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adventure travel trip to Laos
Dates
  • Oct 27-Nov 15, 2014
  • Duration 20 days
    Group Size 4-12
    Land Cost $5,200 Details
    Single Supplement $1,400
    Lodging 3 stars
    Grade I
    Best Time

    Savoring Southeast Asia

    Stimulate the senses in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam

    Day 1      Arrive Bangkok

    Welcome to Bangkok! Upon your arrival, meet your guide at the airport and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to relax or explore.

    Meals: None
    Lodging: Rembrandt Hotel or similar

    Arrive in vibrant and bustling Bangkok
    Day 2      Bangkok/Chiang Mai

    First, visit Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), a must-see for first-time travelers to Bangkok. Next see the Royal Grand Palace, which is dedicated to the Thai Royal Family. Continue on to Wat Pho, home of the famous Reclining Buddha. This gold-plated statue is over 150 feet long and 50 feet high, and the eyes and feet are engraved with mother-of-pearl decorations. Late this afternoon, transfer to the airport and fly to the northern city of Chiang Mai. Here, you'll be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel.

     

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Ratilanna Riverside Resort or similar

    Tour Bangkok's Grand Palace and other city sights
    Day 3      Chiang Mai/Doi Suthep/Handicraft Villages

    Today you visit a Meo hill tribe village set in an attractive hillside spot. You'll see the Meo tribes people dressed in their colorful traditional costumes. Next, visit  Wat Phratat Doi Suthep, which contains a holy relic of the Lord Buddha. The view of the city from 3,500 feet above sea level can be quiet breathtaking. Stop for lunch at a local restaurant before continuing on to a handicraft village. Many different craftspeople are gather here and you will experience the works of umbrella makers, wood carvers, silversmiths, silk weavers and jewelry makers. This is a good place to purchase souvenirs.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Ratilanna Riverside Resort or similar

    Ahka Hilltribes
    Day 4      Chiang Mai

    Today is yours to do what you like. Wander the charming streets of Chiang Mai, meet locals, sample various traditional Thai dishes, or rest at your hotel. Your guide will be available if you are interested in more guided sightseeing in and around the city for an additional cost.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Ratilanna Riverside Resort or similar

    Day 5      Doi Tung & Golden Triangle

    On the drive to Chiang Rai, stop to visit the Royal Palace and Botanic Garden at Doi Tung, known as "Flag Mountain." Meander through the incredible gardens before visiting Wat Rong Kung, an unconventional Buddhist/Hindu temple and hot spring.  After lunch at a local restaurant, drive to the famous Golden Triangle, the conjunction of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Overnight in Chiang Rai.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Dusit Island Resort or similar

    Wat Rong Kung in Chiang Rai
    Day 6      Chiang Khong/Houe Say/Pakbeng

    Early in the morning, around 6:00 am, drive to Chiang Khong where you cross the Thai border and enter into Laos. You'll board a boat at Houe Say and begin the slow boat ride down the Mekong River toward Luang Say Lodge in Pakbeng. Observe rural life along the Mekong River and stop at Ban Houy Phalam, a Kamu village. A buffet lunch is served on the boat. Arrive at Luang Say Lodge before sunset. 

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Luang Say Lodge or similar

    Visit local villages
    Day 7      Pak Ou/Luang Prabang

    After breakfast, continue on the river to Ban Baw to learn about the processing of traditional rice alcohol. Lunch is served on board the boat. Afterward, the boat heads to the mouth of the Nam Ou River to visit Pak Ou Caves, referred to as "Tham Ting" and "Tham Phoum." Here you will see thousands of Buddha images and statues! The boat arrives in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, before sunset. Here you'll meet your local guide and transfer to your hotel.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: 3 Nagas Hotel or similar

    The mighty Mekong River
    Day 8      Luang Prabang

    Today you will embark on a city tour of Luang Prabang. Visit various temples that boast unique Buddha statues and carvings, including Wat Visun, Wat Sene, and Wat Xieng Thong. Wat Xieng Thong is considered one of the most important of Lao monasteries and is a symbol of religion, royalty, and art. Visit the Former King Palace (now the National Museum), visit Photisak Silvershop, and Ock Pop Top, a live weaving center. Learn different styles of Lao textile-making on traditional looms. Later, climb the steps of Mount Phousi for a gorgeous view of the town.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: 3 Nagas Hotel or similar

    Wat Sen in Luang Prabang
    Day 9      Waterfalls and Hilltribe Villages

    Drive by minivan to Kuang Si waterfall, located 18 miles south of Luang Prabang. The water begins in a shallow pool on a steep hillside and falls approximately 200 feet. There are areas for swimming or you can trek around the waterfall. Continue on to Ban Tha Pen, the Hmong village. Then go on a short excursion to Sa Paper weaving village where you will learn  how locals make paper from the Sa tree. Finally, end the day with a heart-stopping view at Wat Phon Pao, which sits on a mountain overlooking the city.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: 3 Nagas Hotel or similar

    Visit a Hmong ethnic village
    Day 10      Siem Reap

    After breakfast, head to the airport and fly to Siem Reap. Your local guide will meet you at the airport and take you to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Tara Angkor Hotel or similar

    Angkor Wat is just outside of Siem Reap
    Day 11      Siem Reap: Angkor Ruins

    In the morning, drive to Angkor Wat, the largest Hindu temple complex in the world. Angkor Wat was commissioned to be built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century and decided it would be dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu. Admire the thousands of detailed carvings and statues upon entering the magnificent Victory Gate. After lunch at a local restaurant, continue exploring in Angkor Thom, known as the "Great City." Angkor Thom was built in the 12th century, and it was believed that it housed approximately 150,000 people at one time. Stand in awe of the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King before proceeding through the forest to Preah Palilay, a small, 13th century temple guarded by a large Buddha. You then visit Phimeanakas, a 10th century, pyramid temple that affords incredible views of the grounds. Check out Baphuon, a 165 foot tall temple dedicated to Shiva and has one of the world's largest reclinging Buddhas. End the day at Bayon, said to be the most beautiful of all the Angkor temples. 

