Best of Southeast Asia

Best Of Southeast Asia - $4,390 / In-Country Airfare: $1,990

Land Arrangements per person, double occupancy

19 Day - Customized Tour with Private Driver and Guide / Breakfast – Lunch Daily

Does Not Include International Airfare, Round-Trip to Bangkok, Thailand

DAY 1 / UNITED STATES – BANGKOK

Depart the United States, crossing the International Dateline to arrive the next evening at Bangkok, where the innate friendliness of the Thai people awaits your arrival.

THAILAND

DAY 2 / ARRIVAL BANGKOK

A late evening arrival into Bangkok provides for a night of rest and relaxation prior to making passage north to the city of Hanoi, Vietnam.

VIETNAM

DAY 3 / BANGKOK - HANOI

After a night of rest, the golden temples of Thailand are left in the distance as you wing your way to Hanoi. Upon arrival, begin your exploration of Hanoi by riding through the famous “36 streets” on cyclo, allowing the rider a first hand look at the narrow lanes and colorful shops that line the streets. Enjoy your evening at leisure. (B, L)

DAY 4 / HANOI

This morning, visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, his former private residence, the One-Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Museum. Enjoy a leisurely lunch and thereafter visit the Temple of Literature, a sprawling, landscaped grounds that was the setting for all qualified students final testing. Thereafter, see the Tran Quoc Pagoda, a tranquil setting not far from the heart of the city environs. This evening you are the invited guest for a performance of the famous water puppeteers. (B, L)

DAY 5 / HANOI - HUÉ

A morning stroll among the local residents who enjoy their sidewalk exercise ends your visit to Hanoi. Fly to the city of Hué, considered by many to be the most beautiful city in Vietnam. Upon arrival, drive across the countryside to the Kai Dinh Tomb, one of the more elaborate among Vietnam’s former emperors. You will be amazed at its European influence, found throughout the tomb. Stop by some local villages, where the making of conical hats, incense sticks and duck raising provide the village livelihood. (B, L)

DAY 6 / HUÉ

Let the excitement begin as you board your private launch and cruise up the Huong Giang (Perfume) River to visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, perhaps the most famous in all of Vietnam. Continue up-river to the Ming Manh Tomb. Completed in 1843, its design has elaborate bridges linking the ceremonial halls, each surrounded by the magnificence of a beautifully landscaped natural setting. Enjoy a leisurely lunch and thereafter visit the expansive Citadel, considered the Forbidden City of Vietnam. (B, L)

DAY 7 / HUÉ – HOI AN

A morning drive takes you south along the coastal highway to Danang. Enjoy lunch in the city of Hoi An, originally a seaport for the Champa Kingdom as well as a trading port for foreign merchants. Hoi An is a quaint town, where on a walking tour, visits will be made to the Japanese Bridge, a Clan House for tea and a Chinese temple. (B, L)

DAY 8 / HOI AN – MARBLE MOUNTAINS

A morning drive toward Da Nang brings you to the site of the Marble Mountains. Set aside the South China Sea, they depict the harmony between mountain and sea, forming an impressive display of natural splendor. Your walk up the staircase brings you within cave allowing you to visit the inside chamber and its temple. Leaving the cave you will reach the height of the mountain, which provides a spectacular view over the South China Sea. Return by staircase to continue your exploration with a visit to the Champa Museum, where you will find an impressive display of statuary dedicated to the former Champa people who held vast territories within the expansive Champa Kingdom. (B, L)

DAY 9 / HOI AN - SAIGON

Fly to Saigon, a city like no other, which welcomes you to partake in all of its offerings, be they a beautiful temple in Cholon, a stroll through the city or simply the purchase of a silk garment as a memento of your tour. Upon arrival, begin viewing the city sights, including a visit to Cholon to see the Chinese Temple, the colonial-styled architecture of the inner plaza and dockside, where the never-ending movement of boats ply the waters of the Saigon River, moving both passenger and merchandise to market. (B, L)

