Summary:

Welcome to Thailand, the ‘Land of Smiles’. When you arrive in Bangkok, the country’s chaotic capital on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel to relax and chill out. In the evening you’ll dine whilst enjoying a delightful river cruise and spend the night in Bangkok

Details:

Day 1: Bangkok arrival

Welcome to Thailand, the ‘Land of Smiles’. When you arrive in Bangkok, the country’s chaotic capital on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel to relax and chill out. In the evening you’ll dine whilst enjoying a delightful river cruise and spend the night in Bangkok.

Meals: Dinner

Day 2: Grand Palace/City Temples Canals

Today we commence our tour of Bangkok with a longtail boat trip along the Chao Phraya River and the many lively inner canals which provide some fantastic views of the local life close up. Along the way we make stopover at Wat Arun, the temple of Dawn before continuing to the Grand Palace, dedicated to the Thai Royal Family’s ceremony. Nearby is the magnificent Wat Phra Kaew, famous for the Emerald Buddha Image. After this we drive through the many vibrant streets of China Town to some of the most significant temples in Bangkok. The landmark of Wat Traimit is well known as the Golden Buddha Temple while Wat Pho houses a gigantic Reclining Buddha.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 3: Bangkok/Floating Market/Kanchanaburi

Today we drive to Damnern Saduak a rural floating market. We will board a longtail boat ride along the waterway to the picturesque floating market of Damnern Saduak.  You’ll be rowed about one hour through the market streets and adjacent khlongs (canals) to experience life in these busy markets. We continue onto Kanchanaburi Town. Here you will see the famous bridge over the River Kwai, the war museum and war cemetery and take an journey along the Thai-Burma "Death Railway" to the end, about 60 km west of Kanchanaburi. You’ll spend the night in Kanchanaburi.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Kanchanaburi/ Riverkwai/Erawan Park/Tiger Temple

After breakfast, we tour to Hell Fire Pass Memorial and then to Earawan National Park and will see these Erawan Waterfall. This 7 tiered waterfall ranks amongst the most beautiful falls in Southeast Asia and a must-see attraction. You will find plenty of opportunities to enjoy swimming in its clear emerald-coloured water or peacefully relax beside the falls.  Later, we drive to the ‘Tiger Temple’ with its friendly population of tigers, who will happily sit with you for a photograph. You say overnight in Kanchanaburi.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Kanchanaburi/Ayutthaya/Bangkok

After breakfast, you’ll be taken to Bang Pa In which was the Summer Palace for many Thai monarchs from the 17th century. This structure has a captivating collection of marvellous pavilions in a variety of Thai, Chinese, Italian and Victorian architectural styles. You’ll then transfer to Ayuthaya - Thailand's capital from the mid-14th century to the late 18th century.  Here you will visit the impressive Bang Pa In, summer palace of Thai royals, and important historical sites, now mostly in ruins.  We return to Bangkok for your overnight stay.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 6: Bangkok/Luang Prapang

You have free time until our car takes you to the airport for your flight to Luang Prabang in north-central Laos.  On arrival you check in to your hotel.   UNESCO claims that Luang Prabang is ‘the best preserved city in South East Asia’.  You can see why as we visit the Royal Palace Museum hosting a range of interesting artefacts (closed on Tuesday) and a walking tour of some of Luang Prabang’s hidden secrets.  We will walk down quiet back lanes leading to Wat Xiengthong and make a stop at Wat Chomkhong, known for its decorative carvings. This area contains a mix of beautiful old French Colonial buildings and traditional old Lao houses for you to admire.  We also pass by the Fine Arts School to see some of the quality artwork on display.  We also visit Wat Visoun, known as ‘The Water Melon Stupa’ due to its shape. Your overnight will be in Luang Prabang.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7: Luang Prabang – Cooking class

After breakfast, you will be picked up and taken to the Cooking Class where you can learn about the habits and customs at the heart of Lao cuisine and cook freshly prepared food.  Fresh ingredients are at the heart of Lao cuisine, with various intriguing and unfamiliar flavours. We start with a visit to the major food market.  We will explain what the foods are and what they are used for as what you cook and eat is what is purchased there.  The class normally last from 09:00 am till 15:00 and then we drop you back hotel to relax.

In the late afternoon, we climb up to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a beautiful sunset view of the city and the Mekong River. From there, we explore the Night Market, where you can find a lovely selection of handmade textiles made by the hilltribe and local people surrounding Luang Prabang. You’ll spend your night in Luang Prapang.

