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My husband and i trying to plan a 4-week trip to Asia this year in late Nov or late December. If this were your first trip to Asia, what would you suggest?

We like to stay in good boutique hotels and go to nice restaurants and love to see all the sites. We would love guidance for our itinerary, order of places to go to, hotels to stay in and restaurants to go to as well as MUST things to do.

All assistance gratefully accepted!

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    from where are you coming?

    bangkok might be the logical place to fly into...or fly in there and home from singapore..

    get your flights first..

    then work on hotels.. hotels will be slightly cheaper in november

    decide on a hotel daily target budget..

    food tends to be reasonable and very good in the places you list, except least great in burma. bkk has anything you might want as do some other pklaces in thailand..

    decide if you want some beach time..

    get some good guidebooks to help you get started: fodors or frommers come to mind

    read trip reports on this forum for ideas... click on my name for some... also on craig or kathie or lcuy and many others..

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    The first thing to do is to decide what your priorities are. You could spend four weeks in any one of those countries and not get bored. Some of these countries, there is an obvious one-week trip, like Cambodia, you could spend a week at Angkor. Other countries, like Indonesia are so vast, you would really have to focus on just one place, like Bali. Burma, for instance, I would not consider just a one week trip. I think you need at least 10 days to get a flavor for the place.

    So read your guidebooks, read some trip reports (go to the top of the page and choose a country from the drop-down menu)ane see what inspires you.

    You are welcome to take a look at our photos of these places (and many more) www.marlandc.com

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    Thanks rhkkmk & Kathie...lots of research for me to do!

    Kathie i love the pic… We will flight from home JFK (prefer flying business class with Singapore air).

    We are open for all suggestions and would be very grateful for any input on best itinerary that would in any case include Burma 10days (Road to Mandalay cruise for 3nights?), so for example combining with Angkor Wat for 5days and the rest for Vietnam or other??

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    Agree the first step is to narrow in on how many stops you want to make. The destinations you choose will have a bearing on the sequence depending on availability of flights.

    In Bali, you will find a considerable difference in resort rates between end November and end December. The period between Christmas and New Year's is the highest of the high season and rates are inflated accordingly. I believe that the same is true for much of Thailand and other resort/tourism destinations.

    You'll fill up your four weeks fast with transit time getting from place to place, so if you can cut out one of your target countries, you'll have a more comfortable trip. For example if you consider the major destinations as follows (this list could be expanded) and plan to spend an AVERAGE of 5 days in each place (could be 4, could be 6) you'll have expended 30 days.

    Bangkok, a Thai beach area, Rangoon/Yangon, Bagan/Pagan, Siem Reap, Bali

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    Of all of the places you've listed, Thailand has the best tourist infrastructure. And Bangkok is my favorite city in the world. Logistically, Burma, Angkor and Thailand are a great combination. You can use Bangkok Air's Discovery Pass to fly to/from Siem Reap and to/from Yangon.

    Get a copy of Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples to study up on Angkor and help you decide how much time to spend there.

    If Burma is on your must-see list and if you really want to take a short cruise, you need to addd a few days. For a first trip to Burma, I'd suggest Inle Lake (4 nights) Bagan (4 nights) and Yangon (2 or 3 nights). So if you add in the cruise, figure two weeks for Burma. You might want to read my first trip report on Burma, www.fodors.com/community/asia/burma-at-last.cfm for our 2009 trip covering those places (but no cruise). Note that some of the logistical info on money has changed, you'll have to look at my 2011 report, "Still wowed by Burma" for up to date info. If you are serious about Burma, you need to book NOW. It has become the place to go, and its tourism infrastructure is very limited, so you'll need to get busy to be able to book the hotels you'll want.

    I'd save VN for a different trip as well as Indonesia for a different trip.

    It will be a wonderful trip!

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    prio, our posts crossed and I wrote before I saw your new plan that may include Vietnam. Each of these countries has a lot to offer. You should consider whether you want beach time and city time in addition to ancient culture.

    If you're flying business, I'd suggest the SQ non-stop from Newark to Singapore. From there you can connect to all of Southeast Asia, plus spend a day or two in Singapore if interested.

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    I think Bangkok would be the hub for a trip like this, with the short nonstop flights to Rangoon, maybe elsewhere in Burnma via Thai Air. And short nonstop flights to Siem Reap on Bangkok Air.

    Geographically, the outlier is Bali, being a four and a half hour nonstop flight Thai from Bangkok.

    You could visit Bali two ways:

    1) fly from home to Bangkok/Bali and then return to home from Bali/Bangkok.

