Day 1: Luang Prabang - Arrival (D)
Luang Prabang Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, meet your guide at the airport and be taken to your hotel. Go with your guide on a walking tour of this heritage town which was once a royal city of Laotian kings, in particular in the main street, Thanon Sisavangvong. You will not forget the wonderful simplicity of the town and its sedate flow of life beside the Mekong River and the smaller Nam Khan River. Have a Lao coffee or tea with a baquette sandwich or pastry at Le Cat Ban Vat Sene at the top end of the main street. Climb the 329 steps up Phousi Hill and see a panoramic view of Luang Prabang city nestling between the Nam Khan and the Mekong River. Upon your descent see the tribal market at the foot of the hill as the Hmong tribesmen would have set up their makeshift stalls on the road to display their home-made embroidery and other products. Have a good Lao dinner at Pakhuay Mixay restaurant that your guide will take you to. Overnight at hotel, Luang Prabang.
Day 2: Luang Prabang city tour (B, L)
Wat Xieng Thong - Luang Prabang Breakfast at the hotel. Morning sightseeing of Luang Prabang including the former Royal Palace now the National Museum for the memorabilia of the last Laotian King Sisavangvong and other cultural treasures of Laos before the Pathet Lao takeover. Visit Wat Visoun, Wat Aham and Wat Xieng Thong the best of them all. Chat with the friendly English speaking monks in these temples and take photos with them. Learn how they study and live the dharma. Lunch in a restaurant. The afternoon is free at leisure. (Suggest indulging in the herbal steam bath and massage at the Red Cross building. Sauna is US$1 and one-hour massage is US$2). Overnight at hotel, Luang Prabang.
Day 3: Pak Ou Caves - Kuangsi Waterfall (B, L)
Pak Ou Caves - Luang Prabang Breakfast at the hotel. Morning trip by road to the Kuangsi Waterfall about 30km to the south of Luang Prabang. On the way visit the famous hand-weaving village of Ban Phanom where very good embroidery works are made by the villagers, and see some village life and the weavers busy at their looms underneath their houses. The Kuangsi Falls have water tumbling over several tiers of limestone formations into several turquoise pools that people enjoy wading in. Lunch at Indochina Spirit restaurant. Afternoon excursion by boat upstream of the Mekong River to visit Ban Sang Hai (a village producing very good Lao rice-wine and embroidery works) by the bank of the Mekong River. It used to be famous for its earthen jars but today it imports such jars to contain its copious production of rice-wine. Proceed by boat to the Pak Ou Buddha Caves (Tham Ting) where local people bring various sizes and kinds of Buddha images and wooden elephants to place at this shrine out of reverence for the Buddha. By now there are hundreds if not thousands of these images inside the main cave. See the light of the setting sun strike the limestone cliff opposite the caves. Return to Luang Prabang revived by this mystical experience. Overnight at hotel, Luang Prabang.
Day 4: Luang Prabang - Free Day (B)
Khouang Si Waterfall - Luang Prabang Buffet breakfast at hotel. Full day you are free at leisure. It is a required thing for visitors to this ancient heritage city to have a day all to themselves to discover the little gems around the town and truly absorb themselves with Luang Prabang. Experience the unique Lao herbal steambath and the very good massage at the Red Cross building in Wisunalat Road. Watch the river scenes and sip coffee at a sidewalk cafe. Overnight at hotel, Luang Prabang.
Day 5: Luang Prabang - Xieng Khouang (B, L)
Buffet breakfast at hotel. Excursion by road to Xieng Khouang a drive of about 270km through verdant valleys and mountains to an ancient capital of the Lan Xang kingdom. On the way make a few stops at local minorities villages for sightseeing. Tour the mysterious ''Plain of Jars'' where hundreds of huge and small stone jars carved in situ are strewn in clusters all over the plain. Their purpose has been debated for decades with no consensus reached. We will also explore Muang Khone, the former and ancient capital of Xieng Khouang. Return to town for lunch in a local restaurant, then continue to Meuang Kham to visit the Tam Hmong hill tribe, historical cave (Tham Piou) and hot spring. Return to town and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel, Xieng Khouang.
Day 6: Xieng Khouang - Vientiane (B, L)
Patusay - Vientiane Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to the airport for your flight from Xieng Khouang to Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Upon arrival in Vientiane, meet and transfer to hotel for check-in. In the afternoon tour the city. Sightseeing of Vientiane will include Wat Sisaket (built by Prince Anou in 1818 of Thai design that was not destroyed by the Thai invaders of the early Bangkok period), Haw Pra Kaew (a former royal temple built in 1565 to house the Emerald Buddha that is now in Bangkok since 1779), That Luang (the holiest of Lao temples that annually holds a huge religious fair that attracts devotees from all over Laos), and Patuxai (Laos' own Arc de Triomphe). Overnight at hotel, Vientiane.
