Day 1 ARRIVE BANGKOK
On arrival, you are transferred to the hotel. Balance of the day is free at leisure.
- Salil Hotel Sukhumvit Soi 11
- Akyra Tas Sukhumvit Bangkok
- The Siam Bangkok
This evening, enjoy an optional Thai Dinner & Dance
Transfer to Sala Rim Naam lying across the river from Mandarin Oriental Hotel offers a delicious choice of traditional Thai dishes including Lon Poo Talay (sea crab meat cooked in coconut milk), Yaam Talay (spiced seafood salad) and Mussamun Nuea (southern style beef curry with sweet potato and onion). Housed in a richly decorated pavilion built in the traditional Northern Thai style, Sala Rim Naam is the setting for a unique cultural experience — a classical Thai dance show performed every night at 07:45pm.
Sala Rim Naam adheres to a smart casual dress code for all guests, including children, ladies are kindly asked to wear elegant attire and proper footwear, and gentlemen are kindly asked to wear a smart shirt, long trousers and closed shoes.
Day 2 GRAND PALACE TOUR (B/L)
Today, we will visit Wat Phra Kaew and the nearby attractions first, before moving on to the Grand Palace. Wat Phra Kaew, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, is located right next to the Grand Palace, and they probably form together the greatest spectacle for visitors in Bangkok. A visit to the Royal Grand Palace, the nation’s landmark and most praised royal monument in Thailand, is a must. The palace, which is the former royal residence of the Chakri Kings, is the perfect example of an ancient Siamese court. Built in 1782 by the King Rama I, it was the centre of power for more than 150 years.
Today, the palace is Bangkok’s major landmark and most popular tourist attraction. Indeed, the Grand Palace is an amazing place to visit, as it consists of over 100 brightly coloured buildings, golden spires and glittering mosaics, that all date back to the foundation of Bangkok in 1782. Please note that photography is permitted in the Royal Palace Grounds and in the compounds of the Emerald Buddha Temple, but not inside the buildings. Also, note that the chapel is a national shrine and that you will be required to wear proper attire (no bare shoulders, knees or strapless-heel shoes). Shoes must be removed before entering the temple buildings as a matter of respect.
Lunch at Suppaniga with Wat Arun view http://www.supannigaeatingroom.com/
This afternoon, visit 3 of the most stunning temples, Bangkok has to offer! It features the “Wat Traimit” with its 5, 5 ton heavy Golden Buddha Image, the Wat Chetuporn (commonly known as the Wat Po), that boasts the over 45-meters long Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is also regarded as the first centre of public education and is sometimes called ‘Thailand’s first university’. Mural paintings, inscriptions, and statues found in the temple-educated people on varied subjects such as literature, warfare, archaeology, astronomy, geology, meditation and to be considered, home of the Thai traditional massage.
We end the tour with a visit to the Wat Benchamaborpit (also known as the Marble Temple): a representation of an outstanding success of marriage between Italian Carrara marble and classical Thai architecture. Especially for those interested to know a bit more about Buddhism and its history, combined with the always-busy city life.
Day 3 HALF DAY DAMNOEN SADUAK (B/D)
This morning, travel to the rural yet world-famous floating market of Damnoen Saduak, situated around 100 kilometers west of Bangkok. It is generally known as Klong Ton Khem Floating Market or Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. A narrow canal flanked with food stalls and souvenir shops forms the principal market at Ton Kem. Farther south are the rarely visited markets at Her Kui and Khun Pitak.
Photographers at Ton Kem will get their best shots from the bridge, which crosses over the canal, and from the produce shed on the right. Nowadays, the market is bustling with activity from very early in the morning until about 11.00 am.
After the tour, return to the city and have a rest.
