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A realm of endless history, sprawling waterways and ancient temples, South East Asia is a wonderland for travellers and explorers alike. This 22-day small-group adventure gives you an insight into the culture and environment of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam as you discover the quirks each region has to offer. From the bustle of Bangkok, weave through lush countryside towards the temple-strewn highlands of Chiang Mai. Bring the pace down a notch as you cross into Laos and discover the ethnic cultures, glittering temples and incredible landscapes, plus a cruise down the Mekong river. Get lost in the districts of Hanoi, cruise past the limestone karsts of Halong Bay, discover the colonial charm of Hoi An, and navigate the winding streets and chaotic traffic of Ho Chi Minh City. With expert local guides and unique experiences on offer throughout your journey, the splendour of South East Asia awaits.
Day 1: Bangkok
Welcome to Thailand. One of our transfer representatives will collect you from the airport and take you to your hotel. After settling into your room, your journey begins with an important meeting at 6 pm. Please check for the Peregrine noticeboard in the reception area of the hotel. Please advise your flight details at the time of booking so we can arrange your airport transfer. With free time, acquaint yourself with this frenetic city of tuk tuks, street food and traditional khlong boats winding down the Chao Phraya River. Tonight you'll enjoy a welcome dinner at a great local restaurant.
Day 2: Bangkok
Enjoy a day of sightseeing and activities in lively Bangkok. Visit Wat Po, a larger-than-life temple complex in the city. This is the home of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is among the six officially recognised highest calibre temples in Thailand, and it's certainly one of the most impressive. Also visit the majestic Grand Palace, which has been the official residence of the kings since the 1700s, and enjoy a boat tour of the city's khlongs (canals) to see another, more tranquil, side of Bangkok. The afternoon is free to do as you wish, perhaps visiting Jim Thompson house or enjoying a Thai massage. You’ll have a BTS day pass so you can use the Sky Train to help you get around.
Day 3: Kanchanaburi
Travel by private transport to Kanchanaburi (approximately 3.5 hours). While the town may appear modern, it holds a dark past. 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 to learn more about this chapter in history, and take a historical train journey along a portion of this 'death railway'.
Day 4: Kanchanaburi
Make the short drive to the Erawan National Park and waterfall. Its radiant emerald green ponds, named after the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology, make for a lovely photo opportunity. On the way back to Kanchanaburi, stop in at the World War II cemetery and museum and spend some time there. This cemetery is the main resting place for the prisoners of war who laboured under Japanese rule in building the Thai-Burma Railway.
Day 5: Uthai Thani - Nakhon Sawan
Depart Kanchanaburi in the morning and drive to Hup Pa Tat (approximately 3 hours). Spend an hour or so exploring this beautiful green area surrounded by limestone mountains. 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. Next you continue to Uthai Thani (approximately 1 hour). Enjoy lunch, while cruising on a traditional rice barge, watching village life along the riverfront stream by, as your travel through beautiful countryside. Afterwards, visit nearby Wat Tha Sung (Crystal Hall) before travelling on to Nakhon Sawan (approximately 1 hour) where you will spend the night. Perhaps head out to the local market in the evening where you can taste many different street foods from the region.
Day 6: Sukhothai
Travel by private transport from Nakhon Sawan to Sukhothai (approximately 3 hours). In the afternoon you have the option to visit the Organic Culture Project and spend a couple of hours joining in on traditional Thai farm activities. Check out the organic vegetable garden and attend a demonstration out in the rice fields.
Day 7: 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'. Today we visit the historical park, which spans the ruins of the town. You will rent a bicycle and take part in a cycle tour. As you ride around, you'll learn 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, you might want to simply read a book by the pool back at your resort.
Day 8: Hmong Hilltribe Lodge (feature stay)
Travel from Sukhothai to Hmong Hilltribe Lodge, which will take approximately six hours in a private minivan. The Hmong are an ethnic minority in Thailand who originated in the south of China. Today they comprise the second largest hilltribe group in Thailand. After a barbecue dinner in the lodge's open-air dining area, the day concludes with a Hmong cultural performance. You'll gain an insight into the traditional lifestyle of the tribe, with a wedding ceremony enactment, shamanic ritual and makong (cotton ball) throwing.
Day 9: Chiang Mai
Travel from Hmong Hilltribe Lodge to the Elephant Nature Park, approximately 1.5 hours by minivan. This is a unique project providing a sanctuary and rescue centre for elephants and other animals such as buffalo, dogs, cats and birds. Be greeted by an expert local guide and then learn the stories of the rescued elephants and the issues confronting elephants in South-East Asia. Witness how these elephants have become a happy herd and are finally free from abuse for the first time in their lives. You'll have a chance to feed the elephants from the viewing platform as well as a tasty vegetarian buffet lunch. Walk with the park staff to the river and watch elephants bathe and play as they are watched over by their personal mahouts. The park visit is all about spending quality time observing elephants and does not stick to a strict schedule so make the most of enjoying these beautiful creatures in a safe and protected environment. Return to Chiang Mai early afternoon (approx. 3-330). Freshen up at the hotel then head out for a street food tour in the evening. Hidden down the back alleys of the city’s old town district you will sample dishes like khao man gai and khao kha moo from many local shops unknown to the tourist eye. Chat with street food vendors who have been serving the same dishes for more than 20 years and understand the influences that Isan and Shan cultures have had on the Northern Thailand’s culinary scene. Your local guide will also suggest many other places you can eat during your time in Chiang Mai.
