Welcome to Bangkok fellow globe roamers, where 25 glorious days of Asia exploration lie ahead of us. After checking into our hotel you may wish to do some DIY exploring, grab a massage or just lie by the pool soaking up those sweet Thai rays. Later the group will join forces to hear what's in store for the trip, then the night is yours. Maybe take to the streets for some authentic pad thai and eye-popping nightlife, or jump in a tuk-tuk and hit the buzzy Patpong Night Market, with its neon lights and vibrant street life.
The Royal Palace and its 61 acres of incredible buildings will be number one on today's to do list. We'll start the day early, with so much to see there's no time to waste. We'll take a Locally Guided tour of Wat Arun temples, sitting by the side of the Chao Phraya River. The temple is one of the symbols of Thailand, with its golden temples gleaming in the sunshine giving us a peep into Thailand's Royal past. We'll follow this up with a tour of the klongs (canals) and some fish feeding, as well as watching locals go about their day and living life along the river. Just listing today's sites gives us the butterflies, and we'll take it all in with our Local Guide leading the charge. Armed with more Local knowledge than we know what to do with, get ready for ME Time. From shopping, grabbing a massage to indulding in delicious local eats, this afternoon is gearing up to be brilliant. Bangkok, you've been a dream, but the show must go on! Fast becoming a must-visit in this part of the world, we make tracks to our next destination, the sleepy town of Kanchanaburi to really get local. We jump straight into the way of life here, visiting sites including learning about the darker times past at the WWII Cemetery and the famed Bridge on the River Kwai, with our guide giving us all the info we need on this riverside spot steeped in history. There's nothing like getting some local transport to keep things intersting, so we'll pop into a boat along the River Kwai where we'll reach our home for the night, the The Jungle Raft Hotel, Kanchanaburi. Rooms lit by candle light are what you'll be greeted with, followed by a delicious included dinner of local specialties at dusk. You can even jump in the river directly from your room. Amazing! Because of course here at Contiki we like to keep things a bit special. Tonight as we watch the sunset over the landscape we'll no doubt be toasting our first full day on the trip and contemplating just how good life is.
Waking up in paradise is what your first thought of the day will be...after a no doubt blissful slumber. What's on the cards is pretty dreamy, swims and chill should be high on the agenda, or explore the local village for a cup of coffee and some people watching. After lunch we'll go chasing waterfalls in beautiful Erawan National Park. Chances are you've probably seen the photos - Thailand's 12th National Park is made up of lush forests, waterfalls, endless plains and streams. This is the stuff that Instagram dreams are made of, so grab that camera as we explore the local trails keeping our eyes peeled for birds, or even wild elephants if you're lucky. After a morning getting a nature fix, we make our way to the ancient city of Ayutthaya for a serious throwback into Thailand's past. Tonight, grab the crew and head to a local restaurant for dinner and a few drinks. Known as 'the' place to try some freshwater prawns, it would be downright wrong not to get out there and see what all the fuss is about.
Fuel up on breakfast this morning as we'll be heading out for our included bike tour of Ayutthaya with the crew. We love getting up on two wheels, and you'll soon realise why it's one of our favourite ways to get around. Cycling past pretty villages, rice paddies and temples, you'll see there's no better way of exploring this UNESCO listed city and its surrounds, which was once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam. The city ruins now form the Ayutthaya Historical Park, with the tall towers (prangs) standing as beautiful ruins that dot the landscapes, giving a glimpse into the glorious past of this once thriving metropolis. After freshening up at the hotel and perhaps a little more exploring, it's all aboard the overnight train to Chiang Mai, where tomorrow will be a full day of exploring.
Good morning travellers. We pull into Thailand's northern capital bright and early, and the city is yours to make the most of YOU style - maybe that means roaming the old quarter or the city's heart on foot, maybe it means little more than a Thai massage or lazing back by the hotel pool. Tonight, why not explore the buzzy night markets that make Chiang Mai so legendary, just ask your Trip Manager for some tips on where to head and what to do.
After some city vibes, it's time to get a little bit rural. A solid dose of culture is approaching our horizons, so a scenic drive through lush rolling hills and local towns is just what we need. Rolling into Pai (pronounced 'bye') this morning, prepare to be wowed by this picturesque mountain town. The rest of the day is yours to explore the town your way. Head out on foot, or even by bike and explore this traveller paradise with it's little streets that pack some punch, no doubt stopping for some freshly squeezed juices and coconut shakes to keep things fresh. This afternoon, why not pick up some Muay Thai skills from an expert, then head out to experience Pai by night - a quintessential traveller's experience to rival that of its big sister Khao San Road in Bangkok.
Pai, it's been real, but we've got more to see and do, and new lands to uncover. Chiang Mai It’s back to Chiang Mai today, because 1 day in this city is just never enough. And with a ziplining experience on the cards today for those feeling adventurous, we'll be thanking ourselves for this chance to return. Tonight, dabbling in the art of Thai cooking will be one activity that most of us can't resist. Cooking Class.
