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 one. 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 to 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 visit Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office before leaving Ho Chi Minh City to explore the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. The Vietcong's underground tunnel system 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 visit the Reunification Palace, which was the residence of the presidents of South Vietnam before 1975.
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 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.
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 Nguyễn imperial family.
The entire city is surrounded by a 10km moat and 10 gates.
Overnight in Hue.

 

Day 11: Perfume River Boat Trip - Royal Tombs

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 streets of Hue. Overnight in Hue.

 

Day 12: Fly To Hanoi, to Halong Bay (UNESCO)

We fly to Hanoi and upon arrival, 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 spectaculer! We board our boat in time for lunch.

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

 

Day 13: Halong Bay, 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 by Cyclo

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 and a visit to one of the world's most famous prisons, the "Hanoi Hilton".

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.
Overnight in Hanoi.

 

Day 15: 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, 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 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 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: Wat 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 a botanical garden 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: Mandalay

This morning fly to Mandalay, Burma. We 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 visit the Bagaya Monastery and see an intriguing collection of Buddha statues before returning back to Mandalay for lunch.

This afternoon 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: Begin 2-day Irrawaddy River Cruise

After an early breakfast, we transfer to the jetty to Embark 2 day / 2 night river journey along the Irrawaddy River. We set sail for Mingun to visit the Pagoda complex. Enjoy lunch and dinner on board and overnight.

 

Day 26: Yandapo Village - Chindwin Confluence

In the early morning, we continue on to Yandapo village, a small rural village that is well known for a treaty signed here between the British and Burmese in 1826. Now the village is famous for its handmade terracotta pots produced in traditional ways. After a short tour, we set sail to continue our cruise of the Irrawaddy to where the Chindwin River and the Irrawaddy River meet. Here we will moor overnight. Lunch, Dinner and overnight on board.

 

Day 27: Bagan

In the early morning, we arrive in Bagan and we are transferred to our hotel. 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 28: 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 visit the archaeological museum to view beautiful Buddha images of bronze, stone and lacquer. Overnight in Bagan.
Please note: You can enjoy an 'Optional' Balloon Ride Over Bagan (not included in price)

 

Day 29: Fly to Rangoon (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.

Following lunch at a local restaurant, we 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 30: Golden Rock Temple

After breakfast drive to Kinpun to visit The Golden Rock one of the most important religious sites in Myanmar and a dream destination for devout Buddhists. The boulder is painted gold and is balanced on the edge of a cliff, according to myth, it is held in place by a strain of Buddha's hair. Spend the rest of the day exploring this site before experiencing the sunset when it's lit up by the setting sun.
Return to Rangoon for overnight.

 

Day 31: Rangoon

After breakfast, we drive to the Nanthida jetty to cross the Yangan River on a local ferry. We visit Dalla Village, riding in rickshaws through the small village streets which provide an excellent opportunity to observe how the local people live. We return to Rangoon and visit the old colonial Strand Hotel, built in 1896 by Aviet and Tigran Sarkie, two of the Sarkie brothers. The hotel was used to quarter Japanese troops during World War II. After lunch, we drive to Rangoon Central Station and take a city circular train to Hledan Station. Enjoy your farewell dinner in Rangoon. Overnight in Rangoon (Yangon).

 

Day 32: Depart Rangoon

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

 
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