- The Philippines
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- South Korea
The Grand Tour of Indochina
Fly from London Heathrow to Phnom Penh, via Bangkok, with Thai Airways
Flight: TG 911 London - Bangkok 12.50 - 06.10
Bangkok - Phnom Penh
Flight: TG 580 Bangkok - Phnom Penh 07.45 - 09.00
Meet & greet: Upon arrival at Phnom Penh airport you will be welcomed to Cambodia by your private English speaking guide, and then transferred to your hotel.
Accommodation: Stay 2 night at the Villa Paradiso (Balinese Garden Suite)
Half day tour of Phnom Penh: Start your tour of Cambodia's capital at the stunning Royal Palace complex, home to the Cambodian royal family and a symbol of the nation. Here you will see beautiful gardens landscaped with tropical plants and the Throne Hall where the royal receptions are held and the Cambodian king's coronation took place. Continue to the Silver Pagoda, named after the 5000 silver tiles covering the floor, each weighing 1kg. Inside are some of the country's most cherished treasures, including a life-size gold Buddha studded with 9584 diamonds, the largest weighing 25 carats. Leave the Royal Palace and continue to the nearby National Museum, home to the world's finest collection of sculpture from the Angkor period. The exquisite building was completed between 1917 and 1920 and features a lush courtyard garden surrounded by collections from the pre-Angkor, Angkor and post-Angkor periods.
You will then have the option to learn of the Khmer Rouge's horrific crimes at Tuol Sleng, a former high school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a centre for interrogation, torture and death. 17,000 people passed through the gates of this prison and only seven lived to tell the tale. The Khmer Rouge were meticulous in their record keeping, photographing all the prisoners and many of these haunting black and white images are on display in the cells. Tuol Sleng is a profoundly moving experience and not everyone will want to visit. However, it is key to understanding the hell into which Cambodia descended and how far it has come in the years since.
Finish your tour at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. An old Chinese cemetery, Choeung Ek was turned into an extermination camp for political prisoners. The remains of 8985 people were exhumed from mass graves and are kept in a memorial stupa here. Despite the horrors of the past, it is a peaceful place to go and a tranquil spot to reflect on the tragic events that engulfed Cambodia and its people.
Phnom Penh - Battambang
Road journey from Phnom Penh to Battambang: After breakfast this morning travel by road from Phnom Penh to Battambang, a journey of 180 miles. En route visit Udong, capital of the Khmer kingdom between 1618 and 1866. Today Udong consists of a collection temples and stupas containing ashes of several kings, and precious Buddha relics. The ruins are sprinkled across two ridges and are generally very quiet - it is possible that you will have the site all to yourself. At the base of the ridge is a memorial to victims of Pol Pot, containing the bones of people buried in the 100 or so mass graves found in the area.
Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at Bambu Hotel (Superior Room)
Full day tour of Battambang: After breakfast transfer to a local village for a ride on the Bamboo Train. The train comprises of a simple bamboo platform on 4 wheels with a small motor, and was created by local villagers to facilitate the transportation of goods. Travel 8km on the train to the next village through beautiful landscape and rice paddies. On arrival at the village visit a workshop specialising in wooden sculpture. Continue to the hilltop temple of Wat Banan. The winding road follows the Sangker River and passes by many traditional wooden homes, offering an authentic glimpse of rural Cambodia. Arriving at the temple, ascend to the summit where you will be rewarded with striking views of the surrounding plains. There are five towers here, leading some ambitious Battambang residents to claim it may have been the inspiration behind Angkor Wat. Finish your tour at Phnom Sampeau, a sacred mountain dotted with interesting pagodas and stupas. There is also a moving memorial to Khmer Rouge victims who were thrown into one of the many caves that pepper this holy mountain.
Bangkok - Siem Reap
Private boat trip across Lake Tonle Sap to Siem Reap: This morning depart Battambang on a private local boat journey across Lake Tonle Sap to Siem Reap on one of the most beautiful river journeys in Cambodia, a trip of between 6-7 hours. Enjoy views of the Cambodian landscape and the daily life along the river. See the incredible network of bamboo fish traps, areas of water hyacinth and pass the Prek Toal Biosphere where you may be lucky enough to see some rare large water birds. Travel across Lake Tonle Sap, which feels like a vast inland sea, until the journey ends at the floating village of Chong Kneas. From here you will be transferred to your hotel in Siem Reap by road.