It's goodbye Thailand, and with Laos on the cards today spirits will be at an all time high. After our included flight, we'll arrive late afternoon, timed perfectly to watch the sunset at a riverside bar, and contemplate just how good life is.
This morning early risers will be rewarded with Buddhist rituals kissed by the sun's morning rays. Take part in a sacred Laotian ritual offering alms (food) to Buddhist monks, a bucket list experience, there's nothing quite like seeing these peaceful locals gathering their daily meals. Later we'll get things a little more active with a bike tour around the alluring city that pops in to the TreadRight supported Ock Pop Tock Centre for Artisans will complete your morning. Later, then a swim under the 60-metre cascades of Kuang Si Falls could provide your daily nature fix, but most of the day is yours to visit palaces & temples & watch local life by the river, or choose to explore any way that suits.
This morning we take an overland journey to a lively tourist hub filled with opportunities for adventure. It makes leaving the charming town of Luang Prabang a little easier. Known for its dramatic limestone karsts & world food flair, Vang Vieng will keep you busy for the next two nights. Explore the local rivers and caves or sit in a pizza joint surrounded by like minded travellers, watching the sun set over the mountains.
Today is yours to conquer Vang Vieng. Stuck for ideas? Grab a pushbike and allow yourself to get a little lost, stopping at swimming holes and weaving through limestone caves, watching life unfold in the pretty countryside of Laos. For those keen to keep things active, you could head to some local caves for some kayaking and exploring another side of Vang Vieng. After all that exercise, a Chang or two will be on the cards, so tonight, ask your Trip Manager for the best place to head for a sunset beverage, this riverside setting is the stuff dreams are made of, and tonight will be a night to never forget.
Today you should wake up feeling satisfied with your Vang Vieng explorations, and ready to peel back the layers of another Laos hotspot. Vientiane Welcome to the capital of Vientiane. If you’re expecting a bustling Asian capital, prepare to be surprised; the vibe in this quaint Mekong town is strictly chilled and as the French inspired capital, it's a perfect place to explore. View the city's very own 'Arc de Triomphe' and take in the city sights. Apart from seeing the beauty of Pha That Luang stupa & the artistic talent of Patuxai, we’ll use our time here to visit the COPE centre, a local charity that provide prosthetic limbs and rehabilitation services to those who have lost their limbs as a result of unexploded land mines. Our visit here will also provide an insight into Laos’ troubled history, and is a great chance for us to lend a helping hand to the Laotian community.
Vientaine This morning we cross the border sky high, flying out of Laos as we make for the capital of Cambodia. Phnom Penh Although it's easy to find reminders of Cambodia's dark past in the city of Phnom Penh, it is also a place brightened by shy smiles and pretty tree-lined streets. We'll learn about the horrific Khmer Rouge rule by visiting the mass graves of the ‘Killing Fields’ & the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum with our Local Guide. With knowledge in hand, we'll lighten the mood by paying a visit to the Friends restaurant, where disadvantaged and former street children are trained up in hospitality skills. And wow, do they do it well; their frozen shakes and mouth-watering menu never fail to impress. Later tonight, the night is yours to explore as you please.
Phnom Penh Another included flight takes us out of Cambodia's capital this morning, landing us in the heartland of an ancient masterpiece and what is still the largest religious monument in the world. - Included flight to Siem Reap Siem Reap You could relax poolside this afternoon, before seeing what's going on by night! There are plenty of things you could spice up your night with, like local night markets though probably best to reserve your energy for our early morning visit to an Eighth Wonder of the World and something we know you've all been waiting for.
Prepare to be moved to the core this morning as we journey to Angkor Wat through dawn's hours in preparation for sunrise. Nothing can quite describe the feeling of watching the day's first rays touch this ancient spiritual site, it's pretty much magic. After a siesta and pool hangs to break up the day back at our hotel, we journey back to the temples to explore Angkor Thom and the Tomb Raider temple of Ta Prohm, which is slowly being swallowed by the jungle. With no early rise on tomorrow's agenda, we can let loose on the city's famous Pub Street and the buzzing local night markets.
Siem Reap With plenty of free time in Siem Reap before our afternoon flight to Vietnam, you can get busy with some DIY exploring. Head to the local markets to stock up on souvenirs and tasty snacks, or simply unwind by the pool, reflecting on the magnificence of yesterday. Ho Chi Minh City With a coriander filled Bánh mì in one hand and a Vietnamese coffee in the other, hit the road and get ready to explore the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh. Tonight we take on the Ben Thanh markets where you can eat and shop to your wanderlusting hearts content.
Ho Chi Minh City It's goodbye busy city and hello river life today as we make for the Mekong Delta for an extra special overnight experience you won't be forgetting fast. Mekong Delta Travelling down the river on local sampans, peace and tranquility will be at an all time high. This afternoon we'll spend our time getting a serious learning fix by visiting a local tea garden and seeing the floating markets, learning about local industries along the river and the way of life here and meet some of the friendliest people on earth. Definetely one to give us all the local feels, topped off with a night at our Mekong Guesthouse.
