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Premium South East Asia in Depth

Premium South East Asia in Depth

From $ 9,120 AUD

Description

A realm of untold history, sprawling waterways and ancient temples, South East Asia is a wonderland for travellers and explorers alike. This 24-day Premium adventure delves into the heart of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, touching on the unique charm each region has to offer. Start your adventure in bustling Bangkok and venture north, where the wildlife, history and local food brings one surprise after the next. Travel into the depths of Vietnam, rich in old world culture and hidden treasures, before finally arriving in Cambodia witnessing the lost ruins of Angkor, uncovering the confronting history of the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and the tranquillity of the Tonle Sap confluence.

Trip Name
Premium South East Asia in Depth
Last Updated
2021-07-25
Days
24
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • See the Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia through the eyes of a local as you travel with experienced leaders who will share stories, provide historical context, and of course know all the best places to eat.
  • Enjoy the best of South East Asia’s cuisine as you dine on a barbecue dinner around a campfire in the hills of Thailand, dine at the KOTO cafe social enterprise in Hanoi and have a meal at Cambodia’s first farm-to-table restaurant.
  • Experience three fabulous feature stays – the immersive community-based Lisu lodge in Thailand, a tropical oasis wellness resort in Cambodia and a magnificent junk-style boat on Halong Bay in Vietnam.
  • Support an important animal welfare initiative, speak with local experts and get close to incredible creatures at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.
  • Travel Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on a charming riverboat then enjoy two guided days exploring the unbelievable temples of Angkor, including a morning accompanied by a private photography coach to help you capture lasting memories.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Bangkok
Welcome to Thailand! Your journey begins in Bangkok, where you’ll be collected at the airport and transferred to your hotel. After settling into your room, your journey begins with an important meeting at 6 pm. Please check for the Intrepid Premium noticeboard in the reception area of the hotel. If you arrive early, take some time to enjoy Bangkok’s irresistible energy. By day you’ll encounter a city steeped with history and tradition, but by night Bangkok is taken over by a flood of music and neon lights. Watch torrents of tuk tuks zip by while traditional khlong boats slowly wind down the Chao Phraya River. After your meeting, join your small group for a welcome dinner at an excellent local restaurant where your leader will introduce you to a food scene that’s bursting with local flavour.
Day 2 - Bangkok
Rise early for an optional exclusive experience away from Bangkok’s well-trodden tourist track. Join the locals at sunrise for to a visit to a temple along the Chao Phraya River, where you’ll “make merit” by bringing an offering to the temple’s monks – a truly unforgettable moment. Today your leader will take you for a day of sightseeing and activities in lively Bangkok. Tour Wat Po, a larger-than-life temple complex in the city - home of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Also visit the majestic Grand Palace and learn about the site which has been the official residence of the kings since the 1700s, and enjoy a boat tour of the city's canals as your leader shows you how Bangkok’s locals live today. The afternoon is free to do as you wish, perhaps check out the art collection at the Jim Thompson house or relax with a Thai massage.
Day 3 - Ayutthaya
This morning head to Ayutthaya, one of the ancient capitals of Siam and a World Heritage site. Give your camera batteries a workout as you explore the photogenic 14th-century temple of Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon while your leader shares knowledge of the complex’s history. Continue to the ornately decorated Wat Phanan Choeng, one of Ayutthaya's oldest temples and home to a 19-metre-high Buddha. Then you’re in for a real treat - the past will come to life as you board a traditional rice barge and explore Chao Phraya River while tucking into a delicious Thai lunch. Continue on to the 13th-century ruins of Wat Phra Mahathat and discover rows of Buddhas beheaded by the Burmese. Look out for the displaced Buddha head suspended in the roots of a Banyan tree - one of the country’s most photographed images. Return to Bangkok for the evening and enjoy some of the many amazing restaurants on offer.
