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Trip Extensions

Phuket

Duration: 4 days

Phuket is the largest of Thailand's islands. It is incredibly varied with rocky beaches, long broad sandy beaches, forested hills, and clear waters great for snorkeling and relaxing. There is no better way to end a trip!

River Kwai & Erawan National Park

Duration: 4 days

This extension gives you a mixed variety of history and nature. You begin by exploring along the River Kwai stopping at important historical sites. You then travel to Erawan National Park, a unique and rugged landscape of high elevation plateau and s... read more

Ko Samui

Duration: 4 days

Relax and explore the beautiful island of Ko Samui. A perfect extension to any Asia tour.

Vietnam: Sapa Excursion

Duration: 4 days

Extend your visit to Vietnam with this delightful visit to Sapa, for a unique cultural interaction with the local tribes.

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.

Day 1: arrive bangkok

Bangkok Suvanabhumi AirportBangkok Suvanabhumi Airport

Welcome to Bangkok - the quintessential eastern metropolis and Southeast Asia’s most vibrant capital city. Known in Thai as "the city of angels," Bangkok is a city of mind-boggling history and spirituality, where you can expect ancient Thai temples that rise magnificently from the riverbanks, colorful palaces that glisten spectacularly in the sunlight, and a snaking river that audaciously winds its way through the heart of the city. Fabulous shopping awaits you, whether you’re after high quality artisanal handicrafts or excellent bargains in Asia’s most stylish shopping centers. If you’re a food lover, you will delight at the exceptionally delicious meals that can be enjoyed at every corner of the city.

Upon your arrival, meet your guide at the airport and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to relax or explore. Your hotel is located along the Chao Phraya River in the lively Khao San district and historic center of Bangkok - the ideal base from which to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Consider arriving a day early to adjust to the local time zone. We can arrange another night stay at the hotel. Note: Check-in time at the hotel is 2:00 pm. 

Meals
None
Lodging
Riva Surya Hotel or similar

Day 2: bangkok's palaces & temples / flight to chiang mai

See the Grand Palace in BangkokSee the Grand Palace in Bangkok

In the morning, your guide will meet you at the lobby of your hotel around 8:00 am and take you to the Tha Thien Pier where you visit Wat Pho to see one of the biggest Reclining Buddhas in Thailand. You will likely hear the monk's morning chanting ritual emanating from the main hall during your visit. You'll then walk to Wat Phra Keo, known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and one of the most respected temples in Thailand and the Grand Palace, home of the Kings of Siam of the Chakri Dynasty, originally built by King Rama I. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant near the mystical Bangkok Amulet Market. For a bit of adventure, ride a Thai tuk-tuk to Wat Saket and climb the Golden Mountain, which offers an incredible view over Bangkok. Travel aboard "Sam Saeb" taxi boat to discover the Jim Thompson house, home of the famous founder of Jim Thompson Thai Silk. Head to Bangkok for your flight to Chiang Mai.

Late this afternoon, transfer to the airport and fly to the northern city of Chiang Mai. Here, you'll be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel, which is located within walking distance of the Old City and famous Night Market.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
Banthai Village or similar

Day 3: chiang mai: temples, meo tribes & handicraft villages

Explore Doi Suthep TempleExplore Doi Suthep Temple

Today you visit a Meo hill tribe village set in an attractive hillside spot. You'll see the tribal Meo people dressed in their colorful, traditional costumes. Next, visit  Wat Phratat Doi Suthep, which contains a holy relic of the Lord Buddha. The view of the city from 3,500 feet above sea level can be quite breathtaking. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant before continuing on to a handicraft village. Many different craftspeople gather here and you will see the works of umbrella makers, wood carvers, silversmiths, silk weavers and jewelry makers. This is a good place to purchase souvenirs. Return to your hotel in Chiang Mai where you have the rest of the day free to explore on your own. 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
Banthai Village or similar

Day 4: chiang mai free day

Help care for the elephants at the Nature ParkHelp care for the elephants at the Nature Park

Today is free to do as you like. Wander the charming streets of Chiang Mai, meet locals, sample various traditional Thai dishes, or rest at your hotel. Your guide will be available if you are interested in more guided sightseeing for an additional cost. Options include:

Doi Inthanon - the highest mountain in Thailand. This is a great place for nature lovers and birders (best time March-May to see migrating birds). Siamese sakura flowers boom in colorful shades of pink in late January and February and the rhododendron blooms from December to February. The park contains several hiking trails, waterfalls, and a limestone cave worth exploring. From the King and Queen Twin Chedis, the views are spectacular.

Elephant Nature Park - a sanctuary for rescued and distressed elephants. This park does not train the elephants to perform or allow elephant riding, but you will bathe, feed, and walk them. The park's objective is to provide a safe haven for elephants to live out the remainder of their lives in peace. The sanctuary also provides a home for other rescued animals including dogs, cats, buffalo, horses, and pigs. A vegetarian buffet lunch is included.

Cooking Class - a lunch or dinner Thai cooking course that includes a trip to a local market to pick out the ingredients, training by a skilled Thai chef, and a chance to taste what you have created. For a lunch course, you'll be picked up from the hotel at 9:00 am; for a dinner course, the pick up time will be 4:00 pm. Class includes lunch or dinner.

A Taste of Chiang Mai - This tour begins at the Ping river bank and takes you through the hustle and bustle of Kaad Luang, the great market, as locals call it. Kaad Luang actually is made up of 3 different markets and has been a favorite shopping spot for locals since the late 1800's. During the tour you will get to know all about the history of the market and its surroundings while enjoying fresh produce and local specialties on the way. Afterwards, hop aboard a trishaw, a wonderful, relaxing way to explore Buak Hat Park and hunt out some jewelry bargains on Wua Lai Road.  

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Banthai Village or similar

Day 5: karen villages & the golden triangle to chiang rai

Wat Rong Kung in Chiang RaiWat Rong Kung in Chiang Rai

After breakfast, head out onto a scenic drive through the countryside to Ban Ruam Mit, a Karen minority village on the border between Thailand and Burma. The Karens have an extremely rich culture and have suffered persecution in neighboring Burma. They always have a few fascinating stories to tell. You'll then travel by piroque, a long and narrow traditional boat, down the Kok River to a local restaurant for lunch.

In the afternoon head to Chiang Rai to visit Wat Rong Kung, an unconventional Buddhist/Hindu temple. Continue driving to the famous Golden Triangle, the conjunction of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. To the locals, this is known as "Sop Ruak", where the Mekong meets the Ruak River. Overnight in Chiang Sean at a lovely hotel offering spectacular views of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand borders.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
The Imperial River House Resort or similar

Day 6: cross into laos & cruise the mekong

Take in village life on a leisurely float on the MekongTake in village life on a leisurely float on the Mekong

Early in the morning, around 6:00 am, drive to Chiang Khong, where you cross the border into Laos. You'll board a shared boat* at Houe Say and begin the slow boat ride down the Mekong River toward Luang Say Lodge in Pakbeng. Observe rural life along the Mekong River and stop at Ban Houy Phalam, a Kamu village. A buffet lunch is served on the boat. Arrive at Luang Say Lodge before sunset, in time for dinner, which is served on the terrace overlooking the Mekong River. Your lodge is situated above the Mekong River, lending to the natural environment through careful landscaping. The bungalows are built in traditional Laotian style with large open air windows that look out over the river.

