Myanmar, Vietnam & Cambodia

Join Adrianna Castelazo and Deepak Singh for a 17-Night tour
Fall/Autum 2020

Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia form perhaps the most scenic and spiritual parts of South East Asia. We have choosen the best of the best to show you way of life, architecture and of course food which you will not see elsewhere.

From the nearly 1,000 year old Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia to man's inhumanity to man in Cambodia. From the tranquil Inle Lake in Myanmar to the most exciting food in Vietnam. Experience all this and more with the safety of a guided tour, all shared by you by Adrianna Castelazo. Deepak Singh will accompany her.

 

A Spanish speaking guide will accompany us throughout the tour

 



ITINERARY
Map of Area (https://goo.gl/maps/E4YR3JkShxK2)
shows where we will be going. All routes shown are by road. Longer distances will be by air. Zoom in and out for change of details.

Day 1: Depart The Americas
Depart The Americas this afternoon. Overnight: On board your flight.


Day 2: Arrive Yangon

On arrival at Yangon Airport, you will be met by your Spiritual Journeys, Inc representative and transfer to your hotel for check-in. Overnight: Yangon.

Yangon is the main gateway and former capital city of Myanmar. With what can only be described as one of the most striking religious monuments in South-East Asia, the Shwedagon Pagoda, plus a wealth of colonial architecture and lots more besides, Yangon is a city of amazing contrasts and a delight to explore.

Today you will visit the historic Shwedagon Pagoda which towers almost 98 meters (326ft) above the green cityscape of Yangon. One of the wonders of the religious world, it is believed to have been built more than 2500 years ago and is a testament to the faith of the Burmese. This magnificent building is covered with hundreds of gold plates and the top of the Stupa is encrusted with 4531 diamonds; the largest which is a single 76 carats. One of the most magical times to visit the paya is early evening as the sun is about to set; to witness the serenity and calmness that abounds at this time of the day is an experience that will remain for a very long time. As night falls there will be the opportunity to light lots of small candles near the base of the pagoda, a delightful event that enhances the atmosphere and provides another angle from which to photograph this stunning building.

Meals included: None


Day 3: Yangon
Full day of sightseeing. Overnight: Yangon.

Yangon is a fabulous city to explore on foot, especially early, when the air is cool and the locals are starting to go about their daily business. Starting downtown, this morning’s walk will take in the hustle and bustle of Yangon’s China town as well as a number of the interesting colonial buildings that are synonymous with the city’s past. City Hall, Strand Hotel and the Inl and Water Transport Building are all classic examples of period architecture and your guide will be on hand to explain about them in more detail.

Sightseeing will continue with an excursion to the huge reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Kyi. One of the country’s most stunning reclining Buddhas, the serene face is topped by a crown encrusted with colourful precious stones.

After lunch at the local restaurant, visit to the National Museum affords an excellent introduction to Burmese history throughout the ages. Highlights include the Lion Throne (Sihasana) belonging to the last King of Myanmar, King Thibaw Min and a stunning collection of ceremonial dresses. Museum is closed on Monday and public holidays.

Sightseeing continues to explore Bogyoke Aung San Market, still commonly known by its old British name of Scott Market. Undoubtedly offering the largest selection of handicrafts in Myanmar, the market is a great place to discover a bargain and have fun haggling with the local traders. Market is closed on Monday & public holidays.

Meals included: Breakfast and Lunch


Day 4: Yangon / Bagan
Early morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Bagan. Overnight: Bagan.

Bagan is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia and with over 2000 pagodas, temples and monasteries to explore, there is certainly plenty to keep one occupied. But there is more to this enchanting destination; rural village life, interesting markets and artisan workshops to name but a few.

The temples at Bagan can only be described as amazing and enchanting, a place still largely unaffected by the 21st century where nobody leaves disappointed.

This half-day tour will be dedicated to exploring the temples and the surrounding area. Sightseeing will include Gubyaukgyi with its excellent stucco carvings, the impressive Htilominlo Pahto and Ananda Pahto which is one of the best preserved temples in the archeological zone.

