Where the wild things are in Thailand and Laos

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Dusky Langur baby with mother (Photo: Josh Cohen, Wild Planet Adventures)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on October 8, 2007. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, arts and culture, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chile and Easter Island, eco travel, Greenland, Jordan, Laos, Molly Feltner, mountain, Nepal, Peru, Tanzania, Thailand, Utah, wildlife.

Provider: Wild Planet Adventures
Length: 15 days
Price: $3,498

Spending the night under a rainforest canopy listening to gibbons sing love duets … riding an elephant through a river while it bathes … visiting a temple where monks and tigers live side by side … snorkeling amongst a rainbow of tropical fish in a pristine coral reef … Many trips have a highlight or two like these, but Wild Plant Adventures' new Thailand and Laos Ultimate Wildlife eco-tour is a doozy, offering more outstanding wildlife encounters than any other tour in the region.

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Focusing on trips that combine wildlife viewing activities with creature comforts, Wild Planet Adventures makes its first foray into Asia with this trip. Company Director Josh Cohen and his team spent several years scouting out the itinerary, searching for the best preserved wildlife habitats and unusual activities. This task was a challenge in Thailand, a country with a history of allowing its environment to be damaged by reckless tourism, but Cohen managed to find a series of hidden gems and string them all together into one far-ranging 15-day trip.

Among the many experiences on tap in Thailand, you'll visit five national parks and preserves home to wild elephants and more than 900 bird species; snorkel and kayak around a private island in the Gulf of Thailand; visit a Buddhist temple where monks care for 16 rescued tigers; and attend a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai.

Then, it's off to remote Laos. "The climax of our [tour] includes one of the world's most unique eco-tourism projects: a series of five magnificent tree houses spread out over several miles of mountainous rainforest, and accessible only via an innovative system of zip line cables," says Cohen of the Gibbon Experience in Laos' Bokeo Nature Preserve. "Participants literally zip from ridge to ridge, directly into the tree houses, where they can stay overnight. It is one of the only places in the world where travelers can spend the night up in the rainforest canopy."

Trip planning

There are seven departure dates scheduled between November and May. You can arrange for private departures on other dates with a two-person minimum for an extra $298. Rates include all accommodations, meals, activities, guides, and domestic flights and ground transportation. International flights to Bangkok, the trip's start and end point, are extra. Round-trip winter fares between Los Angeles and Bangkok start at $650 plus taxes on Philippine Airlines.

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