Myanmar, Cambodia & Laos: Minority Tribes of Indochina

Experience Myanmar’s spectacular Bagan dotted with thousands of 800-year-old temple ruins; and explore Cambodia’s fabled Angkor Wat and Koh Ker sites; and discover Loas’ rural towns and villages, home to some of the region's last traditional cultures.

Country Information

Myanmar

Cambodia & Laos

Myanmar, Cambodia & Laos: Minority Tribes of Indochina Inspired Expeditions

(Countries Visited)

Myanmar

,

Cambodia & Laos


(Interest Type(s))

Adventure Travel

,

Recommended


(Tour Length)

21 Days


Tour Highlights

Starting at: $10,000

“I created this tour for the true traveler; the person whose greatest reward is to be able to experience everyday things for the first time, in a setting in which almost nothing is familiar.  This adventure stirs the imagination of travelers willing to take in new experiences, which often lead to change in their point of view, deep and permanent.  There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”  Colin Rose, Destination Specialist

  • Experience a hot air balloon ride over Myanmar’s majestic Bagan, a spectacular plain dotted with thousands of 800-year-old temple ruins
  • Wander through Cambodia’s extraordinary Angkor Wat temple complex and Koh Ker ruins
  • Encounter Mandalay, the most Burmese of the country’s large cities, with Buddhist monasteries that are among the most important in the country
  • Travel by boat to experience Inle Lake, home to some traditional 17 villages on stilts, mostly inhabited by the Intha people
  • Explore Loas’  towns and villages that are home to some of the last traditional cultures in the provincial capitals of Oudomxai and Phongsali

 

 

Day 1: Bangkok, Thailand / Yangon, Myanmar
Welcome to Indochina.  Arrive in Bangkok and connect your onward flight to Yangon, where you are met on arrival and transferred to your hotel.  The rest of the day is at leisure.  The Governor’s Residence - Governors Room

Day 2: Yangon
Yangon lies in the fertile delta of southern Myanmar, on the wide Yangon River.  The city is filled with tree-shaded boulevards, with shimmering stupas peaking out above the treetops.  The city became the capital in 1885, when the British completed the conquest of Upper Myanmar.  Mandalay's brief period as capital of the last Burmese kingdom ended.  The city is filled with historic treasures.  Botataung Pagoda was named after the 1,000 military leaders who were said to have escorted sacred relics of Buddha brought from India more than 2,000 years ago.  This ancient monument was completely destroyed during WWII.  It was then rebuilt in a very similar style to its predecessor.  Ngadatkyi Paya in the Ashay Tawya monastery, and contains a seated Buddha image five stories high.  The national museum offers several interesting exhibits, especially the eight-meter high Sihasana Lion Throne, used by King Thibaw Min, the last Burmese king.  It was removed by the British but returned to Burma in 1908 by Lord Mountbatten. The main floor contains jewelry, historic black and white photos of Mandalay Palace and Yangon, royal relics, Hintha opium weights and inscribed tablets. Buddhist Art Museum, housed in a 1952 Art Deco-style building, has a dominant lotus window that depicts all the attitudes of Buddha. The museum's contents include begging bowls, palm leaf scriptures and 18th through 20th century wooden Buddha images. Maha Wizaya Pagoda, only built in the 1980, is noted for a ceiling depicting Burmese constellations and a permanent display of pagoda styles through the ages.  Sule Pagoda, with its 48-meter-high golden dome, was used by the British as the nucleus of their grid pattern for the city when it was rebuilt in the 1880s. The pagoda's peculiarity is its octagonal-shaped stupa, which retains its shape as it tapers to the spire.  Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset is a highlight of Yangon. This pagoda dates back some 2,500 years and was built to house eight sacred hairs of Buddha.  Its original shape has changed beyond all recognition over the centuries. Its bell-shaped superstructure, resting on a terraced base, is covered in about 60 tons of gold-leaf, which is continuously being replaced. The Governor’s Residence – Governors Room (B)

