Road Scholar : Home
Journey Into the Heart of Asia

Program Number: 15146RJ
Start and End Dates:
1/7/2014 - 1/27/2014;
Duration: 20 nights
Location: Thailand/Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos
Price starting at: $5,794.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type:
Meals: 46; 18 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 14 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Floating fruit stands and silk worms spinning luxurious threads. Rice paper rounds drying in sunlight. Temples and skyscrapers, cobblestones and tributaries. The details of Southeast Asia are intoxicating. Experience it all as local villagers and experts in four countries share Southeast Asia with you, from the capital city of Bangkok to the beauty of Hanoi's colonial quarters.


• Visit a Laotian school and village to learn about the lives of students and residents.
• Cooking classes and local meals introduce the flavors of Southeast Asia, including fish sauce, lemongrass, chili and sticky rice.
• An overnight cruise on Halong Bay introduces one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to 1-2 miles at a time on uneven terrain; climbing uneven stairs without railings; and standing up to one hour. Hot and humid conditions.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Bangkok (Thailand), 2 nights; fly to Chiang Mai, 3 nights; fly to Luang Prabang (Laos), 4 nights; fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia), 4 nights; fly to Hanoi (Vietnam), 4 nights; coach to Halong Bay, board SS Emeraude, 1 night; coach to Hanoi for departures.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Cross International Dateline
1 night
Arrival Bangkok (Thailand)
2 nights

Explore the icons of Bangkok, the Grand Palace and Wat Po. Gain a better understanding of the political economy of the Great Mekong Subregion with a presentation by a local expert.

Fly to Chiang Mai
3 nights

In Chiang Mai, gain a better understanding of the Lanna culture through a presentation on the art and culture of Northern Thailand. Learn how to cook traditional Thai food in a cooking class, touching upon the different herbs and spices. Take a ride on an elephant and gain a better understanding of these once endangered creatures.

Fly to Luang Prabang (Laos)
4 nights

Located on the confluence of the Mekong and the Khan River, Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with 33 temples located in the city center. A local organization discusses efforts to preserve this magical city. Lectures address the political economy of Laos and a local silk-shop owner highlights an endeavor to increase sustainable livelihoods in Laos.

Fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia)
4 nights

A private guide introduces you to the magnificent Angkor Wat temple complex dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu by King Suryavarman II, and a visit to the lesser-known Ta Prohm temple offers quiet respite in the jungle. Lectures discuss the brutal Khmer Rouge regime and the challenges of a global marketplace.

Fly to Hanoi (Vietnam)
4 nights
Coach to Halong Bay, board SS Emeraude
1 night
Coach to Hanoi for departures

Experience the remnants of French Colonialism in this beautiful capital, and visit the Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) which used to house prisoners of war. Learn about the 54 ethnic minorities of Vietnam at the Museum of Ethnology. An overnight exploration of Halong Bay closes your journey.

