Thứ Tư, 31 tháng 10, 2012

Top 5 Countries to Volunteer Outdoors in for Adventurous Travelers

Although travelers who seek adventure may not realize it, they have a lot in common with those who combine travel with volunteering. Adventure travel and volunteer travel both offer a unique perspective on a new destination. Whether you’re zip lining over a forest in Costa Rica or building a school for a local community in Russia, you are engaging with your travel destination on a whole new level.

If you’re an adventurer who’s new to the volunteering abroad world, don’t fret, there are an infinite number of ways to get involved in voluntourism. Some people may want to volunteer in the development office of an NGO in Peru or teach English to Chinese students. However, these more stationary positions might not be right for you. There are plenty of ways to get outside and explore a new place while contributing to the local community at the same time. These five countries offer many wonderful opportunities to volunteer for those with an adventurous spirit.

South Africa

South Africa

South Africa is a great place for a volunteer interested in conservation. More than 20,000 different plant species can be found in South Africa, making it one of the world’s megadiverse nations. Its wildlife also makes South Africa a popular safari destination. Volunteers can work on local wildlife reserves where activities may include building fences, clearing trails, tracking and counting wildlife, feeding animals, and more. Popular national parks include Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga and Addo Elephant National Park. With numerous exciting ways to spend your free time after volunteering, you will never get bored. The South African coast, a popular scuba diving destination, is a great place to volunteer with marine life, conservation, and just relax.

Ecuador

Ecuador is known all over the world for its beautifully unique landscapes and wildlife. The most popular types of volunteering in Ecuador are conservation and teaching. While the two can be mutually exclusive, there are also great opportunities to teach about sustainable practices when it comes to wildlife and environmental conservation. The Amazon rainforest and the Galapagos Islands’ extreme biodiversity ensure that the outdoor explorer will stay busy in Ecuador. Various endangered and near-endangered plants and animals in Ecuador benefit from volunteer work that focuses on protecting these rare species (like jaguars, pumas, and the howler monkey.) Unfortunately, human development and tourism has had large impacts on the endangerment of these precious animals and their habitats. Anyone looking for an adventure in Ecuador should look into volunteering on a beach or in a forest in this beautiful country.

Cambodia

Cambodia Tours

Cambodia, located in Southeast Asia, is full of activities to keep a volunteer busy in their free time. Try viewing the cities and ancient ruins by bicycle or scuba diving to see the natural underwater wonders. A true Cambodian adventure goes beyond fun outdoor activities. As a volunteer you will live like a local while contributing to community development. Lend a hand in Cambodia to fight growing social issues that separate the rich from the poor. Volunteers are needed to support refugees and homeless, work in health clinics, teach children, and more.

Ghana

Ghana is another great place to get outdoors and experience one-of-a-kind sights throughout the country. Similar to the other destinations on this list, Ghana has a number of national parks and coastal areas where volunteers can get their hands dirty. Help protect endangered elephants, monkeys, and birds throughout the country in wildlife reserves and parks. Sports fans will especially enjoy volunteering in Ghana – children in Ghana are particularly interested in sports, which lends to volunteer projects in sports development and coaching. Playing sports with kids at local school is one of the most fun ways to contribute to youth empowerment. Whatever your interest may be, there are a number of ways to get involved with Ghana’s local community.

Thailand

Thailand Tours

A volunteer trip to Thailand isn’t complete without a cultural adventure and a volunteer project. The coast of Thailand and surrounding islands offer great breathtaking opportunities to snorkel, scuba, surf, and more. If water sports aren’t your thing, exploring Thailand’s tropical forests is another great way to spend your time. The different types of forest regions in Thailand are great for those interested in local conservation and the impact of tourism on the land and wildlife. Thailand has a number of elephant sanctuaries where you can get up close and personal with these giant animals who are exploited regularly. Give back to the local community by promoting sustainability, volunteering at a national park, or teaching English at a school or monastery.

No matter what kind of adventure travel you’re interested in, there are plenty of ways to explore the world while volunteering, too. Whatever efforts you can make to have a positive and meaningful impact on your host community are important. Step outside of your comfort zone and find an adventure volunteer program that fits your needs and interests.

HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
Website: www.huongviettravel.com  | http://www.aseantravelandtours.com  | http://www.visavietnamonline.com  | http://www.huongvietjsc.com
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Ancient Kingdoms Tour

Day 1 - Arrive Yangon Upon arrival, you will be greeted by your our Guide who will accompany you as you transfer to the hotel.
Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is a relatively quiet and charming city. Its impressive colonial and spiritual heritage makes it one of the most fascinating cities in Southeast Asia.

This afternoon, your journey begins with a visit around the city and its highlights. Stop at the National Museum where a tour of the priceless ancient artifacts, works of art and historic memorabilia will help you gain insight in to the country's history. Of particular note are the three halls on the ground floor, which hold exhibits on the evolution the Myanmar alphabet, the Lion Throne Room, and artifacts from the Yatanabon Period. Continue to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, which houses a 70-meter reclining Buddha.

Late this afternoon, visit Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. The central stupa is 90 meters tall and gilded with gold leaf. As the sun begins to set enjoy the breathtaking views of the Pagoda and surrounding skyline before transferring back to your hotel.
Overnight in Yangon.

Day 2 - Yangon - Mandalay
Early this morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Mandalay.
Upon arrival, begin your sightseeing tour of Mandalay with a visit to Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda is home to one of the country's most revered Buddha images which, over the years, has been covered with gold leaf giving it an almost 'lumpy' texture. Mandalay is well known for its skilled craftsmen and as you tour traditional workshops, you will learn more about the city's cottage industries. Observe the production of wood carvings, kalaga tapestries, and gold-leaf where the techniques remained unchanged from those used centuries ago to craft items for the Royal Court.

This afternoon, continue your tour of Mandalay with a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda, whose 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures have earned it the title 'World's Biggest Book'. Continue to Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining building from the 19th century Royal Palace. This grand teak building is known for its exquisite woodcarving.
Head to the top of Mandalay Hill as the sun begins to set to enjoy magnificent views of the the city and Irrawaddy River.
Overnight in Mandalay.
 
Day 3 - Mandalay - Amarapura - Ava - Sagaing - Ba Gan
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for an excursion around Mandalay to explore the former capitals of Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing.

Begin your tour in Amarapura, where you will attend a special ceremony. Witness the alms collection at Mahagandayon monastery, when over one-thousand monks gather to collect their daily meal from the local Buddhists. After this beautiful spectacle, continue to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200 year-old teak bridge. The bridge spans over 2 kilometers in length and offers fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams. Before leaving Amarapura, stop at a silk weaving workshop which produces exquisite handmade products.