*Ask us about a private boat. Between October and March, the cruise departs every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Between April and September, the boat departs every Monday and Friday. The service stops for maintenance every June.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Luang Say Lodge or similar

Day 7: mekong to luang prabang via baw village & pak ou

See the Buddha images at Pak Ou CavesSee the Buddha images at Pak Ou Caves

The boat departs for another day of nature discovery along the legendary river with two stops planned along the way to Luang Prabang. A few hours into the day, after enjoying the sights of granite cliffs and sparkling sandy shores, the river boat makes a stop at the hill tribe village of Baw, where you can watch the traditional process of making Lao whiskey. Lunch is served on board in a buffet style with a main course featuring traditional Laotian cuisine. This afternoon, the cruise stops opposite the mouth of the Nam Ou River, near Pak Ou village, at Tam Thing Cave. Translated as "Rock Cave", it is famous for housing over 2,500 Buddha statues of all sizes and as a place of pilgrimage for the locals. At the end of the day, the boat arrives in Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos. On arrival at the pier, you'll be welcomed by your tour guide and assisted with the transfer to your charming hotel.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
3 Nagas Hotel or similar

Day 8: luang prabang city tour

Wat Xieng in Luang PrabangWat Xieng in Luang Prabang

After breakfast at the hotel, head out on a city tour beginning with a visit to Vat Xieng Thong, one of the jewels of Laotian art and the most beautiful temple in the city. Next, visit Vat Visoun Temple, the oldest temple in the city, with wooden windows inspired by the Khmer temple of Vat Phou.

Afterwards, visit Ock Pop Tok Weaving Craft Centre, a great place to visit if you are interested in traditional Lao handicrafts. At the center, you will have the chance to discover the beauty and secrets of Lao textiles and a local guide will explain each step of the silk weaving and natural dyeing processes to you. He or she will also tell you about batik drawing and bamboo weaving, and you will have the opportunity to watch the people work to create these handicrafts. From the center, take some time to enjoy the beautiful tropical garden with a lovely view of the mighty Mekong River and mountains.

Before returning to your hotel, climb the steps of Mount Phousi for a gorgeous view of the town. 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
3 Nagas Hotel or similar

Day 9: luang prabang & kuang sy waterfalls

The beautiful Kuang Sy WaterfallThe beautiful Kuang Sy Waterfall

Your second day in Luang Prabang take you to the splendid Royal Palace Museum and the Vat Mai Temple. In order to fully appreciate your visit of this picturesque city, a guide will share his knowledge of the city’s history, architecture, and culture with you.

Afterwards, take a drive to the Kuang Sy waterfalls, stopping en-route for lunch at a local restaurant. These cascading falls are made up of limestone formations and numerous turquoise-colored water pools and are a must-see destination when visiting Northern Laos. The lower level of the falls has been turned into a public park and here you'll take a break to enjoy the cooling freshness of the falls and the shades of greenery. Further up the path, take a dip in some of the small, natural, limestone pools.

Return to your hotel in Luang Prabang where you have the rest of the day free to explore. The night market is a must for any visitor to Luang Prabang.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
3 Nagas Hotel or similar

Day 10: tak bath ceremony / flight to siem reap

Stay at the lovely Shinta Mani ResortStay at the lovely Shinta Mani Resort

In the early morning, from around 5:30 to 6:30 am, you will be taken by your guide to Vat Nong temple to see the Tak Bath ceremony (procession of monks). During the ceremony, devoted residents of Luang Prabang kneel on the sidewalk, bearing food in their hands, which they offer to the monks as they walk by in a procession of orange robes. This ritual is a way for Buddhists to "make merit" and how they obtain their meals for the day. After this humbling experience, your guide will take you to a local market followed by a stop at a welcoming local restaurant at the Mekong river bank for a soup designed to fill your stomach to start the day. If you’re not up to soup in the morning, you can also just enjoy a coffee while watching the daily routine of the residents. Note: As a guest attending the Tak Bath ceremony, you are recommended not to wear revealing clothing. Please do not cross the monk’s path, and take photos only from a distance to show your respect. Please also maintain a quiet atmosphere.

Afterwards, head to the airport and fly to Siem Reap where you'll be met by your local Cambodian guide and assisted with the transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax. Your hotel is a beautiful boutique property located in the French Quarter between the Royal Gardens and the Old Market area.

Optional evening activities (additional cost):
1. Apsara Show with Dinner:
End the day with a Traditional Dance Show, one of Cambodia's most famous arts. The dancers take you on a journey from the Angkorian palaces to villages today. The troupe, featuring live singers and musicians, present eight Classical and folk dances.

2. Phare Circus show:
Attend a Circus Art performance at Phare Ponleu Selpak – “the brightness of art” school – an NGO that supports community development by providing social, educative and cultural services to children and their families. More than just a circus, Phare performers use theater, music, dance and modern circus arts to uniquely tell Cambodian historical, folk, and modern stories. The young circus artists will astonish you with their energy, emotion, enthusiasm and talent. 

3. Aperitif at Theam House Gallery:
Late in the afternoon, travel to Theam's House, an artist’s studio that includes a workshop and a gallery where Theam's collections are displayed. Enjoy an apertif while absorbing Cambodian aesthetics and culture. Aperitif included.

4. Dinner in the countryside:
Take a journey through the countryside to Chandara Villa, a beautiful place kept largely inaccessible to the mass tourist crowds and nestled among lovely gardens. Enjoy a romantic walk to a private spot for a pre-dinner cocktail before dinner is served. The evening will be made all the more special by the candlelight and surrounded by lush rice paddies.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Shinta Mani Shack or similar

Day 11: siem reap: angkor ruins

See the magnificent Angkor WatSee the magnificent Angkor Wat

After breakfast, begin your exciting Angkor tour with a drive down a road surrounded by hundred year old trees. All of a sudden, a majestic stone door appears, and you enter Angkor Thom, known as “the big city.” As if to magically appear out of nowhere, you'll approach the curious smiling faces carved in stone at the Bayon Temple, built around the 12th-13th centuries. This amazing edifice is surrounded by 54 towers, each of them adorned with four faces. From here, travel to the Baphuon, a temple mountain built in the 11th century whose restoration, led by French architects, ended not so long ago. Continue on to the Terrace of the Elephants, which was used for royal audiences and public ceremonies, followed by a visit to the Terrace of the Leper King, built in the 12th century and adorned by magnificent Apsara sculptures.

In the afternoon, visit the most famous temple, Angkor Wat. Starting at the center aisle, you will soon come to realize just how huge is it. This architectural achievement is also an artistic wonder, covered in beautiful artwork. Next, head over to the 12th century Ta Prohm Temple, which is in pretty much the same condition as it was found – covered by the jungle.

Before returning to your hotel in Siem Reap, visit Srah Srang, which means “the Royal Bath,” a large water reservoir situated at the east of Banteay Kdei temple. It is a gorgeous spot to end the day in the Angkor complex watching the sun go down. The baray (or reservoir) was originally constructed in the 10th century and two centuries later remodeled by the famous King Jayavarman VII (who also built the famous Bayon). You will enjoy a tasty white wine or beer and exotic finger food on the grass with a mat while watching the sunset over the water.

Meals
Breakfast, Apertif
Lodging
Shinta Mani Shack or similar

Day 12: angkor temples

Elephant Terrace in the city of Angkor ThomElephant Terrace in the city of Angkor Thom

Today you have two options to choose from:

Option 1 - Cooking & culture experience: Early this morning, travel further into the Angkor Archeology Park, where another beauty will be waiting for you. Banteay Srei (“The Women’s Citadel”), though not the largest of the temples in the Angkor complex, is perhaps the most refined. This 10th century temple is dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. It is mostly built of red sandstone with elaborate carvings that can still be observed today. Afterwards, you will have the special opportunity of making your own traditional breakfast - by preparing rice noodles under the guidance of a local family. Enjoy your meal together with the family. Then continue to another village specializing in bamboo sticky rice production and harvesting coconuts. Along the way, explore a sugar palm market and learn about production techniqes. Don't be shy, and give it a try! The next and last of your village stops leads you to a house where a family creates palm leaf handicrafts as a source of income. The villagers will teach you to make one. You can take this opportunity to bring back your own craft as an exceptional and very personal souvenir! Return to your hotel where you have the rest of the day free to do as you like.