    2) fly to Bali as part of a return trip from Bangkok

    Considering that the trip is only 4.5 hours (from Bangkok) and you are going to Bali for a week, this would definitely be an option for me. If you are willing to fly LAX to Boston for 5 days for the GTG, then BKK-Bali-BKK is a bit shorter.

    for example:
    fly to Bangkok, spend a few days
    fly one-way to Burma, spend the 10 days or whatever
    get an open jaw roundtrip Burma via Bangkok to Bali and return to Bangkok.
    roundtrip BKK to Siem Reap
    stay in Bangkok
    fly home from Bangkok

    I'm not sure if this is possible, but is more efficient:
    ticket 1: home to Burma, returning home from Bangkok
    ticket 2: Burma to Bali, returning to Bangkok
    ticket 3: Bangkok to Siem Reap, returning to Bangkok

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    "with the short nonstop flights to Rangoon, maybe elsewhere in Burnma via Thai Air." Thai air flies into and out of Rangon only. All internal Burma trips are on their airlines.

    But there is one 'shortcut' possisble involved in the planning here. One can fly from Rangon to Siem Reap on MAI (I know, the gov't owned airline)but some money goes to the govt anyway - you can't totally avoid it.) Then you don't have to RT Bkk to SR. It avoids backtracking. And from SR you can go go to Bali then return home. Or you could save Bali til later and go to Vietnam.

    So many places - so many ways to do it. Have fun.

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    Since wintersp raised the issue of flying between Siem Reap and Yangon on MIA, consider that if you go to Siem Reap first, then fly from Siem Reap to Yangon on MIA, you can actually get a visa on arrival. There are just two MIA flights that allow you to get a visa on arrival and that is one of them. Otherwise, you must arrange your visa in advance, preferably before you leave the US. Now days it is taking 3 - 4 weeks to get a visa from the embassy in Washington DC.

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    Good using MIA for REP-RGN would remove a stop in BKK. The employees of MIA would benefit in addition to the government (which presumably provides some govt services in addition to oppression).

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    dogster, the flight from Siem Reap to Yangon is seasonal. In Late Nov or early December, this flight does exist.

    mrwunrful, I'm not so sure about that. the level of government-provided services (education, health care, even road-building and repair) in Burma is virtually nil. Income is mostly used to line the pockets of the generals.

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    Hello Kathie and everyone, after reading and searching we now decide to go through with a agent as my husband he wish to see much as much we can for our 4 weeks, we do contact few agent but once come up with very great suggestion and very prompt respond our request and of course good review on this forum and lots on trip advisor.


    Please Help Critique My Itinerary

    Day 1: Nov 26: Singapore – Yangon (JFK-SIN SQ025@20:10-06:50 & SIN-RGN SQ5012@07:55-09:20)
    You are met upon arrival at Yangon Airport, to be welcomed by our guide and transfer to Governor’s Residence. After check in, free relax & recover after long flights. Overnight at the Governor’s Residence, 01 DBL Deluxe Garden View room.
    http://www.governorsresidence.com/web/pyan/governors_residence.jsp

    Day 2: Nov 27: Yangon (B): Breakfast at hotel. Morning your guide will meet you at your hotel and begins the sightseeing tour includes the old colonial-style city center, the gilded Sule Pagoda, dating back over 2,000 years. A photo stop at the Karaweik Hall royal floating barge. Continues to Chauk Htat Gyi, a huge reclining Buddha image. A stop at Bogyoke (Scott) Market gives you the opportunity to see Myanmar's wide range of handicrafts. After lunch, continue to the jetty along Strand Road and walk along Yangon River to see the busy harbour area, from where ferries leave for Pathein in the Delta and for upcountry towns along the Ayeyarwady River. Then drive to the Eastern entrance of Shwedagon pagoda and walk through the small shops where monk accessories, Buddha statues, flowers etc. are sold. The entrance is always very busy with sellers and Myanmar visitors. Then visit Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the world’s most spectacular religious monuments, will conclude the tour of this picturesque Garden City. The golden dome of the Shwedagon Pagoda rises 98 meters above its base and is covered with 60 tons of pure gold. Enjoy sunset from the pagoda. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 3: Nov 28: Yangon – Bagan (B): Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Yangon Airport for domestic flight to Bagan. Upon arrival in Bagan, transfer to hotel and proceed on a sightseeing tour, starting with a busy local market and continuing with visits to a diverse selection of the most important pagodas and temples such as Shwezigon Pagoda, which is Bagan's most important reliquary shrine – look out for images of the 37 'nats' housed in a small hall. See 13th Century frescoes adorning the corridors of Kyansittha 'Cave' Temple. Next stop is Htilominlo, the last Bamar style temple built in Bagan, with old murals and friezes. Visit the Taungphi village to see old monasteries, which have beautiful Khone Baung dynasty frescoes. In the afternoon, visit continues to Ananda Temple, a whitewashed masterpiece of Mon architecture with four standing Buddhas, and the adjacent brick monastery from the early Bagan era with well-preserved murals. Make a photo stop at the tallest temple measuring 61 meters - Thatbyinnyu known as temple of omniscience' and dating from 1144. Continue to Mingalazedi, the last of the large Pagodas built in the 13th Century, representing the pinnacle of Bamar pagoda architecture. Enjoy sunset at one of the monuments along Ayeyarwady River. Overnight at Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort, 01 DBL River Front Suite room. http://www.thiripyitsaya-resort.com/index.html