Continue to Ava, the capital from 14th to 18th centuries and travel by horse and carriage through the area stopping to visit the old wooden Bagaya Monastery and the remains of the Royal Palace and Fort.
This afternoon, cross a bridge over the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing. Covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar. It is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centers and you will visit pagodas such as Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin, U Min Thone Sae, and Shin Pin Nan Gyaing.
Return to Mandalay and transfer to the airport for a late afternoon flight to Bagan.
Overnight in Bagan.

Day 4 - Bagan (B) OPTION: Start your morning with a hot-air balloon flight over the plains of Bagan.???? Enjoy fabulous views as the sun rises over the stupas and Irrawaddy River.?? This is truly an unforgettable and unique experience! (Note: available only from October to March)

After breakfast, visit the colorful Nyaung Oo Market where every day the locals come to buy and sell fresh produce and other goods.?? Continue on to the golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda for an introduction in to Bagan's rich history.

Continue to Ananda Temple, an architectural masterpiece and one of Bagan's most beautiful temples.?? Built in the early Mon-style, Ananda contains two unique Buddha images whose expressions seem to change depending on the distance from which the statue is viewed.

From here, travel by horse cart for a tour passing Thatbyinnyu, the highest temple in Bagan, massive Dhammayangyi Temple, noted for its remarkable brickwork, and Sulamani Temple. Enjoy an unforgettable sunset over the plains from the upper terrace of one of the temples.
Overnight in Bagan.

Day 5 - Bagan - Yangon (B) After breakfast, visit Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jataka murals paintings and the elegant Htilominlo Temple, noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations.
This afternoon, take a walk through Myinkaba village and have the opportunity to observe the village's sites as well as observe local craftsman with a visit to a lacquer ware workshop. Here you can watch the detailed production of one of the best-known Myanmar handicrafts.
Later, transfer to the airport for the domestic flight to Yangon.
Overnight in Yangon.

Day 6 - Depart Yangon (B) Depending on flight time, there is an option to take a ride on Yangon's Circle Train in the morning.
This morning transfer to Yangon Railways station to take a unique ride on the city's circular train ride through the outskirts of town (45 minutes ride). This slowly traveling train gives you unique opportunity to observe the lively, colorful lifestyle of the local people. Disembark at the Insein market where you can peruse the various stalls and interact with the friendly vendors before transferring back to Yagnon.
This afternoon, visit Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott's Market, where you can browse through the wide selection of Myanmar handicrafts and other goods before transferring to Yangon International Airport for your onward flight. (Note: Market is closed on Mondays and public holidays)

Our services include:
  • 5 nights accommodation on half-twin room basis with daily breakfast
  • English-speaking guide throughout the trip (from Yangon to Yangon) except for 1 pax (station guides – different guide at each place)
  • All transfers and excursions with private air-conditioned vehicles with drivers
  • Horse cart tour in Bagan & Ava
  • Porter fees at airports
  • Entrance fees for the visits mentioned in the program
Our services do not include:
  • Domestic flights (rate: pls be referred the airfare table)
  • International ticket to/from Yangon
  • Meals not mentioned (B = breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • Visa arrangements for Myanmar
  • Visits not mentioned in the program
  • Drinks and personal expenses
  • Tips and porters at the hotels
  • International departure Airport Tax Yangon  (USD 10/pax at present)
  • Any other items not mentioned
HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
Website: www.huongviettravel.com  | http://www.aseantravelandtours.com  | http://www.visavietnamonline.com  | http://www.huongvietjsc.com
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Thứ Ba, 30 tháng 10, 2012

Myanmar Experience – Myanmar, Asia

As I came off the plane in Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, fresh from the mega modern city of Bangkok, I could feel that I had stepped into a land forgotten, a still timeless world, barely struggling to enter the modern age.

Yangon is a busy, dirty, sprawling capital with a decidedly Indian feel, chaotic with commerce, simplistic in function. Sidewalk markets spring up everywhere at differing times of the day, selling cheap clothing, produce, CDs and all manner of bric-a-brac. People everywhere chew betel and spit the red juice, a habit I’ve never been able to grow accustom to.

In the middle of this humanity stands the great Shwedagon Pagoda, a living, breathing testament to the great reverence for their Buddhist religion. It is the most opulent and grand shrine in Myanmar. Sitting at sunset, watching the pilgrims praying, a few tourists taking photos, I am reminded of the grandeur of another bygone age. Clearly it is not a place to linger.

I leave Yangon the following day via the surprisingly efficient Air Mandalay, to Bagan, where, over 3,000 temples and shrines dot the vast plain. Bagan has not woken up to the modern world, although it is stirring with a few tourist restaurants and internet spots in town. For the most part, the overwhelming feeling is of having left the world behind and stepped into a parallel world of horse carts, bicycles and a pace that seems in no hurry to go anywhere.

Having been to Angkor Wat last year and battled with hordes of tourists and an inability to see any of the temples without a crowd in tow, Bagan was infinitely more rewarding on many personal levels, equal in greatness and importance as an ancient archeological masterpiece. From Bagan, I once again hopped a low cost Air Mandalay flight down to Ngapali Beach in the south, not too far from the border with Bangladesh.
Ngapali is said to be the most beautiful of Myanmar beaches, and indeed it was pristine, clean and peaceful, but already showing signs of development. The finest beaches were to be found on several day trips by boat to offshore islands. Finding endless untouched powder sand beaches and perfectly clean muti-hued ocean, I was adopted by a sea gypsy family, with a 10-year-old girl and boy bringing me coconuts with bamboo straws during the day, inviting me to their grass home for a meal in the afternoon. Never once was I asked for money. I came into their world and, therefore, I was to be cared for. By far this was the high point of my time in the country, it will stay with me forever.

What surprised me the most was the ecological wholeness of the country. The rivers are blue, so clean. Even the great and storied Irrawaddy, running 500 meters wide in places, was the prettiest river I’ve seen in many years. Never was there trash on any beach or floating plastics in the ocean. Of course, the issue of the government of Myanmar is a difficult one. Many would say you shouldn’t go, but during my two weeks there, I saw nary a military or police presence, little, if any, of my money went to the government. No doubt being there helped the people in many different ways, economically, culturally and most importantly, exposing them to the possibilities and realities of the outside world.

Most people I spoke with agreed that the situation was improving, that Myanmar was opening up, at a measured pace. Being a confirmed wanderer for the past 35 years to over 45 countries, I was caught “off stride” by my experience. It was a trip back to the Asia of the 1940s and 1950s. Outside the cities you clearly felt like time had stood still. Watching the sun go down over the Irrawaddy River from the top of one of the many pagodas, it could have been hundreds of years ago.

