China Spree
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Best of Indochina (2018)

Cities: Home City, Hanoi, Halong Bay Cruise, Halong Bay - Hoi An, Hoi An, Hoi An - Hue, Hue, Hue - Saigon, Saigon, Saigon - Siem Reap, Siem Reap , Siem Reap, Siem Reap - Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang, Chiang Mai, Bangkok
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Day 1 ( Home City )

Your exotic journey to Vietnam begins as you board your international flight.

Inflight Meals
Day 2 ( Hanoi )
Hanoi is Vietnam's charming capital city. Upon arrival, meet our guide and transfer to our hotel in the heart of the city, near major shopping malls, upscale restaurants, and tourist attractions. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure either to recover from the flight, enjoy the hotel's extensive facilities and prime location or explore the surrounding area.
 
If you book an air inclusive package with World Spree on the scheduled departure date your airport/hotel transfer on arrival day is included. If you book a "Land only" package or arrive earlier or later than the scheduled arrival date, you need to take care of the airport/hotel transfer on your own.    

Dinner
Sheraton Hanoi Hotel ( or similar)
Day 3 ( Hanoi )

Situated on the banks of the Red River, the city of Hanoi is a fascinating blend of Asian vibrancy and French colonial elegance. This morning we enjoy a guided tour of the city’s highlights. We stop first to visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (outside only), an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite situated where he read the declaration of Independence in 1945 and now holding the embalmed body of "Uncle Ho"; also visit the "House on Stilts", located in the grounds of the Presidential Palace Ho Chi Minh resided here during the later years of his life, built in a traditional style, the house is small and spartan reflecting his egalitarian views. 


Our next stop, a short walk from the mausoleum is the One Pillar Pagoda an 11th century wooden temple built resting on a single stone pillar emerging from the water, it is designed to resemble a lotus bloom. A prayer here is said to bring fertility and good health. 


Continue to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first national university, constructed in 1070 by King Ly Nhan Tong to pay tribute to Confucius, academics and scholars. Today, its pleasant gardens make an enjoyable spot to relax and watch the local art students sit on the grass and sketch the buildings. 


The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Alternatively, join our optional tour to Hanoi's Old Quarters. 

  

Optional Excursion: Enjoy our optional tour for an unforgettable opportunity to explore the narrow, chaotic streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter on electrical carts. Also known as 36 Streets, this maze of streets dates to the 13th century and the street names, such as Tinsmith Street, Silk Street and Dried Fish Street, are indicative of the original trades that flourished here. There are plenty of photo opportunities as you pass street vendors selling various foods and produce.


We then visit the infamous Hoa Lo Prison. Originally used by the French to hold political prisoners, it gained the ironic nickname the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War due to its harsh and unsanitary conditions. While most of the prison has been demolished, the old gatehouse remains and is now a museum housing exhibits from the two eras.


The tour concludes with a water puppet show. This traditional Vietnamese art form dates to the 11th century where it developed in the paddy fields of North Vietnam. Today, the water of the paddy field is replaced by a large pool which acts as a stage for the puppets who are expertly guided by puppeteers hidden behind a bamboo screen. Accompanied by music, the puppets depict rural tales and historic stories.


Half-day tour to Hanoi "Old Quarters", "Hanoi Hilton" and Water Puppet show: $50 per person including the private tour and entrance fees, a lunch. Approximate tour duration is 4-5 hours 


Breakfast
Sheraton Hanoi Hotel ( or similar)
Day 3 Half-day Hanoi "Old Quarters", "Hanoi Hilton" and Water Puppet show Optional Tour ($50.00 per person), Hanoi
Enjoy our optional tour for an unforgettable opportunity to explore the narrow, chaotic streets of Hanoi's Old Quarter on electrical cart. Also known as 36 Streets, this maze of streets dates to the 13th century and the street names, such as Tinsmith Street, Silk Street and Dried Fish Street, are indicative of the original trades that flourished here. There are plenty of photo opportunities as you pass street vendors selling various foods and produce.

We then visit the infamous Hoa Lo Prison. Originally used by the French to hold political prisoners, it gained the ironic nickname the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War due to its harsh and unsanitary conditions. While most of the prison has been demolished, the old gatehouse remains and is now a museum housing exhibits from the two eras.