DAY 10 / EXCURSION TO CAO DAI AND CU CHI

A morning drive takes you into the countryside to witness the ceremonies at the Cao Dai Cathedral, representing a blend of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in a unique style of worship. Thereafter, visit the region of Cu Chi, where you will be amazed at the size and breadth of the tunnel system used by the North Vietnamese to hide their weapons and forces during times of conflict. En route to Saigon, a rice noodle factory, providing an opportunity to observe the villages using generations-old methods of using rice to sun dry and cut into noodles for use in Vietnam’s favorite cuisine. (B, L)

CAMBODIA

DAY 11 / SAIGON - SIEM REAP (ANGKOR WAT)

Begin your day with a private boat cruise on the Saigon River, providing a first-hand look at the flow of river traffic on this busy waterway. Thereafter, it is time to join your onward flight to the wonder that is Angkor. Upon arrival at Siem Reap, visit the Artisans d’Angkor, where elders teach the youth of Siem Reap the age-old methods of preserving their treasured statuary. Thereafter, a visit to the National Museum allows the chance to understand the history behind the building of these truly magnificent monuments, which next day you will have the pleasure of exploring. Your guide will lead you along with a step and a story as you slowly walk these treasured grounds duly impressed by the magnificence of the design, the glory of its past and the awesome sight of these spectacular ruins. (B, L)

DAY 12 / SIEM REAP (ANGKOR WAT)

Enjoy a full day of touring with visits to Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Phrom and Elephant Terrace. Angkor has long been considered one of the most impressive architectural ruins in the world and you will delight in the beauty and grandeur of the glorious sites. (B, L)

MYANMAR

DAY 13 / SIEM REAP – BANGKOK – YANGON (RANGOON)

Wing your way above the jungle carpet to Yangon (Rangoon). Upon arrival, begin your exploration of Yangon at the Sule Pagoda, dating back some 2,000 years. Thereafter, enjoy a visit to the Bogyoke Market, a highlight within Yangon. Continue your exploration of the city with a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered in all of Asia and where pilgrims from afar come to pay homage to their beloved Buddha images and as importantly, to their favorite “Nats”. (B, L)

DAY 14 / RANGOON – HE HO – INLE LAKE

Fly to He Ho, gateway to Inle Lake. Drive aside tree-lined hills to dockside, where your private motor launch awaits your arrival. Your guide will accompany you across the lake to your accommodation. Vast and beautiful, the lake stretches some 9 miles in length and 4 miles in breadth. It is here that you find the unique “leg rowers” who, while standing atop their longboat, wrap the lower leg around the oar and paddle their craft with their fishing basket at the ready to the likely spot for a successful catch. (B, L)

DAY 15 / EXCURSION TO THA LE Oo

Your private boat brings you to the beautiful farming village of Tha Le Oo, one of the most successful farming areas at Inle. The Inn Tha and Pa O ethnic minorities are skilled organic farmers, raising rice, sugar cane and a wide variety of vegetables. Your boat will glide along the waters of the agro trail that meanders from the lake through the village and the surrounding farmland, providing a dramatic view of village life untouched by modern development. You will have the opportunity to walk within the village and thereafter, return by boat to your accommodation for an evening at leisure. (B, L)

DAY 16 / INLE LAKE – PAGAN (BAGAN)

Fly above the meandering Irrawaddy to the plain of Bagan, one of Asia’s richest and most prestigious archaeological sites. Dating back to 108 A.D., its remaining 2,000 or more pagodas, stupas and temples orate the former elegance and glorious stature once displayed across this wondrous land. Bagan was the center of Buddhism during its “Golden Age” and knowledge of that historical reality provides the local populace with a measure of pride that reads so clearly across their faces and in their stride. Bagan is a tranquil and mystical town, with horse drawn carriages, the flow of the Irrawaddy and the expansive display of temples, chortans and stupas that grace its plain. (B, L)

DAY 17 / PAGAN (BAGAN)

Your guide will take you across the plains and visit the more magnificent of the monuments, walking slowly with a step and a story, relating the history and the glory of the days when Buddhism reigned supreme across the expanse of this grand panorama. This afternoon, ride by ox cart in one of the more remote of the landscape, providing you with a unique method of viewing the monuments as well as getting a taste of the local life within Myanmar. (B, L)

THAILAND

DAY 18 / MANDALAY – YANGON

Today’s flight wings you back to the city of Yangon to join your onward connecting flight to Bangkok, where you will have the remainder of the evening at leisure.

