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

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Day 1: Arrive in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Welcome to Cambodia! Upon arrival in Siem Reap, you are met and transferred to your hotel. Tonight we will enjoy our welcome dinner and group orientation. Overnight in Siem Reap.

 

Day 2: Ancient Temples of Angkor

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 up by the 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. Tonight, we have dinner with a performance of classical Cambodian dances.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

 

Day 3: Angkor Wat - (UNESCO)

Today, we continue our exploration of the magnificent temple complex of Angkor. Following breakfast, we will visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas and of course, Angkor Wat.
Overnight in Siem Reap.

 

Day 4: Angkor - 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. Banteay Srei may be one of the smaller temples but also one of the more impressive ones. In the 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 5: 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 stunning Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. After seeing the most beautiful sites, we also reflect and touch on a sad and dark side of Cambodia's recent past under the Khmer Rouge as we visit the Killing Fields and Toul Sleng. After lunch, we visit the National Museum.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.

 

Day 6: Boat Journey to Can Tho, Vietnam

This morning we leave Phnom Penh by boat as we travel along the Mekong River for our afternoon arrival into Chau Doc, Vietnam. We continue to Can Tho where we have time to relax before dinner. Overnight in Can Tho.

 

Day 7: 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 journey to Cai Rang floating markets, which are the liveliest in the region. We have lunch in Can Tho at a local restaurant before departing for Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Day 8: Cu Chi Tunnels, Ho Chi Minh City, Fly to Danang

Following breakfast, we set out to explore the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. The Vietnamese Soldier'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.

After lunch we drive back to Ho Chi Minh City where we visit the Reunification Palace, which was the residence of the presidents of South Vietnam before 1975. We then visit the Notre Dame Cathedral and the historic Central Post office before being transferred to the airport for our flight to Danang. A short drive will take us to Hoi An.

Overnight in Hoi An.

 

Day 9: 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 will visit the Hoi An Museum, a chinese pagoda and an ancient Japanese Bridge.

In the afternoon, enjoy Vietnamese cuisine during your cooking session at a culinary school. Enjoy and learn from your hands-on experience of Vietnamese food, culture, nutrition, herbal remedies and cooking techniques.

Overnight in Hoi An.

 

Day 10: To Hue (UNESCO) via China Beach, Imperial Forbidden City

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 at China Beach and then continue on to the Cham Museum in Danang.

In the afternoon, we arrive in Hue and visit the Imperial city, also known as the Forbidden Purple city, which was based on Chinese designs in Beijing. Locally known as Dai Noi citadel, this impressive structure or enclosure was reserved for the Nguyen imperial family. The entire city is surrounded by a 10km moat and 10 gates.

We then enjoy a short cyclo ride to Dong Ba market for shopping and to experience the local culture. Here you can buy souvenirs, especially the typical Hue palm-leaf conical hat.

Overnight in Hue.

 

Day 11: Perfume River Boat Trip - Royal Tombs- Fly to Hanoi

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. We will enjoy a special lunch arranged by the nuns of Dong Thuyen before we are transferred to the airport for a flight to Hanoi.

Dinner and overnight in Hanoi.

 

Day 12: Hanoi to Halong Bay (UNESCO)

After breakfast we drive to Halong Bay. Halong Bay has thousands of weathered limestone islands that rise from the warm turquoise waters of the bay. Visually, Halong Bay is just spectacular! We board our boat in time for lunch.

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

 

Day 13: To Hanoi, Water Puppet Performance

This morning we 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. Disembark at noon and journey back to Hanoi for lunch and a few more sites including 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 14: Sites of Hanoi, Old Quarter

Today is a full day of exploration in Hanoi with it's tree-lined streets and wide boulevards. Starting with visits to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the one-pillar pagoda, the Temple of Literature, the Fine Arts Museum.

The tour will end by streetcar through the old quarter. 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.

Overnight in Hanoi.

 

Day 15: 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 16: Fly to Luang Prabang, Waterfall & Hilltribes

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 K'hmu. 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.
Return to Luang Prabang for dinner and overnight.

 

Day 17: 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.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

 

Day 18: Mekong River Journey, 'Caves of a Thousand Buddhas'

Early this morning, we embark for our two-day voyage on the Mekong River to Pakbeng. We will make a short stop at a Hill Tribe 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 Pak Beng.

