Introducing you to the Crooked Compass Chase…
You have heard of the TV show The Amazing Race, now it’s your turn to get in on the action!
Discover Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar in a way you have only ever dreamed of. To race through three incredible countries so rich in history, culture and with an air of mystery – the perfect place to chase. Let the race begin!
Get your Nancy Drew on as you delve into local life and activities cracking codes to progress and leave the other teams behind. Cycling through chaos and barter and banter with locals to get the upper hand, test your selling skills as well as your cooking skills – do you have what it takes to win? Venture further afield and access lesser trodden paths whilst mingling with communities who have seen less foreign travellers than you can count. Use your non verbal communications skills to decipher clues, hitch a ride and chase on. Test your geographic and historical knowledge as you navigate some of the worlds most formidable monuments.
Think fast, act faster as you traverse these tranquil lands relying on the generosity of strangers and the necessity of trusting your gut to haul you forward. Embrace foreign cultures and foods – including things you never dreamed you would put in your mouth! Learn language skills you didn’t know you had. Encompass all the journey has to offer. The chase is fast. Things will go wrong. Things will go right. Unexpected encounters will knock you sideways. Your mind will boggle, your heart will swell with frustration and fondness. The adrenaline of conquering will fuel you to push on. After all, this is a chase…
Sabaidee! Welcome to Luang Prabang – the heart of Laotian culture. Situated in northern Laos, next to the Nam Khan River, Luang Prabag is surrounded by lush green mountains. Although the town itself is quite small, it does offer travellers its best – including former colonial buildings, buzzing night markets, stunning waterfalls, and incredibly beautiful temples.
You will be welcomed on arrival and transferred to your hotel. There will be time to freshen up before a delicious welcome dinner and orientation for the next few days ahead. This will be your first opportunity to suss out your competition. Be sure you rest up though! Tomorrow the chase begins! (D)
Overnight 3 Nagas Luang Prabang – Deluxe room or similar
Fuel up full of energy from the breakfast at your hotel. Be ready for full day of adventure racing! What if you could complete a bunch of bucket list worthy activities while creating memorable experiences with friends, family and strangers? The Adventure Race at Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden is an 8 hour adventure race where teams complete tasks across the city related to adventure, service, survival, sustainability, culture, history and spirituality. Each team will be given a digital and paper based guide with instructions and tasks to help you start your adventure.
Example tasks include
– Taking two water bottle out of the Mekong River and recycling them
– Take a video of your team doing a human pyramid in a public space with the addition of local people to help build your pyramid
– Make up a 30 second song about Laos and make a video of it
– Do a magic trick in a public place
– Visit Mt Phousi to catch an amazing sunset
Every task or activity you complete will be tracked on Facebook through posting, so you can know where you stand. Lunch today will be in a local restaurant. In the evening, get ready to join us to make banana pancakes & and sell them to local people and tourists! The team to sell the most pancakes in the allotted amount of time wins. This will be an unforgettable experience on how to become a street seller! (B,L)
Overnight 3 Nagas Luang Prabang – Deluxe room or similar
Spend an enjoyable half day on a community-based rice farm situated in the idyllic countryside, surrounded by mountains and rice paddies. Experience the life of a farmer by trying your hand at some farm activities: fertilize, harvest rice, vegetables and watermelons etc (depending on the season). There will be some seasonal challenges based around the farming activities. During your experience, you will also have the opportunity to learn about bamboo weaving, blacksmith work, and sugar cane processing. Transfer to your hotel for freshening up before departing to the airport for your flight to Vientiane. Suggested flight: LAO 102 departs in Luang Prabang at 1305, arrives in Vientiane at 1350 (The schedule may change without prior notice.)
Upon arrival to Vientiane train station, please you will be met by a representative holding a signboard with your name. Transfer to your hotel.
