Day 1: Bangkok-Rural canal, National Museum, Grand palace and Temples. At 7.00 am pick up from the hotel and transfer to the pier.
Cruise along the main river of Thailand (Choa Phraya River). There are well over 100 canals in Bangkok. Hence, it is often called the "Venice of the east". Early Thai lifestyles of dwelling along the riverbanks is still experienced in this hustle and bustle of the modern city of Bangkok.
Next, visit the National Museum to get an insight about the history of Thailand, its people and culture. Museum opens at 9.00 am to 4.00 pm, and closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and National holidays. After the museum, we visit Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), which is the oldest, largest and most visited temple in Bangkok. Well known as the first open university of Thailand. Lunch break at local restaurant. After lunch, we visit the Royal Grand Palace and Wat Phrakew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) within the palace complex.
Note: Formal attire is required to enter the Royal Grand Palace. Thus, please be in comfortable casual formal clothes while touring the Royal Grand Palace. High cut short, skirts, beach attires, bare shoulders are not allowed. If you are not in proper attire, you will be forced to rent one at the palace gate! Recommendation on Foot Wear: Wear comfortable slippers or thongs so that you can easily take off and put on while visiting the temples.
Visit the Royal Grand Palace and Wat Phra Keow (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), which was moved by King Rama I of Chakri Dynasty in 1782 from the west side of Chao Phraya river to the east. Visit various halls of royal function such as Amarindra Throne Hall, Chakri Mahaprasart and Dusit Mahaprasart Throne Hall and the residential area. Evening- depart by First Class Sleeper Train to Chiang Mai. Arrive Chiang Mai in the morning. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 2: Chiang Mai Temple and scenic tour. Upon arrival at Chiang Mai Train Station, transfer to hotel, check in, refresh, and have buffet breakfast at the hotel. At 9:00 am, depart for temple tour to Wat Prathad Doi Sutep, the most celebrated temple in Chiang Mai, containing a holy relic of Lord Buddha. To reach the temple, we drive up Doi (mount) Suthep, and climb up 300 steps to get to the temple courtyard. Both sides of the steps is flanked by enormous mythological Nagas (snakes). A panoramic view of the city can be seen from here at 3,500 feet above sea level.
Then, we return to Chiang Mai and take lunch break. After lunch, we visit the Chiang Mai local handicraft industry on Sankampaeng Road, where Thai silk and cotton loom industries, Bo-sang, the paper umbrella-making village; lacquer-ware, teak-wood carving, jewelry, and silverware artworks can be observed. Then, return to hotel. Traditional Kantoke Dinner in the evening, we will enjoy traditional northern Thai cuisine Kantoke Dinner, and observe Northern Thai folk song and dance performed by different hill-tribes in their colorful costumes. Each tribe is different in costumes, dialects and culture. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai by overland. Early breakfast at the hotel, depart to Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle by overland. We will visit Buddhist temple along the way to Mae Sai, Thailand-Myanmar border town, lunch at restaurant at the border town. Then, we drive to Golden Triangle at the Mekong River. We visit the Chiang Saen Museum if time permits. Overnight at Chiang Saen River Hill Hotel or similar in Chiang Rai of Golden Triangle area. Includes: (B), (L).
Note: We can also drive to Chiang Khong and spend the overnight there instead of Chiang Saen at the Golden Triangle. This is also possible and leave this option open.
Day 4: Chiang Rai (Thailand) to Ban Houaysai (Laos)-Pak Beng. Early morning breakfast at the hotel and drive to Thai-Lao border at Chiang Khong. Guests are met on the Lao side of the border at 8am from where we transfer directly to the boat-landing. Both the public slow boat and the cruise boat leave at 9 am. The boats do not stop at villages along the way. The night is spent in a simple guest house in Pak Beng (or the very nice Luang Say Lodge if going by cruise boat). Accommodation: Simple guesthouse or Luang Say Lodge. Transport: Tuk-tuk, public slow boat or Luang Say Cruise. Includes: (L), (D).
Day 5: Pak Beng to Luang Prabang. Another day of a wonderful boat trip on the Mekong River to Luang Prabang. We will stop at Pak Ou Cave, the former royal worship place, containing thousands of Buddha images. Then, we visit to the local rice-wine distillation at Ban Sang Hai. Overnight stay at hotel in Luang Prabang. Accommodation: Guest house. Transport: Public slow boat or Luang Say Cruise, tuk-tuk. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 6: Luang Prabang. Breakfast at the hotel, then, we visit to the National Museum (old king's palace), the former royal temples, Phousi Mount, Wat Sen, Wat Xieng Thong, Wat Visun and the handicraft village "Ban Phanom". Afternoon at leisure: Free time to explore Luang Prabang on one's own. Accommodation: Guest house. Transport: Private, air-conditioned. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 7: Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng. Guests are met at a specified hotel at 7am from where we travel overland to Vang Vieng District along the scenic mountain road. We stop along the road to visit the minority villages and scenic viewpoints, time permitting. Upon arrival at Vang Vieng, check into the designated guest house for overnight. Remaining time at leisure or take a walk to view sunset in the Nam Song Valley. Accommodation: Tavinsouk Bungalows (or similar). Transport: Private air-conditioned vehicle. Includes: (L), (D).