Mekong Delta After an early breakfast we'll make our way back to Ho Chi Minh, detouring past the staggering 250-kilometres of tunnels that make up the Viet Cong’s Cu Chi. Cu Chi Tunnels See traps, hidden doors & some of the 250kms of tunnels that Vietnamese resistance fighters dug by hand, and even go down into the skinny tunnels to experience them first hand in this look into Vietnam's staggering past. Ho Chi Minh City Back in the addictive mayhem of Vietnam's biggest city you will have free time to carry on your explorations. Continuing to eat your way through Vietnam's culinary highlights would be one wise to use your time (we think).
Ho Chi Minh City With some traditional R'n'R on our afternoon agenda, the morning can be used to put on our discovering boots. We'll dabble in history and religion before taking flight to a coastal town overlooking the South China Sea. Nha Trang Golden sand beaches, turquoise oceans, water sports galore - this is Nha Trang. This afternoon why not book in for a mineral mud bath and hot thermal spring experience before heading out to dinner with your crew. Ah, the good life.
Good news - we're kicking it in Nha Trang for another night. Have a massage, sign up for the optional cruise to see this area by water stopping for plenty of refreshing swim stops, or just hang on the beach saving your energy for seaside bar fun as the sun sets.
Catch you later Nha Trang and hello Hoi An. Hoi An Get your bearings with a guided tour through the Old Quarter, and fall deeply in love with this perfect spot. Japanese Bridge, French Colonial vibes and brighly coloured buildings are endlessly charming. You'll be feeling hungry no doubt, so tonight we'll bet we can tempt you with our optional Vietnamese cooking class to get your cooking skills on form and show off to your friends back home. With our expert chef leading the charge, you'll soon be feeling like a bit of an expert. Armed with new skills, ask your Trip Manager about where to head for a night out with the group.
Poke around in galleries & antique shops, and marvel at traditional methods of pottery, silk weaving and wood-carving on display at the local markets. Stopping for some delicious local eats should be high on the priority list today, as well as poolside relaxing and maybe a massage to relax and unwind. Hoi An is also known for it's beautiful tailoring services and hand made garments, so ask your Trip Manager for the best place to head to get some threads straight off the runway. Feeling like getting out and exploring, you could take a tour around the abandoned Hindu My Son Temples, dating back to 14 or 15AD. Nothing like a bit of history to unlock the secrets of a destination. That's how your free day in Hoi An could roll.
Hoi An Though we'll have grown content with Hoi An life, this morning the show must go on. After all, the former imperial town of Hue has invited us over, and we'd be foolish to turn it down. Hue Intricately decorated pavilions, lotus flower ponds, and colourful artworks mark our first sightseeing venture in Hue. Totally in awe of Tu Duc Mausoleum, we move on to the 7-story Thien Mu Pagoda & learn of the horrific history of the Hue Buddhist massacre as well as taking in a cyclo ride to see the city from a whole new angle.
Hue Today we fly out of Hue in the direction of Vietnam's time capsule capital. A trio of influences and filled with romance and our time here will see us utterly smitten. Hanoi With an epic fusion of French, Chinese & Vietnamese influence, you'll be nothing short of ecstatic as we check-in to our Hanoi hotel, right in the middle of the bustling Old Quarter. Our time will be spent weaving through a maze of 36 trading streets filled with colourful goods for sale, and unwinding in the walled gardens of the Temple of Literature. Later, we'll roam Parisian-style boulevards and maybe dine on a nom ngo sen lotus-stem salad, dau chien ron fried tofu & a few bia hoi beers.
Hanoi After a Hanoi history 101 lesson we move on to Halong Bay where a night on a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site awaits. With Halong Bay on our horizon, we'll learn about this special part of the world from our guide and all it's history, with endless chances to ask about just how these stunning limestone kasts were actually formed, before you discover them for yourself. Halong Bay A drive through stunning scenery will evoke plenty of 'oh wow's, but it only gets better as we board our home for the night, a Chinese-style junk boat in Halong Bay. Feel the serenity kicking in immediately as we drift the limestone island seas of the Gulf of Tonkin. We will pass hidden lagoons, thick forests & dreamy grottos, & stop to explore the Sung Sot Caves. A fresh seafood dinner and sunset at our docking spot will polish off a wonderful day packed with No Regrets moments and simply unforgettable.
Halong Bay Today will be all about the leisurely vibes as we wake up to breakfast and a grotto swim - quite possibly being joined by some monkey shaped friends. Make the most of your time on the junk boat & perhaps kayak your way around Halong Bay - the views don't get much better than this. Hanoi After cruising back to Hanoi we find ourselves enjoying our final night together on tour. Save the choir of tears for tomorrow - this evening is all about making the most of our time & staying positive. With tonight marking the last night of the adventure, we'll no doubt find a local nightspot and toast the trip over some delicious Vietnamese eats like steaming Pho, goi cuon rice paper rolls and bahn xeo before heading out for some Hanoi by night hangs.
After one final breakfast together it's finally time to say goodbye (sob). Team, it's been epic.
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Trip Name: Big Indochina Adventure (From April 2017)
Duration: 27 Days
From Price: 2775
Trip Code: 163509
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