TOUR CODE: THLARP
Trip Type: Independent Journey
Explore the splendor of Southeast Asia’s most impressive sites through this 14-day tour of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Your journey begins in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s northern capital. We visit fascinating landmarks such as Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Prah Singha, and the temple on Doi Suthep. Then, head to the famous Golden Triangle, once the center of opium production and trade in Southeast Asia. We cruise the Mekong through Laos and explore the spectacular Angkor Wat before concluding in Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital. This excursion offers it all, from the cultural diversity to Southeast Asia’s historical and natural wonders.
ARRIVE IN CHIANG MAI
We arrive in Chiang Mai, Thailand’s cultural capital and home to more than 100 monasteries, fabulous shopping districts, and wonderful restaurants. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.
CHIANG MAI (B)
After time to rest this morning and have lunch on our own. We spend the afternoon exploring the highlights of Chiang Mai on a private air-conditioned minivan/car with your tour guide. We visit Wat Chedi Luang with its towering, ruined Lanna-style chedi and Wat Prah Singha, which houses a sacred Buddha image, dominated by an enormous, mosaic-inlaid wihan (sanctuary). Continue to Doi Suthep, home to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – considered one of northern Thailand’s most sacred shrines. This spiritual location features a steep flight of over 300 stairs flanked by greenery and guarded by a 16th Century Naga serpent carving. You can either brave the climb or opt for a more gentle funicular train adjacent to the stairs. Atop the mountain, the views from here are nothing short of stunning.
CHIANG MAI (B/L)
We spend a day with the elephants at an elephant sanctuary in a lush tropical jungle outside Chiang Mai. The landscape offers elephants their natural surroundings, free to roam around. After lunch, walk with the elephants to the river bank and observe the elephants socializing in their herds and playing in the mud pit.
CHIANG MAI/CHIANG RAI (B)
Journey through winding mountain roads to Chiang Rai, Thailand’s northernmost city. En route, visit Mae Chan, where Yao and Akha hill tribe villages are situated. Then see the Rong Khun, known as the White Temple. Admire its unique decor made of glass, sculptural pieces, and murals designed by a famous Thai artist.
CHIANG RAI/HOUAY XAY/PAKBENG (B/L/D)
Early this morning, we met our driver for our transfer to Wiang Chiang Khong, a small town where the borders of Thailand and Laos meet. After immigration and customs procedures, meet your guide to transfer to the boat in Houay Xay. Our boat leaves Houay Xay pier to cruise down the Mekong River to Pakbeng. Enjoy lunch on board with traditional Laotian dishes. After lunch, stop at a hill tribe village along the Mekong River for a chance to observe rural life along the Mekong and the origins of these rural populations. Return to your boat with free time to relax and enjoy the Mekong River. We arrive at Pakbeng before sunset for an overnight stay in a hotel.
PAKBENG/LUANG PRABANG (B/L)
Back onboard our riverboat for another day of impressive natural landscapes along the Mekong River. After lunch, our first stop is the Pak Ou Buddha Caves (Tham Ting). The caves are noted for their unique 4,000 statues of Buddha sculpted from various materials, including bronze, wood, ceramic, and even animal horns. Our riverboat makes the second stop to visit the hill tribe village of Lao Lao, where you can watch the traditional process of making Lao whiskey. Disembark at Luang Prabang, the former royal capital of Laos, where we will stay for the next two nights.
LUANG PRABANG (B)
Rise early to witness the daily morning ritual of ‘Tak Bat,’ a local custom of giving alms to monks. This unique ritual is still followed by locals in Luang Prabang and offers a wonderful insight into the local culture. After breakfast, take a city tour of this charming UNESCO World Heritage town. First, we visit Wat Sen, the Temple of 100,000 Treasures noted for its large standing Buddha image draped with a saffron robe. The image’s shelter, the main sim, and bell tower are beautifully stenciled with red and gold images of mythical animals and incarnations of the Buddha. Then we explore the Wat Visoun (Wat Visounnalat), which represents the earliest Lao temple architecture style. The original highly ornate wooden sim was a spectacular example of Lao craftsmanship and was one of the most imposing religious structures of old Luang Prabang. In the afternoon, we head south through the picturesque landscape to Khuang Si Falls, where the waters tumble over multi-tiered limestone formations into a series of turquoise pools. Return to town to enjoy the sunset on Mount Phou Si, overlooking Luang Prabang. Later we tour the Street Night Market, where local people and surrounding hill tribes display their textiles, silkworms, and hand-made traditional garments and wares.
LUANG PRABANG/SIEM REAP (B)
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap, arriving this afternoon. The rest of the day is free at leisure.
SIEM REAP (B)
We make our first visit to the world-famous Angkor complex, a site full of temples built between the 19th and 13th centuries. We enter through the impressive South Gate and explore the ancient city. Then proceed to visit the ruins at Bayon, Baphoun, Phimeanakas, the Royal Palace, the Elephant Terrace, and the Leper King Terrace. In the afternoon, visit the magnificent Angkor Wat. Explore its extraordinary architecture for an opportunity to experience a spectacular sunset over the monuments.
SIEM REAP (B)
Today we visit the most interesting temples outside Angkor Thom city. Our first stop is the graceful 11th century Temple of Shiva, Banteay Srei, and the Banteay Samre Temple. On our way back, see the jungle-enveloped Ta Prohm, one of the most atmospheric of all temples in Angkor. Once home to 2,740 monks, Ta Prohm today looks much as it did in the early 1850s when French explorer Henri Mouhot rediscovered this crumbling site.
SIEM REAP/BANGKOK (B)
In the morning, explore Khmer temples from the early Angkorian period. Visit the Roluos group of temples dating from the 9th and 10th centuries, including the Preah Ko, Bakong, and Lolei Temples. Late today, we fly to Bangkok, the Thais capital known in Thai as Krung Thep (City of Angels). Upon arrival, meet your guide for your transfer to your hotel.
Our morning tour of the Thai capital begins with visiting the enormous Golden Buddha statue at Wat Traimit. Then we explore the vast and stunning grounds of the Grand Palace and the beautiful Emerald Buddha Temple. In the afternoon, hop aboard a traditional long-tailed boat for a cruise along Bangkok’s extensive klongs (canals) and admire the scenic life along Bangkok’s waterways.
Spend the day at leisure, exploring Bangkok’s large shopping malls, indulging in some of Bangkok’s street food, or just relaxing at the hotel.
DEPART FOR U.S. (B)
Head to the airport for our return flights to the U.S.
Meals: B= Breakfast L= Lunch D= Dinner
Per person, based on double occupancy
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