Discovering Travel Indochina

by Lexa Pennington /
Lexa Pennington's picture
Jan 13, 2012 / 0 comments

When you trust your travel experiences to a tour company, you want to have the best. How to find the best? Look, read, research. One travel tour company we’ve found, Travel Indochina, is such an excellent company. Take a look - their Very First sentence on their website says it all: At Travel Indochina we live and breathe Asia.

We wanted to know more and got the inside scoop on Travel Indochina to share with our Wandering Educators.



WE: When did you start the business, and how did you get into the business?

TI: Travel Indochina has been operating Small Group Journeys and tailor-made itineraries to Asia since 1993. It started when co-founder Paul Hole and Mark Bowyer (Mark is no longer associated with Travel Indochina) did a trip to Vietnam and fell in love with Asia and decided to operate their first Small Group Journey in Vietnam.



WE: What do people love most about your China Tours?

TI: Our China small group tours range from 8 to 18 days and cover all of the main sites of Beijing, Xian, Shanghai and the Yangtze River as well as offering some more off the beaten track itineraries to Tibet, Mongolia and The Silk Road. All of our trips feature a number of Insider Experiences which are often unique to Travel Indochina and delve deeper into the country so travellers can share experiences that many tourists miss. For example, get to know the locals when you share a tasty, homemade lunch in a family home after a fun rickshaw ride through the busy alleyways in Beijing. The combination of a Western tour leader and English-speaking local guide on our China Small Group Journeys, also means that you get best of both worlds. Their passion and enthusiasm for China is inspiring and their insight and local knowledge means that you can expect experiences that no guidebook can offer. We also offer a range of tailor-made options to China for those who do not want to travel in a small group.


Street Calligraphy, Beijing.

Street Calligraphy, Beijing


WE: What is your most popular tour package?

TI: Our 10 day Highlights of Vietnam small group tour followed by our 5 day Temples of Angkor small group tour.


Halong Bay - Vietnam

Halong Bay - Vietnam


WE: Thailand is such a popular place - what do you suggest travellers see, when they take a Thailand holiday?

TI:  Our top 10 things to see and do in Thailand are:
1. Explore the many wonders of Bangkok, by foot, boat, bike or tuk-tuk.
2. Wander the ruins of Sukhothai, Thailand’s ancient former capital.
3. Enjoy an interactive cooking class to discover each region’s unique cuisine.
4. Stay in a riverside jungle lodge on the River Kwai, surrounded by lush jungle.
5. Meet the local hilltribe people at Lisu Lodge and learn about their way of life and traditions.
6. Get off the beaten track in Thailand’s remote regions such as Khao Yai National Park to experience nature and culture unspoiled by progress.
7. Discover the daily lives of the locals when you visit traditional markets in Amphawa.
8. Explore islands and caves by boat amidst towering limestone karst scenery.
9. Spend time with some of Thailand’s elephants and their trainers to learn about these magnificent creatures at Elephant Hills near Phuket.
10. Travel around Thailand on two wheels to get amongst the action on a cycling day tour, multi-day tour or extended tour.






WE:  Your tours are all small group tours - how does this affect the experience?

TI:  Small group travel allows for flexibility and informality, which is why our journeys operate with an average of 12 travellers and a guaranteed maximum of 16. Because groups are small, we’re able to accommodate the interests of our travellers while allowing plenty of opportunities for independent exploration. We offer the ease and flexibility of independent travel without the hassles.



WE: You also provide many insider experiences on your tours - can you please share more about this?

TI:  At Travel Indochina we love sharing our expertise, so we’ve created Our Insider Experiences to show our travellers the real Asia. With over 18 years experience and six offices in Asia, travelling with us is like travelling with a local. Our Western tour leaders live in Asia, so they’ve got their finger on the pulse of this ever-changing region, and our local guides love to show you around their hometown. Our Insider Experiences delve deeper into the destination so you can share experiences that many tourists miss. In Cambodia, creep through the jungle by torchlight, away from the crowds, entering the little-used eastern gate of Angkor Wat to see the sun rising over the majestic temple. Joining the students from the Streets foundation in Hoi An for a market tour not only gives you an insight into local cuisine, but helps train these underprivileged youth in language and interaction skills, an important part of the hospitality training they receive from this fantastic and internationally accredited organization.


Vietnam - Hoi An

Vietnam - Hoi An


WE: Why is it important for tour companies to use local tour guides? What has been the feedback for your company, with using local tour guides as well as expert Western tour leaders?

TI: By using local guides we are supporting the local community and they are best placed to provide our travellers a wealth of historical and cultural insights from their country. The combination of a Western tour leader and local guide means our travellers get the best of both worlds, with a unique perspective on the destination they are travelling through. Our Asia-based Western tour leaders are there to bridge the cultural divide, sharing their own specialised knowledge. The thing we are most proud of is the feedback we get from our past passengers. On average 94% of our past passengers rate their experience with as excellent and beyond their expectations. 97.4% say that they would travel with us again and 98% rate their tour leader as very good or excellent. We also get plenty of wonderful letters and emails about our travellers’ experiences with our local guides and Western tour leaders in Asia.


Travel Indochina Tour Leader Paula

Travel Indochina Tour Leader Paula


WE:  Are there ways for travellers to give back, while on your tours?

TI:  We offer twelve carbon offset journeys, where we will offset the carbon emissions for every passenger on every departure, so clients can travel guilt-free, knowing we’ve got your carbon footprint covered. We cover all carbon emissions during the trip including hotels and transport, but do not cover the emissions from international flights.

We encourage our travellers to patronise or financially assist numerous not-for-profit organisations. These include causes which Travel Indochina financially supports as well as a number retail organisations and social businesses throughout Asia. Our tour leaders and local guides are a wealth of knowledge about these organizations; a small sample of particularly popular ones is mentioned below:

* Various social business restaurants, the majority of which operate as hospitality vocational training programs for disadvantaged or at-risk youth:

* Koto, Hanoi, Vietnam, a vocational training centre and restaurant staffed by disadvantaged young people

*Friends The Restaurant (Phnom Penh), Romdeng (Phnom Penh), and Makphet (Vientiane, Laos), three restaurants run by Friends-International which train and are staffed by at-risk youth who were formerly working on the streets

*The Boddhi Tree Restaurant, Phnom Penh, Cambodia which trains and is staffed by disadvantaged young people

*Cabbages and Condoms in Bangkok and Chiang Rai, which help fund family planning projects in Thailand

* Doi Tung Coffee & Lifestyle outlets (various locations throughout Thailand), part of a Thai royal project supporting cash crop alternatives to hilltribe minorities in Northern Thailand

*Seeing Hands massage (a shiatsu massage service run by blind Cambodians) and blind massage centres in Beijing and Shanghai, providing income generating opportunities to those whose disabilities might otherwise preclude them from employment. Jaisalmer Art Palace community cooperative in Jaisalmer, India .


Jaisalmer Bazaar

Jaisalmer Bazaar



WE:  How can travellers best prepare, before going on your tours (i.e., books to read, etc.)?

TI: Visit our Travel Tips and FAQ’s section on the destination pages of our website and once a final booking is made clients are sent a pre departure guide which has all the relevant notes on how to prepare.


Siem Reap - Bayon Temple - Cambodia One of our local guides at the Temples of Angkor.

Siem Reap - Bayon Temple - Cambodia - One of our local guides at the Temples of Angkor.






All photos courtesy and copyright Travel Indochina