Day 3: Yangon / Bagan
Today you fly to Bagan, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. Bagan is a spectacular plain stretching away from the Ayeyarwaddy River, dotted with thousands of 800-year-old temple ruins.  Although human habitation at Bagan dates back almost to the beginning of the Christian era, Bagan only entered its golden period with the conquest of Thaton in 1057 AD. Shwezigon Pagoda was created to enshrine some relicts of Buddha. The construction was completed between 1086 and1090. Originally, it marked the northern end of the city of Bagan. The stupa's graceful bell shape became a prototype for virtually all later stupas around Myanmar. Gubyaukhyi Temple at Wetkyi-Inn was built in the early 13th century. The great colorful painting about the past life of Buddha and the distinguished architecture make this temple interesting. Ananda Pahto is one of the finest, largest, best preserved of Bagan’s temples. Thought to have been built around 1105, this perfectly proportioned temple is one of the most sacred in this city of temples. It also heralds the stylistic end of the Early Bagan period and the beginning of the Middle period. Gubyaukgyi Temple at Myinkaba dates from 1113 and is known for its preserved stuccos on the exterior walls. The magnificent paintings date from the original construction of the temple and are considered to be the oldest original paintings in Bagan. Built in 1059, Manuha Temple enshrines the unusual combination of three seated and one reclining image Buddha. Shwesandaw Paya, 1057, is the first monument in Bagan to feature stairways leading up from the square bottom terraces to the round base of the Stupa.  It is a lovely spot to catch the magnificent sunsets. Aureum Palace Resort Bagan – Jasmine Villa Lake View (B)

Day 4: Bagan
Today you are in for a real treat – a hot air balloon ride over the plains of Bagan with its hundreds of temples. Upon landing, enjoy some refreshments. Mount Popa rises 737 meters, 2,418 feet approximately, from the flats surrounding Myingyan Plain. It is said to be an extinct volcano that hasn’t been active for 250,000 years ago. It is considered the home of Myanmar's most powerful spirits, nats, and is as such is the most important nat worship center in the country. Among the myriad of sacred structures there are many of note. Mahabodhi Temple was built between 1211 and 1234 during the Late Bagan period, and this temple is the only surviving one of this style in Bagan. Dhamayangyi Temple dates from the 12th century.  Sulamani Temple dates from 1181, and is one of the best examples of the later, more sophisticated temple styles. Carved stucco on moldings, pediments and pilasters represent some of Bagan’s finest ornamental work. Nandamannya Temple is a small, single-chambered temple that dates from the 13th century, with mural paintings in the interior. Thatbyinnyu Temple, at about 61 meters/ 200 feet high, is one of Bagan’s tallest monuments; and its large size makes it a classic example of Bagan’s middle period. Aureum Palace Resort Bagan – Jasmine Villa Lake View (B)

Day 5: Bagan / Mandalay
Today you are transferred by flight from Bagan to Mandalay, where you are met and transferred to your hotel. Mandalay was the last capital of Myanmar before the British took over so it still import as a cultural center. Historically, it is also the most Burmese of the country's large cities. Mandalay's Buddhist monasteries are among the most important in the country; about 60% of all the monks in Myanmar reside in the Mandalay area. The city takes its name from Mandalay Hill, 236 meters/774 feet high that rises just to the northeast of Mandalay Fort and its royal palace. Kyauktawgyi Pagoda was constructed between 1853 and 1878; and chiefly interesting for the huge seated image of the Buddha carved from a single block of marble. The marble block from the mines of nearby Sagyin was so colossal that it required 10,000 men laboring for 13 days to transport it from a canal to its current site. Sandamani Paya is a cluster of slender whitewashed stupas. The Paya enshrines an iron image of the Buddha cast in 1802 by Bodawpaya and transported here from Amarapura in 1874. Mahamuni Paya, originally built in 1784 when a road paved with bricks was constructed from his palace to the paya's eastern gate. The centerpiece of the shrine is the highly venerated Mahamuni image that was transported to Myanmar from Mrauk U in Rakhaing in 1784. Kuthodaw Paya is where the central stupa was modeled on the Shwezigon Paya near Bagan.  Building began in 1857, at the same time as the royal palace, and it has been dubbed 'the world's biggest book', for standing around the central pa are 729 marble slabs on which are inscribed the entire Tripitaka. Mandalay Hill offers an easy climb up the sheltered steps and has panoramic views over the palace, Mandalay and the paya-studded countryside. The Hotel By The Red Canal Mandalay – Chin Suite (B)