Air Asia flies daily to Yangon from Bangkok for as little as $40.00. Air Mandalay flies direct from Chiang Mai to Yangon or Mandalay. Myanmar Airlines is the government airline, should be avoided, if possible. Twenty-eight day visas are obtainable at the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok, same day (expedited) or two days. It is highly recommended to have your travel agent arrange your visa to avoid a long day in line. Daily costs for hotels and food are less than in Thailand or Indonesia
Source: bootsnall.com

HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
Website: www.huongviettravel.com  | http://www.aseantravelandtours.com  | http://www.visavietnamonline.com  | http://www.huongvietjsc.com
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Hidden North Discovery

Day 1: Arrival - HANOI (-/-/-) Hoan Kiem Lake
Meet on arrival at Noi Bai Airport, transfer to hotel for check in. Then you enjoy a tour by cyclo around the old quarter streets to discover the local people life.
O/N in Ha Noi.

Day 2: FULL DAY HANOI CITY TOUR (B/-/-)
Morning: A half day city tour includes Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum with its house on stilts and One pillar pagoda. An orientation drive via colonial quarter to the West lake before taking a visit to Temple of Literature well known as Vietnam’s first university.
Afternoon: Transfer to visit the Ethnology museum. Enjoy your time to learn about 54 ethics in Vietnam.
Then continue visiting to the Hoan Kiem Lake with Ngoc Son temple. The rest of time for a cyclo ride in the old quarter streets to discover the local people life.
Evening: Water Puppet Show, the traditional unique Vietnamese art.
O/N in Ha Noi.

Day 3: HANOI - MAI CHAU (B/L/D)
Today, we start the adventure journey to the hidden North Vietnam by
In the morning, we start from Hanoi to Hoa Binh - the nearest place from Hanoi that we can see the ethnic minorities.
Upon arrival in Hoa Binh, we will take a 2-hour boat trip on Hoa Binh Lake for relaxation & viewing daily local life of Muong and Dzao People living around the lake. After lunch at Hoa Binh, proceed to Mai Chau. The valley of Mai Chau, with Thais’ s houses-on-stilts, is surrounded by rice fields, mountains and forest.
Free time in Mai Chau valley & view sunset behind the hills. After dinner in a family, we have the opportunity to take part to a traditional dance show.
O/N at house on stilts in Pom Coong remote village.

Day 4: MAI CHAU - SON LA (B/L/-)  This morning we are going to have a short trekking journey (or bike tour) to some of remote villages of Thai People inhabiting in Mai Chau valley. This trip to the northwest highland of Mai Chau offers a balance of cultural and physical activities set amongst some northern Vietnam's stunning natural landscape.
Then transfer to Son La. During a long day traveling, you have the opportunity to enjoy the northern scenery.
O/N in Son La.

Day 5: SON LA - DIEN BIEN PHU (B/L/-) The morning we visit Son La old Prison and some of nearby hill-tribe villages before we depart for Dien Bien Phu, the site of the decisive battle in Vietnam’s struggle for independence in 1954. The scenic route climbs over Pha Din Pass before dropping down to Dien Bien Phu Town where we have chance to visit the museum, A-1 hill and the former French command post with its trophy tank.
O/N in Dien Bien Phu.
Day 6: DIEN BIEN PHU - TAM DUONG (B/L/-) Upon leaving Dien Bien we spend a full day traveling through Vietnam’s most mountainous region. Along the way there are some opportunities to explore the spectacular scenery with a mixture of terraced fields and hill villages and visit the Red Hmong, Kho Mu, Mang, Dao hill-tribe people.
O/N in Tam Duong.

Day 7: TAM DUONG - SAPA (B/L/-) After a morning bumpy drive through the most beautiful hidden-north landscapes region, we arrive in Sa Pa. At an elevation of 1,500 meters, Sa Pa is a former French hill resort and home to some of Vietnam’s most colorful ethnic minority groups. Free afternoon to discover the town with its villas in French architecture, church and Ham Rong Mountain.
O/N in Sa Pa.

Day 8: SAPA (B/L/-) Time to visit Sa Pa Market where the Red Dao, Black Hmong, Tay , Xa Pho ethnic minority people converge from the surrounding mountainsides or valley to trade their goods and enjoy a walk to some nearby hill tribe villages such as Cat Cat, Lao Chai and Ta Van villages.
O/N in Sa Pa.

Day 9: SAPA - BAC HA MARKET - BACK TO HANOI BY TRAIN (B/L/-)Sapa Town We continue venturing into northern Vietnam with the next stop being Bac Ha Market, which also attracts a wide variety of ethnic minority groups including the Variegated Hmong, Dao, Phu La, La Chi, Tay. The experience of this congregation is colorful and unique.
Afternoon, enjoy a boat trip down stream Chay River and take visit to villages along the river, discover the local people life.
Transfer to Lao Cai Railways Station for overnight train back to Hanoi.
O/N on board.

Option 1: Bac Ha & Muong Khuong Market on Sunday
Option 2: Coc Ly Market on Tuesday
Option 3: Lung Khau Nhin Market on Friday
Option 4: Can Cau Market on Saturday

Day 10: HANOI RAILWAYS STATION - HALONG BAY (B/-/-)
06h00: Arrive at Hanoi Railways Station, transfer to hotel for leisure and breakfast.
09h00: Transfer to Halong Bay.
A 5-hour boat trip to visit Ha Long Bay, listed as a World Heritage Area of outstanding natural beauty. This picturesque “Dragon descending to the sea” Bay has 1,969 limestone islets rising from the sea, many of them containing beautiful grottoes. Visit of a grotto then seafood lunch on board.
O/N in Ha Long.

Day 11: HALONG BAY - HANOI (B/-/-) After breakfast at hotel, drive back to Ha Noi.
PM: At leisure for own activities.
O/N in Ha Noi.

Day 12: HANOI - Departure (B/-/-) At leisure until transfer to Noi Bai Airport for departure flight (check out hotel before 12h00).

