Start exploring the mysterious Royal city Angkor Thom. Its 50-tower temple is an awesome sight. At first glance it seems a shapeless mass of stone, but further scrutiny reveals a face, and then another after another. Suddenly, you are engulfed by the silent, heavy, enigmatic and silent gaze through half-closed eyes, staring out from a primitive and remote time. Further visit to the surroundings of the complex including the Baphou, Elephant Terraces, Leper King Terrace and Royal Place area.
Overnight in Siem Reap
After breakfast, continue your exploration with a visit to the picturesque Ta Prohm that had nearly disappeared into the jungle and remains overgrown, an oddly haunting and exotic scene. The magnificent roots of a tree, pushing between the huge stone blocks of the temple in a sort of embrace, evoke feelings that you may remember forever. Afternoon, visit the intricately carved Khmer ruins at Angkor Wat– one of the world’s most impressive ruins. The temple still owns hundreds of fine carvings of Apsara and the sceneries from Hindu mythology.
Overnight in Siem Reap (B)
Breakfast at your hotel, and then take a scenic drive outside Siem Reap up to the mountains to Phnom Kulen, an exquisite mountain region of waterfalls and riverbed carvings. The sandstone floors feature hundreds of carved I, along a shady brook. Enjoy the most beautiful section of the thousand lingas river cascades, where a majestic sunlit waterfall streams through dense jungle. Boxed lunch by the waterfall then transfer to Bantei Srei, the birthplace of Khmer classical style architecture. This is a small temple but its carvings are so impressive. Back to town.
Overnight in Siem Reap (B, L)
Set out on a city tour which will take you to The National Museum, which houses Khmer art, particularly sculptures from different periods of Cambodian history; the Royal Palace built in 1866 by King Norodom; the Silver Pagoda, so named because of its floor, which is made up of 5,000 silver tiles and located within the Royal Palace compound. You will also see Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a grim reminder of S-21 torture prison, and take a walk through the Russian market
Overnight in Phnom Penh (B)
Morning flight to Saigon, transfer to hotel upon arrival. Embark on a tour of Saigon’s historic landmarks including the 1880’s Old Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Historical Museum (or optional War Remnant Museum). Remainder of the day is for shopping spree
Overnight in Saigon (B)
In the morning, drive about 60 miles northwest of Saigon to the Cao Dai Great Temple. This modern sect, founded in the 1920’s, is a synthesis of Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, and Christian beliefs, with a dash of Islam thrown in. Opportunity to observe a very colourful service at midday. Lunch is at the local restaurant (quite basic but the best available). In the afternoon, continue your drive to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, the remains of a real bloody battlefield, which is over a network of tunnels built during the long years of wars. Return to Saigon for an evening at leisure
Overnight in Saigon (B,L)
Morning transfer to the airport for a 1-hour flight to Danang with an immediate visit to Marble Mountain and China Beach before driving another 30 km to Hoi An. A former international trading port during the 17-18th century, Hoi An is a charming small town with an eccentric mix of western and eastern-influenced architecture. Take a walking tour on its narrow streets, visiting former merchants’ houses, Phuc Kien Pagoda, the 400-year old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colourful stores.
Overnight in Hoi An (B)
Drive 2½ hours to Hue via scenic Hai Van (Ocean Clouds) Pass where a spectacular panoramic view of the central coastline can be seen from the summit before descending the pass the fishing village of Lang Co. Lunch is at the restored Royal home with Royal cuisine. After lunch, drive along Perfume River to visit Thien Mu pagoda Hue’s most preserved religious monument standing on the riverbank with its seven-floor tower. End the trip walk through the Imperial Citadel built in the early 19th century
Overnight in Hue (B,L)
Morning sightseeing of Tu Duc Royal Tomb, which was designed to blend with the natural setting of the landscape. There are pavilions in a tranquil setting of forested hills and lakes. Transfer to the airport for onward flight to Hanoi, then transfer to the city. After checking in to hotel and relaxing, enjoy a cyclo tour through the Old Quarter of 36 streets named after 36 wares for an insight of the local life, followed by a water puppet performance, a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form especially designed for depicting scenes from rural life and many episodes of national history.
Overnight in Hanoi (B)
Continue your city tour of this charming capital Hanoi with ochre-coloured colonial style buildings, tree-lined avenues and many lakes. Set out on a visit to the Temple of Literature to have an overview about Hanoi culture and history at the outset of the trip. Then visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument made of generous amount of marble and granite. This is where the preserved body of “Uncle Ho” may be viewed, continue visiting the lotus-shaped One Pillar Pagoda in the form of a lotus, it emerges from the water and rests on a single stone pillar. It contains a statue of the Goddess of Mercy with its legendary “thousand arms and a thousand eyes”. Afternoon, visit to a very beautiful Museum of Ethnology to enhance your understanding of Vietnam’s diverse culture through its unique presentation of objects & dress from daily life. Highlight your trip with another culture feel through another aspect – art, at Art Vietnam gallery owned by an American Art Consultant.
Overnight in Hanoi (B)
Transfer to the airport for onward flight. Meet on arrival at Wattay airport, you are welcome to Vientiane, situated on the bend on the left bank of the Mekong as the largest city and the capital of Laos. Upon arrival, meet with your guide and transfer to hotel, then embark on a sightseeing of the city’s major historic sites including:
· Religious museums of Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple to have been survived from the Siamese war of 1828 and its cloister contains more than 8000 Buddha statues;
· Wat Ho Prakeo, the former home-temple of the Emerald Buddha statue or Pra Keo, but today it contains a collection of Buddha statues, antiques and all artifacts found in around Vientiane;
· That Luang Stupa, the single most important monument in Laos, which was built to cover the original small stupa, containing a piece of the chest bone of Buddha
Overnight in Vientiane (B)
We transfer to the airport for a brief morning flight to the mountain kingdom of Luang Prabang, the ancient first capital of Lane Xang kingdom, the center of religious life in Laos and today the World Heritage City. Upon arrival, meet with your guide and onward visit this sacred city of temples, of which nearly fifty still remain in the town and surrounding areas. Visit:
National Museum, the former Royal Palace which houses the collection of valuables including the famous Prabang Buddha statue, gifts received from foreign dignitaries;
Wat Visoun, the 16th century temple served as a small museum for religious artifacts;
Wat Aham, the early 19th century temple, whose two guardian figures at the foot of the steps which represent two characters from the Ramayana – Hanuman, the Monkey God and a fierce Yaksa;
Wat Xiengthong, the 16th century temple, which more than any temples in Luang Prabang, epitomizes all the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang architecture;
Optional visit to Phousi Hill climbing up 328 steps to the summit of Phousi Hill that dominates the sky-line of Luang Prabang providing the finest panoramic view in the whole city
Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)
Optional early call to participate with local people giving food to hundreds of Buddhist monks returning from morning prayers. Return to hotel for breakfast. Then travel on a long-tailed boat for a few hours on the Mekong River to visit the mysterious Pak Ou Caves in the side of a lime stone cliff and opposite of the mouth of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers. The sanctuaries at Pak Ou consist of two large caves, both repositories for thousands of Buddha images, which range from mere centimeter to two meters in height. En route, Lao typical villages are barely visible behind a screen of foliage. Slender canoes bobbing by the shore and bamboo poles and floats mark the location of nets and fish traps. Lunch at local restaurant on the bank of the Mekong River. Return to Luang Prabang by the same boat; continue by car to visit Ban Xangkhong, the well-known village for its wood paper making and also Lao silk weavings with natural dyes. Transfer back to town.
Overnight in Luang Prabang (B)