Travel through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia on this classic 21-day tour from Bangkok to Angkor Wat and beyond. Explore Bangkok, Luang Prabang and Phnom Penh, meet elephants and hill tribes, see the temples of Angkor and enjoy two river cruises on the mighty Mekong.
See Bangkok’s most important cultural sights by foot, tuk-tuk and long-tailed boat on a customizable private tour that takes you through some of the city’s top attractions, including Wat Pho − the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, and Wat Arun −Temple of Dawn. Be introduced to the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods, including Chinatown and Yaowarat Road, wander the shops, meet the food vendors, and sample the local cuisine.
Meet the elephants and the hilltribes
Immerse in the nature and spectacular beauty of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces. Spend a day with the happy, healthy rescued elephants at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. Interact with them in their natural habitat and watch them do what they love doing the most. Visit hill tribe villages in the highland region of Chiang Rai, each with a distinct language and a fascinating well-preserved culture; meet and mingle with the friendly tribespeople.
Your Laos River Cruise
Step aboard a sumptuous French-colonial-styled river cruiser for a leisurely downstream voyage through serene nature, isolated villages and magnificent temples, discovering the most beautiful, remote, riverside areas of Laos. Hang out with more elephants at an elephant preservation sanctuary. Meet the local ethnic Lao, Khmu, and Hmong residents at the tiny village of Kop Aek, and dive into centuries-old traditions and practices. Observe the local weavers honoring their timeworn traditional crafts at the village of Muang Keo, and take a short and easy trek to the famous Pak Ou Caves on the Mekong’s rocky shore.
Luang Prabang is one of Laos’ best-loved destinations. Enjoy a captivating evening of traditional storytelling and music in an intimate theatre. Stroll through the charming town on an off-the-beaten-track walking tour; visit the morning market, admire the architecture, meet the locals. Take a leisurely hike to the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre. Observe one of the country’s most endangered species; learn about the threats to bears and what can be done to protect the precious wildlife of Laos, and help out with the bears’ midday scatter feed. Afterward, walk to the beautiful cascading Kuang Si Waterfall, where you can swim.
Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor
Be amazed by the Phare Circus show, during which you’ll be entertained with dance, theater, original live music, juggling, gymnastics, and breath-taking circus arts. Marvel at the 400-acre Angkor Wat complex, deep in the jungles of Cambodia. Stroll through the intricately carved hallways and take your time to see every part of this incredible complex. Visit the sprawling jungle temple of Beng Mealea. See the ancient city area of Angkor Thom, with its carved-stone faces standing as silent witnesses to former days of glory.
Your Cambodia River Cruise
Begin your second luxury cruise at the mighty Tonlé Sap Lake. Explore a Khmer pottery village. Learn about the process of making palm sugar. On the island of Koh Oknha Tey, witness the fascinating methods involved in the making of silk. Visit the enchanting pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey and observe the daily activities of the young, novice monks.
Take a guided tour of Phnom Penh. See the National Museum and the Silver Pagoda. Learn about Cambodia’s tragic past at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and the Killing Fields at Choeung Ek; it’s not a warm experience but it is essential if you want to understand what happened in Cambodia during the time of the Pol Pot regime. The next day, unravel the culinary secrets associated with Khmer cuisine, by participating in a cookery class. You will have the opportunity to source your ingredients at a bustling market, before being expertly led through the creation of three dishes.
Itinerary & Prices
- Luang Prabang
- Mekong River
- Siem Reap
- Angkor Thom
- Angkor Wat
- Phnom Penh
- Animal Rescue Centers
- Breathtaking Natural Scenery
- Colonial Era History
- Cultural Performances
- Experience Village Life
- Explore Ancient Archaeology
- High-End City Experiences
- History of Khmer Rouge
- Practice Tai Chi
- Temples & Spirituality
- Unique Photo Opportunities
Welcome to Thailand!
Welcome to Bangkok – the city that truly never sleeps.
Your guide will meet you at the arrivals, for our private car ride to the hotel in the city center.
Take the rest of the day to relax and rest. Time permitting – try some of the spa treatments – Thai traditional massage after the long flight will be a great way to start your holiday!
