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Get to know the essence of local culture as you travel from the city streets to the mountain tops of Northern Thailand – a land of mouth-watering food, stunning landscapes, fascinating history and incredibly hospitable locals. Explore the ancient temples of Ayutthaya, spend time with Lisu hill tribes, meet the experts at an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai and uncover the country’s past in Kanchanaburi. Then, hit the streets of bustling Vietnam and take part in enriching local encounters as your leader shows you the soul of this diverse metropolis. Get lost in the districts of Hanoi, cruise past the limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay on an overnight cruise, discover the old-world charm of Hoi An and navigate the winding streets of Ho Chi Minh City. With an unbeatable mix of culture, cuisine and history, your Premium journey through two of Southeast Asia’s hotspots will surely surprise and delight.

19 days, from

$5,926

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: TTPVC
Style: Premium
Theme: Explorer

Details

Countries Visited:  Thailand Vietnam
Accommodation: Hotel (15 nights), Lodge (2 nights), Overnight boat (1 night)
Transportation: Boat , Plane , Private Minibus , Train , Bicycle
Included Meals:

  • 18 breakfasts
  • 6 lunches
  • 7 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • Stay in the beautiful Lisu Lodge for your Feature Stay in Thailand. This community-based project employs Lisu villagers and allows you to immerse yourself in local culture while enjoying creature comforts.

  • Support an important animal welfare initiative, speak with local experts and get close to incredible creatures at the Elephant Nature Park.

  • Explore the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with your local leader, who will help you uncover the vibrant mix of influences, from the French to Asian traders, settlers and Indigenous peoples.

  • Enjoy an overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay on a boat as beautiful as its surroundings for your Feature Stay in Vietnam. Take in spectacular views while enjoying a candle-lit dinner on deck.

  • Sit down to a soul-stirring Hat Xam performance, your Exclusive Experience and an art form that dates back over 700 years to the Tran Dynasty.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Bangkok

Sawatdii! Welcome to Thailand! Your journey begins in Bangkok, where you’ll be collected at the airport and transferred to your hotel. After settling into your room, an important welcome meeting will take place at 6 pm. Please check for the Intrepid Premium noticeboard in the hotel’s reception area. If you arrive early, take some time to enjoy Bangkok’s irresistible energy. By day you’ll encounter a city steeped with history and tradition, but by night Bangkok is taken over by a flood of music and neon lights. Watch torrents of tuk tuks zip by while traditional Khlong boats slowly wind down the Chao Phraya River. After your meeting, join your small group for a welcome dinner at an excellent local restaurant, where your leader will introduce you to a food scene bursting with local flavour.

Day 2: Bangkok

Rise early for an optional exclusive experience away from Bangkok’s well-trodden tourist track. Join the locals at sunrise for a visit to a temple along the Chao Phraya River, where you’ll ‘make merit’ by bringing an offering to the temple’s monks – a truly unforgettable moment. Today your leader will take you for a day of sightseeing and activities in lively Bangkok. Tour Wat Po, a larger-than-life temple complex in the city - home of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Visit the majestic Grand Palace and learn about the site that has been the official residence of the kings since the 1700s. Enjoy a boat tour of the city's canals as your leader shows you how Bangkok’s locals live today. The afternoon is free – maybe check out the art collection at the Jim Thompson house or relax with a Thai massage.

Day 3: Kanchanaburi

Unleash your creativity and learn about the history of Benjarong, a traditional style of painted Thai porcelain, with a visit to a ceramics community. The name means ‘five colours’ (although it’s not unusual to see up to eight), and artists use enamel to create intricate floral and geometric designs. This morning you’ll get to paint your own mug or teacup, which will be fired and sent to you to take home as a special souvenir. There will be time to buy lunch, if you wish, before you continue to Kanchanaburi to visit the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. This prisoner-of-war cemetery was one of the first museums to attempt to educate the public and keep the memory of the Asian and POW workers who died constructing the infamous Death Railway.

Day 4: Kanchanaburi

Start your day with a visit to Erawan National Park, where you can explore the park’s famous seven-level waterfall or simply swim and relax. The falls are regarded as some of the most beautiful in the country, with glacial blue waters rushing through the forest into bamboo-shaded pools perfect for a refreshing dip. After you’ve had time to relax, visit the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai. Many Allied prisoners of war and conscripted Asian labourers were engaged here to help build a rail route to Myanmar (Burma), including the passage known as Hellfire Pass. Visit the memorial museum of the pass, where your leader will provide more information about this chapter in history. Take a historical train journey across a portion of this 'death railway' along the Kwai Noi River and travel over the original wooden viaduct, known as the Bridge on the River Kwai, constructed by the allied POWs. Pass through peaceful and naturally beautiful scenery as you learn of those who lost their lives building this rail route. The evening is yours to explore the town.