Lunch will be served at Sanon restaurant. The Sanon Training Restaurant is operated by the MYDI (Myanmar Youth Development Institute). MYDI conducts Sanon as a non-profit social enterprise organization in Bagan. Their goal is to empower a generation of young people to become Myanmar’s industry leaders in hospitality and tourism.

Bagan is not only famous for its temples and pagodas but also for its artistic handicrafts and lacquer ware and there will be the opportunity to visit a local workshop where the process of making these interesting items can be seen.

The only way to truly appreciate the scale of the site is atop one of the mounds, and early evening presents the perfect opportunity to watch the sunset and take in the enormity of the surrounding area.

Meals included: Breakfast and Lunch


Day 5: Bagan
Spend the day in Bagan. Overnight: Bagan.

(An optional balloon ride over Bagan. The preeminent and most exhilarating way to see the mystical temples in Bagan is from 1000ft in the air with 45 minute duration sunrise balloon flights operating between October and March (subject to weather restrictions). (The companies we choose have their balloons provided by Cameron Balloons in the UK, the world largest balloon manufacturer. Pilots are UK-licensed pilots and all balloons are tested and regulated according to British aviation regulations). Please note an additional supplement cost will apply for this activity).

Visit nearby Phwar Saw Village, which affords the opportunity to witness rural Burmese life. En route you will be able to stop at the interesting market at Nyaung Oo to see the variety of fresh produce for sale and gain an insight into the bustling market atmosphere in Bagan.

Lunch at a local restaurant and later this afternoon there is an another chance to re-visit the temples, this time by Horse Cart which affords the opportunity to explore some of the lesser visited areas which cannot be reached by more conventional modes of transport.

Finish the day with a relaxing sunset boat on Irrawaddy River before returning to your hotel.

This evening enjoy a unique dinner with the view of temples of Bagan as your back drop. The specially prepared dinner will be served in an atmospheric setting with puppet show performance.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner


Day 6: Bagan– Inle Lake
After breakfast at hotel, drive to Bagan airport to connect your flight to Heho. Overnight: Heho.

Shan state’s prime attraction, Inle lake is literally dotted with interesting villages and floating gardens and is one of the most picturesque locations in all of Myanmar. The lake and the surrounding area is also home to a number of tribes, mainly Intha but also Shan, Kayah and Danaw to name a few and there are fantastic opportunities for browsing at local markets and interacting with the local population.

Nyaung Shwe is the gateway to the lake and upon arrival at Heho airport you will be met and transferred to this small, but attractive town. After a brief visit to Shwe Yanpyay nastery, which is famed for its unique oval windows, transfer to your private boat and venture onto the lake.

After lunch at local restaurant, firstly visit the five ancient gold-covered Buddha images at Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest monastery on the lake.

Visit Nga Hpe Kyaung temple on the eastern side of the lake, which houses an impressive collection of ancient Buddha images. There will also be the opportunity to visit a floating garden and it goes without saying any visit to the lake would not be complete without witnessing the unique technique of leg rowing which is so synonymous with Intha fisherman.

Meals included: Breakfast and Lunch


Day 7: Inle Lake
Spend the day at the Inle Lake area. Overnight: Inle Lake.

The local 5-day market rotates between towns in the Inle Lake region. The market is a great place to observe local life with many of the ethnic minorities attending to buy and sell their goods. There is plenty of time to explore the market and perhaps buying the odd local handicraft or two.

There will be the opportunity to visit Nampan village to see local cigar (cheroot) making and then continue to Inn Paw Khone, a small village that specializes in silk weaving.

Lunch at the Inle Heritage Restaurant & Foundation, run by Ms. Yin Myo Su and her colleague Kyaw Swar. She is the founder of Inle Princess Resort and Mrauk U Princess Resort. The highlights of their project are Lake water quality monitoring, Burmese cat preservation, endemic fish species project, responsible hospitality management and CSR with local Intha (lake tribe) communities. The staff will explain you more about their project and you can do a short tour around their compound 30 mins.

