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Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Vientiane, Mekong Delta, Cat Tien National Park, Luang Prabang, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Ninh Binh, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Hanoi
A package brings up the lifetime experiences with bird watching in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Indochina is mesmerizing as a chanting destination with great values of cultures, cuisines, religions, nature and especially the wildlife. Embark on this journey, you will explore the highlighted regions of three countries; and venture to unique area with diverse system of fauna and flora and some rare species. Ban Na Hin in the east of Laos is surrounded with idling limestone karst; and also, is a part of the dense jungle with birding sites. In Siem Reap, the Prek Toal Sanctuary on flood land region is the home and biosphere of the rarest water bird. Vietnam, with mountains at higher elevations and lush jungles, is the perfect nestling places for dozen thousands of species. Exploring the most diverse national parks of Cat Tien in the southern Vietnam, Bach Ma in the central Vietnam and the Cuc Phuong National Park in northern Vietnam.
Welcome to Indochina!
Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos locating in the north right at the intersection of Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, you are welcomed by tour guide and travel to your hotel. Have free time for relaxation and get off jet lag.
This morning, drive to the Elephant Village Camp where you are warmly greeted by your guide and participate in a short briefing about elephants. Afterward enjoy the impressive experience of feeding, bathing and learning to communicate with the mammals! Then take boat trip to the Tad Sae Waterfall. You will ride in a traditional Lao long boat to the Tad Sae Waterfall and relax or swim in the clear water (swim suit recommended). Have lunch at Elephant Camp restaurant.
In the afternoon, enjoy a short-guided tour seeing the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong with its roofs sweeping low to the ground, which represents classical Laotian architecture. Then climb up to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a panoramic view of the city the Mekong River. From there, you can explore the Night Market, where you can find a lovely selection of handmade textile made by local and hill tribe people surrounding Luang Prabang.
Optional: You can wake up early this morning and stroll to the street and join Tak-Bath, or Alms giving ceremony in Luang Prabang when the monks in saffron costumes; all processing through streets for the collecting of dedications of food, sticky rice and so on. Then, you will walk to the morning central market where local gather and provide variable regional goods from vegetable, seasoning, herbs, bee hives, rare animals, local rice-made cakes, breakfast and so on. Then make your way back to hotel for breakfast.
Today you will visit local villages of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay, Hmong Village and Ban Thapene, Khmu Village, then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you can cool off with a refreshing swim in the turquoise pools or walk along the forest trails. Return to the city by late evening to observe the sunset at Wat Phabath. Overnight in Luang Prabang
In the morning, have free time to stroll the town or relax at hotel before catching a flight to Vientiane.
Explore Vientiane with a visit to Wat Sisaket, the city's oldest temple. Constructed in 1818, Wat Sisaket is the most important heritage temple in Laos. It houses thousands of Buddha images from many countries, long lost architectural styles, sculptures and paintings. Next, visit Wat Prakeo, former royal temple of the Lao monarchy and originally built in 1565, is home to the Emerald Buddha image, Buddhist sculptures are displayed along the perimeter wall, including a 6th to 9th century Dvaravati-style stone Buddha and several standing and sitting Buddhas. On the way to the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, stop to take some pictures of the imposing Patuxay Monument, Vientiane's own Arc de Triumph.
Depart early for a drive towards Khammouane province. Along the way you can make several stops to stretch your legs and take wonderful pictures of the breathtaking scenery of Lao Countryside. Depending on road and traffic conditions, you will arrive at Ban Na Hin, the gateway to Khong Lor Cave, by mid or late afternoon. On arrival, enjoy a short walk around this charming village, enabling to understand a little more about local culture and lifestyle.
Three full days to explore the 4 different types of forest, all birding sites are located close to your accommodation so you have the luxury to do short trips and return for breakfast, lunch and dinner at resort restaurant. After familiarizing with the habitats and some general birding to build up a decent species list, you shall start to target the goodies, not at least the newly discovered 'bald' Bulbul, Limestone Leaf Warbler, Sooty Babbler and Lao Langur in the limestone forest while the evergreen forest should reveal a host of other specialties; Red-collared and Pale-headed Woodpecker, Red-vented Barbet, Spot-necked Babbler, Long-tailed Broadbill, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl... A full list of birds that have been seen in the area can be found.
