The Yangtze & Mekong Explored

This 46 day overland tour journeys from Bangkok to Xi'an through Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand

  • Duration: 46 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure:
  • For lovers of: Active/Adrenaline
  • Physical rating: Light
  • Supplier Tour ID: EXO1/250816
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Starts: Xi'an, China
  • Finishes: Bangkok, Thailand
  • Age requirement: 18 +
You will Visit
  • Xi'an
  • Wudang Shan
  • Xiang Fan
  • Yichang
  • Three Gorges
  • Badong
  • Wanzhou
  • Chongqing
  • Dazu
  • Chengdu
  • Leshan
  • Emei Shan
  • Panzhihua
  • Lijiang
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Dali
  • Kunming
  • Shilin Stone Forest
  • Xishuangbanna
  • Jinghong
  • Luang Namtha
  • Luang Prabang
  • Vang Vieng
  • Thakhek
  • Pakse
  • Don Khon
  • Si Phan Don (4000 Islands)
  • Kratié
  • Phnom Penh
  • Kompong Thom
  • Siem Reap
  • Angkor Wat
  • Bangkok



Day 1: Xi'an

Border Information: if joining in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).

Welcome to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'!

There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting.

The rest of the day will be free to explore the city of Xi'an, its famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Xi'an before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Xi'an.

In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.


Day 2: Xi'an

This morning we head out of Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour. We'll return to Xi'an in the afternoon and have some more free time to further explore this incredible city!


Day 3: Wudang Shan

Today we begin our journey south of Xi'an with a drive to the beautiful Wudang Shan Mountain Reserve, the birthplace of the martial art of Taichi and the location of the filming of 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'.

We will have time this afternoon and the following morning to fully explore the mountain's sights, temples and martial arts schools.

In Wudang Shan we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).


Day 4: Xiang Fan

This morning we will spend more time exploring Wudang Shan and the surrounding area, before setting off in the afternoon for a short drive to the pleasant city of Xiang Fan. We will also try to stop at the Purple Cloud Monastery en route.

In Xiang Fan we will stay in a local guesthouse or hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-4 hours.


Day 5: Yichang

Today we will drive from Xiang Fan to Yichang, where we will catch our first glimpse of the mighty Yangtze river. Yichang is a pleasant town, and we will stop here for 1 or 2 nights, depending on the ferry schedule - either way we will have time to explore a little.

In Yichang we will stay in a friendly local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.


Day 6: Yichang

Today we will have some free time to explore Yichang and the surrounding area, prepare for our 3 day Yangtze River cruise.

We will most likely have an included visit to the incredible Three Gorges Dam today, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, although it is possible this visit may take place tomorrow depending on the ferry schedule.

We will most likely stay in our hotel in Yichang tonight, but our ferry may need to depart tonight, in which case we will have a spare day later in the trip that we can use at our discretion.


Day 7-9: Three Gorges

Today we embark on our Yangtze River cruise. We travel on a local ferry boat used by local people, a much more authentic and interesting way of travelling than on a tourist cruise. We stay in shared cabins (4 members of the group to each cabin) with private bathrooms and air conditioning where possible.

The journey itself usually takes 3 days/3 nights and heads through some areas of stunning scenery, especially near the Three Gorges - the Qutang, Wu and Xiling Gorges. The boats usually stop at the Fengdu (Ghost City), Shibaozai Tower, home to the Lanruo Dian (Orchid Temple) and at the three Lesser Gorges at various points on the trip. However due to local conditions, stops cannot always be guaranteed.


Day 10: Dazu

Today we will disembark our ferry when it docks in Chongqing in the early morning, and rejoin the truck and our co-driver!

From Chongqing we have a short drive to Dazu, where we visit the Bei Shan and Baoding Shan caves, famous for their brightly-coloured freizes and carvings.

In Dazu we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.


Day 11-12: Chengdu

Today we have another short drive on to the incredible city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where we will stay for 2 nights. On arrival we will have a free afternoon to explore the city's parks, streets, and museums, and visit the fascinating and incredibly photogenic Jinli Old Town.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

On the following day we will have an included visit to the fantastic Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre. We'll then return to Chengdu for another free afternoon to further explore the city.

In Chengdu we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.


Day 13-14: Leshan

Today we continue our journey south to the town of Leshan to visit to the Leshan Grand Buddha - at 71m tall, this statue is the largest Buddha rock carving in the world!

After our visit we will continue to the small town of Emei Shan.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

On the following day we will have a full day to explore Emei Shan Mountain, one of the holiest sites in Chinese Buddhism and the site of hundreds of temples and an incredible golden statue of the deity known as Samantabhadra. It is possible to walk all the way up the stairs from the base of the mountain, joining the many pilgrims in their journey to the temple complex at the mountain summit, or take the cable car up instead!

