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|Set Departures Jewels of Indochina Tour|
Highlight: Thailand | Laos | Vietnam | Cambodia
Nature has blessed Vietnam with a bountiful harvest of soaring mountains, a killer coastline and radiant rice fields, Vietnam is a cracker. Inland, peasant women in conical hats still tend to their fields, children ride buffalos along country paths and minority people scratch out a living from impossible gradients.
Vietnam is a nation of determined optimists who have weathered war after war, survived colonialism and communism, and are now getting to grips with the wheeler-dealer world of capitalism. Fiercely protective of their independence and sovereignty, the Vietnamese are graciously welcoming of foreigners who come as guests not conquerors.
Don’t believe the hype. Or the propagandist party billboards that are as common as statues of ‘Uncle Ho’. Believe your senses, as you discover one of the most enriching, enlivening and exotic countries on earth.
To escape the buzz of millions of motorbikes, head west to the watery landscape of green fields and sleepy villages in the Mekong Delta. There’s adventure galore to be had on Phu Quoc Island and stunning white-sand beaches to relax on. Back on the east coast at Mui Ne Beach, you’ll be faced with a similar dilemma: action or inertia?
Hoi An might weigh you down - but in a good way - you’re bound to add kilos of made-to-order clothing to your luggage. With an estimated 300 to 500 tailors working in this beautiful city, this is fashionista heaven.
To feel the intellectual, cultural and spiritual heartbeat of Vietnam, make a stop in the old imperial capital, Hué. Home to palaces and pagodas, tombs and temples, and host of the biennial arts festival, the Festival of Hué, it’s the place to go for historical, cultural and culinary stimulation.
In Hanoi, the country’s captivating capital, rise early to watch the city exercise by Hoan Kiem Lake, then pay your respects in person to Uncle Ho at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (a truly surreal experience). See if you can locate ‘pickled fish street’ in the Old Quarter (it’s somewhere near ‘wooden bowls street’), and cool off with draught beer at ‘bia hoi junction’ (a truly rewarding experience).
Eventually you’ll be enticed out of the city by the stunning offerings of the country’s northern provinces. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of Halong Bay and its 2000 limestone karsts, nor the experience of trekking around mountainous Sapa.
Vietnam has it all. Go expecting the unexpected, be ready for an adventure as much as a holiday, and Vietnam will deliver.
After years of war and isolation, Southeast Asia’s most pristine environment, intact cultures and quite possibly the most chilled-out people on earth mean destination Laos is fast earning cult status among travellers. It is developing quickly but still has much of the tradition that has sadly disappeared elsewhere in the region. Village life is refreshingly simple and even in Vientiane it’s hard to believe this sort of languid riverfront life exists in a national capital. Then, of course, there is the historic royal city of Luang Prabang, where watching as hundreds of saffron-robed monks move silently among centuries-old monasteries is as romantic a scene as you’ll experience anywhere in Asia.
Away from the cities, there is so much more to see; the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuang Province, the forested mountains of Northern Laos, the gothic limestone karsts around the backpacker-haven Vang Vieng and in the deep south, past the market town Pakse, is Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands), where the mighty Mekong spreads out and all the hammocks are taken.
The Lao wilderness is drawing travellers looking for nature, adventure or both. Kayaking, rafting, rock-climbing and biking are all available, but it’s the community-based trekking that is most popular because it combines spectacular natural attractions with the chance to experience the ‘real Laos’ with a village homestay – while spending your money where it’s needed most.
There is undoubtedly a growing tourist trail in Laos, but that just means there’s plenty of roads off Rte 13 where you can make your own trail. After all, half the fun of travelling here is in the travel itself – the people you meet, chickens you share seats with, wrong turns you take and lào-láo you drink with the smiling family at the end of the road less travelled.
Now a days the most preferred tour among the people of the world. Thailand tours would be a great pleasure to every category of the tourist as this Thailand tourism has a lot to offer to its visitors in terms of culture, tradition, hospitality, entertainment, adventure, nightlife, shopping and what not.
Shopping in Thailand is yet another pleasure for the shop freaks on their Thailand tour Bangkok offers a lot of shopping points and malls where the guests can collect souvenirs and keep it as it is going to become the mark of their most memorable and pleasant memories of Thailand holidays. After a hard and tiresome day of shopping, sightseeing and adventure activities one is bound to get hungry.