    Day 4: Nov 29: Bagan (B): Breakfast at hotel. This morning we have time to explore the Myinkaba village area either by bicycle or by horse cart. First we visit Gubyaukgyi Temple admiring the fine stuccowork. We continue to Nanpaya temple, built in the Mon style with intricate stone carvings, and said once to have been Manuha's residence. See the four Buddha images in Manuha Pagoda and later stop at Myazedi stupa to see Myanmar's "Rosetta Stone", bearing inscriptions written in four languages. In the afternoon, visit to Moe Moe Lacquer ware factory to watch craftsmen skillfully making this most famous of Bagan handicrafts. After that visit to Abeyadana Temple with frescoes representing Bodhisattvas and the gods of Indian mythology. Continue to Dhammayangyi, a massive-looking temple dating from 1170 that is famous for its interlocking mortar less brickwork. Next, visit Sulamani, one of Bagan’s great two-storied Bamar style temples, which has 4-seated Buddha images. Observe a sunset in the vicinity of Bagan’s ancient monuments. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 5: Nov 30: Bagan – RV Paukan Cruise To Mandalay (B/L/D): Early start by horse-cart to a temple to see the sunrise. Return to the hotel for breakfast. The embarkation is 11.00 hrs (RV Paukan 11.30 hrs) at Bagan Aye Yar jetty. Welcome Cocktail in the Saloon. The Cast off time is at 11.30 hrs (RV Paukan 12 noon). Lunch will be served at 13.00. In the late afternoon, stop in a typical river village. Dinner and overnight on board, 01 DBL Deluxe Cabin. http://www.paukan.com/

    Day 6: Dec 01: RV Paukan Cruise (B/L/D): Cruise all day with stop enroute in the morning to visit Yandabo, a typical river village specialize in Pot-Making, where the peace treaty of the First Anglo-Burmese war was signed on Feb. 24, 1826. Moor overnight nearby a village (Ywar Thit Gyi or Pauk Myaing Pauk Taw) few miles away from Ava Bridge. Lunch, Dinner and overnight on board, 01 DBL Deluxe Cabin.

    Day 7: Dec 02: Cruise Arrival – Mandalay (B): Enjoy the sunrise. After an early breakfast, the passengers will disembark at Sagaing Jetty After disembarkation, drive to Sagaing Hills, a retreat for Buddhist devotees, to enjoy a magnificent view over the surrounding area. In the afternoon, proceed to Amarapura, famous for silk weaving, 15 km from Mandalay. Visit Bagaya Monastery with its superb collection of Buddha statues. Continue to 150-year-old U Bein teak bridge, built in 1851 at the time when Amarapura was the royal capital. Overnight in Mandalay at Red Canal Hotel, 01 DBL Chin Suite. http://www.hotelredcanal.com/rcDetail.htm

    Day 8: Dec 03: Mandalay (B): Breakfast at hotel. A comprehensive sightseeing tour of Mandalay includes Mahamuni Pagoda, with its spectacular Buddha image covered with thick layers of gold leaves. Stop to see stone carving and, later, to see gold leaf being beaten into wafer thin pieces. A visit is also made to a craftsman’s workshop to see Kalaga tapestries being created. Afternoon, visit Shwenandaw Monastery, an ancient wooden building with intricate carvings, which was once King Mindon's home. Continue to see the 'world’s largest book', being the Buddhist Scriptures inscribed on marble slabs, at Kuthodaw Pagoda. Enjoy spectacular views at sunset from Mandalay Hill, where there are interesting glass-studded temples. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 9: Dec 04: Mandalay – Heho – Indaing (B): Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to Mandalay Airport for domestic flight to Heho on W9#011@09:20 – 09:50. Upon arrival in Heho, proceed by road to Inle Lake (25 km – 1 hour). Transfer by boat to the hotel on the lake. In the afternoon, we enjoy boat tour to Indaing, at the western end of the Lake. The boat takes us through a long channel where one can watch the farmers cultivate their produce. This ride is one of the most scenic boat tours on Lake Inle. Overnight at Inle Princess Resort, 01 DBL Lake Front View room. http://inleprincessresort.net/

    Day 10: Dec 05: Inle Lake (B): Breakfast at hotel. Explore one of the 5-day markets (on market day only). By visiting 5-day markets, clients will get insight into the life-style of the ethnic Pa-O, Danu and Intha inhabitants who came to these markets to sell their goods. During today's excursion by boat on picturesque Inle Lake we see the famous leg rowers, the typical floating gardens, local methods of fishing and village life. Further visits to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest religious site in southern Shan State. Visit the boat construction workshop at Nampan village. Pass endless floating gardens, where fruit and vegetables are grown. See traditional handicrafts - silk weaving on wooden handlooms, umbrella workshop and a blacksmith shop. Continue by boat to visit Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries on the lake. One can see ancient Buddha statues which are more than 200 years old. The beauty of sunset over Inle Lake enchants all visitors. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 11: Dec 06: Inle Lake – Heho – Yangon – Saigon (B): Breakfast at hotel. Transfer by local boat back to Nyaung Shwe and then proceed to Heho Airport (25 km - 1 hour) for domestic flight to Yangon on 6T#403@09:45 – 10:55 and connecting flight to Saigon on VN942@14:25 – 17:10. Meet upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat Int’l Airport, to be welcomed by our guide and transfer to your hotel. After check in, free relax & recover after long flights. Overnight at Majestic Hotel Saigon, 01 DBL Colonial Saigon River Deluxe room. http://www.majesticsaigon.com.vn/

