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Beyond Boundaries

18D/17N - EXPLORE THE WONDERS OF INDOCHINA
18D/17N - Explore the Wonders of Indochina
Unforgettable: This odyssy's adventure tour is designed to cover the most important destinations in Vietnam, the intersting colonial city of Laos - Luang Prabang and the Angkor complex in Cambodia. Welcome to a world where the colours are more vivid, where the landscapes are bolder, the coastline more dramatic, where the history is more compelling, where the tastes are more divine, where life is lived in the fast lane. This world is Vietnam, the latest Asian dragon to awake from its slumber. There’s a magic about Cambodia that casts a spell on many who visit this charming yet confounding kingdom. Ascend to the realm of the gods at the mother of all temples, Angkor Wat, a spectacular fusion of symbolism, symmetry and spirituality. Welcome to the conundrum that is Cambodia: a country with a history both inspiring and depressing, an intoxicating place where the future is waiting to be shaped. Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed town along the Mekong River in northern Laos. Explore streets lined with a unique blend of traditional Lao and French colonial architecture. Visit cultural attractions, including museums and important temples. Learn about Buddhism and its central role in Lao culture. Explore markets, visit hill tribe villages, meet silk weavers and contemporary textile designers, and take a memorable cruise on the Mekong, visiting craft villages and caves filled with Buddha statues.
Trip Highlights:
- Witness lives of the local and their smiles
- Explore the Old Quater in Hanoi
- Enjoy the world heritage of Halong bay
- Strolling around the colonial city of Luang Prabang
- Visit "the eighth wonder of the world" - Angkor Complex in Siem Reap
- See the hustling and bustling of Ho Chi Minh City
- Visit the amazing network of Cu Chi underground tunnels and more...

Detailed Itinerary:
Day 01: Arrives in Luang Prabang
Upon arrival meet and transfer hotel for check-in or dropping off your luggage (Early check-in is NOT included and subject to hotel’s availability). The remainder of the day is free at leisure for jetlag. Overnight in Luang Prabang (Laos)

Day 02: Luang Prabang
Note: With the Morning Alms Giving, if you do not wish to make an offering, please keep an appropriate distance and observe the ritual in silence. Dress appropriately – shoulder, chest and legs should be covered.

You have the option to wake up before dawn to witness and participate in offering alms to hundreds of saffron-robed monks – an awe-inspiring sight for many travelers. Please tell your guide if you wish to make an offer so he/she can prepare some food for you. This early morning ritual dates back generations in Laos. Watch the town come to life in the morning and then return to hotel for breakfast

After breakfast we will visit this sacred city of temples with a visit to the National Museum (closed on Tue), the former Royal Palace housing a collection of valuables including the famous Prabang Buddha statue and gifts from foreign dignitaries. Other must-see places include Wat Visoun, the 16th century temple that served as a small museum for religious artifacts; Wat Xiengthong, the 16th century temple said to be the most beautiful temple in town, epitomizing all the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang architecture. Late afternoon, visit to Phousi Hill climbing up 328 steps to the summit of Phousi Hill which dominates the sky-line of Luang Prabang providing the finest panoramic view in the whole city. Overnight in Luang Prabang (Laos)

Day 03: Pak Ou caves
After breakfast, then travel on a long-tailed boat for a few hours on the Mekong River to visit the mysterious Pak Ou Caves in the side of a lime stone cliff and opposite of the mouth of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers. The sanctuaries at Pak Ou consist of two large caves, both repositories for thousands of Buddha images, which range from mere centimetres to two metres in height. En route, typical Laotian villages are barely visible behind a screen of foliage. Slender canoes bobbing by the shore and bamboo poles and floats mark the location of nets and fish traps. Lunch is at a local restaurant on the bank of the Mekong River. Return to Luang Prabang by the same boat; continue by car to visit Ban Xangkhong, a village well-known for its wood paper making and also Laotian silk weavings with natural dyes. Transfer back to town. The remainder of the day is free at leisure.Overnight in Luang Prabang (Laos)

Day 04: Luang Prabang
After breakfast, take a rural drive (30 km South) to visit Kuangsi Waterfall, though not very high but spectacular and really beautiful with its green surroundings as the preserved National park. We stop en-route to visit a fresh produced market namely Talad Phosy, and also visit Ban Na Oune, a small village of a hill-tribe group “Hmong”, probably the best-known minority group in Laos. Just before arriving at Kuangsi waterfall, there is another village of Khmu minority group, namely Ban Tha Pane that we will visit. Our picnic lunch is served at the shady park nearby Kuangsi waterfall. There is plenty of time for relaxing and a swim in cool water, before heading back to Luang Prabang. Afternoon is free at leisure. Overnight in Luang Prabang (Laos)

