Vietnam, Cambodia & Thailand    *alt*

16 days, from £4470
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Tauck's 16-day Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam holidays encompass the best of Southeast Asia as you explore the legendary cities of Hanoi, Hue, Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok. Discover golden Buddhas, ancient kingdoms, inspiring temples and lush landscapes, and experience the unique cultures and traditions of this fascinating area of the world for yourself... from a water puppet performance to ornate pagodas and soaring temple spires to gilded palaces and bamboo stilt houses. Explore Chiang Mai and cruise on the klongs of Bangkok. Discover poignant reminders of war in Vietnam like the Cu Chi Tunnels and notorious Hoa Lo Prison, and see the legacy of peace as you visit a kindergarten in Da Nang. Experience the grandeur and archaeological significance of UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Angkor, Hoi An and Hue, and stay at the finest city hotels and word-class resorts.


 Day 1 Say hello to Hanoi

Our Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam travel adventure begins at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi at 6:00 PM. Welcome to Hanoi! A transfer is included from Noi Bai International Airport to the landmark Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, your home for the next two nights, close to the historic Old Quarter and other notable attractions in Vietnam's capital city. Meet your Tauck Director and your fellow adventurers at our welcome cocktail reception and dinner at Le Beaulieu this evening.

 Day 2 A palace, a prison, pagodas & more in Hanoi

Begin your Vietnam tour with a day including a memorable buggy ride through the back streets of Old Hanoi; a stop at the infamous Hoa Lo Prison, known as the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War; the colonial Presidential Palace that Ho Chi Minh refused to live in, along with his "house on stilts" and his final resting place; Hanoi's Opera House and the famous One-Pillar Pagoda, constructed in 1049 to resemble a lotus blossom. Sample Vietnamese specialties for lunch, then spend the afternoon as you wish. An art form unique to Vietnam and popular since the 18th century entertains you this evening during an enchanting water puppet performance.

 Day 3 World Heritage Site of Hue

No Vietnam travel experience would be complete without a visit to Hue, Vietnam's most beautiful city, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you'll arrive this morning following a flight to Da Nang. Upon arrival, visit the tomb of 19th-century emperor Tu Duc. After lunch, ride your private, pedal-powered cyclo to explore Hue's Citadel - which housed the Imperial City for the emperor's official functions, and the Forbidden Purple City for his personal time - then settle in to your riverfront accommodations along the Perfume River.

 Day 4 The new "China Beach" in Da Nang

This morning, explore Hue's tranquil setting as you admire Thien Mu ('Heavenly Lady') Pagoda, a seven-story octagonal tower built in 1844, and cruise along the Perfume River; view the boats that continue to serve as complete family homes for many residents of Hue. Then take in the scenery along the Vietnamese coast and Hai Van Mountain during a drive to Da Nang and the 18-mile-long "China Beach" - made famous by the 1980s TV show of the same name and now a popular Vietnam travel destination. You'll spend the next two nights at one of the most prestigious beachfront resorts in Vietnam, the Furama Resort Da Nang, set right on the shores of the South China Sea.

 Day 5 Da Nang & historic Hoi An by cyclo

Pay a delightful visit to a local kindergarten in Da Nang this morning, then continue your Vietnam travel by journeying to historic Hoi An, a key South China Sea trading port in the 15th through 19th centuries, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore its shop-lined streets via cyclo and tour the 200-year-old "Phung Hung" house, noted for its unique architecture. What you'll see there will reveal much about the lives of Hoi An merchants long ago. Enjoy some time on your own in the afternoon, and have dinner at your leisure tonight.

 Day 6 Ho Chi Minh City & the Cu Chi Tunnels

Take a morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon), Vietnam's second-largest city; set off to the battlefield memorial site of Ben Duoc, northwest of the city, where you'll explore an underground world of tunnels and chambers three stories deep at Cu Chi Tunnels with your local guides. Used during the Vietnam War, the 120-mile tunnel network housed kitchens, dormitories, munitions factories, hospitals, and schoolrooms. Sample Vietnam's diverse culinary heritage tonight with an elegant dinner at a local restaurant offering French, Vietnamese, and international specialties within a sumptuously restored villa setting.

 Day 7 Saigon then, Ho Chi Minh City now

Explore Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) with your local expert today, visiting the former Presidential Palace, now called Reunification Hall (after negotiations rejoined the North and South in 1975). See the former U.S. Embassy, the Saigon River, 19th-century Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, and the stately Central Post Office designed by Paris' Gustave Eiffel. Enjoy the afternoon and evening as you please.