Day 5: Ayutthaya

This morning head to Ayutthaya, one of the ancient capitals of Siam and a World Heritage site. On the way, visit Baan Nong Khao CBT Village, an agricultural village famous for its Pha Khao Mah hand-weaving. Visit the community’s museum, a palm sugar field and a local house to see how desserts are made with this famous Thai ingredient. Of course, you’ll get to sample these delicious, sweet treats. Then watch the weavers at work using more than 100 yarn colours to create traditional Thai clothing. When you arrive in Ayutthaya, explore the photogenic 14th-century temple of Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon while your leader shares knowledge of the complex’s history. Continue to the ornately decorated Wat Phanan Choeng, one of Ayutthaya's oldest temples and home to a 19-metre-high Buddha. Continue to the 13th-century ruins of Wat Phra Mahathat and discover rows of Buddhas beheaded by the Burmese. Look out for the displaced Buddha head suspended in the roots of a Banyan tree - one of the country’s most photographed images. The past will come to life tonight as you board a traditional rice barge and tuck into a delicious Thai dinner.

Day 6: Kanchanaburi to Sukhothai

Today you will leave Kanchanaburi and travel to Phitsanulok by train. Sit back, relax and watch the scenery roll by. After arriving in Phitsanulok, change to a private vehicle and continue this comfortable journey, arriving in Sukhothai at approximately 5 pm. The rest of the day is free for your own discoveries. You may like to relax by the pool or unwind with a Thai massage, and for dinner this evening, be sure to ask your leader where you can get a bowl of Sukhothai’s famously tasty noodles.

Day 7: Sukhothai

Sukhothai, established in the 13th century, was one of the first ancient capitals of Siam. Start your day with an optional alms offering before visiting its famed World Heritage-listed historical park, which captures the Golden Age of Thai civilisation. Here, you’ll rent a bicycle and take part in a cycle tour. Your leader will teach the group more about the history of this former metropolis and its fascinating structures. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the beautiful grounds of Sukhothai Park. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the town or read a book by the pool back at your accommodation. This evening, regroup and head to the home of one a local, where you’ll enjoy a wonderful homecooked dinner and a unique insight into life in this part of the country.

Day 8: Mae Taeng

Travel from Sukhothai to the Mae Taeng region. Draped between tranquil rice fields and fruit orchards, you’ll find the enchanting Lisu Lodge, your Feature Stay accommodation. The lodge is a community-based project that trains and employs Lisu villagers from the nearby hill tribe and aims to preserve their cultural heritage. The Lisu people are a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group and one of the six main hill tribes of Northern Thailand. Meet the colourfully dressed villagers and learn more about the Lisu way of life - a truly special experience that’s sure to be one of your enduring memories of Thailand. The lodge offers gorgeous guestrooms decorated in the traditional Lisu style with modern comforts. Savour unforgettable views of the surrounding hillside and valley and enjoy a tantalising dinner of Thai food mixed with traditional Lisu dishes. You don’t have to look for a cultural experience here - it’s all around you.

Day 9: Mae Taeng

After breakfast at Lisu Lodge, it’s a quick trip to Muang Kued village, where you’ll meet with a villager and enjoy a private guided tour. Learn about village life, the reforestation of the surrounding area and how produce is grown in the village orchards. Explore the organic farm and choose the ingredients for a cooking class, where you’ll learn how to cook traditional Thai food. After a delicious lunch, join the villagers for a chance to learn how to weave palm leaves to create ornaments and accessories. You’ll also enjoy a tasty barbeque dinner at the nearby Mae Tamaan Base Camp.

Day 10: Chiang Mai

Travel to the Elephant Nature Park - a unique project that provides a sanctuary for elephants and other animals. Be greeted by an expert local guide and learn the stories of the rescued elephants and the issues they face in South-East Asia. Feed the elephants from a viewing platform, walk with the expert staff to watch elephants bathe and play, and enjoy a vegetarian buffet lunch. On arrival back in Chiang Mai in the late afternoon, the evening is yours to enjoy. You may like to visit the vibrant Night Bazaar or stroll around the old town, bounded by moats. Your guide can give you recommendations on where to go for dinner.

Day 11: Chiang Mai

Start your day with a caffeine hit and a visit to a sustainable social enterprise focusing on all things coffee. From here, you will drive to the famous temple complex of Doi Suthep. Take in stunning views along the scenic and winding mountain road, bringing you to an impressive 300-step Naga-guarded stairway. The rewards justify the ascent to the top, with one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand on display, not to mention the fantastic panoramic views of the city. Return to Chiang Mai, where you’ll have time to relax before an exclusive farewell dinner cooked by a local chef. Dine on delicious traditional northern Thai food, like kao soy – yellow wheat noodles in a curry broth, traditionally served with chicken or beef – as you reminisce about the wonderful adventures you’ve had in Northern Thailand.

