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Gems of Indochina

(8 Days - Departs Daily on a Private Basis)

Siem Reap (Angkor) & Luang Prabang

 

Visit two of Indochina's greatest attractions: the incredible temples of Angkor and beautiful Luang Prabang.

 

Begin in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and explore incredible Angkor, the wondrous ruins of the ancient Khmer empire. With your private guide, tour the most interesting parts of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, including Angkor Wat, an enormous temple city built as a model of the Hindu universe in stone; Angkor Thom, an ancient capital filled with iconic sites such as the Bayon, Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King; Ta Prohm, a temple being devoured by the jungle; and serene Preah Khan, a former monastery and school. Also visit Banteay Srei, a petite temple with elaborate carvings in pink sandstone, and other lesser-known temples and cruise on Lake Tonle Sap. Additional special-interest activities can also be arranged, such as a bike riding, Khmer cooking lessons, and visits to orphanages and children's centers, Khmer dance performances, photography excursions or chartering a helicopter to remote jungle temples. Next, fly to Luang Prabang in Laos to soak up the peaceful atmosphere of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sit by the Mekong watching monks stroll past, marvel at one of the many wonderful active temples and meet an elephant.

 

** All our tours are Exclusive Private Tours, so you will not be put together with other guests **

 

 

Day 1: Welcome to Siem Reap

Fly to Siem Reap, CAMBODIA                                                           

 

Welcome to Cambodia. Upon arrival at Siem Reap Airport, obtain your Cambodia visa (please refer to your Special Program Note), and then clear Immigration and Customs.  After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside a local Guide of Global Travel & Tours. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. Please note that local guides are not allowed inside the airport.

 

From the airport, you will be privately transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. Siem Reap is the base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 3 nights in Siem Reap

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Shinta Mani Resort, Viroth’s Boutique Hotel, Pavillon d’Orient Boutique

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Park Hyatt Siem Reap, Belmond La Residence d’Angkor, Sofitel Angkor Resort

 

Day 2: Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

These temples were built from the 9th to 12th centuries by a Khmer empire that controlled not only Cambodia but large parts of what are now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam as well. With their grandeur of scale and extraordinary delicacy in detail, the temples rank among humankind's most supreme artistic expressions. Spend the early morning visit the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century). See the South Gate with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk, visit Bayon temple (unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara), Baphuon (recently re-opened after years of restoration), the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace, and the Terrace of the Leper King.

 

In the late afternoon and sunset hours, explore the most famous of all the temples on the plain of Angkor: Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Angkor Wat’s five towers symbolize Meru’s five peaks – the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat, the ocean beyond. Sunset at Angkor Wat.

 

After dusk, you'll be returned to your hotel with the evening free to relax or explore independently.

 

Day 3: Siem Reap

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

Today, meet your personal guide and driver. Rise early to travel to Ta Phrom. Built in 1186, Ta Phrom was dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII. Its atmospheric dark gray sandstone towers and courtyards exude an aura of reverence and mystery. Unlike most of the other inner temples of Angkor, Ta Phrom has been left to the elements and looks very much as it must have when "discovered" by Henri Mouhot in the 1860s. Navigating through its narrow passages, immense kapok trees and jungle-covered ruins is an unparalleled experience and one of the highlights of Angkor. Next, you’ll visit Preah Khan or 'Sacred Sword', built by King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. Sister temple to Ta Prohm, the cruciform corridors here are impressive and there are some wonderful carvings adorning the walls, including the spectacular hall of dancers. Look out for the curious two-storey structure that is almost Grecian in inspiration. This is one of the few temples originally dedicated to Buddhism and Hinduism. The original eastern entrance was for Mahayana Buddhists, while the other cardinal points represented the Hindu trinity of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Next, to Banteay Kdei This temple was the first great Buddhist monastery in Cambodia, constructed by Jayavarman VII during the 12th and 13th centuries. Its system of galleries and vestibules that were added after the construction of the main towers makes it look like a cloister. It was built in sandstone, which has deteriorated quite badly. However, there remain some very beautiful lintels and pediments. Although it is in a ruinous state. You’ll then visit Ta Keo King Suryavarman I commissioned this temple in the 10th Century, but it was never completed so has no elaborate decoration like its contemporaries. It is a pyramid on 5 levels and is dedicated to Shiva. Some scholars contend this was due to an inauspicious lightning strike during construction. Others have suggested the high quality sandstone was simply too hard to carve in detail.