Option 2 - Roluos Temple ruins: After breakfast, set off to the Roluos group of temples, located about eight miles east of Siem Reap. Once the first capital of the Khmer Empire, this group of temples contain some of the earliest permanent structures built by the Khmer. Some temples date back to the ninth century and were built of bricks, laterite, or sandstone. These group of temples include Bakong, Lolei, and Preah Ko, along with tiny Prasat Prei Monti. The 9th century Bakong temple was the first temple made of sandstone and served as the official state temple of King Indravarman I in the city of Hariharalaya, known today as Roluos. This temple is shaped like a stepped pyramid, similar to the Borobudur temple in Java, a feature of early Khmer architecture. It is thought that perhaps Borobudur was a prototype of Bakong, indicating there may have been exchanges between the Khmers and the Sailendras in Java. Lolei is another 9th century temple dedicated to Shiva and members of the royal family. It was once located on an island in the center of the now-dry Indratataka Baray. The temple features some decorative carvings including the sky-god Indra mounted on the elephant Airavata along with makaras (serpent-like monsters) and multi-headed nagas. Your final Roluos temple visit takes you to Preah Ko and Prasat Prei Monti. Preah Ko was the first temple built in ancient Hariharalaya in 879 to honor members of King Indravarman I's family. Its name, Sacred Bull, comes from the three statues of sandstone in from of the temples central towers representing Nandi, a white bull that serves as the mount of Shiva. This temple is known for its beautiful intricate carvings. Prasat Prei Monti is a hidden ruin among the Roluos group thought to have been the state temple of Jayavarman II or his successor Indravarman I during the mid to late 9th century. Though perhaps not as architecturally interesting as some of the other temple ruins, it has historic significance.

Next, visit the Grand Circuit, which include Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon and Pre Rup. The Preah Khan Temple was built in 1191 by Jayavarman VII in honor of his father. This temple, once a place for Buddhism studies, has been left largely unrestored, with trees and other vegetation growing among the ruins. Another interesting 12th-century temple is Neak Pean, the only island temple of the Angkor temples known as "Entwined Nagas". The large central basin is linked with four smaller basins that represent the four great rivers flowing from the earth’s four cardinal points. One of the most interesting features of this site is the superb statute of Balaha, representing the legendary saviour of shipwrecked boats. Ta Som is a small, 12th-century temple that has also been left largely unrestored. Next up is the East Mebon, a 10th-century temple built on an artificial island in the center of the now-dry East Baray reservoir. Dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva, this temple was built of durable Khmer construction materials including sandstone, brick, laterite, and stucco. There is a central tower on a square platform at the top from where you can look out and imagine the vast expanse of water that once surrounded the temple. Close to the East Baray is Pre Rup, another 10th-century Hindu temple built as the state temple of Khmer king Rajendravarman. It is thought that funerals were conducted here with the ashes of the body ritually rotated in different directions.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
Shinta Mani Shack or similar

Day 13: lake village / flight to ho chi minh city

Explore the floating villages on Tonle SapExplore the floating villages on Tonle Sap

Today you'll make your way about 25 miles (1-hr drive) outside of Siem Reap to the village of Kompong Khleang. All the houses are built on stilts amid a natural environment with breathtaking views. Depending on the season and the level of water, you will enjoy floodplains, rice fields and water as far as the eye can see or impressive stilted houses. Travel by boat over the canals to a large lake where people live on the water, their houses moving with the rhythm of the seasons. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the village.

Afterwards, return to Siem Reap Airport and board a flight to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). On arrival, you'll be met by your guide and assisted with the transfer to your hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Ho Chi Minh City. The hotel is nestled in the city's scenic riverside area, within walking distance to shops and restaurants making it the ideal location to explore.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
Grand Hotel or similar

Day 14: ho chi minh city tour

Vibrant Saigon, Vietnam's largest cityVibrant Saigon, Vietnam's largest city

Enjoy a guided tour of Ho Chi Minh city starting with a historic landmark - the infamous Post Office, which was built during the French Indochina era. Continue with a stroll down Dong Khoi Street, a wide avenue lined with luxurious shops and hotels, followed by a visit to Ben Thanh Market, one of the largest markets in Southern Vietnam. This market sells everything from fresh produce to local souvenirs. Next, visit the War Remnant Museum, which contains exhibits relating to the Vietnam War, as well as the first Indochina War involving French colonists.

Your afternoon will be free to explore on your own. In the evening, there are several shows worth seeing such as a private music performance at the home of a local musician, or the A O Show (not included in cost).

The Music show at Truc Mai House (1 hour):  This activity takes place at the home of a famous husband-wife team of musicians. The couple are international performers and have a great love for traditional, folklore Vietnamese music. Their home is a musical museum filled with their extensive collection of musical instruments, many of which they made themselves.

The "A O" Show (1 hour): This performance takes place at the grand Opera House Theater, built in 1898 by Eugene Ferret in the shape of a giant city gate. The show features the culture of the Vietnamese through acrobatics and dance using traditional props such as bamboo poles and woven baskets. The energy of the performers and stunning choreography is sure to amaze you!

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Grand Hotel or similar

Day 15: cooking class & cu chi tunnels

If you're brave, explore underground in the Cu Chi TunnelsIf you're brave, explore underground in the Cu Chi Tunnels

After breakfast, you'll head out of the city to a cooking center in Cu Chi (approx. 45 miles/ 2 hr drive) where you'll meet your experienced chef for your very first Vietnamese cooking course. You'll be impressed by the simple home-made teaching techniques while relaxing in the lovely vegetable garden. You'll have a chance to chat with your chef over lunch and ask questions about Vietnamese cooking techniques. 

After lunch, head to the Cu Chi Tunnels, which served as an underground city for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. They contained makeshift hospitals, weapon caches, and of course, living quarters. Approximately 10,000 people called these cramped tunnels home for many years. You will watch a short video introduction before exploring the tunnel system. It is a haunting and eye-opening learning experience. Afterwards, return to your hotel in Saigon for your overnight (approx. 2 hrs).

Note: We don't recommend those who are claustrophobic to enter the tunnels.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch
Lodging
Grand Hotel or similar

Day 16: flight to hanoi

Stay at the charming La Siesta HotelStay at the charming La Siesta Hotel

Transfer to the airport early in the morning and fly to Hanoi. Your local guide will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your centrally located hotel. You'll have the rest of the day free to relax or explore. Your warm and inviting boutique hotel is located in the Old Quarter close to Hoan Kiem Lake and restaurants. If you aren't ready for the day to end, considering attending a show, such as those below (not included in land cost):

"My Village" Show: If you missed the "À Ố", the "Mist" or "My Village" performance in Ho Chi Minh City, no worries! You can attend the "My Village" performance right here in Hanoi. This show is 60 minutes long.

Ionah Show: The Ionah Show is a unique experience combining modern dance, theater, circus, music, and visual and light effects—a Vietnamese "Cirque du Soleil." The show is divided into three scenes that tell the story of a beautiful young girl whose love for Hanoi is as pure and strong as it is for her lover. But the division threatens her happiness and Ionah is tormented between good and evil through a series of supernatural characters. This show is 90 minutes long.

Four Palaces Performance: The Four Palaces Performance (Tứ Phủ) is a beautiful journey into the spiritual world and was inspired by the mother goddesses in Vietnam. This unique ritual performance is made up of beautiful costumes, fantastic music, and special performances that will leave you delighted. This 45-minute show is divided into 3 parts: The Reincarnation of the 2nd Lady of Highlands, Reincarnation of the 10th Prince, and Little Princess of Highlands.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
Hanoi La Siesta Hotel or similar

Day 17: hanoi city tour

Explore in HanoiExplore in Hanoi

Today you will tour Hanoi, one of Asia's most enchanting cities. Its relaxed ambience is a joy, with exploration best accomplished on foot or bicycle. The shopping is fun, and the many lakes and parks provide enjoyable escapes. Your guided tour begins at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the building that contains the preserved body of "Uncle Ho." After leaving the mausoleum, check out the One Pillar Pagoda, shaped like a lotus flower emerging from the water. Inside the pagoda is a statue of the Goddess of Mercy because some Buddhists believe that when they die she places them in the center of a lotus flower to go to the "Land of Bliss." At the Museum of Ethnology you'll learn about Vietnam's diverse culture (54 ethnic groups in all). Next, visit the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu), the first University in Vietnam built in 1070 by emperor Ly Thanh Tong. With its ancient courtyards, altars, and roofs, Van Mieu is a very fine example of Vietnamese architecture. Before returning to your hotel, you'll take a walk through the Old Quarter and around Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake. The Old Quarter is a section of the city that has existed since the Ly and Tran dynasties and was once the residential, manufacturing, and commercial center of Hanoi. Each of the 36 streets specialized in one specific type of manufacturing such as bamboo, copper, wood, etc. A feature of the Old Quarter is the ancient architecture - most of the historic homes are tube houses with slanted roofs built between the 18th and 19th centuries.

