Days 1-2: Bangkok
Welcome to Thailand! Airport arrival transfer to hotel. Evening Welcome Meeting. The following day enjoy a city tour of Bangkok taking in the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Flower Market. Enjoy a longtail boat ride on the canals before exploring pulsating Khao San Road.
Overnight in Bangkok
Day 3: Bangkok –Chiang Mai
On morning of day 3 transfer to airport for flight to Chiang Mai. After lunch visit the Doi Suthep temple and the Hilltribe Museum to learn more about the diversity of this region. In the evening visit the night market.
Overnight in Chiang Mai
Day 4: Chiang Mai – Chiang Rai-Chiang Khong
Today we set out for Chiang Rai, passing through spectacular mountain scenery and hill tribe markets along the way. We make a stop at the unconventional White Temple, known locally as Wat Rhon Khung, which displays scenes from modern day movies. We then visit a hill tribe community site where you have the chance to learn more about how five of the most prominent tribes in the area live, including their traditional costumes and homes. We continue our journey to the Thailand’s ‘Golden Triangle’ for a trip to the Opium Museum. We then follow the Mekong River to Chiang Khong – our base for the night before crossing the border into Laos tomorrow morning.
Overnight in Chiang Khong
Day 5: Chiang Khong -Laos
Bright and early we head to the immigration & customs office to exit Thailand. Bidding farewell to our Thai guide we cross the river by longtail boat. Meeting up with our Lao guide we attend to immigration formalities before we’re back on the water, cruising by traditional long boat down the Mekong River. Serene and timeless Laos is often overlooked by travellers. A peaceful nation of people offering legendary hospitality, resilience and friendliness, Laos is old Asia preserved. As we travel downstream we stop off at a number of minority villages such as the Hmong, Yao and Khmu to get an understanding of their culture and way of life. Upon arrival in Pakbeng, we visit the local market to watch the colorful hill tribe trade their wares before retiring for the night.
Overnight in Pakbeng
Days 6-7: Pakbeng –Luang Prabang
We continue our cruise arriving to the golden city of Laung Prabang mid afternoon. Tomorrow, opt for an early start early to see the daily ritual of saffron-clad monks and their procession down the streets of Luang Prabang collecting alms from the residents. Then a morning tour, takes in the highlights of Luang Prapang – the fabulous UNESCO Listed former royal capital. Sightseeing includes the ancient temples of Wat Visoun and Wat Aham, Ock Pop Tok weaving centre and the beautifully ornate former Royal Palace. In the afternoon we stop at ethnic minority villages before arriving at the beautiful Khouangsi waterfall.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
Days 8-9: Luang Prabang –Hanoi
On the morning of day 8 we head out of town to a local farm to learn about the production of rice. After lunch we cruise up the Mekong River to visit the incredible Pak Ou caves crammed with Buddha images of all shapes and sizes, stopping Ban Xanghai village en route to sample local rice wine. Later we return to Luang Prabang stopping along the way at Ban Phanom village – known for its hand weaving, before boarding our evening flight to Hanoi. The following day offers free time for you to explore Vietnam’s gracious capital. Lively markets, beautiful lakes, ancient pagodas and the thriving, historic city are all easily navigable by foot.
Overnight in Hanoi
Day 10: Hanoi – Halong Bay
This morning we travel east to spectacular Halong Bay and board a traditional wooden junk boat to cruise around the beautiful limestone peaked islands. Opt for a swim before we take row boats to ‘Dark & Bright Lagoon’. Tonight, there’s a Vietnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before an impressive seafood dinner is served.
Overnight in Halong Bay ,Deluxe Junk Boat
Day 11: Halong Bay –Hanoi –Hue
Start the day with a Tai Chi class on the sundeck or a traditional massage. After exploring a lofty grotto hidden beneath towering cliffs, we return to port.
Arriving to Hanoi mid afternoon we take a cyclo (rickshaw ride) exploring the labyrinth of streets. The motorbike swarming narrow lanes are each named after various guilds of the city’s artisan who established themselves here centuries ago. There is Silver Street, Silk Street, Comb Street, Paper Street and more. After time to freshen up we board our overnight train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) on the ‘Reunification Express’ railway line to Hue.