Day 6: Mandalay
Today, enjoy an excursion to Inwa, Sagaing and Amarapura.  Inwa served as an ancient capital of Upper Burma for more than 400 years after the fall of Bagan. Ava Bridge was engineered by the British. The 16-span bridge dates from 1934 and was the only structure that crossed the Ayeyarwady River until 1998 when a new Chinese-engineered bridge was completed at Pyay. Travel over to Sagaing on the right bank, widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar. The Sagaing Ridge is crowded with around 600 pagodas and monasteries, where more than 3,000 monks reside. There are also around 100 meditation centers in the area. Thabyedan Fort was the Burmese last defense against the British forces in the third Anglo-Burmese war in 1886. The Hotel By The Red Canal Mandalay – Chin Suite (B)

Day 7:  Mandalay / Heho / Inle Lake
Today, you fly to Heho and on to Inle Lake. On arrival in Heho you are met and driven east to Shwenyaung and then south to Inle Lake. Enjoy a boat trip on the lake that includes a visit to Ywama and Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. Inle lake has very calm waters dotted with patches of floating vegetation and busy fishing canoes. High hills rim the lake on all sides. The lake’s shore and islands has some 17 villages on stilts, mostly inhabited by the Intha people. Inle Princess Resort Inle Lake – Princess Lake View Chalet (B)

Day 8: Inle Lake
This morning’s focus is Inle Lake. You travel by boat from Inle Lake to In Dein village on the south of the lake. Take a short walk around the village, passing a local school, and head to a covered stairway to the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area, where ancient stupas are partly hidden in the vegetation. The views of the lake from here is stupendous. Inle Princess Resort Inle Lake – Princess Lake View Chalet (B)

Day 9: Inle Lake / Heho / Yangon
Today you fly back to Yangon, where you are welcomed and transferred to your hotel for the night. The Governor’s Residence – Governors Room (B)

Day 10: Yangon / Bangkok / Luang Parabang, Laos
Continue your journey as you fly to Bangkok, Thailand, where you connect your flight to Luang Prabang, Laos.  You are greeted and given a private transfer to your hotel where the rest of the day is at leisure. Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel Luang Prabang – Maison Room (B)

Day 11: Luang Prabang
Set between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang is an enchanting town filled with historic temples and colonial style buildings.  The entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Start the day at Wat Visoun (Wat Wisunalat).  The oldest living temple in Luang Prabang, it dates back to 1513 and contains a collection of antique wooden Buddhas.  Wat Xieng Thong is considered the crowning jewel of all the monasteries and temples in the city.  Its many ornate buildings feature exquisite mosaic and gold-stenciled murals. From there, stroll down the main street of Luang Prabang, stopping at some of the many temples that line its sides, such as Wat Sibounheuang, Wat Si Moungkhoun, Wat Sop and Wat Sene. Discover the National Museum, in the royal palace, a modest but graceful building that combines traditional Lao and French beaux-arts motifs. This turn-of-the century royal residence has been preserved as it was when the royal family last lived there and provides unique insights into the history of Laos. (Closed on Tuesdays).  Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel Luang Prabang – Maison Room (B)

Day 12: Luang Prabang / Oudomxai
Today you drive through the scenic Laos countryside, stopping at the lovely waterfall of Tad Lak Sip-Et.  Arrive in Oudomxai, the provincial capital, which is home to some 14 different ethnic groups, including Lao Theung, Lao Seung, Chinese and Lao Loum.  You visit the minority villages of Ban Song Cha and Ban Song Cha. You’ll notice traditional thatched houses spreading across the edge of the valley towards the base of the surrounding mountain range.  Discover the local market, Phou Phra That and panoramic views of Oudomxai from Phou Xay Hill.  Charming Lao Hotel Oudomxai – Vip Corner Suite (B)

Day 13: Ouxomxai / Phongsali
Today you will drive from Oudomxai to Phongsali, where on arrival you check into your hotel. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to relax.  Phongsali Phoufa Hotel – Vip Room (B)

