Validity: 01 November 2018 – 31 October 2019
Depart for Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Begin your exploration at the Royal Palace complex and visit the National Museum. Meet a local cultural historian, followed by dinner at a traditional Cambodian restaurant. Fly to Siem Reap, enjoy dinner and dance “the ancient art of Apsara dancing”. Visit to the fortified city of Angkor Thom and the Elephants Terrace. Continue to the mysterious Bayon Temple and on to the monuments of Keo. The highpoint is the visit to stunning Angkor Wat. Ox Cart Ride with Tonle Sap Cruise then Fly to Bangkok. Visit Flower Market, Grand Palace & Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Explore Ayutthaya and Visit Royal Summer Palace. Fly to Luang Prabang, Laos and Enjoy an Elephant Trek. Fly to Hanoi, Vietnam on day 11 and travel to Halong Bay and enjoy the cruise.
DAY 1 : Depart for Cambodia
Depart for Cambodia
DAY 2 : Arrive in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Arrive in Phnom Penh on the banks of the fabled Mekong River, one of the loveliest cities built by the French in Indochina. This capital of Cambodia is a beautiful blend of glittering temples and graceful colonial buildings. Arrive at your hotel with time to rest after your journey and acclimate to the new time zone.
Overnight: Phnom Penh
DAY 3 : Explore Royal Palace Complex & National Museum (B/L/D)
This morning, meet your fellow travelers and Tour Manager for a briefing on the exciting tour that awaits you in Southeast Asia. Begin your exploration of Phnom Penh at the Royal Palace complex, a compound of Khmer-style structures with gilded spires. These ornate buildings have served as the royal residence of the kings of Cambodia since the 1860s. Within these walls, see the glittering Silver Pagoda with its floor of over 5,000 silver tiles. Next, visit the National Museum, a masterpiece of Khmer architectural glory, home to over 14,000 historical items, including Khmer art, ceramics and archaeological treasures. End the day at the sobering site of the Killing Fields. The memorial here is dedicated to those who lost their lives in the late 1970s during the vicious Khmer Rouge regime. Tonight, meet a local cultural historian for an informative discussion about the country’s heritage and its very resilient population, followed by dinner together at a traditional Cambodian restaurant. Overnight: Phom Penh
DAY 4 : Fly to Siem Reap and Enjoy dinner & Cultural Performance (B/L/D)
Today fly from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, gateway to the Angkor temples. Arrive at your hotel and get ready for lunch at a local restaurant. This evening, enjoy dinner while being entertained by females performing the ancient art of Apsara dancing, a classical style of dance dating back to Angkorian era – their superb dancing has been known to mesmerize and transfix.
Overnight: Siem Reap
DAY 05: Discover Angkor Wat & Angkor Thom (B/L/-)
Today, you’ll understand why the architectural masterpieces of Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat are designated as one of the “Seven Wonders of the World.” This sprawling city, built by Khmer Kings, was once home to more than one million people at the height of the empire. On the visit to the fortified city of Angkor Thom visit the Elephants Terrace and Terrace of the Leper King, all adorned with dramatic bas-reliefs. Continue to the mysterious Bayon Temple, highlight of Angkor Thom, replete with beautifully preserved bas-reliefs and more than 172 giant smiling stone faces. On to the monuments of Keo, Kravan and Sras Srang before arriving at Ta Prohm, where the jungle was left untouched, as it appeared to European explorers. The highpoint of the day is the visit to stunning Angkor Wat, a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. World-famous for its beauty and splendor, Angkor Wat has the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which runs along the entire outer gallery walls, narrating stories from Hindu mythology. Return to the hotel for the rest of the day at leisure
Overnight: Siem Reap
DAY 06: Ox Cart Ride with Tonle Sap Cruise then Fly to Bangkok (B/L/D)
Morning drive along the rolling hills, stopping for a ride on an ox-cart, a vehicle still being used today by local farmers. Arrive at Tonle Sap Lake in the heart of Cambodia, with its rich and diverse ecosystem. Embark on a serene boat excursion –observe the local life unfolding and the floating fishing villages that dot the shoreline. After lunch, on to the Les Artisant d’Angkor, a school for training students in local handicrafts such as silk, wood carving, and lacquer. Continue to the airport for the flight to Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital.