In the afternoon continue to the ruined stupas and temples at the lake-side village of Inndein. A covered walkway leads to the main Shwe Inn Thein Paya, from where (weather permitting) there are great views across the lake.

Please note the schedule for the 5-day market rotation is not available until nearer the time. If necessary, the order of sightseeing will be changed in order to coincide with a market day. On some occasions there may not be a market at all and in this case the guide will make alternative sightseeing plans for the morning in question.

Meals included: Breakfast and Lunch


Day 8: Inle Lake – Heho / Yangon
Transfer to the Heho airport to connect your flight to Yangon. The rest of the time will be leisure at your hotel. Overnight: Yangon.

Meals included: Breakfast and Lunch


Day 9: Yangon / Saigon
Fly from Yangon to Saigon. Overnight: Saigon.

With a population of nearly 8 million inhabitants and an almost equal number of scooters, mopeds and motorcycles all competing for space on the ultra-busy streets, bustling and noisy Ho Chi Minh City is quite literally a metropolis on the move. The most western of Vietnamese cities, Saigon, as it is still commonly known, is a city of contrasts; a place where ultra-modern shopping malls and fashionable restaurants vie for space with local retailers selling all manner of wares and quiet roadside cafes making delicious Vietnamese iced coffee (cafe sua da) and other liquid refreshments. There is always something going on in Saigon and a friendly roadside cafe is the perfect place to take five, enjoy a coffee and absorb the dynamic scene unfolding around you.

Ho Chi Minh City is packed with first-rate museums and some elegant French-era colonial architecture, including the Central Post Office and the stunning Saigon Opera House. Away from the city centre, Cholon, where the treasure trove of temples are best explored on foot, is one of the most vibrant Chinatowns in South-east-Asia whilst Ben Thanh Market is the perfect place for a spot of retail therapy and souvenir-hunting. With so much to see and do, an international dining scene and some of the most luxurious hotels in the country, Ho Chi Minh City is a truly remarkable destination waiting to be explored.

After clearing custom procedure at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Spiritual Journeys’s tour guide will pick you up at the gate and transfer you to your hotel and rest at leisure.

Meals included: Breakfast.

Day 10: Saigon
Full day of sightseeing. Overnight: Saigon.

Full Day Cu Chi Tunnels and Saigon City Tour (10 Hours): Synonymous with the Vietnam War and a testament to the determined spirit of the Vietnamese, the underground network of passages at Cu Chi is a fascinating day trip out of the city.

Work on the tunnels began during the war against the French in the 1940s and over the next 25 years as the conflict with America escalated, they were improved and expanded to create an underground city of meeting areas, storerooms, living quarters and much more. The tunnels allowed the Viet Cong to control a vital area of South Vietnam and at their height, extended for more than 200KM in length and stretched from what was then Saigon to the Cambodian border.

Preserved as a memorial park, two sections of this remarkable network are open to the public. Visiting the area at Ben Dinh, there is the option to go below the surface and visit sections of the tunnels first hand. The more adventurous may go deeper and your guide will be on hand to give guidance on the degree of expected difficulty. There is plenty of interest above ground as well and it is recommended to bring good footwear, sunscreen and a hat. Please note you may get a little dusty if you decide to go underground.

Return to city for lunch at a local restaurant. The first stop on this afternoon’s itinerary is Reunification Palace. Formerly named the Presidential Palace, this important city landmark was assured its place in history on 30th April 1975, when the first North Vietnamese tanks rumbled past, signalling the Fall of Saigon and ultimately the end of the Vietnam War. Now a museum complete with period meeting areas, war rooms and a basement communication centre, after your visit, walk the short distance to Notre Dame Cathedral. At the centre of HCMC’s government district, this romantic church dates back to the late 19th century and is a popular backdrop for wedding photographs. Across the street from the cathedral is the city’s striking French colonial-era post office, whilst Hotel de Ville de Saigon, officially Ho Chi Minh City Hall, is another of the city’s most prominent buildings. The Museum of Vietnamese History is housed in yet another fine example of Sino-French architecture. Dating back to the 1920s, it contains an excellent series of exhibits dating from the Bronze Age to the Nguyen dynasty, the last ruling family of Vietnam.