The tour concludes with a water puppet show. This traditional Vietnamese art form dates to the 11th century where it developed in the paddy fields of North Vietnam. Today, the water of the paddy field is replaced by a large pool which acts as a stage for the puppets who are expertly guided by puppeteers hidden behind a bamboo screen. Accompanied by music, the puppets depict rural tales and historic stories.

The popular half-day tour includes the private tour, entrance fees and lunch. Approximate tour duration is 4-5 hours.
Day 4 ( Halong Bay Cruise )

After breakfast, we transfer by road through the fertile farmland of the Red River Delta to the city of Halong, the start point for our overnight cruise through the beautiful waters of Halong Bay. As we drive through the scenic countryside we will pass landscapes of lush rice fields, water buffalo and farmers adorned with the iconic conical hats to protect them from the sun. 


On arrival at Halong, we embark our traditional style junk and set sail on our cruise amid the spectacular scenery of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Halong Bay, considered one of the most breathtaking places on the planet and declared recently as one of the "New Seven Wonders of Nature". 


According to local legend, it was here that gods sent dragons to assist the Vietnamese against attacks from invaders. Halong, which translates as "where the dragon descends into the sea", offers a dramatic seascape of striking limestone outcrops and islets, which the legends say were created by the dragons spitting jewels into the sea which formed a magical barrier to protect against invasion. 


Lunch will be served as we cruise through this enchanting area offering the opportunity to appreciate the incredible scenery before stopping off at local islands with the chance to swim, relax on the beach and explore the incredible limestone caves with their stalactites, stalagmites and many other bizarre rock formations. Returning to the boat you will have the chance to watch as the sun sets before a delicious dinner is served. Overnight onboard.  

Note: The itinerary of cruise in Halong may change without prior notice depending on situation. 


Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Sealife Cruise ( or similar)
Day 5 ( Halong Bay - Hoi An )

Wake up to the sunrise on the South China Sea before we further explore the beauty of Halong Bay.


We board small sampans and pay a visit to one of the traditional floating villages that date to the early nineteenth century. These communities are comprised of hundreds of households, who live on boats and floating wooden houses in the core zone of Hạlong Bay, with main livelihood of fishing, pearl farming and aquaculture. The distinctive traditional lifestyle of the villagers is a unique component of Vietnamese identity. The residents are inextricably linked to their setting, forming an integrated cultural landscape and living tradition. We continue to Luon Cave, where we transfer to a small boat to travel through the cave taking us to a lake completely surrounded by small waterfalls and limestone cliffs. 


Upon returning to the boat we continue our cruise back to port. Disembark the boat and transfer to the airport for our onward flight to Da Nang on the coast of the South China Sea. 


Upon arrival we will transfer to Hoi An. En route, you pass the Danang Beach. Hoi An was once a significant and prosperous port, with trading ships arriving from around the world to procure the local silks, tea, ceramics and other goods. However, with the emergence of nearby Da Nang as a centre of trade and the silting up of the river mouth, Hoi An declined in importance, the result of which is that the city has avoided much development and therefore the traditional Vietnamese architectures, temples and pagodas remain exceptionally well preserved. This historic charm combined with a relaxed ambiance has made it popular with the travellers, who come to explore its narrow streets and shop for bargains from the expert tailors who inhabit many of the old shop houses.      


Allegro Hoi An ( or similar)
Day 6 ( Hoi An )

This morning, enjoy our included guided walking tour through historic Hoi An town, a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will learn about the town's history and see the different architectural influences that resulted from the different nationalities that settled here. We cross the Japanese Covered Bridge, constructed in the early 1600s it was built as a symbol of peace to connect the town's Japanese community with the Chinese quarter. Continuing into the old Chinese area we visit one of the lavishly decorated Chinese Assembly Hall, which were built as a meeting place for the local community. 



The remainder of the day is at leisure to, shop, enjoy the town or relax back on the white sand beach at the hotel. You may want to advantage of Hoi An's world famous tailors during your stay at this colorful market town.     



