Gems of Southeast Asia

Package Includes

  • Small groups of 10-18 travelers guaranteed
  • International flights LAX-Phnom Penh, Hanoi-LAX
    Other departure cities available. Click on date of departure for selection and prices
  • Airline taxes & fuel surcharges
  • Intra-flights Siem Reap-Bangkok, Bangkok-Luang Prabang & Luang Prabang-Hanoi
  • 13 nights in First Class accommodations that evoke the local character
  • Hotel porterage
  • All transfers and sightseeing per itinerary in modern air-conditioned vehicles
  • 32 meals: 13 breakfasts, 10 lunches & 9 dinners (including a home hosted dinner, and welcome & farewell dinners)
  • Bottled water during sightseeing excursions. Bottled water, coffee, and tea with all meals. Beer and wine included with dinner
  • Services of local English-speaking tour manager throughout
  • Comprehensive, guided sightseeing and entrance fees per itinerary
  • Active itinerary with unique cultural features

Tour Highlights

  • Thanks to our small group size of 10-18 travelers, we can get to the heart of our destination, visit places that other tours miss, and get to know the locals.
  • Gain insight into Cambodia’s rich culture during a private talk
  • Marvel at the artistry of an apsara dancer
  • Join the locals for morning exercise in Bangkok’s Lumpini Park
  • Accept wishes of good fortune during an authentic baci ceremony in Laos
  • Offer alms to orange-robed monks in the early morning streets of Luang Prabang
  • Receive warm greetings from Vietnamese hosts as we’re welcomed into their home for dinner
  • Wonder at the delicate beauty of Roi Nuoc water puppetry

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    DAY 1, Thursday - Depart the USA
    Depart the USA for Cambodia. Your overnight flight includes meals, drinks, and in-flight entertainment for the journey

    DAY 2, Friday - Phnom Penh, Cambodia
    Arrive in Phnom Penh on the banks of the fabled Mekong River and one of the loveliest cities built by the French in Indochina. This capital of Cambodia is a fascinating mix of glittering temples and graceful colonial buildings. There’ll be time to rest after your journey, and later today you may join your fellow travelers for a welcome briefing and dinner
    Overnight: Hotel Cambodiana, Phnom Penh
    Meals: Dinner

    DAY 3, Saturday - Phnom Penh
    We begin our explorations at the Royal Palace complex, a compound of Khmer-style structures with gilded spires. These ornate buildings have served as the royal residence of the kings of Cambodia since the 1860s. Next, we visit the National Museum, itself a work of Khmer architectural glory and home to 14,000 historical items, including brilliant Khmer art, ceramics, and archaeological finds. We end our tour at the sobering site of the Killing Fields. A memorial here helps visitors and locals remember those who lost their lives to the vicious Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s. Later, we meet a local cultural historian for a discussion about the country’s heritage and its welcoming, resilient people
    Overnight: Hotel Cambodiana, Phnom Penh
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 4, Sunday - Phnom Penh/Siem Reap
    Today we see Cambodia up close during our drive to Siem Reap. Though our ride is long, it provides a perfect opportunity to witness how rural Cambodians tend to the lush, green countryside. We pass by rice paddy fields and are likely to see oxen working the land. We stop for lunch for authentic cuisine, and arrive in Siem Reap in the afternoon. This evening with dinner, enjoy a performance by apsaras – alluring, “supernatural” females of Cambodian lore. Their superb dancing has been known to mesmerize and transfix
    Overnight: Prince D'Angkor Hotel & Spa, Siem Reap
    Meals:Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 5, Monday - Angkor Wat
    After breakfast, we uncover the mysteries of what is perhaps the world’s grandest temple complex and ancient city, Angkor Wat. Since the 12th century, it has stood as a center of Hindu, then Buddhist worship. It stands as a supreme example of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. We’ll also visit Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer empire. So beloved was this city to King Jayavarman that an inscription within its walls exhorts him as the groom and Angkor Thom as his bride. We’ll also see the Terrace of Elephants from which the king viewed his troops, and Ta Prohm, once a Buddhist monastery and today overgrown with jungle
    Overnight: Prince D'Angkor Hotel & Spa, Siem Reap
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 6, Tuesday - Siem Reap/Bangkok, Thailand
    Today we delve more deeply into the daily life of Siem Reap, beginning with an exciting ox cart ride. Later, we embark on a cruise along the waters of Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. We’ll learn about the importance of these waters to Cambodia and the Mekong ecosystem and about the floating schools that seek to bring education closer to Vietnam’s underprivileged children. We conclude our Cambodia explorations at Les Artisant d’Angkor, a school for training in local handicrafts such as silk, wood carving, and lacquer. Afterward, we fly to Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital
    Overnight: Aloft Hotel, Bangkok
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 7, Wednesday - Bangkok
    We awake in the bustling Thai capital of Bangkok this morning. Early risers can join locals for tai chi or other exercise in Lumpini Park. After breakfast, we have the morning to explore the glittering centerpiece of the city: the Grand Palace, a sprawling complex of temples, halls, and pavilions built around immaculate lawns and gardens. Its main attraction is Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and its small Buddha statue believed to have been created in India in 43 BC. By contrast, we’ll later see the Golden Buddha, a colossal reclining figure of 49 feet. Later, we stop at a charming flower market to learn about the local floral trade. Tonight, we enjoy Thai entertainment with dinner
    Overnight: Aloft Hotel, Bangkok
    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

