Discover the cultural heartbeat of Southeast Asia. Explore the capitals- modern and ancient- of Thailand, Laos and Cambodia and uncover a land steeped in history and brimming with tradition. See fading facades from once-mighty empires, glittering skyscrapers of modern capitals and the hidden gems that lie in between.
Explore Bangkok by public transportation to see smaller, local neighborhoods for a unique perspective of the city.
Discover ancient artefacts and monuments from the former Khmer empire and the modern facades of the present-day capital.
Take insightful tours of Vientiane and Luang Prabang to better understand the complex past and rich traditions of Laos.
Colorful Capitals - 12 Days / 11 Nights
Welcome to Bangkok! Upon arrival at Bangkok Airport, you will be transferred to your hotel and the remainder of today is at your leisure to relax and enjoy.
Overnight in Bangkok.
After breakfast at the hotel, meet with the guide and head out of the hotel for an original full day of sightseeing in the City of Angels using exclusively public means of transportation. Walk to the nearest BTS Station and get on the Skytrain for a short ride to the terminal station of Saphan Taksin on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. Continue by public boat to Tha Thien pier and disembark to visit Wat Po the home of Thai massage and the reclining Buddha. Continue to visit the Grand Palace. The Royal Grand Palace is the nation’s landmark and the most revered royal monument and host of the mysterious Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand. Appropriate dress is required (or can be rented on site).
In the afternoon, take a Tuk Tuk to Soi Ban Batra, where a handicraft family is famed for the art of making monk’s alms bowls. Continue by boarding a “bus boat” for a journey along the historical Saen Saeb canal. Following a trip to Jim Thompson’s House Museum, which showcases the history of the famous and mysterious American silk merchant, the day ends with some retail therapy at Bangkok's vast shopping malls.
Overnight in Bangkok
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and assist with your transfer to the airport for your flight to Luang Prabang.
Upon arrival at Luang Prabang airport, your guide will be waiting to greet you and transfer you to your hotel.
This evening you will have a brief introduction to Luang Prabang. Climb the stairs of Mount Phousi and watch the sun set over the city and surrounding hills. Walk down the other side and explore the hill tribe evening market.
Proceed to l’Elephant, one of the finest restaurants in Luang Prabang, for dinner before being driven back to your hotel.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
For early risers, there is a very special dawn visit to watch the monks collecting the alms. As the sun begins to rise, long lines of orange-robed monks leave their pagodas and walk barefoot down the streets collecting offerings from Luang Prabang residents. It is a beautiful, serene ceremony that highlights the spiritualism of the Laos people. Return to the hotel for breakfast.
Transfer by vehicle to the Historical Old Town of central Luang Prabang where the tour begins at the fresh market. Accompanied by the guide, walk through the rows of stalls to see what’s on sale. The locals come here every day to shop for vegetables, fruits and other exotic specialties and delicacies. The market is adjacent to the National Museum, which will be the next stop. Once the Royal Palace of Laos, the National Museum is filled with art, artifacts, and jewels and a visit examines the history and rich culture of the country.
After this, continue by visiting some of the city’s most important temples. Start at Wat Visoun, housing the famous Watermelon Stupa, followed by Wat Aham, which holds the altar of the 2 guardian spirits of Luang Prabang.
Enjoy lunch in town at Tamarind restaurant with a chance to sample unusual local specialties.
This afternoon, head to Ock Pop Tok to experience the importance of textiles in Laos.
Take a break at Le Patio Café, located inside the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center (TAEC), and sip a local brew of coffee. Then, take a tour of TAEC, a museum dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos’ ethnic minorities. Traditional costumes, tools, and artifacts are on display alongside in-depth descriptions and written histories.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
This morning venture to Luang Prabang’s peninsula where the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers merge. The beautiful Wat Xieng Thong is located here and a visit to the temple unveils golden gates, ornaments, and colorful murals.
You will then board a traditional wooden boat, Nava Mekong, for a relaxing cruise on the mighty Mekong River. Enjoy stunning mountain scenery and witness the simple rural lifestyles which rely on the river as you make your way upstream for 1.5 – 2 hours.
Located upstream from Luang Prabang, Pak Ou Caves, locally called Tam Ting, contains thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues crammed into two caves carved out of a towering limestone cliff. The statues range in size from a few centimeters tall to the size of a human, and the view from the mouth of the cave provides sweeping views of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers. The caves are also a destination for local pilgrimages, especially during the Lao New Year period of Pii Mai.
The boat continues cruising in the vicinity of the caves and will moor during lunch time at the foot of beautiful limestone cliffs. A selection of typical Lao dishes will be served onboard before you cruise back downstream.
The remainder of the day is at your leisure for additional sight-seeing or relaxing in this charming city.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
Free time this morning in Luang Prabang. Your guide and private car will meet you at the hotel and transfer you to the airport for your departure flight QV102, departing at 1310 to Vientiane.
Arrive in Vientiane on flight QV102 at 1350. Your guide and private car will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.
This afternoon, visit COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. A visit to the center provides in-depth information about the history of the American/Vietnam war and the lasting impact of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the area and the efforts underway to clear them.
