Cu Chi Tunnels, Viet Nam. Image courtesy of Mike Aquino.
A 9-day, 8-night tour through four of Southeast Asia's most notable former capitals: Yangon in Myanmar, Ho Chi Minh City in Viet Nam; Siem Reap in Cambodia; and Luang Prabang in Laos.
Take a tour of Southeast Asia's former capitals: their governments may have moved elsewhere, but their brilliance remains very much in evidence.
Start at Yangon – former capital of Myanmar and still its biggest and busiest city. Business goes on in its ancient streets, which you'll find out for yourself when you watch the sunset reflect off Shwedagon Pagoda's golden surface; browse through the wares at Bogyoke (Scott) Market, one of Myanmar's pre-eminent markets; marvel at the massive marble sitting Buddha in the Kyauk Taw Gyi pagoda; and end your day taking in the atmosphere at Kandawgyi Royal Lake.
The Vietnamese city of Saigon – officially Ho Chi Minh City – was the capital of the southern part of a once-divided nation. Relive the conflict that eventually reunified Viet Nam, when you visit The Cu Chi Tunnels northwest of the city: part of a massive network of tunnels that sustained the Viet Minh against foreign soldiers.
Look on the brighter side of the city by shopping at Ben Thanh market or the “Phuong Nam” lacquer workshop, before embarking on a full-day excursion to the Mekong delta some two hours' drive from Saigon.
In Cambodia, Siem Reap serves as the gateway to the marvelous Angkor temple complex. Before exploring the ancient Khmer temples, take in the cultural side of Cambodia by visiting Tonle Sap lake and its floating villages; shopping at the Night Market and at the Les Chantiers Ecoles Artisans D' Angkor, a sculpture workshop; and take in an Apsara dance show.
Work your way through Angkor's stone marvels by starting at Angkor Thom and exploring Bayon, Baphoun, Phimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace, Terrace of Leper King, and Ta Prohm Temple. Wrap up the visit by entering the famous Angkor Wat, a massive representation of the home of the gods built for king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century.
Your last stop – the former Laos royal capital Luang Prabang – takes you on a trail that winds through gorgeously-decorated temples like Vat Visoun, That Makmo and Vat Xieng Thong. Beyond the town limits, you'll cruise up the Mekong River to the Pak Ou Caves and its hundreds of Buddha images.
Victory Ground, Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar. Image courtesy of Mike Aquino.
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