Accommodation: Stay 3 nights at the Shinta Mani Resort (Pool View Room)
Breakfast & Lunch
Siem Reap / Angkor Temples
Guided tour of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom & The Bayon: Probably the best time to visit Angkor Wat, the largest and most famous of the Angkor temples, is early in the morning, when the light is good and it is relatively quiet. Angkor Wat is visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking. It is a massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by five beehive-like towers rising 65 metres from ground level. At the apex of Khmer political and military dominance in the region, Suryavarman II constructed Angkor Wat in the form of a massive 'temple-mountain' dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu. Angkor Wat is surrounded by a moat and an exterior wall and the walls of the temple are covered inside and out with bas-reliefs and carvings. Nearly 2000 distinctively rendered apsara carvings adorn the walls throughout the temple and represent some of the finest examples of apsara carvings in Angkorian era art.
Angkor Thom (Big Angkor) is a walled and moated royal city and was the last capital of the Angkorian Empire. After Jayavarman VII recaptured the badly damaged Angkorian capital from the Cham invaders in 1181, he began a massive building campaign across the empire, constructing Angkor Thom as his new capital city. He began with existing structures such as Baphuon and Phimeanakas and built a grand enclosed city around them, adding the outer wall and some of Angkor's greatest temples including his state-temple, Bayon, set at the centre of the city. There are five entrances (gates) to the city, one for each cardinal point, and the victory gate leading to the Royal Palace area. Each gate, as well as much of Jayavarman VII's architecture is crowned with four giant faces.
The giant stone faces of Bayon have become one of the most recognizable images connected to classic Khmer art and architecture. There are 37 standing towers, most sporting four carved faces oriented toward the cardinal points.
Siem Reap / Angkor Temples
Dawn at Ta Prohm, tour of Preah Khan and Banteay Srei: Rise early to travel to Ta Prohm in the dawn light. Ta Prohm has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered' by French explorer Henri Mouhout in 1860, the tentacle-like tree roots here are slowly strangling the surviving stones, man first conquering nature to create, nature later conquering man to destroy.
Afterwards drive to the mighty temple of Preah Khan or 'Sacred Sword', built by King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. Sister temple to Ta Prohm, the cruciform corridors here are impressive and there are some wonderful carvings adorning the walls, including the spectacular hall of dancers. Look out for the curious two-storey structure that is almost Grecian in inspiration. This is one of the few temples originally dedicated to Buddhism and Hinduism. The original eastern entrance was for Mahayana Buddhists, while the other cardinal points represented the Hindu trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
Afterwards head to Banteay Srei, Angkor's ultimate art gallery. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia and the name translates as ‘Fortress of the Women', thanks to the intricate detail here, considered too fine for the hands of a man. Originally believed to date from the latter part of the Angkor period, inscriptions at the site suggest it was built by a Brahman in 967. However, some architectural historians have suggested that the inscriptions may date from an earlier structure on this site and the temple is in fact later, marking a high-water mark in Khmer sculpture.
Siem Reap - Southern Laos
Private transfer: Transfer to Siem Reap for your Lao Airlines Flight to Pakse Airport.
Flight: QV518 Siem Reap - Pakse 10.05 - 11.05
Road journey from Pakse to Champasak: Head south from Pakse by road to the small town of Champasak, set on the Mekong River.
Guided tour of Wat Phou: Take a guided tour of one of Southeast Asia's most dramatically situated temples, the fascinating pre-Angkorian ruins of Wat Phou near Champasak. Founded in the first decades of the 9th century by Jayavarman II, the first king of an independent Khmer nation, Wat Phou served for some time as the Khmer capital. Wat Phou is often compared to Angkor, not only because it was built in the same style but because it too was lost to the jungle for centuries. Whilst the structures themselves are thrilling, it is the jungle overgrowth that creates the atmosphere. The Wat stood unused for centuries because it is a Hindu temple in what became a devoutly Buddhist land.
Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at the River Resort (Deluxe Mekong View Villa).
Full day tour of the Four Thousand Islands: After breakfast this morning travel south by road for around an hour until reaching the village of Ban Nakasang, to board a small local boat that will weave the channels of the 4000 Islands before arrivingt at Khone Island. The tour of the island starts by re-tracing the French colonial-past, where some old colonial houses still stand and glimpse the first Lao railway with its own locomotive. Continue exploring this area of the 4000 islands by boat and visit the beautiful Liphi waterfall, also known as the Samphamith, which forms a natural border between Lao and Cambodia. Return to Ban Nakasang and drive to the famous waterfall of Khone Phapeng - the largest waterfall in South East Asia, also known as the 'Niagara of the East'.
Southern Laos - Vientiane
Road journey from Champasak to Pakse: You will be collected from the The River Resort and transferred to Pakse Airport in time for your flight to Vientiane.
Flight: QV 304 Pakse - Vientiane 13.00 - 13.50
Private transfer: On arrival in Vientiane, you will be met by your local guide and taken to the Ansara Hotel for a one-night stay.
Accommodation: Stay 1 night at the Ansara Hotel (Savvy Room)
Half day tour of Vientiane: Your tour of Laos' capital city starts with a visit to the enchanting Haw Phra Kaew, built in the 16th century by the royal family to hold the emerald Buddha and with an exquisite collection of religious art. Continue to the Siamese style Wat Si Saket and the That Luang Stupa, the bright golden monument which represents a lotus bud and is used as a symbol of the Lao nation, and Patuxay Monument, Vientiane's very own Arc de Triumph. The tour ends with a visit to Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan), which contains a vivid collection of over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues.
Vientiane - Muang La
Private transfer: After breakfast this morning you will be collected from the Ansara Hotel and transferred to the airport for your flight to Oudomxay.
Flight: QV 501 Vientiane - Oudomxay 11.50 - 12.40
Road journey from Oudomxay to Muang La: Upon arrival at Oudomxay airport you will be met by your guide and transferred to the village of Muang La, a drive of around 45 minutes.
Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at the Muang La Resort (Garden View Bungalow)
Afternoon at leisure: This afternoon at leisure to stroll around the village, or just relax at the riverside retreat enjoying a massage or bathing in the hot springs.
Breakfast & Dinner
Muang La / Northern Laos
Half Day Minority Village Tour: This morning depart Muang La in 4x4 and travel along a decent road that follows the river Nam Phak to a remote Ikho village, a community from Yunnan and Tibet which has retained many of their traditional customs. Have a look around their mountain village where the houses are constructed of wood and bamboo, and learn about their way of life and spiritual beliefs. You will also see the unique way that they have to dye their clothes with dyes from plants. Please note that there are several other excursions and activities such as trekking and mountain biking that can be arranged for this day - please ask for more details.
Afternoon / evening activities: The afternoon can be spent relaxing in the natural hot springs, taking a traditional massage before enjoying the excellent Lao fusion cuisine in the restaurant this evening.
Breakfast & Dinner
Muang La - Luang Prabang
Road journey from Muang La to Luang Prabang: After breakfast you will be picked up from the hotel for the drive to Luang Prabang, a journey of approximately 5 hours. You will drive through some wonderful scenery, with numerous villages and scenic spots to stop off at along the way.
Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at the Burasari Heritage Resort (Deluxe Balcony Room)
Half day walking tour of Luang Prabang: Your half day tour starts with a visit to the quaint Royal Palace Museum, which gives a good overview of the local history and features a guided audio tour. Afterwards begin your walking tour, taking in some of Luang Prabangs hidden secrets, including a stroll down the quiet back lanes. Along the way stop at Wat Chomkhong, which is known for its decorative carvings. This area contains a mix of beautiful old French Colonial buildings, and traditional old Lao houses, which you will have time to admire, along with a stop at the small but charming Wat Phapai. You will also pass by the Fine Arts School, where you can see some of the quality artwork on display. Your final visit of the day is the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, with its roof sweeping low to the ground, representing the classical Luang Prabang style.
Luang Prabang - Hanoi
Morning at leisure: This morning is free to relax at your hotel and explore more of Luang Prabang independently.