Bangkok: Modern hotel in city center. Chiang Mai: Modern hotel in city center. Luang Prabang: Hotel resort on grounds of former palace. Siem Reap: Four-star hotel. Hanoi: Four-star hotel in the city center. Halong Bay: Luxury barge.
Meals and Lodgings
   Majestic Grande Hotel
  Bangkok, Thailand 2 nights
   Royal Princess Hotel
  Chiang Mai, Thailand 3 nights
   Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort
  Luang Prabang, Laos 4 nights
   Tara Angkor Hotel
  Siem Reap, Cambodia 4 nights
   Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel
  Hanoi, Vietnam 3 nights
   Emeraude Cruises
  Halong Bay, Vietnam 1 night
   Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel
  Hanoi, Vietnam 1 night
 Majestic Grande Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: Located in the heart of Bangkok, the Majestic Grande combines contemporary décor and state-of-the-art technology with a warmth of hospitality which is uniquely Thai.
  Contact info: 12 Sukhumvit Soi 2
Bangkok,   Thailand
phone: + 66 2 262 2999
  Room amenities: High speed wireless internet access, satellite TV, in room safe that is large enough to hold a laptop computer, phone, hairdryer, DVD Player and stereo, full bathroom amenities with shaving mirror, tea/coffeemaking facilities, minibar, refrigerator, 220 V electricity.AC
  Facility amenities: Guest room facilities and services include: Key-card room security. High-speed wireless Internet access in all rooms. DVD Player & Stereo in all rooms. 29" TV, in Grande Superior rooms and Grande Premier rooms; 34" TV, in Grande Deluxe rooms; LCD flat screen TV and DVD Player & Stereo in Grande Executive Suites and Grande Wonder Suites and 42"Plasma TV in Majestic Grande Suite. Extensive choice of TV channels, including satellite CNN, BBC, NHK, NHK World Premium, RAI, DW, HBO, CNBC, ESPN, Super Sports, National Geographic, Discovery, Channel 3, 7, 9 Thai, MTV, Aljazeera, Star Movie, Cinemax, EWTN, TVE, Daystar TV, TiVi 5 Monde, CH-V, PTP, Russia Today, Alkass, Kuwait TV etc. Recent release movie pay channels. In-room safe. Full bathroom amenities, with hair dryer and shaving mirror. Complimentary tea/coffee making facilities. Bedside master control panel with sensor touch operation. International Direct Dial (IDD) telephone through optic-fibre cable. Data port on telephone. Voice mail system. Fully stocked mini-bar and refrigerator. Bathtub and separate shower cubicle (in selected rooms). 24-hour room service. 24-hour CCTV security surveillance system. Pressurized fire exit. Laundry and dry cleaning, including same-day service. Baby cot and rollaway bed on request. Baby sitter on request Heat detectors and sprinklers. Electricity 220V. Concierge service. Limousine, airport transfer, tour/excursion and car rental services Car parking space.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBD Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services for details.

 Royal Princess Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: Royal Princess Chiang Mai offers every facility and service to make your visit to Northern Thailand a memorable one. Famed for its association with Thai aristocracy. The hotel is located in the heart of Chiang Mai. It provides a gateway to the region’s stunning scenery, the fabulous Night Bazaar and traditional Thai arts and crafts.
  Contact info: 112 Chang Klan Road
Chiang Mai,  50100 Thailand
phone: +66 (0) 5325 3900
  Room amenities: Bathroom with full amenities including bathrobe, Hair dryer, Private safety deposit box, Satellite television In-room internet connection, Phone, Tea and coffee making facilities, Air Conditioning, Minibar
  Facility amenities: 24-hour Room Service, Laundry and dry-cleaning service, Outdoor Swimming Pool, Fitness Center, 2 Restaurants, Bar
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort
Type: Hotel
  Description: Grand Luang Prabang hotel and resort is situated on grounds of the Xiengkeo Palace which belonged to the famous nationalist hero of Luang Prabang, Prince Phetsarath. He chose this site for tranquility, its stunning views of the mighty Mekong River, and the breathtaking landscape of mountains surrounding Luang Prabang.
  Contact info: Ban Xiengkeo
Khet Sangkalok PO Box 1191
Laung Prabang,   Laos
phone: +856712538517
  Room amenities: Located in the garden, each room has its own balcony overlooking the immaculate gardens and mighty Mekong River. Quiet and cozy room, embodies traditional elegance with its warm woods and marble. Twin bedded or king bedded rooms available. The rooms have individually controlled air conditioning, hair dryer, IDD telephone, full mini bar, remote control colour TV with choices of international satellite programmes.
  Facility amenities: 3 Dining Areas; a Garden; Meeting Room
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Tara Angkor Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Tara Angkor is equipped with modern amenities and elegantly furnished to make your stay luxurious and enjoyable. With exceptionally warm hospitality and traditional Cambodian sincerity and kindness your stay will be something not to be forgotten.
  Contact info: Vithei Charles de Gaulle
Siem Reap,   Cambodia
phone: (+855) 63 966 661
  Facility amenities: The Tara Angkor Hotel's stylish 4 star property has cemented its status as one of the jewels in Siem Reap’s accommodation sector. Our facilities include 213 magnificent rooms and suites, two restaurants, a lobby bar, and a swimming pool with jacuzzi, fitness center and sauna.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Located opposite Hanoi Central Railway Station, Mercure Hanoi La Gare is an inviting oasis in the heart of the bustling city centre. Situated close to the Old Quarter, commercial precinct and ICE Exhibition Center, this Hanoi hotel features modern design and facilities, plus 102 spacious rooms, a French brasserie, internal courtyard and gym. Ideal for business and leisure guests, Mercure Hanoi La Gare offers easy access to Hanoi attractions including the Temple of Literature and Hoan Kiem Lake.
  Contact info: 94 Ly Thuong Kiet, Hoan Kiem Dist,
Hanoi,   Vietnam
phone: +84439447766
  Facility amenities: Restaurant : 1 Bar : 1 WiFi Internet access (paying) Room(s) : 102 Non-smoking rooms : 51 Reduced mobility rooms : 1 Number of free children in parent's room : 2 Fitness centre
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Bathroom: usual bath configuration
  Elevators available: Yes