In Emei Shan we will stay in a local guesthouse.


Day 15: Panzhihua

Today we have a long drive south through stunning mountain scenery towards China's Yunnan province.

In the evening you can take a stroll on the riverfront and get an insight into local Chinese life.

We will stay in the town of Miyi tonight in a comfortable local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.


Day 16-18: Lijiang

Today we drive further into Yunnan province to the beautiful 'Old-China'-style town of Lijiang, the base for visiting the world famous Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

On the following 2 days we will have free time to explore the town of Lijiang and its surroundings. One very popular excursion here is to go on a 2 day/1 night trek along the high trail above the Tiger Leaping Gorge - this is by far the best way to see the gorge from some truly incredible vantage points, and we will have the opportunity to take this trek during our time here (staying in a local guesthouse on the trail on the first night and returning to Lijiang for the second night). For those that don't want to do the full trek, your crew will also be able to arrange a trip to the low sections of the gorge, where there is a flat walkway to various viewpoints.

In Lijiang we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.


Day 19-20: Dali

Today we will drive through more stunning scenery to the beautiful Naxi town of Dali, where we will stay for 2 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

On the following day we will have a free day to fully explore the area and for optional activities such as some short treks in the nearby Cangshan mountains or hiring bicycles to ride around the Dali lake.

In Dali we stay in a friendly hostel or guesthouse with good facilities.


Day 21: Kunming

There will be a group meeting at 18:00PM. The evening free to explore the city. Overnight in comfortable hotel.


Day 22: Shilin Stone Forest

This morning we will drive to the incredible Shilin Stone Forest. We will have a free afternoon exploring the stunning and bizarre rock formations of the Stone Forest.

Tonight we will stay in a local hotel near to the Shilin Stone Forest.

Estimated Drive Time - 2 - 3 hours.


Day 23: Xishuangbanna

Heading south from Shilinzhen we have a full days drive towards the southern region of Xishuangbanna.

Tonight we will stay in a local hotel en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.


Day 24: Jinghong

Today we drive to Jinghong. Overnight in a local guesthouse.


Day 25: Luang Namtha

Border Information: Exit China at Mohan, enter Laos at Boten.

Short morning drive to the border with Laos, cross border and drive on to Luang Namtha, a small laid-back town on the edge of the Nam Ha Protected Area.

Estimate drive time 4- 5 hours

We stay here for 3 nights at a comfortable friendly guesthouse lodge.


Day 26-27: Luang Namtha

We have two full days in Luang Namtha for optional activities. There are many Hiking and trekking options available in the national park, or you could use this time to simply kick back and relax back at our guesthouse.


Day 28: Luang Prabang

This morning we drive through the stunning countryside of northern Laos and make our way to Luang Prabang where we stay in a friendly local hotel.

This afternoon there will be free time for any optional activities.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).


Day 29: Luang Prabang

Border Information: If joining in Luang Prabang, enter Laos at Luang Prabang Airport.

There will be an important group meeting at 10:00 hrs.
Your leader will leave a note at the reception telling you where this meeting will take place. Your leader will collect your kitty and check your passport and insurance details at this meeting.

Tonight we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.


Day 30: Luang Prabang

This morning we have a short drive to a small hill tribe village called Ban Long Lao. This Hmong village is where we begin our 4 hour trek to the stunning Kuang Si waterfalls. This afternoon you have time to relax and swim in the many warm turquoise pools. We return in the late afternoon to our comfortable hotel for the night.


Day 31: Vang Vieng

We leave after breakfast and drive to Vang Vieng (approx. 185 kms). The scenery today is spectacular as we make our way through windy and mountainous roads, passing small Hmong villages along the way so plenty of photo opportunities! We will stop for lunch in one of these villages before continuing our journey to Vang Vieng. The afternoon is free to explore.

Estimated Drive time 5 - 6 hours

We will stay overnight in a comfortable guesthouse tonight.


Day 32: Vang Vieng

Today we have the whole day to explore Vang Vieng. Enjoy the stunning landscapes surrounding the village and take part of the many optional activities available in the area. Popular activities here include trekking, renting a bicycle or rock climbing.


Day 33: Thakhek

We set off early this morning for a full days drive from Vang Vieng to Thakhek. We will arrive in the late afternoon and set up camp for the night.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours

Tonight we will wild camp near Thakhek


Day 34: Pakse

We will have the morning to explore the town before continuing our journey south to Pakse. Once in Pakse we have a short drive to the magnificent Wat Phou, a ruined Khmer temple complex located at the base of Mt Phu Kao.

