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Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok
Welcome to Thailand! Upon arrival in Bangkok we are met and transferred to our hotel. Tonight we will enjoy our welcome dinner. Overnight in Bangkok.
Day 2: Bangkok - Grand Palace, Temple of Dawn, Canal Trip
This morning we visit the Grand Palace and the ancient temple Wat Pho, "Temple of the reclining Buddha." After lunch, we visit the King's Royal Barges and Wat Arun, before boarding our long-tail boats.
Day 3: Fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia
Following breakfast, we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival we transfer to our hotel. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 4: Angkor Wat; Classical Cambodian Dance
Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument ever built, covering an area of 200 acres with its towers, terraces and causeways. The Khmer Empire reached its zenith of artistic expression and architecture with the building of Angkor Wat.
Day 5: Temples of Angkor Wat - (UNESCO)
Today, we continue our exploration of the magnificent temple complex of Angkor Wat. Following breakfast, we will visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 6: Angkor Wat - Banteay Srei, fly to Phnom Penh
This morning, we visit Banteay Srei, "The Citadel of Women". Tucked away in the countryside, the sandstone carvings are better preserved here than at most temples of Angkor. Early this afternoon, we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Phnom Penh, where we will be met upon arrival and transferred to our hotel. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 7: Explore Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is situated at the confluence of the Mekong, Bassac and the Tonle Sap Rivers. Once considered the most beautiful of the French-built cities of Indochina, its charm and character is still evident despite its turbulent past. Today's highlights include visits to the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, the Killing Fields and Toul Sleng.
Day 8: Boat Journey to Saigon, Vietnam
This morning we leave Phnom Penh by boat for a mid-afternoon arrival into Chau Doc, Vietnam. We continue to Chan Tho to to relax before dinner. Overnight in Chan Tho.
Day 9: Mekong Delta Boat Journey; Floating Market, Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast we will take a leisurely boat trip to explore the picturesque tributaries of the Lower Mekong Delta (Bassac River). Deposits of sediment from the Mekong River formed this rich verdant region. We then journey to Cai Rang floating markets, which are the liveliest in the region. We will have lunch in Can Tho at a local restaurant before departing for Ho Chi Minh City to arrive in the late afternoon. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 10: Cu Chi Tunnels
Following breakfast, you will leave Ho Chi Minh City to explore the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels, the Vietcong's underground tunnel system that, at one time, stretched as far as the Cambodian border. The network consists of over 130 miles of tunnels in the Cu Chi district alone; parts of which are several stories deep.
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City; Fly to Danang
We spend the morning seeing Ho Chi Minh City and strolling through the immense Binh Tay Market.
Day 12: Hoi An (UNESCO)
This morning, we have a walking tour of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Quaint pastel buildings line the streets, interspersed with colorful temples, small art galleries and meandering canals. We visit Hoi An Museum and a Chinese pagoda.
Day 13: Hoi An to Hue (UNESCO) via China Beach
Today, we drive to Hue. Serving as Vietnam's capital from 1802 - 1945, Hue has traditionally been one of the country's cultural, religious and educational centers. We stop for lunch at beautiful China Beach and then continue on to the Cham Museum in Danang.
Day 14: Perfume River Boat Trip
Today's adventure begins as we board our boat for a trip on the Perfume River. We will visit the Tien Mu Pagoda and the tombs of the emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh.
Day 15: To Halong Bay
This morning we drive to Halong Bay. Halong Bay has thousands of weathered limestone islands that rise from the warm turquoise waters of the bay. We board our boat in time for lunch.
Day 16: Halong Bay boat journey; Hanoi Sites
This morning we will continue to explore Halong Bay by boat. For early risers, the sunrise from the upper deck is a lovely way to greet the day from the water. We may see the fishing boats returning after the night fish. Disembark at noon and journey back to Hanoi for lunch and a few more sites including Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple and the Hanoi Opera House. Tonight, we have dinner at a local restaurant and take in a performance of the famous water-puppets. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 17: Explore Hanoi
Today is a full day of exploring. Starting with visits to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum, the one-pillar pagoda, the Temple of Literature, the Fine Arts Museum, Tran Quoc Pagoda and the Museum of Ethnology.
Day 18: Fly to Vientiane, Laos
Today we fly to Vientiane, where we are met and transferred to our hotel.
Day 19: Fly to Luang Prabang, Laos - Kuang Sy Waterfall, K'hmu Villages
This morning we fly to Luang Prabang. Our day trip to the Kuang Sy Waterfall takes us to the tribal villages of the Hmong and Khmu. We will visit the Museum of Ethnology. Here we have the opportunity to learn about the customs and daily lives of the people who live in this region. We enjoy a picnic lunch next to the swirling green pools of the waterfall before making our way back to Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 20: Luang Prabang Walking Tour (UNESCO)
Luang Prabang is known as a Mecca for Theravada Buddhism and has about 80 monasteries with approximately 1200 monks. For those who would like to experience the monks going on a 6 AM alms-round, your tour leader will be more then happy to organize this with offerings of rice for you to give to the monks as they walk by in a straight line.
