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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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 (time permitting) visits to the 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.
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.
Day 15: Fly to Vientiane, Laos
Today we fly to Vientiane, where we are met and transferred to our hotel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Myanmar, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Day 24: Fly to Mandalay
Today we fly to Mandalay, Myanmar. Upon our arrival we visit drive to Amarapura to visit Mahagandayon, a famous Buddhist monastery where more than a thousand monks live and study. We then continue to a 200- year old U Bein teak bridge built in 1782 when Amarapura was the royal capital. In the early days it was known for silk and cotton weaving. We learn more about this trade when we visit a traditional hand-woven silk workshop before we set off to explore the Bagaya Monastery, a compound with a superb collection of Buddha statues.
Day 25: To Mingun
After breakfast we enjoy a boat ride along the Irrawaddy River which takes us to Mingun. Here, we visit one of the world's largest bells, the 90 ton Mingun Bell, Hsinbyume Paya and the unfinished Mingun Paya, which was meant to become the largest stupa in Myanmar, constructed by King Bodaw Paya. We then return to Mandalay in time for lunch.
Day 26: Fly to Bagan
After breakfast we will make our way to the airport and fly to Bagan. Upon our arrival we enjoy a stroll through the colorful local market then 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; Bu Lei Thee Pagoda noted for its panoramic view of the area's numerous monuments and Ananda Temple, with four standing Buddha images.
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.
Day 28: Mount Popa
After breakfast we drive to Mount Popa an extinct volcano with spectacular views. Mount Popa is a popular pilgrimage destination for Myanmar's local people. Enjoy lunch at the unique Popa Mountain Restaurant.
Day 29: Fly to Yangon
Following breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Yangon, Myanmar. Upon arrival, we 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 30: To Golden Rock
After breakfast we drive to Bago and visit the 1000 year old Shwemawdaw Pagoda with it's impressive spire.
Day 31: Return to 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.
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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