Cost in US$ per person in the party (valid until 30 Sep'11)
HIDDEN NORTH DISCOVERY
Standard
First
Superior
2 pax
1,2041,3011,382
3 - 6 pax
1,0191,1151,197
7 -10 pax
783880961
11 - 14 pax
685781863
Single supplement
219316385
Full board supplement
180
180
200

INCLUDING:
• Transportation in private air-conditioned vehicle with driver
• Accommodation in hotels, guesthouses (twin shared room)
• Meal as mentioned: B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner
• English or French speaking guide
• Entrance fee to indicated sights
• Water puppet show, traditional dance show in Mai Chau
• Boat trip

EXCLUDING: Other meals, tip, drinks, airport tax, single room, personal expenses, insurance...
HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
Website: www.huongviettravel.com  | http://www.aseantravelandtours.com  | http://www.visavietnamonline.com  | http://www.huongvietjsc.com
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Thứ Sáu, 26 tháng 10, 2012

Vientiane Or Luang Prabang Full - Day Tour

OPTION 1: VIENTIANE HALF-DAY CITY TOUR Wat Sisaket
(No Lunch)
A.M or P.M Take a half day sightseeing tour of Vientiane, the capital of the Lao PDR, visit religious museums of Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple to have been survived from the Siamese war of 1828 and its cloister contains more than 8000 Buddha statues; Wat Ho Prakeo, the former home-temple of the Emerald Buddha statue or Pra Keo, but today it contains a collection of Buddha statues, antiques and all artifacts found in around Vientiane; That Luang Stupa, the single most important monument in Laos, which was built to cover the original small stupa containing a piece of the chest bone of Buddha; Patouxay (Arch de Triumph), built quite recently in commemoration of those who died during the wars in the past and it is today as the land mark of Vientiane and drive to outskirts of Vientiane to visit Ban Nongbouathong, the well-known village of Tai Deang ethnic sub-group for silk weaving textiles with natural dyes.

OPTION 2: LUANG PRABANG FULL-DAY TOUR Laos Tours
A.M meet at hotel and begin to visit the National Museum, the former Royal Palace which houses the collection of valuables including the famous Prabang Buddha statue, gifts received from foreign dignitaries…etc. Visit Hmong market for shopping in town. Drive to outskirts of Luang Prabang to visit Ban Xangkhong, the well-known village for making wood papers and also Lao silk weavings with natural dyes.

P.M take a sightseeing tour of the sacred city of temples, of which nearly fifty still remain in the town and surrounding areas. Visit Wat Visoun, the 16th century temple served as a small museum for religious artifacts; Wat Aham, the early 19th century temple, whose two guardian figures at the foot of the steps which represent two characters from the Ramayana — Hanuman, the Monkey God and a fierce Yaksa; Wat Xiengthong, the 16th century temple, which more than any temples in Luang Prabang, epitomizes all the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang architecture; Phousi Hill, the 328 steps leads to the summit of Phousi Hill that dominates the sky-line of Luang Prabang overlooking the finest panoramic view in the whole Luang Prabang.

Cost in US$ per person in the party (valid 30 Sep'09)
LAOS DAY TRIPS
OPTION 1
OPTION 2
2 pax
50
72
3 - 5 pax
42
58
6 -9 pax
30
46
10 - 14 pax
25
42
15 pax up
22
32


INCLUDING:
• Transfers & tours with English speaking guide.
• Private air-conditioned transport + boat.
• Entrance fees for sightseeing as indicated in the itinerary.
• Baggage handling and porterage.
• Refreshing tower and drinking on tour.
• Service charge & government tax.

EXCLUDING:
• Travel insurance against any personal injury of illness and damage of the property incurred during the course of this trip.
• Personal expenses such as: drinks, phone calls, laundry, tip...etc.

HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
Website: www.huongviettravel.com  | http://www.aseantravelandtours.com  | http://www.visavietnamonline.com  | http://www.huongvietjsc.com
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Suntan Laotian

People thought I was a lunatic for coming all the way to Laos, a landlocked nation without any beaches, for a “vacation”?
Even I thought I was out of my mind.

After a couple of days lying on the grass in the hazy egg-yolk-shaped sun of Vientiane, a Southeast Asian Wild West town, though, I was bronzed as a Buddha and ready to haggle in the marketplace for a Siddhartha statue. The real reason I’d come here instead of the idyllic beaches of Thailand, such as Krabi and Ko Samet, was classified information. But boy was I tan! My burnt reflection in the mirror, combined with a Spaghetti Western squint, lent me the ephemeral aura of a local.

Actually I was really in Laos to add another country to my laundry list of world conquests. (We all collect places.) I suppose I was also here for a little R and R: “Reading” and “Riting.” Occasionally I escaped into the shade of the bars along the Mekong or coughed up some kip (the Laotian currency) for a Beer Lao or a spicy laap (minced meat salad) at the Mixai Eat-Drink Restaurant. The idyll was added to by water buffalo along the banks, the droning of outrageously monotone frogs, and the conversations of devil-may-care travelers, expats, and embassy personnel. Here, as I whacked mosquitoes and listened to backpackers brag about their travels, I found the fading grandeur of the old Indochina. I felt like an old colonialist in my tan Banana Republic khakis and sturdy Rockports, chucked into a charmed land of rice and men.

I had spent a month on an adventurous white-knuckles tour of Vietnam, doing the entire snake-shaped country from Saigon to Hanoi, and was sort of tripping out on my antimalarial Lariam. (I stopped taking it.) As Lariam scrambled my thoughts, paranoia replaced placidity, and occasionally, as an American visiting a former enemy, images of The Deer Hunter came to mind. I also imagined the populace were trying to kidnap me and install me as their king. Lariam had also affected my ability to read: I tried Pico Iyer’s Video Night in Kathmandu, and all the colorful adjectives seemed to be leaping off the page like colliding Rorschach images in a kaleidoscope. I needed someplace quiet to relax and regain my equilibrium.

The Buddhist nation of Laos, Lan Xiang (Land of a million Elephants), which didn’t seem to have any elephants (nor malaria), proved to be a good prescription for paradise–a sort-of land-locked Shangri-la in the sun. Of course, it had its problems. Much of the country’s highways were plagued by bandits and rebels, which made traveling overland off the beaten track, in a land with few paved roads and many unexploded bombs, a little problematic. But it was oh so quiet. So I decided to stay in the capital and treat it as a Buddhist retreat.

Perhaps because of a rice diet, perhaps because of history, the Buddha was slimmer here than in some countries. Laos has had its lean years and is one of the least explored countries in Southeast Asia–partly because, with its long history as pawn to foreign powers, its communist rulers wanted to keep it that way. During the Vietnam-war-era, CIA-sponsored “Secret War,”, more American bombs were dropped on Laos than in all of World War II, yet Laos, one of the most peaceful Buddhist nations on earth, is not one to hold a grudge. As a sign of the times, according to my Lonely Planet guidebook, the ubiquitous loudspeakers everywhere once issuing patriotic communist rhetoric now spew out “commercial advertisements for laundry powder.”

Tourism was relatively new to the country. It was great not being assaulted by maniacal hawkers selling postcards, cold drinks, and sarongs. It was great also seeing the Kho San Road crowd, with their tattoos, tongue piercings, and dreadlocks looking slightly miffed not knowing where to get magic mushrooms for their omelettes. “Which way to the Golden Triangle?”