Start your day in Bangkok right after breakfast. Your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby.
Private drive to Wat Pho – one of the oldest temples in Bangkok that houses the famous 45m (148ft) reclining Buddha as well as the original school of traditional Thai massage.
From here, take a tuk-tuk ride via Pak Klong Taland Flower Market towards the spectacular Grand Palace, home to the most revered Buddha image in Thailand, the Emerald Buddha.
Continue with a walk to the pier for a long-tailed boat ride along the “klongs” (canals) of Thonburi to get a flavor of local life.
Stop at Wat Arun, once the grand royal temple to King Rama II.
After lunch at a local restaurant, cross the river and drive to Chinatown for a first-hand look at Old Bangkok. Walk along Yaowarat Road with shops selling everything from gold and garments to antiques and musical instruments. Explore the bustling Talad Kao market where a variety of food, fresh and dry fruits, and Chinese herbs are on offer before returning to your hotel in the late afternoon.
Meals: (B. L)
Day with the Elephants
Today, experience life with the elephants in their natural home – a freely roamed environment both safe and sustainable.
Located beside a Karen village in a densely forested mountainous region, the Sanctuary is surrounded by spectacular jungle scenery. You will be picked up from your hotel in Chiang Mai in the morning, and travel around 1.5 hours from Chiang Mai to the Karen village and Sanctuary.
Upon arrival, an English-speaking guide will walk with you through the adjacent Karen village, and teach you a little about elephants and the local way of life.
Get changed into traditional Karen clothing, listen as your guide tells you more about the Sanctuary, grab some bananas and sugar cane for feeding, and you will be ready to meet the elephants! In small groups, you will meet and interact with each of our friendly elephants personally.
Learn about elephant behavior, and discover the unique and interesting history of each elephant as you touch, play, feed, and photograph them. Once you have met and spent time with each of the elephants, you can retire to a relaxing platform overlooking a picturesque river and jungle while having lunch.
Next, walk alongside the elephants to a nearby river and join them for a bath in the refreshing water. Here, you will have the opportunity to bathe and brush the elephants while they enjoy wading through the water and mud.
At the Sanctuary, we will allow you to spend as much time as possible with the elephants. Therefore, there is no formal schedule and aside from pick-up times, the times shown here are approximations.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is an ethical and sustainable eco-tourism project located approximately 60km from the city of Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. Founded in July 2014, it is a joint initiative between members of the Karen hill tribes and Chiang Mai locals who were concerned about the welfare of elephants in Thailand.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary is home to over thirty formerly mistreated elephants, who are now free to enjoy their lives.
We use our progressive and ethically responsible approach to elephant eco-tourism as a platform to raise awareness and educate people from Thailand and around the world about elephant care and the plight of Asian elephants.
Meals: (B, L)
Transfer to Chiang Rai and Hill Tribes Visit
Wake up early and meet your driver for a scenic ride to Chiang Rai, where you arrive just in time for lunch.
Afterward, drive out of Chiang Rai to Mae Chan district and continue uphill along narrow mountain roads to visit the simple Akha and Yao hill tribe villages.
The Akha, who originated in Tibet, are amongst the poorest of Thailand’s ethnic minorities and can also be found in the northern part of Laos. They are mainly farmers and known for their artistry.
The Yao, whose origins are in China, is heavily influenced by Chinese traditions, still using Chinese characters in the writing of their language. The two minorities live peacefully close to each other.
Observe the distinct differences between them and learn more about their culture, traditions, and costumes.
Return to the hotel for dinner.
Begin the Mekong Adventure
This morning we’ll take you on a short ride to the Lao border, where you will be met by the immigration officers and Anouvong staff.
Anouvong’s team will assist with all the immigration procedures on both – Thai and Laotian sides.
After all formalities, we transfer you to the vessel, moored at Huay Xai pier. Settle in your room as we start the downstream journey. The first stop today is Huay Palang village, home to the Khmu minority. The locals’ lifestyle here depends fully on the Mekong as a means of transportation and a primary food source.
