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Beyond Boundaries

18D/17N - SIGNATURE JOURNEY TO SOUTH EAST ASIA
18D/17N - Signature Journey to South East Asia
Unforgettable: On this exceptional private tour through Bangkok, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, experience the history, culture and natural beauty of Indochina's most evocative places. With your private guides and drivers, tour atmospheric towns filled with traditional homes and French colonial architecture. Explore stunning ruins and ancient temples. Visit traditional workshops, modern art galleries and new design boutiques. Learn to cook local dishes, and cruise on a wooden junk.
Trip Highlights:
- witness lives of the local and their smiles
- Explore the Old Quater in Hanoi
- Enjoy the world heritage of Halong bay
- Discover the amazing city of Bangkok
- 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: Arrive Bangkok, Thailand

Meet & transfer with your guide to hotel. Bangkok with endless high rise buildings, busy expressway flyovers, colorful advertising billboards and heavy traffic might be all to describe Bangkok city. Yet in between the skyscrapers and sophisticated shopping centers, there are still remarkable temples, pagodas, spirit houses and historic sites. In the evening, enjoy a dinner aboard The Manohra, a traditional barge converted into a floating restaurant serving fine royal Thai cuisine. Overnight in Bangkok

Day 02: Bangkok
After breakfast, to get away from the heavy traffic, your guide brings you to the pier for a 20min long-tailed boat cruise (local standard) to Wat Po in time to experience the monks’ morning chanting ritual starting at 0900am. One of the oldest temples in Bangkok, Wat Po is home of the famous 45-metre reclining Buddha as well as being the original school of traditional Thai massage. From here, do a short walk to The Grand Palace (open till 0330pm only - Appropriately modest dress is required, no shorts or flip-flops), the most important and impressive royal palace in Thailand. Your guide will show you the palaces used for different occasions such as the Reception Palace, the Throne Hall, the Coronation Hall and the Funeral Palace and of course the mysterious Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand. Then back to your boat for a ride along Klongs of Thonburi to get a flavor of canal life along the way with a stop at Wat Arun, once Grand royal Temple to King Rama II. Passing by Royal Barges Museum, a boathouse displaying several royal barges that are the artworks of the finest Thai craftsmanship.

Later this afternoon, drive to China town for a first-hand feel for old Bangkok. Walk along Yaworat Road where you visit interesting shops selling bird nests and shark fins; continue to a very old teashop to enjoy a cup of Chinese tea with the locals before enjoying the bustling local life of Talad Kao market with variety of fresh foods, fresh & dry fruits, local herbs, groceries. Overnight in Bangkok (B)

Day 03: Bangkok – Luang Prabang (Laos)

Transfer to airport with your guide to catch a flight to Luang Prabang in Laos. 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. Overnight in Luang Prabang (Laos)

Day 04: 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 05: 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 06: 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 07: 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 08: 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 09: 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 10: 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 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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