Though many travel to Southeast Asia simply for a taste of waving palm trees and sandy beaches encircled by crystal seas, it is also home to a vast number of spectacular temples and monuments with expansive religious histories, highly valued by locals and tourists alike. From Thailand to Laos to Cambodia, experience an absorption into the height of Southeast Asia’s spiritually influenced culture with adventures into sacred sites that are sometimes jaw-dropping - such as Luang Prabang’s Pak Ou caves set within extraordinary limestone - or sometimes startling, such as the famed “Hell Garden” of Bangkok’s Wang Saen Suk Monastery.
After arriving in Bangkok, enjoy a private transfer to your hotel, either the Siam Hotel - set along the Chao Phraya River within a vibrant garden - or the striking Peninsula Hotel, both of which present luxurious getaways swathed in classic Thai charm. Spend the rest of the afternoon at your leisure.
Start your first full day in Bangkok at the stunning Grand Palace, the residence of the noteworthy Emerald Buddha. Next, you’ll head over to Wat Pho for a glimpse of a giant reclining Buddha and marvel over Wat Suthat, one of Bangkok’s oldest temples - characterized by the enormous swing at its entrance. After a visit to the impressive Wat Arun on the river, tour the Wang Saen Suk Monastery and its famous “Hell Garden”. Optionally have an expert accompany you for more in-depth history and insight.
A half-day of touring will commence at Wat Saket, or “Temple of the Golden Mount”, set on a hill with an expansive view after a climb of about 300 stairs. Then, discover the fascinating design of Wat Ratchanatdaram, said to be inspired by the metal temples of ancient India and Sri Lanka. Depending on availability, a resident monk will lead you around the temple. A flight to Chiang Mai will follow in the afternoon, and then you are free to enjoy a luxurious evening at the Four Seasons hotel.
Start off your adventure in Chiang Mai at the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a sacred temple overlooking the city. Enjoy a blessing at the top as you learn about the fascinating legend it is founded upon. Later, experience the peaceful Wat Umong, a 13th-century temple set within a quiet forest setting famous for the series of tunnels that define it. After, you can explore the city by rickshaw, before settling in for a Khantoke dinner and baci ceremony, a ritual used to celebrate important occasions.
Spend the morning at the serene Wat Chiang Man, Chiang Mai’s oldest temple, and take part in a unique Buddhist practice - a Prolonging Life ceremony, a refreshing cultural experience that will grant you a new perspective on the meditative religion. Afterwards, a one-hour flight will take you to Luang Prabang, where you will settle into either the opulent comforts of Amantaka or the Belmond La Residence.
Begin your first full day in Laos at Wat Xieng Thong, one of Luang Prabang’s most popular attractions due to its remarkable beauty and historic influence. Visits to the Wat Tham Phousi Shrine, featuring a big-bellied Buddha en route to the panoramic summit of Mount Phousi; to Wat Visoun, Luang Prabang’s oldest temple, established in 1512; and to Wat Phon Phao - which will include an enlightening meeting with a senior monk - will follow.
Rise early to experience a sacred Alms Giving Ceremony and a bustling morning market. The day will continue with a blessing at the decorative Wat Mai, followed by a house visit in a local village for a unique lesson in the spiritual practice of religious floral arrangement, where you can discover how Buddhist offerings are created in a bouquet style. This will be succeeded by a river cruise to the Pak Ou caves, a reverent site rich in religious history, tucked within a spectacular limestone cliff.
After a flight from Luang Prabang to Siem Reap - taking approximately three-and-a-half hours - spend the afternoon on a river cruise to Prasat Chrung, one of the four temples guarding the corners of Angkor Thom, via traditional gondola and best enjoyed at sunset with a glass of wine in hand. In the evening, settle into your suite at the picturesque Amansara and enjoy the natural Cambodian scenery of lush forest and surrounding rice paddies.
Commemorate your first full day in Siem Reap with an early morning exploration of the largest religious monument in the world - Angkor Wat. Instead of merely wandering amidst it on foot, step it up a notch - a 20-minute helicopter ride is arranged to give you a full glimpse of its sweeping majesty from the sky - followed by lunch at a private temple. Later, delve into the National Angkor Museum, and then experience the inspiring “Great City” - Angkor Thom.
Under the guidance of an expert archaeologist, enjoy a morning at Ta Prohm, Angkor’s most intriguing ruin due to the fact that it has been almost completely cloaked by the jungle surrounding its tumbled walls. Follow this up with visits to the unique temples of Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre, and later experience the marvel of a Buddhist water blessing. In the evening, delight in a private temple dinner.
Blessed - in more ways than one - by a new reservoir of memorable experiences and spiritual renewal, depart back to Bangkok or onward at your own leisure.