 

Later this afternoon, journey north to visit Banteay Srei. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia and the name translates as ‘Fortress of the Women', thanks to the intricate detail here, considered too fine for the hands of a man. Originally believed to date from the latter part of the Angkor period, inscriptions at the site suggest it was built by a Brahman in 967. However, some architectural historians have suggested that the inscriptions may date from an earlier structure on this site and the temple is in fact later, marking a high-water mark in Khmer sculpture. Stop at a local village to visit families who are producing palm sugar. Make a short stop at the Land Mine Museum, a rather humble look at the land mine problem, past and present, in Cambodia.

 

This evening, walk up Phnom Bakheng for a sunset view of Angkor Wat and the surrounding areas. This view provides a wonderful overview of the entire area. (Please note that this site becomes very crowded at sunset, so you may choose to walk up to Pre Rep instead.) 

 

Day 4: Siem Reap – Luang Prabang

Meals Provided:  Breakfast

 

For a further glimpse into local life, this morning, depart Siem Reap for a tour of the surrounding countryside and take an ox-cart ride through the villages and the rice fields. At the end of your ride, have a fresh coconut drink with the family and do not hesitate to talk with the local people to get to know more about their lives. Then driver to boat pier and board a wooden boat for a ride on Tonle Sap often called the Great Lake. We will float by schools, markets and police stations all built within the lake and observe the typical local activities. We’ll visit a floating house to interact with a local family before returning to town. Next, visit Les Artisans dAngkor - Chantiers Ecoles, this centre is working with young artisans; the team creates, produce and market a unique collection of ornamental sculpture, lacquer ware, silk weaving and silk painting. The company promotes fair, sustainable development in order to provide benefits to the rural communities.

 

After leisurely afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to Luang Prabang.

 

Fly Siem Reap to Luang Prabang on Vietnam Airlines VN930, departing 16:55, arriving 18:15

Economy Class - Issued By Global Travel & Tours

 

Welcome to Laos. Upon arrival at Luang Prabang Airport, obtain your Laos visa (please refer to your Special Program Note), and then clear Immigration and Customs.  After collecting your baggage, exit the airport to meet outside a local Guide of Global Travel & Tours. He/she will be holding a sign with your names on it. Please note that local guides are not allowed inside the airport.

 

From the airport, you will be privately transferred to your lovely boutique hotel. The crown jewel of Laos and former Lanexang, Luang Prabang, is perhaps the best-preserved traditional city in South East Asia. Magical and charming, it has preserved its long-standing reputation as a stronghold of Lao culture with its splendid natural scenery and sense of timelessness. In 1995 UNESCO voted Luang Prabang as a World Heritage City.

 

Settle in and enjoy the afternoon and evening at your leisure.

 

Accommodation: Stay 4 nights in Luang Prabang

 

First Class 4 Star Hotels: Le Sen Boutique Hotel, Burasari Heritage, Mekong Riverview Hotel

 

Luxury 5 Star Hotels: Belmond La Residence Phou Vao, Luang Say Residence 

 

Day 5: Luang Prabang & local rural life

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Full day tour of Luang Prabang: This morning your guide will meet you at your hotel and stroll through the lively Central Market where the ethnic minorities of the surroundings come daily. Visit the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and visit to Luang Prabang’s most beautiful temple, Vat Xiang Thong. Once a royal temple where Laotian kings were crowned, it is still home to the royal funeral chapel with the 12-meter-high funeral chariot and funeral urns for each member of the royal family. Remodeled in the 1960s, the temple features a gilded entrance, walls covered in black lacquer and decorated with gold figures and symbols and the impressive “tree of life” mosaic of stained glass, which is one of the best-known images in Laos, visit the Wat Mai temple; and take an orientation tour of the city and visit the National Museum, preserved from its days as a royal residence at the turn of the 20th century and depicting day-to-day life for the rich and royal.

 

Spend the afternoon on a community based living rice farm situated in the idyllic countryside, surrounded by mountains and rice paddies. You’ll have an opportunity to experience the life of local rice farmers and try your hand at some of their daily activities, or view them from the comfort of a traditional Lao rice house balcony, surrounded by rice terraces and an organic vegetable farm. There will also be time to visit local handicraft workshops featuring crafts including bamboo weaving, blacksmithing, and sugar cane processing. And a tour of an organic garden offers insights on how natural herbs are used in traditional medicine.

 

Returning to the hotel after dusk, the evening will be free to relax or explore on your own.

