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The Khmer Empire - Cambodia & Laos

 

The captivating kindom of Cambodia has a history spanning more than 15 centuries. The Khmer Empire dominated Indochina for more than five centuries, controlling much of Laos, Thailand and Vietnam from the ancient capital of Angkor. As you travel on this tour you will trace the development of art and architecture under successive Cambodian kings, on a journey encompassing neighbouring Laos ‘Land of a Million Elephants’, witnessing the spiritual and cultural progress of a civilisation travelling through Khmer Surin towards Angkor, the stunning spiritual home of the Cambodian people. With its chaotic yet charming cities, rich colonial architecture, verdant countryside and warm and welcoming people, Indochina is truly an unforgettable land of serenity and splendour.

 

 

Day 1 & 2: Depart for Luang Prabang

Day 3: Arrive Luang Prabang (D)
On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel for 3-night stay. If time permits you will visit Wat Winsulat, Wat Saen and the Royal Palace national Museum. This evening enjoy dining at L’Elephant, one of the city’s best restaurants.

Day 4: Luang Prabang (B, L, D)
Explore Wat Xieng Thong Temple and cruise the Mekong to Pak Ou Caves. Located upstream from Luang Prabang, Pak Ou Caves, locally called Tam Ting, contains thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues crammed into two caves carved out of a towering limestone cliff. The statues range in size from a few centimeters tall to the size of a human, and the view from the mouth of the cave provides sweeping views of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers. The caves are also a destination for local pilgrimages, especially during the Lao New Year period of Pii Mai.

Day 5: Luang Prabang - Kaung Si - Luang Prabang (B, L, D)
To Kuang Si Falls, visiting a potters’ and a minority village. The remainder of the day is at your leisure for additional sight-seeing or relaxing in this charming city.

Day 6: Luang Prabang - Vientiane (B, L, D)
Free time this morning in Luang Prabang. Your guide and private car will meet you at the hotel and transfer you to the airport for your departure flight to Vientiane, the capital of Laos.This afternoon, visit “Les Artisans Lao”. Here the trainees transform recycled and renewable materials such as bamboo, palm, and mulberry leaves into quality notebooks, stationary and printer paper. Carved wood materials and coconut based products are also crafted here. By visiting the centre, you help promote poverty alleviation by supporting the creation of livelihood opportunities for disadvantaged groups as they learn a new, sustainable trade. If time permits, you will also visit COPE, an association working to help landmine victims. A visit to the center provides in-depth information about the history of the American/Vietnam war and the lasting impact of unexploded ordinances (UXO) in the area and the efforts underway to clear them. Before sunset, enjoy a stroll along the Mekong River banks and stop, if you wish, to enjoy a cold drink at one of the many riverside food stalls.

Day 7: Vientiane (B, L, D)
Start this morning with a visit to That Luang, the holiest site in Laos. Constructed by King Setthethirat in the 16th century, the temple is resplendent as the sun is shines upon its towering golden spire. Then, enjoy a panoramic view over the city as you climb the stairs to the top of Patuxai, Vientiane’s own “Arc de Triomphe”. Continue down Lane Xang Avenue the serene Wat Sisaket, the only temple left intact after the Siamese (Thai) invasion in 1828. It is one of the most beautiful temples in the capital, and its breezy teak covered hallways are filled with thousands of miniature Buddha statues. Continue on to the nearby Wat Phra Keo. Used as a religious museum, Wat Phra Keo displays a collection of both Lao and Khmer works of art. Tonight you will have the unique opportunity to experience one of Laos’ oldest traditions: The Baci. The purpose of the Baci, which is a mix of Animist and Buddhist beliefs, is to call back escaped spirits to the body. This is something that is very important before major events such as weddings, births, travel, welcoming friends and farewells. Dinner is served after the Baci ceremony at the home of your evening hosts where you will have the chance to sample some authentic Lao homemade cuisine.

