Day 1: Arrive Bangkok
Welcome to Bangkok! Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel and the remainder of today is at your leisure to relax and enjoy.
Overnight in Bangkok
Day 2: Bangkok (B)
After breakfast at your hotel, meet with your guide and head out of your 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 where you 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). Lunch (own expenses) might be taken in a local restaurant nearby the palace.
In the afternoon, walk or Tuk Tuk across the royal fields of Sanam Luang and eventually push up to the backpacker’s mecqua of Khao San Road (approx 20 mn). Back to the Thai Champs Elysées, Rachadamnoen, where you’ll get in tuk-tuks to reach the end of the avenue and the historical Klong (canal) Saen Saap. Board the klong “bus-boat” and cross the city to the west. Disembark for a short walk in Ratchathewi boat station to visit Jim Thompson’s House Museum. After the visit, the opportunity is given for shopping in one of the 5 huge shopping complex of the area (MBK, Siam Square, Siam Center, Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon), or simply return to your hotel by BTS.
Overnight in Bangkok
Day 3:Bangkok Luang Prabang (B,D)
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
Day 4: Luang Prabang City Tour (B,L)
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 your tour begins at the fresh market. Accompanied by your guide, walk through the rows of stalls looking at what is 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,your 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 your tour of Luang Prabang by visiting some of the city’s most important temples. Start at Wat Visoun, where you will see the famous Watermelon Stupa, shaped like the fruit from which it takes its name. This temple was destroyed in 1887 by the invading Black Flags from China, and was restored in 1930 by Buddhist monks and local people. We will also visit Wat Aham where you will see the altar of the 2 guardian spirits of Luang Prabang.
Enjoy lunch in town at Tamarind restaurant where you will have a chance to sample unusual local specialties not available back home.
This afternoon, head to Ock Pop Tok to experience textiles in Laos- the history, methods, and cultural significance.
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. It is a great opportunity to gain insight in to the Lao people.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 5: Luang Prabang & Pak Ou (B,L)
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.
Day 6: Luang Prabang Vientiane(B)
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 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
Day 7: Vientiane City Tour (B,L,D)
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 Tamnak Lao 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.
Continue to Makphet Restaurant for a delicious dinner of modern Lao cuisines. Makphet is a charity-run restaurant that supports street children by providing them training and a job at the vocational restaurant. The food served is delicious, made from fresh ingredients, and prepared in a kitchen which meets the highest international standards of hygiene.
Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 8: Vientiane - Phnom Penh (B)
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.
Day 9: Phnom Penh (B)
After breakfast at the hotel, depart on a city tour in a typical cyclo. First, visit Wat Phnom, which is situated near the northern boundary of the city. The original temple was built in 1372 by a rich Khmer lady named Penh, who found a collection of statues of the Buddha washed up on the river bank and decided to house them on a nearby hill ("Phnom"). The site contains some good examples of Khmer architecture and statues.
You will visit the most remarkable sights Phnom Penh has to offer. First, you will head to the National Museum which was designed by George Groslier and the Ecole des Arts Cambodgiens. The museum was built in traditional Khmer style in 1917 and was inaugurated in 1920 by King Sisowath. It 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. In addition, the roof space is home to a large bat colony!
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. Its original name is Wat Prakeo, meaning Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In this temple you will view a collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze.
The afternoon is at leisure (optional additional sightseeing can be arranged).
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 10: Phnom Penh - Siem Reap (B)
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight across Cambodia to Siem Reap, the gateway to the majestic temples of Angkor and a charming little city. Your guide will meet you and accompany you while you check into your hotel. Settle in and refresh.
After a lunch break, depart by local “remork” (similar to the Thai tuk tuk) on a very special sightseeing tour of the famous Angkor Wat. Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat is constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolising the Mount Meru, home of the gods. The divine residence of Vishnu, the King himself was to reside here after his death. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with stone carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign. Moreover, Angkor Wat is well known for the over 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Construction is thought to have taken some thirty years of intensive labor. Today, Angkor Wat is figured on Cambodia's national flag as the temple symbolizes the soul of the Khmer people.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 11: Siem Reap - Bangkok (B,L)
After breakfast, 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 Beng Mealea. This temple is often missed out by the crowds but offers excellent opportunities to take pictures and is often regarded to as one of the most adventurous temples in Cambodia. Continue on to Koh Ker, an area only recently opened to tourists. Here you will see various temples from the 10th century, including the massive Prasat Thom. Enjoy a delicious Picnic Packed Lunch at the temples.
After your visit, drive back to Siem Reap town and transferring to the airport for your onward 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
Day 12: Departure Bangkok
This morning is free for last minute shopping or sightseeing before transferring to the airport for your departure flight.