Day 1: Arrival - Siem Reap (L or D)
Arrival in Siem Reap. Transfer to the hotel. Free time and relax. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 2: Siem Reap - Angkor temples (B, L)
Sightseeing Angkor and visit Angkor Wat, a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu by King Suryavarman II, who reigned between 1131 and 1150. It was constructed over a period of 30 years and is world famous for its beauty and splendor. Angkor Wat features the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which runs along the outer gallery walls and narrates stories from Hindu mythology. In 1992 the UNESCO declared the monument and the whole city of Angkor a World Heritage Site. Visit Angkor Thom, a fortified Royal City (10 square kilometers) built by King Jayavarman VII, who ruled from 1181 to 1201. The city has five monumental gates and is encircled by a moat 100 meters wide. In the center of the walled city are the city's most important monuments including Bayon, Baphuon, the Terrace of Elephants, the Terrace of the Leper King and Phimeanakas with Royal Enclosure. Other highlights: BAYON: Jayavarman VII's temple mountain that stands at the center of Angkor Thom. It is one of the most popular of Angkor's monuments and a place of narrow corridors, steep flights of stairs and an amazing collection of towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces. BAPHUON: the pyramid shape represents the mythical Mount Meru and marks the center of the city that was here before Angkor Thom. PHIMEANAKAS: near the center of what was once the royal palace within Angkor Thom. Phimeanakas means'Celestial Palace', though today there is not much left to indicate its former splendour. FORMER ROYAL PALACE: nothing remains today except two pools that were used by royalty for washing. TERRACE OF ELEPHANTS: this terrace was used for viewing public ceremonies and was a base for the King's grand audience hall. The famous lines of elephants are at either end of the retaining walls. TERRACE OF THE LEPER KING: North of the Terrace of Elephants is a platform named 'Terrace of the Leper King'. On the platform is a nude statue - one of Angkor's mysteries. Excursion by boat on the Tonle Sap Lake. Journey up the Tonle Sap River, which links the Tonle Sap Lake to the Mekong River, and onto the Tonle Sap Lake (Great Lake): this lake takes up much of the center of Cambodia and changes in size depending on the seasons. During the dry season in February it shrinks to a tenth of its original size and is then one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. The boat trip explores the lake's fishing villages. PHNOM KROM: a hill south of Siem Reap with spectacular views over the lake and a temple dating from the 10th century. The three towers on it are dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma. CHONG KNEAS: a floating village on the lake where the Khmer and Vietnamese that live here rely on the lake's resources to survive. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 3: Siem Reap - Phnom Penh (B, L)
The river journey begins as we board our express boat and cruise for a half day down the Tonle Sap River to Phnom Penh. The capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh was once considered the loveliest city of Indochina. Despite the recent turbulent history, it still maintains considerable charm. A city tour acquaints us with some major sights of the city. The private quarters of the Royal Palace are now home to the royal family and are therefore very close to the public. At the northern area of the palace grounds is Silver Pagoda, well known for its 5000 silver tiled floor. We visit both structures as well as the National Museum for an appreciation of the splendour of Khmer history. The next stop of our trip is the legendary temple of Wat Phnom, which provides an interesting view over the surroundings. O/N in Phnom Penh.