Your night starts by travelling from your hotel by tuk tuk to Chinatown. We arrive just as the sun sets to experience the bright lights of Yaowarat Road and the Odeon Circle. Off the main road are a series of narrow alleys that offer a great insight into how the Chinese community have preserved their cultural traditions for over two centuries. The area was once renowned for being a dense warren of opium dens, gambling joints and brothels. Today it’s the great food, fabric and gold that lures people to this area. Tonight, you can taste at least seven different local Thai and Chinese dishes from different street food vendors. These vary but may include Satay (grilled meat with a peanut source), Sala Pow (steamed buns with meat or vegetables inside), Khao Mun Gai (Hainanese style chicken rice) Bamee Moo Daeng (noodles with slices of red pork), Khao Niew Mamuang (mango sticky rice) and Bua Loy Nam Khing (rice dough balls filled with sesame paste in hot ginger juice).
Afterwards, jump back into your tuk tuk and head to Thatien Pier for a short photo stop of Wat Arun. Then pass through Pak Klong Talad Market, best visited at night when there are fresh deliveries of flowers, fruit and spices. Back in the tuk tuk we drive through Rattanakosin, the original area of Bangkok, capital over 200 years ago. You will see magnificent temples and architectural buildings, like the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Democracy Monument. We stop at The Press Sky Bar to enjoy a drink on their roof. While not the highest bar in Bangkok, it offers a wonderful panoramic view from the 6th floor. Relax on the comfy sofas before being dropped off back at your hotel.
Day 4 BANGKOK – CHIANG RAI (B/L)
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Chiang Rai.
On arrival, you are picked up from airport and drive to Chiang Sean, the historical city dating back more than 700 years. it’s the former capital of the Lanna Thai kingdom until this was moved to Chiang Rai in 1262 still keeps vestiges of its past glory through ruins of double city walls, antiques and its distinctive Buddhist sculpture style that evolved in the late 13th century.
Stand at the exact spot where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet, now worldwide known as The Golden Triangle. Pay a visit to the Opium Museum as the Golden Triangle Area used to be the area where an extensive trade of opium between these three neighboring countries.
Lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch, continue to visit the hill tribe villages. On the way, we could see Khun Nam Nang Non or Doi Nang Non , the sleeping lady mountain where the big news of the survivors of the 13 boys from the Thai youth football team were rescued from the main street. Then visit the tribe called “ Yao” who came from southern part of China with the nice decorated red scarves on the original costumes and the colorful embroidery pants. Visit to the “ Akha ” who came from Tibet and Myanmar with the silver hats on the ladies head. If time permits, visit the Long Neck Tribe who immigrated from Myanmar with the brass rings decorated around the ladies’ neck as well as their legs to present as the most beautiful ladies in the village.
Later this afternoon, return to town and enjoy your resort and maybe take a Thai Massage and Spa. Small and tranquil town of Chiang Rai is really a nice place to enjoy leisure time.
Tonight, explore Chiang Rai’s night bazaar with dinner at Chivit Thamma Da on your own.
- Laluna Hotel and Resort
- Le Patta Chiang Rai Hotel
- Le Meridien Chiang Rai
Day 5 CHIANG RAI (B/L)
The morning starts with a tour to Doi Tung. The site is a major environmental and socio-economic development project initiated by Her Royal Highness Srinakarindra, the Princess Mother, mother of His Majesty the King of Thailand. This amazing full day tour includes entrance to the Doi Tung Royal Villa. This villa The late Princess Mother chose to build her another home in the north where she could stay for a long rest or to work on her reforestation project on Doi Tung. Included in this tour is a visit to the Wat Phrathat Doi Tung. It is not unlikely that we admire a variety of hill tribes on the way and we can of course make a stop here and there to shoot some pictures of the various minorities living here. Lunch will be served en route at a local restaurant.
This afternoon is free at leisure or take an optional cooking class and learn about the “Rice for Life” ethos practiced here.
Day 6 CHIANG RAI – CHIANG MAI (B/L)
We leave Chiang Rai early and say goodbye to Chiang Rai. The first stop is the Wat Rong Khun, perhaps better known to foreigners as the White Temple. It is a contemporary, unconventional, privately-owned art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand.
Continue drive to Chiang Dao. By many considered one of the most beautiful routings along the Northern Part of “Lanna” Thailand, due to the extensive natural beauty. Along the way, many elephant camps, caves and scenic places to take pictures can be seen.
