Arrive in Bangkok and transfer to the Shangri-La Hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure, with a welcome dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Spend two full days exploring this cosmopolitan city. Highlights include the breathtaking Grand Palace, which houses the legendary Emerald Buddha; the wonderful Prasart Museum, with its vast collection of Thai antiques and artifacts; the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, one of Bangkok’s oldest temples; a cruise along the Thoburi klongs, or canals, for views of the city skyline and the magnificent Royal Barges; and the stunning Temple of Dawn.
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Bangkok / Chiang Mai
This morning board your short flight to Chiang Mai. Nestled among forested foothills, this ancient city is blissfully calm and relaxed after the bustle of Bangkok. Check in to the Dhara Dhevi Hotel, and after lunch, visit 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of Thailand’s most sacred temples.
This morning, take an unforgettable excursion to the hill tribe villages near Chiang Mai. Meet the people of the Palong, Padong, and Karen tribes, who live peacefully as small farmers, who still honor and follow their traditional ways of life. Observe their traditional clothing and crafts and learn more about their unique lifestyle. Return to Chiang Mai with the afternoon to pursue your own interests—engage in some serious shopping, enjoy a traditional Thai massage, or simply relax at the hotel.
Chiang Mai / Luang Prabang, Lao
After a morning at leisure, board your flight to Luang Prabang, a UNSECO World Heritage Site and the ancient capital of the first Lao Kingdom. Nestled below verdant mountains at the confluence of the Mekong and Khan rivers, Luang Prabang is a treasure-trove of gilded temples and historic French colonial buildings. Check in to La Residence Phou Vao Hotel with a chance to settle in, then visit a scenic viewpoint to watch the setting sun. Make a stop at a local temple before heading to the lively night market to browse the vast selection of local handicrafts.
Embark on an early morning Mekong River cruise, with a stop at Pak Ou to visit the famous Buddhist caves of Tham Ting. On the way back to Luang Prabang, stop at a local village to learn about the production of Lao liquor (rice wine) and witness daily life along the river. In the afternoon visit the National Museum, housed in the former Royal Palace. This evening enjoy a traditional Baci ceremony at the hotel.
Luang Prabang / Siem Reap, Cambodia
Rise early this morning to watch as long lines of saffron-robed monks walk through the streets, collecting alms. Then visit the Fresh Market where colorful produce and exotic delicacies are sold. After breakfast at the hotel, visit the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, a museum dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of Laos’ many ethnic tribes. Continue to some of the city’s many pagodas and temples, including Vat Visoun and Vat Aham. After lunch, board your flight to Siem Reap and check in to the luxurious La Residence D’Angkor for dinner and overnight.
Begin your explorations at the World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 200 acres, and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th-century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the best example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Continue to wondrous Angkor Thom, the 12th-century capital built by Jayavarman VI encompassing the Bayon temple, decorated with over 200 smiling faces. In the afternoon, take a cruise on Tonle Sap Lake to see the photogenic floating and stilted villages. The next day, visit Ta Prohm Temple built in 1186 by Jayavarman VII to honor his family. Atmospheric and mystical, many of the temple monuments are enveloped by the sinuous roots of soaring silk cottonwood trees.
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Siem Reap / Phnom Penh
This morning board your flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s bustling capital city. Upon arrival, check in to the luxurious Raffles Le Royal. Following lunch visit the Killing Fields, and Tuol Sleng Museum, the infamous S21 Khmer Rouge security prison.
This morning tour the stunning Royal Palace complex, still the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoni. Continue to the adjacent Silver Pagoda, so named for the 5,000 silver tiles that cover its floor, which houses an extraordinary collection of Khmer artifacts, including dozens of Buddhas. Next, explore the elegant National Museum, also known as the Musée des Beaux-Arts. Recently renovated, the museum houses more than 5,000 works of art and highlights the best of Cambodian art and architectural heritage. Return to the hotel for a festive farewell dinner.
Phnom Penh / Departure
Board your independent homeward flight, arriving in the USA the same day.