If you're still ready to do more exploration, then consider an evening discovery of "Hanoi Street food tour" (additional cost): You will have a chance to understand what makes the Old Quarter of Hanoi such a captivating place. Here, you will be able to try many Vietnamese specialties such as banh cuon (steamed rolled rice pancake) and banh mi (the famous Vietnamese sandwich that even appears in the Oxford Dictionary). Then stop at a bia hoi (beer club) on Ta Hien Street and taste the fresh Vietnamese beer that is so popular with locals and travelers. After that, you will head to a pho restaurant where you will be able to choose between regular pho or pho tron (pho noodle mixed with chicken without soup). You'll continue your way along Hoan Kiem Lake for a tasty ice cream before saying good-night to your guide and either return to your hotel or head out on your own for a night on the town. Total duration of the tour is three hours.

Note: Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum is closed on Mondays and Fridays, and from Sep 8-Nov 8 for annual maintenance. If the mausoleum is closed during your visit, you can see the outside if you wish.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    Hanoi La Siesta Hotel or similar

    Day 18: halong bay

    Explore Halong Bay and stay overnight on a boatExplore Halong Bay and stay overnight on a boat

    After breakfast, depart Hanoi and drive to the famous Halong  Bay (approx. 3.5-4 hrs), one of Vietnam's most spectacular natural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's quite a sight to see a great number of sailing junks ("junk" is the term for an ancient Chinese water vessel) traversing the limestone island-spotted bay. Halong Bay is perhaps one of the most beautiful landscapes in Vietnam with its giant rock islets covered in lush vegetation overlooking the waters. There are some 1,900 rocky islands and islets, many uninhabitable and unvisited. Board your private junk for a cruise through Halong. Along the way, you'll stop to explore limestone caves and to relax and swim. At the end of the day, you'll have a chance to enjoy night fishing on the boat. Lunch and dinner will be served during the cruise. Overnight on a lovely junk boat featuring spacious, well-appointed cabins with en-suite bathrooms, a large sundeck with comfortable lounging furniture, a dining area, and several bars. If you have a group and would like to charter a boat, please inquire.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Indochina Sails Junk (non-private) or similar

    Day 19: return to hanoi & onward

    Float among limestone islands in beautiful  Halong BayFloat among limestone islands in beautiful Halong Bay

    For those interested in capturing the beautiful sunrise on the bay, you will need to rise early. Following breakfast, you'll explore and cruise around the bay for great photo opportunities. Sail back to the port and drive back to Hanoi. You'll stop along the way at Yen Duc Village, a typical Red River Delta village that still retains an authentic way of village life. Here, you'll have the chance to see an amazing water puppet show presented by the village artists. After the show, you will have time to stroll around the village and learn about their rural way of life.

    On arrival back in Hanoi, you can do some last minute exploring or shopping until it is time to transfer to the airport for your onward flight or on to your next destination. Depending on flight schedules, it may be necessary to book a day room or another overnight stay in Hanoi (not included in cost).

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    None

    Price and Date Details

    Land Cost:
    From
    $4,150
    Group size 2-3 cost: $5500 Group size 4-10: $4800 Group size 11-12: $4150 Local Asia flights add $700 (estimate)

    Special Offer:
    Ask about discounts on low season travel
    Special Offer Details: 

    Discounts offered on low season travel between May and September.


    Single Supplement:
    $1,600
    The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
    Custom & private on your dates

    Need to Know

    Duration:
    19 days
    The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
    Comfort Level:
    ●●●○○
    (see full descriptions)
    Best available to Superior 4-star hotels & junk boat
    Activity Level:
    ●○○○○
    (see full descriptions)
    Group Size:
    Most custom trips can accommodate groups of any size, from one person to as large of a group as you'd like. Some exceptions apply; ask your Adventure Specialist for details.
    Terms & Conditions: 

    Southeast Asia

    Please note that this trip operates under different payment and cancellation policies than those described in our complete Terms & Conditions as noted on our website and elsewhere. Please review the complete Terms & Conditions prior to submitting a deposit. 

    Expenses covered

    Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

    Expenses not covered

    Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

    Deposit* and payment schedule: 25% of the land cost per person or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $1000 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 75 days prior to departure. Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well. All payments are subject to cancellation if payments are not received by the due dates. All payments may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

    *HOLIDAY departures may require an additional deposit. 

    Additional cancellation fees
    Cancellations that occur between 61-90 days prior to departure will be subject to a cancellation fee that is 50% of the land cost, and cancellations 31-60 days prior will be subject to a 75% cancellation fee. Cancellations between 0-30 days are 100% NON-REFUNDABLE. All payments are subject to cancellation if payments are not received by the due dates.

    Airfare
    We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

    Insurance

    When you make your reservation, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

    Itinerary Change Fee

    There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

    From the Bird's Word Blog

    Travel to Vietnam: A Fishing Love Story

    Upon returning from almost a month in Southeast Asia, Hilary had some great stories to tell. Here, she shares one of her favorites: learning how to fish Vietnamese style.

    Angkor Wat is just outside of Siem Reap
    Angkor Wat is just outside of Siem Reap
    Explore Angkor Thom and other temple ruins
    Explore Angkor Thom and other temple ruins
    Arrive in Vietnam's capital, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
    Arrive in Vietnam's capital, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
    Take in a performance of the unique Water Puppets while in Hanoi
    Take in a performance of the unique Water Puppets while in Hanoi
    Explore Halong Bay and stay overnight on a boat
    Explore Halong Bay and stay overnight on a boat
    Wat Rong Kung in Chiang Rai
    Wat Rong Kung in Chiang Rai
    Visit local villages
    Visit local villages
    Investigate village life on Tonle Sap Lake
    Investigate village life on Tonle Sap Lake
    A pagoda of Wat Xieng in Luang Prabang
    A pagoda of Wat Xieng in Luang Prabang
    Visit the Hoa La "Hanoi Hilton" Prison
    Visit the Hoa La "Hanoi Hilton" Prison
    Colonial style Post Office in Saigon
    Colonial style Post Office in Saigon

    Savoring Southeast Asia

    Stimulate the senses in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam

    overview

    This is a comprehensive overview of Southeast Asia that includes Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

    Packed full of a wide variety of cultural, historical, and recreational activities, Savoring Southeast Asia is perfect for the traveler who is interested in "sampling" every aspect of each country. From touring temples to cruising the Mekong River to attending a traditional puppet show, the varied array of experiences will keep you constantly engaged and satisfy all your curiosities.

    As with all of our trips that are available privately on your dates, this itinerary is fully customizable. Our skilled Adventure Specialists can help you pick and choose activities based on your preferences, and will design a custom itinerary just for you and your private group. Use this itinerary as a starting point, but remember that it can be changed however you'd like!

    itinerary

    See Trip Extensions
    View Map

    overview

    This is a comprehensive overview of Southeast Asia that includes Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

    Packed full of a wide variety of cultural, historical, and recreational activities, Savoring Southeast Asia is perfect for the traveler who is interested in "sampling" every aspect of each country. From touring temples to cruising the Mekong River to attending a traditional puppet show, the varied array of experiences will keep you constantly engaged and satisfy all your curiosities.