Lunch included at a local restaurant
Our lunch address is a little gem in the jungle area, surrounded by lush forest areas and friendly smiles. The lunch will be a mix of the best ingredients and dishes, Thailand is known for.
After lunch, visit the Chiang Dao Caves, considered to be extending around 10-14 kilometres into the 2285-high Doi (= Mountain) Chiang Dao. The interior cave formations are quite spectacular inside.
On the way to Chang Mai, we visit an orchid farm to view a variety of some of Thailand’s most exquisite blooms.
Tonight enjoy Chiang Mai’s Sunday night market.
- 99 the Heritage Hotel
- De Naga Chiang Mai Hotel
- Akyra Manor Chiang Mai
Day 7 CHIANG MAI (B/L)
This morning, visit the most sacred temple in the North of Thailand: Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is the most sacred temple in Chiang Mai and contains a holy relic of the Lord Buddha. Tucked away in the mountains at an elevation of 1,056 meters (3,520 feet), the temple can be reached by the carved mythical Naga Serpent Staircase. The temple offers an exhilarating view of Chiang Mai city and its surrounding countryside.
In the afternoon, visit Patara Elephant Farm set approximately 30km west of Chiang Mai in a beautiful forested setting and offers in intimate and educational elephant encounter. Our valued guests become elephants’ caretaker for a half day by conducting a health inspection, feeding, bathing, and exercising the animals.
This is undoubtedly a once in a lifetime experience. https://www.pataraelephantfarm.com/
Upon arrival at Patara Elephant Farm, you will be given your training outfit to change and get ready for this incredible experience.
The training session starts! You will be participating in the elephant breeding programme and give daily healthcare to the farm’s pregnant elephants and their small babies. You will learn how to approach and be near the elephants, feed them, go through the elephants’ health check, walk with them to drink water and give them a proper bath. Together with your instructor of the day, you will take your elephant for a walk and bath them. Time to take the last photos with your elephants before saying goodbye.
Tonight, enjoy Chiang Mai’s night market.
Day 8 CHIANG MAI – LUANG PRABANG
This morning, explore this famous city, its old city walls, gates and moat, and the local market and Tapae Gate. Stop at thst Chiang Man, the city’s oldest temple and famed for a Chedi supported by rows of elephantine buttresses. Visit Wat Srisuphan, a silver temple that was first constructed at the beginning of the 16th century. In the temple attend the workshop area where silver plates are made. Learn how to make these silver plates and create a personalized one using patterns taught at the workshop
After the workshop, continue to local Northern style lunch and then transfer to the airport for your flight to Luang Prabang.
On arrival, you are met and transferred to the hotel.
- Maison Dalabua
- Le Sen Boutique Hotel
- Avani Luang Prabang
Day 9 LUANG PRABANG (B/L)
Set between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang is an enchanting town filled with historic temples and colonial style buildings. The entire town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Start the day at Wat Visoun (Wat Wisunalat), the oldest living temple in Luang Prabang, dating back to 1513 and contains a collection of antique wooden Buddhas. Visit the nearby Wat Aham before continuing to Wat Xieng Thong, the crowning jewel of all the monasteries and temples in the city. Its many ornate buildings feature exquisite mosaic and gold-stencilled murals.
Continue to Kuang Si Waterfall, located in a perfect natural setting near Luang Prabang, this multi-tiered waterfall tumbles over limestone formations into a series of turquoise pools. Enjoy swimming in the clear water or just relaxing in the natural environment.
Visit Ban Tha Pene, a nearby Khmu village, before returning to Luang Prabang by vehicle. Visit Ban Xang Khong, a village near Luang Prabang well known for its traditional handwoven cotton and silk, as well as production of the local sa (mulberry) paper.
Visit Mount Phousi for sunset. Climb 328 steps starting from the entrance on the opposite side of National Museum, or 410 steps on the other side of Khan River to the small temples atop Phou Si. The hill is 150m high and sits in the middle of the town, offering beautiful views over the temples and river.