Breakfast
Allegro Hoi An ( or similar)
Day 7 ( Hoi An - Hue )

Following breakfast, we travel North over the Hai Van Pass, an old highway which winds through the mountains offering breathtaking views along the coast. En route, passing the beautiful Lang Co Beach, to the impressive town of Hue, home to a wealth of royal palaces, temples and gardens. Located on the Perfume River in the centre of the country, Hue was the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty, a feudal dynasty who dominated much of southern Vietnam between the 17th and 19th centuries. One of the most significant cultural and historic centers of Vietnam, the former imperial city of Hue is celebrated for its tradition of intellectual thought, Buddhist piety, and sophistication of its cuisine. The city is also famous as the site of a major battle during the Vietnamese War, evidence of which is clearly visible from the pockmarks that scar many of the buildings.



This afternoon, we visit the "Forbidden City" to explore the its impressive This afternoon, we visit the "Forbidden City" to explore its impressive Imperial citadel, from where the Nguyen Emperors ruled. This vast complex was not just a palace but also a fortress, surrounded by thick defensive walls and a moat. Although some of the citadel has been irreparably damaged during the conflicts with the French and Americans much remains well preserved or restored and as we wonder around the ruins we will learn about its history. Set on the riverside the citadel's Flag Tower, which now flies the country's red flag with gold star, has become an important symbolic point of control in the city as power has shifted hands during the various conflicts. We enter through Ngo Mon Gate, one of 10 entrances into the Royal City and perhaps the most beautiful of the remaining structures. It actually has 5 gates, the central gate reserved for the emperor,the adjacent ones for mandarins and the outer ones for servants. Atop the gate is Five Phoenix Pavilion, from where the emperors proclaimed significant events, including the abdication in 1945. Visit Thai Hoa Palace, the emperor's coronation hall, elaborately decorated in gold and red lacquer and featuring two dragons on top of the yellow tiled roof. The Purple Forbidden City, is at the heart of the Imperial Citadel and was reserved solely for the personal use of the Emperor and his concubines with the only servants allowed to enter being eunuchs. In the evening, we are at leisure.

   



Breakfast
Sunrise Resort ( or similar)
Day 8 ( Hue )

Spend a full day at leisure exploring Hue at your own pace.


 

Breakfast
Sunrise Resort ( or similar)
Day 8 Full-day Hue In-depth Tour Optional Tour ($60.00 per person), Hue

After breakfast, we will enjoy a boat cruise up the scenic Perfume River to visit the seven-story Thien Mu Pagoda, set atop Ha Khe Hill. Local legend says that an old woman foretold a great leader would visit and erect a pagoda to bring peace and prosperity to the country. Upon visiting the site in 1601 and hearing this story, Nguyen Hoang, the first of the Nguyen dynasty, ordered the construction of this temple, naming it after the woman who foretold its construction. The temple's name translates to "celestial lady". On our return to Hue, we visit the tomb of Khai Dinh. This elaborate tomb is interesting as it combines a mix of Asian and French influences. Khai Dinh ruled from 1916 to 1925, by which time the Nguyen dynasty only really retained symbolic power as much of its real control had been ceded to the French colonialists. This close relationship gave him the opportunity to visit France, and it is clear from the design of his mausoleum that he was influenced by the architecture he witnessed on this trip.

Then we visit the tomb of Tu Duc. The "Poet Emperor" is set in an elegant garden with a magnificent lake and pavilion complex. In complete contrast to Emperor Tu Duc's stylish creation, the tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh appears at first to be an unprepossessing concrete construction. Its interest lies within in an uneasy combination of Vietnamese and European features and the use of fragments of ceramics and glass for decoration.

Day 9 ( Hue - Saigon )

We take an earlymorning flight to Saigon, now officially known as Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam'slargest metropolitan. 

Our tour of the city visits Dong Khoi Street, home to many of the city's most important sites from the French colonial period, when the city became known as the Paris of the Orient and this street was known as Rue Catinat; see the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires based on the original in Paris; and across the square the impressive Central Post Office, designed by the architect Gustav Eiffel, most famous for the Eiffel Tower in Paris. We continue the visit today with the Reunification Palace.