As the sun sets over the Mekong River, we will hold a Baci Ceremony, traditionally performed by the village elders as a Laotian welcome. It’s a ceremony of spirit-calling practiced at special occasions in life.
After dinner, a famous Laotian movie is scheduled in our nightly onboard cinema.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Elephants, Ethnic Communities and a BBQ
Early birds are welcome to join the daily morning exercise on the terrace deck (Tai Chi or Yoga).
As we cruise along in the morning, our local expert hosts a lecture about Asian elephants, particularly the Laotian species, their cultural importance in the past, and the current threats which have brought them to the brink of extinction.
After lunchtime, we arrive in the small town of Pakbeng. We pass by the local market scene and visit a beautiful hilltop temple with amazing views of the gently flowing Mekong below.
We then have the chance to expand on the knowledge from our morning lecture when visiting an elephant preservation sanctuary. The elephants here used to work as logging elephants and can live in peace and safety here as they cannot now survive in the wild.
Back on board, the journey continues for a few more hours – lay back and enjoy the scenic views as the Anouvong proceeds towards her next destination. At a secluded sandbank, the local ethnic Lao, Khmu, and Hmong residents welcome us to the tiny village of Kop Aek.
Dive into centuries-old traditions and practices as you immerse yourself in a unique Laotian experience.
As we remain at the sandbank into early evening, kick back with an aperitif accompanied by a classical dance performance by the local people. After the show, we have another highlight in store for our guests – a barbecue dinner on the terrace deck as we take in the sights and soothing sounds of nature.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Pak Ou Caves and a Lao culture expert
After breakfast, join the lecture about the Laotian culture of the diverse tribes living along the upper Mekong.
Next up – the cooking class. The rest of the morning is at your disposal as Anouvong sails through lush vegetation and gently rolling verdant hills.
In the afternoon, we arrive at another little village named Muang Keo. Here you can observe the local weavers honoring their timeworn traditional crafts. From Muang Keo, we take a short and easy trek to the famous Pak Ou Caves on the Mekong’s rocky shore. There are two spacious grottoes with approximately 4,000 sacred Buddhist statues.
Back on board, in the evening, meet Mr. Francis Engelmann, a writer and retired consultant to UNESCO on heritage preservation projects since 1994. He will share some insights into the country’s rich cultural heritage, the turbulent history, and the day-to-day life of Lao people.
The ship moors this evening near Pak Ou.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Colonial Town of Luang Prabang and Evening Stories
The last sunrise onboard paired with a morning activity is the perfect way to commence your final day. After breakfast buffet, we arrive in central Luang Prabang.
You will disembark at 10:30 AM and meet your local guide at the pier. Transfer to your hotel by private car and enjoy some free time to walk around this splendidly charming town.
Tonight, you’ll be picked up by your guide for an evening of traditional storytelling and local dinner. In an intimate theatre in Luang Prabang’s historic old town, listen as a Lao storyteller presents stories in English, with the live accompaniment of the khene, a Lao folk mouth instrument. After the performance, transfer to a local restaurant.
After dinner, return to your hotel by private car.
Meals: (B, D)
Market Snacks and Architecture
This morning, the charming town of Luang Prabang is awaiting you. You’ll be picked up by your guide to start the day in the Lao lifestyle. The morning market in Luang Prabang, lining a couple of quiet streets near the Royal Palace, starts early and is over by mid-morning. The butcher and other vendors sell goods like rice, fresh vegetables, tofu, steamed fish, frogs, chickens.
From here continue to marvel at Luang Prabang’s beautiful mix of architecture, drawing influences from both the East and the West. Enjoy a lively presentation on preservation projects, followed by a walking tour of some of the town’s architectural highlights. Wander through small streets and alleys to observe the lifestyle that the local people have maintained. If time permits, we can stop by at a local home and meet the owners for a glimpse of daily life in this laid-back town.
Back to the hotel for late lunch and remains of the day at leisure.
Waterfall and Bears
Spend a half-day exploring the area around Kuang Si Waterfall, highlighted by a private tour of the Asian Bear Rescue Centre.