Day 10 LUANG PRABANG – HANOI (B)
Today’s journey start with Give alms to the monks (early morning)
An early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (ubiquitous sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the procession.
Visit the National Museum(Royal Palace), a modest but graceful building which combines traditional Lao and French beaux-arts motifs. This turn-of-the century royal residence has been preserved as it was when the royal family last lived here and provides unique insights into the history of Laos. Then, visit Hor Phrabang. In the right front corner room of the Palace which opens to the outside, is a collection of the palace’s most prized art, including the Phrabang, cast of a gold, silver and bronze alloy. This Buddha stands at 83 cm tall and weighs around 50 kg.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Hanoi.
Although it is the modern-day capital of Vietnam, Hanoi still retains the mystery and charm of past centuries. Narrow lanes and traditional shop houses invite an exciting exploration by walking, while it’s many beautiful public spaces; lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and monuments; give the city an air of elegance and harmony with nature unique among Asian capitals.
- Silk Path Boutique Hanoi Hotel
- O’Gallery Classy Hotel and Spa
- Hanoi La Siesta Hotel & Spa
Day 11 HANOI
This morning, a brief visit to the National History Museum and then the Hanoi Hilton (Hoa Lo Prison). Hoa Lo Prison was a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for U.S. Prisoners of War during the Vietnam War. During this later period it was sarcastically known to American Pows as the Hanoi Hilton. The prison was demolished during the 1990s, though the gatehouse remains as a museum.
Visit the Temple of Literature. The Temple of Literature has a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, and this monument is one of the best-preserved examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam’s first university. In one courtyard, giant stone tortoises bear stele on their backs, listing the accomplishments of graduating scholars.
Visit the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex. Start the exploration of the vast Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which contains the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh (closed Mondays, Fridays, and during September and October).
View the outside of the Presidential Palace and then stroll through the park to the Ho Chi Minh Stilt House where Ho Chi Minh lived from 1958 until his final days in 1969. Preserved in the same condition as during his life, it may be viewed through the windows.
Continue to the miniature 11th century One Pillar Pagoda which was rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954.
Visit the bustling Chau Long market located just off of Truc Bach Lake. Enjoy the walk through the narrow and busy passages with a crowd of vendors’ stores displaying all sorts of colorful groceries and foodstuffs. There is a good deal of chances for great photos with vibrant colors from a vegetable shop or a butcher’s store. If you are keen to see some exotic stuff, you will find a corner with kicking frogs, eels, silkworms and so forth and so on. Feel the energy in the air with the excitement from the locals who are working on the ingredients for their upcoming meals at home. Twist the way through the crowd to find some interesting street food stops. There will be the tasty rice vermicelli with grilled pork patties (bun cha) with the famous deep fried Vietnamese spring roll. Continue your culinary exploration with some creative variations of the popular “pho”. Next, go to an old cafe that has been handed down through a few generations to enjoy the aroma of the coffee made with special family brewing technique.
Day 12 HANOI (B/L)
Visit the Old Quarter
The Old Quarter holds over a thousand years of history and remains one of Vietnam’s most lively and unusual places, where one can buy anything from a gravestone to silk pajamas. Explore by walking to the maze of back streets with fascination wonderment at every turn and there are endless things to buy from wool clothes, cosmetics, gold and silver jewellery, silk clothes and herbal medicines
Hanoi Weekend Night Market. As your hotel is located by the Hoan Kiem Lake, you can easily stroll around the lake, lots of locals and tourists enjoying the sites.
Day 13 HANOI – HALONG CRUISE (B/L/D)
This morning travel by vehicle from Hanoi to Halong Bay and on arrival, transfer with a tender to the comfortable cruise and enjoy a welcome drink aboard. Begin the cruise through majestic Halong Bay while lunch is served. Enjoy the magical bay where thousands of sculpted limestone islands rise from the waves like dragon’s teeth.
The cruise continues cruising through a fishing village on the bay and passes the spectacular limestone caves dotted around the bay. Soak up the sun on the top deck with optional on-board activities: sunbathing, and photo opportunities. In the evening the chef will prepare a splendid meal comprised of fresh seafood dishes and other traditional dishes.