Day 21: 2-day Mekong River Journey, 'Caves of a Thousand Buddhas', to Pakbeng
Early this morning, embark for our two-day voyage on the Mekong River to Pakbeng. We will make a short stop at a H'mong Village before our buffet lunch on board. We continue to Pakou village situated at the mouth of the Nam Ou River, where we will visit Tam Ting - "Caves of a Thousand Buddhas". We will also have the opportunity to observe the traditional making of rice alcohol.
Day 22: To Chiang Khong - Thailand
Embrace the sunrise over the Mekong River as we start our day towards Chiang Khong. Our journey continues through remote regions of northern Laos. We will make one stop en route in a rural village to observe local daily life. After completing the immigration formalities we cross the Laos/Thailand border and make our way for a relaxing evening in Thailand. Overnight in Chiang Saen.
Day 23: Golden Triangle to Chiang Mai; Elephant Camp
Today, we explore Chiang Saen before driving to Chiang Mai in the afternoon. Chiang Saen is the official center of the "Golden Triangle", where the borders of Burma, Thailand and Laos meet, at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers. Historically, the "Golden Triangle" refers to a large geographic area, stretching thousands of square kilometers, within which opium trade is prevalent.
Day 24: Cycle to Ancient Ruins of Vieng Kum Kham; Thai Cooking Lessons
We drive to the Saraphi district for our bicycle tour on the Ping River. We pass by a traditional northern Thai cremation site and also visit the village of Ban Don Kaew, where the local delicacy khao laam is produced (coconut and rice served in bamboo sticks.)
Day 25: Fly to Bangkok
This morning, we will have time to explore on our own before we fly to Bangkok. With over 300 temples, set against a backdrop of rolling green hills, Chiang Mai is a visually striking city. The old city of Chiang Mai is a neat square bounded by moats and partial walls and is small enough to get around by foot or bicycle.
Day 26: Fly Bangkok/Rangoon, Burma; Shwedagon Temple
Following breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Rangoon, Burma. Upon arrival, we will be met and transferred to our hotel. This afternoon, we visit the colonial city center of Rangoon. We will see the Sule Pagoda, dating back over 2,000 years; the magnificent reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi; and the Karaweik Hall - a floating barge on the Kandawgyi Lake. We explore Bogyoke (Scotts) Market with its myriad of goods including food, clothing, handicrafts, gems and much more.
Day 27: Fly Rangoon/Mandalay; Temples and Pagodas
Following breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our domestic flight to Mandalay. We will visit the Mahagandayon Monastery, where more than a thousand monks live and study. We may have the opportunity to observe the monks having their last meal of the day in silence. We continue on to the 200-year-old U Bein teak bridge, built in 1782 at the time when Amarapura was the Royal capital. We will visit the Bagaya Monastery and see an intriguing collection of Buddha statues before returning back to Mandalay for lunch.
Day 28: Mount Popa - Pagan
We have an early breakfast before embarking on our scenic excursion through rural Burma. We will have lunch at a local restaurant before continuing on to Mount Popa, an extinct volcano.
Day 29: Explore Pagan - UNESCO
After breakfast we will stroll through the colorful local market. We visit some of the most significant pagodas and temples of Pagan, including Shwezigon Pagoda, built in the early 11th century by King Anawrahta, as a religious shrine. We will also visit Ku Byanuk Gyi, a temple with superb murals of Jataka scenes, Khay Min Ga Temple, noted for its panoramic view of the area's numerous monuments and Ananda Temple, with four standing Buddha images. After lunch, we visit a lacquerware craftsmen's workshop in nearby Myinkaba village. We continue on to Manuha Temple, built in the Mon style in 1059 and then to Nanbaya Temple, a unique sandstone monument said to have been the palace of King Manuha.
Day 30: The ancient temples of Pagan
This morning, we visit the site of Tayoke-Pyay Pagoda in Min Nanthu Village, as well as the Phaya Thone Zu and Nandamanya Temples, noted for exquisite murals of 13th century. We will also see Kyat Kan Cave monastery, a famous meditation retreat in Pagan. After lunch we explore the Myingaba Gu Byaukgyi Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visit the archaeological museum to view beautiful Buddha images of bronze, stone and lacquer. Overnight in Pagan.
Day 31: Fly to Bangkok, Thailand
Today, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Rangoon. Upon arrival, we will visit the Kaba Aye (World Peace) Pagoda and the Mahapasana Cave, where the sixth Buddhist synod took place. We will also see Botataung Pagoda, Rangoon's oldest Chinese temple and have a walking tour of Chinatown. In the afternoon we will fly back to Bangkok for our farewell dinner. Overnight in Bangkok.
Day 32: Depart Bangkok
We say a fond farewell to Southeast Asia with a transfer to Bangkok Airport for our departure flights.
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