Overnight in local Guesthouse in Pakse.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.


Day 35-36: Don Khon

From Pakse we Drive South and transfer to a boat to take us over to one of the larger islands in the area, Don Khong. This afternoon we visit the Li Phi waterfalls and then spend the rest of the day relaxing.

Overnight in a local guesthouse.

On our 2nd day on Don Khong we will have free time to explore the island which can be easily discovered by bicycles. On the bike you will discover a quiet rural life of the the four thousand Islands.

Estimated Drive time 3 - 4 hours


Day 37-38: Kratié

Border Information: Exit Laos at Voeung Kam, enter Cambodia at Dom Kralor.

Today we will be rejoining the truck. We then drive to the Cambodian border, cross and continue on to Kratie.

Kratie is situated in the northeast of Cambodia on the banks of the Mekong River, this area is famous for its sunsets! In Kratie we will stay with local families in their homes. The accommodation is fairly basic but this will be a fantastic local experience.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours

On our 2nd day in Kratie we visit the fresh water dolphins and visit the town of Kratie, including the Pagodas.


Day 39: Phnom Penh

Today we drive to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh. The afternoon is free to explore.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

We will be staying in Phnom Penh for 2 nights at a friendly local guesthouse.


Day 40: Phnom Penh

This morning we will have a very moving visit to the infamous Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and the Killing Fields Memorial. We will then return to Phnom Penh and have a free afternoon to explore Cambodia's capital.

Tonight we will spend a second night in a local guesthouse.


Day 41: Kompong Thom

This morning we have a fairly short drive to Sambor Prei Kuk, Cambodia's most impressive group of pre-Angkorian monuments. We will have plenty of time to explore the ruins before driving back to Kompong Thom, where we spend the night in the house of a local family.

The accommodation is basic and some bathrooms are outside, but experiencing traditional home-cooked food and spending time with people of the village is truly a special experience.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 - 6 hours.

We stay overnight in a local home stay.


Day 42: Siem Reap

This morning we drive from Kompong Thom to Siem Reap -

We will be in Siem Reap for 3 nights staying in a friendly local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours


Day 43: Siem Reap

Today we get up early for our full day guided exploration of the incredible temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. We will also be able to watch the sunset over the temples.

Second night in friendly local hotel.


Day 44: Siem Reap

Today is a free day for you to do as you please. Return to the temples to spend some more time exploring, or maybe take some time to relax with a massage or local spa treatment. Siem Reap itself is a lively little town and interesting to wander around.

Third night in friendly local hotel.


Day 45: Bangkok

Border Information: Exit Cambodia at, enter Thailand at Aranyaprathet.

This morning we start our journey to the Cambodian border of Poipet where we will say goodbye to our co driver and overland truck. Once we have crossed the border and proceedings through the Thai Immigration office we will then finish our journey on locally chartered transport out of the Aranyaprathet and through the Thai countryside to the bustling city of Bangkok.

Estimated Drive Time - 8 -9 hours. (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).


Day 46: Bangkok

Border Information: Finishing in Bangkok, exit Thailand at Bangkok Airport.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Bangkok.

Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

    • Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife
    • Trek up the Tianzu Peak to visit the Taoist martial arts school and numerous temples on Wudang Shan
    • The cruise visits the main sites of the Three Gorges & new Yangtze Dam
    • Cruise down the mighty Yangtze River for 3 nights on a local sleeper ferry
    • Stop off to visit the 1700-year-old Zhang Fei temple, famous for its exterior red-light decoration
    • Visit to the Giant Panda breeding centre in Chengdu
    • Day trek up the lush mountain of Emei Shan, one of the most important pilgrimage treks in China
    • See the colossal Dafo Great Buddha in Leshan, the world's largest rock-carved Buddha statue
    • Explore the maze of limestone pinnacles in the Stone Forest
    • Cross the border into Laos and relax in peaceful Luang Nam Tha
    • Enjoy the tranquility of beautiful colonial city Luang Prabang
    • Enjoy the tranquility of beautiful colonial city Luang Prabang
    • Visit the incredible 10th-century temple of Wat Phou
    • Visit the beautiful 16th-century Hundred Pillar Pagoda near Kratie
    • 2 nights in Cambodia's chaotic capital Phnom Penh
    • Learn about Cambodia's history at the "Killing Fields" and Tuol Sleng Prison Museum
    • Explore the amazing pre-Angkorian temple complex of Sambor Prei Kuk
    • Full day tour of the incredible temples at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom
    Tour Staff
    • 2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary, 1 local crew in certain areas
    • 5% Camping - 95% Hotels
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