusive of travel time from the United States. Most Rustic Pathways trips interconnect, allowing you to design your own perfect summer program.Apply Now