    Day 12: Dec 07: Discover Saigon & the Cu Chi Tunnels (B): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning enjoy scenic drive through the countryside as people work on their rice paddies and thatched hut villages scattered along the way. Visit a local village making rice paper, a well known product used to make the delicious spring rolls. Arriving at the Cu Chi Tunnels to explore part of the 151-mile underground network that zigzagged from the southern tip of the Ho Chi Minh Trail near Cambodia to the Saigon River. Cu Chi is a must for anyone interested in understanding a vital aspect of guerrilla warfare fought by the Vietnamese against both the French and the Americans. These criss-crossing tunnels were begun in the late 1940s by local resistance fighters looking for a place to hide their weapons from the French. Discover secret trapdoors, field hospitals, command posts, underground kitchens, living areas and meeting rooms, you have opportunity to shoot AK-47, M-16, M-60, 30 Cal & machine gun. The cost is around 1 – 1.5 USD per bullet (on your account). Then back to Saigon. Afternoon, explore Ho Chi Minh City with your local expert guide, visiting the former Presidential Palace, now called Reunification Hall; see the former U.S. Embassy, the Saigon River, War Remnants Museum, Emperor of Jade pagoda, 19th-century Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral and the stately Post Office and Ben Thanh market. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 13: Dec 08: Saigon – Mekong Delta (B/L): Morning at 07.30 am Your driver and Englishs peaking guide pick you up at hotel, drive 2.5 hours from Saigon to Cai Be town. Your first introduction to the countryside of Vietnam and also the rice basket of the country. On arival at Cai Be, you will be welcomed on Cai Be Princess boat. Upon embarkation, clients are welcomed with fresh cotton towels. The tour will begin with the visit of Cai Be colorful floating market, cruising among local barges full of fruits and vegetables... Cruising further, your sampan will bring you to see some local home factories to discover traditional rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and longans drying process.
    A delicious lunch will await you at a superb Indochinese villa, Le Longanier, located in a luxuriant garden by the river… (*) Set menu lunch: Vegetable Soup, Le Longanier Fried Spring rolls, Fried Mekong Elephant Ear Fish, Fried Mixed Vegetables with Pork, Caramelized Pork in Clay Pot, Seasonal Fresh Fruits. After lunch, your sampan will proceed the cruise to Dong Hoa Hiep. On the way, you will be able observe the typical Mekong delta rural life. These evergreen islands among the Mekong River still remain unknown to many people. Visit at an ancient mandarin house dating from the 19th century where the family will welcome you with a cup a tea. We will proceed to Vinh Long, passing beautiful landscapes along Dong Phu canal, Binh Hoa Phuoc and An Binh islands famous for their fruit orchards. Stops on the way can be made at An Binh ancient Church or at Tam Ho bonsais garden. After crossing the Co Chien River, the excursion will end at Vinh Long pier around 4pm, where driver will await you for your transfer back to Saigon. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 14: Dec 09: Saigon - Forbidden Purple City of Hue (B): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning your guide and driver transfer to Saigon Tan Son Nhat airport for flight to Hue on VN1372@10:10 - 11:30. Hue, Vietnam’s most beautiful city, and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the central coast of Vietnam, north of Danang. On arrival at Hue Airport, to be welcomed by our guide and transfer to visit the most majestic of all of Hue’s tombs – the tomb of Minh Mang. Built between 1841 and 1843, Minh Mang’s this tomb is well known for its harmonious blend of architecture and natural landscape. Then continue to visit the former Imperial Citadel and Forbidden Purple City (included Visit Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, Halls of the Mandarins). Hué was the capital of Vietnam until the early 20th century, and generations of royalty lived in the Forbidden Purple City, inside the walled exterior of the Citadel. This was also the sight of some of the most brutal fighting during the infamous Tet Offensive. You have a chance to enjoy Hue traditonal Music which happens every day in the Citadel around noon. Then visit Dong Ba Market is near the eastern corner of the Citadel, nearby commercial district stretches along the Dong Ba Canal. Enjoy some time on your own in the evening, and have dinner at your leisure tonight. Overnight at La Residence Hue Resort, 01 DBL Deluxe River view room. http://www.la-residence-hue.com/