 




We conclude our day at Ben Thanh market. Leisureand overnight in Saigon.

Breakfast
Grand Hotel Saigon ( or similar)
Day 10 ( Saigon )

Afterbreakfast, you are at leisure to explore Saigon on your own. Or, join ouroptional tours to Mekong Delta.


 



Breakfast
Grand Hotel Saigon ( or similar)
Day 10 Full day Mekong Delta tour and cruise Optional Tour ($85.00 per person), Saigon
Enjoy our optional cruise and land tour to the Mekong Delta. Known as Vietnam's "rice basket.' The verdant landscapes of the Mekong Delta offer an enjoyable excursion away from the busy streets and bustle of Saigon.
Our tour starts with a drive out to the town of Ben Tre, situated in the heart of the Mekong Delta and being well-known as "the land of coconut".
Upon arrival, we board a traditional boat for a short leisure trip on the river, enjoy the Delta's amazing scenery while being served some refreshing fruits on board.
Next, we stop at a brickwork to get to know how the locals make the bricks by their traditional handy method. We continue our boat trip to visit a coconut workshop which is located along the canal; here we can sample some fresh coconut and see how every single part of the coconut could be turned into the other products such as food, daily utensils, musical instruments...
Following, we arrive at a tranquil village for a short walk to experience the daily life of the villagers in the Mekong Delta area. We stop at a local place to see how the local wave the mat by hand, this traditional way has been remained since the old time. We can give a try, weaving by ourselves while enjoying the seasonal tropical fruits and tea, chatting with local people.
We then hop on the moto-cart for a short ride, passing by the green gardens, the fields or the vegetable plains. We stop at the local restaurant for our lunch, served with the local specialties. Afterwards, we walk to the nearby pier and getting on the sampan for a short rowing boat trip till we arrive at the meeting point, where the driver is waiting and ready to take us back to Saigon.

Unlike most other Mekong cruises offered by our competitors, our comprehensive people-to-people program features both a cruise on the Mekong River and the visits around the less touristy areas for a complete insight about the real life of the locals - a genuine experience for an eye-opening journey.
Day 11 ( Saigon )

Today is ourfinal day in Vietnam and the day is at leisure or you can book our optionaltour to Cu Chi Tunnels
At day's end, we'll celebrate the entire tour and new friends with a farewell dinner at a riverside restaurant serving Vietnamese cuisine especially popular with westerners. 



Breakfast, Dinner
Grand Hotel Saigon ( or similar)
Day 12 ( Saigon - Siem Reap )

In the morning, we transfer to the airport for a short flight to the small Cambodian city of Siem Reap. The town is the gateway to the famous AngkorWat, built during the Angkor period when Angkor formed the capital of a Khmer kingdom that stretched across much of South-East Asia.


The Angkor period began in 802 AD when King Jayavaraman II declared himself"god-king," and lasted until 1431 when Angkor was sacked and looted by raiders from Ayutthaya. At its peak it was the largest pre-industrialized city in the world with more than 1,000 temples spread over an area of almost 400 square miles and a population close to 1 million. The end of the Angkor Period led to the region losing prominence and the temples became hidden by jungle for many years. The temples were rediscovered in the late 19th century by French archaeologists and have now justly become one of the major tourist attractions in the region. 



After check-in to our hotel and freshen up, we proceed to explore the Angkor Complex with Preah Ko, one of the oldest funerary temples. We continue to Bakong Temple Mountain with wonderful carvings on the false doors and lintels.Both of these temples are from the ancient Khmer civilization site of Hariharalaya which flourished in the late 9th and early 10th Centuries. 
Enjoy dinner and Apsara show at a local restaurant.      

Breakfast, Dinner
Angkor Palace Resort & Spa ( or similar)
Day 13 ( Siem Reap )

Today we visit the most famous of all the temples and believed to be the largest religious building in the world - the magical temple of Angkor Wat. Arguably the most breathtaking of all the Angkor temples, it has become a symbol of Cambodia and is probably the main draw for visitors coming to the region. Built in the early 12th century by Khmer King Suryavaraman II, it was dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu and served as the Khmer capital until Jayavarman VII built Angkor Thom. The enormous three-tiered temple, crowned by five lotus like towers, is meant to symbolize the mythical Mount Meru and the steep steps up to the upper galleries can make it feel like a mountain. Throughout, the temple is decorated with hundreds of ornate carvings of figures from Hindu mythology.