Overnight in Sleeper Train
Day 12: Hue
Today discover the delights of Hue visiting the Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city, whose 21m high tower has become something of a symbol for Hue and the citadel. Within the citadel is the Imperial Purple Palace, an exact copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing, with its impressive ramparts, formal moats and imperial palaces, some of which lay in ruin.
In the countryside lies the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen kings, here we’ll view the elaborate mausoleums of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. As the sun sets opt for a cruise in a long boat along the gentle Perfume River, beautifully illuminated at night.
Overnight in Hue.
Days 13-15: Hue –Hoi An
En route to Hoi An we stop for a stroll along China Beach. Enjoy a short afternoon walking tour of the historic Hoi An old town with its cobbled streets. On day 16 we take a bicycle ride to the rural village of Tra Que where we’ll assist with tending the fields and cooking lunch. Spend the following day at leisure.
Overnight in Hanoi
Day 16: Hoi An –Saigon –Can Tho
Fly to Saigon and drive to the mighty Mekong Delta. Onboard a sampan we cruise to Cai Be through lush waterways visiting cottage industries along the way.
Overnight in Can Tho
Day 17: Saigon
Today we visit the floating markets of Cai Rang before driving to Saigon. This afternoon we see the sights of Saigon on a walking tour including the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, the Old Post office and the sombering War Remnants Museum.
Overnight in Saigon
Days 18-19: Saigon –Phnom Penh
. This morning we visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, a sprawling underground network of tunnels and living quarters used by the Viet Cong during the war. Then we drive to the Cambodian border (crossing at Moc Bai/Bavet) and continue on to the capital of Phnom Penh (Monday). On day 19 enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh including the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, famed for its lavish decorations. We later come face to face with the horrors of the Pol Pot regime as we visit Toul Sleng (Security Prison – S21) and the Killing Fields where over 10,000 people were executed.
Overnight in Phnom Penh
Day 20: Phnom Penh –Siem Reap
Hotel check out and transfer to the airport for our included flight to Siem Reap. After time to freshen up we visit the Angkor National Museum – a fascinating archaeological museum dedicated to the collection, preservation and presentation of Angkorian artifacts and Khmer civilisation, with collections mainly dated from Khmer Empire’s Angkor period circa 9th to 14th-century.
This afternoon we explore iconic Angkor Wat, easily the most famous and best-preserved of all the temples within the Angkor complex. It is a massive three-tiered structure crowned by five lotus-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level. Believed to be the largest religious building in the world, Angkor Wat contains thousands of wall carvings and extensive bas-reliefs. Spend the evening at leisure. There are plenty of great bars and restaurants in the compact city centre which is easily navigated on foot.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Day 21: Siem Reap
Early this morning opt to see Angkor Wat bathed in the spectacular golden light of sunrise. Then we drive out to see the well-preserved temples of Banteay Srei, stopping at an exotic butterfly sanctuary along the way. After we return to the Angkor Temple Complex to explore the ancient city of Angkor Thom. The last capital of the Great Khmer Empire, it is home to the fascinating Bayon Temple, the Baphuon royal enclosure and the Terraces of the Elephants and Leper King. We continue on to Tra Prohm Temple, which unlike the other temples here has been left in the same ruined state that it was first discovered in with a tangle of trees growing out of its ruins. This evening you’re guaranteed to be entertained watching the incredible Phare Cambodian Circus. The Phare NGO circus project trains street kids to become talented circus artists and the popular show blends circus skills with interpretations of modern life and issues in Cambodian society.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 22: Tonle Sap Lake
This morning we drive to Kampong Phluk, a cluster of three villages of stilt houses built within the floodplain of Tonle Sap Lake. After a boat trip on the lake we return to Siem Reap for free time. Pick up some last minute souvenirs at the central market or head down to lively Pub Street.
Note: Between Feb – July the water levels at Kompong Phluk village maybe too low to go boating, if so, we will visit Chong Kneas floating village where it will still be possible to go boating. Afternoon and evening at leisure.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 23: Departure
Today marks the end of our holiday. Lap up the hotel facilities this morning before hotel check out and included departure transfer to the airport.