The amazing cave of Khong Lor is 7.5km long and was formed by the Hinboun River, which flows though the cave all year round. Today you will take a short drive to Khong Lor Cave, stopping en route at Ban Na Hin for a walk to That Mouang and That Namsanam Waterfalls. Here embark on a small boat for an impressive excursion through the main cave to the valley beyond, stopping to observe the stalactite formations. The cave is still used by local villages as an access route.
Leave leave Ban Na Hin and continue returning to Vientiane capital in 5.5 hours. Upon arriving in Vientiane, you will have leisure time till rest of the day.
After breakfast, you will take a transfer to the airport for the flight to Phnom Penh. When arrival, you are welcomed by your local driver and tour guide, then travel to hotel in Phnom Penh for check-in.
After the short rest you will visit the impressive colorful Khmer-style royal palace complex build in 1866 by the Predecessors of King Norodom. Nearby is Silver pagoda (the emerald Buddha temple), where contain plenty of Buddha Statues decorated and made by gold, diamond, gemstone and silver. Next off, stop at Independence monument and explore the National museum; a beautiful Khmer architecture building contains more than 5000 art antiques made by bronze, wood, gold, silver, copper, sandstone and others. Pass through the river-front park where 4 rivers met at a junction include mystical Mekong, you then walk up to sacred hill Phnom Daun Penh – also the name of a pagoda and name of the capital nowadays. Last visit Central Market, a large market constructed in 1937 in the shape of a dome with four arms branching out into vast hallways with countless stalls of goods. Initial design and layouts are from French architect Louis Chauchon.
Today morning, visit Choeung Ek museum, where between 1975 and 1978 about 17,000 men, women, children and infants were detained and tortured at S-21 were transported for the extermination. You then continue to Tuol Sleng prison which is now Genocide Museum, the most secret part of the Khmer Rouge regime. It’s also called S-21 (abbreviated for Security Office 21), a Khmer Rouge's premier security camp, specifically designed for the interrogation and extermination of anti-Angkor elements. Rest of the day is at your leisure to chill-out in Phnom Penh.
After breakfast, departure by overland to Kampong Cham, also called "The Garden City" and the main town in the province of same name. You will have a first stop at Skuon Land for the Spider Village. Afternoon you will visit the archaeological sight of Sambor Prei Kuk by national Road#6. Road condition from Siem Reap to Kampong Thom is very good now.
After breakfast, pick up at your hotel and transfer by 4WD to Stung District located in Kampong Thom province. Get off the National Road No.6 for a few more kilometers before reaching the grasslands area to search for the critically-endangered Bengal Florian. Raptors including Eastern Marsh Harrier, Pied Harrier and Greater Spotted Eagle are often seen cruising over the grasslands here. You might be able to see Manchurian Reed Warbler and Oriental Plover also. On the way back, visit Kampong Kdei Old Bridge on Angkor Ancient road. Then drop in hotel Siem Reap for check in hotel.
After breakfast at hotel, you’ll explore South Gate of Angkor Thom known as Big Angkor, 3km2 walled and moated royal city and was the last capital of the Angkorian Empire, the famous Bayon Temple was an architectural muddle, in part because it was constructed in a somewhat piecemeal fashion for over a century. Terrace of the Elephants is an impressive, two and a half meters tall, 300-meter-long terrace wall adorned with carved elephants and gradual that spans the heart of Angkor Thom in front of Baphuon - huge temple mountain in the heart of Angkor Thom, Royal Palace Area and Phimeanakas - impressive rite and sandstone pyramid. Terrace of the Leper King is at the north end of the Terrace of the Elephants, a double terrace wall with deeply carved nag as, demons and other mythological beings.