Before sunset, enjoy a stroll along the Mekong River banks and stop, if you wish, to enjoy a cold drink at one of the many riverside food stalls.
Overnight in Vientiane
Start this morning with a visit to That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthethirat in the 16th century, the temple is resplendent as the sun is shines upon its towering golden spire. Then, enjoy a panoramic view over the city as you climb the stairs to the top of Patuxai, Vientiane’s own “Arc de Triomphe”.
Continue down Lane Xang Avenue the serene Wat Sisaket, the only temple left intact after the Siamese (Thai) invasion in 1828. It is one of the most beautiful temples in the capital, and its breezy teak covered hallways are filled with thousands of miniature Buddha statues.
Continue on to the nearby Wat Phra Keo. Used as a religious museum, Wat Phra Keo displays a collection of both Lao and Khmer works of art.
Enjoy lunch at Lao Derm Restaurant before being transferred to your hotel. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy shopping, more sightseeing, or a spa treatment.
For your final evening in Laos, you will have the unique opportunity to experience one of Laos’ oldest traditions: The Baci. The purpose of the Baci, which is a mix of Animist and Buddhist beliefs, is to call back escaped spirits to the body. This is something that is very important before major events such as weddings, births, travel, welcoming friends and farewells.
Enjoy a delicious lao -style dinner at Lao Kitchen.
Overnight in Vientiane.
Your guide and private car will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport onward flight to Phnom Penh.
Departure from Vientiane at 11:50 (QV921, Lao Airlines), arrival in Phnom Penh at 13:15
Upon arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide and transferred to your hotel right in the heart of the city. Phnom Penh was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient, and despite its recent turbulent history it still retains a colonial charm as much of its original architecture remains. Cambodia’s capital is a bustling city majestically located at the confluence of the mighty rivers of the Mekong and the Tonlé Sap. Wide tree-lined boulevards and many colonial-era buildings reflect the glorious days and add to the charm of the city where Asian traditions meet Western customs in a fascinating way.
Relax and unwind after your flight as you will have some time at leisure.
Enjoy an atmospheric sunset river cruise and watch how Phnom Penh’s popular riverfront comes to life in the early evening.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
After breakfast at the hotel, depart on a city tour in a typical cyclo. First, visit Wat Phnom, which dates back to 1372 and contains some excellent examples of Khmer architecture and statues.
Next pay a visit to the Khmer-style National Museum, which houses the world's foremost collection of ancient Khmer archaeological, religious, and artistic artifacts from the 4th to the 13th centuries. Over 5,000 pieces are on display, constituting the repository of the Kingdom's cultural wealth.
Continue on foot to the Royal Palace. This palace dates back to 1866 and was the last palace built during the French colonial period. The same complex houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5,000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors.
The afternoon is at leisure (optional additional sightseeing can be arranged).
Overnight in Phnom Penh
After breakfast, transport will be provided for the flight to Siem Reap, the gateway to the majestic temples of Angkor. Our guide and driver will be waiting here to provide transport to the hotel for check in.
After a lunch break, depart by local ‘remork’ on a very special sightseeing tour of the famous temples of Angkor.
Start with a to visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom, known for its grand wall surrounding the entire city. Enter the city through the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with Elephants and four giant faces.
Continue to Bayon Temple in the exact center of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur and is well-known for its 54 face-carved towers.
Wrap up the day with a sunset visit to the iconic Angkor Wat. Built in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat was constructed to represent the model of the temple mountain symbolising Mount Meru, a mythical home of the gods. The interior of the temple is famous for its stone carvings, bas-reliefs and over 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Construction is thought to have taken some thirty years of intensive labor to complete.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Rise early this morning and, head out to Beng Mealea, a temple tucked away deep in the Cambodian jungle. During the one hour drive, you will get a glimpse of the beautiful Cambodian countryside. Along the way, your English speaking guide will explain a bit of the history of the region and point out sights along the way. Upon arrival, explore the ruins of Beng Mealea. This formerly “undiscovered” temple has become increasingly popular so the earlier you arrive, the less crowds you will experience. As this temple is thought to have been a model for Angkor Wat and its collapsed state is a wonder to explore, it’s all the more so if you have it to yourself! (Note: this temple has become very popular and is far more enjoyable the earlier you leave so as to beat the crowds).
After Beng Mealea, continue on to Koh Ker, which briefly served as capital of the Khmer Empire in the early 10th century. Because of its relative remoteness, this temple complex is still quite unvisited by tourists. Here you will see various temples including the massive Prasat Thom. Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch in this ancient city.
After your visit, drive back to Siem Reap town and transferring to the airport for your evening flight.
OPTIONAL HELICOPTER FLIGHT:
Fly from Siem Reap directly to Beng Mealea and Koh Ker. You will have an incredible view of Angkor Wat as you view the entire temple complex from the air. This is the best way to grasp the sheer enormity of the former Khmer empire. Flying time is approximately 60 minutes plus about 3 hours visiting the two temples.
Upon arrival in Bangkok you will be transferred to your hotel for an evening at your leisure.
Overnight in Bangkok.
This morning is free for last minute shopping or sightseeing before transferring to the airport for the onward flight.
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