 Emeraude Cruises
Type: Luxury Barge
  Description: Every day, the Emeraude journeys through one of the world's most dazzling natural wonders and into the sepia realm of a dream. Named for a cruising vessel that plied these waters between 1906 and 1937, the Emeraude aspires to the magnificence of the bay itself. Its air-conditioned cabins, en suite bathrooms, award-winning cuisine and spacious deck space set the stage for the voyage of a lifetime.
  Ship Information: The Emeraude is 55 meters in length with 37 comfortable cabins on 2 decks.
  Contact info: 59A Ly Thai T
Hanoi,   Vietnam
phone: +844 934 0888
  Room amenities: Air-conditioned room, one 220V plug, one 115V plug (razor outlet).
  Facility amenities: Restaurant, spa, lounge deck, sun deck, and forward deck.
  Smoking allowed: No

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Program begins in Bangkok at orientation on day 3 in the early evening. You will be staying at Majestic Grande Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends after breakfast on day 21 in Hanoi. You will be staying at Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Driving is not recommended in any of these countries.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Taxis are available at the beginning and end of the program. Taxis from the hotel to airport cost approximately $15-$25(all subject to change).
To Start of Program
  Location:  Bangkok
  Nearest airport:  Bangkok (BKK)
  Transportation to site: If independent flights do not coincide with the designated group transfer, it will be the responsibility of the participant/s to make arrangement to get to the program site. A public taxi stand is located on Level 1 (Ground Level) at the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. Please go to to get more information about available transportation services from the airport to the hotel. Private transfers -at an additional cost- may be arranged in advance by the calling Road Scholar Travel Services.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Hanoi
  Nearest airport:  Noi Bai International Airport
  Transportation from site: Please contact the concierge services at the Mercure Hotel or the group leader about arranging transfers from the hotel to the airport. You can also take a public taxi from the hotel to the airport for about $15-$25. Transfer from the hotel to the airport will take about 40 to 45 minutes.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departure for Thailand
(Tuesday, January 7)
 Depart From: Overnight flight

Day 2: En route to Thailand
(Wednesday, January 8)
 In Transit: Overnight flight

Day 3: Arrival / Orientation in Bangkok
(Thursday, January 9)
 Arrive To: Arrive in Thailand.
 Afternoon: Convene with your Group Leader and other participants for program orientation.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at hotel.
Accommodations: Majestic Grande Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 4: Wat Po / Grand Palace
(Friday, January 10)