    DAY 8, Thursday - Bangkok/Ayutthaya
    Board a boat on the Chao Phraya River this morning to Ayutthaya, once the grand capital of Old Siam. The city was founded in 1350 and held its reign as capital for 400 years. We have ample time to explore its preserved ruins, including the impressive Wat Chaiwatthanaram, built in 1630 in the Khmer style of the day
    Overnight: Aloft Hotel, Bangkok
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 9, Friday - Bangkok/Luang Prabang, Laos
    Fly to Luang Prabang today. We begin our discovery of this UNESCO World Heritage Site on the revered hillside of Phou Si. Several Buddhist shrines on wooded slopes command our attention, as do sweeping views of the Mekong River. Later, we visit the Royal Palace Museum to learn about the monarchy that once ruled the country, and Wat Xieng Thong, one of Laos’ important monasteries. We’ll also participate in a baci, a ceremony that predates the arrival of Buddhism, and have many good fortunes wished upon us!
    Overnight: Le Palais Juliana, Luang Prabang
    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

    DAY 10, Saturday - Luang Prabang
    Luang Prabang seems untouched by the modern day. Early this morning, we take part in an ancient ritual: begin at a local market to shop for fruits and perhaps rice; then stroll through hushed streets and offer these alms to a meditative parade of orange-robed monks. Later, embark a Mekong cruise to the Pak Ou Caves. From these cavernous altars, hundreds of Buddha images overlook the river. We continue to a local village that makes its own rice wine from their abundant crop. During our visit, we’ll chat with residents and sample some of their elixir. Our tour concludes at a paper-making and silk-weaving factory, where we’ll see how these local goods are created
    Overnight: Le Palais Juliana, Luang Prabang
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 11, Sunday - Luang Prabang/Hanoi, Vietnam
    Begin today at an elephant camp, where mahouts – or trainers – form a close bond with their pachyderms. We’ll have a thrilling opportunity to ride atop a gentle giant! Then, we stop to visit the Hmong and Khmu hill tribes. Ancestors of these peaceful people migrated here in the 18th century, and we’ll hear some of their stories and admire their customary clothing and headdresses over tea. Later today, we fly to Hanoi, Vietnam
    Overnight: Conifer Boutique Hotel, Hanoi
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