    As with all of our trips that are available privately on your dates, this itinerary is fully customizable. Our skilled Adventure Specialists can help you pick and choose activities based on your preferences, and will design a custom itinerary just for you and your private group. Use this itinerary as a starting point, but remember that it can be changed however you'd like!

    Continue to detailed itinerary...

    itinerary

    Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.
    • Day 1: arrive bangkok
      Bangkok Suvanabhumi AirportBangkok Suvanabhumi Airport

      Welcome to Bangkok - the quintessential eastern metropolis and Southeast Asia’s most vibrant capital city. Known in Thai as "the city of angels," Bangkok is a city of mind-boggling history and spirituality, where you can expect ancient Thai temples that rise magnificently from the riverbanks, colorful palaces that glisten spectacularly in the sunlight, and a snaking river that audaciously winds its way through the heart of the city. Fabulous shopping awaits you, whether you’re after high quality artisanal handicrafts or excellent bargains in Asia’s most stylish shopping centers. If you’re a food lover, you will delight at the exceptionally delicious meals that can be enjoyed at every corner of the city.

      Upon your arrival, meet your guide at the airport and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to relax or explore. Your hotel is located along the Chao Phraya River in the lively Khao San district and historic center of Bangkok - the ideal base from which to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. Consider arriving a day early to adjust to the local time zone. We can arrange another night stay at the hotel. Note: Check-in time at the hotel is 2:00 pm. 

      Meals
      None
      Lodging
      Riva Surya Hotel or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 2: bangkok's palaces & temples / flight to chiang mai
      See the Grand Palace in BangkokSee the Grand Palace in Bangkok

      In the morning, your guide will meet you at the lobby of your hotel around 8:00 am and take you to the Tha Thien Pier where you visit Wat Pho to see one of the biggest Reclining Buddhas in Thailand. You will likely hear the monk's morning chanting ritual emanating from the main hall during your visit. You'll then walk to Wat Phra Keo, known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and one of the most respected temples in Thailand and the Grand Palace, home of the Kings of Siam of the Chakri Dynasty, originally built by King Rama I. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant near the mystical Bangkok Amulet Market. For a bit of adventure, ride a Thai tuk-tuk to Wat Saket and climb the Golden Mountain, which offers an incredible view over Bangkok. Travel aboard "Sam Saeb" taxi boat to discover the Jim Thompson house, home of the famous founder of Jim Thompson Thai Silk. Head to Bangkok for your flight to Chiang Mai.

      Late this afternoon, transfer to the airport and fly to the northern city of Chiang Mai. Here, you'll be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel, which is located within walking distance of the Old City and famous Night Market.

      Meals
      Breakfast, Lunch
      Lodging
      Banthai Village or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 3: chiang mai: temples, meo tribes & handicraft villages
      Explore Doi Suthep TempleExplore Doi Suthep Temple

      Today you visit a Meo hill tribe village set in an attractive hillside spot. You'll see the tribal Meo people dressed in their colorful, traditional costumes. Next, visit  Wat Phratat Doi Suthep, which contains a holy relic of the Lord Buddha. The view of the city from 3,500 feet above sea level can be quite breathtaking. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant before continuing on to a handicraft village. Many different craftspeople gather here and you will see the works of umbrella makers, wood carvers, silversmiths, silk weavers and jewelry makers. This is a good place to purchase souvenirs. Return to your hotel in Chiang Mai where you have the rest of the day free to explore on your own. 

      Meals
      Breakfast, Lunch
      Lodging
      Banthai Village or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 4: chiang mai free day
      Help care for the elephants at the Nature ParkHelp care for the elephants at the Nature Park

      Today is free to do as you like. Wander the charming streets of Chiang Mai, meet locals, sample various traditional Thai dishes, or rest at your hotel. Your guide will be available if you are interested in more guided sightseeing for an additional cost. Options include:

      Doi Inthanon - the highest mountain in Thailand. This is a great place for nature lovers and birders (best time March-May to see migrating birds). Siamese sakura flowers boom in colorful shades of pink in late January and February and the rhododendron blooms from December to February. The park contains several hiking trails, waterfalls, and a limestone cave worth exploring. From the King and Queen Twin Chedis, the views are spectacular.

      Elephant Nature Park - a sanctuary for rescued and distressed elephants. This park does not train the elephants to perform or allow elephant riding, but you will bathe, feed, and walk them. The park's objective is to provide a safe haven for elephants to live out the remainder of their lives in peace. The sanctuary also provides a home for other rescued animals including dogs, cats, buffalo, horses, and pigs. A vegetarian buffet lunch is included.

      Cooking Class - a lunch or dinner Thai cooking course that includes a trip to a local market to pick out the ingredients, training by a skilled Thai chef, and a chance to taste what you have created. For a lunch course, you'll be picked up from the hotel at 9:00 am; for a dinner course, the pick up time will be 4:00 pm. Class includes lunch or dinner.

      A Taste of Chiang Mai - This tour begins at the Ping river bank and takes you through the hustle and bustle of Kaad Luang, the great market, as locals call it. Kaad Luang actually is made up of 3 different markets and has been a favorite shopping spot for locals since the late 1800's. During the tour you will get to know all about the history of the market and its surroundings while enjoying fresh produce and local specialties on the way. Afterwards, hop aboard a trishaw, a wonderful, relaxing way to explore Buak Hat Park and hunt out some jewelry bargains on Wua Lai Road.  

      Meals
      Breakfast
      Lodging
      Banthai Village or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 5: karen villages & the golden triangle to chiang rai
      Wat Rong Kung in Chiang RaiWat Rong Kung in Chiang Rai

      After breakfast, head out onto a scenic drive through the countryside to Ban Ruam Mit, a Karen minority village on the border between Thailand and Burma. The Karens have an extremely rich culture and have suffered persecution in neighboring Burma. They always have a few fascinating stories to tell. You'll then travel by piroque, a long and narrow traditional boat, down the Kok River to a local restaurant for lunch.

      In the afternoon head to Chiang Rai to visit Wat Rong Kung, an unconventional Buddhist/Hindu temple. Continue driving to the famous Golden Triangle, the conjunction of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. To the locals, this is known as "Sop Ruak", where the Mekong meets the Ruak River. Overnight in Chiang Sean at a lovely hotel offering spectacular views of Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand borders.

      Meals
      Breakfast, Lunch
      Lodging
      The Imperial River House Resort or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 6: cross into laos & cruise the mekong
      Take in village life on a leisurely float on the MekongTake in village life on a leisurely float on the Mekong

      Early in the morning, around 6:00 am, drive to Chiang Khong, where you cross the border into Laos. You'll board a shared boat* at Houe Say and begin the slow boat ride down the Mekong River toward Luang Say Lodge in Pakbeng. Observe rural life along the Mekong River and stop at Ban Houy Phalam, a Kamu village. A buffet lunch is served on the boat. Arrive at Luang Say Lodge before sunset, in time for dinner, which is served on the terrace overlooking the Mekong River. Your lodge is situated above the Mekong River, lending to the natural environment through careful landscaping. The bungalows are built in traditional Laotian style with large open air windows that look out over the river.

      *Ask us about a private boat. Between October and March, the cruise departs every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Between April and September, the boat departs every Monday and Friday. The service stops for maintenance every June.

      Meals
      Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
      Lodging
      Luang Say Lodge or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 7: mekong to luang prabang via baw village & pak ou
      See the Buddha images at Pak Ou CavesSee the Buddha images at Pak Ou Caves

      The boat departs for another day of nature discovery along the legendary river with two stops planned along the way to Luang Prabang. A few hours into the day, after enjoying the sights of granite cliffs and sparkling sandy shores, the river boat makes a stop at the hill tribe village of Baw, where you can watch the traditional process of making Lao whiskey. Lunch is served on board in a buffet style with a main course featuring traditional Laotian cuisine. This afternoon, the cruise stops opposite the mouth of the Nam Ou River, near Pak Ou village, at Tam Thing Cave. Translated as "Rock Cave", it is famous for housing over 2,500 Buddha statues of all sizes and as a place of pilgrimage for the locals. At the end of the day, the boat arrives in Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos. On arrival at the pier, you'll be welcomed by your tour guide and assisted with the transfer to your charming hotel.