As an alternative to the Museum of Vietnamese History, visit the elegant Fine Arts Museum with its impressive collection of ancient and modern art and sculptures, or the War Remnants Museum, which is primarily dedicated to the Vietnam War but also includes exhibits dating back to French colonialist period and the first Indochina War.
The final stop today is the unforgettable Jade Emperor Pagoda. With the pungent smell of incense hanging heavy in the air and an interior packed fall of ornate carvings and fierce-looking statues, this Taoist temple is one of the most atmospheric places of worship in the city. Transfer back to your hotel after your visit or alternatively be dropped off at Ben Thanh market for personal exploration and a spot of souvenir hunting.

NOTES that the Cu Chi Tunnels are small and claustrophobic. Maximum recommended height is 2 metres and maximum age is 70 years for one to enter the tunnels. The Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral has been under renovated since July 2017. Construction takes about two years to complete. Due to this renovation work, visitors are not allowed inside.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.


Day 11: Saigon – Cai Be – Mekong Delta

Full day of sightseeing. Overnight: On board a cruise boat.

Travelling by road south of Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 2.5 hours) journey into the Mekong Delta to the riverine town of Cai Be. Here you will board your boat for an overnight cruise through one of Vietnam’s most enchanting landscapes.

A welcome drink will be served on board followed by an introduction to the ship and crew, and check-in to your private cabin. Leaving Cai Be, slip away through the bustling waterways into a labyrinth of quieter canals, enjoying a delicious lunch of Vietnamese specialties on the deck.

Continuing your exploration of the Delta and, as your craft navigates the narrow canals, you will learn about the lifestyle, culture and traditions of the people who call the Delta their home. The Delta is known as Vietnam’s ‘rice bowl’ for good reason and in this fertile region almost every square metre is intensively farmed. Fruit plantations abound and you will visit a farm to sample some o f the locally grown tropical produce or a village to learn something of the people’s daily activities and experience their hospitality. Return to your boat to enjoy the spectacular Mekong Delta sunset from the deck and dinner on board.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner


Day 12: Floating Market – Can Tho – Saigon

Full day of sightseeing. Overnight: Saigon.

Early morning, as the sun rises above the Mekong Delta, is one of the most captivating times to be on the river. See the Delta come alive with a flurry of activity as trading of the floating markets begins. Venturing into the heart of one of the Mekong Delta’s floating markets, you will see scores of boats laden with fruits, vegetables and all manner of groceries, jostling for space and vying to sell their wares. Although development of the road network means there is less waterborne trading than in previous years, there is still plenty of activity to be observed. The drifting shops each specialise in a few kinds of fruit or vegetable and samples of their goods hang from tall wooden poles allowing customers to easily identify what is for sale.

Lunch will be either on the boat or at a local restaurant, after which you will return to Ho Chi Minh City by road.

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch.


Day 13: Saigon/Phnom Penh

Fly Saigon to Phnom Penh. Overnight: Phnom Penh.

At leisure till transfer to Saigon airport for flight to Phnom Penh (1310/1410) (flight schedule subject to change without notice). Upon arrival at Phnom Penh Airport, Spiritual Journeys representative will meet you after customs and immigration, and transfer you to your hotel with rest of the day is at leisure, on your own.

Meals included: Breakfast


Day 14: Phnom Penh
Spend the day sightseeing in Phnom Penh. Overnight: Phnom Penh.

