Southeast Asia has always had a sense of mystique and exoticness that has allured much of the world. This is your chance to experience the splendor of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam first-hand, where the majesty is no longer in the rumors of temples and palaces, tunnels and floating markets, but within your reach. Discover the shrines hidden in the jungle brush; taste the vibrancy of the local delicacies; mingle with protected Asian elephants; explore Southeast Asia on this custom tailored tour...
Flying to Great Heights
Your adventure to Southeast Asia begins by soaring over the grandeur of the Pacific Ocean. The calm waters peak beneath the clouds and guide you closer to the shores of Thailand. Dreams of the King’s palace, its sharp gilded towers and immaculate pearled frame, have been gracing your sleep for awhile. The closer you come to landing the more excited you feel; the known and secret splendors of Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam are close enough to taste. Your well-deserved and truly wonderful holiday has begun.
Start your Thailand vacation in the stunning city of Bangkok where the past sits beneath the shade of the present offering a respite from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Skyscrapers tower over the cityscape creating a glistening skyline while temples rise to a lesser extent with gilded and colorful spires giving an impressive and sensitive charm to the a very different vista. Restaurants offer delectable meals with views of the expansive city, where the scent of rich chocolate fondue contains hints of coconut bringing traditional cuisine to the modern age. Vendors and tiny markets give a cultural view of the streets where the alluring aroma of crisp fried chicken and sesame oil drifts beneath the neon lights. Stepping along the streets of Bangkok gives you a stunning diversity, where modern and ancient, lavish and simple decorate the city.
Grand Palace to Grand Temple
Step into the morning with the scent of fresh mangos drifting through the air. After an exquisite breakfast you will be embark on a fantastic tour of the Grand Palace complex where the splendor of Bangkok can be seen up close. The Royal Reception Hall has an impressive interior now only used for ceremonial occasions. The rising spires shimmer with golden fringe, thinly towering into the air over the orange roofs. The manicured gardens are immaculate giving an extra purity to the site within the winding trees where every leaf and blade of grass is pared with precision.
Wat Pho, otherwise known as the “Temple of the Reclining Buddha,” is situated within Bangkok’s reveled Chinatown and is said to be one of the largest temple complexes in the city. The herbaceous scent of incense wafts through the hall where you can see the Buddha that stretches over 120 feet long, covered in gold leaf. The shimmer of the Buddha reflects onto the intricate designs and murals of the walls, depicting traditional shapes and histories of the area. From the gold to the paint, the spires to the smooth stone walkways, the elegance of the temple is sure to move you.
Along the Freshwater
The day is yours to experience the beauty of Bangkok at your leisure, where the splendor of the city goes beyond the temples and the palace and onto the river itself. Khlong Lat Mayom is one of three floating markets with the charm and authenticity of a local market. The floating market displays the vibrancy of Thai life within the everyday routine, from shopping to produce, where the act of buying is as colorful as what is being bought. The market of Khlong Lat Mayom is mostly located along the riverbank, with stalls set up to display the spectacular colors of fresh fruits, from the ripening yellow mangoes to the sweet fragrant coconuts. Restaurants are setup at low tables along the water giving you a chance to taste local flavors as they’re purchased, from the river, from the sea, and from the riverbanks. The delicious and irresistible scent of noodle soup and Pad Thai floats through the market; you could even try something new like the decadent flavor of an oyster omelet.
Rich Past and Illustrious Present
Bangkok’s reach has a hold on some of the most luxurious and fabulous sites but Thailand always has more to offer. Today you will venture from the capital city to the largest city in the north that somehow maintains a small town charm: Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai is often referred to as the “Gateway to the North,” where the lush jungle sits just outside the city limits. Villages and peoples that date back almost seven-centuries have thrived in the dense brush outside the city, where the aromatics of the trees offer a sensual and musky breeze. The Old City sits within the walled and moated remains of a magnificent fortress. Illustrious temples and charming homes are situated both within and outside of the strong brick walls, where the moat has been reconstituted as a delicate pond, where you can watch couples strolling beside the water hand in hand.