In the afternoon, we visit the School of Art training children in various Khmer Arts such as classical dance, folk dance, Pin Peat Music and Yike drama. Greeted by a representative from the school, you will be guided to each class which will offer you an opportunity to interact with the trainers and children to learn how they preserve their traditional performing arts. Watch a performance by the children and take photos for souvenirs.


Later we continue to Tonle Sap Lake. This lake is one of the most unique ecological water wonders in the world. It is the largest lake in South East Asia and changes in size and dimension every wet season. We board a traditional boat to discover the floating villages and fish farms of this legendary lake. Afterwards, we take an ox cart ride to experience the life at the local villages and enjoy the natural beauty of Cambodia countryside. Enjoy sunset from your boat ride for a truly memorable experience.

From late March thru May, when the water level in Tonle Sap lake is low, we will visit the Angkor Museum.      

Breakfast
Angkor Palace Resort & Spa ( or similar)
Day 13 Tour of Angkor complex Optional Tour ($45.00 per person), Siem Reap
This morning, we visit Banteay Kdei, which translates to "A Citadel of Chambers," and is known as "Citadel of Monks' cells." It is located southeast of Ta Prohm and east of Angkor Thom. Built in the Bayon architectural style, it is similar to the style of Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, but smaller and less complex. We will continue on to visit Preah Ko, one of the oldest funerary temples. Bakong Temple Mountain is next on the list, with its beautiful and intricate carvings on the false doors and lintels. Both temples are from the ancient Khmer civilization site of Hariharalaya, which flourished in the late 9th and early 10th centuries. Today, they are located in the Rolous area, which is about eight miles from the town.

In the afternoon, we depart to visit the temple of Banteay Srei. Built largely of red sandstone in the 10th century, this is an earlier example of Angkor architecture on a significantly smaller scale than the grand architecture of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. It is this contrast that makes it particularly popular, especially as it has been very well preserved and is highly regarded for its elaborate wall carvings. On the way back, visit Grandma's House for some local flavor.
Day 14 ( Siem Reap )

Today, we are exploring the temples, including arguably the two most impressive and famous sites: The Bayon and Ta Prohm. Our expert guide will give an invaluable insight into the history and context of these incredible ruins.


Take an exciting tuk-tuk ride to explore the remarkable temples. Ta Prohm has been allowed to remain largely as it was when it was rediscovered,semi-shrouded by the jungle that surrounds it. This makes it especially photogenic as the roots of giant fig trees grow around and through the crumbling stonework.

Dating from the 12th century, the Bayon stands at the center of AngkorThom, which served as the capital of King Jayavarman VII and was the center of his building program. The temple's most distinctive and captivating features are the massive stone faces, with a curious smiling image which many historians believe to be a depiction of the King himself. There are more 200 of these faces in various sizes looking out in each direction of the compass from the temple's 54 towers. 

We also visit the other important sites of Angkor Thom: Its South Gates; Bauphon and Phimeanakas, which both pre-dated Angkor Thom but were incorporated into the city; The Elephant Terrace and The Terrace of The Leper King. 


In the afternoon, you visit the temple of Banteay Srei. Built largely of red sandstone in the 10th century, this is an earlier example of Angkor architecture on a significantly smaller scale than the grand architecture of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. It is this contrast that makes it particularly popular, especially as it has been very well preserved and is highly regarded for its elaborate wall carvings. 


On the way back, visit grandma's house. Here we can have a chat with grandma to know more about her life, her thoughts and their way of life in general.  

Breakfast, Dinner
Angkor Palace Resort & Spa ( or similar)
Day 15 ( Siem Reap - Luang Prabang )

Leisurely breakfast at the hotel, free time in this morning to explore the town on your own.