      Meals
      Breakfast, Lunch
      Lodging
      3 Nagas Hotel or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 8: luang prabang city tour
      Wat Xieng in Luang PrabangWat Xieng in Luang Prabang

      After breakfast at the hotel, head out on a city tour beginning with a visit to Vat Xieng Thong, one of the jewels of Laotian art and the most beautiful temple in the city. Next, visit Vat Visoun Temple, the oldest temple in the city, with wooden windows inspired by the Khmer temple of Vat Phou.

      Afterwards, visit Ock Pop Tok Weaving Craft Centre, a great place to visit if you are interested in traditional Lao handicrafts. At the center, you will have the chance to discover the beauty and secrets of Lao textiles and a local guide will explain each step of the silk weaving and natural dyeing processes to you. He or she will also tell you about batik drawing and bamboo weaving, and you will have the opportunity to watch the people work to create these handicrafts. From the center, take some time to enjoy the beautiful tropical garden with a lovely view of the mighty Mekong River and mountains.

      Before returning to your hotel, climb the steps of Mount Phousi for a gorgeous view of the town. 

      Meals
      Breakfast, Lunch
      Lodging
      3 Nagas Hotel or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 9: luang prabang & kuang sy waterfalls
      The beautiful Kuang Sy WaterfallThe beautiful Kuang Sy Waterfall

      Your second day in Luang Prabang take you to the splendid Royal Palace Museum and the Vat Mai Temple. In order to fully appreciate your visit of this picturesque city, a guide will share his knowledge of the city’s history, architecture, and culture with you.

      Afterwards, take a drive to the Kuang Sy waterfalls, stopping en-route for lunch at a local restaurant. These cascading falls are made up of limestone formations and numerous turquoise-colored water pools and are a must-see destination when visiting Northern Laos. The lower level of the falls has been turned into a public park and here you'll take a break to enjoy the cooling freshness of the falls and the shades of greenery. Further up the path, take a dip in some of the small, natural, limestone pools.

      Return to your hotel in Luang Prabang where you have the rest of the day free to explore. The night market is a must for any visitor to Luang Prabang.

      Meals
      Breakfast, Lunch
      Lodging
      3 Nagas Hotel or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 10: tak bath ceremony / flight to siem reap
      Stay at the lovely Shinta Mani ResortStay at the lovely Shinta Mani Resort (Photo: Shinta Mani Resort)

      In the early morning, from around 5:30 to 6:30 am, you will be taken by your guide to Vat Nong temple to see the Tak Bath ceremony (procession of monks). During the ceremony, devoted residents of Luang Prabang kneel on the sidewalk, bearing food in their hands, which they offer to the monks as they walk by in a procession of orange robes. This ritual is a way for Buddhists to "make merit" and how they obtain their meals for the day. After this humbling experience, your guide will take you to a local market followed by a stop at a welcoming local restaurant at the Mekong river bank for a soup designed to fill your stomach to start the day. If you’re not up to soup in the morning, you can also just enjoy a coffee while watching the daily routine of the residents. Note: As a guest attending the Tak Bath ceremony, you are recommended not to wear revealing clothing. Please do not cross the monk’s path, and take photos only from a distance to show your respect. Please also maintain a quiet atmosphere.

      Afterwards, head to the airport and fly to Siem Reap where you'll be met by your local Cambodian guide and assisted with the transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax. Your hotel is a beautiful boutique property located in the French Quarter between the Royal Gardens and the Old Market area.

      Optional evening activities (additional cost):
      1. Apsara Show with Dinner:
      End the day with a Traditional Dance Show, one of Cambodia's most famous arts. The dancers take you on a journey from the Angkorian palaces to villages today. The troupe, featuring live singers and musicians, present eight Classical and folk dances.

      2. Phare Circus show:
      Attend a Circus Art performance at Phare Ponleu Selpak – “the brightness of art” school – an NGO that supports community development by providing social, educative and cultural services to children and their families. More than just a circus, Phare performers use theater, music, dance and modern circus arts to uniquely tell Cambodian historical, folk, and modern stories. The young circus artists will astonish you with their energy, emotion, enthusiasm and talent. 

      3. Aperitif at Theam House Gallery:
      Late in the afternoon, travel to Theam's House, an artist’s studio that includes a workshop and a gallery where Theam's collections are displayed. Enjoy an apertif while absorbing Cambodian aesthetics and culture. Aperitif included.

      4. Dinner in the countryside:
      Take a journey through the countryside to Chandara Villa, a beautiful place kept largely inaccessible to the mass tourist crowds and nestled among lovely gardens. Enjoy a romantic walk to a private spot for a pre-dinner cocktail before dinner is served. The evening will be made all the more special by the candlelight and surrounded by lush rice paddies.

      Meals
      Breakfast
      Lodging
      Shinta Mani Shack or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 11: siem reap: angkor ruins
      See the magnificent Angkor WatSee the magnificent Angkor Wat

      After breakfast, begin your exciting Angkor tour with a drive down a road surrounded by hundred year old trees. All of a sudden, a majestic stone door appears, and you enter Angkor Thom, known as “the big city.” As if to magically appear out of nowhere, you'll approach the curious smiling faces carved in stone at the Bayon Temple, built around the 12th-13th centuries. This amazing edifice is surrounded by 54 towers, each of them adorned with four faces. From here, travel to the Baphuon, a temple mountain built in the 11th century whose restoration, led by French architects, ended not so long ago. Continue on to the Terrace of the Elephants, which was used for royal audiences and public ceremonies, followed by a visit to the Terrace of the Leper King, built in the 12th century and adorned by magnificent Apsara sculptures.

      In the afternoon, visit the most famous temple, Angkor Wat. Starting at the center aisle, you will soon come to realize just how huge is it. This architectural achievement is also an artistic wonder, covered in beautiful artwork. Next, head over to the 12th century Ta Prohm Temple, which is in pretty much the same condition as it was found – covered by the jungle.

      Before returning to your hotel in Siem Reap, visit Srah Srang, which means “the Royal Bath,” a large water reservoir situated at the east of Banteay Kdei temple. It is a gorgeous spot to end the day in the Angkor complex watching the sun go down. The baray (or reservoir) was originally constructed in the 10th century and two centuries later remodeled by the famous King Jayavarman VII (who also built the famous Bayon). You will enjoy a tasty white wine or beer and exotic finger food on the grass with a mat while watching the sunset over the water.

      Meals
      Breakfast, Apertif
      Lodging
      Shinta Mani Shack or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 12: angkor temples
      Elephant Terrace in the city of Angkor ThomElephant Terrace in the city of Angkor Thom

      Today you have two options to choose from:

      Option 1 - Cooking & culture experience: Early this morning, travel further into the Angkor Archeology Park, where another beauty will be waiting for you. Banteay Srei (“The Women’s Citadel”), though not the largest of the temples in the Angkor complex, is perhaps the most refined. This 10th century temple is dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. It is mostly built of red sandstone with elaborate carvings that can still be observed today. Afterwards, you will have the special opportunity of making your own traditional breakfast - by preparing rice noodles under the guidance of a local family. Enjoy your meal together with the family. Then continue to another village specializing in bamboo sticky rice production and harvesting coconuts. Along the way, explore a sugar palm market and learn about production techniqes. Don't be shy, and give it a try! The next and last of your village stops leads you to a house where a family creates palm leaf handicrafts as a source of income. The villagers will teach you to make one. You can take this opportunity to bring back your own craft as an exceptional and very personal souvenir! Return to your hotel where you have the rest of the day free to do as you like.