Day 12: Hanoi

Today you will catch a flight from Chiang Mai to Hanoi to begin the Vietnamese leg of your journey. You’ll be met on arrival at the airport and transferred to your hotel, where a meeting will take place at 6 pm to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your adventure. This evening, join your leader and small group for dinner at a beautifully decorated restaurant resembling an old-fashioned Vietnamese house. Dive into the exciting world of Vietnamese cuisine as your leader introduces you to a range of classic dishes made with the freshest local ingredients.

Day 13: Halong Bay

Depart Hanoi and travel to Ha Long Bay, one of the great natural treasures of Vietnam. Board your Feature Stay accommodation for the evening – a gloriously beautiful and traditionally decorated junk-style boat featuring modern conveniences. Set sail in total comfort as unforgettable views of scattered islands and towering limestone outcrops slowly unfold before you. Explore the bay while enjoying a pleasant seafood lunch onboard. Learn about the fascinating geography of the region and its importance to the Vietnamese people, and visit Surprise Cave, where your leader will point out interesting rock formations. In the warmer months, you can swim from Ti Top Island Beach or take an optional kayaking tour. Sit back with a drink on the upper deck and face out to the spirit-lifting view that will be stamped on your memory of Vietnam. Soak in the stunning surroundings with a candlelit seafood dinner on deck before settling in for a night of stargazing and swapping stories.

Day 14: Hanoi

Start your day with a peaceful breakfast and perhaps take part in some Tai Chi on board the boat before returning to Hanoi. This afternoon you’ll take part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience and sit down to a soul-stirring traditional Hat Xam performance. Hat Xam is an art form of Northern Vietnam dating back to the Tran Dynasty. Originally, this was performed by blind performers, and was enjoyed by local working-class audiences, right up until the late 1950s, when a wave of communism deemed all art forms to be corrupting influences. Today these performances are rare, but you and your group will be taken to a private club house and treated to an exclusive performance in one of the few places where artists still sing acoustically. The performance takes around 90 minutes, and includes possible interaction with guests, so be ready to get involved!

Day 15: Hoi An

This morning you’ll get to know Hanoi’s charms on a half-day tour with your leader. Discover a captivating city where traditional and modern sit side by side, as your leader shares knowledge on the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda and the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. Today’s lunch is extra special as you will visit the fantastic KOTO café – a social enterprise that provides hospitality training and experience while empowering at-risk and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. This afternoon you’ll say goodbye to Hanoi and fly south to Danang. Drive to Hoi An and take in views of lush scenery along the way. Arrive in Hoi An in the late afternoon and check into your boutique accommodation. The rest of the day is yours – maybe make the most of your hotel’s fabulous pool.

Day 16: Hoi An

Set off on a tour of Hoi An’s Old Town and discover a blend of traditional treasures and cultural influences from historical traders. Your leader will discuss the city’s history as you wander the pagoda-lined streets, visit a Chinese assembly hall, cross the Japanese Covered Bridge, enter the ornately decorated historic house of a former trader and check out a local museum. Hoi An was once a great trading port for pottery, and centuries-old pottery villages still exist today. This afternoon, head out to the Thanh Ha Pottery Village – dating back to the 16th century, this is one of the oldest pottery villages in Vietnam. Stop by the home of an artisan couple. Now both in their 90s, they were once the only artisans in the village and have passed down traditional techniques and practices. Continue your explorations of the village, meet descendants of the artisan couple and find out how traditional pieces are made. Finally, sit down with a cup of tea and maybe opt to to test out your skills and paint a traditional pottery mask. Return to Hoi An for an evening at leisure.

Day 17: Ho Chi Minh City

The morning is free to enjoy more of the delightful Hoi An and surrounding areas. Maybe browse the market for silk and other materials or collect any garments you might have had crafted by the efficient tailors. You could hire a bicycle and ride along the lanes to a nearby beach. Your leader will have great recommendations for places to eat and drink. In the afternoon, transfer back to Danang and fly to Ho Chi Minh City. Check into your hotel and enjoy a free evening – the bustling food stalls at Cho Ben Thanh market might beckon you, with the sweet and savoury aromas of pho and bun mam. Delicious!

Day 18: Ho Chi Minh City

Head out of the city to the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels, an extensive underground network dug by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong. Enter a widened section of the tunnels with your leader, who will help you imagine what life underground must have been like and explain how the tunnels contained hospitals, accommodation and schools and were used for refuge, storage and as a military base for the Viet Cong. Return to Ho Chi Minh City for a tour of the dynamic city where daily life plays out on the streets. Your leader will take you to the Reunification Palace, formally the Presidential Palace and the site of South Vietnam’s surrender in 1975, before visiting the War Remnants Museum. In the evening, maybe spend some time with your fellow travellers and enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 19: Phnom Penh

Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you wish to spend more time in Ho Chi Minh city, just speak to your booking agent.