Day 4: Phnom Penh - Saigon (B, L)
Transfer to the airport. Flight from Phnom Penh to Saigon. Arrival in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) and transfer to the hotel. Saigon is the largest of Vietnamese cities, with the hustle and bustle of Vietnamese life visible everywhere. There are street markets, sidewalk cafes and sleek new bars. The city churns and bubbles. Yet within this teeming metropolis are 300 years of timeless traditions and the beauty of an ancient culture. To the west of the city is District 5, the huge Chinese neighborhood called Cholon, which means 'Big Market'. Sightseeing in Saigon and Cholon (Chinatown). Highlights: NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL: built between 1877 and 1883, it is set in the heart of Saigon's government quarter. It has a neo-Romanesque form and two high square towers, tipped with iron spires. In front of the cathedral is a statue of the Virgin Mary. CENTRAL POST OFFICE: a French-style building with a glass canopy and iron frame, situated next to the Notre Dame Cathedral. The structure was built between 1886 and 1891 and is by far the largest post office in Vietnam. CITY HALL: completed in 1908, also known as ''Hotel de Ville'', and located at the northern end of Nguyen Hue Boulevard. With its ornate gingerbread facade it looks like the town hall of a French town. (May be viewed from the outside only). WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM: collections of weapons and photographs from two Indochina wars are exhibited along with the original French 'Guillotine' brought here in the early 20th century. BEN THANH MARKET: the central market of Saigon, its surrounding streets make up one of the city's liveliest areas. Everything commonly eaten, worn or used by the average resident of Saigon is available here. BINH TAY MARKET: Cholon's main marketplace, much of the business conducted here is wholesale. THIEN HAU PAGODA: built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century. The pagoda is one of the most active in Cholon and is dedicated to Thien Hau. It is said that she can travel over the oceans on a mat and ride the clouds to wherever she pleases. Overnight in Saigon.
Day 5: Saigon - Hanoi (B, L)
Transfer to the airport. Flight from Saigon to Hanoi, a city of lakes, shaded boulevards and public parks, is the capital of Vietnam. It is a very attractive city with French style buildings and less traffic than other cities in Asia. Arrival transfer to the hotel. Sightseeing in Hanoi (full day). Highlights: ONE PILLAR PAGODA: built by the Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who ruled from 1028 to 1054. Constructed of wood on a single stone pillar, it is designed to resemble a lotus blossom. TEMPLE OF LITERATURE: founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, who dedicated it to Confucius in order to honor scholars and men of literary accomplishment. HOAN KIEM LAKE: right in the heart of Hanoi, this lake contains an islet with the tiny Tortoise Pagoda, topped with a red star. HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM: in the tradition of Lenin and Stalin before him and Mao after him, the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh is a glass sarcophagus set deep in the bowels of a monumental edifice that has become a site of pilgrimage. (Closed Mondays and Fridays). OPERA HOUSE: a magnificent 900-seat opera house built in 1911. (May be viewed from the outside only). ST JOSEPH CATHEDRAL: a neo-Gothic cathedral finished in 1886, it is noteworthy for its square towers, elaborate altar and stained-glass windows. BAO TANG LICH: once the museum of the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient, is a building constructed of reinforced concrete completed in 1930. Exhibits include artefacts from Vietnam's turbulent history including some from prehistory, proto-Vietnamese civilisations, the Dong Son culture, the Oc-Eo culture and the Khmer Kingdoms. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 6: Hanoi - Halong (B, L, D)
7: 30 - 8: 30 Shuttle bus pick you up at your hotel, for the 3.5 hr (165km) drive to Halong City. 12: 00 Board Halong Phoenix Cruiser. Lunch is served with a welcome drink while the boat cruises the bay to enjoy the beautiful limestone seascape. You will see Dog Rock, Incense Burner Rock, as well as Fighting Cock Rock before heading to Sung Sot Cave ( Cave of Surprises ). Later we stop at a floating house owned by fishermen before kayaking to Luon Cave to enjoy the quiet atmosphere of the bay. After returning to the boat a fresh fruit platter will be served, and we will anchor in a safe and scenic location for swimming and our overnight stay. Dinner is served onboard and then you have free time to listen to music, join in Karaoke singing or relax under the stars. Overnight on borad.