Private transfer: This afternoon you will be met at your hotel and transferred to Luang Prabang Airport for the flight to Hanoi Noibai Airport.
Flight: QV 513 Luang Prabang - Hanoi 17.10 - 18.10
Private transfer: On arrival in Hanoi you will be welcomed to Vietnam by your local guide and transferred to the Silk Path Hotel in a chauffeur driven car for a two-night stay.
Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at the Hotel de l'Opera (Deluxe Room)
Morning tour of Hanoi: After breakfast, start your tour of Hanoi with a visit to the 900 year old Temple of Literature, Vietnam's principal Confucian sanctuary and its historical centre of learning. Made up of five courtyards, this is one of the few remnants of the original city. Continue to the Soviet style Ba Dinh Square where Ho Chi Minh read out the declaration of the nation's independence in 1945. Visit the museum dedicated to Ho Chi Minh before passing through the mausoleum (you will be asked to remove hats if entering, and no shorts or vests are allowed) escorted by a soldier in full regalia. As you leave, you will be able to walk through the gardens of the Presidential Palace before seeing Ho Chi Minh's house, the modest dwelling he built based on a rural Vietnamese stilt house and where "Uncle Ho" lived for the last years of his life.
Special Dinner: This evening you will be taken for dinner at the charming Green Tangerine Restaurant which serves French fusion cuisine. The restaurant is set in a restored French colonial style building that dates from 1928, and is somewhat of an oasis in the heart of the chaotic Old Quarter. Green Tangerine specializes in modern French fare with a Vietnamese twist, so you can expect stylishly presented dishes bursting with flavour.
Breakfast & Dinner
Hanoi - Halong Bay
Road journey from Hanoi to Halong Bay: This morning you will be met at your hotel and driven for approximately 3 hours through the Red River delta to the coast and the Gulf of Tonkin, where the waters of Halong Bay are found.
Overnight Halong Bay Cruise on Halong Ginger: Board the Halong Ginger in time for lunch, and set sail across the bay. The Halong Ginger, a newly built, custom designed wooden junk, is one of the latest additions to the cruises offered around the spectacular scenery of Halong Bay. The junk has three decks with a restaurant, two bars, a library, a boutique shop and a large sun deck. The ten cabins are beautifully decorated and fully air-conditioned with en suite bathrooms, intercom and mini bar. All activities arranged by the cruise are on a shared basis. After lunch take a short trek to a nearby summit for a panoramic view of the bay. There will also be the opportunity for swimming on a quiet beach or sunbathing on the sundeck of the Halong Ginger. In the late afternoon there will be an excursion to a local fishing village, and a water tunnel. Return to the boat in time for a pre-dinner drink as the sun is setting.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Halong Bay - Hanoi - Hue
Halong Bay Cruise: After some morning activities enjoy brunch on board. Disembark the Halong Ginger late morning.
Road journey from Halong Bay to Hanoi: Upon arrival at the quay you will be met by your private guide and transferred back to Hanoi. En-route you will stop off at the Phu Lang ‘ceramic village' where the villagers have been practicing this traditional craft for generations. Continue to Hanoi airport in time to catch your onward flight.
Flight: VN 1545 Hanoi - Hue 19.15 - 20.25
Private transfer: On arrival in Hue, you will be met by your local guide and taken to the La Residence Hue for an overnight stay.
Accommodation: Stay 1 night at La Residence Hue (Superior Room)
Hue - Hoi An
Morning Perfume River Cruise to Thien Mu Pagoda & Imperial Citadel: Take a morning cruise on the Perfume River, named after the tree resins and blossoms it carries on its way to the Pacific. Visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, sitting on the riverbank outside the city, this octagonal seven tier stupa has long been regarded as the symbol of Hué and was founded in 1601. It is still a site of Buddhist worship and its huge bell is said to be audible from the city. Continue to the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City. Modelled on the Forbidden City in Beijing by the Nguyen emperors in the early 19th century, the city was badly damaged during the war but the imposing city walls surrounded by a large moat afford good views of Hué. The palace retains a feeling of its past scale and importance, with detailed stonework and pavilions and it is at the moment in the process of being restored to its former magnificence.