In the afternoon, we transfer to the airport for a flight to Luang Prabang, Laos. The landlocked country of Laos does not share the wealth of history that many of its neighbors can boast. Much of the country is covered in dense jungle and tourist infrastructure is poorly developed. The exception to this is LuangPrabang, a small gem of a city located at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers. World Heritage listed by UNESCO, the city is circled by mountains and its streets are lined with a seemingly endless number of Buddhist Temples, whose saffron-clad monks make a colorful spectacle each morning as they receive alms.

Upon arrival into the small airport and clearing immigration, we will transfer to our charming hotel set in the heart of the city where there will be a chance to freshen up before a traditional dinner is served.

Breakfast, Dinner
Sada Hotel ( or similar)
Day 16 ( Luang Prabang )

Enjoy a day exploring the charms of Luang Prabang with our expert guide. Visit the former Royal Palace. Built in 1904 during the French colonial era, this ornate building is set amid beautifully manicured gardens. The Palace is now a museum as the country's monarchy was overthrown by the communists in 1975.

Our tour continues with visits to the Buddhist temples of Wat Sop and Wat Xiengthong.Monks in Laos are generally not religious ascetics who give their whole life to the religion. In fact, most Laos men spend a period as a monk studying and learning about the Buddhist religion. Many of the monks you will meet at the Wat Sop will just be boys and young men doing this for a short period. Wat Xieng Thong, which translates to the Temple of the Golden City, and originally dates from the 16th century, was completely remodeled and redecorated in the 1960s.



The rest of afternoon will be for your leisure or you can join our optional tour to Kuang Si waterfall. 

Breakfast
Sada Hotel ( or similar)
Day 16 Tour to Kuang Si Waterfall including lunch Optional Tour ($40.00 per person), Luang Prabang
Following lunch served at a local restaurant, we will travel by road for 40 - 45 minutes through scenic countryside and rural villages to Kuangsi Waterfall. After a gentle walk of about 10 minutes, you will have the awe-inspiring view overlooking the natural turquoise pools which have formed between the cascading layers of the falls. If you wish, you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the natural pools. Next, we visit the Kuang Si Butterfly Park, which is nestled just below the Kuangsi Waterfall. Dedicated to the preservation and protection of butterflies, the park has a breeding program and volunteers are happy to explain the life cycles of the various species. Before we leave, you might like to visit the bear sanctuary which is a bit down from the falls and ran by Free Bear Fund Inc.
Day 17 ( Luang Prabang )

Spend a full day at leisure at your own pace or you can join our optional tour to Pak Ou Cave.







 


Breakfast
Sada Hotel ( or similar)
Day 17 Tour to Pak Ou Cave including lunch Optional Tour ($65.00 per person), Luang Prabang
Board onto a leisure boat trip on Mekong River to Pak Ou cave. This holy cave is the most respected site in Luang Prabang. There are still hundreds of Buddha sculptures laid out on the walls and shelves inside. The holy cave is especially important to the locals who go there to pray for their health and prosperity. As we leisurely cruise along the river, you will be able to enjoy the peace and beautiful scenery as we wind our way through the jungle and past small rural communities. We will stop to visit a small village that is famous for making Laos Rice Whisky. If you'd like, you can take the opportunity to taste the rice whiskey and then take a short stroll around the tiny village to experience local handmade souvenirs. After about an hour's cruise, we will reach Pak Ou caves - an important religious site in a spectacular setting. This group of caves, set against towering limestone cliffs, is home to hundreds of statues of Buddha in different sizes and poses that were placed there by pilgrims over a number of centuries. After some time to explore and photograph this captivating site, we will return to the boat for a typical Lao lunch served on board.
Day 18 ( Chiang Mai )

We wake up early this morning to see an incredible ceremony known as Binthabhat - a must see when visiting Luang Prabang, the spiritual capital of Laos. Every morning in LuangPrabang, hundreds of monks walk barefoot in single file through the streets,carrying their alms bowls to receive alms from the people. The donors offer sticky rice, snacks and fruit to the monks in order to gain merit, which they believe may lead to a better next life or lessen the number of times they must be reincarnated before achieving nirvana.

Morning market is a must to find local food supplies. Located at the foot of the mountain, the market is the best place to find all of the tasty ingredients needed to make local dishes. If you're lucky, you will have chance to see giant Mekong fish, or in dry season, you can taste grilled honey bees - delicious! Be sure to leave the market to go to your hotel at around 7:30 a.m. for breakfast.



