• Halong Bay Vietnam

    10 Best Experiences To Have While Traveling in Indochina

    Most tourists never see <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">Halong Bay</a> in the morning. They miss the fishing junks sliding past limestone spires that thrust from the turquoise water. They can&#39;t imagine how the scent of fresh coffee hangs in the air as eagles float overhead. While in Indochina,  don&#39;t just visit the great cities... stop at the simple homestead of a rice farmer; meet the enormous residents of a Laotian elephant preserve; wander the temples of Angkor; stay in Indochina’s finest hotels and resorts. Along the way, wend your way through exotic markets, eat truly remarkable local specialties, and experience the traditional cultures you only find if you approach the region like a traveler, rather than a tourist.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><b>#1 Bike Through Mekong Delta</b></a><br>Enjoy an ultra-leisurely bike ride along flat and empty roads into the heart of the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">Mekong Delta</a>. Follow narrow country roads that curve over tiny canals and past fruit gardens and sleepy villages all while taking in the lush, tropical landscape, carpeted with rice fields.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Women on a bike in Vietnam" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATJm&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7UG" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><b>#2 Visit Saigon by Rickshaw</b></a><br>A rickshaw is a great way to see, hear and soak up the action, and it’s an efficient way to get to key sites like City Hall, Notre Dame Cathedral and Dong Khoi Street, the city’s premier shopping district for custom-made silk garments, embroidery and more.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Vegetable Vendor in Vietnam" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATJm&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7Uu" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><b>#3 Visit the scenic Rice Fields outside Danang</b></a><br>Depending on the season you can see the fields being plowed by buffalo, rice planted by women, or harvested by the men. Visit a mill to see how the rice is dried and husked. This unique glimpse into the rural lives of the villagers is a sight very few visitors see and will be one of the highlights of our time in Vietnam<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Rice Farmers in Vietnam" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATJm&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7VE" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><b>#4 Hindu Monuments at My Son (Danang)</b></a><br>This beautiful region is known for its cluster of Hindu temples, some of which date back to the 7th Century. Get a haunting look into the region’s rich cultural past.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Hindu Monuments at My Son (Danang), Vietnam" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATJm&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7UL" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><b>#5 Hanoi and Northern Vietnam Countryside</b></a><br>Beginning at <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">Phuong Pagoda</a>, famous for its vast display of finely carved wooden statues of 18th-century monks, take a scenic walk among rice fields and through bamboo groves to a local village.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Phuong Pagoda, Vietnam" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATJm&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7V9" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">#6 See Halong Bay from a Luxury Junk Boat</a></b><br>After boarding our luxury Junk Boat,cruise on the emerald green waters of the bay which offers a chance to visit and explore many islands and caves<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Halong Bay, Vietnam" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATJm&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7UQ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">#7 Laos</a></b><br>Explore <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">Luang Prabang’s</a> night market, known especially for fine handicrafts from ethnic villagers.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Luang Prabang&#39;s night market, Laos" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATJm&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7Uz" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><b>#8 Elephant Sanctuary in Luang Prabang</b></a><br>Enjoy a visit to a 2,000-acre elephant sanctuary in the beautiful and unspoiled Nam Khan River valley. Meet the mahouts that train and care for the elephants and get a chance to play and bathe them firsthand.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Women feeding Elephant" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATJm&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7Ua" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><b>#9 Guided tour of Angkor Thom </b></a><br>Taking time to visit Ta Prohm is an incredible experience. Unlike many of the region’s temples, this one still looks much as it did when it was discovered – surrounded by jungle with great trees growing from the ruins.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="Interior of Angkor Thom" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATJm&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7Uk" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><b>#10 Angkor Wat</b></a><br>It&#39;s well worth it to get up early to be able to see <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">Angkor Wat</a> at sunrise. Its the largest temple in the world, and worth every bit of exploration. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATJm&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7Uf" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>If you&#39;d like to do all these activities, plus a little more, without the hassle of logistics—join a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/indochina-tours/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys Culture + Walking or Family trip to Vietnam, Laos, &amp; Cambodia</a>. You&#39;ll have the trip of a lifetime!

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  • Thai people dressed in cultural outfits, Thailand