Many travellers say that Vientiane is one of the most laidback capital cities in the world. They also fall in love with the tranquil tree lined boulevards, mellow riverfront restaurants, golden temples and the amazing cuisine. Due to its landlocked location and relatively low economic status, Lao cuisine is centred on fresh ingredients with almost no processed foods. Spend an enjoyable evening learning about some of the fresh ingredients and vibrant flavours of Lao food. In the late afternoon, transfer to a cooking class, learn which fresh ingredients are used in the dishes and get acquainted with some intriguing and unfamiliar flavours. Divide into your teams to create your own varieties of jeow (spicy Lao dipping sauce), mok pa (steamed fish in banana leaf), lemongrass stuffed chicken, gaeng pet (spicy curry), minced fish or the popular papaya salad. Before enjoying your creations for dinner, let’s try the other teams’ results and see who has the best taste and most beautiful decoration as voted by our local chefs. Ultimately, the best tasting dishes on the day win the challenge…. this challenge is certainly a judge’s favourite. Later, return to your hotel to relax. (B,D)
Train ride: Approx 2hrs10m
Overnight at Salana Boutique or similar
Lots of energy is required today for a fun and challenging day around Vientiane by bicycle. With a city map and bicycle, you will explore the city by yourself and visit some of the highlights and hidden gems of Vientiane such as markets, interesting backstreets, schools and breathtaking temples. In between rides and at each stop, you will solve clues relating to history and culture then collect more clues to solve a final puzzle. Enjoy local food at a local restaurant for lunch. The rest of day is free at leisure to relax around the pool or explore life along the Mekong River. (B,L)
Overnight at Salana Boutique or similar
Early this morning, you will be transferred to Vientiane airport for your flight to Siem Reap via Pakse. Suggested flight: LAO 511departs in Vientiane at 07:00, arrives in Siem Reap at 10:05 (via Paske and the schedule may change without prior notice.)
Upon arrival at Siem Reap International Airport, after clearing all customs procedures, walk to the main exit gate, you will be met by our representative holding a signboard with your name on it. Transfer from the airport to your hotel. Welcome to Siem Reap, home of the Angkor Wat Temple Complex – one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Thousand years old temples, glorious street food and deep Khmer culture are there for you to explore.
This afternoon, stretch your legs (and arms) and be ready for a kayaking competition. Transfer to the floating village on the great Tonle Sap Lake, the largest lake in Southeast Asia. Your journey begins passing rice paddies and seeing the daily lifestyles of the local people before arriving at the boat dock. Here, you will embark on a quaint local boat which will take you to the floating village for a unique kayaking experience through sunken forests. On arrival, board your kayak and start your race through this floating village where you will be welcomed by warming smiles from the humble Cambodian people living lakeside. If luck is on our side, you will see some of the rare species of tropical birds from the nearby wildlife sanctuary. Your guide will explain the local customs on how the local people live, work, and play before transferring back to Siem Reap town. (B)
Overnight at The Aviary Hotel or similar
The Angkor Wat Temple Complex with its detailed wall carvings, jungle-clad temples and saffron-robed monks offers ample photographic opportunities. Spend a full day today participating in a photography challenge with assistance from a professional photographer for instructions. In your team, you will start as early as 04:45am with a pick-up from your hotel and head directly to catch the magical sunrise at Angkor Wat. After a quick breakfast at nearby food stalls (not incuded), spend the day visiting 6-7 different locations, including the magnificent Angkor Wat, Bayon with its hundreds of smiling faces, and Ta Prohm, famous for its picturesque fusion of ruins and overgrown trees to take the best picture of these sites and also find out about the history via our clues. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant. The Challenge – We will provide a map with a list of questions, when you have the answer for each question, you will find out where the mystery place is and find the best view to take picture. It’s a race to the end!
In the late afternoon, you will be transferred to the Angkor zipline. Nestled in the heart of the Angkorian jungle, this is truly a fun activity. On ziplines or suspended bridges, climb, zip and admire the views from the tree house at 50m (164ft) above the ground. The 1hr adventure is all about nature and wildlife with some of the best, most experienced guides in the country.