Start at the elegant Royal Palace; home of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk and her Majesty Preah Reach Akka Mohesey Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. The Palace is actually a number of structures within a pagoda-style compound. An awe-inspiring sight, the throne room, or the main building has a tiered roof topped by a 59m tower. Silver Pagoda is the royal chapel, located within the Royal Palace grounds but walled off in a separate enclosure. The Silver Pagoda takes its name from the estimated 5,000 silver tiles covering the floor of the main temple. Each tile is made from a kilogram of silver. Although plundered by the Khmer Rouge, the Silver Pagoda contains some superb Buddha statuary; a few artefacts from the royal collection are displayed in glass cases. National Museum was designed by the French archaeologist and painter George Grislier, and constructed in a traditional style by Cambodian craftsmen in 1917, and first opened in 1920. It’s small, but houses an astonishing wealth of Khmer stone, bronze, and wooden sculpture. Last stop at Wat Phnom, a small hill crowned by an active Wat marks the legendary founding place of Phnom Penh.

Drive to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek (16 km south of Phnom Penh). Between 1975 and 1978 about 17,000 men, women, children and infants (including nine westerners) detained and tortured at S-21 prison were transported to the extermination camp of Choeung Ek. They were often bludgeoned to death to avoid wasting precious bullets. Fragments of human bone and bits of cloth are scattered around the disinterred pits. Over 8000 skulls, arranged by sex and age, are visible behind the clear glass panels of the Memorial Stupa, which was erected in 1988. In Phnom Penh, visit the Notorious Tuol Sleng Museum. In 1975 Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's security forces and turned into a prison known as Security Prison 21 (S-21), soon becoming the largest such center of detention and torture in the country. Detainees who died during torture were buried in mass graves in the prison ground. The museum displays include room after room of these photographs of men, women and children covering the walls from floor to ceiling; virtually all the people pictured were later killed.

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch.


Day 15: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
Fly to Siem Reap in the morning. Overnight: Siem Reap.

Upon arrival in Siem Reap, welcome by the Spiritual Journeys’s representative and transfer to check-in at and enjoy lunch your hotel.

Kampong Phluk is a cluster of three villages of stilted houses built within the floodplain of the Tonle Sap about 16 km southeast of Siem Reap. The villages are primarily Khmer and have about 3000 inhabitants between them. Flooded mangrove forest surrounds the area and is home to a variety of wildlife including crab-eating macaques. During the dry season when the lake is low, the buildings in the villages seem to soar atop their 6-meter stilts exposed by the lack of water. At this time of year many of the villagers move out onto the lake and build temporary stilted houses. In the wet season when water level rises again, the villagers move back to their permanent houses on the floodplain, the stilts now hidden under the water. Kampong Phluk's economy is, as one might expect, based in fishing, primary in shrimp harvesting.

Meals included: Breakfast.

Day 16: Siem Reap
Spend the day sightseeing in Sieam Reap. Overnight: Siem Reap.

Visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom where most visitors enter the ancient city. The Bayon is located exactly in the middle of the former Khmer capital. There are more than 200 enigmatic smiling faces on the 54 towers of the temple. The faces are said to represent the Buddha of Compassion but are assumed to have striking resemblance to the god-king. Other important sights within the city of Angkor Thom are the pyramidal Baphuon, currently being restored, the Terrace of the Leper Kings, where some exceptionally well conserved early carvings can be seen and the Terrace of Elephants, supported by sculpted stone elephants, it served as the giant viewing platform for royal ceremonies.

In the afternoon, drive to visit Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world whose famous silhouette never fails to impress. It covers an area of 1.6 sq. km (one sq. mile) and is surrounded by a wide moat. The god-king Suryavarman II ordered the construction in the 12th century and dedicated the temple to Vishnu, the Hindu deity he identified with. The five enormous towers have the same symbolic function as other temple mountains of Angkor: they represent Mount Meru, the mythical dwelling place of Hindu gods. In the outer galleries are some of the finest and best-preserved bas-reliefs of the Khmer Art.

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch.


Day 17: Siem Reap
Spend the day sightseeing in Sieam Reap. Overnight: Siem Reap.

