TOUR CODE: TREIDC
Trip Type: Small Group Journey
Discover Indochina’s beauty, history, and culture on this 16 days grand adventure. Begin in Vietnam’s bustling capital of Hanoi, visiting iconic and historic landmarks before venturing on to majestic Ha Long Bay. We board a classic junk-styled ship cruising the world-famous Halong Bay. We will also explore lesser-known treasures, including the ancient port city of Hoi An and My Son Sanctuary, before moving on to charming Siem Reap in Cambodia. From this base, we will explore the historic Angkor temples, including mesmerizing Angkor Wat, soaking in the history and intrigue of this beautiful place. We will then journey to the Laotian city of Luang Prabang, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its many beautiful temples and attractions. Our adventure will conclude in Thailand’s bustling capital Bangkok, where we will visit the stunning Royal Palace and other famous sights.
Arrive in the capital city of Hanoi, meet your guide at the airport for your transfer to the hotel, where you can rest well for your upcoming tour.
Our morning sightseeing in Hanoi begins with a tour of the Museum of Ethnology, which showcases art, traditional clothing, and reconstructions of traditional longhouses from 54 different ethnic groups. Next, explore the Temple of Literature, a temple dedicated to Confucius and the site of Vietnam’s first university. Then, we wander through Ba Dinh Square, a famous complex of cultural and historic sites, including the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace, and Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House. Continue to the infamous Hoa Lo Prison built by the French to imprison political prisoners. Hoa Lo was sardonically nicknamed the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War by American POWs. This afternoon is free at leisure.
HANOI/HALONG BAY CRUISE (B/L/D)
Depart Hanoi in the morning and head to the seaside port of Halong Bay. Board a traditional junk boat and get acquainted with the facilities onboard as we set sail and cruise into the bay. Savor your first hour in the bay on the sun deck and let your eyes wander over the breathtaking scenery. We continue cruising through a fishing village on the bay and pass the spectacular limestone caves dotted around the bay. Soak up the sun on the top deck with optional onboard activities. In the evening, the chef will prepare a splendid meal comprised of fresh seafood and other traditional dishes.
HALONG BAY/HANOI/HUE (B)
Greet the day on deck with a tai chi session as the sun rises, followed by breakfast in the restaurant. Spend the morning cruising through the limestone cliffs of Ha Long Bay before returning to the wharf. Disembark and drive back to Hanoi for your flight to Hue, Vietnam’s imperial past.
HUE/HOI AN (B/D)
Today, we explore the ancient imperial city of Hue. Take a boat cruise on the romantic Perfume River. Visit the elaborate mausoleums of the Tomb of Tu Duc and Thien Mu Pagoda, one of Hue’s most ancient architectural structures for religious worship. We wander through the grounds of the citadel complex and observe high stone walls and the refined palaces and temples behind them. Stroll through the traditional Vietnamese Dong Ba market before traveling to Hoi An.
HOI AN (B)
The UNESCO-listed Hoi An Ancient Town is one of Vietnam’s most charming and atmospheric towns. Our morning walking tour includes many of the town’s highlights. Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community, to link the city with the Chinese quarters across the stream. Near the bridge is the Sa Huynh Museum, home to numerous artifacts and materials of the Sa Huynh civilization, the very first traders of the port town. Wander into the Tran Family Chapel, a 200-year-old house built for worshipping ancestors. Visit Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall, a Chinese pagoda built around 1690 and enlarged in 1900. It is a typical Chinese clan in the Hoi An area, dedicated to Thien Hau Thanh Mau, the Goddess of the Sea and protector of sailors and fishermen. We will learn how to make a lantern from scratch at a lantern-making workshop.
The food in Hoi An has multicultural influences, and the street food in Hoi An is so unique. On this night tour, hop on the back of a Vespa for a Hoi An Food Tour. Beginning with a sunset boat cruise across the Thu Bon River to Cam Nam Island, and admire Hoi An’s beautiful illuminations. Stop along the way to sample various traditional Vietnamese dishes, including ‘Banh Mi,’ ‘White Rose’ dumplings, ‘Cao Lau’ noodles, BBQ meats, and Banh Flan.
MY SON SANCTUARY/DANANG/HO CHI MINH CITY (B)
We spend the morning at the Hindu sanctuary of My Son. Stroll among the ancient ruins and learn more about its fascinating history as the center of the Champa Kingdom. Continue to Danang Airport for our flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s commercial capital in the south.
HO CHI MINH CITY (B/D)
We begin sightseeing with a morning tour to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. This 156 miles underground network of tunnels and bunkers was used as operational headquarters by North Vietnamese forces in wartime. In the afternoon, discover the highlights of this bustling city, including Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, Chinatown, the Binh Tay Market, and Thien Hau Temple.
HO CHI MINH CITY/SIEM REAP (B)
Today we board our flight to Siem Reap, home to the magnificent Angkor Wat Monuments. Upon your arrival, transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free at leisure.