Day 05: Luang Prabang – Siem Reap (Cambodia)
After breakfast, free at leisure. 12.00PM check-out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival at the airport and after clearing the immigrations and customs, meet with your guide and embark on your comfortable car for transferring to the hotel for check-in or dropping off your luggage (Early check-in is NOT included and subject to hotel’s availability). The remainder of the day is free at leisure. Overnight in Siem Reap (Cambodia)

Day 06: Siem Reap

Optional: enjoy sunrise at Angkor Wat temple. Return hotel for late breakfast
Early morning, enjoy sunrise at Angkor Wat temple, visit the intricately carved Khmer ruins at Angkor Wat– one of the world’s most impressive ruins. The temple still owns fine Apsara carvings in Angkorian era art.
Afternoon, take an elephant ride from the Southgate of Angkor Thom to Bayon and explore the mysterious Royal city Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom’s 50-tower temple is an awesome sight. At first glance it seems a shapeless mass of stone, but further scrutiny reveals a face, and then another and another until suddenly you are engulfed by the silent, heavy, enigmatic and silent gaze through half-closed eyes, staring out from a primitive and remote time. Enjoy sunset at one of the less touristy temples. Overnight in Siem Reap (Cambodia)

Day 07: Siem Reap
After breakfast, visit the smallest, but magnificent temple, Banteay Srei built in the 10th Century and dedicated to Shiva. The temple was the birthplace of Khmer classical style architecture and the bas-relief work is the best example of Khmer classical art remaining. The pink sandstone structure bears a series of striking and beautiful sculptures, lintels, pediments and friezes. Khmers say the temple must have been carved by women for the details are too fine for the hands of a man. If the clients are interested in buying souvenir, then a visit to Artisans D’Angkor studios carving and silk is recommended

Continue our sightseeing today to visit the picturesque Ta Prohm that had nearly disappeared into the jungle and remains overgrown, an oddly haunting and exotic scene. The magnificent roots of a tree, pushing between the huge stone blocks of the temple in a sort of embrace, evoke feelings that you may remember forever. Overnight in Siem Reap (Cambodia)

Day 08: Siem Reap – Ho Chi Minh City (Fly)

After breakfast, free at leisure. 12.00PMcheck-out of your hotel and transfer to the airport for flight to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Upon arrival at the airport and after clearing the immigrations and customs, meet with your guide and embark on your comfortable car for transferring to the hotel for check-in or dropping off your luggage (Early check-in is NOT included and subject to hotel’s availability). Your guide will brief orientation of the city on the way.Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Day 09: Visit Cu Chi Tunnels underground Network & City tour of Saigon
After breakfast, depart Saigon for Cu Chi Tunnels. Upon arrival visit the underground. This network of tunnels, which stretched for over 200km, became legendary during the 1960s. The Cu Chi tunnels played a vital part in the U.S.-Vietnam War in that they allowed the Viet Cong to control a large rural area only 30 to 40 km from Saigon. At its height, the tunnel system stretched from Saigon to the Cambodian border. The network, parts of which were several levels deep, included innumerable trap doors, specifically constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command center and kitchens. Today the remaining bloody tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and feel of what underground life during the war.

Afternoon, enjoy city tour to visit Notre Dame Cathedral was built between 1877 and 1883 and the stone used to create it was exported in its entirety from France. Next to the cathedral stands the Central Post Office, finished in 1891. It is another fine example of French architecture and is Vietnam's largest post office. Continue to visit the Reunification Palace was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until April 30, 1975. Endour city tour today with a stroll around the bustling Ben Thanh Market - a fantastic place for shopping. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Day 10: Visit My Tho (Mekong Delta) day trip
After breakfast, we set out on an excursion to My Tho, the closest city in the Mekong Delta to Saigon. A 2-hour drive brings you through urbanized areas till you reach river tributaries, there Mekong Delta! On the way, stop at Vinh Trang pagoda built in 1849. The monk who ordered the build had been to Angkor Wat so here and there influnces of the famous Cambodian temple complex. On arrival in My Tho, board a local private motorized boat (sub-standard) for a river cruise on the upper part of the Mekong River and a taste of the agricultural life of the mighty Mekong River. Visit to a fish-raising village before entering Vam Xep canal and its beautiful scenery of water palm. Disembark and stroll around Quoi An fruit orchard, visiting fruit-drying kilns and coconut craftwares home. Enhance your trip with a short horse-drawn cart ride along the village road. Upon arrival at Ben Truc – Phong Phu garden, sample Mekong delta fruit whilst enjoying traditional local music, and an opportunity to interact with the local people, whose livelihood is on the river here. End your trip with a rowing boat trip to explore the water palm canals. Re-board the main boat and transfer back to My Tho. Arrive at the dock and lunch at Ngoc Gia Trang restaurant, the standard is basic but it offers great Mekong specialities. Drive back to Saigon and transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Day 11: Saigon – Danang – Hoi An

