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Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok, Thailand
Welcome to Thailand and the start of your Grand South East Asian Adventure!
Day 2: 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 3: Fly to Siem Reap, 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 4: 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 5: 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 6: 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.
Day 7: 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 8: 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 9: 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 10: 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 11: Hoi An - Life on the River
After breakfast we enjoy a morning boat trip on the river to observe local life. We have lunch in a local restaurant in town.
Day 12: 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 13: 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 14: 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 15: 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 16: 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 17: 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 18: 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 19: Luang Prabang - Kuang Sy Waterfall, K'hmu Villages
Early this morning we have an optional trip to see the monks receiving alms, followed by the colorful morning market. We return to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast we visit a small ethnology museum before heading to Kuang Sy Waterfall. Enroute, we visit a K'hmu ethnic village to learn about their culture. On our return to Luang Prabang, we visit the village of Xang Khong to see traditional Sa paper being made and a small weaving workshop.
Day 20: 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 21: 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 22: 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.
Day 23: 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 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 24: Fly to Mandalay
Today we fly to Mandalay. We visit some of the most revered religious monuments in Myanmar: 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 Mandalay Hill to watch the sunset.
Day 25: Mandalay, Irrawaddy River Cruise
After an early breakfast, we transfer to Lay Kyun Man Aung to board our cruise.
Day 26: Irrawaddy River Cruise
In the morning we cruise downstream to Yandaho Village. The village is historically recognized for the signing of the treaty in 1826 between the British and the Royal Burmese Household of Ava.
Day 27: Irrawaddy River Cruise, Arrival in Bagan, Temple sites
We arrive in Bagan this morning and 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 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.
Day 28: Ancient Temples
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.
Day 29: Fly to Inle Lake
After an early breakfast we transfer for our flight to Heho and drive to Inle Lake. We transfer to our boat which takes us to our accommodations right on Inle Lake.
Day 30: Indein Pagoda, Fly to Yangon
After breakfast board your boat to the western shore of the lake where we visit the Indein Pagoda complex, one of the most amazing historical sights.
Day 31: Yangon Sites
Today, we visit the colonial city center of Yangon.Here we visit the magnificent reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi; and the Karaweik Hall - a floating barge on the Kandawgyi Lake and explore the Bogyoke (Scotts) Market with its myriad of goods including food, clothing, handicrafts, gems and much more.
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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