Grand Wonders of Indochina: Myammar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand
This crafted itinerary includes most of the UNESCO heritage sites in Southeast Asia. It will take you beyond the natural wonders, beaches, and temples to have an in-depth exploration of its unique culture, religion, and people's lifestyles.
Oct. to Apr.
We have just returned from an amazing trip to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Our travel adviser Albee Ning prepared a wonderful itinerary taking us to great locations with creative activities highlighting local culture.
We traveled with Asia Highlights (Lissie was our agent) several years ago when we went to Saigon, and the experience was so positive, we automatically went to Asia Highlights again for an extensive trip to Southeast Asia.
This itinerary is just a suggestion for you to plan your vacation. We specialize in designing private customer-oriented tours so just let us know your interests and expectations, and we will be happy to create a tour that satisfies your preferences.
Hello Mandalay! When you arrive at the first stop of this long adventure, you will be greeted by your private tour guide who will be holding a sign with your name on it. Then, you will be transferred to your selected hotel. Your guide will assist you with the check-in process and leave you to freshen up.
Visit the main attractions in Mandalay. Kuthodaw Pagoda is situated at the foot of Mandalay Hill. There are 729 white pagodas there, forming a spectacular group of stupas. In each stupa, there is a slab with Buddhist scriptures engraved on it, which is why it is known as the world's largest book.
Among the ancient towns in Mandalay, Inwa is a must-visit. Because of the destruction caused during World War II, a large number of buildings in the ancient city were severely damaged but these scattered ruins are hidden among lush trees and farmland so people still lament this despite the amount of time that has passed.
Visit the Bagaya Monastery, which is said to be the oldest one in Inwa. The entire temple is made of teak and has remained intact after centuries of wind and rain. Unlike Myanmar's many temples, this temple looks particularly quaint and natural. Remember to walk around every room in the monastery (as some people don't do this) — you will see monks praying and local children studying there.
Later, have a relaxing visit to the ancient town of Amarapura. This calm and elegant town was once the short-term capital of Myanmar.
What makes Amarapura special is the famous 1,200-meter-long U Bein Bridge, which is the longest teak bridge in the world. All the timber used to build the bridge came from the former royal palace and it was built with precious teak. The elegant bridge is still standing after a century of erosion from the wind and rain. Take a short cruise on the lake to see the beautiful sunset over U Bein Bridge.
A visa is needed to enter Mandalay for Western travelers:
1. Either apply for a visa online at the embassy in your country or use the approval letter provided by Global Highlights along with your passport and a passport-size photo — you can apply for the arrival visa at the airports in Yangon, Mandalay, or Nap Pyi Taw. This service is free of charge.
2. You can access Mandalay via Singapore, Bangkok, and Guangzhou.
Hotels in Myanmar
To have a better travel experience, you are advised to choose higher ranking hotels for your trip in Myanmar because most of the old hotels built in the 1990s are not in very good condition and don't even have air-conditioning in the rooms. We have selected newly-built Western chains to ensure your comfort and all of the rooms are equipped with air-conditioning and have a minimum size of 30 meters squared.
After a leisurely breakfast in the morning, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Bagan.
Bagan is the essence of culture and religion in Myanmar and is not to be missed. In this 2-day tour, you will explore the most popular Nyuang U Market, get a real insight into the local people's lifestyle, and join in with a cooking class to learn how to make authentic local cuisine from a cooking expert. This cooking class is run by JICA, which is a Japanese non-profit government organization committed to improving environmental health, reducing epidemic diseases, enhancing education and the quality of life, and decreasing poverty in poor and underdeveloped countries.
There are thousands of legendary stupas in Bagan Archaeological Zone. Among these, we recommend you visit the exquisite Ananda Temple and Htilominlo Pahto where you will appreciate the beautiful clay engravings and interesting market nearby. Later on, finish the day's tour at the highest pagoda in Bagan — the Shwesandaw Pagoda. Please watch out for the steep steps when climbing to the top of the pagoda. You will be rewarded with the magnificent view of the ancient city and thousands of stupas during sunset.
Take a 40-minute flight from Bagan to Inle Lake.
Enjoy a 2-day getaway in the Inle Lake area. The scenery there is very beautiful as the mountains are surrounded by water, the water reflects the mountains, and countless birds are flying around. Take the chance to visit the 5-day market, Indein temples, and floating villages. You will also see the paddy fields where people live.
Highlight: Experience the most beautiful harmony between humans and nature in this idyllic land.
- Visiting the Indein temples by boat is only offered during the rainy season from May to February.
- Each raft can only accommodate four people including the rafters. We will provide a life jacket for you for safety.
- The rafts are open-air so you are advised to take sunglasses and sunscreen to protect you from getting sunburnt.
- Giving a tip of 1 USD per person to your rafter would be appreciated.
Your Myanmar tour will finish in its capital, Yangon.
This 2-day Yangon tour covers all the must-sees — explore Bogyoke Aung San Market, the National Museum of Myanmar, and the colonial district.
Take a slow circular train ride around the city to enjoy the scenery of Yangon's countryside and various open-air bazaars.
Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda during sunset when the soft sunlight covers the whole scenic area.
Highlight: Circular Train Ride
The circular railway is a very important mode of public transportation for the locals. The train has no air-conditioning but with its open windows and doors you won't feel too hot. Take this authentic train experience early in the morning when it's cooler. Taking this slow, shaking train ride from the busy and brightly lit urban area to the dilapidated houses and sparsely populated suburbs, it seems as though you have gone back in time.
You can also interact with the local people from a close proximity. During the ride, you will be able to get off the train to hang around the market, try some snacks, or relax in a café if you wish.