This evening, you will meet your leader for a pancake cooking and selling challenge near Pub Street. The team who sells the most pancakes, wins! (B,L)
Overnight at The Aviary Hotel or similar
All across Asia, food is at the very heart of every single person’s day. As the average Cambodian makes $3 per day, the means and ways of eating fresh, healthy and seasonal food are at the forefront of every meal time. Today, you will be part of a culinary experience, creating some of Cambodia’s most fashionable and iconic dishes. Try to become a local by going to the local markets to buy ingredients to cook a meal, with a list provided by your tour leader. Be quick! Remember this is a race! Head back to a local restaurant where you will start cooking. The team that buys the most correct ingredients will be the winner of part 1. For the cooking class section, the winner will be voted by our local chef. Enjoy your meal today like a Cambodian! The afternoon is free at leisure until this evening. With 80% of Cambodia’s population involved in agriculture and farming, it’s not surprising that insects find their way onto Cambodian tables. Tonight, brace yourself for a culinary thrill at Bugs Café, a young and creative restaurant in Siem Reap that aims to make insects gastronomically pleasurable. There will be creepy crawlies to try – we hope you’re hungry! The team who eats the most insects, wins the challenge! (B,L,D)
Overnight at The Aviary Hotel or similar
It’s time to see how well you know how to use local transport! Today you will be given a budget to get to Phnom Penh, the capital city, by public bus. You will need to organise this journey on your own! Enjoy a glimpse of the country lifestyle and local travel. Bring a souvenir of a local product to show your guide. The first team to meet at the meeting point in Phnom Penh wins points as well as the team with most money left, also wins points! Along the route you will have chance to encounter water buffalo working in rice paddy fields or just basking in the sun right in the middle of the road. Cambodian cuisine is rustic, colourful and delicious with an emphasis on contrasts – raw and cooked, sweet and bitter or salty and sour. Spend an evening exploring Phnom Penh’s exciting food scene led by a local foodie expert. Start out by visiting a local market and sampling everything from exotic fruit to even more exotic snacks like fertilised duck eggs, insects and silk worms, a superb source of protein with unusual but not unpleasant textures! Appetite whetted, continue on to a traditional Khmer BBQ joint where you will dine and drink as a local! Your expert guide takes extra care in selecting food vendors who are known for the quality and safety of their food. (B,D)
Driving distance: Tuk Tuk approx 10km, Driving Approx. 320km (6 hours)
Overnight at White Mansion Boutique Hotel or similar
Cyclos (pronounced see-cloe) are an integral part of the Phnom Penh landscape. These iconic vehicles, first introduced in 1936, remain one of the best and most economical ways to see the city. Today, you will learn not only how to control and drive a cyclo, but also race against the other teams in darkness! One person will be the driver (blindfolded) and the other person sitting as the passenger who will show their driver how and where to peddle to beat the other teams.
In the afternoon, depart for a half day city adventure by vintage vespa. This unique tour offers an alternative insight into the history, the heart, and the soul of this vibrant capital! Discover the city on your stylish Vespas; cruise down tree-lined boulevards, pass glistening pagodas and palaces, weave through bustling streets, and meet the locals! Start at a popular coffee spot where you will learn a little about the cities colonial heritage and also visit the French built Post Office. A short ride takes you to Wat Phnom, an iconic landmark from where the city took its name. You then head off the beaten track, winding your way through the back streets to a small community whose neighbourhood has become known for some expressive Street Art. Your next stop is the S-21 Genocide Museum which gives an insight into the Khmer Rouge era which brought the country to its knees in the 1970’s. Leaving this dark time behind, you immerse yourselves in one of Phnom Penh’s busiest and least touristy local markets. This is where the locals really shop and you’ll sample some local delicacies. You then pay homage to the hero of Cambodia’s independence, King Sihanouk. You visit both the Independence Monument and the King’s Statue to learn a little about this colourful figure who remains much revered. Finally, you head to The Riverside, an area popular with local residents who come to enjoy the promenade and exercise. There is also the opportunity to have your final Vespa photograph taken in front of the Royal Palace. Late check-out until 18:00 is included at your hotel. This evening, after a bite to eat (not included,) teams will be transferred to the airport for a late flight to Yangon.
Suggested flight: EK 389 departs in Phnom Penh at 23:35, arrives in Yangon at 00:55 the following day (the schedule may change without prior notice.) (B,L)
Upon arrival at Yangon International Airport and after collecting your luggage and completing immigration and customs, please proceed to the exit and look for “MEETING POINT ” which is situated in front of the International arrival exit (inside the terminal) where you will find your guide waiting for you, holding a signboard with your name on it. Transfer from the airport to your hotel.