The cool air of the morning is brought along from the mountains on the outskirts of the city, where the breeze offers a welcome respite from the Bangkok heat. After breakfast you will find yourself in the company of gargantuan friends, stretched over an open space within an elephant reserve. Elephants once played an important role as part of the King’s army, giving unprecedented power and speed to the troops. The charm and grace of elephants is beyond compare with their loyalty to their troupe and caretakers. They mash up large fruits and use their trunks like hoses spraying themselves and those around them like playful children. The gracefulness accounts for beauty and the playfulness is nothing less than charming. As you make your way back to the hotel you will detour to the Mae Sa Waterfall where locals swim in the lowest pool as the terraced falls spring down the hillside. The whitewater brings lush life to the surroundings while the resounding spray and flow catches your ear.
A Forested Fortress to A Grand Wat
The sensual delights of coconut milk and coffee help bring in the morning. You will be met at your hotel with a private transfer that will have you whisked to the airport and arriving in the city of Siem Reap, Cambodia. The city is centered around its proximity to the remarkably sized complex of Angkor Wat, where the city was once hidden from the Khmer Rouge beneath the reach of the expansive jungle. The scars of Cambodia’s past are still present within much of the country’s present; however, the majesty of Angkor Wat has helped bring vivacity back to the northern city and much of the country.
Settled within the now open plaza is the splendor of one of the largest religious monuments in the world dating back to the early 12th century. Coming close to the main temple of Angkor Wat brings you to what looks like something out of a movie, where the pond and earth are blended with the soft heat of the day, and history emanates from the stones like a steam from boiling water. Three spires rise over the main structure in a triangular position as the tiered halls stretch lengthwise giving immensity to its wings. There is a serene feel to the afternoon around the temple, one where the world feels hushed until the shuffling of monks can be heard along the stone steps. A brief, resounding gong peels through the air while a fragrant burn of incense starts to fill the empty space.
A Fabulous Day of Wats
Today you will revisit the complex of Angkor Wat where the vast collection of temples is not just inspiring but breathtaking. Choose to rise early and capture the sunrise over the impressive famed temple. As the morning begins to light over the horizon the temple begins to shimmer against the morning dew. Monks start to appear below the tree line on their morning pilgrimage to alms. Even with the crowd of people all attempting to capture the sunrise, you’re attempting to capture the moment, and you succeed.
Continue your exploration of the complex with a visit to the sensational Angkor Thom. The grandeur of the temple is not just in its size but also in its intricate design. Look closely at the stones and you will see faces smiling at you from within the rock. Delicately carved and ornately built, the East Gate is a fortified wall with a triangular arch adorned with serious guarding face overlooking the structure. The Bayon is decorated with reliefs that depict mythological and historical scenes that created the Khmer Empire. The sun creeps beneath the shading towers giving a gleam to the stones and heat to the day. The ground stones are smooth and loose. The sun starts to drift over the horizon but the splendor doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon.
Temple Space to Marketplace
The morning light glints off of the wats in the distance as you venture from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City. The metropolis of Vietnam expands in a large stretch of modernity, where French colonialism and elaborate tunnels are set beneath the skyline. You can hear the bustle of the street markets, vibrant with life and color. People linger outside cafes, sipping tea and coffee, where the aroma of fresh baked baguettes drifts through the open doors. There’s a lightness to the city that you can’t help but enjoy, picking you up and setting you down gently within the traditions of ancient cultures flushed with modern amenities. Laughter brims over in Dam Sen Park where you can watch the eye of the Ferris wheel spin over and beneath the tree line. The lake reflects the vivacious pagoda-style roofs of the gazebos where you can relax amongst the rose garden. From the top of the Ferris wheel you can watch as the city rises and falls around you, taking in the panorama of the “Pearl of the Orient.”
An Exploration of Metropolis
To see the true life of Ho Chi Minh City you have to experience the heart of the city itself. You won’t miss a thing on a fabulous day tour through Saigon’s highlights that will take you through the pulse of Ben Thanh Market, one of the city's liveliest areas. The cream color of the large façade is one hue that begins to show the vivaciousness of the marketplace. From the bright reds and greens of peppers and coriander to the sensational colors of spices, every decadent treat, and questionable delicacy, is on display. People call out to one another from across the aisle, throwing up fingers, some lowering poles from the second story, where the vendor places the agreed upon item into a bucket and raises it up to the buyer. The abundant scent of spices washes over the aisles and the vibrancy of the people stands out, giving you a true sense of the city and Vietnam.
