On arrival in Phnom Phen, transfer to the hotel and check-in. Later, set out for a city tour. Explore Phnom Penh, a chaotic, energetic and always fascinating city. Graceful tree-lined boulevards and riverfront promenades are reminders of bygone eras; today they teem with life and activity, as motorcycles weave in and out of traffic, vendors hawk their wares, and pedestrians go about their business. Start the tour with an insight into Cambodia’s cultural heritage with a visit to the Royal Palace, still the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoi and the adjacent Silver Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha. Continue to the elegant National Museum, which contains a comprehensive collection of Khmer Art. Finally, explore the modern-day city, visiting one of Phnom Penh’s two great markets, the Central Market, located in a distinctive domed Art Deco building or the sprawling Russian Market, a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from CDs and DVDs to silks, crafts, jewellery and more.
TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t forget to capture and experience a glorious sunset cruise along the Mekong with unforgettable views of the Royal Palace and the Phnom Penh Skyline
Tuol Sleng Museum (Museum of Genocide): Formerly the Tuol Svay Prey High School, in 1975 it became the Khmer Rouges main torture and interrogation centre. It was known as Security Prison 21 or just S-21. The Killing Fields OF Choeung Ek: people tortured in the S-21 prison (a former school taken over in 1975 by the Khmer Rouge and turned into a torture chamber) were brought here to be executed. Many mass graves were found in this area.
Tonle Bati: Located 35 kilometres south of Phnom Penh on route No. 2, it has a beach and two impressive Angkorian laterite temples from the late 12th century, Ta Prohm and YeayPeau. Both were built under King Jayavarman VII, the same period in which the Bayon and Angkor Thom temples were constructed. Ta Prohm: a temple built by King Jayavarman VII (who ruled from 1181 to 1201) on the site of a 6th century Khmer shrine. Inside the north gate is a statue of the Hindu god PreahNoreay.
Drive to Siem Reap today, and on arrival, check-in to the hotel. Later proceed to Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom covers an area of 10 sq km. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats, the city includes many of Angkor’s most popular sights. Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant naga. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings, former spaces for public ceremonies, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs. Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple. In this temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where giant stone faces smile enigmatically down from every angle. Watch the sun set over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple.
TIP OF THE DAY: Chill out at the famous Pub Street where there are restaurants, bars, street food, and souvenir shops or simply just sit and chill with a relaxing street foot massage and watch the world go by.
Today, set out to explore the crown jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor WAT, the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor WAT impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings.
To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. Upon entering the main building, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyards before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted into the walls. Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones.
TA Prohm is one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared, and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them. Seemingly miniature in comparison to the other Angkor temples, Banteay Srei is considered to be the jewel of classical Khmer art. Built in pink sandstone, the walls are covered in exquisitely preserved carvings of unusual delicacy. Because of its small size, fantasy-like atmosphere and extraordinary examples of Khmer sculpture, this temple is often a favourite with visitors.
Leave behind Cambodia and travel to the vibrant metropolis of Saigon. Saigon teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the meeting of traditional and modern life. The emerging modern skyline stands cheek by jowl with colonial buildings and traditional temples. Outside on the streets, young professionals zip by on motorbikes, chatting on cell phones; inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense.
Begin your tour of this exciting city with a visit to the historic centre, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon. Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel DE Ville), the old Opera House (both may only be viewed from the outside), and pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. Afterwards, dive into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style building was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates. Continue to the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam-American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions. Afterwards, driving to the historic center to visit the Emperor of Jade Pagoda, one of Saigon’s most interesting pagodas.
TIP OF THE DAY: Have a taste of Pho and Banh mi, two of the best street food items in the world.
Never discovered by American forces, the Cu Chi Tunnels were an important Vietcong base during the American War. Stretching over 200 km, this incredible underground network, dug by hand out of hard laterite, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories. Today, you can walk through the area and learn about the day-to-day life of the Vietcong, see the cleverly disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps, and even venture inside the tunnels, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists.
From Saigon, transfer to My Tho, a bustling town in the rich agricultural region of the Mekong Delta, and visit the Vinh Trang Pagoda, a beautiful temple which illustrates the splendid harmonious fusion of Asian and European architectural styles.
Afterwards, board a local boat to explore the Mekong River Islands, stopping at a fruit orchard to enjoy fruit and tea, while listening to local music. The trip also includes a brief sampan ride through the tiny waterways that thread the island.
Check-out from your hotel in Saigon and transfer to the airport. Board the flight to Bangkok to begin the last part of your Far East adventure! On arrival at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, transfer to your hotel in Pattaya. The rest of the day is free to explore on your own.
Pattaya is nestled along a picturesque bay on the East Coast of the Gulf of Thailand, roughly 105 miles southeast of Bangkok. As a beach resort with city status, Pattaya has something for everyone. This scenic destination makes an all-out attempt to provide the best of everything, from recreation, to entertainment and sports, to sightseeing and fun.
Depart by speedboat to explore the fascinating Koh LAN Island (Coral Island). Coral Island is a lovely spot catering to all kinds of tourists. You have time to explore the island and enjoy various beach activities such as water ski, water scooter and parasailing. Buffet lunch will be served in a local restaurant. After lunch, transfer back to the hotel.
Transfer to Bangkok and check-in to your hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure!
Bangkok, the capital of Thailand and welcomes more visitors than any other city in the world. This is a city of extremes, with action in every corner. Marvel at the gleaming temples, catch a tuk tuk along the bustling Chinatown or take a long-tail boat through the floating markets. Food is another Bangkok highlight, from local dishes served at humble street stalls to haute cuisine at romantic rooftop restaurants.
Proceed for an exciting city tour of Bangkok. You will visit two significant temples in Bangkok – Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha Temple) and Wat Trimit (Golden Buddha Image).
Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha Temple): At 28 acres, it is the largest Wat in Bangkok, and is technically the oldest too, as it was built around 200 years before Bangkok became Thailand’s capital.
Wat Trimit (Golden Buddha Image): The image is made from solid gold weighting 5.5 tons. It is a fine example of Sukhothai art, and was discovered by chance from a layer of stucco during construction of the temple.
After the temple visit, proceed to the Gems Gallery. The Beauty of Thai Jewellery and gemstones is well-known the world over. The quality of the precious stones, the design, cutting and polishing skills of Thai artisans, all these combine to give rise to world-class jewellery and gems. Experience fist hand demonstration on the process from mining to finishing of diamonds and other Thai local products.
Transfer to the airport to board your flight back home.