The join-in daytime classes are 9.00 am to 3.00 pm, Monday to Saturday.  The cooking class will be at the Tamarind, Tamnak Laos or Bamboo Tree depending on availability.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Luang Prabang – Khouang Si waterfall- Pak Ou Cave  

After breakfast, we will drive to the beautiful Khouang Si Waterfall.  En route, we visit local villages of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay, Hmong Village, Ban Ou, Laoloum Village and Ban Thapene, Khmu Village. Then we drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you can splash around in the turquoise pools or walk along forest trails. The Khouangsi Waterfall setting really illustrates paradise. Lunch will be served at local restaurant. We’ll then board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River to give you a panoramic view of the tranquil countryside. Continue cruising upstream we pay respect to the Buddha at the mysterious Pak Ou Caves,  These are two linked caves, crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. Then you visit the village of Ban Xang Hai, famous for Lao rice Whisky. Upon disembarking, we visit the village of Ban Xang Khong, famous for hand weaving and making Saa paper. We then return to Luang Prabang for your overnight stay.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9: Luang Prabang – Xieng Khuang by road

We start around 8am for the drive to Xieng Khuang, famous for the ‘Plain of Jars’. The road follows a twisty mountain route.  Our first stop is Houi Hei, a Khmu village offering great views of surrounding mountains.  We stop in Phou Khoun for lunch.  Back on the road soon reach our highest altitude of the day 1,500m above sea level and make a stop at a Hmong village.  The final stops are a reminder that this region played a major part during the Vietnam War.  We arrive at your hotel in Xieng Khuang by early evening.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 10: Xiengkhuang - Plain of Jars and surrounding with guide

This morning we visit the Mines Advisory Group or MAG office to learn about the work they do in clearing land mines and unexploded ordnance in the area. We then transfer out to the picturesque Jar Site 2, and begin our 1 hour trek along the ridge to the impressive Jar Site 3, consisting over around 150 jars located on top of a hill, offering great views over the surrounding countryside. And then driving out to the ancient town of Muang Khoun, the former provincial capital, where you can explore the ruins of a number of ancient pagodas in the Lanna style That Fun sputa and Wat Phiawat, a ruined temple containing a huge sitting Buddha. You’ll spend the night in Xieng Khuang.    

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 11: Xiengkhuang - Muang Khoun-Vang Vieng

We start early this morning, visiting the interesting Central Market, then (time permitting) drive to the ancient town of Muang Khoun, the former provincial capital.  Here you can explore the ruins of a number of ancient pagodas in the Lanna and Wat Phiawat styles and a ruined temple containing a huge sitting Buddha. We then travel by road to Vang Vieng, stopping for a late lunch in Phou Khoun. Following this we make a stop at Ban Hin Ngon, a picturesque Hmong village. There is an optional stop at Phahome which boasts a local forest market, offering edible snakes, rats and assorted reptiles!  Our final stop of the day is a short photo stop of the stunning limestone karst scenery at Phatang Mountain view point. We arrive in Vang Vieng early evening where you have the rest of the day at leisure and stay overnight.  

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12: Vang Vieng - Full day with guide

We start our day on board a local tractor through paddy field areas heading to Tham Phoukham caves. Your breath will be taken away seeing the most beautiful and famous limestone cavern, surrounded by natural forests.  Along the way you have chance to explore the local cultures by greeting the local villagers and learning about their daily lifestyle.  There is a small natural pool in front of the caves where you can take a swim to refresh yourself or maybe instead walk around the local area.  Enjoy a picnic admiring the scenery. After exploring the caves and enjoying the beauty of the surroundings we slowly make our return to the Vang Vieng, using local transportation or a tractor. En route, we visit the ethnic minority villages of Hmong, Souay and Thaidam village where you will meet warm and friendly hill tribe people and observe their traditional tribal costumes.  Overnight is in Vang Vieng.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 13: Vang Vieng – Vientiane by road

This morning we visit the picturesque Tham Jang cave that offers stunning views of over the Nam Song River and surrounding karst scenery.  Our drive south to Vientiane takes about 4 hours with stops en route.  Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, was built by the French on the site of Wieng Chan, the vibrant 16th century capital of Lane Xang.  Today Vientiane is a small bustling city that still retains an air of its French colonial past. Your half day city tour begins with the oldest temple, Wat Sisaket with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and former royal temple of Wat Prakeo which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. En route to Lao’s national precious heritage, the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, we make a stop to see the imposing Patuxay Monument, known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph.  Our final visit will be the excellent COPE exhibition centre and a much overlooked aspect of Laos,  The centre highlights a major problem many local people face day to day with unexploded ordnance as a result of heavy bombing campaigns during the Vietnam War. Your overnight accommodation will be in Vientiane

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 14: Vientiane – Pakse – Wat Phou – Champasak with guide

Early morning you transfer to the airport for flight to Pakse in southern Laos.  On arrival your guide will take you to the Mekong River where you will enjoy a 2 hours cruise to Champassak on a private traditional boat.  You disembark at this ancient town of the Champa Kingdom, near the border with Thailand and Cambodia.  We continue by car to Wat Phou, another UNESCO World Heritage location.  Wat Phou is the site of ruins which were once part of a temple built some time before Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. It contains some of the most Ancient Khmer architecture dating back to the 7th – 11th centuries. In the afternoon we take a boat across to Champasak Island, where you have the rest of the day to relax or explore this peaceful island where you stay the night.   