Overlooking the Chao Phraya river, the iconic Peninsula’s commanding views of the city’s skyline make it one of the most elegant choices in Bangkok. Designed with a blend of modern and traditional Thai decor, the hotel provides all of the comforts of home with an exotic flair, all with the level of quality service and amenities that define the Peninsula. The hotel boasts three restaurants: Mei Jiang for Cantonese cuisine; Thiptara for Thai home-style cooking on an open-air pavilion; and the River Cafe and Bar, located on the banks of the river. The excellent spa, ESPA, offers state-of-the-art treatments, and an extensive fitness center includes a pool set in a garden complex. The Peninsula is located approximately 45 minutes by car from Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK).
The Siam Hotel is set on 3 acres of verdant lawn along the city side of Bangkok’s main river, the Chao Praya. The Siam is a private 39-room luxury retreat with its own unique historical background located in Bangkok’s royal Dusit district. Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Bill Bensley, the property is Art Deco inspired with infusions of Thai antiques and traditional architecture. Guests have an array of amenities at their fingertips: restaurants, a cooking school, bar, café, spa, gym, yoga terrace, Muay Thai boxing ring, beauty salon, library/cinema, infinity pool, gift/antiques gallery, conservatory and traditional Thai houses. The Siam’s 39 suites and pool villas are noticeably spacious and well equipped with modern conveniences. All rooms are outfitted with plush furnishings, super-sized king beds and lofty ceilings. Each suite is individually designed with original turn-of-the-century Oriental artwork and antiquities and is catered for by a personal butler. Complimentary WiFi is available property-wide. Onsite dining options include a Thai restaurant, international cuisine bistro, bar and coffee and cakes shop. The Siam Hotel is approximately 50 minutes from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK).
The Four Seasons Chiang Mai blends with its natural surroundings seamlessly, with trees growing between and around the resort, overlooking terraced rice fields and the mountains of the Mae Rim Valley. The resort has 64 boutique pavilions, each with a private veranda, as well as 16 private luxury residences. The Sala Mae Rim serves Thai cuisine and offers sweeping views of the valley below, and the Terraces have international dishes with a view of the Doi Suthep mountain range. The hotel has a health club with state of the art equipment, including a sauna, herbal steam room, whirlpool, cold plunge pool, 20-meter infinity edge swimming pool, a business center and wi-fi access. There are also mountain bikes available for use, along with maps of trails through the surrounding forest. The Spa at the Four Seasons Chiang Mai has seven treatment suites with rain shower massage tables and private herbal steam rooms. Professional spa therapists can help you choose the best treatment package for your needs. The hotel is 25 minutes from Chiang Mai International Airport.
Amantaka is set south of Phousi Mountain and close to the banks of the Mekong River and the Luang Prabang Night Market. The resort, an old French colonial building, is surrounded by a spacious courtyard, and has 24 suites – eight deluxe suites, four pool suites, eight Khan suites, two Mekong suites and two Amantaka suites, all with spacious interior and exterior living areas. Facilities include a spa, a fitness center, a library and a boutique art gallery. Amantaka is little more than a ten- minute drive from Luang Prabang International Airport (LPQ).
Located on an idyllic hillside around 10 minutes from the centre of Luang Prabang, La Residence Phou Vao is a gorgeous boutique property. Set in 2 acres of tropical garden, the resort was built in traditional Lao style and has fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. The hotel's 34 rooms and suites all have wonderful views, either of the gardens, mountains or infinity pool. The two garden suites have separate living rooms. The hotel restaurant offers superb Lao-French cuisine and is located by the pool. The spa was the first luxury spa in Luang Prabang and also has a stunning 13m fresh water infinity pool.
Located approximately five miles from the famed Angkor Wat, Amansara is sleek, stylish and superbly private. Formerly the guest villa of King Norodom Sihanouk, the grounds were originally laid out in 1962 and designed to embrace both modern design and the rich artistic legacy of Cambodia. This tranquil oasis is surrounded by beautiful gardens and includes a curved slate swimming pool. The 24 suites are decorated in a classic Indochinese palette of cool gray, pristine white, dark timber and ivory, and all include a private courtyard and soothing water features; 12 suites are equipped with private swimming pools. The Roof Garden, shaded by trees, is the ideal venue for relaxing by candlelight with cocktails, or for invigorating morning yoga sessions. The Spa, which has four treatment rooms, focuses on therapeutic Cambodian techniques using organic products. Every suite has access to its own remork and driver. On the 2007 Zagat Survey list of the world’s best hotels, Amansara was ranked number two for service.
Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
With Remote Lands you'll travel with people who have made Asia the solitary focus of their own lifelong adventure. As our guest, in the continent that our north American founders Catherine and Jay have adored and explored for decades, you'll discover Asia on a journey that is completely, authentically your own, adapted from our own remarkable experiences and adventures over the years.
Choose somewhere you’d like to visit, something you’re interested in, and when you’re planning to travel and we’ll suggest sample itineraries to inspire your bespoke journey.
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You are invited to Remote Lands’ signature Aman Jet Expeditions, in partnership with our friends at Aman. These are small group journeys designed for people who usually travel independently.