Note: This day is a bit fast paced and busy. Need to be mindful of heat.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Start your time in Bangkok with an introduction to Buddhism, a religion and a way of life for the Thais, Laos and Cambodians.
 Lunch: Continue the orientation with a lunch in a local restaurant by the river.
 Afternoon: Spend the morning visiting the beautifully adorned temple Wat Po where the sound of monks chanting will fill the air, and the majestic Grand Palace, the home of the Emerald Buddha.
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant.
Accommodations: Majestic Grande Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Presentation on the Political Economy of the Greater Mekong / Fly from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
(Saturday, January 11)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Start the morning with a presentation on the economies of Greater Mekong by an expert on Southeast Asian economy. Then fly to Chiang Mai.
 Lunch: Lunch en route.
 Afternoon: Coach to Doi Suthep, the symbol and icon of Chiang Mai. It is 3,520 feet above sea level and dates from 1383. The temple's golden pagoda contains holy Buddha relics, and attracts Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world throughout the year.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Royal Princess Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Chiang Mai Culture / Monk Chat
(Sunday, January 12)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: This is your introduction to Northern Thai or Lanna Culture. Enter Chiang Mai with an orientation of Lanna culture, dance and music. Learn proper Thai etiquette and practice them here before introducing yourself to the locals.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Engage in conversations with local monks and learn about their life as a monk.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Royal Princess Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Elephant Camp
(Monday, January 13)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: This morning, enjoy a ride on an elephant through the mountain vista and learn how these camps work to help preserve elephants.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the free afternoon exploring the ancient capital surrounded by gates and a moat. Walk along cobblestone sidewalks, visit the gates, observe the different markets, or just relax for the afternoon.
 Dinner: Continue this relaxing day with dinner at your choice of restaurant.
Accommodations: Royal Princess Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 8: Thai Cooking / Luang Prabang, Laos
(Tuesday, January 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Take an excursion to the local fresh produce market in preparation for a cooking course. Learn about the different herbs and spices sold here. Then learn how to cook the Thai way, using local ingredients, and make your own Thai dish that you can enjoy for lunch.
 Lunch: Taste your culinary delights.
 Afternoon: Fly to Luang Prabang, and check into the hotel. Learn about Laos with a country orientation at the hotel, then end the day with a Baci Ceremony, a welcome ceremony wishing you good fortune and an intimate part of the Lao culture.
 Dinner: Return to the hotel for a Laotion feast.
Accommodations: Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Alms Giving / Ock Pop Tok / The Language Project
(Wednesday, January 15)
 Breakfast: Before breakfast, observe the early morning alms-giving ritual with monks which is an integral part of this town. Then enjoy a walking tour of Luang Prabang. Return to the hotel for a buffet breakfast.
 Morning: Learn about the silk industry in this town, with an on-site lecture by one of the founders of a silk weaving business that creates sustainable livelihoods for the Lao people.
 Lunch: Enjoy the local cuisine at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, learn how a resource center is providing educational opportunities for the young generation in Laos who would like to futher their education. Explore the center and meet some of the motivated students.
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant.
 Evening: Before dinner, enjoy a performance by the Royal Ballet Theater of Laos.
Accommodations: Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Pak Ou Caves
(Thursday, January 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Walk through the morning market to see the different goods that are offered. Then cruise along the Mekong towards Pak Ou Caves, the caves of a thousand Buddha images and learn about the influence of the spirit world in Laos.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant overlooking the Mekong River and Pak Ou Caves.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, stop at a village and continue with a visit to a local school.
 Dinner: Dinner at hotel.
Accommodations: Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: National Museum / Ethnology Museum
(Friday, January 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Take a guided visit of the National Museum to gain a better understanding of the royal family that once ruled Luang Prabang. Afterwards, learn about the preservation efforts of Luang Prabang with a presentation conducted by the organization that works to preserve this magical city. End the morning with a presentation at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre about ethnic diversity and cultural change in Laos.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center.
 Afternoon: This is your free afternoon to explore this magical city and immerse yourself in the splendor of the Lao people.
 Dinner: This evening is free for you to explore the different food offered in this small town.
Accommodations: Grand Luang Prabang Hotel & Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 12: Fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia
(Saturday, January 18)

Note: Can be a slightly long day, since transit can be long.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Enjoy some free time, then transfer to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Before checking into the hotel, get a city tour of Siem Reap, passing by the local market, the old city, the post office, the ATMs. Then continue with a country orientation followed by a documentary that will give an insight into the construction of this great empire.
 Dinner: Taste your first Khmer cuisine with dinner at hotel.
Accommodations: Tara Angkor Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Ta Prohm / Angkor National Museum
(Sunday, January 19)

Note: Participants must be able to get in and out of bus and sit and stand in hot and humid weather.