Isolated and ostracised by the international community, the country is in the grip of tyrants. Most travellers avoid a visit, backing the boycott, but the long-suffering people are everything the regime is not. Gentle, humorous, engaging, considerate and inquisitive, they want to play a part in the world, and deserve a brighter future. Turn back the clock with a trip to this time-warped country where the adventure travel of old lives on. This is the authentic Asia with creaking buses, potholed roads, locals who greet you like long lost family and not a 7-Eleven in sight. Forget the internet for a moment and connect with a culture where holy men are more revered than rock stars and golden buddhas are bathed every day at first light – in Mandalay, the Mahamuni Paya houses a buddha re-covered in gold leaf daily. Drift down the Ayeyarwady in an old river steamer, stake out a slice of Ngapali Beach or Ngwe Saung on the blissful Bay of Bengal, trek through pine forests to minority villages around Kalaw – there are so many experiences awaiting in Myanmar that one trip is simply never enough. It’s a country that fuels your emotions, stimulates your senses and stays in your soul.
Jewels of Indochina Tour
Itinerary in brief
Day 1: Saigon Arrival
Day 2: Saigon Half Day - Cu Chi
Day 3: Saigon Mekong Delta
Day 4: Saigon - Hoi An
Day 5: Hoi An
Day 6: Hoi An - Hanoi
Day 7: Hanoi City Sightseeing
Day 8: Hanoi - Halong Bay
Day 9: Halong Bay - Hanoi
Day 10: Hanoi - Luang Prabang
Day 11: Luang Prabang
Day 12: Luang Prabang
Day 13: LQP - Siem Reap
Day 14: Siem Reap
Day 15: Siem Reap
Day 16: Siem Reap - Bangkok
Day 17: Bangkok Temple Tour
Day 18: Bangkok - Kwai River - Ayuthaya
Day 19: Bangkok Departure
Day 1: Saigon City Arrival
Our representative will greet and meet you upon arrival to Ho Chi Minh City, which is formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is a sprawling metropolis that is home to over 5 million people and a fast-paced city full of contrasts as street vendors selling fruit and vegetables can be seen next to glitzy western-style bars and boutiques. Saigon’s history is only 300 years old. In 1859 the city was captured by the French and became the capital of Cochin China. From 1956 until its dramatic demise in April 1975 it was the capital of the US-backed Republic of Vietnam. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is very much the heart of Vietnamese business and entrepreneurs. And yet the city still retains its connections to the past, particularly in Cho Lon, Saigon’s Chinatown. Here dozens of elegant temples and pagodas can be seen. The French also left their mark with some fine colonial-era buildings such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.
Day 2: Saigon Touring & Cu Chi Tunnels (Meals: B)
Our city tour will help you to see the best of Saigon. In the morning we visit the historic Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum, followed by the architectural treats of French colonial Notre Dame Cathedral and the Post Office. In the afternoon. In the afternoon, we drive to Cu Chi district, 50 km to the Northwest of Saigon City. On arrival watch a video presentation on the construction of the tunnels before making your way into the tunnels. Here you can spend around an hour exploring the maze of tunnels and also view the various mantraps on display and the remains of an American tank as well as numerous bomb craters made by 500 pound bombs dropped by B52 bombers. This unique experience gives a fascinating insight into what underground life in the war must have been like. The return journey to Ho Chi Minh City. Free time at leisure or shopping at Ben Thanh Market nearby. Overnight at hotel in Saigon
Day 3: Mekong River Cruising in Style (Meals: B, L)
We will start the trip at 07:30 am and head for Vinh Long province. Boarding our beautiful traditional boat. This five hour river cruise takes you through Vietnam’s most productive agricultural area. Enjoy the beautiful landscapes of coconut palms, sugar-cane groves and fruit orchards from the vessel as you head to the Cai Be floating market. Here you can cruise through the colourful barges full of fruits and vegetables and then proceed to local home factories such as rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and longans drying processing. The trip continues along the Mekong canals to Dong Hoa Hiep Island located between Vinh Long and Cai Be. Along the way you will find the local people engaged in their daily tasks and see brightly coloured Khemer pagodas. Stops on the way can be made upon request for particular visits or photos making. These evergreen islands among the Mekong River still remain unknown to many people. Arrive at La Residence de Phu An resort where you will be welcomed and served Vietnamese culinary delights. You will then walk along a narrow canal to an air-conditioned vehicle that will transport you back to Ho Chi Minh City. Overnight at hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Day 4: Saigon - Hoi An (Meals: B)
This morning we will take flight to Danang. Pick up and transfer to Hoi An. Visit the fascinating Cham Museum, famous China Beach and the Marble Mountains en route to charming Hoi An. Known as Faifo to early Western traders, Hoi An Ancient Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century. Its buildings and its street plan reflect the influences, both indigenous and foreign, that have combined to produce this unique heritage site. At leisure for the rest of time. Overnight at hotel in Hoi An.
