A Journey through Southeast Asia

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22 days, from £2849
Travelsphere
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Description

Vietnam's stunning Halong Bay, Cambodia's magnificent Angkor temples, Mount Phousi in Laos and a cruise of the Mekong to Thailand - this epic journey includes so much.

What's included:
* Return flights from Heathrow with Vietnam Airlines and Thai Airways and internal flights
* '18A nights in 3 and 4-star hotels, plus overnight cruise andA 2 nights in flight
* 43A meals:A 19 breakfasts,A 15 lunches,A 9 dinners
* Travelsphere Tour Manager and Local Guides
* Overseas transfers and other transportation
* Porterage
* Audio Guide

Included Excursions:
* Tours of Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam
* Bicycle rickshaw ride around Hanoi's Ancient Quarter
* Vietnamese coffee overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake
* Traditional water puppet show with backstage visit
* Overnight cruise on Halong Bay
* Boat trip along the Perfume River
* Travel the scenic Hai Van Pass
* Lantern-making workshop
* Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels
* Dinner cruise on the Saigon River
* Explore Cambodia's Angkor Temple complex
* Chansar village and an ox cart ride
* Receive a blessing from a monk
* Visit a Khmer family
* Visit a village built on stilts in Tonle Sap Lake
* Luang Prabang tour
* Cruise the Mekong River to Pak Ou Caves
* Kuang Si Waterfalls visit
* Experience an alms-giving ceremony
* Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai in Thailand including Wat Doin Suthep

Itinerary


 Day 1 UK/Hanoi


Depart on your overnight flight to Hanoi today.


 Day 2 Hanoi


Upon arrival in Vietnam's capital city, we'll transfer you to your hotel, where a two-night stay gives you plenty of time to explore. We'll get together this evening and head to a restaurant for dinner.


 Day 3 Hanoi


We'll get to grips with Hanoi's many highlights on a full day of exploration, which starts at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Located in the heart of Ba Dinh Square, this imposing building is where the revered former president, known as Uncle Ho, lies in state. Next we'll head to the Temple of Literature, a collection of courtyards built in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius. Here, we'll also see the Imperial Academy, Vietnam's first national university. We'll stop for a lunch of Vietnamese specialities including the fish dish cha ca and spring rolls, before continuing our sightseeing. Instead of discovering Hanoi by foot, we're going to board a bicycle rickshaw. Your driver will weave through the busy streets of the Ancient Quarter while you sit back and relax as you take in the incredible sights. There's time to stop for a Vietnamese coffee and take in views of Hoan Kiem Lake, before we stroll to the ancient Kim Ngan Temple. The day concludes as we watch a water puppet show, a mesmerising Vietnamese tradition, and take a backstage tour before heading back to the hotel.


 Day 4 Halong Bay


A wonderful treat is in store today as you not only admire the stunning beauty of Halong Bay but also spend the night cruising its waters. We reach this UNESCO-listed site on a lovely journey by road through a patchwork of green paddy fields. On arrival you can join an optional seaplane flight for exceptional views, before we step aboard a replica paddle steamer. We then spend the rest of the day cruising through the dramatic limestone peaks that rise from the water. Head up on deck to watch the sun set before enjoying dinner in the onboard restaurant and a tranquil night in your comfortable cabin.


 Day 5 Hue


Wake up to glorious views of Halong Bay as you enjoy tea, coffee and cookies. Weather conditions allowing, there will be numerous activities on offer this morning including kayaking and swimming or maybe you'd rather visit a market or peer into some of the nearby caves. After disembarking we'll transfer to the airport for our flight to Hue.


 Day 6 - Hue


A full day in Hue will give you a real flavour of Vietnam's former capital. We'll start with a relaxing cruise on the Perfume River and a visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda. We'll then continue to the walled citadel, the ancient seat of royal power, whose incredible architecture was inspired by Beijing's Forbidden City. Lunch today is a unique treat, as we enjoy a meal at the Lien Hao Pagoda, which is served to us by nuns. Next is the Cat Tuong Quan Zen House, a haven of tranquillity located in the Thien An Hill pine forest. We'll be introduced to its architecture and learn about it spiritual meaning whilst relaxing with a cup of tea. Finally, we visit the royal tomb of the Emperor Minh Mang, which is surrounded by palaces, temples and pavilions.


 Day 7 Hoi An


A scenic drive via the Hai Van Pass this morning takes us to Hoi An, an enchanting ancient riverside town. After checking into our hotel and enjoying lunch we'll head off on a tour of its highlights. These include the Chua Ong Pagoda, the Jinshang Temple, dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea, and the Japanese Covered Bridge. We'll also take a cruise on the Thu Bon River.


 Day 8 Hoi An


This morning we're going to mix with the locals at the Lifestart Foundation, a project supported by Travelsphere Cares. Here we'll discover the art of silk lantern-making as we watch an expert at work then we'll get to make our own. We'll also learn about traditional Vietnamese painting techniques and have the chance to create a card as a memento to take home. You can make your own discoveries during a free afternoon.