    The Ultimate Thailand Itinerary

    <b>To get Thailand right, listen to the people.</b><br><br>The young monk who sat with us in the shade of a sacred ficus tree at Wat Suan Dok had the softest, wisest smile. He spoke of joining the monastery and asked about our lives at home. He couldn’t have known it; but that conversation changed the way we saw <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/thailand/" target="_blank">Thailand</a> … and how we share it with you on our deeply personal visit to the country.<br> <br>Thailand’s vibrant public face boasts showy gold temples and Instagram-worthy beaches. You want to see it, and we’ll make sure you do. You’ll start, for instance, at an exclusive boutique beach resort hidden on a private cove in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/phuket-thailand-tour-extension/" target="_blank">Phuket</a>. But the real secret to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/thailand/" target="_blank">Thailand</a> is that if you shift your focus a few degrees to the right or left of the marquee attraction, real life is right there. So we boat out to islands in the Andaman Sea that are uninhabited except for the Moken, a tribe of sea nomads. They live on wooden boats and houses stilted over the waters. Even the children dive deep in the clear water to gather clams and sea cucumbers.<br><br><span style="color: #212121;"><span style="font-family: calibri,sans-serif;"><img alt="Beach in Phuket,Thailand" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bnZO&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jgmK" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></span></span><br> <br>In the Chiang Mai region, our local guide Oomi pulls strings with her friends at a small village school so that you get right into a classroom and meet the kids. Shy they’re not. Ask the universal question about what they want to be when they grow up, and you’ll get an interesting earful. Oomi is also your inside track to understanding and participating in the daily alms ceremony. Before dawn, Buddhist monks pad barefoot along the streets carrying alms bowls into which their neighbors place boiled rice. It’s an ancient ceremony, not a folkloric show, and you’re invited to participate in a way that the local people appreciate deeply.<br><br><span style="color: #212121;"><span style="font-family: calibri,sans-serif;"><img alt="Alms Ceremony" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bnZO&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jgmF" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></span></span><br> <br>At Classic Journeys, we are devout believers in responsible, culturally sensitive travel — an approach that pays dividends for you in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/thailand/" target="_blank">Thailand</a>. Near Chiang Rai, we’ve established relationships with the Lahu and Akha hill tribes who invite our small groups to spend time in their villages. The villagers welcome us into their daily lives unlike the “authentic tribes people” who are on display and outnumbered by tourists in commercialized sites. Nearby, you’ll also have a chance to spend some time with the mahouts of Dara Camp. Committed to conservation of local elephants, the mahouts are the pachyderms’ companions. They’ll even invite you to join the elephants for a trek through the forest.<br><br><span style="color: black;"><span style="font-family: calibri,sans-serif;"><img alt="Guests with elephants" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bnZO&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jgmP" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></span></span><br> <br>All along the way, we make sure you get a taste of Thai culture in all its forms. You’ll have a chance to shop a local market and get a cooking instruction from a respected chef. You’ll zip up the Mekong River on a long-tailed speed boat, take in the awesome views from Mount Doi Tung, snorkel on sparkling waters at Pak-Kard Bay, shop in local crafts markets, and even take a Thai boxing class if you like!<br> <br>But in our hearts, it all comes back to the diverse people you meet. The unguarded insights you get into their lives will reveal <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/thailand/" target="_blank">Thailand</a> to you in more ways than you ever expected.

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  • Man with burmese fishing net, Myanmar

