This is a Marco Polo Club Invitational Journey. Experience the untamed natural beauty in the landscapes and the man-made beauty of Buddhist temples and shrines on this journey that takes you through Northern Thailand and Laos. Marvel at magnificent temples, masterful expressions of craftsmanship and devotion, and glimpse life along the Mekong River on an exclusive private cruise chartered just for Marco Polo guests.
Tour Director Sue Gabbua
Sue Gabbua's experience as a tour guide stemmed from her interest in meeting people from all over the world in order to learn about their diverse cultures and ways of life. She began her career by taking fellow Thai travellers to Oceania, Europe and America. During her 17 years with Abercrombie & Kent, she has introduced numerous foreign travellers to Southeast Asia.
With Fast Track assistance in Bangkok, immigration procedures are a breeze
Spend a day as a mahout (elephant trainer) in Chiang Mai, learning about the habits and characteristics of pachyderms
Visit with hill tribe people, including the Karen long-necked tribe, to learn about their lifestyle
Cruise for seven nights on an exclusive charter departure of the 'Mekong Sun'
Board a long-tail boat for a trip up the Nam Tha River to a remote Khmu village, where a village elder invites you into his home
Witness the traditional giving of alms in the streets of Luang Prabang
You are met and given Fast Track assistance through immigration procedures. Afterward, transfer to your airport hotel in this fascinating city of klongs (canals) and floating markets.Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel
Fly to Chiang Mai and embark on a city tour this afternoon. Begin at the bustling Waroros Market and then take a rickshaw ride to Wat Phra Singh, passing the Old Chiang Mai city wall on the way. Wat Phra Singh is Chiang Mai’s principal monastery and home to one of Thailand’s most famous images: the mysterious Phra Singh Buddha. According to local folklore, the 1,500-year-old image was brought to Siam from Sri Lanka and after a great deal of wandering, was finally placed here. This finely illuminated image, with its benevolent facial expression, remains greatly revered among Thailand’s Buddhists. Continue to Chiang Mai’s most famous landmark, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which rises as a backdrop to the town. After an uphill ride along a hairpin switchback, arrive at Doi Suthep. Tucked away in the mountains at almost 4,000 feet high, it offers panoramic views of the area. Legend has it that a holy relic of Buddha was placed on the back of an elephant, and the temple was erected where the elephant came to rest.Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi | Meals: B L
Spend the morning in the private company of the elephants and mahouts (elephant trainers) of the Maesa Elephant Camp. You are introduced to the elephants on a trek through the surrounding forests of the camp. Afterward, change into your own mahout uniform for your basic training in elephant handling; then climb atop your elephant and test your newly learned skills. For the remainder of the afternoon, you and your elephant work together to create an original work of art; the elephants of the Maesa camp are known around the world for their extraordinary feats with the paint brush. After lunch in a local restaurant, return to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure.Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi | Meals: B L
Journey overland, stopping at the White Temple (the chapel of Wat Rong Khun). After lunch, visit some hill tribes in the Chiang Rai region, including the Akha at Ban Lorcha and the Karen long-necked tribe. To achieve their signature look, the women are fitted with heavy brass rings around their necks when they are very young. Beyond their appearance, the women of the Karen are known for their skill in silk and cloth weaving, which you observe firsthand with a visit to their village. Continue to Chiang Sean and embark on the ‘Mekong Sun’ for a journey on the Mekong River, a historically important avenue of trade between China and the rest of southern Asia. Your river vessel has been chartered exclusively for Marco Polo Club and is a comfortable ship that cruises the wild sections of the Mekong, one of the most difficult rivers in the world to navigate. ‘Mekong Sun’ masters tight gorges and labyrinths of sandbanks while you travel safely and enjoy the scenery: tropical green mountains, stunning rock formations and secluded villages. During your voyage, embark on exciting off-shore excursions and attend entertaining and informative presentations, lectures and films by on-board experts.'Mekong Sun' | Meals: B L D
Your morning starts with an excursion to the Golden Triangle area, where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand converge in an area notorious for opium production. See the Doi Tung Royal Orchid Botanical Gardens, the Golden Buddha of Sop Ruak and the new Hall of Opium. This fascinating museum gives insight into the history, politics and health effects of the opium trade.'Mekong Sun' | Meals: B L D
Head into Laos today, beginning at Huay Xay on the Laotian- Thai border. From here, your voyage leads into the beautiful scenery of northern Laos. Continue to the small village of Pak Tha, where you board a long-tail boat for a trip up the Nam Tha River to a remote Khmu village. Learn about local life when a village elder welcomes you and invites you to his house; then visit the local school. Rejoin ‘Mekong Sun’ for lunch and a pleasant afternoon of sailing.'Mekong Sun' | Meals: B L D
Cruise to the small town of Pakbeng, where you go ashore to visit a market with small stalls and shops along the one main street. Return to ‘Mekong Sun’ and notice that the river traffic increases as the boat passes through a densely populated region accessible only by water. Relax on deck or in the lounge and soak up the peaceful isolation before visiting another small village (if time permits).'Mekong Sun' | Meals: B L D
After a relaxing morning on board, stop at a small riverside village to see a local distillery. From there, walk through the forest to the two famous Pak Ou caves (Thamting and Thamphoumand), located in the lower part of a limestone cliff that houses thousands of Buddha images of all styles and sizes. Lao people deposit their older Buddha images here when they become too fragile to leave out for everyday display, making for an eerie yet fascinating site. During your afternoon voyage, you may see elephants at work beside the river. Dinner tonight is in a picturesque riverside location.'Mekong Sun' | Meals: B L D
Cruise to Luang Prabang, a spiritual city that offers a glimpse of old Southeast Asia.The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has recently been enjoying a face lift of its colonial buildings and cobblestone streets. Visit Wat Xieng Thong, with its striking buildings featuring gold- and red-tiled roofs that sweep low to the ground. Explore the Royal Palace with its elephant throne and traditional musical instruments. From the summit of Phoussy Hill, look out as the sun sets over spectacular sweeping views of the town, the last rays of the day casting a kaleidoscope of color across Luang Prabang, the Mekong River and the surrounding mountains. This evening, you may wish to venture out on your own to visit the widely popular Night Market in the main street, a hub of local activity every evening. Discover an extensive collection of handicrafts for sale, with a wide variety of textiles, clothing, basketry, quilts and much more.'Mekong Sun' | Meals: B L
Early this morning, you have the opportunity to witness the traditional giving of alms to the saffron-robed Buddhist monks and novices as they walk through the streets of Luang Prabang. See some of the many Buddhist monuments, including the Wat Maha That and Wat Phnom Pao. As you explore the town, examine the Frenchand Laotian-style houses and observe the laid-back ambience. After lunch, visit the famous Kuang Si waterfalls, where numerous cascades tumble down amid pleasant tree-shrouded groves. Later, local folk musicians join you on board to entertain during your farewell dinner.'Mekong Sun' | Meals: B L D
Disembark from ‘Mekong Sun’ after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight home.Meals: B
Prices are in USD, per person, based on double occupancy.
|Sep. 22, 2013 - Oct. 02, 2013||$7,495||--||Available|
Every river cruise on the upper Mekong is subject to constantly changing river conditions, which may require some alterations to your itinerary.
The higher maximum group size is due to the special charter of the 'Mekong Sun'