- Bhaya Classic Halong Bay
- Legend | Indochina Sails
- Pelican | Violet Cruise
Day 14 HALONG – HANOI – DANANG – HOI AN (B)
Greet the day with a morning Tai Chi exercise that offer a perfect opportunity to view the sunrise over the bay. After breakfast, visit a beautiful limestone grotto then back to the boat for a final glimpse of the Halong Bay while cruising back to the dock. Check out luggage and bid tidings to beautiful Halong Bay.
Travel by vehicle from Halong to Hanoi Noi Bai Airport and take flight from Hanoi to Danang. On arrival, transfer to your hotel in Hoi An.
- Cozy Hoi An Boutique Villas
- Lantana Riverside Boutique
- Anantara Hoi An Resort
Day 15 HOI AN (B)
The exquisitely preserved merchant town of Hoi An was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Its colorful shop houses and temples reflect a diverse heritage, dating back to the 16th and 17th century, when it was a major port for Western, Chinese and Japanese traders. Today it is a thriving centre of traditional crafts and a shoppers’ paradise, best explored on foot.
Wander through the cobbled streets, past low tile-roofed buildings, the bustling central market and the small harbor where colorfully painted boats are moored. The walking tour will include visits to a private house, where members of the same family have lived continuously for centuries in a traditional setting; to one of the family chapels built by prominent merchant or official families as centers for ancestor worship; and to a typical Chinese-style Pagoda or assembly hall.
Finally, continue to the famous Japanese Covered Bridge, first constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream.
In the afternoon, board a local boat and cruise down the Thu Bon River, enjoying the unspoiled countryside and stopping to visit a pottery village and before returning to Hoi An harbor.
Day 16 HOI AN – DANANG – SIEM REAP (B)
This morning enjoy a Cooking Class at Tra Que and Farmer Experience with Cycling.
Hop on your bike from the hotel in Hoi An to visit the colorful market where you can find many ingredients for the cooking class. Continue your trip through the beautiful countryside to Tra Que village, stop at a farmer’s house to visit the vegetable fields and get some hands on experience of farming life. Learn how to prepare special dishes with the local family and enjoy lunch.
Transfer to the Danang airport where you will fly to Siem Reap and on arrival transfer to the hotel.
- Lotus Blanc Hotel
- Golden Temple Retreat
- Jaya House River Park
Day 17 SIEM REAP (B/L)
The fortified city of Angkor Thom covers an area of 10 square km. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats; the city includes many of Angkor’s most popular sights. Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant naga. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings, former spaces for public ceremonies, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs. Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple.
The Bayon, Jayavarman VII’s mysterious temple mountain, stands squarely in the middle of the royal city of Angkor Thom. In this temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down from every angle.
Visit Ta Prohm temple, one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them.
Watch the sun set over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple.
Day 18 SIEM REAP (B/L)
Sunrise at Angkor Wat with local Breakfast at Srah Srang by Tuk Tuk.
Wake up before dawn and set off by tuk-tuk in the dark to the stunning Angkor Wat temple. While most tourists are heading towards the front entrance of the temple, we will take you to the quieter back entrance away from the crowds. Patiently wait while the sun slowly starts to lighten the sky revealing the dark silhouette of the temple towers and walls. Get your camera ready to capture the changing colours of the sky and the mysterious shadows cast over the ancient stone structures. From here head to a quiet temple to wander through the ruins and breathe in the haunting atmosphere. Then settle down in your private picnic spot and enjoy a local breakfast overlooking the still waters of Srah Srang, the 13th century reservoir and royal bathing pool. Return to your hotel by tuk-tuk.
Visit the Angkor Wat, the crown jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. Upon entering the main structure, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyard before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface of the temple, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted from the walls. Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones.