    Day 15: Dec 10: Hue – Danang – Hoi An (B): Morning, enjoy with a boat trip on the romantic Perfume River. Explore Hue's best-known religious site, visit Thien Mu Pagoda, Built in 1601 between a river and a pine forest, the Thien Mu Pagoda (Heavenly Lady Pagoda #8221); in Hue is one of the oldest and prettiest religious buildings in the country. Among the many interesting artifacts housed at the complex is the car that took the monk Thich Quang Duc to his self-immolation in 1963 Saigon. Then continue to visit first the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, resplendent in traditional architecture, paved walkways, resting pavilions overlooking tranquil lotus ponds, and a small forest for hunting. In stark contrast, continue to Khai Dinh’s Tomb. Remembered as the *#8216; Puppet Emperor’ because of his affiliation with the French, this tomb was designed with colonial flair, and a glass mosaic frieze dominates the interior. Then drive south over scenic mountainous roads to Hoi An via Danang, first ascending the Pass of Ocean Clouds for panoramic views of the surroundings before descending to the picturesque fishing village of Lang Co. Continue to to historic Hoi An, a key South China Sea trading port in the 15th through 19th centuries, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Transfer to your beachside accommodation. Overnight at Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort, 01 DBL Deluxe Beach Front room. http://www.victoriahotels.asia/hotels-in-vietnam/hoi-an-beach-resort-spa

    Day 16: Dec 11: Hoi An (B): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning free at leisure to relax or explore on own. Afternoon, enjoy walking tour around the Ancient town of Hoi An with your guide. Explore its shop-lined streets by cyclo ride; view the red-painted Japanese Covered Bridge - the three Chinese characters over the door mean "bridge for passers-by from afar" - and tour the 200-year-old "Phung Hung" house, noted for its unique architecture. What you'll see there will reveal much about the lives of Hoi An merchants long ago. Stop at a Lantern making workshop to observe locals making the silk cloth for the lanterns. Then enjoy a boat trip along the Thu Bon River seeing life along the river. Enjoy some time on your own in the evening, and have dinner at your leisure tonight. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 17: Dec 12: Hoi An – My Son (B): Breakfast at the hotel. Your day will begin with an early morning drive from Danang/Hoi An through 60 km of rolling countryside, passing through small towns with markets in full swing, often journeying alongside the wide reaches of the Han River. As you draw closer to My Son, which translates literally as "Beautiful Mountain" the condition of the road begins to deteriorate and the last few kilometres of track are often rutted and potholed. On arriving at the My Son area and after crossing a bamboo "Monkey Bridge" you will transfer to a local jeep for the last spectacular 3 km bump and jolt along a river gorge. Finally, a 500m walk through lush hillsides, trees and brush, before emerging into the main site. There are over 70 classic Cham monuments at My Son, dating from the 7th - 13th Centuries. Set against the backdrop of the appropriately named Cat's Tooth Mountain, they would have been an awesome sight in their prime. Until 1968 they remained, remarkably, in almost perfect condition, having been sheltered from the worst excesses of weather by the surrounding hills. Regrettably however, man achieved what nature could not and B52 bombers destroyed most of the towers when My Son found itself in a free-fire zone during the Vietnam War. Your guide will offer full commentary on the Cham heritage of My Son whilst you wander at will around this historic site. Take the opportunity to do so now, as My Son is due to become part of UNESCO's protected monuments list and access may well be restricted in the future. Return back to Hoi An. Enjoy the remainder of day at leisure to relax on beach or explore the Hoi An. Hoi An, the cobblestone streets in the old French Quarter are a delight to roam with many cafes, art galleries and handicraft shops. Hoi An is especially well known for its local artists and tailor made clothing, with over sixty shops providing this service in town. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 18: Dec 13: Danang – Hanoi (B): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning free at leisure until transfer to Danang Airport for departure flight to Hanoi on VN1512@13:35 – 14:45. On arrival at Hanoi Noi Bai International Airport, to be welcomed by our guide and transfer to your hotel. The remainder of day free at leisure. Overnight at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel, 01 DBL Grand Premier Room (include club benefit). http://www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-1555-sofitel-legend-metropole-hanoi/index.shtml