 

Day 19: Mekong River Journey to 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 enroute 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 20: Golden Triangle to Chang 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 and vast fortunes were made. Enroute to Chiang Mai, we visit the "White Temple", a new take on traditional Buddhist Temples.

On our way to Chiang Mai, we visit an Elephant Camp and where we can learn about the local elephants and also enjoy a ride before we get to our hotel for the evening.

Overnight in Chiang Mai.

 

Day 21: Wap Doi Suthep & Thai Cooking Lessons

Visit Doi Suthep sitting at an elevation of 1,073m. Built in 1383 during the Lanna Thai period, legend has it that the temples site was selected by an elephant sent to roam the mountain side, where upon reaching a suitable spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, knelt down and promptly died. In the afternoon, visit the local botanical gardens followed by a local market with your Thai cooking instructor to purchase fresh ingredients before preparing your evening meal at a cooking school.

Overnight in Chiang Mai.

 

Day 22: 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.

We depart Chiang Mai and fly to Bangkok.

Overnight in Bangkok.

 

Day 23: Bangkok - Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha, Canal Journey

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 24: Fly to Mandalay

Today we fly to Mandalay. We 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 25: Mandalay, start 2 day Irrawaddy Cruise

After an early breakfast, we transfer to Lay Kyun Man Aung to board our cruise. We stop off at Yandabo Village which is famous for it's terracotta, where we can view the pottery making process. Yandabo is also of historical importance as it is where the British and Royal Burmese Household of Ava signed the Yandabo Treaty.
Spend the rest of the day relaxing on the ship.
Overnight on board the ship.

 

Day 26: Bagan

At approximately 9am, we disembark the ship and transfer to our hotel. We then spend the day in Bagan exploring. After a stroll through the colorful local market, we continue the day with visits to the most significant pagodas and temples of Bagan. These are Shwezigon Pagoda, built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious shrine; 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, visit one of Myanmar's most treasured handicrafts, a lacquerware craftsmen's workshop in nearby Myinkaba village. We visit Manuha Temple, built in the Mon style in 1059 and continue to Nanbaya Temple, a unique sandstone monument said to have been the palace of King Manuha. Next, we explore the Myingaba Gu Byaukgyi Temple, a temple noteworthy for its mural paintings under the protection of UNESCO. Finally, we go to Bupaya Pagoda to watch the sunset over the Irrawaddy River.

Overnight in Bagan.

 

Day 27: Ancient Temples of Bagan

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 also see Kyat Kan Cave monastery, a famous meditation retreat in Bagan. After lunch we explore the Myingaba Gu Byaukgyi Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We then visit some of the farming villages that surround Bagan which will give you an insight into the rural life of the local people.

We complete the day by watching the sun set over the majestic Ayeyarwaddy River from a temple top.Overnight in Bagan.

Please note: You can enjoy an 'Optional' Balloon Ride Over Bagan (not included in price).

 

Day 28: Bagan - Mount Popa - Bagan

This morning we drive to Mount Popa, an extinct volcano with spectacular views. Local people travel here from far and wide to worship various spirits known as 'hats'. 777 steps lead up to the shrine placed on top of the steep Popa peak. We enjoy lunch at the unique Popa Mountain Resort. We then make our way back to Bagan. Enjoy the traditional way of traveling still commonly used by the rural people of Myanmar as we take a colourfully decorated ox-cart through some temple sites off the beaten track.

Overnight in Bagan

 

Day 29: Bagan to Yangon

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 visit 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.

We finish the afternoon with a 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 Yangon.

 

Day 30: Yangon - Bago - Kyaiktiyo

After breakfast we drive to Bago and visit the 1000 year old Shwemawdaw Pagoda with it's impressive spire.

From here we continue on to visit one of Myanmar's landmarks, Kyaiktiyo, the 'Golden Rock'. Famous for it's precarious position and religious importance the huge boulder is completely covered by gold leaf and delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff.

Overnight in Kyaikhtiyo.

 

Day 31: Kyaikhtiyo - Bago - Yangon

This morning we return to Yangon. After lunch we visit the Shwe Tha Lyaung reclining Buddha, which is among the country's most impressive images.
We also visit the four giant Buddha statues at Kyaik Pun Pagoda and the Allied War Graves near Htauk Kyan.

Farewell Dinner this evening in Yangon.

Overnight in Yangon.

 

Day 32: Depart Yangon

We say a fond farewell to Southeast Asia with a transfer to Yangon Airport for our departure flights.

 
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