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Welcome to Bangkok, the ever-alluring capital of Thailand and the start of your epic South East Asian adventure! Arriving into Bangkok airport, our friendly local team are on hand to meet you and transfer you to your hotel.
The exploration begins today, meeting your guide in reception you head out of the city to the Damnoensaduak Floating Market, where you explore this fascinating spectacle from a traditional longtail boat. Returning to the city, we explore some of the ancient temples such as Wat Pho, The reclining Buddha, Wat Arun also known as the temple of dawn, China town and of course the golden buddha image. Concluding the day we will drive you to Siam Paragon shopping district where you can pick up a bargain or two.
Enjoy a day at leisure for you to venture out and explore the nooks and crannies of this incredible city in your own time. This evening we will transfer you and assist with embarking the overnight train north to the town of Lampang.
Arriving in the morning into Lampang, meet our team and head straight out to visit the Thailand Elephant Conservation Centre, home to over 50 Asian elephants including calves. Watch as the calves bathe and frolic in the water before enjoying a ride through the forests on one of these majestic creatures. Returning to town in the afternoon, check into your hotel and enjoy some downtime. This evening, a horse drawn cart takes us around the old town where we pass the main market and stop at the Baan Sao Nak teakwood house and museum. This handsome building was once home to wealthy landlords and displays their opulent lifestyles.
This morning we continue north to the picturesque city of Chiang Mai, but not without a visit first to Wat Phra That Lampang Luang. This temple is said to enshrine a relic of the Buddha and is one of the finest examples of Lanna temple. Arriving into Chiang Mai, enjoy free time to relax and or explore.
Departing Chiang Mai we travel through stunning karst and jungle scenery in our longtail boats to the relaxed town of Ta Thon for a lunch stop. Our private longtail boats wait to take us down the River Kok passing rural Thai life along the way - farmers work the land where tea grows and buffalo lounge. After disembarking we visit the unconventional Wat Rhon Khung, decorated with scenes from popular films including Star Wars and Superman! Continue to Chiang Rai for hotel check in and a visit to the night market for some bargain hunting.
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 enjoy cruising by traditional boat on the Mekong. 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. Upon arrival in Pakbeng, we visit the local market to watch the colorful hill tribe trade their wares before retiring for the night.
Today continue your cruise downriver, you will pass areas of unspoilt forests with little villages along the riverbanks and perhaps the odd elephant or two with his mahout. You will visit a fishing village and a rice wine making village and perhaps even taste some of the infamous beverage known as Lao Rice wine. You also visit the Pak-Ou caves, where thousands of Buddha statues are stored. Arriving into Luang Prabang around sunset a transfer awaits to whisk you off to your hotel.
Consider rising early this morning to view 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.
We leave the city early and journey south through lush countryside to Vang Vieng. Arriving at Vang Vieng, nestled on the banks of the Nam Song River is our delightfully rustic and rural hotel. The remainder of the day offers free time, perhaps opt to explore the local caves, take a bicycle ride through the surrounding countryside or go tubing along the river.
This morning we explore the famous caves of Tham Jang once used by the local people as a hideout during Chinese invasions. We observe the lifestyles of the local people at Ban Huai Ngai village before making our way further south to the capital city Vientiane.
After breakfast we explore the charming city. Exploring the oldest Buddhist monastery temple in the country - Wat Si Saket – and the former royal temple of Haw Pha Kaeo, built to house the famed Emerald Buddha. Learn about Laos’ tragic past and present suffering at the COPE Centre, an organization that works with victims of unexploded bombs and mines. Next visit Pha That Luang, the most important monument in Laos. We also stop to view the imposing Patuxay monument. Later in the afternoon enjoy time exploring the hundreds of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures scattered throughout Buddha Park. After exploring Vientiane Central Market of Talad Sao and Talad Kouadin enjoy sunset by the river.