Depart on a 1hr drive south of Luang Prabang, with a stop at the vibrant Phou Si Market. Continue to the waterfalls, and take a leisurely hike through the natural park to the Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre.
Enjoy a private guided tour of the center, established by the Free The Bears Fund Inc. in 2003 to look after bears destined for use in the traditional medicine trade, including the Asiatic Black Bear (moon bears). Observe one of Laos’s most endangered species and learn about the threats to bears and what can be done to protect Laos’s precious wildlife.
Arrive before 11:00 to help out with the bears’ midday scatter feed by hiding food around the enclosure to stimulate the animals and get them to work for their food.
Afterward, walk to the beautiful cascading Kuang Si Waterfall. Swimming in the refreshing turquoise waters is possible, although the water temperature is very cool between November and January. Back to Luang Prabang for late lunch.
Transfer to the Angkor Kingdom
After breakfast transfer with your driver to the airport and take a short flight to the heart of the Angkor Empire – Siem Reap.
There you will be met by the local guide and transferred to the beautiful hotel in the town.
Afternoon and evening at your disposal – explore the charming streets by tuk-tuk or walking.
Angkor Wat and an Amazing Circus Performance
Meet your guide right after breakfast for the first day of the Angkor Archeological Park exploration.
Today visit Angkor Wat – one of the modern Wonders of the World and an important UNESCO Heritage Site. Stroll through the intricately carved hallways, explore the richness of fine carvings, and discover the flower-decorated shrines still in use today by the local people.
Return to your hotel in the early afternoon. Your driver will pick you up again in the evening, in time for the fascinating and inspiring Phare Circus Show and dinner.
Phare Circus works mainly with disadvantaged young people. They learn circus skills, theatre performance, music, and a range of visual arts. It combines local traditions with new creative and innovative genres. Daring athleticism is combined with stories that speak powerfully to Cambodia’s not-too-distant history.
Meals: (B, D)
Located 65 kilometers from Siem Reap, it is a pleasant 1.5 hour drive through the Cambodian countryside to reach the sprawling jungle temple of Beng Mealea.
Constructed in a distinctly Angkor Wat style by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Beng Mealea preceded and may have served as a prototype for Angkor Wat.
Contrary to Angkor, few carvings or bas-reliefs are evident. Today the temple is largely overrun by vegetation and the stone walls are crumbling which uniquely adds to its charm. Accessibility has improved as elevated walkways have been set up throughout most of the temple, although to see all corners does require a sense of adventure as you will need to climb over stone blocks or walk through narrow passageways.
Transfer back to Siem Reap.
Angkor Thom and Faces of Bayon
Visit Angkor Thom, the ancient royal city of the Khmer Empire with its centerpiece; the Bayon temple. As you approach, you will notice the enigmatic faces of former King Jayavarman VII facing in every direction.
Your guide will take you to the Terrace of the Elephants, which served as a platform from where the King could welcome back his victorious army, and the Terrace of the Leper King, which holds detailed carvings winding along a narrow passageway that leads to the Baphuon complex.
In the afternoon optional kayaking on Tonle Sap Lake.
Begin the Cruise to Phnom Penh
Meet the Jayavarman team in the morning and take a short ride to the shore of Tonle Lake. Reach Jayavarman by a local boat.
As you have lunch, the Jayavarman gently glides over Tonle Lake.
Before dinner, the expert guide holds a presentation about the geography of the Mekong River and Tonle Lake along with the unique attributes of the area.
Cinema in the lounge screens classic movies and interesting documentaries on a nightly basis.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Water World and Cambodian Countryside
Wake up early to witness the spectacular scenery at the break of dawn. To make the experience complete, join our daily morning Tai Chi class.
We now are at Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia’s “water world”, where everything is balanced on sticks in water-rich soil. It is perhaps the most fascinating cruising spot in Cambodia. Visit a nearby rural village and observe the village’s specialties – Khmer style pottery and the process of making palm sugar from the Cambodian “skor t’not” palm tree. Next, explore the floating villages and the surrounding wetlands by boat.
Back on board, we cruise towards Kampong Tralach through the narrow parts of Tonle River. Meanwhile, receive monks’ blessings through the ceremony onboard.