In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for our flight to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand.


Nestled amid the foothills of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is Thailand's second largest city and an important cultural hub famed for its cuisine and handicraft. This historic city was at its peak in the 14th and 15th centuries when it served as the capital of a strong Lanna Kingdom which ruled across much of the region.The Lanna Kingdom created a strong cultural heritage which can still be seen today in the food, language, art, music and architecture of the region.

Breakfast, Dinner
Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa ( or similar)
Day 19 ( Chiang Mai )

Today, in the morning, we will visit Chiang Mai's most renowned temple:Wat Doi Suthep. Situated on a hill overlooking the city, this temple is home to a holy relic of Lord Buddha and is considered by many as one of the most sacred temples in northern Thailand. Constructed in 1383, at the peak of the Lanna Kingdom, it is a fine example of the era's temple architecture. Look for the protective statues depicting the Hindu mythical serpent Naga, which line the 300 steps up to the beautiful golden stupa. After this visit, we will drive through the most historical areas of Chiang Mai, including the old city walls,city gates and moat. We will then pass by some of Chiang Mai's most popular areas including local markets, foreign consulates and government buildings,'Tapae Gate' and more.





Time permitting, we will visit the cooperative at Sankhampaeng where locals make colorful hand-painted paper umbrellas from delicate "Sa"paper. Witness firsthand how the paper is made, dyed and then transformed into colorful and delicate umbrellas. (B)


Breakfast
Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa ( or similar)
Day 19 Chiang Mai's Night Market with Tuk-Tuk ride and Kantoke Dinner Optional Tour ($38.00 per person), Chiang Mai
In the evening, head out to Chiang Mai's lively night bazaar. One of the main attractions of the city, we will travel by Thai Tuk-Tuk - a colorful 3-wheeled, motorized rickshaw that are seen throughout Thailand. Exploring the many stalls, you will have the chance to barter for traditional souvenirs, as well as pretty antiques and handicrafts. Afterwards, we will continue for a traditional Khantoke dinner, a delightful exhibition of Lanna culture. We will enjoy a fine meal of local specialties while being entertained by a selection of cultural performances.
Day 20 ( Chiang Mai )

Today we visit the Mae Taman Elephant Camp; an uncontested high spot of the tour. The Elephant camp is an ecotourism park and wildlife sanctuary dedicated to the survival and development of Thai elephants. These majestic creatures are one of the symbols of Thailand and have long held an important role in Thai culture. However, sadly with habitat loss impacting wild elephants and poor treatment of some domesticated animals, life for some is difficult. This park provides a natural environment for the elephants to be rehabilitated while offering visitors a chance to learn more about these grand animals.

Continue on to a nearby orchid farm where lunch is served. After lunch, there is time to explore and learn about the exquisite blooms at the farm. Then enjoy an afternoon visit to the village of Baan Tong Luang, where you can visit different ethnic groups in the north, such as Karen, Lahu, Palong, Hmong and Padong. Females of the Karen tribe are known as female giraffes - a metaphor because of the multitude of brass rings they wear around their long necks. (B,L)

 


Breakfast, Lunch
Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa ( or similar)
Day 20 Thai cooking Class Optional Tour ($38.00 per person), Chiang Mai
In the evening, enjoy a special Thai cookery class. Set in a small family smallholding on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, this is an opportunity to immerse yourself in an important part of Thai culture. We will stop off at a market en route to shop for ingredients and pick fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden before learning how to craft exquisite Thai dishes, which of course we will be able to enjoy as dinner.
Day 21 ( Bangkok )

Leisurely breakfast at the hotel then free time to explore the town on your own.

In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for a flight to Bangkok. Seton the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok became Thailand's capital in the 18th century. Its importance has expanded and it is now home to almost a fifth of Thailand's population. It is a city of contrasts, with peaceful temples and frenetic markets, modern mega malls and traditional villages. It is one of Asia's most dynamic cities and truly offers something for everyone.

Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.     