Day 8: Vientiane - Phnom Penh (B, L, D)
Fly to Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh is relatively new as the capital of Cambodia, replacing Angkor. Located at the confluence of the Mekong and the Tonle Sap rivers, Phnom Penh could control the riverine trade from Laos, fish and pottery trade from the Tonle area, as well as goods from the Mekong area, particularly from China. After lunch visit the Royal Palace, built in 1866 by King Norodom, with its magnificent Silver Pagoda containing 5000 silver floor tiles. You will also visit Wat Phnom, located atop the only hill in the city and the symbol of Phnom Penh. Visit the National Museum, built in 1917, one of the most striking Khmer buildings in Phnom Penh and a repository of the Kingdom’s cultural wealth.

Day 9: Phnom Penh - Siem Reap (B, L, D)
Journey to the impressive pre - Angkorian Isanapura and on via Spean Praptos Khmer Bridge to Siem Reap for 5 nights. Siem Reap is the cultural home of the Khmer people and Angkor is one of the ancient wonders of the world. This vast network of Wats, dating back to the 7th century, is the center of some of the most important structures, statues, and carvings produced in the name of the Buddhist and Hindu religions. First rediscovered by Western archeologists in the late 19th century, the “lost city of Angkor” was only fairly recently re-opened to foreigners. The whole area is a model of the Hindu universe, where construction was designed to create harmony between mankind and the gods.

Day 10: Angkor (B, L, D)
Begin at Rolous, earliest of Angkor’s capitals, constructed in the 8th and 9th century and was consists of three main temples: Bakong, Lolei and Preah Ko. In the afternoon visit vast Preah Khan, delicate Neak Poan and Pre Rup royal crematorium. Enjoy the dinner with a traditional Khmer dance performance at a theatre this evening.

Day 11: Angkor (B, L, D)
Visit Banteay Srei with its elaborate carvings, then pause at the Landmine Museum and Bantey Samre before journey on Tonle Sap Lake. Board a local boat and visit Kampong Phluck, a village where you will see houses on stilts that are submerged when Tonle Sap Lake extends. You will pass floating houses and impressive flooded forest, portraying life on the water. Evening is free at your leisure for personal shopping at the markets with Tuk Tuk.

Day 12: Angkor (B, L, D)
View jungle-clad Ta Prohm, the giant pyramid of Takeo, the temple was built in the memory of King Jayavarman VII's mother; the Buddhist monastery of Banteay Kdei and the royal pond of Sra Srang. Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. The city draws a perfect square on the map and you can access the town through 5 gates. The walled city includes the Terraces of the Leper King and elephants, beautiful Baphuon Temple and enigmatic Bayon Temple. Bayon temple lies exactly in the center of the city. The particularity of this monument is the 54 towers representing the 54 provinces of the ancient Great Khmer Empire. Each tower has 4 Bayon faces. This is the only temple in Cambodia depicting scenes of every day life at the time of the empire.

Day 13: Angkor (B, L, D)
Sunrise at Angkor Wat, one of the seven world heritage, the heart and soul of Cambodia, is possibly the world’s largest religious building, built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Construction is thought to have taken around thirty years of intensive labor. Continue on to restored Banteay Samre. Afternoon head to the countryside around the Western Baray, where you can spot water buffalos in swampy ponds, visit the Angkor Silk Farm to see the entire process of silk creation if time permits, then view wonderful sunset at Bakheng Hills.

Day 14: Siem Reap/Bangkok/Los Angeles (B)

Trip date:
November 19 - December 2, 2016

Trip Price:
Including flights $ 5,990 per person
Excluding flights $ 4,280 per person

Included in trip price:
Flights, tour coordinator/guide, accommodation on full meal basis, Monument admission fee, ground transportation, internal flights

Excluded in trip price:
Insurance, visa, additional programs, gratuities

Flights:
Los Angeles/Bangkok/Luang Prabang
& Siem Reap/Bangkok/Los Angeles

Our Hotels (or similar):
Luang Prabang: Villa Maly ****
Vientiane: Green Park *****
Phnom Penh: Amanjaya Pancam ****
Siem Reap: Hotel de la Paix *****