    Now is the time to go

    <p>As the Tour Operations Coordinator at Classic Journeys in charge of our Myanmar trips, I speak to our guides and colleagues in-country on a weekly basis, and I also hear a lot of questions from travelers who are curious about <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/myanmar/" target="_blank">Myanmar</a> and wonder if this is the right time to visit.</p> <h3>IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN TRAVELING TO MYANMAR, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/myanmar/" target="_blank" title="Learn more">LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR CULTURAL WALKING ADVENTURE.</a></h3> <p><b>Q: How does your experience in Myanmar compare with other Asian destinations?</b><br><br><b>Sara:</b> We have been to quite a number of Asian countries, and what we appreciate about Myanmar is that this country has it all—and then some: buddhas, temples, pagodas, ruins, markets, good hotels, good food, interesting culture, friendly people, fascinating history. It feels isolated and off-the-beaten-track and, at the same time, quite accessible. Though we flew to our destinations, the flights were short and reasonably efficient (a “meal” is even served on a 40-minute flight!).</p> <p><b>Bob:</b> We have enjoyed past visits to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">Vietnam</a> and <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/thailand/" target="_blank">Thailand</a> (multiple times), and to Cambodia and Laos as well. But Myanmar at this point is special, just having opened up to the world after being under an autocratic military rule since 1962. There are few tourists there now, and almost no Americans. There is nothing jaded about the Myanmar people at this point—they are friendly and welcoming, they don’t hustle you like in some other tourist destinations, they seem genuinely interested in being helpful. This will probably change at some point, which is why we chose to go now.<br><br><img alt="Monks in Myanmar" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7nW&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qAl" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><b>Q: What influenced your decision to travel to Myanmar this year?</b><br><br><b>Sara:</b> Myanmar has just opened up after 50 years of military rule and the Burmese are very welcoming and friendly. It is still easy to connect with the people; even the slingshot seller on the street wanted to demonstrate her product for me, and she wasn’t trying to sell me anything. We experienced no hustling, no begging, no surliness, just pleasure at our being there. People demonstrating crafts really wanted us to understand what they were doing; there was no simply going through the motions. And we weren’t expected to buy anything. We were spontaneously invited to visit homes and even to a going away party for a monk-to-be, where we were treated as guests of honor. This wasn’t arranged ahead of time, just something we happened upon. We expect it won’t be the same when tourism becomes more prevalent. Diet Coke and the first international ATM machine have just arrived, and we all know what comes next…</p> <p><b>Q: How did traveling in Myanmar compare with your expectations, and in what ways did Myanmar surprise you?</b><br><br><b>Sara:</b> We expected it to feel more like a communist country because of the military rule and the close connections with China, but it was way warmer and friendlier than expected and the infrastructure was way better. We were surprised by how many sights there were and by how pervasive it all was: more temples, more monks &amp; monasteries, more commercial enterprise, many floating villages, not just one or two sites preserved for tourism. We felt like we were seeing the actual country and the way people live, not a show put on for outsiders. We were also surprised by the amount of English spoken.</p> <p><b>Bob:</b> I had read about Bagan and the exceptional temples and ruins there; they more than met my expectations. But I was surprised and enchanted by the unique world of Inle Lake—the fishermen, the farmers of the floating gardens, the lakeside villages on stilts, the markets along the lake, and so much more.</p> <p><b>Q: How would you describe the quality of the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/hotels/" target="_blank">hotels</a> on tour?</b><br><br><b>Sara:</b> The hotels were unexpectedly good. They had clean rooms, comfortable beds, were nicely decorated and had accommodating staff. The public areas were attractive. The food was very good, too.<br><br><b>Bob:</b> The hotels were more than satisfactory—not 5-star, but that’s not what you should expect in a country that has been closed for 50 years. The public rooms, restaurants and grounds were very good, the individual accommodations good.<br><br><img alt="Myanmar hotel" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7nW&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qAW" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><b>Q: How would you describe the locals’ reaction to tourists? Did you meet any interesting locals during your trip?</b><br><br><b>Sara:</b> The reaction of the locals to tourists was so much fun for us. They loved taking our pictures as well as posing for us to take theirs. Their delight was definitely a part of our pleasure in being there. We arranged for an unscheduled, late-afternoon tour of a neighboring floating village at Inle Lake and two women showed up with their sampans. Dressed in their finest, they stood to row us using the typical leg/shoulder technique. When we got to their village, there was much hooting and hollering as they called to their many friends to come out and have a look at us. We were invited in (but declined)! We visited a monastery and the just-married couple who were sponsoring lunch for the monks that day noticed us and invited us to their family wedding lunch at a nearby restaurant (again, we declined). Everyone was extremely friendly.</p> <p><b>Q: What was your most memorable experience?</b><br><br><b>Sara:</b> There were more memorable moments than any previous trip; I have 1500 “keeper” photos to remind me of this one. (Unlike many other areas we have visited, it was quite easy to take pictures with no other tourists in them.) Overall, the images of visible spirituality of the Burmese people, from the very young to the very old, will remain with me. There were moments of incredible peace, like when viewing the reflection of temples in a lake at Bagan, along with moments of sudden surprise, as when turning a corner and seeing a mountainside literally covered with temples and pagodas. We saw never-to-be forgotten sunsets in never-to-be forgotten settings. And I will not soon forget the crunchy tastiness of the best peanuts I have ever eaten in my life.</p> <p><b>Bob:</b> My most memorable experience was joining the celebration of a boy just entering the monk life. The 3 of us plus our guide were invited in, sat on the floor and shared food among the friends and family, talked to the head monk of the event (who had a degree from a US university).</p> <p><b>Q: How would you describe the variety of experiences during your trip?</b><br><br><b>Sara:</b> Classic Journeys has done a great job of putting together a combination of experiences that work well together. We spent about the right amount of time in each area. We chose this trip over another because it doesn’t spend too much time on the water. There is a lot to be seen and experienced on land in Myanmar; it’s not a day trip.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/local-tour-guides/" target="_blank">guide</a> Jimmy was outstanding. He was knowledgeable and perceptive, not a common mix in a guide. He had taught some of the other guides, and we noticed how much they all respected him and wanted to brag to us that he had been their teacher.</p> <p><b>Bob:</b> I thought the variety of experiences, and the time devoted to each, was perfect. There are a lot of temples and pagodas in Myanmar, but I never got that “oh no, not another pagoda” feeling; they were mixed in among markets, street walks, boat rides, visits to cigar makers and textile weavers, horse cart rides, museum stops, and more.</p> <p>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/local-tour-guides/" target="_blank">guide</a> Jimmy was something of a dean among the guides; we ran into a number of other guides he had mentored or taught. He spoke good English, was knowledgeable about the sites and mindful of the interests of our 3-person group. Probably the best guide we have had in several Classic Journeys trips.<br><br><img alt="Burmese farmers" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7nW&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qAv" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><b>Q: What would you want someone that is thinking about traveling to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/myanmar/" target="_blank">Myanmar</a> to know?</b><br><br><b>Sara:</b> Now is the time to go, before Myanmar gets overwhelmed by traditional tourism, and Classic Journeys is the company to go with. Classic Journeys made the trip as easy and as comfortable—and, most importantly, as interesting—as possible. We loved it! I almost wish we hadn’t yet been because I’d like to have that first-time experience all over again. When I think about my trip to Myanmar, the smile is still on my face.</p> <p><b>Bob:</b> The people (at all levels) speak a remarkable amount of English, as a legacy of British rule. It’s far easier to communicate in Myanmar than elsewhere in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/asiapacific/" target="_blank">southeast Asia</a>.</p> <p>The bottom line: if you are thinking about going to Myanmar, go soon.</p>

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