This morning we head to the airport for a domestic flight to Pakse. Here, meet our guide awaits to drive you along National Road No. 13th south to Champasak and to visit the fascinating pre-angkorian ruins of Wat Phu, one of Southeast Asia's most dramatically situated temples. We continue our journey by long tail boat to our overnight base called Don Khong, the largest island in the South Mekong river region known as the 4000 islands, one of the most scenic areas in Laos.
Spend the day exploring all there is on offer here, see the local village of Ban Khone, where you will see an array of relics from the French colonial era and retrace the old colonial past, including old French architecture buildings and the remnants of the first Lao railway with it’s locomotive. We then discover the 4000 islands area by boat at our leisure to visit the Liphi waterfall and hopefully see the rare Mekong dolphin at Ban Hang Khone.
Travelling by boat this morning we visit the famous waterfalls of Khone Phapeng, the largest waterfall in South East Asia, aptly named the Niagara of the east. Then, transfer to the Lao-Cambodia border at Dong Kalor border gate, where after passing immigration meet our Cambodian guide who will take you onto Banglung. (OVERNIGHT IN BANGLUNG)
Today with an expert guide we have arranged for you to partake on the Kalai jungle trek, which is a relative easy trek taking you through stunning deep jungle and visiting tiny ethnic villages along the way. (OVERNIGHT IN BANGLUNG)
This morning we drive to Kampi where a traditional fishing boat awaits to take you on a trip that guarantees you will see the critically endangered Mekong Dolphin. Returning to dry land, we drive to Kratie. (OVERNIGHT IN KRATIE)
Today we are faced with a long drive to the city of Phnom Penh, however along the way we will make stops to stretch our legs, take photos, buy refreshments all the while passing some fantastic scenery to help make the journey an easy one.
This morning come face to face with the horrors of the Pol Pot regime as we visit Toul Sleng (Security Prison - S21), a school that was gruesomely transformed into a torture chamber under the Khmer Rouge, and visit the Killing Fields where over 10,000 people were executed. In the afternoon explore Phnom Penh starting at the National Museum of Fine Arts, a graceful terracotta building of traditional design housing the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculpture. We continue with the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, famed for its lavish decorations – the floors are paved with silver tiles and statues of Buddha are encrusted with thousands of diamonds.
Spend the morning driving to our next port of call named, Battambang. In the area we will explore Oudong, the former royal capital of Cambodia, visit a local family producing palm sugar, then climb the stairs to the top of Oudong Mountain and enjoy magnificent views over the plains. If interested we can stop to see the Kompong Chhnang pottery manufacturers.
First stop this morning is Phnom Sampeau, once home to notorious killing caves, but now a tranquil place for viewing the surrounding landscapes. Then onto the hilltop 11th century temple of Wat Banan. Here, we climb up the top of the hill; enjoy the views over the beautiful countryside and wander around the ancient temple, which is also home to scented flowering trees. The afternoon is spent seeing small villages in the area home to a variety of cottage industries such as rice paper, prahoc (typical Cambodian fish paste), grolan (sticky rice stuffed in bamboo), and other Cambodian treats. If interested we can also visit a weaving and handicraft centre.
Today we have a wonderful journey by public boat to Siem Reap, the first part of which courses through Tonle Sap Lake, and then on the Sanker River. Arriving into Siem Reap, our local driver awaits to take you onto your hotel.
The morning is spent exploring the Angkor Wat complex, entering the South Gate of Angkor Thom Temple marvel at the wonders of the eerie Bayon, the terrace of Elephants and the terrace of the Leper King. Afterwards, we continue to visit Ta Prohm temple, shrouded in jungle and left just it was founded by French explorers in 1850s. Late, visit the Angkor Wat Temple. This architectural master piece was built in the 12th century, took 30 years to complete and represents the Khmer civilization at its grandest. Covering 81 hectares, it is one of the largest religious monuments ever built.