 

Day 6: Alms in Luang Prabang & Life in the Laotian countryside

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Shortly after dawn in Luang Prabang, a gong announces the end of morning prayers and the beginning of a procession of monks emerging from the temples to seek alms; rise early this morning to experience this extraordinary ritual. After breakfast, enjoy a relaxing local style riverboat trip with your guide on the mighty Mekong River, to visit the sacred Pak Ou Buddha Caves. Pak Ou caves have been home to many thousands of Buddha images that have been placed here by local people since 16th century, when King Setthathirath found the caves and declared them a holy spot, and even today many people still pay respect to this tradition. Afterwards, walk around Ban Pak Ou Village, a small Laotian fishermen’s village on the Mekong River, and your long-tail boat for a scenic ride on the Mekong until you reach the small weaving village of Ban Phone Xay, where you’ll enjoy a weaving demonstration and have a chance to purchase handmade items directly from the source.

 

After lunch, a scenic drive through the countryside leads to the multi-tiered cascades of the Khouang Si waterfalls. The distance is about 30km and takes approximately 1 hour passing through very scenic Laotian countryside. The waterfalls tumble over multi – tiered limestone formations into cool, clear pools ideal for swimming and relaxing. On the way to the waterfalls, visit small villages of Ban Na Oune, Hmong village and Khmu minority village of Ban Thapane for a glimpse into their lifestyle. Continue to the waterfalls. Return to Luang Prabang. On the way, visit Ban Ou, a lowland Lao village known for its cotton production. Continue to see silk production at Ban Phanom, a weaving village that become famous as the ‘weavers of royalty’, producing items for the Royal Palace of the last King of Laos.

 

Later afternoon, you'll be returned to your hotel for free to relax or explore independently.

 

Day 7: Shangri-La Lao Expedition

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Your guide will meet you at 8am at your hotel. Drive to elephant camp. Relive the footsteps of the historic 19th century French explorer, Dr. P. Neis, with this original and authentic colonial style expedition. You will be picked up early morning from your hotel and transferred to the Shangri Lao Camp, located 15km outside of Luang Prabang. On arrival, you will get an introductory tour of the camp, the elephants and their hospital.

 

After you meet your elephant you will begin your 5km ride in a traditional Howdah seat with roof through the river, jungle and mountain tops. You will want to have your camera handy to take pictures of the majestic landscape that surrounds you. You will then stop for a secluded lunch of traditional Lao food and wine in the jungle Sala beside the cascading waters of the Huay Sae River. After lunch you will trek through the jungle for 5km passing waterfalls, limestone cliffs, bamboo bridges and turquoise pools while learning about this important ecosystem. Once you leave the valley you will finish with an uphill section of the trek through farmlands, fields and plantations. Once you reach the Nam Khan River you will board a luxury bamboo raft. Enjoy coffee or tea while you float down river for 5km taking in the traditional village life of farmers and fishermen. When you reach the camp you will then be transferred by minibus back to your hotel in Luang Prabang.

 

Day 8: Depart Luang Prabang

Meals Provided: Breakfast

 

Today free at leisure until your guide and driver transfer to the Bangkok airport in time for your flight to next destination. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey.

 

 

Price guideline:

 

The above tour costs from $935*per person, based on 2 people sharing a double or twin room.

 

*Please note this price is subject to change at the time of booking, and depends on the date of travel and the availability of accommodation.

 

Our price includes (Private tour): 

• Accommodation base in a shared double or twin room throughout

Daily buffet breakfast at hotel and all hotels taxes and service charges

Pick-ups and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicle as specified in the itinerary

Travel by private, air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced, safe driver

Private sightseeing with local, English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary

Meals included as indicated as in program: B: breakfast, L: lunch & D: dinner

International flight tickets: Siem Reap – Luang Prabang on Economy Class

Boat cruise as specified in the programmed

Entrance fees according the above program

Local bottled water while sightseeing and transfers

VAT and all taxes and service charge

 

The price does not include

International flight tickets and Visas

Any items of purely personal nature such as laundry and telephone calls

Personal, travel and health insurance

Early check in and late check out

Drinks during meals

Meals that are not specified

Gratuities/tipping to tour guide, driver and hotel staff and restaurant’s staff

 

 

All of our itineraries can customized as you wish, add extra days, change a hotel, and see different sights. For information on this or our other tours please email us at: info@globaltravel-asia.com