Day 7: Halong - Hanoi (B)
7: 30 Breakfast will be served on the boat, before cruising to another part of Halong Bay where you will view more of the bays spectacular limestone scenery, such as Drum Cave, Man's Head Islet, Turtle Islet and Fairman's Cave. The junk then heads to Van Gia fishing village- one of the oldest and largest floating villages in Halong Bay. You will have the opportunity to understand more about the fishermen's daily life, before cruising to a beautiful, secluded spot to swim. 11: 30 The boat returns to the dock for lunch in an A/C restaurant before returning to Hanoi. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 8: Hanoi - Vientiane (B, L)
Transfer to the airport. Flight from Hanoi to Vientiane, the capital city and seat of government sitting in a bend of the Mekong River amidst fertile alluvial plains. Vientiane (pronounced 'Wieng Chan' by the locals) is a laid-back city with interesting wats and lively markets. Transfer to the hotel and sightseeing in Vientiane. Highlights: PHA THAT LUANG (Great Sacred Reliquary or Great Stupa): built between the 11th and 13th centuries AD, it is the most important national monument in Laos, a symbol of both the Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty. PATUXAI: a large monument in the style of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the huge arch at the end of Thanon Lan Xang has a stairway that leads to the top levels of the monument, providing a good view of the city. HO PHA KEO: the former royal temple of the Lao monarchy built in 1565 by King Setthathirat and now converted into a museum containing some of the best examples of Buddhist sculptures found in Laos. WAT SI SAKET: constructed in 1818 by King Anouvong in the early Bangkok style, small niches are carved into its interior walls, containing more than 2, 000 silver and ceramic Buddha images. WAT SI MUANG: this temple is one of the most popularly used temple grounds in the city, as it contains the city pillar and acts as the home of Vientiane's guardian spirits. TALAAT SAO: the Morning Market - actually open all day - selling a wide range of fabrics, jewellery and electronic goods. Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 9: Vientiane - Luang Prabang (B, L)
Transfer to the airport. Flight from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, the ancient capital city of the Lan Xang Kingdom, is famous for its historic temples and beautiful setting surrounded by mountains. In 1995 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Transfer to the hotel and sightseeing. Highlights: WAT XIENG THONG: built in 1560 and situated on the banks of the Mekong River, it is the most beautiful monastery in Luang Prabang and shows the typical Lao art style with old religious artifacts and some ancient masterpieces of Lao art. WAT WISUNALAT (Vat Visoun): built in 1513 during the reign of Chao Wisunalat, it is the oldest operating temple in Luang Prabang with a collection of gilded wooden Buddhas from the 15th and 16th centuries. WAT MAI: constructed in 1821 during the reign of King Manthatourath, it was once the residence of Phra Sangkharaj (the Patriarch of the Buddhist clergy). WAT THAT LUANG: the ashes of King Sisavang Vong are interred inside the large central stupa, which was erected in 1910. The inside of the huge sim dating back to 1820 contains a few Luang Prabang Buddhas and other artifacts. WAT SAEN: Thai style wat built in 1718 and restored in 1957. The abbot Ajannn Khamjan who was ordained here in 1940 is one of the most revered monks in Luang Prabang and perhaps in all of Laos. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 10: Luang Prabang city tour (B, L)
Excursion by boat from Luang Prabang to Pak Ou Caves, these are two caves (Tham Thing lower cave and Tham Phum) located in the steep rock cliff at the confluence of the Mekong River and Ou River. They are full of Buddha images of varying styles, ages and sizes. BAN XANG HAI: located near the Pak Ou Caves, this village was once a 'Jar-Maker Village' and nowadays the community fill the jars (which come from elsewhere) with lÃ¡o-lÃ¡o, the local rice whisky. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 11: Luang Prabang/ Depart (B)
Continue the sightseeing in Luang Prabang. Highlights: NATIONAL MUSEUM: located on the banks of the Mekong River, it was constructed as Royal Palace between 1904 and 1909 and today houses the Royal throne of the Lan Xang Kingdom and many other pieces of regalia and religious treasures. PHU SI: the temples on the upper slopes of the 100m-high Phu Si were constructed recently, but it is likely that previously there were other temples on this important hill. From the top there is an excellent view of the town. Transfer to the airport. End of services. Our staff will give you the warmest goodbye and hope to see you again