Transfer to the Saigon airport for your flight to Danang. Transfer to the Cham Museum in Danang for a visit. The museum houses the largest and most impressive collection of Cham sculpture and artifacts anywhere in the world, dating from the 4th to the 14th centuries. Drive to the Marble Mountains for a photo stop, continue to Non Nuoc Beach, immortalized for many by the US television show and still one of the most spectacular beaches in Asia en-route to Hoi An. In a country ravaged by war, Hoi An managed to remain untouched, and as you wander the completely traffic-free streets of this ancient seaport it is not hard to imagine yourself amidst the sailors and merchants of the 18th Century, when Hoi An was one of the busiest trading ports in Asia. And don’t forget that this is the town famed for its great tailors; so if you brought anything with you to be replicated—or want to have some traditional Vietnamese dresses made—this is the spot. Overnight in Hoi An

Day 12: Hoi An
Next day, your guide will offer to lead you around Hoi An’s historic Old Town The picturesque riverside town of Hoi An, a major international trading port from the 15th to 19th centuries, has an enchanting Old Quarter full of mansions built by prosperous Japanese, Chinese, and European merchants. Enjoy a vivid sense of history as you walk the narrow streets, visiting houses, artisan workshops, the bustling fish market along the quay.

Late morning, you will enjoy a cooking class with a chef and cooking instructor. The chef offers us an introductory cooking class that leads into lunch together. After your market visit this morning, you will have gained a good understanding of local ingredients and the basic techniques of Vietnamese cuisine. Remainder of the day is free on your own exploration or picking up your clothes from tailors. Overnight in Hoi An

Day 13: Hoi An - Hue – The Imperial City (B, D)

Say good-bye to Hoi An, we take a driving towards Hue. Between 1802 and 1945, Hue was Vietnam’s Imperial City, serving as the seat of 13 Nguyen emperors. Today, the city is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. You’ll take a tour to visit the Imperial city of Hue, continue your tour to see the Thien Mu (Heavenly Lady) pagoda, and then cruising along the beautiful Perfume River. Overnight at hotel in The Imperial of Hue

Day 14: Hue - Hanoi – the capital city (1 hour flight) (B)
Breakfast at hotel. After that we will tour around Hue through shady, scenic landscape to arrive at the majestic, serene tomb of Nguyen Emperor Tu Duc, set amid frangipani trees and a grove of gaudy mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinh. Catch your flight to the capital city of Hanoi. Upon arrival, private transfer to your hotel in downtown. Overnight at hotel in The Capital City of Hanoi

Day 15: Hanoi - Halong Bay (overnight on board) (B, L, D)
Leave your hotel in Hanoi for a 3.5 hours driving to Halong City with a break en route at a local coffee shop. Arriving by noon at the quayside, we board our junk to begin a cruise through the spectacular Halong Bay – Halong Bay is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Halong Bay is one of Vietnam’s most discover the Bay. Stopping along the way to explore the limestone caves or just lazing about atop the deck of our boat. Overnight on board

Day 16: Halong Bay - Hanoi (B, L)

Breakfast will be served on board. Enjoy sun rise in the morning from the top of your boat. Continue your cruising for more exploration of the Bay with the tiny limestone islands are dotted with many beaches and grottoes created by the wind and the waves that provide an excellent backdrop for swimming. Drop off at the pier at around mid-day and transfer back to Hanoi. Overnight at hotel in The Capital City of Hanoi

Day 17: Hanoi – City tour (B, L)

In the morning, we travel by rickshaw cyclo (traditional bike-propelled cart) and foot along tree-lined boulevards and through the 1000-year-old Old Quarter, exploring the markets and taking in some of the city’s great colonial architecture. Other stops on our tour include Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and the One Pillar Pagoda, the hallowed “Temple of Literature”. Van Mieu, as it is known in Vietnamese, is the country’s most renowned temple complex. A combination of Confucian sanctuary and academy, the centre also housed the country’s first university, founded in 1076. We have time to wander through the stone tablets and soak up a thousand years of learning with our local guide. After lunch at another of our favourite local spots, we leave you to enjoy the afternoon as you see fit. Depending on your interests, our guides will be happy to lead you to some of the city’s more interesting art galleries, or take you on a shopping tour for silks and linens (this is perhaps the best place in Vietnam to pick up gifts for people back home), or continue visiting historic sites or visit to a very beautiful Museum of Ethnology to enhance your understanding of Vietnam's diverse culture through its unique presentation of objects & dress from daily life. In the late afternoon, we’ll enjoy a performance of water puppetry, an art form that developed in the rice paddies of northern Vietnam. Overnight at hotel in The Capital City of Hanoi

Day 18: Hanoi – Homeward (B)

You will be collected from your hotel for a private transfer with your guide to the airport for departure flight home. Your Tour comes to an end.

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