Day 7: Vientiane - Siem Reap (B, L)
Breakfast at the hotel. Check out of the hotel after breakfast. Visit the large sprawling morning market to have an insight into the kinds of food consumed daily by the Lao people in Vientiane. You will see a host of edible products including frog legs so loved by the former French colonialists in the city, and baquettes by the basketfuls, a whole range of vegetables and many other things. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap (in Cambodia). Upon arrival, be met by your driver-guide and taken to your city hotel for check-in. Overnight at hotel, Siem Reap.
Day 8: Rolous Group & Angkor Thom (B, L)
Angkor Thom - Siem Reap Breakfast at the hotel. Morning tour to the Rolous group temples of Lolei, Bakong and Preah Ko all built in the pre-Angkor period (850-893) to see the precedents of the great Angkor period temples. Lunch at Jasmine Angkor restaurant. Afternoon sightseeing of Angkor Thom, the great city located next to Angkor Wat. Angkor Thom was the greatest achievement of King Jayavarman VII. Built in the 12th century, it extends almost 4 square miles and is enclosed by a wall 26 feet high, 7.5 miles long and surrounded by an originally crocodile-infested moat. This great city contains many structures built to honour the Buddha and amenities for the king and people to enjoy. The area is surrounded by five monumental gates more than 65 feet high, each dominated by 4 huge carved faces of the king himself represented as the Buddha Avalokitesvara, facing north, south, east and west. (Many guides say there is a fifth face in the centre of this cluster.) In front of the south gate are giant statues of 54 gods on the left, 54 demons on the right. In the centre is the Bayon, a massive cluster of towers carved with 216 faces of the king. More great carvings are found on the 4000 feet of interior walls that are covered with bas-reliefs showing 11,000 figures engaged in battles, ceremonial pageants and everyday life of 12th century Angkor. Visit Phimeanakas, a 10th century temple built by Jayavarman V; the Elephant Terrace, a viewing platform from which the kings of Angkor watched military processions; the Terrace of the Leper King, supposedly named after the founder of Angkor who legend says was afflicted with leprosy. Visit also Preah Khan dedicated to Buddhism and Neak Pean, both built by Jayavarman VII, the latter a healing place. Overnight at hotel, Siem Reap.
Day 9: Ta Prohm & Angkor Wat (B, L)
Angkor Wat - Siem Reap Breakfast at the hotel. Morning departure at 8.30am to tour Ta Prohm which is unrestored and left to the elements with giant trees embracing its stoneworks, giving Ta Prohm its unique character. Also Ta Keo, a 11th century sandstone temple dedicated to Shiva. Prasat Kravan, Banteay Kdei, Sras Srang and others if we have time for. Lunch at Angkor Cafe restaurant. Continue sightseeing after lunch. Visit Angkor Wat, the great temple built before Angkor Thom. Angkor Wat represents the spiritual and mystical grandeur of the Khmer people. The kingdom was founded in the early 9th century by King Suryavarman II as a microcosm of the mythical world in which he identified himself with the god Vishnu. At the heart of the city was a mountain temple - traditional home of the Hindu gods and also the centre of an earthly kingdom in which the king was regarded as sacred. The temple also served as a mausoleum for the dead king and was in use until 1431 when the Siamese eliminated the kingdom. The lost city was rediscovered by French explorers in the late 19th century. The temple complex of Angkor covers 200 acres, enclosed by a massive rectangular-shaped wall and surrounded by a moat. The wall contains gates on all four sides, with the main entrance richly decorated with carvings and sculptures. The temple comprised of five distinctive towers with 72 major monuments and an irrigation system, which together portrayed the harmonization of Indian roots in a Cambodian context â€“ which was the very foundation of Khmer art and architecture. This place is probably the largest religious monument ever built on earth, and is considered one of the most inspiring. Angkor Wat was declared a world heritage site by the UNESCO, and is regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. As the sun lowers itself beneath the horizon, climb up to the Bakheng Temple ruins to see the sunset on Angkor Wat. Overnight at hotel, Siem Reap.
Day 10: Tour of Banteay Srei & Kbal Spean (B, L)
Banteay Srey - Siem Reap Breakfast at the hotel. Pick up at 8.30am to drive to the temple of Banteay Srei, 38 km from Siem Reap. It is the only pink sandstone temple exquisitely carved dated before Angkor Wat. Its apsaras on the walls are regarded as the best in the whole Angkor temple complex. Venture out farther into the Kulen Mountain area to Kbal Spean, which was the first capital of the pre-Angkor period. There are over 20 unrestored temple ruins here, but the marvellous carvings are of huge Hindu gods and the hundreds of carved lingas in the river-bed that you get to with a half-hour trek along a shady jungle path. On the return trip, if there is time, also visit Ta Keo, an 11th century sandstone temple dedicated to Shiva, Banteay Kdei in the image of Ta Prohm used as a monastery, Prasat Kravan and Sras Srang. Lunch along the way. Return to Siem Reap and be at leisure. Overnight at hotel, Siem Reap.