Day 5: Hoi An Touring (Meals: B)
In the morning, you will enjoy a walking tour with first stop is the bustling fish and vegetable market and then we will go through the Old Quarters to see the town's landmarks of Japanese Covered Bridge, ancient Assembly Hall, Phuc Kien Temple and then we take a river trip and you will enjoy the scenery along the Thu Bon River and the general view of Hoi An Ancient Town. It transforms itself at night, when many of the shops hang lanterns outside. We will transfer you back to the town and rest of time at your own leisure. Hoi An is well know for souvenir shopping with great prices and also famous for its large number of tailor shops, so if you want to get a cloth tailor made to measure, this is the time to do it. Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 6: Hoi An - Danang - Hanoi (Meals: B)
Our tour guide will meet and greet you upon arrival to Hanoi City- the capital city of Vietnam, is an elegant city located on the banks of the Red River with tranquil Restored Sword Lake at its heart. North of the lake are the bustling streets of the Old Quarter, each street named after the trade that used to take place there. Much of the city was transformed by the French when it became a French protectorate in the 1880s and there are wide boulevards and large colonial buildings which are now home to government departments and foreign embassies. Transferring to your hotel in the city center to refresh. Overnight at hotel in Hanoi City.
Day 7: Hanoi City Tour (Meals: B)
This comprehensive day tour takes in all of Hanoi's essential sites. In the morning we will visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and historical presidential relics and then the Temple of Literature nearby. Afterwards we head to Ngoc Son Temple and Hoan Kiem Lake. The Ngoc Son temple is set on a tiny island on the Hoan Kiem Lake and dates back to the 13th century. The lake itself is a picturesque focal point of Hanoi, frequented by tourists and locals alike. In the afternoon, we will visit Museum of Ethnology, widely acknowledged as the best in the country which houses a display dedicated to Vietnam's 54 ethnic minority peoples. Then we will take 1 hour by cyclo ride through Hanoi's Old Quarters to experience daily life of people who are living in the oldest parts of the city, Enjoying the famous traditional water puppetry show in Thang Long Theatre where you will have chance to get a general picture of the daily activities typical to Vietnam's rural areas. Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.
Day 8: Hanoi - Halong Bay (Meals: B, L, D)
Morning depart for Halong Bay, we go through the scenic countryside. The wondrous Halong Bay is truly one of Vietnam’s most impressive scenic sights. Check-in at 12:00 at noon and embark on a junk boat for an exploration of the legendary Halong Bay. This exciting cruise will provide us a fantastic view of the picturesque scenery blending with the sky and some 3,000 limestone islands rising amazingly from the clear and emerald water. The limestone karsts formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves. Along the way we will anchor for a leisurely swim in a secluded cove and an enjoyable visit to one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. Stay overnight on the Junk Cruise.
Day 9: Halong Bay - Hanoi (Meals: Brunch)
Greet the day with a morning Tai Chi exercise with an opportunity to view the sunrise over the bay. After breakfast, visit beautiful limestone grotto then back to the boat for a final glimpse of the Halong Bay while cruising back to the dock. Transfer back to Hanoi City. Rest of time at your own leisure. Overnight at hotel in Hanoi
Day 10: Hanoi - Luang Prabang (Meals: B)
Morning flight to Luang Prabang. On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Luang Prabang was the royal capital of the former Lane Xang Kingdom, with its gleaming temple roofs, colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop retains a unique charm rarely found in all Asia. Overnight in Luang Prabang
Day 11: Luang Prabang Touring (Meals: B)
An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (often in the form of sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the ritual. Later, we visit the National Museum (closed Tuesdays) at the former Royal Palace. It displays a collection of artefacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through to the last sovereign. In the afternoon, we enjoy a short-guided tour seeing the city’s oldest temple of impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrines of Wat Aham and Wat Mai, Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture. Overnight at hotel in Luang Prabang.
Day 12: Luang Prabang Touring (Meals: B, L)
The day starts with a visit to the Big Brother Mouse shop to select some books for the village visit. We then head north by car along route 13, before taking a unpaved road to Ban Khia Luang village. We then have ample time to visit the school, play with the kids and watch them enjoy their new books. We also take some time to explore the rest of the village, where you can see weaving and visit the local temple. We stop for lunch at the village, which can either be a western picnic lunch, or traditional Lao food such as sticky rice, fresh vegetables cooked by the villagers. After lunch we say good bye to the village and drive to Ban Khoklin, which takes us through some beautiful scenery of mountains and paddy fields. At Ban Khoklin we then board a private boat down the Nam Ou river for 30 minutes to Pak Ou Caves, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. and continue down the Mekong River back to Luang Prabang, arriving back there by late afternoon. Overnight in Luang Prabang
Day 13: Luang Prabang - Siem Reap (Meals: B)
Today we will fly to Siem Reap, the charming riverside which is located in Northwest Cambodia, Siem Reap is the major tourist hub in Cambodia, as it is the closest city to the temples of Angkor. The most recognizable of the temples, Angkor Wat, literally Capital Temple, built by King Suryavarman II the early 12th century. Check-in hotel and at leisure or spend your time to walking around the Old town. Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap.