    Day 19: Dec 14: Hanoi Sightseeing (B): A full-day tour of Hanoi, morning your guide will meet you at your hotel begins with a visit Ba Dinh Square to visit Ba Dinh Square to see Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, the museum to his life and the simple cottage where he lived and worked, along with his "house on stilts" and his final resting place; and take in Hanoi's famous One-Pillar Pagoda, constructed in 1049 to resemble a lotus blossom. Continue to the Temple of Literature, which dates back to 1070 and is dedicated to the cult of Confucius and visit the Museum of Ethnology, where we'll learn about the fascinating cultural diversity of this ancient land. An afternoon, visit the infamous Hoa Lo Prison, known as the "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War, then to the National History Museum of Vietnam. Take a cyclo ride through the Hanoi’s Old Quarter, a network of narrow alleys and shop houses also known as ʹThe 36 Streets.” This is a wonderful place to watch the local life, and peruse items from fabrics to crafts to exotic medicines. Later this afternoon enjoy the delightful water puppet show, a fascinating art form that originated in northern Vietnam. Enjoy some time on your own in the evening, and have dinner at your leisure tonight. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 20: Dec 15: Hanoi – Halong Bay (B/L/D): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning, your driver pick up from your hotel and start out early this morning on an overland with your private driver and car drive to Halong Bay. Made famous when it was featured in the French film Indochine, Halong Bay is dotted with thousands of limestone islands, their jagged points jutting out of an oceanic area of over 1500 sq. kilometres. Considered Vietnam’s natural wonder, it is also believed to be home to its very own Loch Ness monster! We will arrive at Halong pier. Welcome aboard the Halong Jasmine Cruise and set sail through bay while lunch is served. Passage into the magical bay, where thousands of sculpted limestone islands rise from the waves like dragons’ teeth. After lunch, take a short trek to a nearby summit for a panoramic view of the bay dotted with golden sails, go swimming on a quite beach or sunbathing on the sundeck. Later afternoon, visit an interesting fishing village with opportunity to interact with fishmen who have been living in the bay for almost three generations. Back on board and enjoy cocktails while watching sunset and later unwind at restaurant for a lavish dinner. Overnight onboard the Halong Jasmine Cruise, 01 DBL Deluxe Cabin.
    http://www.cruisehalong.com/halong-jasmine.html

    Day 21: Dec 16: Halong Bay – Hanoi (B): Greet the day with a morning Tai Chi exercise with an opportunity to view the sunrise over the bay. After breakfast, visit beautiful limestone grotto then back to the boat for a final glimpse of the Halong Bay while cruising back to the dock. Disembark. Our guide and driver will be waiting for you at the pier and drive you back to Hanoi. The remainder of day free at leisure. Overnight at Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel, 01 DBL Grand Premier Room (include club benefit). http://www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-1555-sofitel-legend-metropole-hanoi/index.shtml

    Day 22: Dec 17: Hanoi – Siem Reap (B): Breakfast at the hotel. Morning free at leisure until transfer to Hanoi Airport for departure flight to Siem Reap on VN837@15:25 – 17:05. On arrival at Siem Reap International Airport, to be welcomed by our guide and transfer to the hotel. Siem Reap is the base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire. Overnight at Shinta Mani Hotel, 01 DBL Deluxe room. http://shintamani.com/