This afternoon, undertake a spiritual journey and a water blessing. Visit a Buddhist temple for a private ceremony. Walk along the garden paths around the beautiful pagoda with its gilded spires and then enter into the peaceful temple and take a seat on the floor in front of the saffron-clad monks. Listen as they quietly chant in the ancient Buddhist language of Pali. Breathe in the aromas of the lotus and jasmine flowers and the burning incense as you offer your alms to the monks.
Then it is your turn to take part in an ancient Cambodian practice by receiving a traditional water blessing. The monks will lightly sprinkle water over you as they chant harmoniously to wish you good luck, safe travel and a long life. After the blessing, the monk will tie a thread around your wrist to bring good luck and prosperity.
Afterwards, continue an excursion to Kampong Kleang by boat. The Kampong Kleang is situated on the northeast shore on the edge of the ecologically important Tonle Sap Lake. The road to the site is good but rather narrow. This boat trip will explore the floating fishing villages that live at the edges of the lake, passing submerged forests and fishing farms.
Tonight, stroll the Pub Street on your own, only 10 minutes walk from your hotel. a fun place to find a patio for dinner and watch all the tourists.
Day 19 SIEM REAP – PHNOM PENH
This morning, a visit to the Cambodian Landmine Museum as an important place to realize the impacts of war and genocide in this nation’s recent past. Tour of the city and visit the War Museum in Cambodia.
Lunch at Butterflies Garden Restaurant , a wonderful restaurant and vocational training project.
After lunch, visit Artisans D’Angkor a store created to help young people find work in their home villages by teaching them different types of crafts.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Phnom Penh.
Have a drink or dinner on the patio of the Foreign Correspondence Center.
- Double Leaf Boutique Hotel
- La Rose Boutique Hotel & Spa
- Raffles Hotel Le Royal
Day 20 PHNOM PENH (B/L)
This morning, visit Tuol Sleng (S-21). Learn about a chapter from Cambodia’s more recent, tragic, past at the Tuol Sleng Museum (Museum of Genocide). Formerly the Tuol Svay Prey High School, in 1975, this became the interrogation and torture facility for the Khmer Rouge regime at that time known as Security Prison 21, or simply S-21. Kept largely unchanged, this prison now showcases photographs and exhibits about the thousands of victims that passed through these doors only seven of whom came out alive.
Excursion to the Killing Fields, Just outside Phnom Penh, in a peaceful rural setting, the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek provide a stark reminder of the atrocities under the Pol Pot regime. Thousands of people were killed here between the years of 1975 and 1978 and buried in mass graves.
This afternoon, explore Phnom Penh, a chaotic, energetic and always fascinating city. Graceful tree-lined boulevards and riverfront promenades are reminders of bygone eras; today they teem with life and activity, as motorcycles weave in and out of traffic, vendors hawk their wares, and pedestrians go about their business.
Visit to the Royal Palace, still the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoi and the adjacent Silver Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha. Continue to the elegant National Museum, which contains a comprehensive collection of Khmer Art.
Finally, explore the modern-day city, visiting one of Phnom Penh’s two great markets, the Central Market, located in a distinctive domed Art Deco building or the sprawling Russian Market, a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from CDs and DVDs to silks, crafts, jewelry and more.
Day 21 PHNOM PENH – PANDAW (B/D)
This morning, explore Morning Local Life by Cyclo
Take an early morning visit to the market to watch the locals go about their daily activities and sample some delicious Khmer food. We will pick you up from your hotel and take you by cyclo to a local market not on the usual tourist trail. Stroll past the pavement stalls piled high with the typical ingredients used in everyday traditional Khmer cuisine – fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs, tropical fruits, meat and fish. Stop for a while to chat with the locals while you sample Nom Banh Chok, a rice noodle dish served with vegetables. At the Nom Pang stall try a French baguette filled with all sorts of unusual ingredients including pickled papaya. Follow this with some delicious Cambodian desserts and a glass of refreshing sugarcane juice. This sweet drink is a favorite with the locals, not only because it’s cheap but also because it tastes so good! Before leaving the market your guide will help you select some food, flowers and candles to be offered as alms at the temple. Climb back on the cyclo and weave your way through the crowds to a pagoda. Learn about the Buddhist way of life and witness how the locals arrange lunch for the monks.