Afternoon visit Angkor Wat temple, the founder of the temple was Suryavarman II who reigned Cambodia from 1113 to 1152 and built the five towers in the 12th century to dedicate to the Hindu God Vishnu. The plan of the pyramidal conception of the temple combined with spaces, alleys, ditches is an ancient masterpiece of architectural design and construction. It is time to visit Pre Rup temple for a romantic sunset view. After the short rest you will have welcome dinner with Apsara, the traditional Khmer dance - drama performance, which are not merely dance but also telling a story.
This morning, break the temple tour with a visit to Tonle Sap Lake. Travel south through small beautiful rural villages and rice fields to the Kompong Phluk River. Get on a boat and ride downstream into the main village - home to approximately 3000 people earning life from the waters. There are a few schools, a large pagoda and many stilted homes towering some 9 meters high to adapt to the changing water levels. It is a lovely peaceful place to visit anytime of the year, as well as seeing how a vast majority of Cambodians live as fishermen or farmers and get an insight into their way of life. You then move to smaller boats and row through the flooded forest of Kompong Phluk into Tonle Lake. Let’s see the small floating village which moves in and out depending on the water levels, as the community works around the seasonal variance of the great lake as the actual level of the lake can vary by up to 10 meters.
In the afternoon, you’ll be visiting the fascinating jungle-clad temple of Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei as the Citadel of Chambers, the mountain temple of Takeo, the elegant Hindu temple of Thommanon, the badly ruined temple of Chau Say Thevoda, and the Royal Bath of Sras Srang.
During the wet season the rising water level of the Mekong River backs up into the lake causing the lake to grow from 2500sq km to more than 13,000sq km. This seasonal flow of water also moves vast quantities of nutrients making Tonle Sap an incredibly rich spawning grounds for fish. The lake is the largest inland fishery in the world. Once arrive at the lake, you will board a motor-powered sampan for the journey to Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary. Along the way, you will wind through floating villages and flooded forests and have a chance to observe the different fishing methods used on the lake. Have a packed lunch. The bird sanctuary and biosphere reserve of Prek Toal protects some of the rarest water birds in Southeast Asia and if lucky, you could see both lesser and greater adjutant storks, spot-billed pelicans, milky storks and perhaps even a saris crane. Besides the big wading birds the sanctuary is home to a host of other bird species and the concentrations can be staggering. Return to Siem Reap in the early evening for overnight.
Depart very early this morning for Ang Trapeang Thmor Sarus Crane Reserve (ATT). Located about an hour and a half northwest of Siem Reap, the reservoir and flooded fields of ATT provide critical habitat for more than 200 species of birds including the endangered and charismatic Sarus Crane. Up to 350 Sarus Cranes forage in this reserve which is also home to a great diversity of other water birds such as Painted, Milky, Woolley-necked and Lesser Adjutant Storks; Comb Ducks and Cotton Pygmy Geese; Black-headed Ibis; Spot-billed Pelican; and many species of herons, bitterns and cormorants. Pied and Eastern Marsh Harriers often course over the grasslands looking for prey. The grasslands and reed beds also play host to a wide variety of songbirds. Beyond the avian attractions ATT is home to an important population of endangered Eld’s Deer and you will do our best to see this special mammal during our visit. You will have breakfast along the way and after a full morning of birding you will have the opportunity to visit the Phnom Srok Village which is famous for their silk weavings. After the visit to the village and a chance to shop for silk handicrafts you will have lunch at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s reserve headquarters. After lunch, continue your explorations of ATT looking for any species that you might have missed in the morning. Travel back in Siem Reap and your hotel at around 5:00.
After check-out, transfer to airport for your flight to Saigon, the former name of Ho Chi Minh City. When arrived, greeted by your tour guide and drive to hotel. Let discover Saigon City then. Start off the city tour at the Reunification Palace, the witness of the fierce Vietnam War ended in 1975. The grand building today is a Museum and Hall of official receptions. Nearby the Palace are the colonial-styled Post Office, built between 1877 and 1883 and one of the city’s major landmarks. Finish the tour at Ben Thanh Market – wholesale market, to intermingle with the local lifestyle.