 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Begin your introduction to the temples of Angkor with a visit to Ta Prohm, the Jungle Temple. Unlike most of the temples of Angkor, Ta Prohm has been largely left to ruins. With its dynamic interaction between nature and man-made art, this atmospheric temple is a favorite for many - who can't help but feel a little like Indiana Jones or Lara Croft (which was filmed here) as they pick through the rubble. Then learn about the Cambodian education system as you visit a local school.
 Lunch: Lunch at hotel.
 Afternoon: Take a field trip to the Angkor National Museum. This new museum will provide you with an introduction and information about the different temples in Siem Reap.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Tara Angkor Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Angkor Thom / Banteay Srei
(Monday, January 20)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Also explore Angkor Thom, the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. Established in the late twelfth century by king Jayavarman VII, at the centre of the city is the mesmerising temple of Bayon. Then take a field trip to the Angkor Children's Hospital.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Explore Banteay Srei, Then continue to Banteay Srei, the Citadel of Women, a pink sandstone temple, built in the latter half of the 10th century by Rajendravarman II and Jayavaraman V.
 Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant.
Accommodations: Tara Angkor Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Angkor Wat / Dance Performance
(Tuesday, January 21)
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the local restuarant.
 Morning: Immerse in the breathtaking beauty of Angkor Wat as it silhouettes in the sky during sunrise. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. As the best-preserved temple at the site, Angkor Wat, is the only temple to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation is Hindu - dedicated to the god Vishnu - then Buddhist. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. Then take a field trip to a local school in order to learn about the educational system in Cambodia.
 Lunch: Lunch on own.
 Afternoon: The afternoon is yours to relax or explore more of the city, visit the old market, or relax at the hotel. Then enjoy a screening of The Flute Player, a film about a Cambodian American who escaped Cambodia and returns to his home country to revive the Khmer traditional performing arts.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.
 Evening: Enjoy a performance by local artists who are keeping the Khmer traditions alive.
Accommodations: Tara Angkor Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 16: Tonle Sap / Departure to Hanoi, Vietnam
(Wednesday, January 22)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Then, take a trip to the Tonle Sap, the largest lake in Southeast Asia that has sustained many livelihoods in Cambodia, and have some tea and biscuit at a stilt village.
 Lunch: Lunch at hotel.
 Afternoon: Transfer to the airport for departure to Hanoi, Vietnam. (Please note that this an early evening flight.)
 Dinner: Dinner at airport, followed by flight to Hanoi and Vietnam country orientation.
Accommodations: Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17: Ba Dinh Square / Temple of Literature
(Thursday, January 23)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Begin the morning with a lecture on the History of Vietnam, followed by a field trip to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Ba Dinh Square where Ho Chi Minh read out the Declaration of Independence in 1945. This is where independence is celebrated each year. Then visit the One Pillar Pagoda, built by Emperor Lý Thái Tông, who ruled from 1028 to 1054. The emperor constructed the temple in gratitude for the birth of his son.
 Lunch: Lunch at local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Travel through time to the Temple of Literature, a complex dedicated to Confucius. This was also the location for Vietnam's first univeristy to educate Vietnam's administrarive and warriors class. End the afternoon and maneuver through Hoan Kiem Lake and the Old Quarters with a cyclo ride. Then return to the hotel.
 Dinner: Dinner at a local restaruant.
Accommodations: Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 18: Lecture on Agriculture/Museum of Ethnology/Optional Guided Tour of Hanoi's Old Quarter
(Friday, January 24)
 Breakfast: At hotel.
 Morning: Attend a morning lecture by an expert on the importance of Agriculture in Vietnam - agricultural products accounted for 30 percent of Vietnam's exports. Then take a tour of the Museum of Ethnology. Vietnam is a multi-ethnic country, which is composed of 54 ethic groups. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is both a research centre and a public museum exhibiting the ethnic groups of Vietnam.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own.
 Afternoon: Afterwards, relax or take an optional guided tour in the late afternoon of Hanoi Hilton. Perhaps more noteworthy than the hotel itself is its ironic name relation to Hanoi's Hoa Lo Prison, the Vietnamese prisoner of war camp morbidly called the Hanoi Hilton by Americans captured during the Vietnam War. The camp held American soldiers from 1964 until 1973; the Hilton Hanoi Opera opened 26 years later in 1999. Reconvene towards late afternoon to engage in a traditional northern Vietnamese Mua Roi Nuoc performance, or Water Puppet Show, that tells the story of day-to-day living in rural Vietnam and Vietnamese folk tales of harvest, fishing, and festivals.
Accommodations: Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 19: Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
(Saturday, January 25)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Halong Bay to board the Emeraude. Enjoy cruising around the bay surrounded by islands jutting out from the ocean.
 Lunch: Lunch on board ship while cruising Halong Bay.
 Afternoon: Then take a field trip to Surprise Cave. Discovered in 1901, this very large grotto was used by Viet Cong as a hideout during the war with the United States. A short, steep climb up paved steps leads you to three chambers, the last being the largest. Led by your Study Leader, attend a lecture on the geological makeup and the ecological impact of the caves.
 Dinner: Dinner on board ship with cool breeze and light atmosphere.
Accommodations: Emeraude Cruises
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 20: Halong/Hanoi
(Sunday, January 26)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on the Emeraude while cruising along the bay.
 Morning: This morning, disembark the ship and transfer back to Hanoi.
 Lunch: Try the traditional "PHO" lunch.
 Afternoon: Take time to rest or explore parts of Hanoi on your own.
 Evening: Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant as well as program wrap-up and discussion.
Accommodations: Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 21: Departure
(Monday, January 27)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Depart for Noi-Bai Airport in Hanoi.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Dragon Apparent, Travels in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam

Author: Norman Lewis

Description: A classic account of travels and adventure during the last years of French Indochina, strong on atmosphere and including wonderfully detailed descriptions of local cultures and archaeological treasures. First published in 1951.

A Traveller's History of Southeast Asia

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Description: A compact history of the region, including the Khmer and the various ancient kingdoms that produced Borobudur, Angkor and other architectural marvels.

Angkor Map

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Description: A site plan and pocket guide to the city of Angkor at a scale of 1:40,000.

Arts of Southeast Asia

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Birds of Southeast Asia

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Cambodia's Curse, The Modern History of a Troubled Land

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Collected Short Stories, Volume 4

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Communion, A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam

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Description: Fay recounts in savory detail a five-week journey with two friends from Hanoi to Saigon in search of the traditions, rituals and pleasures of food from local markets and street foods to haute cuisine.

Eyewitness Guide Vietnam and Angkor Wat

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Description: Featuring innovative site diagrams, local maps and hundreds of color photographs, this handy companion introduces the culture, history and attractions of Vietnam.

Fire in the Lake

Author: Frances FitzGerald

Description: A classic historical, political and cultural portrait of the Vietnam War, seen through the eyes of the Vietnamese. Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, FitzGerald, a staff writer at the New Yorker and a reporter in Vietnam, presents a vivid image of a revolution and a clear-sighted case for why the U.S offensive was doomed from the start.

First They Killed My Father, A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

Author: Loung Ung

Description: An eye-opening eyewitness account of the atrocities suffered by millions of Cambodians from the perspective of a young girl who survived the reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.

Hot Sour Salty Sweet, A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia

Author: Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid

Description: From Salsas to Street Foods, Noodles to Desserts, dishes from different cuisines within Southeast Asia appear side by side in this magnificently illustrated cookbook and cultural guide to the mighty Mekong and the foods of the region from Southern China to Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Insight Guide Thailand

Author: Insight Guides

Description: This handsome guide brings Thailand to life in hundreds of color photographs and vividly written essays by a team of experts. Panoramic in scope, the book takes us from the crowded streets of modern Bangkok to the beaches to the rural north.

