Prepare to be awed by the glimmering Grand Palace of Bangkok and the ruins of Angkor in Siem Reap on this eighteen-day journey among the marvels of Southeast Asia. Travel through dense jungle, towering limestone peaks, and emerald rice paddies, as you take in ancient world heritage sights and natural wonders as you enjoy the best that Indochina has to offer.
Day 1: Bangkok – Arrival. Arrive in Bangkok and transfer to hotel. Then free at leisure. Overnight in Bangkok. Includes: (B).
Day 2: Bangkok – Sightseeing
After breakfast at the hotel, an early start will get you to Wat Pho in time to experience the monks early morning chanting ritual (chanting starts at 09.00 Hrs). After this uplifting and often private experience visit the temple grounds and the famous 45-metre reclining Buddha. Continue to The Grand Palace, Thailand’s most important landmark, where you will be awed by the grandeur and majesty of the building and its throne halls. Then, of course, marvel at the mysterious Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand.
This afternoon stroll through Chinatown where you visit interesting shops, tea shop, markets and temples to get a first-hand feel for old Bangkok. Continue to The Bangkok Folk Museum**, a seventy-year-old Thai house converted into a small but fascinating museum. Then hop on a long tail boat for a ride along the bustling Chao Phraya River and the quiet klongs (canals) of Thonburi where you see how Thai people have lived next to the water for centuries. Last stop is the magnificent Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn. The Bangkok Folk Museum close on Mondays & Tuesdays Overnight in Bangkok. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Bangkok - Sukhothai
After breakfast, transfer to airport for your flight to Sukhothai. Upon arrival your guide will meet you at the airport and take you to Sukhothai Historical Park which was once a walled city surrounded by a moat. Lunch possible in supplement if morning arrival. The park contains almost 200 ruined chedis in remarkable condition. See the main sites of Wat Mahathat, Wat Si Chum, Wat Sri Sawai and War Sra Sri and Wat Trapang Ngoen and Ramkamhaeng Museum before checking into your hotel. Bike ride possible in supplement in the historical park. A nice and easy way to stroll around the ruins! Overnight in Sukhothai. Includes: (B).
Day 4: Sukhothai – Lampang – Chiang Mai
After breakfast, drive north to Si Satchanalai Historical Park on the bank of the Yom River north of Sukhothai. The ancient town, formerly called "Muang Chaliang" was named "Si Satchanalai" during the reign of Phra Ruang and 134 ruined monuments have been discovered within the park. Vist the main sites of Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Wat Khao Suwan Khiri, Wat Chang Lom, Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo, Wat Suan Kaeo Utthayan Yai, Wat Nang Phaya, Wat Suan Kaeo Utthayan Noi and Celadon Kiln Site Study and Conservation Center at Ban Ko Noi, some 4 kilometers to the north of Si Satchanalai. Drive to Chiang Mai via Lampang, with a stop to visit Phra That Lampang Luang. Arrive in Chiang Mai late afternoon. Overnight in Chiang Mai. Includes: (B).
Day 5: Chiang Mai - Sightseeing
Depart from the hotel in the early morning, enjoy a 30 minute trishaw ride in the town, and watch Chiang Mai waking up. Ride until you arrive at the covered market, purchase food, sweets and flowers as offerings to your monk and your blessing. Continue to Wat Ket by trishaw, here is little visited by tourists and is a very picturesque place. You will be at the temple when the monks are in prayer. Once the ceremony is over, offer your food and flower to the monk and receive the blessing. This is an authentic experience in Buddhist philosophy.
Afternoon, drive to the mountain temple of Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, the most famous landmark of Chiang Mai. Afterward drive up the mountain by “songtaew” onto a rough dirt road to the Chang Khien Coffee Research Project where you can enjoy a cup of the local ‘arabica’ surrounded by fabulous gardens of flowers. Continue to the white Hmong village of Chang Khien where the 800 inhabitants still wear their traditional hill tribe clothes and practice a culture that dates back 500 years. Overnight in Chiang Mai. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Chiang Mai - Luang Prabang. After breakfast, free at leisure until transfer to Chiang Mai airport for your flight to Luang Prabang. On arrival in Luang Prabang transfer to hotel. Free at leisure. Overnight in Luang Prabang. Includes: (B).
Day 7: Luang Prabang
After your breakfast, your guide will pick you up at your hotel. Attention: as buses can not enter into the heart of Luang Prabang, city tour is done by tuk tuk from 10 pax (4 pax/tuk tuk). Your city tour begins with a visit to the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, where you will explore the history of Laos. Continue on foot to Wat Mai, a temple renowned for its golden bas-relief, and Wat Sensoukarahm, which features a beautiful dazzling golden façade. Finish this morning with a visit to the beautiful Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most important temples in Laos. Then transfer back to your hotel/restaurant (lunch at your convenience). Your guide will pick you up at 1400 from your hotel in Luang Prabang for a short transfer by tuk tuk to our electric powered bike station.