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Tara Angkor Hotel or similar

    Explore Preah Khan and other temple ruins
    Day 12      Angkor Temples and Lake Villages

    Head to Banteay Srei, a unique temple made from sandstone located about 20 miles from Siem Reap. The carvings on this temple are more detailed than any other in Angkor. Next, see Banteay Samre or "Citadel of the Samre," a smaller temple situated in the jungles of Angkor Wat. You will also see Srah Srang, a huge, man-made lake where the Royals of Angkor Wat would bathe. Later, continue on to Ta Prohm, made famous by the movie "Tomb Raider". After lunch, you'll board a boat and sail through mangroves to the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest lake in Southeast Asia. As you sail past the floating villages, you'll experience a very different and very traditional way of life. At the height of the wet season, the lake has an area of 9,920 square miles and is home to many rare species of wildlife. On the cruise back, stop at the temple of Wat Artvea, to learn about the lives of the monks who live here. After the boat tour, visit Chantier Ecole-Artisan d'Angkor, both a museum and vocational center intent on reviving Khmer art. Watch locals conduct metalwork, stonework, and work with silk.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Tara Angkor Hotel or similar

    Investigate village life on Tonle Sap Lake
    Day 13      Saigon

    Transfer to the airport and fly to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) where you will meet your guide and head to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the afternoon free to explore on your own.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Royal Loutus Hotel or similar

    Arrive in Saigon
    Day 14      Saigon City Tour

    Enjoy a full-day guided tour of Saigon's historic landmarks, including the infamous Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Drive by the presidential palace, which used to be headquarters for the Saigon government during the American-Vietnamese War. Then, you may either visit the Historical Museum or the War Remnant Museum. In the afternoon, enjoy the busy shopping areas of the city, check out the 18th century Thien Hau Temple, and stop at the ancient, ornately carved Giac Vien Pagoda.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Royal Lotus Hotel or similar

    See the Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon
    Day 15      Cu Chi Tunnels

    Drive to Tay Ninh, The Great Temple of Caodaism. Caodaism is a local religion that combines elements from many other religions, such as Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc. The temple was built on nine levels and hosts prayer sessions throughout the day. You will witness a session around noon, and listen to the beautiful prayer and folk instrument music. You then stop at a local restaurant for a quick lunch before before visiting the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. The tunnels served as an underground city for the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. They contained makeshift hospitals, weapon caches, and of course, living quarters. Approximately 10,000 people called these cramped tunnels home for many years. You will watch a short video introduction before exploring the tunnel system.  It is a haunting and eye-opening learning experience. Afterwards, return to Saigon for your overnight.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Royal Lotus Hotel or similar

    Crouch down to explore the (widened and heightened!) tunnels of Cu Chi
    Day 16      Flight to Hanoi

    Transfer to the airport early in the morning and fly to Hanoi. Your local guide will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your centrally located hotel. You'll have the rest of the day free to relax or explore.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Maison Hanova Hotel or similar

    Day 17      Hanoi City Tour

    Today you will tour Hanoi, one of Asia's most enchanting cities. Its relaxed ambience is a joy, with exploration best accomplished on foot or bicycle. The shopping is fun, and the many lakes and parks provide enjoyable escapes. Your guided tour begins at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the building that contains the preserved body of "Uncle Ho." After leaving the mausoleum, check out the One Pillar Pagoda, shaped like a lotus flower emerging from the water. Inside the pagoda is a statue of the Goddess of Mercy because some Buddhists believe that when they die she places them in the center of a lotus flower to go to the "Land of Bliss." Next, visit the Temple of Literature to learn about Hanoi culture and history and the Museum of Ethnology to learn about Vietnam's diverse culture (54 ethnic groups in all). In the evening, attend a traditional water puppet show, a northern Vietnamese art form used to portray historical events.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Maison Hanova Hotel or similar

    Take in a performance of the unique Water Puppets while in Hanoi
    Day 18      Halong Bay

    You can leave luggage behind at your hotel in Hanoi and pack an overnight bag for a three-hour drive to the famous Halong  Bay, one of Vietnam's most spectacular natural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It's quite a sight to see a great number of sailing junks ("junk" is the term for an ancient Chinese water vessel) traversing the limestone island-spotted bay. Board your private junk for a four-hour cruise through Halong. Along the way, we will stop to explore limestone caves and to relax and swim. Lunch and dinner will be served during the cruise. Overnight on the boat.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging: Bhaya Cruise Junk (non-private) or similar

    Explore Halong Bay and stay overnight on a boat
    Day 19      Return to Hanoi

    For those interested in capturing the beautiful sunrise on the bay, you will need to rise early. Following breakfast, you'll explore and cruise around the bay for great photo opportunities. Sail back to the port and drive back to Hanoi. You'll stop along the way at a ceramic-making village called Phu Lang to observe traditional ceramic production. When you arrive back in Hanoi for your final night, the rest of the evening is free to relax or wander the city, or perhaps do some last minute shopping.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Maison Hanova Hotel or similar

    Explore in Hanoi
    Day 20      Onward

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
     

     

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: None



     
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