Enjoy the scenic journey along the way bordered by green rice fields. On arrived at My Tho, visit Vinh Trang pagoda, take a leisurely boat ride along the river, view the stilt houses, fruit plantations and fishing villages along the river bank. Proceed to Tortoise islet. Then a boat ride to An Khanh – a less touristy attraction in Ben Tre, enjoy cruising on a hand-rowed sampan under the shadow of the water coconut trees along natural canals, then enjoy seasonal fruit & honey tea to the sound of "Southern Vietnamese folk music", performed by locals.
Visit a family business which epitomizes the idyllic rural lifestyle, taste the delicious coconut candy & observe the pastoral life as you roam through the fruit plantation and village. Meet the bus and return to HCMC. This trip provides a fascinating insight into daily life in the Mekong Delta and you are guaranteed to take home your own private collection of beautiful memories.
After breakfast, your tour guide will pick up and depart by car from Saigon to Cat Tien national park. The terrain rises up gradually via volcanic area. On arrival, cross Dong Nai River to the park center and begin your wildlife experience. Check in room at the park center.
Cat Tien is blessed with fantastic birds including green peafowl, orange-necked partridge, Siamese fire back pheasant, and numerous hornbills, broadbills, and babblers. This afternoon, go on a three-hour trek through the Reserved Core Area where you will see many trees of different species that are hundreds of years old. Then return to the center. In the evening, transfer by boat to TaLai buffer zone for animal spotting (view animals at night).
Wake up to the uplifting songs of the native birds. After breakfast, transfer 10km inside the park to junction where you turn off the main route and trek 5km to Crocodile lake station. Along the route, if lucky, you could see primates and fantastic birds such as Germain’s peacock-pheasant, bar-bellied pitta, orange-breasted trogon and red-and-black broadbill. You might also see gliding lizards along this trail as they cling to tree trunks and extend their dewlaps in territorial displays.
Short break at the lake watch tower. Then trek back to the main route. Boat pick up, transfer back to the center. Check out. Leave Cat Tien Park. Ferry crossing the river and head back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Transfer to the Airport to catch the early morning flight to Hue a province of central Vietnam. This afternoon, you will ride with traditional dragon boat on the "River of Wealth" to the well-known Thien-Mu Pagoda (45 minutes), which is consecrated to the heavenly mother and rises directly on the bank of the river! Carry on your visit to the mausoleum of King Tu Duc (1 hour), one of the most beautiful works of royal architecture in Vietnam. Next, spend 1.5 – 2 hours visiting The Citadel and Imperial Palace are cultural highlight. Finish our tour at around 5:30 pm, transfer back to hotel. At leisure till the rest of the day.
Follow the coast for 45 km south down Highway One before turning inland on the road that leads to Bach Ma National Park, 20 km away. The road from the park entrance to the park guesthouse near the summit is very scenic with sweeping vistas of undisturbed rainforest and the coastal plain. The park accommodation is in renovated colonial villas and the ruins of once grand holiday homes and hotels are scattered along the trails from this point up to the summit. There are many good trails for birders and for non-birders alike with several waterfalls and small lakes.
Have a full day birding in Bach Ma National Park. A knowledgeable park tour guide will assist us with our birding tour at Bach Ma. Over 330 species of bird have been recorded at Bach Ma and specialties include the endemic Annam Partridge, the Crested Argus, Edwards pheasant, Coral-billed Ground-Cuckoo, Blyth's Kingfisher and the Ratchet-tailed Treepie.
After check out hotel, head for the coastal town of Hoi An (2.5-hour drive). The views on the way are fantastic - the steeply sloping mountains seem to pounce literally into the sea! En route, visit huge and beautiful marble mountains (1.5 hour). Here you will find spectacular caves that contain pagodas, shrines and temples from many centuries. Check in hotel in Hoi An and stay at leisure till the rest of the day.
