Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, where you are met and transferred to your colonial-style hotel.
Day 2: Into the Cu Chi Tunnels
Dancing Shiva, Museum of Vietnamese History
Venture into the countryside to explore the expansive Cu Chi Tunnel network, a key Vietcong resource during the Vietnam War. You have the opportunity to squeeze into and crawl through the small tunnels once traversed by Vietcong guerrillas. Break for lunch at a local restaurant, and then discover Ho Chi Minh City’s dynamic past, visiting Independence Palace (Reunification Hall), the home and workplace of South Vietnam’s president during the Vietnam War. Afterwards, explore the Museum of Vietnamese History to view Khmer artifacts, Buddhas statues, relics from Angkor Wat and an impressive porcelain collection; or opt for the War Remnants Museum, to peruse exhibits relating to the Vietnam War and the first Indochina War. Next, get in touch with southern Vietnam's spiritual side at a colorful Cao Dai temple. Continue to the Saigon Opera House, where you witness a contemporary dance and acrobatics show for all ages, accompanied by live Vietnamese music.
Day 3: Traveling by Cyclo
Explore Ho Chi Minh City by cyclo (three-wheeled bicycle taxi), a leisurely peddle that takes you past by Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office — examples of the city’s colonial legacy — en route to leafy Tao Dan Park, where locals gather for morning exercise. Pause for a refreshment, and then see the Venerable Thich Quang Duc Monument, a memorial to the monk who set himself on fire in protest of Buddhist persecution in Vietnam. Continue on to a local street market, where you explore a secret, underground weapons bunker. End your morning exploration with a traditional breakfast of pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) at one of the city’s best noodle houses. Return to your hotel for time at leisure. Then, transfer to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival, you are met by an A&K representative, whisked through passport and customs formalities, and transferred to your hotel by private vehicle. The remainder of the day is yours to spend as you wish.
Angkor Wat Temple
Day 4: Admiring Angkor Wat
Rise early this morning to experience the incomparable serenity of mystical Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travelling by remork (motorized rickshaw), explore the magnificent 12th-century temple, built during the reign of King Suryavarman II, as the sun’s first morning rays light up its façade. Delve deeper, seeing carved bas reliefs that depict the king in battle as well as Apsara dancers. Continue to a scenic spot on the banks of Srah Srang for an indulgent private Khmer-style picnic breakfast at a scenic swimming spot beloved by locals. Then, discover the jungle-entangled ruins of Ta Prohm Temple, followed by a leisurely bicycle ride to Bayon temple, its 172 large-scale faces bearing beguiling smiles and representing gods, goddesses and other beings from classical poems and mythology. Return to your hotel, stopping en route at the rarely visited Gate of the Dead. After time some time to unwind, set out on an exhilarating, hour-long ATV adventure, zigzagging your way through the captivating landscape as the sun dips behind picturesque fields and palm trees.
Day 5: Cruising Tonle Sap
Tonle Sap Lake Fishing Village
Experience life on the great Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and one of world's richest sources of fish. You are greeted at the lake by monks in orange robes who offer a spiritual blessing for health and good luck on your travels. Then, hop on a kayak to explore this ever-changing landscape where many fishing families live in stilted wooden homes directly above the water. Visit Mechrey, a floating fishing village where you can stop for lunch and learn more about the lake and local lifestyle. Continue kayaking across the gentle waters, watch fishermen go about their work and witness authentic moments of life in the community. Depending on the water level, you may also have a chance to explore native mangroves.
Day 6: Acrobatic Adventures
After a leisurely breakfast at your hotel, change gears and partake in an active, balance-building acrobatics session with the rising stars from Cambodia’s performing arts scene. Sit down to lunch at a local restaurant, before transferring to the airport for your flight to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel.
Day 7: South East Asia's Gentle Giants
Today, begin at the Royal Palace Museum, its quaint appearance belying its stormy past. Explore exhibits tracing the story of seven turbulent centuries of the Lane Xang Kingdom, as well as the colonial era through the present. After gaining insight into local history, continue to evocative Wat Visoun, Luang Prabang’s oldest operating temple; Wat Xieng Thong, with its impressive Tree of Life mosaic and richly decorated wooden columns; and the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center, devoted to Laos’ ethnic diversity. Break for lunch at a local restaurant before venturing into the remote jungle of northern Laos, where you visit an elephant sanctuary. Meet one of the sanctuary's directors and prepare herbal rice balls. Visit the elephants on the banks of the Nam Kahn to give them your treats and walk briefly with them before coming back to the property for local snacks. Return to your hotel, with time to freshen up before joining locals for a game of pétanque in town.
Monks receiving rice
Day 8: Alms Giving
Rise early to participate in the daily ceremonial offering of food to local monks. As a procession of robed monks passes, place a small amount of rice into their alms bowls. Continue to a local fresh market before returning to your hotel for breakfast. Visit a working organic rice farm to learn all about the journey of rice, from seed to restaurant. This community enterprise, organized by local Lao farmers, grows vegetables, salad greens, herbs and rice in eco-friendly ways and supplies them to leading restaurants and hotels in Luang Prabang. Meet the resident herd of buffalo and observe or take part in plowing, planting seedlings and cutting rice. Also learn about the traditional tools used on the farm, to form a new appreciation for Lao farmers who continue to harvest rice without modern machinery. Continue to Laos Buffalo Dairy, which helps local farmers produce buffalo milk. After learning how families make artisanal cheese and yogurt, explore the farm, meeting friendly buffalos and helping feed the calves. Then, sample tasty cheeses and exotically flavored ice creams right from the source. Return to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Later, embark on a sunset cruise on the scenic Mekong River. Tonight, you can also partake in an evening Baci ceremony, a Laotian ritual of welcome; dating back to the eighth century.
Day 9: Depart Luang Prabang
Set off for the cascading waters of Kuang Si Falls Park, pausing to visit Khmu, Hmong and Lao Loum villages en route. Upon arrival at the waterfall, cool off with a refreshing swim in the turquoise pool or set out on a hike along forest trails. Next, visit the nearby Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center, which works to protect and rehabilitate rare Asiatic black bears. Return to Luang Prabang. Alternatively, enjoy your morning relaxing. Later, transfer to the airport for your homebound flight.
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