The Grand South-East Asia Adventure - Thailand, Burma, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia

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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.

We travel along the Chao Phraya River and observe Thai life on the water. In this river community, restaurants, fruit sellers, laundry facilities and even temples are all accessible by boat! We will enjoy dinner tonight at a riverside restaurant. Overnight in Bangkok.

 

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.

Built in the 12th century and abandoned in 1431, Angkor Wat was swallowed by encroaching jungle until the great temple complex was rediscovered in 1860 by French botanist Henri Mouhot

Today, we visit Prasat Kravan, Srah Srang, Banteay Kdei, Eastern Mebon, and Pre Rup temples. Later this afternoon, we explore Ta Prohm, Takeo and Preah Khan temples and we will watch the sunset from the top of Phnom Bakheng Hill. Tonight, we have dinner with a performance of classical Cambodian dances. Overnight in Siem Reap.

 

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.

Early this afternoon, we will visit the National Museum before some free time to explore on your own. Overnight in Phnom Penh.

 

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.

There are trapdoors, specially constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers and kitchens - all underground! Parts of this remarkable tunnel network have been enlarged and upgraded and are now open to the public.

In the afternoon, we have chance to experience the many sides of Saigon only accessible by water. You will be brought through isolated canals, local neighborhoods, and some of Saigon's rapidly developing areas. Enjoy the sunset over the city and the best view of the city's skyline. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh.

 

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.

We will visit the Reunification Palace, which was the residence of the presidents of South Vietnam before 1975. Before heading back to the hotel we will also see the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, as well as the War Crime museum.

In the late afternoon we transfer to the airport for out flight to Danang. A short drive will take us to Hoi An. Overnight in Hoi An.

 

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.

In the afternoon, enjoy Vietnamese cuisine at Morning Glory Cooking School. Having an intensive talk on Vietnamese food, culture, nutrition, herbal remedies and cooking techniques. The hands on class includes learning some cooking & cutting techniques & how to use a Vietnamese vegetable grater & knife. You will get hands-on experience with Rice Paper Rolls, Soup with Cabbage Leaf and Shrimp Parcels, Chicken with Lime Leaves to be grilled, Mango Salad, and Crispy Hoi An Pancake. Overnight in Hoi An.

 

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.

In the afternoon, we arrive in Hue and visit the Dai Noi citadel and view this fantastic structure, which was based on Chinese designs in Beijing. Overnight in Hue.

 

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.

After lunch, we see the local Dong Ba market and take cyclos to explore the ancient streets of Hue before transferring to the airport for our flight to Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi.

 

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.

After lunch, we visit Heavenly Cave. Overnight on the boat in Halong Bay.

 

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.

We will tour the old quarter by "cyclo" (a three wheeled bicycle rickshaw). This area has been the manufacturing and trading center for silk, rice, paper, fish and jewelry since the 15th century. Today, the area houses a number of small shops. The afternoon is free to explore Hanoi's tree-lined streets and wide boulevards. Overnight in Hanoi.

 

Day 18: Fly to Vientiane, Laos

Today we fly to Vientiane, where we are met and transferred to our hotel.

Vientiane is an intriguing mix of Lao, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French, US and Soviet influences. Tree-lined boulevards and old temples impart an atmosphere of exotic timelessness. On our afternoon city tour, we will see That Luang, the Great Sacred Stupa which is a symbol of both the Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty.

We will also see the oldest temple in Vientiane, the Wat Si Sasket and Patuxai, a large monument which commemorates the Lao who died in pre-Revolutionary wars. Overnight in Vientiane.

 

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.

Located at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers and surrounded by mountains, Luang Prabang is one of the most romantic cities in Southeast Asia. We have a walking tour of this beautiful old capital city which includes a visit to the National Museum, formerly a Royal Palace. We see a number of historic temples including Wat Sen, Wat Xieng Thang and Wat Mak Mo. The city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the beautiful French Mansions that grace the city are a historical reminder of its colonial past.

Later we will attend a Baci ceremony in a village outside Luang Prabang. Unique to Laos culture, a Baci involves transferring good luck onto a person or event through blessed strings tied to one wrist. Overnight in Luang Prabang.

 

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.
Overnight in Pakbeng.

 

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.

On our way to Chiang Mai we will visit the Chiang Dao Elephant Camp and enjoy a ride before checking into our hotel for the evening. Overnight in Chiang Mai.

 

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.)

We continue our ride to the hidden and seldom visited ruins in the ancient city of Wiang Khum Kam. Before finishing the trip at Wat Chedi Liam, we visit a small pottery village. For those who do not wish to cycle, there is a vehicle available.

We will have lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon we will have the opportunity to learn about and prepare tasty Thai food at a cooking school. Overnight in Chiang Mai.

 

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.

We depart Chiang Mai and fly to Bangkok. Overnight in Bangkok.

 

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. Following lunch at a local restaurant, we will visit one of the world's most spectacular monuments, the Shwedagon Pagoda. For Burmese Buddhists, Shwedagon is the most sacred of all Buddhist sites in the country, one which all Burmese hope to visit at least once in their lifetime. Overnight in Rangoon

 

Day 27: World's Tallest Pagoda and the Taukkyan War Cemetery

Legend has it that a royal city was founded on this site in the year 573 when two Mon Princes observed a good omen, a female ‘hamsa’ (a mythological bird) standing on the back of a male hamsa. The city they founded, Hanthawady (Kingdom of the hamsa) went on to become one of the most important in the history of Myanmar. Our visit includes Shwemawdaw Paya reputed to be the tallest pagoda in the world standing 376 feet high, 46 feet higher than the Shwedagon in Yangon. We will also visit Taukkyan War Cemetery that honours the 6,000 plus Allied soldiers who died in the Burma campaigns of WWII. Overnight in Rangoon.

 

Day 28: Fly to 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.

This afternoon we will visit some of the most revered religious monuments in Burma: the Mahamuni Pagoda, the Shwe Inbin Monastery, the Golden Palace Monastery, and the Kuthodaw Pagoda - the world's largest book, made of marble! We also visit a traditional hand-woven silk workshop, as well as a Kalaga tapestries craftsmen's workshop, before proceeding to Mandalay Hill to watch the sunset. Overnight in Mandalay.

 

Day 29: Mandalay to Pagan via Mount Popa

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 Pagan. En-route will be the opportunity to view Mount Popa, an extinct volcano with a shrine at the top of the peak.
After a scenic drive and a stop at one of the quaint villages you will arrive in Pagan right in time to watch the sunset from well chosen temple over the famous AYEYARWADDY RIVER and the magnificent plain of pagodas and temples. Overnight in Pagan.

 

Day 30: 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.

Late this afternoon, we will watch the magnificent sunset over the Irrawaddy River - from the water on a sunset boat cruise, before we head to dinner at a riverside restaurant. Overnight in Pagan.

 

Day 31: Pagan to Yangon fly to Bangkok

An early breakfast then fly to Yangon. Visit Bogyoke (Scotts) Market with its myriad of goods including food, clothing, handicrafts, gems and much more. Our farewell lunch will be at a restaurant on the edge on Inya Lake with buildings that reflect the colonial influences of Yangon. After a leisurely lunch transfer to Yangon Airport for our flight to Bangkok. Overnight 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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