      Option 2 - Roluos Temple ruins: After breakfast, set off to the Roluos group of temples, located about eight miles east of Siem Reap. Once the first capital of the Khmer Empire, this group of temples contain some of the earliest permanent structures built by the Khmer. Some temples date back to the ninth century and were built of bricks, laterite, or sandstone. These group of temples include Bakong, Lolei, and Preah Ko, along with tiny Prasat Prei Monti. The 9th century Bakong temple was the first temple made of sandstone and served as the official state temple of King Indravarman I in the city of Hariharalaya, known today as Roluos. This temple is shaped like a stepped pyramid, similar to the Borobudur temple in Java, a feature of early Khmer architecture. It is thought that perhaps Borobudur was a prototype of Bakong, indicating there may have been exchanges between the Khmers and the Sailendras in Java. Lolei is another 9th century temple dedicated to Shiva and members of the royal family. It was once located on an island in the center of the now-dry Indratataka Baray. The temple features some decorative carvings including the sky-god Indra mounted on the elephant Airavata along with makaras (serpent-like monsters) and multi-headed nagas. Your final Roluos temple visit takes you to Preah Ko and Prasat Prei Monti. Preah Ko was the first temple built in ancient Hariharalaya in 879 to honor members of King Indravarman I's family. Its name, Sacred Bull, comes from the three statues of sandstone in from of the temples central towers representing Nandi, a white bull that serves as the mount of Shiva. This temple is known for its beautiful intricate carvings. Prasat Prei Monti is a hidden ruin among the Roluos group thought to have been the state temple of Jayavarman II or his successor Indravarman I during the mid to late 9th century. Though perhaps not as architecturally interesting as some of the other temple ruins, it has historic significance.

      Next, visit the Grand Circuit, which include Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon and Pre Rup. The Preah Khan Temple was built in 1191 by Jayavarman VII in honor of his father. This temple, once a place for Buddhism studies, has been left largely unrestored, with trees and other vegetation growing among the ruins. Another interesting 12th-century temple is Neak Pean, the only island temple of the Angkor temples known as "Entwined Nagas". The large central basin is linked with four smaller basins that represent the four great rivers flowing from the earth’s four cardinal points. One of the most interesting features of this site is the superb statute of Balaha, representing the legendary saviour of shipwrecked boats. Ta Som is a small, 12th-century temple that has also been left largely unrestored. Next up is the East Mebon, a 10th-century temple built on an artificial island in the center of the now-dry East Baray reservoir. Dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva, this temple was built of durable Khmer construction materials including sandstone, brick, laterite, and stucco. There is a central tower on a square platform at the top from where you can look out and imagine the vast expanse of water that once surrounded the temple. Close to the East Baray is Pre Rup, another 10th-century Hindu temple built as the state temple of Khmer king Rajendravarman. It is thought that funerals were conducted here with the ashes of the body ritually rotated in different directions.

      Meals
      Breakfast, Lunch
      Lodging
      Shinta Mani Shack or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 13: lake village / flight to ho chi minh city
      Explore the floating villages on Tonle SapExplore the floating villages on Tonle Sap

      Today you'll make your way about 25 miles (1-hr drive) outside of Siem Reap to the village of Kompong Khleang. All the houses are built on stilts amid a natural environment with breathtaking views. Depending on the season and the level of water, you will enjoy floodplains, rice fields and water as far as the eye can see or impressive stilted houses. Travel by boat over the canals to a large lake where people live on the water, their houses moving with the rhythm of the seasons. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the village.

      Afterwards, return to Siem Reap Airport and board a flight to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon). On arrival, you'll be met by your guide and assisted with the transfer to your hotel, one of the oldest hotels in Ho Chi Minh City. The hotel is nestled in the city's scenic riverside area, within walking distance to shops and restaurants making it the ideal location to explore.

      Meals
      Breakfast, Lunch
      Lodging
      Grand Hotel or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 14: ho chi minh city tour
      Vibrant Saigon, Vietnam's largest cityVibrant Saigon, Vietnam's largest city

      Enjoy a guided tour of Ho Chi Minh city starting with a historic landmark - the infamous Post Office, which was built during the French Indochina era. Continue with a stroll down Dong Khoi Street, a wide avenue lined with luxurious shops and hotels, followed by a visit to Ben Thanh Market, one of the largest markets in Southern Vietnam. This market sells everything from fresh produce to local souvenirs. Next, visit the War Remnant Museum, which contains exhibits relating to the Vietnam War, as well as the first Indochina War involving French colonists.

      Your afternoon will be free to explore on your own. In the evening, there are several shows worth seeing such as a private music performance at the home of a local musician, or the A O Show (not included in cost).

      The Music show at Truc Mai House (1 hour):  This activity takes place at the home of a famous husband-wife team of musicians. The couple are international performers and have a great love for traditional, folklore Vietnamese music. Their home is a musical museum filled with their extensive collection of musical instruments, many of which they made themselves.

      The "A O" Show (1 hour): This performance takes place at the grand Opera House Theater, built in 1898 by Eugene Ferret in the shape of a giant city gate. The show features the culture of the Vietnamese through acrobatics and dance using traditional props such as bamboo poles and woven baskets. The energy of the performers and stunning choreography is sure to amaze you!

      Meals
      Breakfast
      Lodging
      Grand Hotel or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 15: cooking class & cu chi tunnels
      If you're brave, explore underground in the Cu Chi TunnelsIf you're brave, explore underground in the Cu Chi Tunnels

      After breakfast, you'll head out of the city to a cooking center in Cu Chi (approx. 45 miles/ 2 hr drive) where you'll meet your experienced chef for your very first Vietnamese cooking course. You'll be impressed by the simple home-made teaching techniques while relaxing in the lovely vegetable garden. You'll have a chance to chat with your chef over lunch and ask questions about Vietnamese cooking techniques. 

      After lunch, head to the Cu Chi Tunnels, which served as an underground city for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. They contained makeshift hospitals, weapon caches, and of course, living quarters. Approximately 10,000 people called these cramped tunnels home for many years. You will watch a short video introduction before exploring the tunnel system. It is a haunting and eye-opening learning experience. Afterwards, return to your hotel in Saigon for your overnight (approx. 2 hrs).

      Note: We don't recommend those who are claustrophobic to enter the tunnels.

      Meals
      Breakfast, Lunch
      Lodging
      Grand Hotel or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 16: flight to hanoi
      Stay at the charming La Siesta HotelStay at the charming La Siesta Hotel

      Transfer to the airport early in the morning and fly to Hanoi. Your local guide will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your centrally located hotel. You'll have the rest of the day free to relax or explore. Your warm and inviting boutique hotel is located in the Old Quarter close to Hoan Kiem Lake and restaurants. If you aren't ready for the day to end, considering attending a show, such as those below (not included in land cost):

      "My Village" Show: If you missed the "À Ố", the "Mist" or "My Village" performance in Ho Chi Minh City, no worries! You can attend the "My Village" performance right here in Hanoi. This show is 60 minutes long.

      Ionah Show: The Ionah Show is a unique experience combining modern dance, theater, circus, music, and visual and light effects—a Vietnamese "Cirque du Soleil." The show is divided into three scenes that tell the story of a beautiful young girl whose love for Hanoi is as pure and strong as it is for her lover. But the division threatens her happiness and Ionah is tormented between good and evil through a series of supernatural characters. This show is 90 minutes long.

      Four Palaces Performance: The Four Palaces Performance (Tứ Phủ) is a beautiful journey into the spiritual world and was inspired by the mother goddesses in Vietnam. This unique ritual performance is made up of beautiful costumes, fantastic music, and special performances that will leave you delighted. This 45-minute show is divided into 3 parts: The Reincarnation of the 2nd Lady of Highlands, Reincarnation of the 10th Prince, and Little Princess of Highlands.