Today travel to Banteay Srey, one of the most unusual temples of Angkor, Cambodia. It lies 20 km due north of the main group of temples and is built largely of red sandstone, which is covered with elaborate and intricate carvings. This afternoon we visit the Roluos group of temples (Bakong, Lolei and Preak Ko), the earliest large and permanent temples built by the Khmers. The monuments mark the dawn of Khmer classical art, dating from the late 9th century, with elaborate inscriptions in the ancient Hindu language of Sanskrit.
Today is at your leisure to explore you can always rent a motorbike or cycle to explore more of the temples or perhaps an insightful tour of Lake Tonle Sap? Have a read of the Enhance Your Holiday page for info. Later, a transfer takes you to the airport for your flight to your next and last country on your epic journey Vietnam and the northern city of Hanoi. Arriving here, meet our local team who will take you onto your hotel.
his morning a scenic drive leads us to the stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Boarding our traditional wooden junk boat we cruise the emerald waters soaking up the panoramic vista of the thousand or so karst limestone islands that stud the bay. Later opt for a refreshing swim in one of the many sheltered coves before taking row boats to the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng. Tonight, there's a Vietnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before an impressive seafood dinner is served.
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 sail back to port. Arriving to Hanoi mid afternoon an hour or so is spent exploring the quixotic web of streets, known as the ‘36 streets of the old quarter’. A little time will be given to freshen up before we assist with your boarding the our train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) on he ‘Reunification Express’ railway line to Hue.
Upon arrival to Hue we embark on a guided sightseeing tour of the 19th-century Nguyen empire capital. We visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city. 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.
Today we take the scenic Hai Van Pass (Road of the Ocean Clouds), which offers magnificent views of beaches to one side and lush hills to the other. En route we stop for a walk along China beach, featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s movie ‘Apocalypse Now’. Perhaps enjoy a refreshing swim in the sea before continuing our journey south along the coast to Hoi An. On a short walking tour of the enchanting historical town, we’ll visit the Chua Ong Pagoda, Chinese Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house, former merchants’ homes and the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge.
A bicycle ride into the countryside, leads us to Tra Que village. Here,we discover age old farming practices and learn about traditional medicine. It’s a hands on experience today where we’ll assist with tending the fields and gardens and cooking lunch.
Enjoy a day to relax in Hoi An, if you did want to keep busy you can always partake on one of our inspiring options? Have a read of the Enhance Your Holiday page for info.
Catch an early morning flight to Saigon and from there we drive to the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the fertile Mekong Delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as it fantastic views while boating along the canals. Taking our sampan from Vinh Long we’ll cruise downstream from Cai Be through the maze of waterways and visit some of the local cottage industries that produce popcorn, coco candies and paper along the way. Lunch is served today in a traditional wooden home on Dong Hoa Hiep Island.
Early today we visit the ever lively Cai Rang floating market. Watch as melons, pineapples, fresh greens, sacks of rice and children's toys get tossed from one sampan to another at great heights and speed before driving back to Saigon. Once called the Pearl of the Orient, modern Saigon is a thriving metropolis on the move. Sleek sky scrapers, gourmet restaurants, designer malls and swanky bars and spas are scattered between ancient pagodas, colonial era landmarks and lively street markets. Our walking tour of Saigon includes visits to the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post office and the sombering War Remnants Museum.
This morning we head out to visit the underground tunnels of Cu Chi. Giving you a unique insight into the dark times of the Vietnam War when an under supplied army of guerrillas defeated one of the most well armed military powers in the world, the US. Often lead by a relative of a Viet Cong fighter in green fatigues you’ll walk the bush trails discovering grass covered trapdoors, ingenious, yet gruesome booby traps and hidden underwater entrances in rivers. There is also an opportunity to go underground and pop off a few rounds at the firing range. We then head to the airport for the 14:45 flight to Phu Quoc.
The next days are at your leisure to enjoy the gorgeous tropical coastline and reflect on your amazing journey through South East Asia.
Sadly your epic journey has reached its conclusion, a transfer will bring you back to the airport for your flight to Saigon where you can catch your connecting flight home.