 Day 8 On to Cambodia & the wonders of Angkor

This morning, your journey continues on to Cambodia as you fly to Siem Reap for a two-night stay at the Raffles Grand Hotel d'Angkor, the closest hotel to the treasures of the fabled archaeological site at Angkor, covering an area twice the size of Manhattan. You'll be dazzled by what you see this afternoon at the vast, 12th-century Angkor Wat temple; the bas-reliefs and many devatas (guardian spirits) that cover its walls inspire awe and admiration. This example of classical Khmer architecture has been a significant religious center for Hindus and then Buddhists through the ages. Tonight's dinner is a la carte at your hotel.

 Day 9 Khmer temples & a Tonle Sap Lake cruise

Enveloped by jungle roots, fascinating Ta Prohm Temple almost seems to be a part of the dense rainforest that surrounds it. A legacy of Cambodia's Khmer civilization dating from 1186, it was originally built as a Buddhist university and monastery and continues to captivate today, as you'll see on your visit. The last capital of the Khmer empire, the walled city of Angkor Thom is home to the richly decorated Bayon Temple, known for its eerily smiling carved faces. When you see the Elephant Terrace in Angkor Thom, which was the foundation of the pavilion in which the king held audiences, you'll understand how it got its name! Later, you may wish to join us for a cruise on Tonle Sap Lake, revealing fascinating floating villages.

 Day 10 The "Rose of the North" & scenic Doi Suthep

Fly via Bangkok to charming Chiang Mai, Thailand, the "Rose of the North," established in the 13th century, and known for its artistic and cultural heritage. Enter another world when you arrive at the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, where your richly appointed accommodations feature a Lanna-style sala (pavilion) looking out over gardens, terraced rice paddies, and mountains. Take a scenic drive to Doi Suthep National Park, home to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep - a temple perched at the top of a peak more than 3,500 feet above sea level - before enjoying dinner at your choice of restaurants back at the resort.

 Day 11 Thailand's elephants at work & play

Elephants - Thailand's national animal - are an integral part of Chiang Mai's economy and culture. Visit an elephant camp today to see how these marvellous animals are trained to work in a teak forest; you'll have a chance to feed them bananas and sugar cane, see them demonstrate various skills, and see baby elephants in the nursery before you return to your Mae Rim Valley resort where the remainder of the day is spent as you please.

 Day 12 The hill tribe villages of Chiang Mai

Take an unforgettable excursion to the hill tribe villages of Chiang Mai today to meet the people of the Palong, Padong and Karen tribes, who live peacefully there as small farmers, observing and honoring their traditional ways of life. They'll share their crafts and folkways with you... you'll even get to try on the traditional neck rings worn by members of the "long-necked" Karen tribe! Then return to your resort for time as you choose and dinner a la carte this evening.

 Day 13 On to Bangkok, Thailand's stunning capital

A morning flight takes you to bustling Bangkok in time for lunch at a local restaurant and some time spent exploring on your own in Thailand's capital - kicking off a three-night stay at the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok, with accommodations in the deluxe Krungthep Wing. Enjoy dinner tonight at your choice of restaurants at your hotel.

 Day 14 The breathtaking Buddhas of Bangkok

An express boat whisks you from the hotel for a morning of sightseeing in Bangkok, an intriguing mix of ancient and modern. Walk to the 18th-century Grand Palace for an "audience" with the Emerald Buddha, while the giant Reclining Buddha awaits your admiration at Wat Pho, the oldest and largest temple in the city. Following a traditional Thai lunch, a motorboat ride returns you to the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok for an evening at leisure and dinner on your own in Bangkok.

 Day 15 Bangkok's klongs & the Jim Thompson House

Cruise up the Chao Phraya River and through a network of canals, called klongs, which lace the city. These often-bustling "city streets," lined with homes and small businesses, are where much of "real life" in Bangkok is found, as you'll witness firsthand; stop at Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) along the way. Then journey from the riverside to the Jim Thompson House & Museum, where you'll join a local guide to tour the art- and artifact-filled Bangkok home of the expatriate American architect, OSS officer and postwar Thai silk entrepreneur who mysteriously disappeared in the 1960s. Following a free afternoon, cap your extraordinary Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam travel with a farewell reception and dinner this evening.

 Day 16 Homeward bound

Your memorable Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam travel adventure ends in Bangkok. A transfer from the Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok to Bangkok International Airport is included. Please allow 3 hours for airport check-in formalities. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey home.