Fly to Ho Chi Minh City to discover Vietnam as part of your Indochina adventure!
This 2-day tour in Ho Chi Minh City will take you to Ben Tre, a beautiful town located in the Mekong Delta. This small town is perfect for experiencing the quiet riverside life and enjoying the charming pastoral scenery.
Return to Ho Chi Minh City and take a relaxing walk in the downtown area. Visit some of the key spots on a traditional cyclo.
Highlight: Take a canoe ride that's steered by a Vietnamese boatman through dense grove-lined canal tributaries in the Mekong Delta.
Fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang to start your cultural experience in the beautiful coastal city of Hoi An.
Have a leisurely walking tour in Hoi An Ancient Town. The value of Hoi An's heritage lies in the many well-preserved ancient buildings and streets, which reflect the organic combination of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese cultures and architectural styles. They have not been damaged by war nor have they been demolished for the construction of high-rise buildings. Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, Fujian Assembly Hall, the Old House of Tan Ky, and Tran Family Chapel — these are must-see heritage sites in Hoi An Ancient Town.
Highlight: Learn how to make a lantern in a workshop. The workshop is run by the Lifestart Foundation Workshop, a non-profit organization that inspires locals to create items and to improve their lives.
Take a 50-minute flight to arrive in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi.
Your personal tour guide will take you to visit the must-see attractions: the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature, Hoa Lo Prison, and to hang around the famous Old Quarter. Take this chance to learn about the history, culture, and the development of this amazing country.
Highlight: Navigate the Old Quarter to integrate into the vivid lifestyle of the locals with your local guide.
You will be picked up by the cruise staff and transferred to the port for your cruise in the scenic Halong Bay. It is good to enjoy this laid-back cruise to feel refreshed.
Halong Bay is about 160 kilometers away from Hanoi and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are hundreds of thousands of islands with karst hills making various fantastic shapes in the sea, which are very picturesque. You will have the chance to stop at some fishing villages and landmark islets, such as Fighting Cock Islet and Human Head Islet. The activities on the boat and stops will depend on the different cruise boats.
Highlight: Enjoy spending a beautiful night on the cruise boat in a quiet port.
Notes for the Halong Bay Cruise
- The distance between Hanoi and Halong Bay is about 170 kilometers, taking 3–4 hours by car. There are no stops for sightseeing during the journey so have a good rest during this time.
- Please advise us in advance if you are traveling with a baby and we will arrange for a crib to be placed in your room.
- Meals are included on the cruise but drinks are excluded. If you want to buy some drinks or snacks before boarding the cruise boat, please let your tour guide know in advance so that he/she can find some shops for you to do so.
After you have disembarked from the cruise, you will be transferred to the airport for a short flight to Luang Prabang — the famous ancient capital and Buddhist center of Laos.
In Luang Prabang, there are many historical temples and stupas. Most of the locals are devout Buddhists, which may be why they are so kind and gentle.
Walk around the charming old town and immerse yourself into the cultural heritage. Visit the Royal Palace Museum, Wat Xieng Thong, and relax at the beautiful Kuang Si Falls. You will also have the chance to participate in a ritual Buddhist activity — to offer alms to the monks early in the morning.
Highlight: Have a unique Buddhist experience by joining the ritual of almsgiving with the local people.
Take these 2 days to have an in-depth exploration of Angkor Wat by yourself.
The important sites are Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, the Bayon, Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei, the Cambodian Landmine Museum, Beng Mealea, and Preah Khan.
Highlight: Immerse yourself in the ancient civilization and religion by visiting these grand heritages.
- The scenic area of Angkor Wat is very large and there are many historical sites, among which the Small Circle Tour and Big Circle Tour must be taken. Each circle tour takes a day to complete. Therefore, if you want to fully experience the excitement of Angkor Wat, you need to go through each lap and it will take at least 2 days to do this. We will get you 3-day tickets so if you feel tired and want to go back to your hotel to have a break, you can continue the visit later in the day or the next day.
- The Small Circle Tour mainly concentrates on the temples and attractions in Angkor Wat. The distance between the opposite points and those closest to you is relatively close. The attractions can be reached on foot in a relatively short amount of time. If you visit the attractions fairly quickly, you can complete the tour in half a day, so the layout is commonly called a small circle.
- The Big Circle Tour (or Grand Circuit Tour) is a route that connects the nearby attractions and temples around Siem Reap. Compared with the smaller circle, this one is relatively large. You can do the tour via tuk tuk, car, or other means of transportation, such as by bicycle. Generally speaking, half a day is not enough.
After discovering the mysteries of Cambodia, you can now be excited to visit Bangkok — the capital of Thailand.
There is so much to see and experience in vibrant Bangkok! Your guide will take you to visit the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Bangkok National Museum, and the Jim Thompson House. You are also advised to explore the local markets, spas, and parties in your free time.
Highlight: A lovely dinner will be included on a cruise along the Chao Phraya River. This is a great way to enjoy the city when it is lit up at night.
Use these free days to enjoy the colorful activities, delicious Thai food, and beautiful beaches in Phuket Island.
In the morning, you will be transferred to the airport for the flight back to Bangkok for your departure flight home. Farewell! We hope you have had a wonderful time with us!
Price from: $7,293 (Tour code: gh-ah-15)
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Note: Your comfort counts! It's totally possible to change hotels based on your interests and budget. Just let us know your preferences and we will help you choose.
Why Travel with Global Highlights (98.8% positive customer reviews among 10,000+)
- Unique experiences tailored to your interests: Enjoy a premium trip that goes beyond the typical tourist attractions.
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- Experienced and knowledgeable guides: Your guides will be local and love to work for travelers' smiles.