    DAY 12, Monday - Hanoi
    Vietnam’s capital is a stunning mix of temples, pagodas, French colonial buildings, and natural beauty. We’ll see the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the president’s house; admire the European architecture of the Presidential Palace; and visit the One Pillar Pagoda, a revered Buddhist temple. For lunch, we enjoy a traditional Pho noodle soup, a traditional Vietnamese meal. Your afternoon is free, and later this evening, we’ll be the dinner guests of a local family in their home. This offers us a rare opportunity to talk with Hanoi citizens about their daily lives
    Overnight: Conifer Boutique Hotel, Hanoi
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 13, Tuesday - Hanoi
    Today we journey to Halong Bay, a stunning natural wonder of more than 1,600 islands. Here, we embark a traditional junk for an exciting five-hour cruise among hulking limestone karsts that rise from the waters. We drop anchor to explore Surprise Cave – one of the bay’s largest grottoes
    Overnight: Conifer Boutique Hotel, Hanoi
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 14, Wednesday - Hanoi
    The Old Quarter, near Hoan Kiem Lake, retains the original street layout and architecture of Old Hanoi. We explore its ancient warrens today by cyclo-rickshaw, stopping at one of the city’s Tube Houses – a tall dwelling with narrow frontage – to see firsthand how residents once lived here. Continue to Lang Ong, where ancient eastern medicines are still traded. After browsing the Old Quarter’s market, where exotic scents beckon, we attend a private cooking class and dine on the results for lunch. Tonight, a Roi Nuoc water puppet show enchants us before our festive farewell dinner at the prestigious Press Club, a short walk from our hotel
    Overnight: Conifer Boutique Hotel, Hanoi
    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

    DAY 15, Thursday - Depart for the USA
    Transfer to the airport for your flight
    Meals: Breakfast

    Dates & PricesLand OnlyAir & Land
    Dates & PricesLand Only
    Dates & PricesAir & Land
    This package is currently unavailable. Please check back later or call Discovery Tours for more information.

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    *Not Included:
    Prices do not include Cambodia visa fees, Vietnam visa fees, Laos visa fees and gratuities for guides/tour managers. Land only prices do not include arrival/departure transfer, but does include intra flights.

    Entry Requirements:
    Passengers traveling abroad require a passport valid for six months beyond their travel dates. All travelers are responsible to check if a visa is required for all countries on their itinerary. For visa information, check our Visas page.

    Is This Trip Right for You?

    This is an active trip. Our small group covers a lot of ground each day, and we spend 3-4 hours on our feet during tours. The pace is moderate, with 3 two-night stays, 1 three-night stays, and 1 four-night stay. Some of our tours require walking over uneven surfaces or up and down steep steps or slopes. We have several early mornings. This tour is not recommended for people who have difficulty walking or who have heart conditions.

    Getting Ready to GoAbout Your FlightsArrival and DepartureAccommodationsAt Your Destination

    Know Before You Go
    Although most of the planning and preparation is taken care of for you, there are still a few things you should know and some details you should take care of to ensure your comfort, safety and peace of mind. Please review the following information before your departure to ensure that any surprises along the way will only be pleasant ones.
    Getting Ready to Go
    Passports and Visas
    It is each traveler's responsibility to have a passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel and a visa if required. Please check the information at www.gate1travel.com/visas.aspx for the specific country/region you are visiting for more details. IMPORTANT: Passengers who are not U.S. citizens must check with the respective consulate or a visa agency to determine what personal identification is required. Passengers who enter, leave and then re-enter the same country on their itinerary should check if they require a double-entry visa. Passport applications are available at most U.S. Post Offices, as well as at regional Passport Agencies. Passengers requiring visas, whether obtained in advance or locally upon arrival, should ensure that their passport has unstamped visa pages.

    Entry Requirements:
    US citizens require a passport valid for six months beyond travel dates.
    Trip Preparation
    A little pre-planning can make your trip go a lot smoother. Several weeks before your trip, make a list of what you will need to take with you. Make sure your personal documents (passports, visas, driver’s license) are in order and that you have enough prescription medications to last through the trip. We suggest that you make photocopies of passports, visas, personal ID and any other important travel documents and pack them separately from the originals. Pack a list of medications including dosage and generic names. If you lose the originals while traveling, you'll have copies for easier reporting and replacement. You may consider bringing a small supply of over the counter medications for headaches and/or anti-diarrhea pills (especially when traveling outside of the USA and Western Europe). We recommend that you pack a portable alarm clock. Avoid placing valuables such as cameras in your checked luggage. Airplane pressure can cause similar pressure in your body, most notably in ears, as well as liquid tubes and bottles. Your physician can suggest medication for decongestion. As for the liquid containers, we suggest that you squeeze out excess air from those containers and place into Ziploc bags to catch any leaks.

