Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)
Depart London Heathrow on an overnight flight to Bangkok.
Upon arrival at Bangkok we transfer to our hotel for 2 nights’ accommodation. We will enjoy some sightseeing in Bangkok, including a visit to The Golden Buddha at Wat Traimitr house, a solid gold statue weighing 5.5 tons. We end the day with a walking tour of China Town , to discover the local market, various street markets, street side restaurants, shop houses, gold shops and beautiful remnants of colonial style architecture. China Town is also famous for many varieties of food and it turns into Bangkok's biggest open air restaurant at night.
In the morning we take a longtail boat on the canals of Bangkok’s surprisingly rural western suburbs. Enjoy the natural scenery and observe the daily lives of the people who live along the canals and you'll also get to visit the biggest flower market in the city. During the afternoon,we have a full day of sightseeing including the splendid Grand Palace complex and the Royal Temple of the Emerald Buddha where varied styles of Thai architecture are delicately woven together. We also see the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, one of Bangkok’s oldest and largest temples. After we begin a klong tour which ends at Klong Bang Luang, a small artist-village. We will walk along the stilt-houses, where art of all kinds is on display and offer. Before we head back, you should not miss out on feeding the fish in the klongs. It's said to bring you good luck!
Morning transfer to the airport for our flight to Chiang Rai. Upon arrival, we will visit Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park. Here we can enjoy a stroll through beautifully landscaped botanical gardens as the knowledgeable guide shares the history of Chiang Rai and the Lanna (northern Thai) kingdom, marvel at Haw Kham (Golden Pavilion), a striking teak building which showcases ceremonial temple artifacts as well as the Phra Pra Toh wooden Buddha. Later we visit the Golden Triangle area where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet.
In the morning, we take the ferry across the river to Laos at Houixay. After the immigration formalities (please note that the visa fee is at your own expense), we start our cruise by slow boat along the Mekong River to Pak Beng, which takes approximately 5 hours. There are occasional stops at local hill tribe villages and a picnic lunch (included) is served on board. We also visit a Kamu village along the river en route.
After breakfast we cruise to Luang Prabang, enjoying the beautiful views and peaceful ambiance along the way. We will make a stop at Pak Ou Buddha Caves overlooking the confluence of the Mekong & Ou Rivers, home to many thousands of Buddha images since the 16th century. We arrive at Luang Prabang in time for dinner.
Today we visit a bear rescue sanctuary, where we are taken on a behind the scenes tour where the staff will explain how the bears were rescued and you'll get the chance to see them at work and play from the viewing platform. We will be introduced to the bears and learn of their individual stories of how they came to live at the sanctuary. After the tour, you will be taken into an enclosure, once the bears have been safely removed, we will hide their favorite food throughout the enclosure. The bears will then be released back into enclosure where you will be able to watch the bears, from a viewing area, forage for the food treats.
Later we will visit the Kuang Si Waterfall, this multi-tiered waterfall tumbles over limestone formations into a series of turquoise pools. We can take a swim or just relax in the natural surroundings. After we visit a local village (Ban Ou or Ban Na Ouane), before returning to Luang Prabang.
We will begin the morning by exploring the city of Luang Prabang, famous for its historic temples and beautiful setting surrounded by mountains. In 1995 it was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. After we have a leisurely drive along the mountain roads to Phonsavanh (237km). The journey is one of the most scenic routes with forested mountains, lush valleys and karst formations around every corner.
Excursion to the Plain of Jars and Muang Khoun. The famous Plain of Jars is a vast area extending around Phonsavanh from the south-west to the north-east. Mysterious and ancient, with over 300 huge stone jars apparently carved out of solid rock are scattered around the plateau. The jars vary in size from 1 to 3.25 meters high and weigh up to six tons each. There are several different theories as to the purpose of the jars, which are estimated to be 2,500 to 3,000 years old. According to local legend, King Khun Chuang had them constructed in order to store wine for the celebration of his conquest of the province in the 6th century.
Afterwards we continue to Muang Khoun, an ancient capital and stronghold for the Xieng Khuang royal family which was destroyed during the Indochina War. The town was rebuilt after 1975 with rows of wooden Lao houses and a market area and is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery. we also visit Wat Phia Wat, That Foun and That Chomphet.
We travel by road from Phonsavanh to Vang Vieng (223 kms). on arrival be begin our walking Tour of Vang Vieng City
We continue south by road to Vientiane the capital of Laos (157km). Vientiane still feels like a sleepy city with relaxed charm, tree-lined boulevards, and interesting temples and colourful markets. On arrival we will explore the city, including Pha That Luang, a gleaming golden stupa which is perhaps the most important national monument in Laos; Ho Pha Keo, the formal royal temple, now a museum with beautiful examples of Buddhist sculpture; Wat Si Saket; and Patuxai, a monumental arch inspired by the Arc de Triomphe, but executed with Lao motifs.
We fly to Phnom Penh and transfer to the city centre by road. We'll have a 3 hour 'tuk tuk' safari where you'll step away from the tourist trail into the old market. Here you'll be able to browse the food stalls and try local snacks, fruit and the more unusual delicacies - if you dare! This evening we can watch the sunset and enjoy beautiful views onto the Mekong river and the Royal Palace on a rooftop bar with cocktails in hand. Before dinner we will stop at the illuminated Independence Monument for a photo stop.
This morning we will travel just outside Phnom Penh, where in a peaceful rural setting, the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek provide a stark reminder of the atrocities committed under the Pol Pot regime. Thousands of people were killed here between the years of 1976 and 1978 and buried in mass graves. After we will visit Tuol Sleng (S-21), and learn about a chapter from Cambodia's more recent, tragic, past at the Tuol Sleng Museum (Museum of Genocide). Formerly the Tuol Svay Prey High School, in 1975, this became the interrogation and torture facility for the Khmer Rouge regime - at that time known as Security Prison 21, or simply S-21. Kept largely unchanged, this prison now showcases photographs and exhibits about the thousands of victims that passed through these doors - only seven of whom came out alive.
This afternoon you will have the opportunity to visit the Central Market, and discover a lively and creative side of Phnom Penh. Or you can enjoy some time at leisure if you wish.
Transfer by road to Siem Reap (314km). Our route takes us past scenic rice fields and there will be an en route stop at Skuon, famous for an unusual delicacy; here, spider merchants sell different varieties of large, furry arachnids for locals and adventurous tourists to snack on.
We take a full day to explore the temple complex of Angkor Wat, the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. We also include a visit to Ta Prohm, one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them.
We travel out of Siem Reap for an excursion to Kampong Kleang, on the edge of Tonle Sap Lake where we'll, enjoy a two hour walk and talk introduction to the village, including a visit to the local pagoda, the Husk community school and workshop. Later we have a boat trip to Chong Kneas Village to view the scenery and day to day life of the communities living around the lake. Visit Psah Chah Market, originally destroyed by the Khmer Rouge in 1975 and reopened in 1996. It has many interesting food stalls and souvenir shops.
This evening we fly to Bangkok, and on arrival transfer from Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) Airport to Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel or similar for our overnight accommodation.
Depart Bangkok for our flight home.