Road journey from Hue to Hoi An: You will be driven south, along highway 1, to Hoi An, a journey of approximately 3 hours. Soon the highway meets the Hai Van Pass (meaning Pass of the Ocean Clouds). There are some spectacular vista points and photo opportunities en-route as the Truong Son mountain range cuts across the narrow centre of the country. The mountain range has created a barrier to the cold airstreams from the north which often results in thick cloudbanks over the peaks. The pass has been a strategic military focal point during Vietnam's turbulent history and from the top there are views of the curve of Danang Bay. En route pass through the port city of Danang with the option of stopping to see the famous 'Danang Beach' before continuing south to Hoi An where you will check-in to your hotel.
Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at the Anantara Hoi An (Deluxe Balcony Room)
At leisure: Today you have some time to relax. Alternatively there are opportunities to visit the beach, cycle in some beautiful countryside, visit the ruins at My Son, discover the artists of Hoi An or see a tailor to get some clothes made. Our recommended tailor is Yaly, 47 Nguyen Thai Hoc Street. Tel: 84- 510 -910474.
Hoi An - Saigon
Private transfer: After a leisurely morning you will be transferred to Danang Airport for your flight to Saigon.
Flight: VN 1317 Danang - Ho Chi Minh City 14.20 - 15.35
Private transfer: On arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, you will be met by your local guide and taken to the Caravelle Hotel for a two-night stay.
Accommodation: Stay 2 nights at the Caravelle Hotel Saigon (Deluxe Room)
Morning tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels: After breakfast travel out of the city to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This vast network of tunnels, stretching for over 150 kilometres, was built by the Viet Cong in the battles for the South. The tunnels are a sobering insight into the dedication of the Viet Cong who virtually lived in the narrow and claustrophobic tunnels whilst the war raged. Nearby, a chilling demonstration of the traps and weapons that were used against the Americans is given. The Cu Chi tunnels have been widened in places for visitors, however they can still be dark, hot and claustrophobic inside so please bear this in mind if you do not like enclosed spaces.
Afternoon tour of Saigon, starting with lunch at Quan An Ngon: Before your city tour you will be taken to Quan An Ngon restaurant for an authentic Vietnamese dining experience. Quan An Ngon has become a Saigon institution, and is always packed with both locals and tourists. The atmosphere is chaotic: a cacophony of laughing, chattering guests, shouting waiters, and clanging pots and pans. Seating is a mix of regular table dining in the central courtyard, or on the balcony. The main building is surrounded by cooking stations, each serving a regional specialty. After lunch visit the War Remnants Museum, established in September 1975 in Ho Chi Minh City. It contains countless artefacts, photographs and pictures documenting some of the less heroic activities carried out by the US army in Vietnam. Planes, tanks, bombs and helicopters are also on display. Finish with a drink at "Saigon Saigon", an iconic rooftop bar that was the unofficial watering hole for war correspondents and generals during the Vietnam War, and a great place to watch the sun set over the city.
Breakfast & Lunch
Fly from Saigon to London Heathrow, via Bangkok, with Thai Airways
Private transfer: This morning your guide and driver will transfer you to the airport.
Flight: TG 551 Ho Chi Minh City - Bangkok 10.20 - 11.45
Flight: TG 916 Bangkok - London Heathrow 13.30 - 19.35
The above tour costs from £4,795*per person, based on 2 people sharing a twin room for departures in May.
*Please note the price shown is indicative only and based on a departure in May. This price is subject to change at the time of booking, and depends on the date of departure and the availability of flights and accommodation.
The price includes:
• International flights with Thai Airways.
• Accommodation in a shared double or twin room throughout.
• Meals as specified in the itinerary.
• Private transfers and tours with an English speaking local guide.
• Entrance fees for the sightseeing described above.
• Domestic and regional flight as specified with airport taxes (times to be confirmed).
• Service charges, room tax and handling fees.
The price does not include:
• Lao visa fee of $35 per person payable upon arrival.
• Vietnam visa fee of £54 which must be obtained before arrival.
• Cambodian visa fee of $30 per person payable on arrival.
• Personal insurance.
• Expenditure of a personal nature, such as drinks, souvenirs and laundry etc.