Day 4 - Kanchanaburi
Travel by private transport to Kanchanaburi, a modern riverfront town with a dark past. Located at the meeting point of the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers, Kanchanaburi is home to the infamous 'Bridge on the River Kwai'. Many Allied prisoners of war and conscripted Asian labourers were engaged here to help build a rail route to Myanmar (Burma), including the passage infamously known as Hellfire Pass. Visit the memorial museum of the pass where your leader will provide more information about this chapter in history. Take a historical train journey across a portion of this 'death railway' along the Kwai Noi River and travel over the original wooden viaduct, known as the Bridge on the River Kwai, constructed by the allied POWs. Pass through peaceful and naturally beautiful scenery as you learn of those who lost their lives building this rail route. The evening is yours to explore the town.
Day 5 - Kanchanaburi
Make the short drive to the Erawan National Park, named after the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology, and visit the magnificent seven-tiered waterfall. Take a dip in radiant emerald green waters, climb the tiers to find different cascades at every level, or sit back and snap pictures of the luxuriant vegetation. On the way back to Kanchanaburi, stop in at the World War II cemetery and museum for a guided tour with your leader, who will share stories and explain the cemetery is the main resting place for the prisoners of war who laboured under Japanese rule in building the Thai-Burma Railway. Enjoy a free evening in Kanchanaburi - perhaps wander through the rows of street food vendors in town, or reflect on the day with a drink overlooking the River Kwai at one of many charming riverfront establishments.
Day 6 - Uthai Thani - Nakhon Sawan
Depart Kanchanaburi in the morning and drive to Hup Pa Tat. Explore the beautiful valley surrounded by limestone mountains with your leader on hand to help spot wildlife and rare plants. Legend has it that centuries ago this valley was a gigantic cave, until the ceiling caved in; massive chunks of limestone lying on the valley floor support the theory. Continue to Uthai Thani where you’ll lunch enjoy lunch cruising on a traditional rice barge, watching village life along the riverfront stream by as your travel through beautiful countryside. Afterwards, stop by the transfixing glass temple of Wat Tha Sung before travelling on to Nakhon Sawan where you will spend the night. This evening perhaps check out the local market where you can get your hands on a range of enticing regional street food.
Day 7 - Sukhothai
Travel by private transport from Nakhon Sawan to the town of Sukhothai. In the afternoon you have the option to visit the Organic Agriculture Project, where you’ll have the unique opportunity to take part in traditional farm activities. Learn about the stages of rice production, visit an orchid farm and meet the water buffalo. Check out the organic vegetable garden and attend a demonstration out in the rice fields. And the best bit? The project serves up a delicious Thai lunch using organic produce grown on the farm. Speak to your leader if you would like to arrange this activity. The rest of the day is free for your own discoveries. Perhaps ask your leader where you can get a bowl of Sukhothai’s famously tasty noodles.
Day 8 - Sukhothai
Sukhothai, established in the 13th century, was one of the first ancient capitals of Siam. Famed for its World Heritage listed historical park, which captures the Golden Age of Thai civilisation, the capital's name literally means 'Dawn of Happiness'. Visit the historical park, which spans the ruins of the town, where you will rent a bicycle and take part in a cycle tour. As you ride around, your leader will let you know more about the history of this former metropolis and its fascinating structures. Enjoy a home-cooked picnic lunch in the beautiful grounds of Sukhothai Park. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the town, or you might want to simply read a book by the pool back at your accommodation.
Day 9 - Mae Taeng Trekking Area