On the tour you will also visit the notable pagoda Giac Lam, the oldest pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City. Giac Lam was constructed around the end of the 17th century and hasn’t been altered since its inception. Numerous gilded figures fill the sanctuary, including the large laughing Buddha of Ameda, for enlightenment. The concentric levels of the pagoda give a thinning frame to the temple and a gracefulness as it rises with the trees. If you hear the bronze bell, a sound that echoes through the open spaces of the city, it is believed to answer prayers posted by pilgrims.
Accepting the City
It is easy to find joy and delight within the Ho Chi Minh City, where the scent of grilled meat and freshly made noodles is never too far away. The day is yours to explore the city at your leisure, whether that means strolling through the streets of Cocochine Saigon in search of souvenirs or visiting the interesting exhibits at the Revolutionary Museum. Within the French architecture of a building over a century old, the Revolutionary Museum fills the halls and spaces with voices of the country’s struggle for independence. Representation of the old village life of the Vietnamese to the clothing and art that much of the country wore and produced up until the 1960’s, and beyond, can be found within the museum.
One of the highlights is the collected photographs of the Vietnamese Revolution; the record begins with the French and continues through the American war, displaying the people’s struggles from the Vietnamese perspective. You can hear the echo of your feet as you step along the polished tile floor. The grandeur of the architecture somehow seems at odds with the exhibits; however, the subtlety of the displays and the information gathered makes the placement of the photos and artifacts somehow seem more perfect. Early the next morning you will be transferred to the airport where you will begin your journey home but your time within the diverse layers of Saigon can, and will, continue to enrapture you.
To extend your time in Vietnam, browse the Vietnam tours on Zicasso for additional ideas.
- Witness the opulent history of Bangkok along the gilded temples and stunning Grand Palace
- Hang out with noble elephants at an elephant reserve in northern Thailand
- Discover the breathtaking beauty and history of Angkor Wat and the surrounding complex
- View the scars of history and the healed modernity of Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City
- Experience the vibrant and diverse cultures that reside within Thailand and Vietnam
- Visit the splendor of the Reclining Buddha in one of the largest temples in Bangkok
There is never an end to the splendor of Southeast Asia on this 11-day tour through Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It is easy to imagine the wonders of the area before you even step onto the plane, journeying through the jungles and along the famed patty-fields that stretch, rise, and stretch along the hillside. From historic grandeur to modern elegance, flourishing culture to sensational skylines, experience the highlights of Southeast Asia and experience a different world.
Your highlights tour begins in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. The city’s modern edges wrap around its historic beauty giving temples and quiet streets hidden niches to explore. The diverse aromas of succulent foods and vibrant incense stretch along the boulevards. Tour through the city and find the splendor of the Thai Grand Palace, where the gilded towers and immaculate walls give sheen to the city. Along the shores of the river you will find some of the most opulent temples that have been preserved through the country’s history. With a day at leisure within the famous capital, you could enjoy the storied streets of the city or take a journey to the sensational floating markets that fill the river-way with colorful boats and fresh produce before arriving in Chiang Mai, the capital of northern Thailand. Your journey in and around Chiang Mai is filled with the imposing fortress that continues to protect the old city, where the moat has become a destination to stroll. Visit elephants at one of the country’s elephant reserves which protect and help the important and, to many, holy animal.
Continue on to Siem Reap where the magnificence of Angkor Wat is famed for good reason. The antique temples rise and stretch around the open jungle spaces that were once forgotten by time and locals alike. Faces are carved into the stones, stoic and imposing, while monks continue to use many of the larger structures as places of worship. Transfer from the rising temples of Siem Reap to the rising skyline of Ho Chi Minh City, where the rivaled history between the north and south, the east and the west can be felt in the undercurrent of the bustling metropolis. There is an air of lightness that is layered over the top of the city, where the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex and vibrant, diverse markets add to the unparalleled splendor and culture of the city. Your venture through Ho Chi Minh City and Southeast Asia will come to an eventual end; however, the grandeur of the landscapes and cities will always be there to welcome you back.
Zicasso offers a variety of Southeast Asia tours. Browse the reviews of Thailand tours for additional information and real traveler reviews.
$2,118 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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