Yangon is the largest city of Myanmar. You might find it a little hustle and bustle due to the gradual development in recent years, but this former capital city still has its own charm, and retains the beautiful cultural authenticity. Meet your guide at your hotel lobby and transfer to your meeting point (49th Street, 10-minute walk from Sule Pagoda). Choose your bike and helmet and each participant has to wear longyi while riding their bicycle without losing it. A Longyi is a sheet of cloth widely worn in Burma. It is approximately 2 metres (6.6 ft) long and 80 centimetres (2.6 ft) wide. The cloth is often sewn into a cylindrical shape. It is worn around the waist, running down to the feet. It is held in place by folding the fabric over without a knot. Receive a short briefing about the activity and abd briefing on how to use the bike, before you commence your cycling challenge. After 10 minutes of cycling in downtown Yangon, you will reach the Pansodan Jetty where you board the local ferry to Dala, crossing the Yangon River. You will then explore the seldom visited neighbourhoods and backstreets of Dala as well as visit the famous golden monk. Then you will ride to Payagyi to help cook lunch for disadvantaged children and interact with kids there. Later this afternoon, it is back to Yangon where you will visit the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Buddhism’s most sacred sites believed to house eight hairs of the Gautama Buddha as well as relics of three former buddhas. The 99m (325ft) high golden stupa can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Later, return to your hotel. (B,L)
Overnight at Savoy Hotel Yangon or similar
The ancient city of Bagan in central Myanmar, formerly known as Pagan, was the capital of several ancient Burmese kingdoms. From the 11th to 13th centuries, more than 4,000 temples and pagodas were built of which approximately 2,200 still remain standing. Today, be ready for a full day challenge in Bagan temple by horse-cart! Your driver will teach you how to drive a horse-cart and then each team will drive the cart by yourself to visit the temple highlights with a map provided and a list of clues to solve in order to win the challenge. Highlights include: Shwezigon Pagoda, with its gilded stupa atop three rising terraces. Notice the four shrines, each housing 4m (13ft) high bronze Buddha image. Ananda Temple with its four giant standing Buddha images and numerous seated figures arranged around the interior gallery. Make a short excursion to the Anauk Pwa Saw Village to observe cotton weaving, followed by a visit to the Minanthu Village which produces cooking oil from peanuts. Visit Dhammayangyi Pagoda, Bagan’s largest and best preserved temple. The pyramidal temple was built in the 12th century by King Narathu, allegedly to atone for having his father, brother and one of his wives put to death. Finally, enjoy a sunset view from one of the most scenic spots overlooking the plains of Bagan. This evening, there is a pancake making challenge followed by dinner. Please note that the Myanmar sun can be hot. It is recommended that travellers wear long pants, sandals and bring along a hat. – All visitors to pagodas/temples need to take off their shoes. (B,D)
Overnight at The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate or similar
Depart Bagan to the picturesque Inle Lake which is famous for its floating gardens, stilt houses, the art of fishing and one legged rowing of the local Intha people. You will take public transportation from Bagan to Inle Lake with a mission today to make a short movie of your experiences along the way. The best movie wins todays challenge, as voted by the group. (B)
Overnight Inle Resort or similar
Depart your hotel and spend a full day exploring the freshwaters of Inle Lake, Myanmar’s second largest lake at 22km (13mi) long and 11km (7mi) wide. Located at an altitude of 880m (2,887ft), the lake is also one of the highest in the country, with a cool climate and exceptional flora and fauna. The traditional way of transportation on the lake is by small wooden boat. The local people practice a distinctive rowing style by standing at the edge of the boat and row the boat with the paddle on one leg. The team are required to row the boat in the same style as the local fisherman and learn how to fish with a net in the traditional way. (There is a chance you may get wet, life jackets will be provided). Take a boat to visit Kyauk Taung market and participate in drive/ride a traditional buffalo cart competition with the local people. From here, transfer to a local house and learn how to roll your own local cigar, make a silver trinket, get a cat to jump through a hoop in a monastery and many more fun activities! Lunch will be arranged at a local restaurant. (B,L)
Driving distance: approx. 328km (7 hours)
Overnight Inle Resort or similar
After breakfast, you will be transferred to Heho airport for your flight to Yangon. Suggested flight: Air KBZ 249 departs in Heho at 10:30, arrives in Yangon at 11:40 (the schedule may change without prior notice.) Upon arrival at Yangon International Airport, please proceed to the exit and look for the “MEETING POINT” which is situated in front of the International arrivals exit (inside the terminal) where you will find your guide waiting for you, holding a signboard with your name on it. Transfer from the airport to your hotel. Each team will prepare a 1–2 minute video highlighting the whole trip and this is one of the criteria for choosing the overall winner! Tonight, a gala dinner, video presentation and the announcement of the winning team will be held in a local restaurant. (B,D)
Overnight Savoy Hotel Yangon or similar
Enjoy some free time at leisure until it is time to transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Kindly note that check-out time is at 12:00. (B)
Download this tour’s PDF brochure and start your planning offline!
**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.
* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.
* A minimum of 6 adults is required to guarantee this departure.
A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.