Day 1 – Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand
Upon arrival and after clearing customs and immigration, a driver will meet you and transfer you directly to your downtown hotel.
The city of Bangkok provides sensory indulgence overload with ornate temples, spectacular food and endless activity. The city shines with color from its lavish temples including Wat Trimitir featuring a 5.5 ton Golden Buddha, Wat Po which is the largest and oldest temple in Bangkok, and of course, the magnificent Grand Palace. The tastiest cuisine is served up at the street stalls and tiny sidewalk restaurants where food is cheap and safely prepared so fill up on curries soups, fresh fish, rice, noodles, and fruit shakes. The night markets are a great time to experience the culture of the city that never sleeps.
An exciting brew of traffic and temples, luxury hotels and labyrinth-like streets, the “City of Angels,” is a hectic heaven. This inexhaustible energy is part of Bangkok’s charm, and it has made this feisty capital one of Asia’s favorite tourist destinations. Cutting through the heart of the city, the magnificent Chao Phraya River, “the River of Kings” provides easy access to Bangkok’s numerous Buddhist temples and the Grand Palace, as well offering insight into Thai life.Starting Accommodation:
Day 2 – Bangkok City TouringKlong Cruise and Grand Palace
This 3-hour morning tour is a “must see” for all visitors to Bangkok. The Grand Palace complex, which includes the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Keow), is unquestionably one of the wonders of the world today. Within its enormous grounds is the most exotic Buddhist temple and at the heart of the temple itself is a fabulous Buddha image, carved from one piece of Jade, which is the holiest and most revered of religious objects in Thailand today.
Nearby is the Grand Palace, once the official home for the Kings of Siam - built in traditional Thai architecture mixed with European designs. You can also see the Royal Funeral Hall and the Royal Coronation Hall.Bangkok City and Temples Tour
This afternoon you will visit some other notable temples in the city. Thailand has over 26,000 temples (or Wats). This tour will bring you to three of the most distinguished temples in Bangkok. Wat Trimitr, the temple of the Golden Buddha, features a statue made from solid Gold weighing 5.5 tons. It is a fine example of Sukhothai art and was discovered by chance from a layer of stucco during construction of the temple.
Passing through Chinatown your next stop is Wat Po, the temple of the reclining Buddha which is the largest and oldest in Bangkok. Your last stop is at Wat Benchamabopit or the marble temple. This magnificent monastery was built with white Italian marble from Carrara.Starting Accommodation:
Day 3 – Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
A glimpse of everyday life in Thailand can be seen at the Damnoen Saduak Floating market, which is located some 50 miles from Bangkok near Ratchaburi. Your journey commences with a leisurely drive passing through salt fields and rice paddies before arriving at a jetty. Here you will board long tail boats to take you to the market.
The market is made up of Thai style canoes laden with colorful, succulent fruits, vegetables, sweets and meats. They gently ply their way through the canal selling as they go.
The afternoon is at your leisure to explore the city. The city of Bangkok provides sensory indulgence overload with ornate temples, spectacular food and endless activity. The city shines with color from its lavish temples including Wat Trimitir featuring a 5.5 ton Golden Buddha, Wat Po which is the largest and oldest temple in Bangkok, and of course, the magnificent Grand Palace. The tastiest cuisine is served up at the street stalls and tiny sidewalk restaurants where food is cheap and safely prepared so fill up on curries soups, fresh fish, rice, noodles, and fruit shakes. The night markets are a great time to experience the culture of the city that never sleeps.Starting Accommodation:
Day 4 – Bangkok to Chiang Mai
An English speaking representative will meet you in your hotel lobby for your private airport transfer for your flight to Chiang Mai. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your accommodation by private vehicle.
Chiang Mai is the gateway city to Thailand’s lush north and its rustic hill tribe villages. Dating back 700 years, the focal point is “Old City,” the walled and moated remains of an imposing fortress. Surrounding this historic site is a blossoming city containing all the characteristics of a modern town. This afternoon drive to Mae Rim district to visit a hill-tribe village at Baan Tong Luang. Here you will see different hill-tribes such as the Karen, Lahu Shibala and Palong hill-tribes which originated from Tibet. As you walk through the villages you will notice their colorful costumes and see their traditional way of life. The Long neck hill-trip migrated from Myanmar - Burma - and have kept their cultural traditions and customs alive as you observe the brass rings the women wear around their necks. This is a tribal sign of their individual identity. Your guide will explain how the hill-tribes exist thanks to their farming practices and unique crafts, especially the beautiful woven textiles. After this enlightening experience you will return to your hotel.Starting Accommodation:
Day 5 – Elephant Nature Park
Elephant Nature Park is a unique project set in Chiang Mai province, Northern Thailand. Established in the 1990's with the aim to provide a sanctuary and rescue center for elephants. The park is located some 37 miles the city, and has provided a sanctuary for dozens of distressed elephants from all over Thailand. Set in a natural valley bordered by a river and forested mountains, the area offers a timeless glimpse of rural life with an unforgettable Elephant encounter. Volunteers and visitors contribute to the healing while learning about the elephants lives, past and present. Enjoy a full day visit to Elephant Nature Park which is a natural home and sanctuary for elephants, buffalos, dogs, cats, birds and many other rescued animals.