DAY 07: Visit Flower Market, Grand Palace & Temple of the Emerald Buddha (B/-/-)
Awake this morning in exotic Bangkok, a fascinating mix of ancient and modern. Early risers can join the local residents for Tai Chi and other exercises in Lumpini Park. Then, stop at a fragrant and colorful flower market to see the magnificent array of fresh florals and learn about the important local flower trade. Onward to the elaborate Grand Palace, glittering centerpiece of the city, a sprawling complex of temples, halls, and pavilions built around immaculate lawns and gardens. Its main attraction is Wat Phra Kaew, known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. Continue on a visit to serene Wat Po, the oldest and largest temple in the city, with its astonishing giant Reclining Buddha, over 150 feet long and almost 49 feet high. Tonight, an optional Thai Dinner, Classical Dance & Cabaret Show, featuring some of Bangkok’s most famous “lady-boys”.
Optional: Thai Dinner & Cabaret Show
DAY 08: Explore Ayutthaya and Visit Royal Summer Palace (B/L/D)
Morning cruise on the Chao Phraya River, the lifeblood of Bangkok. Disembark in Ayutthaya, the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai for over 400 years. Start with a visit to Bang Pa-In Palace, a collection of beautiful buildings in various architectural styles, surrounded by a lake, once the Royal Summer Palace for the Thai Kings. Ample time to explore its preserved ruins, including the impressive Ayutthaya Historical Park, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Wat Mahatat, in the center of the city. Here, you can see the ruins of the former capital and its remaining palaces, Phra Srisanphet, Wat Mongkolbopit, monasteries and towers – one can envision the grandeur and splendor that was once the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Continue to the Chai Wattanaram Temple, conceived as a replica of the Angkor Temple – at this serene place one can reflect and enjoy the tranquility. Return to Bangkok for overnight
DAY 09: Fly to Luang Prabang, Laos & Enjoy an Elephant Trek (B/-/D)
Morning flight from Bangkok to Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site in the heart of the mountainous region of northern Laos. According to legend, Buddha smiled when he rested here during his travels and prophesized that it would one day be the site of a rich and powerful capital city. Arrive and get ready for a great adventure! Continue to an elephant camp, where trainers (mahouts) form a close bond with their pachyderms. You’ll have the thrilling chance to ride atop one of these gentle giants and trek in the forest. Onto the hotel in Luang Prabang with time to relax. This evening, participate in a special Baci Ceremony, practiced for hundreds of years, offering prayers that bestows good fortune upon you. Dinner at the hotel.
Overnight: Luang Prabang
DAY 10: Explore Luang Prabang in addition to Cruising the Mekong River (B/L/-)
Luang Prabang seems totally untouched by the modern world. In the morning, take part in the sacred ancient rituals of Alms giving. Stroll through hushed streets and offer the Alms to a meditative parade of orange robed monks. The daily ceremony is both peaceful and spiritual and gives you a wonderful opportunity to experience this ancient Lao tradition. Then, walk
through the local morning market where people are shopping for their day’s food. Return to the hotel for breakfast and then drive to Ban Sang Hai, a local village where they make their own rice wine from their abundant crop. During the visit, meet with villagers and sample some of their wonderful elixir. Afterwards, cruise on the Mekong River, stopping at the Pak Ou Caves. From these cavernous altars, you’ll see hundreds of Buddha images overlooking the river. Back to Luang Prabang for lunch at a local restaurant with traditional Lao food. Afternoon visit to the Royal Palace Museum to learn about the monarchy that once ruled the country and ascend to the top of Phousi Mountain to see the extraordinary panoramic views of the city. A visit to the beautiful Ban Xang Khong Temple and a stop at the Ban Xang Khong Sa paper making and silk weaving village ends your wonderful day. The evening is at leisure.