Day 10: Chiang Mai
This morning you’ll have a very unique opportunity to chat with some monks from Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, a university specifically for Buddhist monks. Learn the basics of Buddhism and find out more about their schooling, lifestyle and world view. Enjoy a free afternoon afterwards to explore Chiang Mai further, perhaps getting out into the lush countryside or checking out more Buddhist temples. In the evening, your group will be treated to dinner at a nice restaurant to celebrate your Northern Thailand adventure.
Day 11: Luang Prabang
You will be transferred to the airport, where you will say goodbye to your Thai tour leader and take an unaccompanied flight to Luang Prabang, Laos. Once arrived in Luang Prabang, you will be transferred to your hotel. A welcome meeting will be held in the evening, usually at around 6 pm. This is where you will meet your Laos group leader and your fellow travellers joining you on the next stage of your adventure. Afterwards, take part in a Baci ceremony to welcome you to Laos, and balance your soul according to local tradition. The ceremony is based on an ancient belief that the body is made up of 32 different spirits – all inhabiting different organs. The ritual is intended to call back spirits that may have strayed from the body, bringing a sense of balance and health.
Day 12: Luang Prabang
Wake early to participate in the alms giving ceremony, one of the most sacred Buddhist traditions in Laos, where locals offer food to monks in order to seek spiritual blessing. Alms giving takes place daily as the sun rises, beginning on the main street of Luang Prabang before spreading out to side streets. Follow the locals as they kneel down, ready to give offerings of rice, fruit and sweet snacks to the monks. Later that morning, spend time learning about Laos’ diverse ethnic groups at the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre. Afterwards, enjoy an essential activity in Luang Prabang – a boat ride on the Mekong River. It's a great chance to see the riverside from a different angle, with all its stately French villas, trees, and slow-paced two-wheeled traffic. Further along the stream, outside of town, you visit the Pak Ou Caves, located at the confluence of the rivers Mekong and Ou. Enjoy lunch on the boat along the way.
Day 13: Luang Prabang
In the morning, visit Ock Pop Tok, an inspiring fair trade social enterprise that provides a sustainable source of income for female artisans in Luang Prabang. Their dedicated team shows women how to make a better living from their skills. The organisation then employs women to design, make and sell beautiful textiles and handicrafts at three shops across the city. Later take a short ride out of town to visit Kuang Si Waterfall. Its glorious blue-green cascades make for one of Laos' most photogenic attractions, and the pool at its base is great for swimming in. There is time to visit the nearby Bear Rescue Centre as well. In the evening, sit down to dinner at Khaiphaen, a Friends-International enterprise dedicated to improving the welfare of disadvantaged youth through skills-training.
Day 14: Vientiane
Fly to Vientiane, the capital of Laos, in the early morning. Though not as visually impressive as Luang Prabang, this city is renowned for its food and has some must see sights. Its main streets are awash with a variety of high-calibre restaurants that serve a remarkably diverse span of cuisines from across the globe. Embark on a guided sightseeing tour of the city, stopping in at Wat Si Saket, Hor Prakeo, Patuxai (Victory Gate) and That Luang along the way. You’ll also visit the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), a remarkable not-for-profit organisation that makes rehabilitative devices and medical equipment accessible to people with physical disabilities in Laos.
Day 15: Hanoi
Today, bid you Laos group leader farewell and transfer to the airport for an unaccompanied flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. This is where the next stage of your South East Asian adventure will commence. Transfer to your centrally located hotel, and in the evening, attend a Vietnam trip sector briefing held at the hotel. If you have free time in the afternoon, perhaps stroll the streets of Hanoi and explore this wonderful city, full of French colonial architecture. After your important meeting, why not gather with a few of your fellow travellers for a traditional northern Vietnamese meal in a nearby restaurant – your group leader will be able to provide some recommendations.
Day 16: Halong Bay
Today, you will leave Hanoi and drive north (approximately 4 hours) to the renowned Halong Bay. You can leave your luggage behind at your hotel in Hanoi and pack an overnight bag for staying on the boat. Halong Bay is listed as a World Heritage site and is one of Vietnam’s most spectacular natural wonders. The views of sailing junks navigating past thousands of limestone islands with rocky outcrops are nothing short of spectacular. You will travel to Tuan Chau Port (Halong City West) where you will board a boat for an exploration of the bay, enjoying a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available), as well as spending a night on board. We visit Surprise Cave, and, in the warmer months, you can enjoy a swim from Ti Top Island Beach or go on an optional kayak tour. Access to Surprise Cave is via staircases. Once inside the cave the pathways are a little uneven and slippery. A night on the boat under the stars is very special, but another highlight of this evening is a delicious candlelit dinner out on deck (weather permitting). This is the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful surroundings, dining on a seafood feast.
