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Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok, Thailand
Welcome to Thailand and the start of your Grand Southeast Asian Adventure!
Day 2: Bangkok - Grand Palace, Reclining Buddha, Canal Journey
Visit the Grand Palace and the ancient temple Wat Pho, "Temple of the reclining Buddha". After lunch, we visit the King's Royal Barges and Wat Arun, before boarding our long-tail boats.
Day 3: Fly to Siem Reap, Ancient Temples of Angkor
Early this morning, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Siem Reap. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument ever built, covering an area of 200 acres with its towers, terraces and causeways. The Khmer Empire reached its zenith of artistic expression and architecture with the building of Angkor Wat. Built in the 12th century and abandoned in 1431, Angkor Wat was swallowed up by the encroaching jungle until the great temple complex was rediscovered in 1860 by French botanist Henri Mouhot.
Day 4: Angkor Wat - (UNESCO)
Today, we continue our exploration of the magnificent temple complex of Angkor. Following breakfast, we will visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas and, of course, Angkor Wat.
Day 5: Angkor - Banteay Srei, Fly to Phnom Penh
This morning, we visit Banteay Srei, "The Citadel of Women". Tucked away in the countryside, the sandstone carvings are better preserved here than at most temples of Angkor. Banteay Srei may be one of the smaller temples but also one of the more impressive ones. In the afternoon, we will transfer to the airport for our flight to Phnom Penh, where we will be met upon arrival and transferred to our hotel.
Day 6: Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is situated at the confluence of the Mekong, Bassac and the Tonle Sap Rivers. Once considered the most beautiful of the French-built cities of Indochina, its charm and character is still evident despite its turbulent past. Today's highlights include visits to the stunning Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. After seeing the most beautiful sites, we also reflect and touch on a sad and dark side of Cambodia's recent past under the Khmer Rouge as we visit the Killing Fields and Toul Sleng. After lunch we visit the National Museum.
Day 7: Boat Journey to Can Tho, Vietnam
This morning we leave Phnom Penh by boat as we travel along the Mekong River for our afternoon arrival into Chau Doc, Vietnam. We continue to Can Tho where we have time to relax before dinner.
Day 8: Mekong Delta Boat Journey, Floating Market, Ho Chi Minh City
After breakfast we will take a leisurely boat trip to explore the picturesque tributaries of the Lower Mekong Delta (Bassac River). Deposits of sediment from the Mekong River formed this rich verdant region. We journey to Cai Rang floating markets, which are the liveliest in the region. We have lunch enroute as we make our way to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Day 9: Cu Chi Tunnels, Ho Chi Minh City, Fly to Da Nang
Following breakfast, we set out to explore the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. The Vietnamese soldier's underground tunnel system, that at one time stretched as far as the Cambodian border. The network consists of over 130 miles of tunnels in the Cu Chi district alone; parts of which are several stories deep.
Day 10: Hoi An (UNESCO)
This morning, we have a walking tour of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Quaint pastel buildings line the streets, interspersed with colorful temples, small art galleries and meandering canals. We visit the Museum of Trade Ceramics, and an ancient Japanese Bridge. Lunch is at a local restaurant.
Day 11: Hoi An - Life On the River
After breakfast we enjoy a morning boat trip on the river to observe local life. Then we will try our hand at making lanterns, followed by a visit to Tra Que herb and vegetable village. Upon arrival, take a short stroll around the vegetable garden and listen to the history of the village. We will join the gardening activities - preparing the land, fertilizing with seaweed, raking the ground, sowing, watering and picking vegetables.
Day 12: To Hue (UNESCO) via China Beach, Imperial Forbidden City
Today, we drive to Hue. Serving as Vietnam's capital from 1802 - 1945, Hue has traditionally been one of the country's cultural, religious and educational centers. We stop at Da Nang to visit the Cham Museum.
Day 13: Perfume River Boat Trip - Royal Tombs - Fly to Hanoi
Today's adventure begins as we board our boat for a trip on the Perfume River. We will visit the Tien Mu Pagoda and the tombs of the emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. We will enjoy a special lunch arranged by the nuns of Dong Thuyen before we are transferred to the airport for a flight to Hanoi.
Day 14: Hanoi to Halong Bay (UNESCO)
After breakfast we drive to Halong Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karts’ landscape. Halong Bay has thousands of weathered limestone islands that rise from the warm turquoise waters of the bay. Visually, Halong Bay is just spectacular! On arrival you will board your boat, a wooden junk built modelling the old Vietnamese court vessels. This typical boat, with sails, wide stern and a rectangular superstructure will take you to the World Heritage Area, where you can enjoy some activities if weather permits. All meals will be provided on board.
Day 15: To Hanoi, Water Puppet Performance
Today we continue to explore Halong Bay by boat. For early risers, the sunrise from the upper deck is a lovely way to greet the day from the water. Disembark at noon and journey back to Hanoi for lunch. This afternoon, we will enjoy a performance of the famous Vietnamese traditional water puppet show, followed by dinner at a local restaurant. .
Day 16: Sites of Hanoi, Old Quarter
Today we explore Hanoi with it's tree-lined streets and wide boulevards. We visit One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature, the Fine Arts Museum and Tran Quoc Pagoda.