Overnight: Luang Prabang
DAY 11: Fly to Hanoi, Vietnam (B/L/-)
Enjoy a leisure morning at the hotel poolside, or explore Luang Prabang independently.
After lunch, onto the airport for your flight to Hanoi, the cultural center of Vietnam. As soon as you arrive in this lovely city, you’ll notice evidence of the French influence in the design and architecture; its history is tied to French colonialism. The remainder of the day is at leisure
DAY 12: Travel to Halong Bay and Cruise & Visit Caves (B/L/D)
Incredible views await you today! Drive to Halong Bay, considered one of the most breathtaking places on the planet, added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and declared recently as one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, this area has over 2,000 limestone islands rising dramatically out of the emerald sea. The islands assume intriguing formations and any local legends abound inspired by their shapes which have been likened to dragons, sails, or human heads. Upon arrival, board a boat and cruise on the tranquil bay. After a seafood lunch on board, visit some of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay and see amazingly varied karst formations. Return to the quay. Overnight at your hotel in Halong Bay
Overnight: Halong Bay
DAY 13: Return to Hanoi with Water Puppet Performance (B/-/D)
Morning return drive to Hanoi. Visit the Museum of Ethnology, founded in 1997, one of the most popular museums in the country. Here you can find a rich collection of artifacts, documents and films depicting the daily life, rituals and customs of 64 ethnic groups of Vietnam. Afterwards, attend a performance of the world-famous Water Puppet Show, accompanied by a traditional Vietnamese orchestra and Cheo (a form of opera). The show depicts a series of ancient Vietnamese folktales, acted out by puppets over a pool of water. In the evening, you’ll be dinner guests of a local family in their home – a wonderful opportunity to talk to Hanoians about their daily lives.
DAY 14: Explore Hanoi with a Private Cooking Class (B/L/-)
The day begins at the Ho Chi Minh historic complex, which includes the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (where the late president’s embalmed body is displayed), historic Ba Dinh Square, the exterior of the Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts and the famous One-Pillar Pagoda. Afterwards, learn the craft of Vietnamese cooking! Visit the local market with a Chef, followed by a private cooking class. You’ll learn how to make popular Vietnamese dishes such as spring rolls (Nem), chicken salad, beef in banana leaves, and more. Sample and savor your personally cooked lunch. Then it’s time to try a “cyclo” ride through the busy streets of the Old Quarter. Visit one of the city’s Tube Houses, a tall dwelling with narrow frontage, to see first-
hand how residents once lived. Rest of the day and evening are at leisure to discover Hanoi on your own. Tonight, perhaps try one of Hanoi’s famous gourmet French restaurants.
DAY 15: Day at Leisure in Hanoi (B/-/D)
Today is at leisure in Hanoi with opportunity for sightseeing and shopping on your own. Or, join the optional tour to the Red River Delta to experience a “day in the life” of typical northern villages. Located to the west of Hanoi, the first village you visit has a history dating back over 2,000 years. Before 1945, this was once the wealthiest village in the north with many successful businesses. Today, you can still see many of the old houses and villas, over 100 years old, built before and during the colonial period. A walk through the village, followed by a visit to a local home will enrich your experience with examples of daily life and the typical structure of a village in North Vietnam. Then, on to Chuong Village, the center of conical hats, or “non la”, worn by most Vietnamese. With most of the residents involved in this business, a visit to the village will be enlightening and give you an opportunity to learn about this very interesting labor intensive job. The tour includes lunch in Hanoi. Enjoy the rest of the day independently in Hanoi, with time to revisit some of the beautiful sights, or just walk leisurely around the lake area.
Optional: Red River Delta – Typical Northern Villages.
DAY 16: Depart Vietnam (B/-/-)
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.