These are the credit-card ascetics, Westerners in Eastern garb who can be found making cash advances throughout Southeast Asia. All of them have American Express cards tucked away somewhere: “Don’t give up all your worldly possessions without it!” But I instead talked to local Laotians who kept telling me with third-world politesse, “It is good you are taking much pictures of our country” and “I think you are very smart, American man” and other such slightly off-kilter pleasantries. By getting it wrong they were somehow getting it right, unlike some of my fellow American travelers: “Dammit, where are the shops!”

Everywhere I went I saw images of the Buddha. I wanted one as a souvenir. It’s actually illegal to export Buddha statues out of Laos, but I figured if I hid one somewhere in my backpack maybe I could smuggle one out. In the market I had blundered into one day like a magnet for trouble, there were shelves upon shelves of the normal rotund deities with beatific smiles you see on sale throughout Southeast Asia. But what I was looking for (specifically) was a Siddhartha statuette in what’s called the “Calling for Rain” posture, with his hands down at his sides and fingers pointing to the ground…which was unique to Laos. I finally bought a thumb-sized Buddha that fit the bill.

For those with an Eastern bent, stupendous stupa-studded Laos is the perfect place to brush up on your Buddhism. Most Laos practice Theravada Buddhism (the Middle Path), introduced by Siddhartha Gautama in the 6th century, which avoids extremes of austerity and sensuality, and has three basic tenets: dukkha (suffering), anicca (the transience of all things), and anatta (the nonessentiality of reality). Of course, the ultimate goal is to achieve nirvana, the extinction of all suffering caused by desire.

Arriving at Pha That Luang (Great Sacred Stupa) in Vientiane, the most important religious complex in the country, which resembles a dream by Walt Disney on LSD, I smiled at some saffron-robed monks and entered. The monks waied me; I hied them, mangling my hands together in a “here’s the church, here’s the steeple” configuration. Many of the wats feature two uniquely Laotian types of standing Buddhist statues: the aforementioned “Calling for Rain” posture, and the “Contemplating the Boddhi Tree” posture, with his hands crossed at the wrists in front of the body. Lined up along the walls of wats the Laotian Buddhas resembled those shapely Venetians from Italian sci-fi flicks.

Back at the Syri Guesthouse, in the Quartier Chaoanou, I noticed everyone in the common room, sitting around on their ankles with Cokes in front of them, right outside the door to my bedroom. No way could I get through without first joining in. Though nominally communist, Laotians are way spiritual. (No Marxist “religion is the opium of the people” here in a land where real opium is the opium of the people.) A saffron-robed monk of uncertain age and regal demeanor was chanting. He appeared to be making contact with the other side.
So here was some sort of Buddhist ceremony I’d lucked into.

I was waved over by the manager. A nice cold Coke, most sacred of sodas, was placed in front of me. Incense burned, its smoke curling like ticker-tape. I crouched back uncomfortably on my ankles, when I naturally sit Indian-style.
The monk flitted about the room, marking places with charcoal, his guttural chanting sounding a little like an 
Orientalist didgeridoo. Ommmmmmm!

When the ceremony was over, I asked the manager what was it all about.
“It is a Lucky Ceremony!” she said. Her sly smile and arched eyebrow signified she was sort of on the make, if not for my wallet, then for something close by. We Westerners often mistake genuine friendliness for ulterior motives.

“Oh?” I was intrigued. As a Coppertone capitalist peering over the precipice, who also had trouble fathoming Laotian customs, I expected the ceremony to contain something elusive, ancient, and sage, something which plumbed the depths of the soul and shined a light on the human condition. Something, well, mysterious and arcane, at least.

Instead I received an honest explanation: “Yes, a Lucky Ceremony,” she enthused. “So more tourists will come here, and we make more money!”
I suppose even the Buddha had to make a buck occasionally?
Source: bootsnall.com

HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
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Lanna Hospitality

Day 01: Arrival — Chiang Mai
Arrival at Chiang Mai International airport, meet and transfer to your hotel. Free on your own.

Day 02: Chiang Mai — City Tours
The journey northwards begins as we board a flight to Chiang Mai. After checking into hotel we drive west towards the famous Doi Suthep Mountain and embark on a walk leading us to Wat Prathat Temple near the summit. At an elevation of over 1,000 m , the temple grounds affords a panoramic view over the surrounding countryside. We follow this with a visit to the old and new parts of the town featuring the great diversity. The “Rose of the North”, Chiang Mai has been always noted for exquisite handicrafts whose the combination with the traditional wares of the hill tribe people offers fantastic shopping opportunities. We drive this afternoon to the neighboring villages of Sankampaeng and Borsarng to see the various cottages industries including silk weaving, wood carving, silver ware and umbrellas making. (B, L)

Day 03: Chiang Mai — Elephant Camp — Tha Ton
An early morning we travel by car northbound to Mae Taman Elephant training center to see elephant training shows. Then we followed by riding on the elephant — ox cart riding return to the camp. Buffet lunch at the camp. Afternoon, visit Wat Tham Tub Tao in Chiang Dao before continue onto the sleepy riverside town of Thaton on the banks of Mae Kok River. We drive along winding road to a sleeping town of Tha Ton passing by the breathtaking mountain scenery make for an interesting day. Upon arrival at Thaton on the banks of Mae Kok River, we will visit Tha ton temple, located on the hill, from here you can see the view over the town. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. (B, L)

Day 04: Tha Ton — Long Necked Village — Doi tung — Golden Triangle — Chiang Rai
After breakfast we will drive along the borderline After breakfast, we continue drive to visit Akha and Padong long necked, the hill tribe villages before continue to drive up mountain to Maesai the northern most of Thailand.