Travel from Sukhothai to the Mae Taeng region. Draped between tranquil rice fields and fruit orchards, you’ll find the echanting Lisu Lodge, your feature stay accommodation for the evening. The lodge is a community-based project that trains and employs Lisu villagers from the nearby hill tribe and aims to preserve their cultural heritage. The Lisu people are a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group and one of the six main hill tribes of Northern Thailand. Meet the colourfully dressed villagers and learn more about the Lisu way of life - a truly special experience that is sure to be one of your enduring memories of Thailand. The lodge offers gorgeous guestrooms decorated in the traditional Lisu style with modern comforts. Savour unforgettable views of the surrounding hillside and valley, and enjoy a tantalising dinner of Thai food mixed with traditional Lisu dishes. You don’t have to look for a cultural experience here - it’s all around you.
Day 10 - Mae Taeng Trekking Area
Travel to the Elephant Nature Park - a unique project that provides sanctuary for elephants and other animals. Be greeted by an expert local guide and learn the stories of the rescued elephants and the issues they face in South-East Asia. Feed the elephants from a viewing platform, walk with the expert staff to watch elephants bathe and play, and enjoy a vegetarian buffet lunch. Then head to the village of Kup Kap, home of the Lahu people. Explore the village on foot as your leader provides insight on the Lahu way of living and what makes this hill tribe different. Experience a personal and intimate interaction as you are welcomed into a Lahu villager’s home for tea and coffee, then go on to learn how the local coffee is produced. This evening gather around the campfire for a traditional barbecue dinner on return to your feature stay accommodation.
Day 11 - Chiang Mai
This morning you will visit Wat Ban Den, a sprawling complex filled with intricately decorated sacred temples. Enjoy views of the countryside as you pass through colourful buildings and whimsical statues. Carry on to Chiang Mai, a laidback city that has retained a mellow atmosphere and authentic feel. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore - perhaps dive into Chiang Mai’s street food scene or check out more Buddhist temples - be sure to ask your leader for recommendations. In the evening, your group will be treated to dinner at an excellent local restaurant to celebrate your last meal in Thailand.
Day 12 - Hanoi
Today you will catch a flight from Chiang Mai to Hanoi to begin the Vietnamese leg of your journey. You’ll be met on arrival at the airport and transferred to your hotel where a meeting will take place at 6pm to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your adventure. This evening, join your leader and small group for dinner at a beautifully decorated restaurant resembling an old-fashioned Vietnamese house. Dive into the exciting world of Vietnamese cuisine as your leader introduces you to a range of classic dishes made with the freshest local ingredients.
Day 13 - Halong Bay
Depart Hanoi and travel to Halong Bay, one of the great natural treasures of Vietnam. Board your feature stay accommodation for the evening, a gloriously beautiful and traditionally decorated junk-style boat featuring modern conveniences. Set sail in total comfort as unforgettable views of scattered islands and towering limestone outcrops slowly unfold in front of you. Explore the bay while enjoying a pleasant seafood lunch onboard. Learn about the fascinating geography of the region and its importance to the Vietnamese people, visit Surprise Cave where your leader will point out interesting rock formations, and in the warmer months you can choose a swim from Ti Top Island Beach or take an optional kayaking tour. Sit back with a drink on the upper deck and face out to the spirit-lifting view that will be stamped on your memory of Vietnam. Soak in the stunning surroundings with a candlelit seafood dinner on deck before settling in for a night of stargazing and swapping stories.
Day 14 - Hanoi
Start your day with a peaceful breakfast and perhaps take part in some Tai Chi on board the boat before returning to Hanoi. This afternoon you’ll take part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience and sit down to a soul-stirring traditional Hat Xam performance. Hat Xam is an art form of Northern Vietnam dating back to the Tran Dynasty, and literally translates to ‘singing in darkness’. Originally, this was performed by blind performers, and was enjoyed by local working-class audiences, right up until the late 1950s, when a wave of communism deemed all art forms to be corrupting influences. Today these performances are rare, but you and your group will be taken to a private club house and treated to an exclusive performance in one of the few places where artists still sing acoustically. The performance takes around 90 minutes, and includes possible interaction with guests, so be ready to get involved!
Day 15 - Hoi An