 Day 9 Ho Chi Minh City


Previously known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is our destination today. After our flight our discoveries begin on an afternoon tour. Highlights include the Central Post Office, designed by the renowned French architect Gustav Eiffel, and the elegant Saigon Opera House. We'll also see the Reunification Palace, where the Vietnam War came to an end, and enter the War Remnants Museum, which documents its history.


 Day 10 Ho Chi Minh City


You'll spend this morning discovering the remarkable Cu Chi Tunnels. This network of underground passages was first constructed in the late 1940s by the peasant army fighting the French. They were later extended by the Viet Cong rebels, and you can explore them today and learn about what life was like for the soldiers who called them home. The afternoon is free for you to spend at leisure. A wonderful way to end the day is with a dinner cruise on the Saigon River, with traditional dishes and live entertainment on the menu.


 Day 11 Siem Reap


We're flying to Siem Reap in neighbouring Cambodia today, where on arrival we'll begin our discovery of the iconic temples of Angkor. Considered the jewel in its crown, the pink sandstone temple of Banteay Srei is our first stop. After admiring its intricately carved walls we'll move on to the temple of Banteay Samre, and then the magnificent Angkor Wat. This huge three-tiered pyramid rises 65 metres from the ground and is topped by five lotus flower-shaped towers. What better way to end the day than by enjoying spectacular views at sunset from the top of the Pre Rup Temple.


 Day 12 Siem Reap


An exciting day of experiences begins with a visit to a charity which employs local women as mat weavers. Our next stop is at the small village of Chansar, which is supported by our Travelsphere Cares project. You can see the work taking place here, including the building of a kindergarten. We'll then travel like the locals on an ox cart through the fields to the home of a Khmer family who make brooms. You can have a go if you like, before a walking tour of the village and the chance to participate in fishing or farming activities. A simple Khmer lunch is followed by a visit to a Buddhist temple to receive a blessing from a monk.


 Day 13 Siem Reap


Today's discoveries begin at the South Gate of Angkor Thom, whose entrance is lined by statues. We'll also uncover the Bayon, decorated by impressive bas reliefs depicting everyday life as well as great battles. We'll climb to the top of the Phimeanakas, a pyramidal temple, for fantastic views of the Angkor complex. We'll then view the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of Leper Kings before we take the short drive to Ta Prohm. This crumbling temple was abandoned and neglected for centuries and is enveloped by jungle - it's an incredible sight.


 Day 14 Luang Prabang


Our journey by road this morning takes us to Kompong Khleang, a village built on stilts whose residents earn a living by fishing on the Tonle Sap Lake. We'll gain a fascinating insight into life here before we transfer to the airport and fly to Luang Prabang in Laos.


 Day 15 Luang Prabang


Today we'll discover the highlights of the former royal capital of Luang Prabang on a tour. Admire the ornate Wat Xieng Thong and the Wat Mai, with its beautiful gilded faade. Then we head to the former Royal Palace, now a museum housing many religious and cultural artefacts. Next we'll see Wat Visoun and Wat Aham, and you've the chance to climb the 328 steps to the top of Mount Phousi for panoramic views.


 Day 16 Luang Prabang


We start early today as we rise to the sound of the temple gong and witness a Buddhist alms-giving ceremony. A procession of about 300 young monks in saffron-coloured robes will walk by us silently collecting food in their bronze bowls. If you'd like to take part, your Local Guide will advise you. Later, we head to the Kuang Si Waterfalls, so grab your swimsuit and take a dip in the turquoise waters if you wish.


 Day 17 Mekong River to Pakbeng


You'll spend the day cruising the Mekong River to Pakbeng, for an overnight stay at a riverside hotel. Sit back and relax as you enjoy the views of local life and lunch on board. En route we'll call at the Pak Ou Caves, a holy site packed with more than 4,000 images of Buddha.


 Day 18 Mekong River to Chiang Rai


We'll set sail once more after breakfast, cruising the river to Huay Xai. Look out for wildlife along the way - if you're lucky you might spot elephants from a nearby sanctuary bathing in the waters. We'll stretch our legs in a traditional village, then cross the border into Thailand and make our way to Chiang Rai.


 Day 19 Chiang Mai


'Let's get to know Chiang Rai with a morning sightseeing tour. We then make our way to Chiang Mai, visiting the Hall of Opium, a museum charting the history of the opium trade, on the way. We'll also stop off at the glistening White Temple. After time to settle in at the hotel, why not head to Chiang Mai's night market, where you can haggle for everything from jewellery to clothing.


 Day 20 Chiang Mai


Thailand's holiest shrine, the mountain-top Wat Doin Suthep, is the first highlight our full-day tour. Its centrepiece is a lavish gold pagoda said to house relics of Lord Buddha. After time to explore we'll travel along a road known as 'handicraft highway', where you can shop for traditional souvenirs. You've a further chance to shop later, when we visit Waroros Market, and our day ends as we admire two more temples, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh.


 Day 21 Chiang Mai/UK


You can enjoy some time at leisure before we transfer you to the airport for your flight back to the UK via Bangkok.


 Day 22 UK


You will arrive back in the UK today.


Dates and Prices

DatePrice
Tue 19-Feb-2019£5
Tue 12-Mar-2019£10

Tour Map