After lunch, transfer to pier and embark the ship between 14.30 and 15.00. Cruise toward the Vietnam border.
- RV Indochina Main Deck
- RV Indochina Upper Deck
- RV Indochina Upper Deck
Day 22 VIETNAM BORDER (B/L/D)
Early sailing to the Vietnam border for formalities and during this stationary period there is an optional tour of the working ship and fruit carving classes on deck.
In the afternoon, explore the labyrinthine canal system around Tan Chau to visit a Taoist temple where the monks will read fortunes. Continue through local villages by Xe Loi stopping off to help locals tend their fields before stopping off to visit a fish farm and earn merit by releasing fish back into the Mekong.
Day 23 GAO GIONG BIRD SANCTUARY (B/L/D)
In the morning we visit the Island of Con Phuoc Island and go ashore to explore the island by tuk-tuk seeing basket production and visiting a 100-year old Catholic Church and local woodworking artisans. We also visit a local nursery school so feel free to bring any educational items if you wish to donate to the children.
After a short cruise downstream, we take a short coach trip where we visit Gao Giong ‘green oasis’ with its bird sanctuary. Here a diverse selection of water birds and egrets that gather in the tens of thousands across the Duong Tharp Muoi or ‘Plain of Reeds’. Rowing boats traverse the canals to take us to see the principal nesting areas.
Day 24 MY THO – SAIGON (B)
In the morning we take a cruise downstream to Ben Tre. Where we travel by sampans through mangroves and bamboo groves to the fruit orchards of Ben Tre.
In these local artisans are at work and are invite visitors into their homes for tea, fruit and honey products made from their own honey. This is an area rich in bird life and on our return journey we travel by horse cart through the lush countryside.
Afternoon moor at My Tho for road transfer to Saigon and arrive around 16:00.
Check into your hotel and the rest of the day is free at leisure.
- River Cottage, Ho Chi Minh City
- Silverland Yen
- The Reverie Saigon
Day 25 SAIGON (B)
A vibrant metropolis, Saigon teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the convergence of traditional and modern life.
Balance of the day begin the trip into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style building was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates.
Afterwards, drive to the historic centre to visit the Emperor of Jade Pagoda, one of Saigon’s most interesting pagodas. Proceed to pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. Pass by the classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville), the old Opera House (both may only be viewed from the outside).
Finally, end up at the central Ben Thanh Market, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts, appealing to every taste.
Day 26 SAIGON (B)
Meet your allocated driver, hop on the Tuk Tuk or Vespa and start with a visit to Tao Dan Park to observe locals as they show off their singing birds (mornings only), followed by a stop at the Thich Quang Duc Memorial, a local flower market and a funeral home. Continue to Chua Ong Bon Pagoda to get an insight into the Chinese community then have a walk through the fabric/tailor alley and the Chinese medicine street market. Pass by a special pagoda called “Ten Thousand Buddha” where 10,000 statues of Buddha and ashes of the dead are worshipped.
Drive down Dong Khoi Street (which means “people’s revolution”) to see the place where, in 1975, during the dying days of the former regime, an iconic photograph was taken of a helicopter lifting people out of Saigon. Throughout the tour the guide will explain the history and the fascinating stories behind all the places visited. .
Take a walk through a thriving local market to see how these bustling and vibrant markets play a major role in the daily lives of Vietnamese people. From here stroll through the colorful back alleyways lined with flower shops and breathe in the aromas of the freshly cut blooms.
Pass through another street where mechanics specialize in restoring vintage Vespa scooters. Take in the scenes of local life as you wander these narrow lanes. Stop for a refreshing traditional iced coffee in a hidden cafe frequented by locals. Continue the walk through some other back lanes the go along to another famous street filled with shops selling locally-made guitars.
Walk toward an interesting museum which displays an amazing collection of more than 3,000 artifacts relating to the history of Vietnamese traditional medicine. After the visit, hop on your vehicle and drive back to your hotel.
Day 27 SAIGON (B)