Day 8: Vang Vieng. We depart at 9:30 am and begin our day 12 km out from Vang Vieng at the Lao Loom Village of Ban Nadao. Life has changed little over the years and we are still greeted with a welcoming smile and a wave. We learn of the people's fascinating way of life as we cross scenic paddy fields and food gardens. Your experienced guide will share his local knowledge and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about this beautiful village, its people and their production systems. From here, we head towards Tham Sang (Elephant Cave).
This cave is an important Buddhist temple site and home to the remarkable limestone elephant formation. From here we transfer to kayaks and cruise back to Vang Vieng along the beautiful Nam Song river, stopping along the way to visit a working organic farm where we have the opportunity to sample some of the locally produced mulberry tea and star-fruit wine. From here it only a short descent to the 'Sleeping Cave' where we have the chance to explore one of the biggest of the hundreds of caves that riddle the Vang Vieng landscape. We arrive back at our riverside bungalows in time for sunset. Accommodation: Tavinsouk Bungalows (or similar). Transport: Kayak, foot and tuk-tuks for local transfers. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Vang Vieng to Vientiane. Early morning breakfast at the guest house and overland drive to Vientiane. Upon arrival, check into hotel, refresh, and begin city tour of the historic sites including Wat Sisaket, Hor Prakeo, Wat Simuang, That Luang, Pra Tou Chai. Accommodation: Dragon Lodge. Transport: Private, air-conditioned vehicle. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 10: Vientiane to Khammouane. After breakfast at our hotel, we take an early morning departure (7 am) to Khammouane Province. The road elevation at points allows for a unique view of the limestone above, and dramatic views of fields of jagged limestone ridges below. At the Nam Teun Bridge, we see how local people used old B-52 bomber drop fuel tanks, debris from the last Indochina War, to make boats. Time and weather permitting, we take a short ride on one of these local boats, before transferring to Sala Hinboun Eco-lodge. This resort is a small mid class retreat situated right on the riverbanks surrounded by limestone mountains. The rooms are twin rooms with fans and western style en-suite bathrooms. There is electricity from 18.00-22.00 run by generator. The food here is excellent with a comprehensive range of cuisine and fine French wines complimented with first class service. Accommodation: Sala Hinboun Eco-lodge. Transport: Private, air-conditioned vehicle, bomb boats, long-tail boats. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 11: Sala Hinboun to Cao Treo-Vinh-Ha Noi. After an early breakfast we transfer via long-tail boats to our waiting minibus for the approximative 3 hour drive to the Vietnamese border at Cao Treo. Transport: Longtail boat, private, air-conditioned transport. Cau Treo-Vinh-Ha noi. At 10.30 arrive at the Cau Treo border. Meet our Vietnamese guides. From here onwards, our guide will lead you on the Vietnam part of the trip. Upon arrival in Vinh, lunch at restaurant, then sightseeing tour in Vinh before boarding the overnight train (by S2) to Hanoi. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 12: Hanoi Sightseeing Tour of Historic Places. Arrive Hanoi early morning, breakfast at restaurant (Pho: Noodle soup). Then arrive hotel for leaving luggage at hotel in Hanoi. Then, go on a half day walking tour in Hanoi to the Old quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, Temple of Literature and the Fine Arts Museum. Check-in at hotel. Remaining time at leisure. Evening: Water Puppet Show. Overnight at hotel. Includes: (B).
Day 13: Hanoi to Ha Long Bay World Heritage Site Day Trip. Breakfast at hotel. Drive to Ha Long, 5 hours boat trip to visit Ha Long Bay. Lunch sea food on board. In the afternoon back to Ha Noi. Overnight at hotel. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 14: Hanoi at Leisure. Breakfast at the hotel. In the morning visit Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and the Museum, Still House, One Pillar Pagoda. The afternoon is free for shopping. Evening-farewell dinner. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 15: Depart Hanoi for your next destination or homeward flight
Breakfast at the hotel. Remaining time at leisure until transfer to Noi Bai Airport for international flight. End of program. Includes: (B).
Also see tour packages in:
Asia Thailand Laos Vietnam Local Culture Cultural Journey
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