    Cell Phones & Calling Cards
    You may wish to carry a cell phone while traveling. Check with your cell phone provider if your phone will work in the destination(s) you are visiting. U.S. service is dominated by the CDMA technology standard, while most of the world uses the incompatible GSM standard. Some U.S. providers do offer GSM, but you may incur high international roaming fees. With GSM, however, you can often choose to have your phone unlocked and then add a local SIM card for lower fees. If you can access the Internet as you travel, you can take advantage of email or a Skype Internet telephone (VOIP) account for the best value. Alternatively, you may investigate renting a cell phone before you leave or buying an inexpensive phone locally.

    When calling the U.S. from a foreign country, you may also use a prepaid calling card; normally, the only additional charge (besides the prepaid long distance charges) is a local fee of a few cents and possibly a connection fee if you are using your card at your hotel. It is best to check with the hotel’s reception desk prior to making phone calls to avoid unexpected charges.

    Making Telephone Calls from One Country to Another
    When dialing a number from one country to another, you should proceed as follows: dial your country's Exit Code + destination Country Code + Phone Number.
    For most countries, the exit code is 00. Exceptions include the USA and Canada (011), Hong Kong and Cambodia (001), Australia (0011), and Russia (8 Pause 10*). For Brazil, please consult with the local telephone company. If the international number you wish to call starts with a 0 (zero), you must drop this starting digit when dialing the number.

    Wireless Internet Access
    Passengers traveling with WiFi enabled devices (such as a personal computer, smartphone, tablet, or digital audio player) may be able to connect to the internet via a wireless network access point (or hotspot). WiFi access in hotels and/or cruise lines often involves a fee which, in some cases, can be very expensive. Availability of WiFi varies by country, hotel and/or cruise line. Even if WiFi is available, signal strength is subject to local conditions and not guaranteed. Internet availability on cruises is unpredictable due to the ship frequently changing locations while sailing through multiple countries. Passengers requiring internet access may seek out internet cafes or may be able to locate free WiFi hotspots such as libraries or coffee shops. Hotspots can often be located and planned in advance via an online search. Planning ahead may help avoid unnecessary fees.

    Staying Healthy While Traveling
    All travelers should familiarize themselves with local conditions, such as high altitude or required immunizations, which could affect their health. We recommend you consult with your personal health-care provider, the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) and/or theWorld Health Organization (http://www.who.int/en/) for their recommendations.

    There are several easy steps you can take to stay healthy while traveling which may help prevent contracting an illness while away from home.

    • Watch what you eat. Try new foods in modest quantities, and depending upon your destination, you may want to avoid street foods, salad bars, raw vegetables and fruits, unless they have thick peels like bananas or grapefruit.
    • Stay hydrated. Drink bottled water and avoid consuming ice cubes made with tap water.
    • If you have allergies to foods, medications or insect bites, or have any other unique medical issues, consider a medical alert bracelet and/or a physician’s note detailing required treatment should you become ill.
    • Wash your hands regularly and carry hand sanitizer.
    • Where appropriate, pack sunscreen and insect repellant (for both active and warm destinations).
    • You may also want to bring a small first-aid kit with bandaids, antibiotic cream, pain killers, bug bite cream, digestive aids like antidiarrheal or anti-bloat medications, antacids, and cold medicine. This is in addition to any prescription medications which should be adequate for the entire trip.

    Notice on Aircraft Cabin Insecticide Treatment - Please note that some countries may require aircraft cabin insecticide treatment for in-bound foreign flights. A list of such countries is available at: http://www.dot.gov/office-policy/aviation-policy/aircraft-disinsection-requirements.