Day 14: Phongsali
Explore the provincial capital of Phongsali on the slopes of Phou Fa. It is the northernmost provincial capital in Laos, and boasts a cool climate year round with fog and clouds common in the mornings, and rain is frequent. Most of the local communities in the area belong to the Phu Noi minority, who have held onto their distinct local culture, although they no longer dress traditionally. Visit the summit of Phou Fa and That Phou, which can be reached by climbing 883 steps or by vehicle (optional).  Phongsali Phoufa Hotel – Vip Room (B)

Day 15: Phongsali / Muang Khua
From Phongsali, drive to Hat Sa and then take a boat to Muang Khua. On arrival in Muang Khua, you begin exploring this small trading town, which has large populations of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants. It also retains traces of old French colonial architecture. Tour the village on foot, visiting the local market and the Wat Sikhounmuang. Cross the steel cable suspension bridge for beautiful views over the Nam Pak River and mountains. Sernnali Hotel Muang Khua – Standard Room (B)

Day 16: Muang Khua / Nong Khiaw
Travel by boat to Nong Khiaw along a part of the river that winds through spectacular scenery, with impressive limestone cliffs, jungle-like vegetation and sandy beaches. On the way, stop at Muang Ngoi, a lovely village nestled in the middle of the mountains, and still inaccessible by road. Break for lunch and spend a few hours exploring the area before continuing to Nong Khiaw. Nong Kiau Riverside – Bungalow (B)

Day 17: Nong Khiaw / Luang Prabang
Travel by road back to Luang Prabang. En route, you stop at Ban Pak Ou Village, where you will catch a local ferry to the steep limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers. Here are the noted Tham Pak Ou Caves. These extraordinary caves are filled with Buddha images of every style and material imaginable. Continue to Ban Xang Hai Village, a local village famous for the production of lao-lao, the local rice wine whisky, before arriving in Luang Prabang. Maison Souvannaphoum Hotel Luang Prabang – Maison Room (B)

Day 18: Luang Prabang / Siem Reap, Cambodia
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where you are met on arrival and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon, you begin your exploration of the most extraordinary collection of city and temple ruins in Southeast Asia. Angkor Thom was a fortified city that covers an area of ten square kilometers. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats, the city includes many of Angkor's most popular sights. Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on both sides by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant naga. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings, former spaces for public ceremonies, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs. Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple. In this temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where you will find giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down at you from every angle. Watch the sun set over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple.  Hotel De La Paix – Duplex Spa Suite (B)

Day 19: Siem Reap
The crowning jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. As you enter the main building, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyard before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted into the walls. The outer gallery walls displays the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones. Ta Prohm is one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared, and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them.  Seemingly miniature in comparison to the other Angkor temples, Banteay Srei Is considered the jewel of classical Khmer art.  Built in pink sandstone, the walls are covered in exquisitely preserved carvings of unusual delicacy.  Because of its small size, fairy-like atmosphere and extraordinary examples of Khmer sculpture, this temple is often a favorite with visitors.
Hotel De La Paix – Duplex Spa Suite (B)

Day 20: Siem Reap – Koh Ker
Today you have a full day excursion to Koh Ker* and Beng Mealea.  Koh Ker was once capital of Jayavarman IV.  It features the pyramidal Prasat Thom.  Beng Mealea, a 12th-century temple the size of Angkor about 40 kilometers from the Bayon.  Beng Mealea is enclosed by a moat measuring 1200 by 900 meters.  The temple is currently being reclaimed from the jungle as years of conflict in the region left it neglected and almost forgotten.  It is now one of the most popular remote temples owing to its wealth of classical bas reliefs.  Hotel De La Paix – Duplex Spa Suite (B)

*The Spirit of Big Five Foundation supports the nonprofit Heritage Watch organization in preserving and protecting these important ruins from looting and vandalism while helping the local community realize benefits through sustainable tourism.

Day 21: Siem Reap / Bangkok / Depart
Today you are transferred to the Siem Reap airport for your flight to Bangkok, where you connect with your flight home.  (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy:  Starting from $10,000

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