After a short briefing to explain you the use of your new vehicle, it will be time to start your discovery of our “responsible Luang Prabang”… in a quiet way! These electric bikes are an emissions-free mode of transportation and allow the user to either pedal the bike by their own power or to coast along using the bike’s battery-powered, rechargeable motor. Begin with a short ride to the Traditional Art & Ethnology Center, your first stop of the day. Traditional costumes, tools, and artifacts are on display alongside in-depth descriptions and written histories. It is a great opportunity to gain insight in to the Lao people (note: closed on Monday).
From here take a short ride to the Elephant Asia Show, an outdoor museum focused on elephant preservation. The aim of the museum is to provide travelers with more details on elephants and related activities. Continue to the Phosy Market where you can join the locals and support vendors by buying fresh products or fruit. Your guide will be here to encourage you to taste some of the exotic flavors of the local fruits, helping to identify new items not found in your grocery store back home! Then, it will be time to bring back our bike to the station before transfer back to the Phou Vao for your cooking class.
Led by Chef Mr. Chantanong from The Residence Phou Vao, the cooking course is a fun, hands-on way to learn about the ingredients involved and techniques used to create the local cuisine. The cooking class can be organized in the main kitchen or outside, in front of the pool, overlooking the Phousi mountain. At the end of the course, sit down to enjoy a delicious dinner which you have helped prepare. Participants will also receive a book of Lao recipes and a certificate from the chef. Overnight in Luang Prabang. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Luang Prabang – Pak Ou Caves – Luang Prabang
Optional: For early risers, there is a very special dawn visit to watch the monks collecting the alms. As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Laos people. Return to the hotel for breakfast
This morning, board the «Nava Mekong» traditional river boat with its unique configuration that will enable you to enjoy a leisurely paced cruise up and down the mystical Mekong River. As you leave the peninsula of Luang Prabang behind you, you witness rural life and peaceful sceneries on the banks of the river as you cruise upstream. After just a bit more than an hour, you reach Pak Ou caves at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Ou River giving its name to the location. In these 2 caves are displayed hundreds of sacred centuries-old Buddha images which are the object of pilgrimages during the Lao New Year festivities around mid April. The venue offers amateur photographers endless possibilities. The boat then keeps cruising in the vicinity of the caves and will moor during lunch time at the foot of beautiful limestone cliffs.
This evening you will have a chance to participate in a unique, traditional Lao ceremony. The Baci is performed in celebration of an important event such as weddings, births, or for welcoming guests and is a means of expressing good will and good luck to others. During the Baci, special flower trays and food treats are prepared which are then touch by the participants while a Buddhist mantra is chanted. After the chanting is completed, cotton threads are tied around the participants’ wrist whilst they receive an individual blessing. Continue to climb the 328 steps to the top of Mount Phousi to enjoy a panoramic view of the city and the surrounding countryside. Stop at the evening hill tribe market. Dinner at the local restaurant. Overnight in Luang Prabang. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Luang Prabang - Hanoi
After breakfast, free time at leisure before transferring to the airport. En route to the airport, visit Xang Khong village where traditional Lao textiles are woven and Sa paper is made from the bark of a mulberry tree. Stop at a small temple, Wat Xieng Lek, before continuing to the airport. Flight Luang Prabang- Hanoi, time schedule subject to change without prior notice from the airlines. Arrive in Hanoi and transfer to hotel. Overnight in Hanoi. Includes: (B).
Day 10: Hanoi – Halong Bay Cruise
After breakfast leave Hanoi for an overnight boat trip on Halong Bay. Journey there through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta, observe everyday life of Vietnamese villagers as they work the rice fields, take pigs to the market on bicycles and plough the fields with their water buffaloes. Arrive in Halong City late morning and board your traditional wooden junk or The Emeraude, a classic replica steamship of the colonial era for the overnight journey into the Bay. En-route lunch will be served. Following cruise by rock formations with such names as Sail, Dog and Dinh Huong (incense pot). Towards the end of the day set anchor for the night. As the sun sets over the bay dinner is served on board with fresh seafood, salads, and fruits. Overnight on Halong Bay. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11: Halong Bay Cruise - Hue
On your return to Halong City enjoy a wholesome brunch as your boat weaves through strange-shaped limestone rock formations. Upon disembarkation your driver will meet you for the transfer back to Hanoi. Optional: On the way back from Halong to Hanoi, stop en-route at a small village known as the birthplace of water puppetry in the Red River Delta. Enjoy beautiful views of rice fields and country life before meeting local artisans who specialize in the ancient art of water puppetry. Enjoy a water-puppet performance. Continue to Hanoi for a short cycle tour of the city (note: there will not be time for the full tour, only the cycle tour).