We’ll continue drive to visit the Royal Palace and Botanic Garden at Doi Tung, Doi Tung is the site of a major environmental and socio-economic development project initiated by Her Royal Highness Srinakarindra the Princess Mother; mother of His Majesty the King of Thailand. You can spend the time to stroll around at the beautiful gardens. Then continue a famous Golden Triangle in which powerful warlords have fought for control the opium trade. We lunch at a local restaurant before visit the royal capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Saen is nestled on the Mekong riverbank which is now the border between Thailand and Laos. Overnight in Chiang Rai. (B, L)

Day 05: Chiang Rai — Bangkok
Today you will be free on your own activity until time transfer to the airport for your flight return to Bangkok, and connecting your flight to the next destination. (B)

Cost in US$ per person in the party (valid 30 Sep'09)
LANNA HOSPITALITY
Standard
First
Superior
2 pax
542
580
676
3 - 4 pax
416
458
554
5 - 6 pax
357
397
492
7 - 10 pax
371
412
508
11 - 14 pax
313
352
449
15 - 19 pax
282
317
414
20 pax & plus
252
292
389
Single supplement
86
127
223
Full board supplement
110
110
110

PACKAGE INCLUDES: • Accommodation at hotel as listed base on twin sharing basis
• Air conditioned transportation
• Tours as per itinerary including entry fee
• Elephant ride, ox-cart, bamboo rafting
• Meals as indicated on itinerary
• English speaking guide basis (others languages are available with extra cost)
• Drinking water, cool refreshments during the trip

DOESN’T INCLUDE
Other meals, tip, drinks, international airport tax, single room supplement, personal expenses, visa, flight in/ out Thailand, any optional additional tours or activities during free time...

HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
Website: www.huongviettravel.com  | http://www.aseantravelandtours.com  | http://www.visavietnamonline.com  | http://www.huongvietjsc.com
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Thứ Năm, 25 tháng 10, 2012

7 Sustainable Ways to Dive Into Thai Culture

With its palm tree-lined islands, pristine beaches, and untamed jungle, Thailand makes a prime location for nature lovers, but mass tourism, all-night beach raves, and inner-city pollution have, until now, prevented the country from making waves on the eco-tourism radar. Thankfully, a growing trend of eco-friendly tour operators are shifting the focus back to the environment, embracing sustainable tourism that nurtures the country’s natural assets, encourages community-based tourism and preservation efforts, and best of all, offers some great guilt-free adventures.

1. Eco lodges, Chiang Mai

Thailand Tours

Eco lodges are fast becoming the accommodation option du jour in northern Thailand, with scores of tourists descending on the region to undertake treks to visit the area’s unique hill tribe villages, but be wary of their true eco credentials before checking in. Lisu Lodge in Chiang Mai is one of the best options, with its idyllic bamboo huts overlooking lush valleys, and tours that focus on cultural education and exchange, employing local village elders as their guides. The lodge takes its name from the Lisu Hill Tribe village in which it’s based and plays a crucial role in a community based project helping to conserve the heritage of the region’s hill tribes.

2. Nature treks, Chiang Rai

Thailand Tours

If you’re looking for an alternative to the hill tribe treks of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai makes another great starting point for hikers, located in the famed “Golden Triangle” region, where Laos, Thailand and Burma meet. Hiking to visit the nearby Hill Tribes is a popular choice, but there are plenty of alternative trekking possibilities in the region. Short trails or multi-day routes for all ability levels are available, and you can traverse slippery, wildlife-filled jungle, raft along the 80-mile long Mae Kok River, or climb to a mountain lookout for incredible views over the towns and valleys below. For best results, hire a local guide who’ll help you catch your own fish and teach you to cook it up in bamboo.

3. Eco-friendly fishing tours

Thailand Tours

Palm-lined bays teeming with squid come sunset, vast fishing lakes filled with an aquarium of fish, and ocean waters so clear you could catch a fish with your bare hands – Thailand is a fisherman’s paradise. For an eco-friendly tour, pile into one of the traditional long boats or a paddle boats and meander along the lakes and rivers or look out for the new electricity-powered eco-speedboats now available to charter.
For serious fishers, head to the Andaman Islands, a collection of Indian-owned islands northwest of Phuket where you can haul in massive tuna, marlin, and even sharks – the area is renowned as one of the best game fishing destinations in the world, and the strict environmental restrictions means there’s plenty of fish to go around.

4. Less-visited islands

Thailand Tours

The white-sand beaches, lush rainforest, and beach resorts crammed with bamboo huts make Thailand’s islands a hotspot for tourists, especially considering you can buy a luxury break here at a fraction of the price of resorts outside of Asia. Whether you head to a yoga retreat on Ko Samui, sip cocktails on the beaches of Phuket, or experience the famous Full Moon parties of Ko Pha Ngan, there’s an island to suit all tastes, but if you’re looking to avoid the mass tourism resorts and get a taste of life on a real Thai island, take your money to one of the country’s less-visited islands. How about hiking the jungles of the remote Ko Adang, snorkeling the colorful corals along the coast of the pint-sized Ko Kham, or experiencing the laid-back eco-conscious communities of Ko Libong?

5. Elephant sanctuary

Thailand Tours

Elephant trekking is big business in Thailand, especially in the jungles of the north, but before you sign on spare a thought for the animals themselves, who are often not cared for as well as you might be led to believe. While there are some tour operators that genuinely care for their animals, channeling your money into a sanctuary that rescues mistreated elephants and nurtures them in a natural environment is a much better way to get up close and personal with the trunked mammals without risking endangering them in the process. Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary is one well-reputed place run by a Thai-English couple where guests can get involved in the day-to-day care of the elephants, like feeding to bath time.  You can even get a chance to play with the baby elephants. Alternatively, the non-profit Pattaya’s Elephant village has provided homes for former working elephants since 1973 and provides a thorough education for those fascinated by the gentle giants.

6. Bicycle tour

Thailand Tours

While motorbikes and motorized tuk-tuks might provide the bulk of transport options in Thailand, there’s a burgeoning trend of cycle tourism starting up, with a number of eco-conscious tour operators offering bicycle rental or tours. From historical cycle tours cruising around the temples of Bangkok to multi-day treks traversing the varied terrain and remote villages of rural Thailand, there are plenty of options for budding cyclists, but if you’re up for a serious pedal challenge, you could always sign up for the annual long-haul bike ride Tour de Thailand, a 30-day tour running the length of the country to raise money for charity.
If you’re paying a visit to one of Thailand’s many islands, make use of the many bike rental outlets springing up and hire a bicycle for some solo explorations – a great way to burn off those Thai curries while doing your bit for the environment. Just make sure you check your bike over before you set off, as not all rental outlets are not well equipped in bicycle maintenance.

7. Bird watching

Thailand Tours


With almost 1000 bird species fluttering and swooping the treetops and plains of Thailand’s jungles and lakes, it’s unsurprising that the country has become a hotbed of bird watching activities. Look out for 13 species of hornbills, raptors, and fifteen species of kingfishers on a longboat trip around Khao Sok National Park.  Spot rail-babblers and great argus at Krung Ching Waterfall, and keep your eyes peeled at all times for the rare gurney’s pitta. Bird-spotting tours not only provide an eco-friendly way to get up close to the country’s wildlife, but tourist demand discourages deforestation, which means locals take a greater interest in protecting their natural environment.

HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
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Grand Indochina Tour

Day 1: Arrival - HO CHI MINH City (-/-/-)Vietnam Travel Packages
On arrival at Tan San Nhat Airport, you are met and transferred to hotel for check in.
An afternoon city tour of Ho Chi Minh City includes the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Old Post Office, a lacquerware factory, and the Chinatown with Binh Tay Market and Thien Hau Pagoda.
O/N in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 2: CU CHI - TAY NINH (B/-/-)
Depart for Cu Chi and visit an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese fighters during the long struggle for independence. Proceed to Tay Ninh, the head quarter of Cao Dai region founded on 1926. On arrival we attend the fantastic mid-day mass when the followers fill the hall wearing colored robes, a symbol of the curious combination of the Confucianism, Taoism, Christianity and Buddhism.
O/N in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 3: MY THO & BEN TRE (B/L/-)In the morning, transfer to My Tho, take a boat trip downstream to Ben Tre, where you have the opportunity to discover the local people life in Mekong Delta with coconut candy mill, fruit gardens followed by fruit tasting, rice paper mill... Biking or transfer by horse carriage on village road. Lunch at a local restaurant on island with local specialty of "Deep fried Elephant - Eared fish".
Drive back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 4: HO CHI MINH CITY - DANANG - HOIAN (B/-/-)
At leisure until transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for flight to Da Nang.
On arrival at Da Nang Airport, you are met and transferred to Hoi An, which was originally one of major trading centers of Southeast Asia in the 16th century. Visit of Hoi An Town with its low tiled houses of Chinese appearance, Japanese covered bridge, brightly painted temples and pagodas make it one of Vietnam's most delightful places.
O/N in Hoi An.

Vietnam Travel PackagesDay 5: HOIAN - HUE (B/-/-)
Transfer to visit Marble Mountains with its beautiful grottoes and temples. Then continue to visit Cham Museum and proceed to Hue. The scenic 4-hour drive via Hai Van Pass offers spectacular views of mountains, the sea, idyllic beaches and villages.
O/N in Hue.

Day 6: HUE CITY TOUR (B/-/-)
Morning boat trip on Perfume River to visit Thien Mu pagoda and Royal Tomb of Minh Mang. Then continue by car to visit the Royal Mausoleum of Tu Duc. Afternoon, time to visit Imperial Citadel from where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945 and experience the local people life in Dong Da market.
O/N in Hue.

Day 7: HUE - HANOI (B/-/-)
A short morning flight to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. On arrival, we enjoy a half-day city tour with the Temple of Literature well known as Vietnam's first university, and the Ethnology Museum then Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quanh Thanh Temple. Lastly, we have a cyclo ride around the old quarter streets to discover the local people life.
O/N in Hanoi.

Day 8: HANOI - HALONG BAY (B/-/-)
We continue visiting Ha Noi with Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the One Pillar Pagoda, House on Stilts. After having lunch at local restaurant, we drive to Ha Long Bay with stopover in Hai Phong, the biggest port town of northern Vietnam.
O/N in Ha Long.

Day 9: HALONG BAY - HANOI (B/-/-)
A 5-hour boat trip to visit Ha Long Bay, listed as a World Heritage Area of outstanding natural beauty. This picturesque "Dragon descending to the sea" Bay has 1,969 limestone islets rising from the sea, many of them containing beautiful grottoes. Visit of a grotto then seafood lunch on board. Drive back to Hanoi. Evening: Water puppets show, the unique Vietnam traditional art.
O/N in Hanoi.

Day 10: HANOI - HOALU - TAMCOC - HANOI (B/-/-)Vietnam Travel Packages
Transfer to Hoa Lu, the sight of Vietnam's capital during 10th and 11th century. Visit of Dinh and Le Temples, and then continue to Tam Coc, a boat trip on a river through "Ha Long inland" - the quiet and peaceful landscape of rice fields surrounded by limestone formations to visit three grottoes of Tam Coc. Drive back to Ha Noi.
O/N in Ha Noi.

Day 11: HANOI - LUANG PRABANG (B/-/-)
After breakfast at hotel, transfer to Noi Bai airport for flight to Luang Prabang, the ancient first capital of Lane Xang kingdom, the center of religious life in Laos and today the World Heritage City. Arrive in Luang Prabang and transfer to our hotel for check-in.

In the afternoon, we take a sightseeing tour of the sacred city of temples, of which nearly fifty temples still remain in the town and surrounding areas. Visit Wat Visoun, the 16th century temple served as a small museum for religious artifacts; Wat Aham, the early 19th century temple, whose two guardian figures at the foot of the steps which represent two characters from the Ramayana - Hanuman, the Monkey God and a fierce Yaksa; Wat Xiengthong, the 16th century temple which, more than any temples in Luang Prabang, epitomizes all the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang architecture; Phousi Hill, the 328 steps leads to the summit of Phousi hill that dominates the sky-line of Luang Prabang overlooking the finest panoramic view in the whole Luang Prabang.
O/N in Luang Prabang.

Day 12: LUANG PRABANG & PAK OU Cave (B/L/-)
Following breakfast, we depart hotel to the boat landing, and take an excursion (a few hours) by boat, upstream on the Mekong to visit Pak Ou cave in the side of a lime stone cliff and opposite of the mouth of the Mekong and Ou rivers. The sanctuaries at Pak Ou consist of two large caves, both repositories for thousands of Buddha images, which range from mere centimeter to two meters in height.

En route, Lao typical villages are barely visible behind a screen of foliage. Slender canoes bobbing by the shore, bamboo poles and floats mark the location of nets and fish traps. Our first stop will be at Ban Muangkeo, a well-known village for Lao traditional rice whisky, namely Laoh-Khao to be distilled. We are welcome to taste it and also take away. Lunch is served at a riverside restaurant.

We arrive back at Luang Prabang in late afternoon, and continue to drive outskirt of town to visit Ban Xangkhong, a well-known village for its wood paper making and also Lao silk weavings with natural dyes.
O/N in Luang Prabang.

Laos ToursDay 13: LUANG PRABANG - KUANGSI WATERFALL (B/L/-)
An morning breakfast, before we take a drive (30 km South) to visit Kuangsi Waterfall, which, though not very high, is spectacular and really beautiful with its green surroundings as the preserved National park. We stop en-route, stop to visit a fresh produced market namely Talad Phosy, and also visit Ban Na Oune, a small village of a hill-tribe group "Hmong", probably the best-known minority group in Laos. Just before arriving at Kuangsi waterfall, there is another village of Khmu minority group, namely Ban Tha Pane that we will visit.