Letters from Thailand, A Novel

Author: Botan, Susan Fulop Kepner (Translator)

Description: A prize-winning novel, first published in 1969 and here newly translated into English. Taking the form of a series of letters back home to his mother, the novel follows the fate of Tan Suang U, a Chinese immigrant in Bangkok at the close of World War II, who marries, raises a family, and runs a successful business. The novel, among its many pleasures, depicts daily life in Bangkok's thriving Chinatown.

Southeast Asia Map

Author: Nelles

Description: A clear, double-sided map of all of Southeast Asia at a scale of 1:4,500,000.

Southeast Asia, A Concise History

Author: Mary Somers Heidhues

Description: A highly readable, illustrated history of Southeast Asia, covering politics, economics, society and culture. With 131 black-and-white illustrations and 11 maps.

Temples of Cambodia, The Heart of Angkor

Author: Helen Ibbitson Jessup, Barry Brukoff (Photographer)

Description: Jessup (Art and Architecture of Cambodia) provides the accompanying essays to this oversized portfolio of dazzling color images by Barry Brukoff, who has been photographing the monuments of Cambodia since 1963.

Thailand, A Short History

Author: David K. Wyatt

Description: A concise, readable introduction to the history of the country from prehistory up to the 21st century.

Thailand, Traveller's Wildlife Guide

Author: David L. Pearson

Description: Featuring full-color illustrations of 600 of Thailand's most common birds, mammals, reef fish, insects, amphibians and reptiles.

The Coroner's Lunch

Author: Colin Cotterill

Description: The first in Colin Cotterill's wonderful Dr. Siri Paiboun Mystery series follows the septuagenarian national coroner of Laos as he navigates both the criminal underworld of communist Laos and the spiritual world of his ancestors.

The Eaves of Heaven, A Life in Three Wars

Author: Andrew X. Pham

Description: Pham recounts the story of his father's life during the French occupation, Japanese invasion and the American War, weaving such momentous events with anecdotes from his childhood and details of family, friends, food and daily life.

The Gods Drink Whiskey

Author: Stephen T. Asma

Description: Asma writes with verve and wit in this eye-opening account of his yearlong stint teaching at the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh. His account is both an overview of Theravada Buddhism and a down-to-earth portrait of contemporary Cambodia.

The King Never Smiles, A Biography of Thailand's Bhumibol Adulyadej

Author: Paul M. Handley

Description: A balanced biography of Thailand's powerful king, a constitutional monarch who came to the throne of his country from the United States in 1946.

The Mekong, Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future

Author: Milton Osborne

Description: A cultural history of the great river from prehistory to European exploration, colonial tensions and modern challenges. It's an engaging introduction to the history of Southeast Asia.

The Quiet American

Author: Graham Greene

Description: A classic, this is the most famous Western work of fiction on Vietnam. Greene writes of a love triangle between a war correspondent, his Vietnamese consort and an optimistic young American during the last days of French rule.

The River's Tale, A Year on the Mekong

Author: Edward Gargan

Description: A personal, probing chronicle of a 3,000 mile journey on the river from its source in China through Tibet, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

The Sacred Willow, Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family

Author: Duong Van Mai Elliott

Description: This vivid family saga, beginning with the author's great-grandfather, captures the life and momentous history of Vietnam over the last 100 years.

Vietnam, A Traveler's Literary Companion

Author: John Balaban, Nguyen Qui Duc

Description: From rain forest and rural countryside to the cities, these 17 stories from Vietnam's finest writers explore its landscapes, myths and changing traditions.

Vietnam, Rising Dragon

Author: Bill Hayton

Description: The veteran BBC newsman covers the tangled politics, rapidly changing economy, culture, history and people of Vietnam with great insight in this timely portrait of a nation in transition.

What the Buddha Taught

Author: Walpola Sri Rahula

Description: A classic account of Theravada Buddhism by a respected monk and scholar from Sri Lanka. Provides translations from original texts with explanations for Western readers. A good foundation for any visitor to Southeast Asia.

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