Take a short city tour of Vietnam’s capital. Hanoi is a unique city with tree-lined boulevards, French colonial architecture, peaceful lakes and oriental temples. The city tour includes a visit to the Temple of Literature, Lake of the Restored Sword and a cycle tour of the Old Quarter. In the late afternoon transfer to airport for your hours flight to Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. On arrival transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Hue. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12: Hue
Visit the former imperial capital of Vietnam. A boat trip on the romantically named Perfume River visits Hue’s best-known religious site, Thien Mu Pagoda and the Imperial Citadel from where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. In the afternoon visit the mausoleum of former emperor Tu Duc with its tranquil setting of gardens and lakes followed by the elaborate European influenced mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinh. Depending on your preferences two option visits can be made to discover the garden houses of Hue or the small Sinh village. Overnight in Hue. Includes: (B).
Day 13: Hue – Danang – Hoi An
Leave Hue for Hoi An, a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years. The scenic route passes through the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co before climbing over the Pass of Ocean Clouds. Drive through Danang and visit the Cham Museum, which contains the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world. In the afternoon take a walking tour of the ancient town center to visit the former merchants’ homes, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colorful market. Overnight in Hoi An. Includes: (B).
Day 14: Hoi An
Free at leisure. As a suggestion head down to Hoi An’s Cua Dai Beach with it’s stunning stretch of long white sands, crystal clear waters and island views. Or, we highly suggest an excursion to Tra Que Village for a cooking class. Depart to a charming herb village on Hoi An’s outskirts for a half day cooking class. This small village is located on the banks of a lagoon and for generations the locals have been raising vegetables that end up in chefs’ kitchens all over the country. Spend the morning (or afternoon) working among the villagers in Tra Que, learning how they raise and prepare vegetables. You will cook together and then have a lunch (or dinner) of Vietnamese dishes with the family. Overnight in Hoi An. Includes: (B).
Day 15: Hoi An – Danang – Ho Chi Minh City
Transfer to Danang Airport after breakfast for the short flight to dynamic Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by the locals. A full day city tour takes in the city’s bustling Chinatown and begins with a visit to the Thien Hau Temple. Continue to lively Binh Tay Market. See the incredible display of fresh produce that is offered and simply stroll through the market seeing and enjoying the variety of goods for sale. After lunch visit the War Remnants or History Museum (choose which one you would most like to see) and the former Presidential Palace, from there stroll (your vehicle will be available at all times) to the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City: the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. Includes: (B).
Day 16: Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels – Siem Reap
Morning visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters during the long struggle for independence. Afternoon: Transfer to the airport for flight to Siem Reap. Arrive in Siem Reap and transfer to hotel. Siem Reap is the base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire.
This afternoon, visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom in an ecofriendly electric vehicle. Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8 m high wall, with each side of the city being 4 km long, drawing a perfect square. You will enter the city from the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with Elephants and four giant faces. The Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King are also must-visits as they are both known for their intricate bas-reliefs. Overnight in Siem Reap. Includes: (B).
Day 17: Siem Reap
This morning, depart on a very special sightseeing tour of the famous Angkor Wat by Tuk Tuk. Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat is constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing the Mount Meru, home of the gods. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with stone carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign. Moreover, Angkor Wat is well known for the more than 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Construction is thought to have taken around thirty years of intensive labor.
The rest of the day will be at leisure to enjoy the amenities of Siem Reap. Stroll around the colorful market for a few bargains, relax by the pool or get active on a Bicycle, a Quad ride or on horseback to a lesser visited temple. Overnight in Siem Reap. Includes: (B).
Day 18: Siem Reap - Departure
Today, explore the temples of the Small Circuit. Start your tour with a visit to Ta Prohm temple, built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries. Ta Prohm is unique in that it has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. This makes Ta Prohm one of the most picturesque and memorable of the Angkor temples. Your visit will also include Banteay Kdei, a Buddhist monastery from the late 12th Century, and Srah Srang, also known as the “pool of ablutions”.
Alternatively, drive to Lake Tonle Sap where you will have the opportunity to learn about life on the lake. Tonle Sap is Sout East Asia’s largest freshwater lake with its size varying greatly depending on the season. During the dry season it is roughly 2,500 km2, swelling to about 4 times it size in during the wet season: 10,000 km2! Board a local boat and visit Kampong Kliang, a village where we’ll see houses on stilts that are submerged when Tonlé Sap Lake extends. Transfer to the airport for your departure flight in the afternoon. Includes: (B).
- Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles with driver in the itinerary
- English speaking national guide
- Hotel accommodation with daily breakfast in twin sharing room
- All tour, transfers and entrance fee as mention in itinerary
- Boats, elephant ride, any activities where clearly mentioned
- Meals as mentioned in itinerary.
- Domestic airport tax in Laos (1 USD/person)
- Domestic flight mentioned in the program: LPQ - VTE (65 USD/pax)
- International airport tax in Laos (10 USD/person)
- International flight VTE – HAN (128 USD/person)
- Any flights BKK- Sukhothai // Chiang Mai – Luang Prabang
- Visa stamping fee for Laos (visa on arrival: 30USD/person + 1 photo)
- All admission fees
- Services and meals not mentioned
- Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip)
- Personal insurance (repatriation for in jury or death, third party)
- Not including the price on Peak Season.
Also see tour packages in:
Asia Thailand Local Culture Cultural Journey Archeology/History