This morning you’ll get to know Hanoi’s charms on a half-day tour with your leader. Discover a captivating city where traditional and modern sit side by side as your leader shares knowledge on the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. Today’s lunch is extra special as you will visit the fantastic KOTO café, a social enterprise that provides hospitality training and experience while empowering at-risk and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam – not to mention a creative menu of food made with local ingredients. This afternoon you’ll say goodbye to Hanoi and fly south to Danang. Drive on to Hoi An and take in views of lush scenery along the way. Arrive in Hoi An in the late afternoon and check into your boutique accommodation. The rest of the day is yours – maybe make the most of your hotel’s fabulous pool.
Day 16 - Hoi An
Set off on a tour of Hoi An’s Old Town and discover a blend of traditional treasures and cultural influences from historical traders. Your leader will discuss the city’s history as you wander the pagoda lined streets, visit a Chinese assembly hall, cross the Japanese Covered Bridge, enter the ornately decorated historic house of a former trader and check out a local museum. A significant port of the Champa Kingdom for centuries, many Cham descendants are still living in Hoi An today. This afternoon you will have the unique opportunity to visit the home of a Cham local for a special insight into their origins and way of life. Be welcomed with a warming cup of Cham tea, try some traditional sweets and deserts, enjoy some folk singing and chat to your host about the history of the Cham people and how the culture lives on today.
Day 17 - Ho Chi Minh City
The morning is free for you to enjoy more of delightful Hoi An and the surrounding area. Perhaps browse the market for silk and other materials or collect any garments that you might have had crafted by the efficient tailors, or hire a bicycle and ride along the lanes and out to a nice nearby beach. Your leader will have great recommendations for places to eat and drink. In the afternoon, transfer back to Danang and fly to Ho Chi Minh City. Check into your hotel and enjoy a free evening – the bustling food stalls at Cho Ben Thanh market might beckon you over with the sweet and savoury aromas of pho and bun mam. Delicious!
Day 18 - Ho Chi Minh City
Head out of the city to the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels, an extensive underground network dug by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong. Enter a widened section of the tunnels with your leader who will help you imagine what life underground must have been like and explain how the tunnels contained hospitals, accommodation and schools, and were used for refuge, storage and as a military base for the Viet Cong. Return to Ho Chi Minh City for a tour of the dynamic city where daily life plays out on the streets. Your leader will take you to the Reunification Palace, formally the Presidential Palace and the site of South Vietnam’s surrender in 1975, before visiting the War Remnants Museum. In the evening, perhaps spend some time with your fellow travellers and enjoy a final dinner in Vietnam at a local restaurant. Your leader will know of some wonderful options.
Day 19 - Phnom Penh
Today you will say goodbye to Vietnam and catch a flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s lively capital city. A meeting will take place at your hotel at 6pm to welcome any new travellers joining you for the Cambodian portion of your trip. After your meeting, join your leader and small group for dinner at the wonderful restaurant run by Friends International, which provides training and sustainable employment skills to at risk youth. Enjoy a creative range of Cambodian inspired tapas, then perhaps cap off the night with a cocktail at the Foreign Correspondents' Club.
Day 20 - Phnom Penh
Today your leader will introduce you to the sights of Phnom Penh during a full day city tour. The private quarters of the Royal Palace are home to King Sihamoni and closed off to the public, but you will be able to visit the sacred Silver Pagoda that lies in the palace complex. Your included visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek will tell the story of the tragic legacy of the Khmer Rouge. There is an optional visit to Wat Phnom, the temple that gave rise to the foundation of the city in the 15th century. Later you will head out of town to a working monastery to gain a special insight into the life of a monk and Theravada Buddhism. You will get to meet the monks, enjoy a sacred water blessing for good luck and prosperity and have a red band tied around your wrist to keep you safe in your travels.
