Day 1 – USA to Bangkok
Today you will begin your Swain Destinations customized itinerary. Please note, international air has not been included in this package price.
Day 2 – 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:
Chatrium Riverside Hotel Bangkok
Day 3 – 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:
Chatrium Riverside Hotel Bangkok (B)
Day 4 – 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:
Chatrium Riverside Hotel Bangkok (B)
Day 5 – 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.Starting Accommodation:
Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa (B)
Day 6 – Touring Chiang Mai
Drive to Mae Rim district to visit a hill-tribe village at Baan Tong Luang. Pay a visit to the Karen, Lahu Shibala and Palong hill-tribes which originated from Tibet. Visit also the Long Neck hill-tribe: join them, admire their colorful costumes and experience their way of life. In the village of these people who migrated from Myanmar (Burma) and have kept their cultural traditions and customs alive, you will be able to observe the brass rings women wear around their necks as a tribal sign of their individual identity. Your guide will explain how the hill-tribe subsists thanks to its farming work and unique crafts, especially its beautiful woven textiles.
This afternoon visit the most sacred temple in the north of Thailand; the Wat Prathat Doi Suthep is the most sacred temple in Chiang Mai containing a holy relic of the Lord Buddha. Tucked away in the mountains at an elevation of 1,056 meters (3,520 feet), the temple is reached using a Naga (7- headed dragon head serpent) railing rising along both sides. The temple compound - reachable via a 300 steps stairs offers an exhilarating view of Chiang Mai city and surrounding countryside. Drive back down to the city center to visit some of the other impressive temples of Chiang Mai. Wat Suan Dok is one of them, which dates back to the 14th century when it served as the pleasure gardens to the Thai monarchy. Nowadays it houses several white Chedi's, containing the ashes of Chiang Mai's former Royal family. This temple also houses one of the most famous Monk Schools in the whole of Chiang Mai and the Wat Jedyod, also known as The Temple of Seven Spires.
Note: Please dress respectfully by not wearing sleeveless T - shirts, shorts or strapless sandals, when visiting the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep.Starting Accommodation:
Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa (B, L)
Day 7 – 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:
Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa (B)
Day 8 – 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:
Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa (B)
Day 9 – 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:
Hotel Majestic Saigon (B)
Day 10 – Cu Chi Tunnels 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:
Hotel Majestic Saigon (B)
Day 11 – Mekong Delta Cruise Cai Be to Vinh Long
From Saigon, drive into the heart of the Mekong Delta. Visit the small town of Cai Be, with an elegant Cathedral at the town center recalling the presence of the French colonialists back in the 19th century. Embark on one of the local boats to explore the riverside village in which local families operate age-old cottage industries. See first hand how the delta residents make traditional treats including dried longans, rice pancakes and puffed rice candies, a chance to sample these local delicacies. Continue the trip across a main flow of the mighty Mekong then follow narrow waterways through peaceful lush green orchards and also lively scenes of well inhabited canals. Disembark at Vinh Long and return to Saigon by vehicle.Starting Accommodation:
Hotel Majestic Saigon (B)
Day 12 – Ho Chi Minh City to USA
An English speaking representative will meet you in your hotel lobby for your private airport transfer. (B)