Winding 4,148 km from the highlands of Tibet to the Pacific
Ocean, the Mekong River is a continuous thread, connecting
each Indo-Chinese country with the next. From the virgin forests
of Xishuangbanna in southern China, the Mekong flows on to
Burma, Laos and Thailand, before proceeding on through Cambodia
and southern Vietnam, ultimately disgorging into the South
Throughout the ages, the majestic Mekong has shaped the history
of Indochina. Forming natural borders between territories,
the river's nourishing waters drew farms and settlements
to its banks. For thousands of years, great civilizations
have grown beside the stately river, yet despite their geographical
proximity they have developed their own distinct cultures,
lifestyles and architecture.
Now, like the mighty Mekong, the Bangkok Airways flight network
flows between the key UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Indochina,
connecting four historic kingdoms. The Mekong World Heritage
Tour has been conceived to enable these areas of significant
historical intrigue to become accessible in comfort and style.
This classic tour will take approximately eight days and seven
nights and tailor-made tours can be developed in accordance
with individual schedules.
From the City of Angels, the Mekong World Heritage Tour flies
directly to the first of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites;
Sukhothai the first capital of Thailand. Sukhothai, the Dawn
of Happiness, was established as the capital of the first
real Thai state some 700 years ago in the 13th century. Under
the caring reign of King Ramkhamhaeng, the development of
political philosophy and the arts was encouraged. He is remembered
for creating the Thai alphabet and establishing trade, law
and regulations. The Sukhothai period is hence regarded as
the cradle of Thai culture. It was also during this glorious
time of invention and discovery that the distinct style of
Thai architecture was born.
Sukhothai went on to extend its influence over an area stretching
from Laos in the north, to the Andaman Sea in the west and
south to the Malay Peninsula. Eventually, Sukhothai fell to
the Kingdom of Ayutthaya and the capital city was abandoned
in the early 16th century. In 1978, the largest and most complex
restoration effort in Thai history was undertaken and today
the ancient city is a visual feast of evocative ruins situated
among rolling green hills and tranquil lotus-filled ponds.
The tour strolls around the Sri Satchanalai Historical Park,
the Sukhothai Historical Park, Wat Mahadhat and Wat Srichum.
Overnight in the Pailyn Hotel will give travellers a luxurious
rest before boarding the next flight to Luang Prabang, "Land
of A Million Elephants". Located on the banks of the
Mekong River, Luang Prabang was the ancient capital of the
Lan Xang Kingdom from 1354 AD until the capital was transferred
to Vientiane in 1560 AD.
Luang Prabang's location is stunning. Cradled among the
high forested mountains of northern Laos, the city stands
in marked contrast not only to the present-day capital, Vientiane,
but also to just about anywhere else you can imagine. In 1995,
UNESCO designated the town as a "World Heritage"
site worthy of protection and development. The numerous temples,
many of them hundreds of years old, provided the primary impetus
for the designation. However, they are only part of what makes
Luang Prabang so attractive. The examples of French colonial
architecture, the different ethnic groups strolling the streets
in traditional garb, the green of the surrounding mountains
and the general absence of the hectic pace of modern life
all add to the general appeal. World Heritage status by UNESCO
ensures that the glorious temples, royal architecture, culture
and traditions will remain pristine for residents and visitors
The tour navigates through peaceful temples, Wat Sene, Wat
Xieng Thong and climbs Phousi hill for a panoramic view of
the city and sunset over the Mekong River. The following day's
excursion includes a visit to the National Museum and a river
boat cruise stopping off at the pottery village of Ban Chan,
the Pak-Ou Caves with thousands of Buddha statues and the
local rice alcohol distilleries.
The flight to Danang takes approximately two hours and an
overland transfer brings the group to Hoi An for leisurely
sightseeing and shopping in local handicraft shops. The following
day, the tour rolls overland along the spectacular tropical
coastline to Hu?, home of fascinating Imperial ruins, citadels,
palaces, royal tombs, pagodas and temples. Four hundred years
ago, Hu? (pronounced "way') was the capital of Vietnam
and court of the Nguyen Dynasty. For 20 years labourers worked
day and night to construct the six miles of walls that contain
the palaces, religious sites and many pavilions for official
mandarins and dignitaries.
This ancient capital, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site,
located on the banks of the Huong (Perfume) River is surrounded
by a lush valley and guarded by the Tu Duc Monarch, the tombs
of the 13 kings . This area can easily be explored by bicycle
and boat. A dragon boat moored on the east bank of the "Perfume'
River, will coast three miles upstream to the tombs, temples
and pagodas. From Hu? you can also explore the local beaches
and the best kept secret of central Vietnam, the Bach Ma Hai
Van National Parks.
After one night staying in the Hoi An Hotel the trip heads
back up to Danang by road in order to board a flight to Siem
Reap. A sleepy town in northwestern Cambodia, Siem Reap is
the gateway to Angkor, one of the seven wonders of the world.
Founded in the 9th century, the temples of Angkor are awesome.
Powerfully beautiful and intertwined within the tropical jungle,
they are lasting monuments to the greatness of the ancient
Khmer Empire. The site covers almost 200 square kilometres
and attracts visitors from around the globe. Tourism is increasing
rapidly and it is not only foreign tourists who are eager
to see Angkor. The Khmer people themselves also come flocking
for they are intensely proud of the achievements of their
ancient forebears. The lotus towers of Angkor Wat dominate
Cambodia's flat landscape. In fact, no matter where one
treads on Khmer soil, the shadow of Angkor seems omnipresent.
Khmers of all political persuasions respect these monuments
as the very symbols of their nation. This reverence spared
Angkor all but a few stray bullets and mortar shells during
the long wars that swirled over and past it many times.
The final two days of the Mekong World Heritage Tour delve
into the historical significance of Angkor and a magical sunset
over the ancient ruins is firmly on the itinerary.
The tour completes the circuit with a short flight back to
Bangkok where, sadly it comes to an end. This unique cultural
tour of the fabled Indochina peninsula is offered by Bangkok
Airways and Siem Reap Airways International in cooperation
with Diethelm Travel, Indochina Services and Pinkrose Holidays.
The tour package includes all air tickets, accommodation,
meals, services charges, room tax and baggage handling.
For further information contact Pinkrose Holidays
Tel/Fax: +66(0)2 255 8966,
Fax: +66(0)2 255 8969,