The beautiful scenery of Thailand has long been one of its greatest allures and the variety of excursions during this adventure will expose you to every lush, undiscovered corner. Explore the monasteries and palaces of Pitsanolok, once the country's proud capital, then head to the Mae Sa Elephant Rehabilitation Centre and meet these illustrious animals that had once rumbled through the hills and valleys in large herds.
Vietnam is considered by many to be a paradise on Earth, but the country's aesthetics arena's not the only thing to be appreciated; its remarkable history and culture will similarly entice and bewitch. Traditional fishing boats sailing by on the blue waters set against white-sand beaches make for magnificent photographs. For a taste of indigenous life, peruse the goods on display at the floating markets in the Mekong Delta or examine the crafts of the artisans who wait at the base of the Marble Mountains.
Next door in Laos, the surreal landscape serves as the foundation to exquisite architectural achievements. Climb the Phu Si Hill in Luang Prabang to look down on the former royal palace and see how the work of Man and nature blend seamlessly. What is a trip to Southeast Asia without a trip to Cambodia to see the spellbinding Angkor Wat, one of the finest religious structures in the world? Ancient history doesn't seem that distant in time when looking at the immaculate murals that tell stories from 800 years ago.
Seasonality and Weather
Our tours in SE Asia operate during the cooler, drier time of year, Nov-Apr. That said, however, the entire region experiences a warm-hot tropical climate with humidity and a chance of rain showers at any time. Inland regions of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia can experience extreme heat, especially Feb-Apr, when it is also very dry and landscapes are brown. Coastal regions-Central Vietnam, Halong Bay-are cooled by sea breezes. Hanoi, Northern Vietnam & Plain of Jars (Laos) can be downright cold and damp, especially late Nov-Jan. Overall you should prepare for warm, sticky weather with the possibility of rain and some chilly nights / mornings in a few locales.
Transport and Travel Conditions
Land transport throughout will be by private air-conditioned bus. Most of the driving days are not long, usually no more than four hours, though Hoi An to Saigon, and some journeys in Laos are full days of travel. Road conditions are generally not good and progress can be slow. Boats are used at various points in the itinerary, and vary from converted trawlers to small riverboats. Internal flights via scheduled regional carriers. The tour is not strenuous though it is busy; you must be steady on your feet and be able to endure some heat and long days. We have numerous walking tours and visit several sites that are LARGE with steps and uneven surfaces. Porters are available at hotels but you must be able to manage with your baggage at airports.
Hotels used on tour are modern, comfortable, well-located, air-conditioned, 3-4 star properties with en suite bath / toilet. Single rooms are limited and possibly smaller than twins. Laundry facilities are available at most hotels for a reasonable price. Safe deposit boxes are available in most hotels either free or for a nominal fee. Most hotel rooms are well equipped and likely include hairdryers and irons, minibar fridge, TV. All are air-conditioned. Most hotels provide complimentary purified drinking water. Some hotels have swimming pools. HUONG HAI JUNK: The Huong Hai junks are unique, `antique' (replica) accommodations that are scrupulously clean, fully-crewed and comfortable. Our junk/s are large and luxurious boats with private bath, air conditioning and fan, and plenty of deck space.
Staff and Support
Tour Leader throughout, local drivers, local guides at various locations.
10-21 (plus Tour Leader)