Breakfast
Royal Orchid Sheraton Bangkok ( or similar)
Day 22 ( Bangkok )

Today we discover the flavor of day-to-day life in Bangkok. A vast cityof more than eight million people and an international economic powerhouse, itis home to royal palaces, gleaming five-star hotels, and eclectic markets.Bangkok's vibrant, cosmopolitan feel will impress at every turn.

After breakfast we head to Wat Po, the site of a giant reclining Buddha,and witness the monks' ritual morning chants. We then ride tuk tuks (thethree-wheeled taxis so ubiquitous in Bangkok) past Pak Klong Taland FlowerMarket. The flower market explodes in tropical colors, and flowers play a vitalrole in Thai culture in temples, hotels, restaurants, and homes.

The Grand Palace, an extraordinary example of an ancient Siamese court, firsthoused Thailand's kings. Early Siamese built several palaces for assortedpurposes and rituals, including the Funeral Palace, Reception Palace, ThroneHall, Coronation Hall, Royal Guest House, and the temple of the Emerald Buddha.



Next, we travel by longtail boats along the "klongs" of Thonburi.Klongs are canals which once traversed most of the city and led to its nicknameas the ˜Venice of the Orient.' Alas, most have become roads for automobiles,but the few that remain still offer a rare and exotic ride past family homesand colorful floating shops and kitchens. Before lunch at a riversiderestaurant, we'll head to the imposing Wat Arun beside the Chao Phraya River,and continue to Chinatown where a thriving local community congregates to shopfor familiar foods, fruits, herbs, and medicines.

Enjoy the afternoon at leisure or book World Spree Optional for atraditional Thai massage. 



Breakfast, Lunch
Royal Orchid Sheraton Bangkok ( or similar)
Day 22 Thai massage Optional Tour ($35.00 per person), Bangkok
Thai massage is an ancient practice combining elements of acupressure, Indian Ayurvedic principles, and assisted yoga postures. It uses no oils or lotions; instead the masseur pulls, stretches and compresses you in a process designed to improve posture, breathing, flexibility, digestion and circulation. Those seeking a gentler introduction can opt for a foot massage.
Day 23 ( Bangkok )

This busy full-day tour takes you first to the rural yet world-famous floating market of Damnoen Saduak, situated around 60 miles west of Bangkok.This is one of the iconic images of Thailand with vendors in small boats maneuvering around the canals to sell their assorted wares. There are actually three floating markets here: A narrow canal flanked with food stalls and souvenir shops forms the principal market at Ton Kem; further 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 a.m.





The tour continues to the world-famous bridge on the River Kwai, built by prisoners of war during World War II. The bridge is located near the town of Kanchanaburi. Here, we visit the well-kept cemetery of Allied Prisoners, which contain the graves of an estimated 9,000 Allied soldiers who lost their lives while building the bridge and constructing the notorious "Death Railway" which the Japanese had hoped to stretch from Thailand and into Burma. We will pay a visit to the JEATH War Museum (the name "JEATH" is derived from the countries involved: Japan, England, America/Australia, Thailand and Holland), a thought provoking site where the past has been created and relived with pictures and artifacts from the time. 


Breakfast, Lunch
Royal Orchid Sheraton Bangkok ( or similar)
Day 24 ( Home City )

Free time until time to transfer to the airport for your connecting flight back home. Arrival home today.

Breakfast

Basic Tour Summary

Day 1 (Home City)
Day 2 (Hanoi)
Day 3 (Hanoi)
Day 4 (Halong Bay Cruise)
Day 5 (Halong Bay - Hoi An)
Day 6 (Hoi An)
Day 7 (Hoi An - Hue)
Day 8 (Hue)
Day 9 (Hue - Saigon)
Day 10 (Saigon)
Day 11 (Saigon)
Day 12 (Saigon - Siem Reap)
Day 13 (Siem Reap )
Day 14 (Siem Reap)
Day 15 (Siem Reap - Luang Prabang)
Day 16 (Luang Prabang)
Day 17 (Luang Prabang)
Day 18 (Chiang Mai)
Day 19 (Chiang Mai)
Day 20 (Chiang Mai)
Day 21 (Bangkok)
Day 22 (Bangkok)
Day 23 (Bangkok)
Day 24 (Home City)