Day 11: Siem Reap - Phnom Penh (B, L)
Silver Pagoda - Phnom Penh - Cambodia Breakfast at the hotel. Morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Lunch at Rum Chang restaurant of good Khmer cuisine. Tour of the city to include the National Museum (a wonderful museum displaying priceless artefacts from the Angkor classical and non-classical periods), the Royal Palace where King Sihanouk resides, Silver Pagoda tiled with 5,000 slabs of silver on its floor, Wat Phnom the holiest temple in Phnom Penh on a knoll housing the Buddha statues that started with the foundation of the city, the Toul Sleng prison-museum and "Killing Fields" at Choeng Ek where the truly savage brutalities of the Khmer Rouge will forever haunt the nation and the world. Dinner at Pondok Restaurant. Free evening to stroll along the waterfront beside the Mekong River that is lined by many nice shops, pubs, bistros and bars. Overnight at hotel, Phnom Penh.
Day 12: Phnom Penh - Chau Doc (B, L)
Chau Doc - Vietnam Breakfast at the hotel. This morning transfer to the boat jetty of Phnom Penh to board the boat ''Hang Chau'' that departs at 9am to cruise down the Mekong River to the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, arriving at Chau Doc town about 2pm. (Please note that a Vietnamese visa must be obtained prior to crossing the border into Vietnam, as it is not possible to obtain one at the border.) At the border crossing, your Vietnamese guide will meet you. Chau Doc is an active trading town due to its proximity with the border. The market area runs along the riverfront and sells black-market goods smuggled in from Thailand. Being on the water allows us to see the interesting lifestyle of many of the local people. Homes are built over metal netting and their inhabitants are kept busy producing enormous amounts of food to feed the thousands of fish being bred here. Visit the sacred Ba Chua Temple and the nearby sanctuary of Tay An. The nearby Buddhist pilgrimage site of Sam Mountain offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside sweeping down into Cambodia. The mountain is covered with tombs, religious sanctuaries and temples. Overnight at hotel, Chau Doc.
Day 13: Chau Doc - Long Xuyen - CanTho (B, L)
Can Tho - Vietnam Breakfast at hotel. Take the motorized boat trip to visit the floating fish farm and the floating village, visit the local Cham minority village and her traditional weaving village. Depart for Long Xuyen, visit the bird Sanctuary in Thot Not and the incense stick making village. Check in on arrival. Overnight at hotel in Can Tho.
Day 14: Can Tho - Saigon (B, L)
My Tho - Vietnam After breakfast, you first take the boat trip to explore the picturesque tributaries of the Lower Mekong river (Bassac river) . The boat trip later takes you to the Cai Rang and Phong Dien floating markets, which are the most original ones and bustling places of the region. You will have the most probably tried the Vietnamese vermicelli soup. So, you will now go and see how it is made. Then you roam into the village to get in touch with the local people. Here, you have a chance to experience how to pass a " Monkey bridge " which is built by only one bamboo. Return to Can Tho for lunch at the local restaurant. Depart for Hochiminh city with stop over at Vinh Vong and My Tho town. Overnight in Saigon
Day 15: Saigon - Tay Ninh - Cu Chi Tunnels (B, L)
Tay Ninh - Vietnam Breakfast at the hotel. This morning we will visit the eclectic headquarters of the Cao Dai sect located in Tay Ninh. This religion was founded in 1923 and now numbers over 2 million members. After breakfast we travel by road to Tay Ninh to see the ornate temple of Cao Dai and attend the fantastic mid-day service when the followers fill the hall wearing coloured robes, a symbol of the curious combination of Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism and Christian faiths. Afterwards we continue to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels out of town, which were an incredible underground network (about 200km) constructed by Vietnamese fighters (Viet Minh) during the long struggle for independence. The tunnels containing hospitals, accommodation and schools were used as a military base by the Vietcong in the American war to creep up on unsuspecting American GIs in Saigon. The 1968 Tet Offensive was launched from Cu Chi with surprising effect. A section of the tunnels has been widened to allow tourists to get a feel for what the life underground must have been like. Return to Saigon. Overnight at hotel, Saigon.
Day 16: Saigon - Departure (B)
Breakfast at the hotel. Morning sightseeing of Saigon city before transfrerring to the airport for your departure flight. (This sightseeing will depend on your international flight timing.) End of services. Our staff will give you the warmest goodbye and hope to see you again.