This morning you will be collected from your hotel around 8:00 am. Transfer through picturesque agricultural Thai countryside, along the Mae Taeng Valley which brings you to Elephant Nature Park. Upon arrival you are welcomed to the center with personal stories of the rescued elephants as told by expert guides. You will learn about the problems elephants face in Southeast Asia and how Elephant Nature Park is helping in the treatment and care of Thailand's dwindling elephant population. With no riding the elephants learn to build trust and love and this is achieved by humans showing them love, respect and care. After unloading and distributing the fruit treats, you will have a chance to feed the elephants from the viewing platform. Enjoy a buffet lunch before the elephants bathing time. After lunch walk with staff to the river that skirts the park. From the river bank enjoy watching these gentle giants as they splash around and enjoy the water. Approximately 5:00pm it's time for goodbyes to the elephants and to Elephant Nature Park before the hour long drive back to Chiang Mai where you will be dropped off at your hotel.Starting Accommodation:
Day 6 – Chiang Mai to Siem Reap
An English speaking representative will meet you in your hotel lobby for your private airport transfer for your flight to Siem Reap. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your accommodation by private vehicle.
Protruding from steaming jungle, the ancient city of Angkor Wat is the main attraction to visitors of Siem Reap. The city’s proximity to the legendary sandstone complex makes it the ideal gateway or base camp for day trips and longer itineraries. Relax and unwind in a local restaurant after a long day of exploring the world’s largest religious monument, or stock up on necessities before tackling the 60 square miles of passageways and palaces.Starting Accommodation:
Day 7 – Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Phrom
The crowning jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The fortified city of Angkor Thom covers an area of 10 square km. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats, the city includes many of Angkor's most popular sights. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs.
Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor. Visit Ta Prohm, one of the most popular attractions of Angkor. 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. Watch the sunset over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple.Starting Accommodation:
Day 8 – Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City
An English speaking representative will meet you in your hotel lobby for your private airport transfer for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your accommodation by private vehicle.
Saigon is the largest of Vietnamese cities, and one will see the hustle and bustle of Vietnamese life everywhere. There are street markets, pavement cafes and sleek new cafes and pubs. The city churns and bubbles. Yet within this teeming metropolis are many years of timeless traditions and the beauty of an ancient culture.
Still fondly referred to as Saigon by the locals, "The Pearl of the Orient" still retains a charm reminiscent of its French-European heritage in the midst of rapid commercialization. The city promises an endless fascination for tourists wanting to explore Vietnam's rich 4,000-year history.Starting Accommodation:
Day 9 – Cu Chi Tunnels and Saigon City Tour
Pick up from hotel and transfer 40 miles northwest of Saigon to the Cu Chi area, which lies at the end of the Ho Chi Minh trail and was the base from which Ho Chi Minh guerillas used to attack Saigon. Never discovered by American forces, the Cu Chi Tunnels were an important Vietcong base during the American War. Stretching over 125 miles, this incredible underground network, dug from hard laterite connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories. As you walk through the area today, you will learn about the day-to-day life of the Vietcong during this period and see cleverly disguised entrances, traps and venture inside the tunnels themselves, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists.
Return to the vibrant metropolis, Saigon which teems with energy. Everywhere you look, you see the convergence of traditional and modern life. Your first stop this afternoon is the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam- American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions. Continue to the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style building was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates.
Explore the historic center, pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville), the old Opera House (both may only be viewed from the outside), and pay a quick visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. End the tour at the central Ben Thanh Market, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts, appealing to every taste.Starting Accommodation:
Day 10 – Authentic River Life by Private Sampan in Cai Be
In the morning you will be taken from your hotel into the heart of the Mekong Delta. On arrival at the Cai Be jetty, the crew will welcome you on board your private sampan with cold towels and a refreshing drink. As the boat slowly cruises along the water, enjoy views of every day river life, passing boats and beautiful landscapes along the river. Keep your camera ready to capture the pictures of typical rural river life. Your destination is Tan Phong islet, a lush green island of freshwater canals and tropical fruit orchards. Disembark and enjoy a walk through the quaint villages breathing in the aromas of the fruit gardens. Board the boat again to continue your journey along the river making stops at traditional home industries. You will have the opportunity to visit some of the workshops to see how rice paper, roof panels and water coconut fronds are made. Also how homeware is produced from water hyacinths. At the village of Phu An, make your way to Le Longainer, an exquisite French colonial-style villa set in a pretty garden by the river. Enjoy lunch while you soak in the atmosphere of the old colonial days. After lunch walk a short distance along the canal to Ba Bon Bridge where your driver will be waiting to take you back to your hotel.Starting Accommodation:
Day 11 – Depart Ho Chi Minh City
An English speaking representative will meet you in your hotel lobby for your private airport transfer.