Next stop – explore Cambodia’s countryside with traditional ox carts ride by the river and through back roads lined with rice-paddy fields. See the site of the “Green School” – a local project supported by Heritage Line to support the underprivileged youth.
After this outing, we sail downstream, passing the confluence of the Tonle and Mekong Rivers and making our way to the vessel’s overnight spot.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Monks’ Lives and Silk Making
After breakfast, meet the children from the small village of Chiro – they come on board, excited to show their skills in music and dance. The Organization for Basic Training (OBT) provides free, supplemental education to the local youth.
Next, leave the ship for the enchanting pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey (7th century). This small complex sits on a hilltop with breath-taking views over the Mekong. Many young, novice monks live on the compound of Wat Hanchey, and we have the chance to observe their daily lives.
Lunch served back on board. Meanwhile, we arrive at the island of Koh Oknha Tey in the middle of the Mekong, famous for manufacturing high-class silk products. Witness the curious process of making silk, starting from a tiny silkworm larva to cocoon, then dyeing, spinning, and weaving the fibers into high-quality Cambodian silk.
After some additional cruising time, the boat arrives and docks at the pier of Phnom Penh. Feel free to go out and explore by yourself after dinner. Stroll along the river promenade and watch the locals chit-chatting, selling odds and ends or have a drink in one of the numerous bars.
Meals: (B, L, D)
History of Phnom Penh
Welcome to Phnom Penh – the city once named Paris of the East. Despite its rapid development, it has retained its rustic charm and elegance. An amazing town with centuries of incredible history and culture.
Start with a full sightseeing tour right after breakfast. Visit the Killing Fields and the prison “S21”. Both historic sites display the sad and cruel chapter of the country’s history when the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia with terror and oppression.
Lunch at a well-renowned restaurant in town and experience the elegant air Phnom Penh’s top addresses are known for. Your exploration of Phnom Penh continues with the cultural highlights of the city’s heritage – the golden edifice of the Royal Palace with its Silver Pagoda and the exceptional Khmer crafts at the National Museum. The day trip ends with a “cyclo” ride along the bustling streets of downtown Phnom Penh and back to the ship.
Take some rest or join fellow passengers at the bar for refreshing drinks. Today’s evening is a special one: let us invite you to a wonderful open-air gala featuring a barbecue dinner feast. The dinner is accompanied by a classic Apsara dance performance along with other folklore dances.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Disembark the Jayavarman in the morning and meet your local driver at the pier. We’ll head straight to the cooking school and training center. Since 1995, the founder of our cooking school has been at the forefront of retraining Cambodia’s marginalized youth. Whether helping abandoned street children or the families working in the brick factories, Mr. Mith took on the challenge of offering education to the teenagers in his care by opening his center. Start with a small tour of a beautiful house, before heading out to explore a bustling market to source your key ingredients and sample famous snacks. Return to the house and be expertly led through the creation of 3 dishes, along with 2 cocktails, a great way to learn about Cambodia’s unique culinary culture. Enjoy your freshly prepared lunch on the terrace. Next, ride to your hotel in nature for a leisurely remainder of the day. Meals: (B, L)
Disembark the Jayavarman in the morning and meet your local driver at the pier. We’ll head straight to the cooking school and training center.
Since 1995, the founder of our cooking school has been at the forefront of retraining Cambodia’s marginalized youth. Whether helping abandoned street children or the families working in the brick factories, Mr. Mith took on the challenge of offering education to the teenagers in his care by opening his center.
Start with a small tour of a beautiful house, before heading out to explore a bustling market to source your key ingredients and sample famous snacks.
Return to the house and be expertly led through the creation of 3 dishes, along with 2 cocktails, a great way to learn about Cambodia’s unique culinary culture. Enjoy your freshly prepared lunch on the terrace.
Next, ride to your hotel in nature for a leisurely remainder of the day.
Meals: (B, L)
CRUISES & LODGES
The first boutique ship to cruise the Upper Mekong, blends Laotian art with French-Colonial style.
This floating art gallery and French-colonial masterpiece comes with heartfelt Khmer hospitality.