Southeast Asian Gems in Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos
November 24 to December 6, 2013
- Vietnam’s vibrant capital, Hanoi — steeped in history, rich in exotic scents, buzzing with modern-day activity
- Two nights aboard a new luxury vessel to sail deep into the stunning scenery of Halong Bay — Vietnam’s most revered natural treasure
- Captivating Luang Prabang, the ancient Lao capital with its myriad dazzling temples, French colonial charm, and natural sights nearby
- Phnom Penh‘s wonderful Silver Pagoda and National Museum as well as an obligatory and sobering look at the Khmer Rouge’s recent dark impact on Cambodia by way of ‘The Killing Fields’
- Ancient, phenomenal Angkor Wat and the extraordinary complex of other temples in this area
- Visiting a floating village on Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest lake
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Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos are filled with romantic images that transport visitors into the past: gold-leafed pagodas glinting in the tropical sun; handsome French Colonial architecture under a canopy of frangipani trees; ornate royal capitals; straw-roofed sampans drifting down languid rivers; young monks draped in saffron-colored robes. Our fascinating journey shows us the irresistible treasures of “Indochina” in settings like breathtaking Halong Bay with its emerald waters and stunning limestone cliffs and rock formations — considered by many to be the 8th Natural Wonder of the World; in Hanoi, Vietnam’s energized capital, its ancient history juxtaposed with a modern-day frenzy; at the Angkor Archeological Park, Cambodia’s surreal, jungle-shrouded city of temples — one of the world’s most outstanding architectural achievements; and in Luang Prabang, the heart of the old Lao kingdom, with its tranquil rural rhythms and dramatic setting on the Mekong River.
These three countries reveal an ancient world of stunning beauty and vibrant traditional cultures. Three of our destinations (Halong Bay, the Angkor Complex, and Luang Prabang) are UNESCO-designated World Heritage sites.
• 13-day trip begins in Hanoi, Vietnam, and ends in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
• Deluxe, beautiful hotels throughout; 2 nights aboard a new, luxury vessel in Halong Bay
• All breakfasts (excellent buffets), 8 lunches, 7 dinners
• Venture Out escort throughout plus local guides along the way
The following are the deluxe accommodations that we plan to use for the tour at the time of publishing this itinerary. We reserve the right to make changes to the accommodations.
Hanoi – 2 nights
Considered by many to be Hanoi’s grande dame of hotels, our selected property was built in 1901 — a historical treasure that just oozes French colonial character and the city’s most storied hotel. The property has been through numerous renovations, including a newer wing added in 1996. The staff is pleasant and efficient. The gardens and outdoor pool are lovely, and the adjoining lounge is an oasis of calm in the city center. The hotel enjoys a terrific central location and has three restaurants (Vietnamese, French, International), bars, and a luxurious spa. The chocolate buffet at afternoon tea is epic, and the hotel is just a stone’s throw from Hoan Kiem Lake, a perfect situation.
Halong Bay – 2 nights
For our two nights in Halong Bay we will be aboard a new (built 2011) deluxe boat that combines traditional oriental style and contemporary luxury with excellent service. There are 32 air-conditioned cabins fitted with elegant interiors, French balcony, and floor-to-ceiling sliding glass windows. Timber floors, handcrafted wooden mosaic furniture, and well-appointed bathrooms are just some of the nice features of the very comfortable cabins. Relax on the lounge deck. Enjoy a drink in the bar. Savor delicious Vietnamese and international dishes in the dining room. Indulge in a massage or jacuzzi soak. Enjoy a cooking class, early-morning Tai Chi classes on deck, or squid fishing in the evening. Kayaks are provided and tender craft are used for up-close sightseeing. This is experiencing Halong Bay in style!
Luang Prabang – 3 nights
Located in the heart of the city, this hotel was built at the turn of the last century as the residence of Prince Souphanouvong. It really is one of the most exquisite places in this ancient city, designed with a style inspired by Lao culture and set in a truly relaxing environment with lovely serene gardens. Here you can enjoy private moments to yourself and really unwind or sit and watch the everyday life of local people from your balcony. Every room boasts four-poster beds, retro phones, and wooden furnishings from an era when quality meant more than quantity. The 31 rooms are furnished with superior crafted wood furniture, oversized balconies, and spacious bathrooms with rain shower. Facilities include a restaurant, garden bar, library, and outdoor swimming pool. The beautiful Spa houses a large Jacuzzi, cool plunge pool, and herbal steam room. This is a place of refined taste, replete with antiques and regional handicrafts.
Siem Reap – 3 nights
Our selected hotel in Siem Reap is a tasteful replica of a French colonial-era hotel, but with all of the amenities and functionality of a modern resort. Public spaces are done in earth tones, rattan and wood accents, and art deco floor tiles in mustard yellow tones. A large central atrium with period-piece elevator and towering courtyard staircase greets the visitor to this centrally located property. The spacious pool is a private oasis surrounded by a near mini jungle, with massage salas nestled in the flora. Rooms are large, luxurious, and decorated with retro oil paintings of peaceful jungle scenes and framed photographs of everyday life in Siem Reap. Floors are wood with a border of fine tile that matches luxurious woven bedspreads. All rooms have balconies. Fine dining is on offer at their in-house restaurant.
Phnom Penh – 2 nights
Built in 1929, this is another grande dame of Southeast Asian hotels — the city’s most atmospheric hotel, an authentic Art Deco and colonial classic. Everything from the vaulted ceilings in the lobby to the classic original central stairs breathes history and charm. Arched hallways, black and white floor tiles, and stone columns help lend an air of Indochinese extravagance. Rooms are done with fine tiled entries, high ceilings, indirect lighting, a sitting area with inlaid furniture, and ornate touches like antique wall sconces and fine drapery. Even Jacqueline Kennedy has a room dedicated to photos and memorabilia of her 1967 visit. The central pool area is a tranquil oasis divided by a pavilion, and the amenities throughout, such as the fine spa facility, are top notch. The staff is attentive and very professional.
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