After breakfast at hotel, ride bicycle to Hoi An’s colorful central market. Here you will have the opportunity to interact with the local sellers and learn about the ingredients to be used in the cooking lesson later. So, make sure your camera is handy. Cycle to Tra Que vegetable village. Welcome drink for rest and then you will walk through the vegetable gardens where local farmers work on their fields, using the traditional methods of hundreds of years ago, no electrical machinery here. Go to the restaurant & work together with the chef. Learn the traditional ways of preparing and cooking Vietnamese Banh Xeo or sizzling cake. After the lesson, enjoy what you have cooked.
This after noon, around 3:00pm you will visit Hoi An Heritage site including the cultural and historical museum, the Japanese bridge and the Chinese assembly hall on foot.
At leisure till appointed time, transfer to airport and take domestic flight to Hanoi. Welcomed by our tour guide in Hanoi and transfer to hotel in city center (40-minute driving).
This afternoon, take an orienting tour exploring Hanoi. Let's start from the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (from outside), his simple house-on-stilts and the One-Pillar pagoda near Ba Dinh Square, where the most solemn ceremonies of Hanoi take place. Go on to the Temple of Literature, the very first high school of Vietnam Scholars. Lately, have an overall view of the capital by a “cyclo” visit, which will start around the Old Quarter of Hanoi. In the evening, enjoy a unique fascinating show of Water Puppetry, a traditional stage art of Northern Vietnam.
Around 8:00 depart Hanoi and head southward reaching Van Long Nature Reserve which covers an area of 3000 ha and is home to rich biodiversity and spectacular rock formations.
Upon our arrival, let’s embark on a boat trip along this beautiful reserve and through a cave. Lunch is served at local restaurant. Afternoon finds yourself in the floating village of Kenh Ga. Here you can walk around open rice paddies, enjoy a leisurely boat ride along Hoang Long River and watch the village life unfold, before descend to the cave of Van Trinh, a two-storied spacious cave, well-known for its unique stalagmites and stalactites. Travel to Cuc Phuong National Park for overnight.
A full day's bird watching on the trails of Cuc Phuong. The birding is good at Cuc Phuong with over 308 species recorded in the park. Apart from the rich bird species, there are also endangered mammals such as Indochinese Tiger, Clouded Leopard and the rare Delacour Langur in the forests of Cuc Phuong. Other possible bird species include Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl, Ruddy Kingfisher, Silver-breasted Broadbill and White-tailed Flycatcher.
After breakfast, check-out and drive to Ha Long Bay taking 3.5 hours. As soon as arrive at Halong Bay, you will board our junk. Get to know the crew with a refreshing welcome drink! Halong Bay was declared UNESCO World Heritage since 1994 and known for the 2000 rock of all sizes and shapes that rise from the blue-green water. In the afternoon, arrive at a particularly beautiful part of the bay which is perfect for swimming, relaxing and discovering caves and lagoons with paddle boats.
After a lovely night at sea and a rich breakfast, the cruise continues through the bay. Relax on the deck as the boat dive into the largest cave in Halong Bay, the "Cave of Surprise". At noon, you will say good-bye to the crew and drive to Hanoi in 2.5 hours. Have your free time to enjoy local drinks before transferring to airport for departure flight.
Accommodation with double/twin sharing with daily breakfast
Private air-conditioned transfers
English speaking tour guide
Private boat on Tonle Sap Lake
Private boat on Mekong River to Pak Ou Cave
Private boat to Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary
Private boat in Ta Lai – Cat Tien National Park
Private boat on Van Long
Dragon boat trip on Perfume River
Meals indicated in program
Cooking Class in Tra Que Village – Hoi An
Trip to Elephant Camp
Sightseeing and entrance fees
Bottles of drinking water every day
Vietnam visa Approval letter, Visa stamped fees
Domestic & International air ticket
Surcharge for festive season
Early check-in & late check-out (if any)
Meals and drinks not mentioned in program
Tips, drinks, personal expenses and others.
20 days 19 nights
7 days 6 nights
6 days 5 nights
10 days 9 nights
5 days 4 nights
5 days 4 nights
12 days 11 nights