Day 17: Fly to Luang Prabang, Waterfall, Hilltribes
This morning we have a flight to Luang Prabang in Northern Laos. Luang Prabang is a city consisting of 58 villages, of which 33 comprise the UNESCO Town Of Luang Prabang World Heritage Site. Upon arrival we will visit the Ethnology Museum and then you will have some time to enjoy the surroundings or perhaps take a short stroll to the shores of the Mekong River.
Day 18: Luang Prabang Walking Tour (UNESCO)
Luang Prabang is known as a Mecca for Theravada Buddhism and has about 80 monasteries with approximately 1200 monks. For those who would like to experience the monks going on a 6 AM alms-round, your tour leader will be more then happy to organize this with offerings of rice for you to give to the monks as they walk by in a straight line.
Day 19: Luang Prabang - Kuang Sy Waterfall, K'hmu Villages
This morning we visit the colorful morning market. We return to the hotel for breakfast. After breakfast we visit a small ethnology museum before heading to Kuang Sy Waterfall. Enroute, we visit a K'hmu ethnic village to learn about their culture. On our return to Luang Prabang, we visit the village of Xang Khong to see traditional Sa paper being made and a small weaving workshop.
Day 20: Mekong River Journey, 'Caves of a Thousand Buddhas'
Early this morning, we embark for our two-day voyage on the Mekong River to Pak Beng. We will make a short stop at a Hilltribe village before our buffet lunch on board. We continue to Pakou village situated at the mouth of the Nam Ou River, where we will visit Tam Ting - "Caves of a Thousand Buddhas". We will also have the opportunity to observe the traditional making of rice alcohol.
Day 21: Mekong River Journey to Thailand
Embrace the sunrise over the Mekong River as we start our day towards Chiang Khong. Our journey continues through remote regions of northern Laos. We will make one stop enroute in a rural village to observe local daily life. After completing the immigration formalities, we cross the Laos/Thailand border and make our way for a relaxing evening in Thailand.
Day 22: Golden Triangle to Chiang Mai
Today, we explore Chiang Saen before driving to Chiang Mai in the afternoon. Chiang Saen is the official center of the "Golden Triangle", where the borders of Burma, Thailand and Laos meet, at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers. Historically, the "Golden Triangle" refers to a large geographic area, stretching thousands of square kilometers, within which opium trade is prevalent and vast fortunes were made. We will visit an opium museum and a Golden Triangle view point. Enroute to Chiang Mai, we visit the "White Temple", a new take on traditional Buddhist temples.
Day 23: Wat Doi Suthep & Thai Cooking Lessons
Visit Doi Suthep sitting at an elevation of 1,073m. Built in 1383 during the Lanna Thai period, legend has it that the temples site was selected by an elephant sent to roam the mountain side, where upon reaching a suitable spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, knelt down and promptly died. In the afternoon, visit the local botanical gardens followed by a local market with your Thai cooking instructor to purchase fresh ingredients before preparing your evening meal at a cooking school.
Day 24: Fly to Mandalay
Today we have an early start for our flight to Mandalay (via Bangkok). On arrival in Mandalay we visit some of the most revered religious monuments in Myanmar: the Mahamuni Pagoda, the Golden Palace Monastery, and the Kuthodaw Pagoda (UNESCO Site), as well as the world's largest book, made of marble!
Day 25: Ancient Cities of Mandalay - Amarapura and Innwa
Today we will explore the remains of the ancient cities Amarapura and Innwa, which were former capitals of the Burmese Kingdom. During Burma’s long history, capitals were moved many times for various reasons. King Mindon, for example, moved the capital city from Amarapura to newly built Mandalay to fulfil an ancient Buddhist prophecy.
Day 26: Irrawaddy River and Mingun Excursion
After breakfast we drive to the jetty to set sail upstream on the Irrawaddy River to the village of Mingun to visit the beautiful Sin Phyu Me Pagoda and the 90 ton Mingun Bell, which is the largest hanging bell in the world.
Day 27: Bagan, Temple Sites
We spend the day in Bagan exploring the sights. After a stroll through the colorful local market, we continue with visits to the most significant pagodas and temples of Bagan. These are Shwezigon Pagoda, built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious shrine; Ku Byanuk Gyi, a temple with superb murals of Jataka scenes; and Ananda Temple, with four standing Buddha images.
Day 28: Ancient Temples of Bagan
This morning, we visit the site Phaya Thone Zu and Nandamanya Temples, noted for the exquisite murals of the 13th century. We also see Kyat Kan Cave Monastery, a famous meditation retreat in Bagan. We take a walk in the Minnathu village and see the rural life of local people there. After lunch, we visit Dhamayarzinka Pagoda and take an ox cart ride to Alotawpyi Pagoda famous for wish fulfilling,
Day 29: Fly to Inle Lake
After an early breakfast we transfer for our flight to Heho and drive to Inle Lake. Enroute, we stop at a parasol and Shan paper-making workshop. After lunch, we will be transferred to our boats to explore the lake.
Day 30: Indein Pagoda, Fly to Yangon
After breakfast board your boat to the western shore of the lake where we visit the Indein Pagoda complex, one of the most amazing historical sites in the area.
Day 31: Yangon Sites
Today, we visit the magnificent Reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi and the Karaweik Hall - a floating barge on the Kandawgyi Lake, and explore the Bogyoke (Scotts) Market with it's myriad of goods including food, clothing, handicrafts, gems and much more. We also do a walking tour of downtown Yangon.
Day 32: Depart Yangon
We say a fond farewell to Southeast Asia with a transfer to Yangon Airport for our departure flights.
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