Day 17: Hanoi
After breakfast at Halong Bay, return by bus to Hanoi (approximately 3.5 hours). Later this afternoon, you will enjoy a unique Peregrine experience when you sit down to a 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, this style of performance occurs rarely, but you and your group will be taken to a private club house for an exclusive performance; one of the few places where such artists still perform acoustically. The performance takes around 90 minutes, and includes some story telling aspects, performances and possibly interaction with guests, so be ready to get involved!
Day 18: Hoi An
This morning, take a half-day tour of Hanoi with your leader. Enchanting Hanoi stands in contrast to its southern counterpart in Ho Chi Minh City – it is relaxed rather than frantic, and full of lakes and parks to escape to. The tour will take in the major sites, including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. The tour will also include lunch at the KOTO café, an amazing project aimed at providing vocational training and experience in the hospitality industry for disadvantaged young people. In the afternoon, you will leave Hanoi and fly south to Danang (approximately 1 hour). You will have the chance to enjoy some spectacular scenery on the drive to Hoi An (approximately 1 hour). Arrive in Hoi An late this afternoon and check into your accommodation.
Day 19: Hoi An
This morning you will take a tour of the unique town of Hoi An, influenced over the years by myriad traders from various cultures. Originally a busy Cham Port, the town also has Chinese influences scattered about, with pagodas and assembly halls found down the streets. For a small town it has a liveliness alongside its charm and serenity. The tour will take you down the streets of low tiled buildings, taking in a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum. There is some free time this afternoon to further explore the Old Town or surrounds at your own pace.
Day 20: 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. In the afternoon, transfer back to Danang and fly to Ho Chi Minh City. Check into your hotel and enjoy a free evening – perhaps spent exploring the bustling food stalls at Cho Ben Thanh market. Delicious!
Day 21: Ho Chi Minh City
This morning, head out of the city to the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi is the name of the district that covers the extensive network (approximately 200 kilometres) of underground tunnels dug by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong. The tunnels contained hospitals, accommodation and schools, and were used for refuge, storage and as a military base for the Viet Cong close to Ho Chi Minh City. A section of them has been widened to allow visitors to enter and get a feel for what the life underground must have been like. Please note that these tunnels will be hot, sweaty, and claustrophobic for some, and so, you can choose to participate in the tunnel walk or continue to explore the complex from above. Afterwards, return to Ho Chi Minh City for a tour of the city, where daily life plays out on the streets and the dynamic atmosphere is a fascinating blend of old and new. 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 have dinner at a local restaurant. Your leader will know of some great options.
Day 22: Ho Chi Minh City
As there are no activities planned after breakfast, you are able to leave the accommodation at any time. If you wish to spend some more time in Ho Chi Minh city, we would be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
- Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
- Bangkok - Grand Palace
- Bangkok - BTS one day pass
- Bangkok - Wat Pho
- Bangkok - Khlong boat canal tour
- Kanchanaburi - Historical train ride
- Kanchanaburi - Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum
- Kanchanaburi - Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
- Kanchanaburi - Erawan National Park
- Uthai Thani - Hup Pa Tat
- Uthai Thani - Wat Tha Sung
- Uthai Thani - Traditional rice barge lunch cruise
- Sukhothai - Historical Park bike tour
- Hmong Hilltribe Lodge - Traditional meal & cultural performance
- Chiang Mai - Street food tour
- Chiang Mai - Elephant Nature Park Half Day Trip
- Chiang Mai - Buddist offering and Monk chat
- Luang Prabang - Baci welcome ceremony
- Luang Prabang - Alms giving ceremony
- Luang Prabang - Mekong River cruise & Pak Ou Caves
- Luang Prabang - Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre
- Luang Prabang - Kuang Si Waterfalls
- Luang Prabang - Ock Pop Tok visit
- Luang Prabang - Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre
- Vientiane - Wat Si Saket
- Vientiane - Haw Pra Kaew
- Vientiane - That Luang
- Vientiane - Pratu Xai
- Vientiane - COPE visit
- Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise with seafood lunch and dinner
- Hanoi - Hat Xam performance
- Hanoi - Temple of Literature
- Hanoi - Koto Restaurant lunch
- Hanoi - One Pillar Pagoda
- Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex: Ho Chi Minh, Stilt House and Museum
- Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
- Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnels
- Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace
- Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
- Ho Chi Minh City - Notre Dame Cathedral
- Ho Chi Minh City - City tour
21 Breakfast(s) Included
6 Lunch(es) Included
6 Dinner(s) Included
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