Visit Banteay Srei temple, located about 30 km from the central Angkor area is exceptional in many ways, it is a small complex built in the 10th century by the spiritual mentor of King Jayavarman V and dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. Unique to Banteay Srei is the rare pink sandstone on which are exquisite ornamental carvings of gods, demons, coiling serpents and floral garlands. Most of the bas-reliefs found on the walls depict scenes of Hindu episodes - the Ramayana. Continue to visit Banteay Samre built in the third quarter of the 12thcentury and Pre Rup; architecturally and artistically superior temple-mountain.

In the afternoon, visit Ta Prohm where the jungle has reclaimed the monuments and giant tree trunks reach through the ancient stone. Here you can get a feeling of how the first European Explorers would have found the ruins. This temple is dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII, constructed as a Buddhist monastery and enormously wealthy in its time. Well worth an extended exploration of its dark corridors and open plazas. Massive trees growing from stone towers are photo classics. Ta Keo; ending the day with a visit to Preah Khan; it means “sacred sword”. Preah Khan is a huge, complex full of carvings, passages and photo opportunities.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and farwell dinner with Khmer performance at Angkor Village theatre or similar.


Day 18: Siem Reap
Cooking class. Overnight: Siem Reap.

Participate in a Cooking class at Chreav Village. This immersive foodie experience is set in a traditional Khmer country house roughly 25 minutes from the centre of Siem Reap in sleepy Chreav Village. It includes exploring a real local market which not many tourists see (Wat Pren Market) before continuing to Chreav, one of the prettiest villages around Siem Reap. You then head to the house to start cooking and enjoy your creations, all with the guidance of a knowledgeable local chef. Depart at 9:00AM, and return after lunch.

This afternoon at leisure time to relax by the hotel swimming pool.

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch.


Day 19: Siem Reap – Departure

Today free at leisure time until transfer with Spiritual Journeys’s representative to Siem Reap International Airport for departure flight to other destinations.

 

~ ~ End of services offered by Spiritual Journeys, Inc. ~ ~

HOTELS ENVISAGED:

City Hotel, Room Type
Yangon Chatrium Hotel, Deluxe ROH
Bagan Amata Garden Resort, Amata Deluxe
Inle Lake Pristine Spa & Resort, Lotus Villa
Saigon Saigon Hotel, ROH
Cruise Boat Bassac Cruise
Phnom Penh Palace Gate Hotel, Royal Deluxe
Siem Reap Victoria Angkor Hotel, Superior

 

COSTS:
Costs will depend on number of people in group and time of travel. Please e-mail Deepak Singh (English) or Adrianna Castelazo (Spanish) or telephone Deepak Singh at +1-508-358-4267 for details.

Payment by Installments: Available. Details depend on amount and date of first payment. Contact Deepak Singh for details.

TOUR PRICE INCLUDES:
• Accommodation as per above itinerary in twin share/double rooms with daily breakfast
• Tours and transfers as specified including entry fees, on a private basis in an air-conditioned vehicle
• The services of a country specific Spanish speaking guide throughout each (of the three) countries
• All flights in economy class
• Meals included as stated, but drinks are not included
• Private boats and canoes (if applicable) for included excursion on Inle Lake (Myanmar)
• Private sunset local boat ride in Bagan (Myanmar)
• Current applicable VAT Government tax and services charge


TOUR PRICES EXCLUDES:
• International airfares and taxes, unless otherwise specified
• Visa expenses, processing and issuance fees
• Meals other than specified as included
• Travel Insurance or expenses of a personal nature (mini-bar, phone call, laundry, etc.),
• Tips or gratuities to guides/drivers/porters / hotel, restaurant or boat staff, etc.
• Drinks or personal expenses or entrance fees for any extra sightseeing or optional activities
• Hotel early check- in and late check-out
• International air
• Optional tour


Registration:  Please use our Registration Form to register, and pay either the deposit or your payment by going to our secure system at Pay Now.

Additional Information: Please e-mail Deepak Singh (English) or Adrianna Castelazo (Spanish) or telephone Deepak Singh at +1-508-358-4267.