      Meals
      Breakfast
      Lodging
      Hanoi La Siesta Hotel or similar
      Show on a map
    • Day 17: hanoi city tour
      Explore in HanoiExplore in Hanoi

      Today you will tour Hanoi, one of Asia's most enchanting cities. Its relaxed ambience is a joy, with exploration best accomplished on foot or bicycle. The shopping is fun, and the many lakes and parks provide enjoyable escapes. Your guided tour begins at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the building that contains the preserved body of "Uncle Ho." After leaving the mausoleum, check out the One Pillar Pagoda, shaped like a lotus flower emerging from the water. Inside the pagoda is a statue of the Goddess of Mercy because some Buddhists believe that when they die she places them in the center of a lotus flower to go to the "Land of Bliss." At the Museum of Ethnology you'll learn about Vietnam's diverse culture (54 ethnic groups in all). Next, visit the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu), the first University in Vietnam built in 1070 by emperor Ly Thanh Tong. With its ancient courtyards, altars, and roofs, Van Mieu is a very fine example of Vietnamese architecture. Before returning to your hotel, you'll take a walk through the Old Quarter and around Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake. The Old Quarter is a section of the city that has existed since the Ly and Tran dynasties and was once the residential, manufacturing, and commercial center of Hanoi. Each of the 36 streets specialized in one specific type of manufacturing such as bamboo, copper, wood, etc. A feature of the Old Quarter is the ancient architecture - most of the historic homes are tube houses with slanted roofs built between the 18th and 19th centuries.

      If you're still ready to do more exploration, then consider an evening discovery of "Hanoi Street food tour" (additional cost): You will have a chance to understand what makes the Old Quarter of Hanoi such a captivating place. Here, you will be able to try many Vietnamese specialties such as banh cuon (steamed rolled rice pancake) and banh mi (the famous Vietnamese sandwich that even appears in the Oxford Dictionary). Then stop at a bia hoi (beer club) on Ta Hien Street and taste the fresh Vietnamese beer that is so popular with locals and travelers. After that, you will head to a pho restaurant where you will be able to choose between regular pho or pho tron (pho noodle mixed with chicken without soup). You'll continue your way along Hoan Kiem Lake for a tasty ice cream before saying good-night to your guide and either return to your hotel or head out on your own for a night on the town. Total duration of the tour is three hours.

      Note: Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum is closed on Mondays and Fridays, and from Sep 8-Nov 8 for annual maintenance. If the mausoleum is closed during your visit, you can see the outside if you wish.

        Meals
        Breakfast
        Lodging
        Hanoi La Siesta Hotel or similar
        Show on a map
      • Day 18: halong bay
        Explore Halong Bay and stay overnight on a boatExplore Halong Bay and stay overnight on a boat

        After breakfast, depart Hanoi and drive to the famous Halong  Bay (approx. 3.5-4 hrs), one of Vietnam's most spectacular natural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's quite a sight to see a great number of sailing junks ("junk" is the term for an ancient Chinese water vessel) traversing the limestone island-spotted bay. Halong Bay is perhaps one of the most beautiful landscapes in Vietnam with its giant rock islets covered in lush vegetation overlooking the waters. There are some 1,900 rocky islands and islets, many uninhabitable and unvisited. Board your private junk for a cruise through Halong. Along the way, you'll stop to explore limestone caves and to relax and swim. At the end of the day, you'll have a chance to enjoy night fishing on the boat. Lunch and dinner will be served during the cruise. Overnight on a lovely junk boat featuring spacious, well-appointed cabins with en-suite bathrooms, a large sundeck with comfortable lounging furniture, a dining area, and several bars. If you have a group and would like to charter a boat, please inquire.

        Meals
        Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
        Lodging
        Indochina Sails Junk (non-private) or similar
        Show on a map
      • Day 19: return to hanoi & onward
        Float among limestone islands in beautiful  Halong BayFloat among limestone islands in beautiful Halong Bay

        For those interested in capturing the beautiful sunrise on the bay, you will need to rise early. Following breakfast, you'll explore and cruise around the bay for great photo opportunities. Sail back to the port and drive back to Hanoi. You'll stop along the way at Yen Duc Village, a typical Red River Delta village that still retains an authentic way of village life. Here, you'll have the chance to see an amazing water puppet show presented by the village artists. After the show, you will have time to stroll around the village and learn about their rural way of life.

        On arrival back in Hanoi, you can do some last minute exploring or shopping until it is time to transfer to the airport for your onward flight or on to your next destination. Depending on flight schedules, it may be necessary to book a day room or another overnight stay in Hanoi (not included in cost).

        Meals
        Breakfast
        Lodging
        None
        Show on a map

      Price and Date Details

      Land Cost:
      From
      $4,150
      Group size 2-3 cost: $5500 Group size 4-10: $4800 Group size 11-12: $4150 Local Asia flights add $700 (estimate)

      Special Offer:
      Ask about discounts on low season travel
      Special Offer Details: 

      Discounts offered on low season travel between May and September.


      Single Supplement:
      $1,600
      The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
      Custom & private on your dates

      Need to Know

      Duration:
      19 days
      The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
      Comfort Level:
      ●●●○○
      (see full descriptions)
      Best available to Superior 4-star hotels & junk boat
      Activity Level:
      ●○○○○
      (see full descriptions)
      Group Size:
      Most custom trips can accommodate groups of any size, from one person to as large of a group as you'd like. Some exceptions apply; ask your Adventure Specialist for details.
      Terms & Conditions: 

      Southeast Asia

      Please note that this trip operates under different payment and cancellation policies than those described in our complete Terms & Conditions as noted on our website and elsewhere. Please review the complete Terms & Conditions prior to submitting a deposit. 

      Expenses covered

      Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

      Expenses not covered

      Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

      Deposit* and payment schedule: 25% of the land cost per person or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $1000 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 75 days prior to departure. Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well. All payments are subject to cancellation if payments are not received by the due dates. All payments may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, Discover or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

      *HOLIDAY departures may require an additional deposit. 

      Additional cancellation fees
      Cancellations that occur between 61-90 days prior to departure will be subject to a cancellation fee that is 50% of the land cost, and cancellations 31-60 days prior will be subject to a 75% cancellation fee. Cancellations between 0-30 days are 100% NON-REFUNDABLE. All payments are subject to cancellation if payments are not received by the due dates.

      Airfare
      We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

      Insurance

      When you make your reservation, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

      Itinerary Change Fee

      There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

      Trip Extensions

      Phuket

      Duration: 4 days

      Phuket is the largest of Thailand's islands. It is incredibly varied with rocky beaches, long broad sandy beaches, forested hills, and clear waters great for snorkeling and relaxing. There is no better way to end a trip!

      River Kwai & Erawan National Park

      Duration: 4 days

      This extension gives you a mixed variety of history and nature. You begin by exploring along the River Kwai stopping at important historical sites. You then travel to Erawan National Park, a unique and rugged landscape of high elevation plateau and s... read more

      Ko Samui

      Duration: 4 days

      Relax and explore the beautiful island of Ko Samui. A perfect extension to any Asia tour.

      Vietnam: Sapa Excursion

      Duration: 4 days

      Extend your visit to Vietnam with this delightful visit to Sapa, for a unique cultural interaction with the local tribes.

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      × comfort level
      Choose accommodations and amenities that fit your personal style
      ●○○○○ Simple
      Our most natural accommodations. Bath facilities often shared, sometimes rustic.
      ●●○○○ Delightful
      Comfortable and especially personal. Small to mid-sized lodges, typically with private bath.
      ●●●○○ Superior
      Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined artistry, or extra-special settings.
      ●●●●○ Deluxe
      Exclusive or luxury lodges, hotels, or safari camps with fine dining options.
      ●●●●● Uncommon
      The most indulgent accommodations arranged specially for private trips.
      × activity level
      Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
      ●○○○○ Gentle
      Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
      ●●○○○ Active
      Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
      ●●●○○ Vigorous
      Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
      ●●●●○ Challenging
      Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
      ●●●●● Demanding
      Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.
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