UNITED STATES

DAY 19 / BANGKOK – UNITED STATES

All too soon your exciting journey to Southeast Asia has drawn to a close and it is time to return to the United States with those everlasting memories to share over a lifetime.

Regional Advisory

Regional Advisory

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Its neighboring countries have coveted the territory of Vietnam, occupying more than a thousand miles of coastline and the fertile Red River Valley, through the ages. Several times over past millennia, China has conquered the region, and been repeatedly driven out by the will and tenacity of the Vietnamese people. France and Cambodia have also briefly held Vietnam.

For decades now, Vietnam has enjoyed peace as the unified Socialist Republic of Vietnam. After so many years of conflict, Vietnam is now blossoming, sharing its natural wonders and unique culture with the world.

Vietnam’s bountiful waters: rivers, deltas, and the sea, have given rise to a culture as at home on the water as it is on land. Boats on the river congregate into floating markets; and some residents live in floating houses. Unique to Vietnam is its beautiful water puppetry, in which puppeteers stand waist deep in a pool, hidden behind a floating stage, and use underwater levers and pulleys to manipulate elaborate, waterproof, puppets.

The jewel of Vietnam’s coastline is Ha Long Bay, which means “Bay of the Descending Dragons.” Artists over the ages have tried to capture the beauty of its mists and towering spires of stone, but this is one sight that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated.

The city of Hué, half-way down Vietnam’s coast, contains many architectural treasures: The Citadel, a huge complex modeled after China’s Forbidden City; and many imperial tombs, such as the one built for Ming Manh in 1843, in which elaborate bridges connect each of the ceremonial halls to a manicured garden.

Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City, welcomes visitors with several points of interest: the fascinating labyrinth of temples in Cholon, the Cao Dai Cathedral with its unique blend of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism, and Cu Chi, an amazingly elaborate and far-reaching system of tunnels used by the Vietnamese to hide weapons and soldiers in times of conflict.

Neighboring Cambodia contains the wondrous ruins at Angkor Wat. Built in the 7th and 11th centuries, these terraced temples are wonderfully ornamented with bas-relief carvings, which are amazingly well preserved. Other archeological sites of interest include: Ta Phrom, Bantreay Srei, and Bayon, with Bayon displaying striking bas-reliefs depicting over 10,000 figures in scenes from all walks of life. In Ta Phrom, trees grow among the ruins, creating a panorama of man’s art amidst nature’s implacable force.

North of Cambodia in Laos, a traveler encounters the villages of the colorful hill tribes. The innocence and enthusiasm of these native people, and their amazing silver jewelry and handicrafts are sure to delight.

The experienced guides at First Cabin Travel stand ready to show you the wonders of Vietnam and its neighbors, ensuring you see all the best sights and smoothing your way with expert translation and descriptions of local culture and customs.

Burma, now called Myanmar, is a crossroads between Asian countries: Tibet and China to the north, India and Bangladesh to the west, Laos and Thailand to the east. As a result, it is a blend of several ethnicities and cultures.

Once the wealthiest nation in Southeast Asia under British rule, Myanmar has struggled politically and economically since its independence in 1948.

The present government, run by heads of state with strong military backing and influence, quite openly encourages tourism. They have rebuilt the roads, improved air transportation and safety, and constructed five-star hotels, making Myanmar a haven for those who prefer unique journeys away from crowded, more widely known, destinations.

The traveler who makes the trek to Myanmar is rewarded with many wondrous sites. Chief among them is the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. A most holy shrine, the local Burmese make offerings to their patron gods, or Nats, from sunrise to sunset. In Pagan, the panoramic display of temples and chortans, a symbolic form of Buddhist architecture representing the elements and enlightenment, is one of the most breathtaking in all Asia.

In Myanmar, you can view well-preserved monuments and sights few outsiders have seen. The residents of Myanmar are gracious and welcome travelers with genuine warmth and hospitality.

The guides at First Cabin Travel will help you appreciate the history and culture of Myanmar, and help you navigate this emerging tourist destination.