    Day 23: Dec 18: Siem Reap (B): Breakfast at hotel. Morning, visit the Roluos Group. The monuments of Roluos, which served as the capital of Indravarman I (reigned 877-89), are among the earliest large, permanent temples built by the Khmers and mark the beginning of Khmer classical art. Preah Ko erected by Indravarman I in the late 9th century dedicated by the King to his ancestors in 880. Bakong the largest and most interesting of the Roluos group temples, with his active Buddhist monastery just to the north of the east entrance. Lolei built on an islet in the center of a large reservoir (now rice fields) by Yasovarman I, the founder to the first city at Angkor. After lunch, continue temple tour. See the unique interior brick sculptures Prasat Kravan, the Srah Srang reservoir (known as "The Royal Baths" was once used for ritual bathing), Banteay Kdei (surrounded by 4 concentric walls), Eastern Mebon (guarded at its corner by stone figures of harnessed elephants, some of which are still in a reasonable state of preservation) and the mountain-temple of Pre Rup until sunset. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 24: Dec 19: Siem Reap (B): Breakfast at the hotel. This morning, visit the South Gate (with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk), the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century) and then and then take elephant around 15 – 20 minute to Bayon temple, you will enjoy beautiful natural view along the road. Visit Bayon Temple (unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara), the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King. Afternoon, visit the most famous of all the temples on the plain of Angkor: Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Angkor Wat’s five towers symbolize Meru’s five peaks - the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat, the ocean beyond. Sunset at Angkor Wat. This evening, enjoy Apsara dance with dinner at Angkor Village Theatre. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 25: Dec 20: Siem Reap (B): An early bird special: Transfer to the archaeological site for sunrise from Phnom Bakheng, one of two hills dominating the plain of Angkor, from where you will have a spectacular view of the Western Baray and Angkor Wat.
    Or sunrise at Srah Srang.
    Return to the hotel for breakfast. Drive visit Banteay Srei; the citadel of women - a tiny, enchanting temple, which is one of the jewels in this remarkable city. Built of red sandstone in the tenth century and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the carved male and female figures in the niches are exquisitely executed in both style and proportion. This is the most Indian of all the temples in Angkor and in the words of H.W. Ponder, is a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest. Then drive to the Kulen Mountain range. Walk 45 minutes through the forest to the top of the hill to reach Kbal Spean, the Thousand Lingas River: discover the 10th-12th century sculptures chiseled from the rocky riverbed, the Royal Bath and the waterfall. Return to Siem Reap (60 km) at the end of the afternoon and remainder of day free at leisure or relax at your hotel pool. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 26: Dec 21: Siem Reap (B): Breakfast at hotel. Morning, drive to the village of Kompong Khleang near Siem Reap. This permanent community is one of the largest on the Tonle Sap Lake, home to over 20,000 people living in gigantic stilt houses with an economy based on fishing. Enjoy the spectacular site and board a private boat to visit a small island at the centre of the village to see its market, school and brightly painted pagodas. Continue by boat to see the life on the waters of the great Tonle Sap Lake. Note: During the high water season from August to January the water level rises to within one or two meters of the buildings. During this time of year the village becomes a lively place with floating houses scattering in the vicinity of Kompong Khleang on the lake. The dry season reveals a spectacular site as the stilt houses rise up to ten meters into the sky. The floating houses are now on the open lake and can be visited with a scenic boat ride. We suggest to conduct this tour in the morning as there are more activities to be observed compared to the rather quiet afternoon. After lunch, drive to visit Beng Mealea, “Lotus Pond” Temple from the early 11th Century built by Suryavarman II asa Hindu Temple; about 2 hours drive from Siem Reap. If there is one temple to explore resplendent with jungle engulfing it, it is Beng Mealea. Clambering over large sandstone blocks to reach the inner sanctuary and eerie worship corridor is an exploration to remember. Situated 60 km east of Angkor Wat, through traditional countryside life, over bumpy laterite roads, Beng Mealea is a temple hidden in a maze of jungle. Architecturally, Beng Mealea is noted for its innovative, in its time, construction of hallways, it was a very large temple with wide galleries foreshadowing Angkor Wat. Garudas, hold up an outer platform, finer in detail than those to be found out in the elements of the Elephant Terrace at Angkor Thom. Surprises of fallen lintels with intricate carvings lay amongst the fallen wall and roofs. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 27: Dec 22: Siem Reap (B): Breakfast at hotel. Morning free at leisure. Afternoon, continue your temple visits to Preah Khan. Built by the King Jayavarman VII, Preah Khan is, like Ta Prohm, a place of towered enclosures and shoulder hugging corridors. Unlike Ta Prohm, however, the temple of Preah Khan is in a reasonable state of preservation and ongoing restoration efforts should maintain and even improve this situation. Neak Pean, a fountain built in the middle of a pool (representing the paradisiacal Himalayan mountain-lake), Ta Som, and including a visit to Ta Prohm, one of the most beautiful temples in the area. It has been left untouched, to be swallowed by the jungle, and looks very much the way most of the monuments of Angkor appeared when European explorers first stumbled upon them. Continue to "Les Artisans d'Angkor - Chantiers Ecoles" of Siem Reap and time at leisure at a local market. O/n at the same hotel.

    Day 28: Dec 22: Siem Reap – Singapore (B): Breakfast at hotel. Morning free at leisure or explore Siem Reap town on own until transfer to Siem Reap Int’l Airport for your departure flight to Singapore on SQ5025@12:45 – 16:05. We wish you a safe and pleasant journey.


    Note: We can arrange additional customized trips for you if the above itinerary does not match your expectations.


    With best wishes,

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    Director of Operation

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    Our flight from Singapore to home on 26 December so we have 4nights in Singapore.

    My husband and i will celebrate our wedding anniversary on 23 Dec and I was wondering which hotel would be the best to stay in, for about $300 per night or less? Location wise, we want to be able to have access to the train and cabs and be close to places that are worth visiting. It would be nice if the hotel had a pool.

    Also, apart from the night safari, which places can we visit?

    Thank you so much!

  • Report Abuse

    This itinerary is WAY too crowded. Basically, you have one day in Bagan, one day in Mandalay, one day at Inle. Don't go halfway around the world to spend most of your vacation getting from one place to another.

    THis itinerary gives a good amount of time to Angkor, and to get an overview of VN, but it really neglects Burma.

    Burma is really special. I expect part of the probalem is that the company you are using has expertise in Cambodia and VN, but not Burma. Frankly, you need an agent in Yangon to set up a Burma trip. But if the agency is willing, ask them to re-do the Burma portion of your trip. You should have a minimum of three nights in both Bagan and Inle. Their ideas of what you can fit into a day are overly optimistic.

  • Report Abuse

    Dear Kathie,

    Thanks for your help reviewing our program. I’m reading my program again and again i have two full days in Bagan and 2 full days as well for Mandalay and plus two nights on cruise, so will it enough for totally 06nights on those areas? Well for Inle portion they also suggest us for 3 nights with trip to Kakku… but one bad for us they told room not available for our third night at Inle Princess, so we decide just staying 2nights to save our time for Singapore for 4nights to celebrate our anniversary before back home.

