Our friendly gay group will visit several regions of lush and historic Vietnam, as well as Cambodia’s mystical Angkor Wat. Explore the Paris-inspired architecture of Hanoi, sail in a junk on Halong Bay, relax on a tour of the Mekong River delta, and wander among ancient temples and ruins reclaimed by the jungle, all while lodging in deluxe hotels that reflect the character of their surroundings. Join our optional extension to beautiful Luang Prabang, Laos.
When you join our Splendors of Southeast Asia tour, you are embarking on a journey of the spirit. It is a personal discovery of a diverse and culturally rich area of the world. Fascinating religious artworks, regional customs distilled from centuries-old traditions, as well as exotic music and dance will spark your imagination. Step inside ancient stone temples and luxurious, colorful palaces. The natural spires of Halong Bay and the rambling jungles of Cambodia will remind you how far you’ve traveled.
We’ll feast on French-inspired Vietnamese cuisine in Hanoi, relax on China Beach, meet friendly locals in Cambodian villages, and spend our nights in some of the finest accommodations in the region. This is the perfect journey for anyone who wishes to explore the diverse cultures of Southeast Asia and rejuvenate.
For those with extra time to spend in Asia, we offer a four-day post-tour extension to Luang Prabang, Laos – see Extension tab for details.
December 23, 2018 to January 06, 2019 – US $7398.00
Duration: : 13 Days
Optional Tour Choices: For those with some extra time, join our extension to the magical city of Luang Prabang, Laos.
Optional Tour Choices: $1990 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
All ground transportation within Southeast Asia as outlined in tour itinerary; Three flights (Hanoi-Hue, Danang-Saigon, Saigon-Siem Reap); Airport taxes and service fees for included flights; Transfers between airports and hotels; Deluxe and first-class hotels each night; 12 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 6 dinners, including wine at Welcome and Farewell dinners; Visas for Vietnam and Cambodia; All hotel service charges, government taxes, porterage, and gratuities for drivers and included meals. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Transportation to and from starting and ending points; Four passport photos that are required for visas and Angkor Wat permits; Departure tax when traveling independently of the group; Meals not shown as included in program; Gratuities for guides and HE Travel tour director; Personal items including: alcoholic beverages, snacks, laundry, and telephone calls.
For anyone who arrives for the gay Vietnam tour a day or two early, we will arrange an optional cooking class. This is a special treat as we join one of Hanoi’s accomplished chefs for a visit to the nearby market to select items for the day’s meals. We then return to the restaurant kitchen to see how all of these fruits, vegetables, meat and spices come together to create the special dishes for which Vietnam is known. This feast will then be our lunch!
During our tour we will visit the Temple of Literature, dedicated to Confucious and scholarly study. We will visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, where lines of respectful admirers and curious visitors wait to view his remains. We will also leave the bustle of the city to visit West Lake and see the gentle lines of the Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda, a 1,400-year-old pagoda that was moved to this location over a century ago when the terrain of its original location became unstable. Lunch will be at a unique Hanoi restaurant.
After lunch we will ride by Vespa through the small city streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter to the Ngoc Son Temple on a small island in picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake. We will then return to our hotel for a short rest then meet up again to attend Hanoi’s famous water puppet theater and have our welcome dinner.
Those who want to get a different perspective on Vietnamese cuisine can join the chef’s cooking demonstration. We’ll spend tonight being pampered by our crew.
We finish the day in Hoi An, where we check into our beachfront hotel and have dinner at a nearby restaurant with a peaceful garden setting.
We will return to Hoi An for lunch will be in a restored colonial building along the riverside. After lunch we will tour Hoi An’s Old Quarter to see some of the 850 well-preserved buildings from this historic mercantile town where traders from as far as China, Japan, India and Europe once exchanged goods. One stop will be at a lantern-making cottage where we will even learn how to make our own lanterns.
We return to our hotel in the late afternoon, with the evening and dinner on your own to explore our resort.
This afternoon we will explore Saigon’s Colonial Residential Quarter and the Cho Lon district with its Chinese heritage, including the Thien Hau Pagoda and the Binh Tay Market. We will also enjoy a short private musical performance at Truc Mai House, owned by a family that has mastered a wide variety of traditional Vietnamese instruments. This evening we will enjoy a two-hour dinner cruise on the Saigon River on a replica of a boat on which emperors once entertained their guests. While on board, we will enjoy the entertainment by musicians and a magician.
Lunch will be a special treat today, with a vegetarian meal at the Phuoc Long Pagoda. While there we will also receive an introduction to meditation by a Buddhist monk. The “grand finale” of the Vietnam portion of our tour will be a performance of the A O Acrobats, who mix traditional acrobatics with contemporary design to tell the story of traditional village life in southern Vietnam.
Dinner will be on our own tonight, either before or after the show, depending on show time. You can try one of the Italian restaurants for a break from Asian food, or look for one of the fine French Vietnamese cafes popular with locals.
In the afternoon we will begin our exploration of the vast Angkor Wat complex of building and temples. We’ll start with Angkor Thom, an imposing stone edifice with fifty-four towers, each carved with the four faces of the Bodhisattva. We’ll tour the Terrace of the Elephants and the Khmer Royal Palace. One highlight will be a visit to Ta Phrom Temple. Virtually untouched by man, it seems to be held hostage by the trees, and is a reminder of the precariousness of nature.
We’ll have lunch nearby then visit the Temple of Bantey Srey, “the citadel of women”. During our excursion, we will also visit the center of golden silk production.
Tonight we will see the Cambodian take on both rock music and acrobatics at the Phare Cambodian Circus Show, known for its passionate young acrobats and musicians, and their sense of humor during their performances.
The charming lakeside fishing villages such as Kampong Kleang are a bridge between primitive life and modern ways. Peek into one of the boat homes and you may see the blue image of a television screen, blue because the auto batteries on which they run their power may not have enough energy to generate full color! We will see how the villagers live, then take a small boat to view the flooded forest.
In the afternoon we will visit the National Museum then stroll through the busy market and see an artists studio. We will finish the day with our Farewell Dinner celebration on our last night in Cambodia.
If you are joining our Luang Prabang extension, we will fly directly from Siem Reap to Luang Prabang today. This will be either on a non-stop flight or with a change of planes in Bangkok, depending on flights available that day. See the next section for details about our stay in Luang Prabang.
Whether you’re joining the extension, flying home, or perhaps taking a few extra days in Asia, wherever you travel next, bon voyage!
Next we’ll take a boat trip upstream on the Mekong River where we can see the verdant hills and small villages during our cruise to the renowned caves of Tham Ting and Pak Ou, which house hundreds of Buddha statues. Lunch will be nearby, then we will travel by vehicle back to our hotel, with a stop in a rice wine-producing village.
In the afternoon we will climb up Phousi Hill for a panoramic view of Luang Prabang and its surrounding countryside. Dinner will be on your own tonight. For those with an interest in traditional Lao culture, we encourage you to attend a performance of the Royal Ballet Theatre. These unique story-telling dances have been performed here for centuries.
Early risers can start acclimating to the time back home, by stepping out at dawn to view the procession of the monks who leave their pagodas to walk barefoot around the city and collect alms. Later in the morning we will venture a short distance outside of town to the riverside Elephant Village, where we will have a chance for a brief elephant ride. Afterward we will head to the airport for afternoon flights. Bon voyage!
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