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 15: Champasak – 4000 Islands and surrounding

After an early morning breakfast we then drive to the mainland and visit Khone Phapheng to see the largest waterfall by volume in South East Asia.  This highly impressive location teems with wildlife, making this area one of the most breathtaking destinations in Laos.  You arrive at Khong Island by bridge and arrive early evening.  Your overnight will be on Khong Island.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 16: Khong Island–Khone Island – Khong Island

Following breakfast we enjoy a visit to the surrounding countryside before embarking on a longtail boat tour to Don Khone.  We disembark and have the option of exploring the island by bicycle which takes you to visit the remains of the French period and Liphi Waterfall or "the Corridor of the Devil". We return to the mainland at the fishing village of Ban Nakasang and then drive further south to visit Khone Phapheng. Khone Phapheng is considered the largest waterfall by volume in South East Asia; this is a really impressive site near the Lao-Cambodian border, set within an area which is teeming with wildlife, making this area one of the most breathtaking destinations in Laos.  We also have the option of taking a local boat out to search for the rare freshwater dolphins that reside in this area of the Mekong.  Then we drive back to Khong Island for your overnight stay.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch  

Day 17 : Khong Island – Dong Kralor Boader – Siem Reap Overland

After breakfast, you’ll transfer direct to Dong Kralor boarder. Our guide will pick up them at the Kralor Border and drives to Siem Reap for their night. On the way, you’ll visit the giant Hindu temple which also just claim from Thailand from national UNESCO curt and also including world heritage side, its name Preah Vihea temple, visit these sides you’ll change to 4WD at foot of mountain instead of our normal car, after that finish these giant temple you’ll head the road to Siem Reap. Upon arrival transfer to your hotel for check in and your overnight at hotel in Siem Reap

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 18: Siem Reap Angkor Complex

Your day will be devoted to the Temple complex, of which Angkor Wat is a key element. You’ll begin with a visit to Angkor Thom, starting with the Bayon, a bizarre structure of several architectural changes reflecting a switch from Hinduism (the foundations) to Buddhism (the superstructure). Your next visit will be to the Elephant and Leper King Terraces followed by the Baphoun Temple, which is now nearing the end of an eight-year multi-million dollar restoration programme.

In the afternoon, you’ll explore Angkor Wat itself, the largest, and for most people, the most impressive temple in the complex. As dusk nears, a walk to the summit of Phnom Bakheng Hill will afford a panorama of the whole complex lit by the rays of the setting sun, weather permitting of course. Your overnight accommodation will be in Siem Reap.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 19: Siem Reap

Your day will be taken up with visits to some of the outer sites including Preah Khan, a huge and highly explorable monastic complex, Neak Pean, a Himalayan-style lake and sanctuary, and East Mebon, a temple-mountain. After lunch, you’ll also see Ta Prohm, strangled by massive tree roots and typical of the condition of the whole complex when it was discovered in 1860 by French naturalist Henri Mouhot. Your guide will then show you the Prasat Kravan (also known as the Cardomom Sanctuary) and Srah Srang lake and landing terrace.

The Srah Srang is less touristed and could be sunrise alternative to Angkor Wat. Your overnight accommodation will be in Siem Reap.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 20: Siem Reap/Tonle Sap Lake/Bangkok

After breakfast, you’ll be driven to Siem Reap River and Wat Athovea. There, you’ll embark for a boat trip on Tonle Sap Lake, a natural reservoir that partly controls the level of floods in the Mekong Delta, and visit a floating fishing village en-route. You’ll return to your Siem Reap downtown for lunch. In the afternoon, your time will be your own until your driver arrives at your hotel to take you to Siem Reap airport for your flight FD615 16:30 ~17:25 to Bangkok. When you arrive, you’ll be transferred to the hotel where you’ll spend your night.

If you wish, an ox-cart ride can be arranged for you in the village of Aranh, about 6km away from Siem Reap on the way to Tonle Sap Lake. The village is a poorer community where ox-cart rides for tourists have just been arranged by local tourism authority with the aim to contribute some income to the villagers. The ride lasts for about 30 minutes along the bank of the Siem Reap River passing by local houses where you will learn about local people and their daily life. You'll cross a small bridge to the other side of the river and end up with a nice rural scenery and paddy-field.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 21: Bangkok Departure

You’ll have free time until our car arrives to take you to the airport in a good time to connect with your international departure flight. Tour ends!

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