    Thank lots for your help. Very much appreciated

  • Report Abuse

    Here's the problem: the travel agency makes it sound like you have two full days, for instance, in Bagan, but the first day you fly from Yangon to Bagan, get checked into your hotel before you get a chance to see anything. Realistically, you'll have a late afternoon at the temples. The next day is a full day, but the following day you'll be heading off on your cruise. Likewise, at Inle, you fly in, then they expect you to get to your hotel and get out on a boat - you'll have a half a day or less there, then a full day the next day. Optimistically, you'll have a day and a half in each place.

    The airlines in Burma regularly change the flight times. I had carefully planned for early morning flights with the idea that I could fit in some sightseeing, but found the flights were often changed to late afternoon. You have no control over this.

    Your full day at Inle, they are mostly taking you to handicraft shops. You might consider spending the day going to Sankar, the southern part of the lake instead.

    But what is important is whether you are satisifed with these arrangements. Will this give you the time to see/do/experience what you want?

  • Report Abuse

    Travel agents are NOT permitted to use this Forum to market their services. It is specifically against the guidelines. The travel agent probably knows that so just based on that I would not consider them. Besides the itinerary is 30% too crowded. You will never know where you are unless you have a calender.
    Don't you want to go to Bali for 4 days or more. It can be non-touristy if you have the right guide ($55-$65 for a 10 hour touring day). There is a terrific "heaven on earth" boutique hotel just outside Ubud called the Chedi Club, $350 with full American breakfast and tax. It is understated elegance. There is culture and natural beauty on the island that is (90%) Hindu. Being only 3+ hours away youreally might consider it.

  • Report Abuse

    Stan, the post above is not advertising from the travel agency, but copied from an email to the OP.

    I wouldn't add Bali to this crowded itinerary - not unless you beef up your time in Burma and cut VN out.

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    Prio06, I'm not going to comment on the itinerary, but the hotels and dates that the agent has put you in in Yangon (the Governor's Residence) and in Inle Lake (the Inle Princess Resort) have, I'm quite sure, been booked for months. Your dates are identical to ours and I tried to book The Governor's Residence in early March and was told by Santa Maria, the Yangon based agency that many here on the Fodor site have used, that it was a booked--AND that it was very unlikely that it would free up. The same was true of the Inle Princess hotel--we're on the waiting list for it, but have long ago made other reservations. I would also question the reality of the cruise he has you "on" as well as the other hotels in Mandalay and Bagan, since they are well-known, of a high level, and since Burma has almost double the level of tourists expected to visit this year.

    As Kathie and others here have said, working with a Burmese based agent is apparently essential to get reliable bookings.

  • Report Abuse

    Dear Kathie & 520,

    Very surprise with this issue. I just spoke via phone with Mr Ann at Global Travel, they said their teams have blocked the rooms for us since the initial planning June 18 as they can block the rooms at all the hotels that do have contract with them with the cut-off date for cancel. As they know how difficult to find the rooms for Burma recently. We did ask about the name of their partner in Burma it was told the Tours Mandalay.

    It was nice to spoke to Ann via phone and now clear all things, he gives us the phone of his three different clients went the trip with them and i just called to one at Pennsylvania and other at New Jersey they told too well about their trip.

    KATHIE. As your suggestion my husband he absolutely wants to stay for 3nights on Inle Lake. But our room confirm just only 2nights on 4, 5 December.

    They told us there is new hotel on Inle Lake called Aureum Palace which they can have room for us for 3nights 4, 5, 6 Dec. Not sure it good as Princess resort.

    http://www.aureumpalacehotel.com/index-inle.html

  • Report Abuse

    The Aureum Palace Hotels are owned by Tay Za. If that is all you can get for three nights, take it. I'm guessing it is full, but do check on the Inle Lake View - a lovely place.

    Good luck!

  • Report Abuse

    The Inle Lake portion of my trip report is coming up...stay in one place, ask them to try Inle Lake View. Kakku is a long drive out of the way from the lake (2+ hours each way) and if you do it, you'll only have 2 days on the lake.

  • Report Abuse

    I checked our correspondence with Santa Maria, and in early March, The Governor's Residence had rooms on 11/25-26, but not on 11/24, which is when we arrive--and we didn't want to split up our stay. Amazing that they hadn't booked those dates by June 18 when your TA sent you the itinerary. And on March 6, the Inle Princess was booked just about through February '13, so it's quite something that your TA was able to have them hold a block of rooms through mid-June. Sounds like you struck pay dirt--and as of now we're quite happy with the arrangements we have.

  • Report Abuse

    Looks like you lucked out. Good for you. On March 6, our TA, Santa Maria was told by The Governor's Residence that there were no openings on 11/24 and it was unlikely that there would be, the date of our arrival, but that there was availability on 11/25/26. We didn't want to split up our stay, so we made other reservations. The same happened with the Inle Princess, where SM was told that they were pretty much booked through Feb. '13, and we have made other plans there also.

    From everything I've read, I believe we'll all have very interesting and positive experiences and look forward to hearing about yours. We loved Viet Nam and Cambodia when we were there in 2004. The level of tourism has increased so much since then, your experience will probably be quite different.

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