Day 21 - Siem Reap
After breakfast this morning, set sail in style and begin the journey to Siem Reap on a comfortable riverboat. A world away from the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh, sit back and relax as you float peacefully down the Tonle Sap river. This unique form of transport exposes you to a side of Cambodian life most tourists don’t get to see. Pass by rural villages and watch quiet moments of daily life play out in front of you on the water. After disembarking, you will continue the journey to Siem Reap by private vehicle, with plenty of interesting stops along the way. Arrive in the late afternoon and check in to the Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat, your feature stay accommodation in Siem Reap. Hidden away on the quiet fringe of the city, this tropical oasis boasts three pools and an excellent restaurant with a focus on wellness. Bright and spacious rooms are in harmony with the lush grounds, and feature a veranda, private garden and rain showers. After settling in, visit Cambodia’s first farm-to-table restaurant for dinner and enjoy a wonderful menu of new Mekong cuisine. The restaurant is run by a talented local chef with a passion for sharing sustainable and seasonal food using organic ingredients grown on site. The rest of the evening can be spent exploring the bars of Siem Reap, or relaxing in laidback luxury at your resort.
Day 22 - Siem Reap – Angkor Wat
Spend a full day visiting the amazing temples of Angkor on a guided exploration with your leader. The memories of seeing some of the world’s most important ancient sites are ones you’re going to want to preserve forever, so for the first half of the day you will also be accompanied by a private photography coach who will teach you how to take that one-in-a-million shot. Begin at Angkor Wat, the largest and most complete structure, and the only one of Angkor's temples that has its entrance facing west – the others face east. Then there is Angkor Thom, the 'Great Royal City', a temple famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone. Of all the temples visited today, Bayon temple is the centrepiece, with over 200 smiling carved faces and more than 50 gothic towers. Your leader will let you in on the secrets of the temples and share their remarkable stories. For lunch you'll visit the Sala Bai Hotel School where underprivileged local youths learn skills that enable them to find gainful employment in the hospitality industry. Here you can enjoy a meal prepared by students at the school. After lunch it’s off to the Ta Prohm temple, which has large trees embedded in the stone foundations of the structure – powerful symbols of nature.
Day 23 - Siem Reap – Angkor Wat
Embrace a very early start today and experience an incredible sunrise visit to the Angkor complex (this is optional). After sunrise this morning, head to the shores of the Srah Srang Lake. Here you will be treated to an incredible private catered breakfast – take a moment to soak in your stunning surroundings and enjoy a meal as wonderful as the landscape itself. After breakfast, you’ll continue your explorations of the temples of Angkor. The memories of seeing one of the world’s most important ancient sites are ones you’re going to want to preserve forever, so today you will be accompanied by a private photography coach who will teach you how to take that one-in-a-million shot. Visit Banteay Srei to snap some enviable pictures of the temple’s intricate stone carvings. You can head back to the resort or use your ticket for the Angkor ruins to continue exploring the site and try out your new photography skills. The vaulted corridors of Preah Khan are well worth a visit, or you may prefer to spend the afternoon getting to know the town. Tonight you will enjoy a final dinner at a great restaurant in town serving local cuisine.
Day 24 - Siem Reap
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you would like to expend your stay in Siem Reap, additional accommodation can be arranged in advance (subject to availability). .

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
10-01-202202-02-2022AUD $ 9,645-
14-02-202209-03-2022AUD $ 9,645-
28-02-202223-03-2022AUD $ 9,645-
25-04-202218-05-2022AUD $ 9,485-
30-05-202222-06-2022AUD $ 9,120-
15-08-202207-09-2022AUD $ 9,120-
05-09-202228-09-2022AUD $ 9,120-
03-10-202226-10-2022AUD $ 9,120-
24-10-202216-11-2022AUD $ 9,485-
07-11-202230-11-2022AUD $ 9,515-
05-12-202228-12-2022AUD $ 9,880-

Accommodation

Hotel (15 nights),Resort (5 nights),Lodge (2 nights),Overnight boat (1 night)

Transport

Boat,Plane,Private Minibus,Train,Private Bus

Map