SIEM REAP (B/D)
Angkor Wat is known worldwide for its awe-inspiring collection of ancient temple ruins. We begin sightseeing at Angkor Thom, the heavily fortified city built in the 10th century by the greatest Khmer ruler, King Jayavarman VII (1181 – 1201). With over one million inhabitants, Angkor Thom covered 3.8 square miles. We enter via the South Gate of Angkor Thom, one of the five 65-foot high gates that pass along a narrow causeway over the city moat flanked by the statues of 54 gods on the left and 54 devils on the right. They are seemingly engaged in a game of tug of war, yet they are enacting the famous scene from the Churning Sea of Milk bas-relief. After walking through the causeway and gate, you will have entered Angkor Thom. From Angkor Thom’s southern gateway, continue to visit the Bayon Temple. The structure is staggering in its construction, and most Angkor specialists agree that it is one of the finest examples of classic Khmer architecture. The 49 towers on the third level are stunning and decorated with 172 smiling faces of the omnipresent Avalokitesvara. This temple marks the exact center of Angkor Thom; thus, it is the most venerated of the city’s temples and the most mysterious. Leaving the Bayon, take a brief stop at the Royal Enclosure to see the Elephant Terrace. The terrace takes its name from the exceptional depiction of elephants and an elephant hunt, which takes up most of the frieze. A little north of the main terrace is another, known as the Terrace of the Leper King. It was built in the Bayon style under Jayavarman VII, though its modern name derives from a 15th-century sculpture discovered at the site. The statue depicts the Hindu god Yama, the god of death. We continue to the 12th century Preah Khan temple located northeast Angkor Thom. Constructed as a monastery and teaching complex in 1191 by Jayavarman VII, Preah Khan is unique in its sense of religious tolerance, with sections dedicated to Buddhism, ancestor worship, and the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu. We will conclude our afternoon sightseeing with a stop at the jungle temple Ta Prohm. Covering by the trees growing out of the ruins and the surrounding jungle, Ta Prohm creates a great merging of nature and architecture.
SIEM REAP (B)
Start the day early to view the sunrise over the beautiful ruins of Angkor Wat. Imagine centuries ago, the markets and temples came alive with the dawn of a new day. After this memorable experience, enter Angkor Wat’s main enclosure to experience Angkor from an entirely different perspective. With the grounds almost deserted of visitors, you will feel like Angkor Wat is yours to explore. Constructed under the reign of Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat is one of the most massive religious structures in the world, covering an area of 480 acres encircled by an enclosure wall nearly four miles long. The five towers of Angkor Wat represent the five peaks of Mount Meru, home of the gods and the center of the Hindu universe. The temple’s greatest sculptural treasure is its one-mile-long bas-relief that wraps around the walls of the outer gallery along with the figures of Khmer Devas and Apsaras. Return to your hotel for breakfast. After breakfast, drive to the intricately carved and well-preserved Banteay Srei (citadel of women). The detailed reliefs on this smaller sandstone structure are regarded as the finest and most skillfully crafted in Cambodia. This afternoon is free at leisure.
SIEM REAP/LUANG PRABANG (B)
Today, we board our flight to Luang Prabang, a Unesco World Heritage town in northern Laos.
LUANG PRABANG (B/D)
Rise early to witness one of the cultural traditions that have remained unchanged throughout the town’s shifting history is the daily alms giving ceremony known as ‘Tak Bat’. It is an ancient tradition in Laos Buddhist culture, occurring every day at sunrise throughout the country. Luang Prabang is one of the best places to experience this special event. Hundreds of Buddhist monks appear and walk down the street of Luang Prabang to get their daily sustenance. After breakfast, take a boat trip to the spectacular Pak Ou Caves. A jagged hole in the cliff face reveals a cave filled with hundreds of statues of the Buddha. For at least 500 years, kings and pilgrims have worshiped at Pak Ou’s lower cave, Tham Ting. Along the way, stop at the village of Baan Xanghai, where ‘Lao-Lao’, Laotian rice whisky is produced. Continue to Kuang Si Waterfall, a breathtaking waterfall nestled amidst primitive hill tribe villages in the mountainous jungles on the outskirts of Luang Prabang. With proximity to the waterfall is the Khmu minority village of Ban Thapaene. Take a walk around the town for a glimpse of their lifestyle.
LUANG PRABANG/BANGKOK (B)
After breakfast, our first stop today is Mount Phousi, the highest point in Luang Prabang, home to a thriving Buddhist monastery. Wat Phuosi offers spectacular 360-degree views of the old town. Leaving the highest point in Luang Prabang, continue to the National Museum, formerly the Royal Palace. Constructed as a palace between 1904 and 1909 during King Sisavangvong and is now turned into a National Museum. It houses the royal throne of Lan Xang kingdom in its original splendor and many other religious treasures. Board our flight to Bangkok in the afternoon.
Take in the breathtaking sights of Bangkok with a relaxing long-tail boat cruise on the Chao Phraya river. This boat trip will provide you with an insight into the lives of people who live along the klongs (canals). We stop at Wat Arun (Temple Of Dawn), located on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River and one of Bangkok’s most iconic structures. The main feature is the imposing 219 feet Khmer-style spire made from broken, multi-hued Chinese porcelain. From the top of the tower, you can see the winding Chao Phraya River, The Grand Palace, and Wat Pho across the river. We cross the river to explore the splendid Grand Palace complex, the most important and impressive royal palace in Thailand. Your guide will show you the courts used for different occasions, including the Funeral Palace, the Reception Palace, the Throne Hall, the Coronation Hall, the Royal Guest House, and the mysterious Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand. Appropriate dress is required.
BANGKOK DEPARTURE (B)
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Meals: B= Breakfast L= Lunch D=Dinner
Per person, based on double occupancy
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