Our picnic lunch is served at the shady park nearby Kuangsi waterfall. There is plenty of time for relaxing and a swim in cool water, before we head back to Luang Prabang in the late afternoon. The rest of the day is spent by visiting various craft-shops, including silver smiths’ and also Hmong market in town, where some skilled embroidery-works of Hmong ladies can be seen.
O/N in Luang Prabang.

Day 14: LUANG PRABANG - VIENTIANE (B/-/-)
In the morning, visit the National Museum, the former Royal Palace which houses the collection of valuables including the famous Prabang Buddha statue, gifts received from foreign dignitaries…etc. Transfer to Luang Prabang airport for flight Vientiane.
Meet on arrival and you are welcome to Vientiane, the city of the moon - an ancient city, situated on the bend on the left bank of the Mekong as the largest city and the capital of Laos. Transfer to hotel for check-in.

In the afternoon, we take a sightseeing tour of Vientiane, to visit religious museums of Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple to have been survived from the Siamese war of 1828 and its cloister contains more than 8000 Buddha statues; Wat Ho Prakeo, the former home-temple of the Emerald Buddha statue or Pra Keo, but today it contains a collection of Buddha statues, antiques and all artifacts found in around Vientiane; That Luang Stupa, the single most important monument in Laos, which was built to cover the original small stupa containing a piece of the chest bone of Buddha; Patouxay (Arch de Triumph), built quite recently in commemoration of those who died during the wars in the past and it is today as the land-mark of Vientiane.
O/N in Vientiane.

Day 15: VIENTIANE - PHNOM PENH (B/-/-)
After breakfast, a short flight to Phnom Penh.
Upon arrival at Phnom Penh airport, meets and transfers to hotel
Upon arrival at Phnom Penh airport, meets and transfers to hotel
Visit the Victory Monument and the National Museum, the Royal Palace, built by the French in 1866 on the site of the old town, and Silver Pagoda, which located within the Royal Palace ground.
You will then end your tour with a visit to Wat Phnom Temple, Phnom Penh's namesake, from where you can enjoy views over the tree lined avenues of the city during sunset
O/N at hotel.

Day 16: PHNOM PENH - SIEM REAP (B/-/-)
Breakfast at hotel
Transfer to Phnom Penh airport for departure to Siem Reap. Upon arrival at Siem Reap airport, meets and transfers to hotel
Visit the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century). See the South Gate (with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk), Bayon Temple(unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara), the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King

In the afternoon, visit the most famous of all the temples on the Angkor plain: Angkor Wat. The temple complex cover 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Angkor Wat's five tower symbolize Meru's five peaks, the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat symbolizes the ocean beyond
Sunset from Phnom Bakheng, one of two hills dominating the plain of Angkor, from where you will have a spectacular view of the Western Baray and Angkor Wat
O/N at hotel.

Day 17: SIEM REAP (B/-/-)Cambodia Tours
Breakfast at hotel
In the morning, you will continue your temple visits. Included are Prasat Kravan (with its unique brick sculptures), Srah Srang ("The Royal Boths" was once used for ritual bathing), Banteay Kdei (surrounded by four concentric walls), Eastern Mebon (guarded at its corner by stone figures of harnessed elephants, some of which are still in a reasonable state of preservation) and the "Mountain Temple" of Pre Rup.

In the afternoon, transfer to the archaeological site and continue to the temple tour. Visit Ta Prohm, one of the most beautiful temples in the area. Ta Prohm has been left relatively untouched since it was discovered and retains much of its mystery
Then, visit Takeo, Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda temples
O/N at hotel.

Day 18: SIEM REAP (B/-/-)
Breakfast at hotel
Morning, drive to Kbal Spean. Walk 45 minutes through the forest to the top of the hill to reach Kbal Spean, the "Thousand Linga River." Discover the 10th-12th century sculptures chiseled into the rocky riverbed, the Royal Bath and the waterfall
Then, continue to the enchanting temple of the Banteay Srei, nearly everyone's favorite site. The special charm of this temple lies in its compact size, remarkable state of preservation, and the excellence of it decorative carvings

In the afternoon, visit Banteay Samre, one of the most complete complexes at Angkor due to the "anastylosis" restoration method being used. The name Samre refers to an ethnic group of mountain people that inhabited the region at the base of Phnom Kulen and were probably related to the Khmers. No inscriptions have been found at this temple, but the style of most of the architecture is of the classic art of the middle period, similar to Angkor Wat. The proportions of Banteay Samre are splendid. A unique feature is an interior moat with laterite paving, which when filled with water must have given an ethereal atmosphere to the temple
Return to Siem Reap at the end of the afternoon
O/N at hotel.

Day 19: SIEM REAP - Departure (B/-/-)
Breakfast at hotel
Visit the floating village of the Chong Khneas, located 10 kilometers south of Siem Reap. Take a traditional wooden boat for a ride on the Tonle Sap, the "Great Lake" of Cambodia and the largest in Asia
In the afternoon, visit "Les Artisans d'Angkor - Chantiers Ecoles" of Siem Reap and time at leisure at the local market (if time permits)
Transfer to Siem Reap airport for departure to the next destination.

Cost in US$ per person in the party of (valid 31 Dec'07)GRAND INDOCHINA TOUR
StandardFirstSuperior
2 pax2,2072,2422,586
3 - 6 pax1,9642,0332,388
7 -10 pax1,7211,8402,172
11 - 14 pax1,6171,7502,118
15 - 19 pax1,6041,7442,107
20 pax & plus1,5461,6922,051
Single supplement332516829
Full board supplement306340510

INCLUDING:
• Accommodation in hotels (twin shared room)
• Air tickets: Saigon - Danang, Hue - Hanoi, Hanoi - Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang - Vientiane, Vientiane - Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh - Siem Reap.
• Transportation in private air-conditioned vehicle with driver
• Meal as mentioned: B = breakfast, L = lunch
• English or French speaking guide
• Entrance fee to indicated sights
• Boat trips
• Cool waters & towels on the car/van/coach

EXCLUDING:
• Visa fee to Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia
• Travel insurance against any personal injury of illness and damage of the property incurred during the course of this trip.
• International air tickets to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) and from Siem Reap (Cambodia).
• Departure airport tax.
• Personal expenses such as: drinks, phone calls, laundry, tip...etc.

HUONG VIET TRAVEL – MEMBER OF PATA, ASTA, IATA
Add: 20 Nguyen Truong To Str, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel : (84-4) 37162149    Fax: (84-4) 37161738
E–mail address: sales@huongviettravel.com
Website: www.huongviettravel.com  | http://www.aseantravelandtours.com  | http://www.visavietnamonline.com  | http://www.huongvietjsc.com
Vietnam Travel Packages | Vietnam Visa  | Cambodia Tours | Myanmar Tours | Laos Tours | China Tours