    Cambodia - No inoculations are required. However, some inoculations are recommended. Please consult your physician before traveling to Cambodia.

    Climate & Clothing
    Vietnam - Southern Vietnam has two seasons, the wet season from May to November and the dry season from December to April. Northern regions also have two seasons with cool and damp conditions from November to April and generally hot, dry conditions from May through October. Bring appropriate clothing depending on the season during which you are traveling. Comfortable walking shoes, clothes you can layer and an all-weather jacket are recommended. Some religious sites may require modest dress to enter (no shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless tops).

    Vietnam Average Temperatures: http://www.gate1travel.com/weather/asia-pacific/default.aspx#southeast-asia-weather

    Cambodia - Cambodia has three seasons. The dry season is from November to March. The hot season is from March to June. The wet season is from July to October. Comfortable walking shoes, clothes you can layer and an all-weather jacket are recommended. A hat and sunscreen lotion are especially recommended during the hot season. Some religious sites may require modest dress to enter (no shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless tops).

    Cambodia Average Temperatures: http://www.gate1travel.com/weather/asia-pacific/default.aspx#southeast-asia-weather

    Thailand - The rainy season is June through October. Bring comfortable walking shoes, lightweight clothes you can layer and a waterproof windbreaker. Some religious sites may require modest dress to enter (no shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless tops).

    Thailand Average Temperatures: http://www.gate1travel.com/weather/asia-pacific/default.aspx#thailand-weather

    Laos - Laos has a tropical monsoon climate, with a pronounced rainy season from May-October, a cool dry season from November-February, and a hot dry season from March-April. Lightweight clothing is advised throughout the year, with an umbrella or raincoat for sudden cloudbursts. Be prepared for high temperatures and humidity. A sweater is advised for cooler evenings. Some religious sites may require modest dress to enter (no shorts, short skirts, or sleeveless tops). Shoes will need to be removed when entering Temples.

    Laos Average Temperatures: http://www.gate1travel.com/weather/asia-pacific/default.aspx#southeast-asia-weather

    Book & Film Recommendations
    Many of our guests enjoy reading about their destination - either in advance of their trip or while traveling - as a way of adding context to their visit. Whether reading a traditional guide book, learning about the history and culture, or simply enjoying a fictional novel set in the destination, a good book can add greatly to your experience. Similarly, a good movie set in your destination helps set the mood before you travel. We asked our Tour Managers and staff to recommend books and films which past guests may have enjoyed. The following does not constitute an endorsement of any authors, books or films listed, it is merely a collection of guests’ recommendations.

    THAILAND: Books
    Presenting Thailand: A Journey through the Kingdom by John Hoskin
    Thailand: A Short History by David K. Wyatt
    A History of Thailand by Chris Baker
    Thailand – Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Custums & Culture by Roger Jones
    Thailand: The Lotus Kingdom by Alistair Shearer
    Fascinating Thailand by John Hoskin

    THAILAND: Films
    Ong Bak (2003)
    Citizen Dog (2004)
    Fan Chan (2003)

    VIETNAM: Books
    Destination Saigon by Walter Mason
    Fields of Fire by James H. Webb
    When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman's Journey from War to Peace by Le Ly Hayslip & Jay Wurts
    The Unwanted: A Memoir by Kien Nguyen
    Dumb Luck by Vu Trong Phung; Translated by Peter Zinoman & Nguyen Nguyet Cam

    VIETNAM: Films
    Indochine (1992)
    Three Seasons (1999)

    CAMBODIA: Books
    Khmer: The Lost Empire of Cambodia by Thierry Zephir
    Enchanting Cambodia by Mick Shippen
    Cambodia: Report from A Stricken Land by Henry Kamm

    LAOS: Books
    The Rough Guide to Laos by Jeff Cranmer & Steven Martin
    Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos by Brett Dakin
    Stalking the Elephant Kings: In Search of Laos by Christopher Kremmer