Day 14: Siem Reap Angkor Temple Tour (Meals: B)
Your private tour of Angkor Wat starts from the South Gate of Angkor Thom City. Explore the centrepiece of the ancient city, The Bayon. The Bayon is known for it's decorative Khmer temple and it's distinctive features are the serene and massive stone faces that tower around the central peak. Your tour continues with visits to Baphuon temple, the Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas as well as the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of Leper Kings. Enjoy lunch in front of Angkor Wat before entering this magnificent temple - easily the most famous and best-preserved of all structures within the Complex. Enjoy most of the afternoon here to watch sunset over the Angkor before heading back to Siem Reap. Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap.
Day 15: Angkor Temple Touring (Meals: B)
In the morning, you will continue your temple visits. Included are Prasat Kravan with its unique brick sculptures, Srah Srang ("The Royal Boths" was once used for ritual bathing), Banteay Kdei (surrounded by four concentric walls), Eastern Mebon (guarded at its corner by stone figures of harnessed elephants, some of which are still in a reasonable state of preservation) and the "Mountain Temple" of Pre Rup. In the afternoon, transfer to the archaeological site and continue to the temple tour. Visit Ta Prohm, one of the most beautiful temples in the area - The Buddhist monastic complex of Ta Prohm is one of the largest sites at Angkor. Having been left untouched by archaeologists, this Bayon style temple is ethereal in aspect. Stone pillars and tree roots intertwine in this impressive complex. Ta Prohm has been left relatively untouched since it was discovered and retains much of its mystery, then, visit Takeo, Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda temples. Stay overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 16: Siem Reap - Bangkok (Meals: B)
Free at leisure until we will transfer you to the airport to take a short flight to Bangkok. Pick up upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi International Airport and transfer to the hotel in the city. Welcome to Thailand, the land of smiles. Bangkok is the financial, political and cultural capital of Thailand, located in the centre-south of the country, in the heart of a fertile rice-growing region. Bisected by the Chao Phraya River, which is overlooked by all the major palaces, Buddhist temples and luxury hotels, Bangkok is seventh heaven for those who love their food and their shopping. Overnight at hotel in Bangkok.
Day 17: River Cruising Tour (Meals: B, D)
This half-day sightseeing tour in Bangkok will allow you the opportunity to explore the Grand Palace complex, which houses a number of attractions including Wat Phra Keow (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and then we will proceed to see Wat Traimit, Wat Pho and Wat Benchamabophit. A Wat is a Buddhist building where both men and women can be ordained as monks or nuns. Wat Traimit is also known as the temple of the Golden Buddha. The 3 meter tall statue is made from solid gold and weighs 5.5 tons and is a fine example of Sukhothai style art. You will then pass through Chinatown on your way to Wat Pho, the temple of the reclining Buddha. At 46 meters in length and 15 meters high the Buddha is the largest in Bangkok and illustrates the passing of the Buddha into nirvana. Your last stop is at Wat Benchamabophit, or the marble temple. This magnificent monastery was built out of white Italian marble from Carrara in the late 19th century. Treat yourself and your loved ones with a 2.5 hour evening cruise along Bangkok's Chao Phraya river. Watch river life go by and feast on a Thai dinner feast as the band on board entertains you. This will be a memorable night on board one of Bangkok's most luxurious restaurant boats relaxing in modern comfort and dining like King Rama V on a variety of Thai dishes. As you cruise slowly along the Chao Phraya River you will pass The Temple of Dawn and the Grand Palace complex which both provide sensational twilight photo opportunities. It is also a great vantage point to watch the life along the river as people slowly start to unwind or head home after a busy day. Transfer back to hotel and overnight at hotel in Bangkok.
Day 18: Floating Market & River Kwai Tour (Meals: B, L)
Your day commences with a scenic drive through sugar cane fields, rice paddies and pineapple plantations before embarking on an exciting long tail speed-boat ride to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, passing traditional stilt houses and scenes that have changed little over the centuries. Enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of the famous market where you will find hundreds of Thai style canoes laden with fruits, vegetables, sweets and meats. The tour then heads west to Kanchanaburi Province, home to the Bridge on the River Kwai and the infamous ‘Death Railway’ – part of a huge Second World War project to link existing Thai and Burmese railway lines to create a direct route from Bangkok in an effort to support the Japanese occupation of Burma. Thousands of Allied POWs and local labourers lost their lives constructing the bridge and the railway line. Lunch will be taken in a local restaurant before visiting the bridge itself, followed by a visit to the Allied War Grave Cemeteries before hearing the POWs stories at the hauntingly fascinating Death War Museum.
Day 19: Depart Bangkok (Meals: B)
Free at leisure until we will transfer you to the airport to take your flight onward. End of service.
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