North to South Vietnamese Culinary Encounter
Embark on a culinary journey from North to South Vietnam to smell, touch, taste and learn about the splendidly colorful and aromatic ingredients used in Vietnamese cooking.
Discover Vietnam’s famous culinary dishes and try your hand at preparing them under the guidance of leading chefs as we explore the food of Vietnam from the enigmatic capital, along its coastline and down to the mighty Mekong Delta. We are welcomed into local homes to watch families prepare fresh meals while spending time with them exploring nearby markets. They explain the use of various ingredients and how to prepare a traditional Vietnamese meal that includes vegetarian options before sitting down to share these tasty delights. On arrival at Hue, guests visit Dong Thien pagoda to enjoy an appetizing Buddhist vegetarian lunch with the pagoda’s friendly resident nuns. Once in Ho Chi Minh City guests are treated to the ultimate Vietnamese experience, riding pillion on the back of a Vespa – winding their way through Chinatown and stopping at a charming coffee shop to watch the vibrant city life pass by.
High-Speed Train Travel Across China
Combine some of China’s best loved highlights with lesser known places of intrigue while learning about the history of rail travel.
Many train routes in China now offer sleek and ultramodern travel experiences that venture into the heart of the country, revealing a deeply hidden beauty many visitors miss out on. Our encompassing tour includes travel on a number of China’s varied rail services, setting you not only on a journey into its stunning countryside, but on a journey of discovery, revealing the country’s pioneering attitude. We uncover a selection of culturally vibrant places across this vast and enigmatic region. In the capital of Beijing step into the atmospheric Tiananmen Square where Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China, his huge portrait gazing across the square. Then we explore the Forbidden City before spending an afternoon perusing the intriguing 798 Modern Art District and China Railway Museum. Taking advantage of the high-speed rail network we zip across the country toward Xi’an to admire its archeological wonders before boarding a final flight to Chengdu. Here we spend a morning at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Center – a rare and special opportunity to get up close to the pandas and learn more about these fascinating animals.
Heritage and Adventure in Southern Laos
Known for the UNESCO World Heritage site Vat Phou, the southern province of Champasak is an excellent playground for those seeking adventurous activities. Top of our list of places to visit is Tadfane Waterfall on the Boloven Plateau.
The plateau is actually an extinct volcano, making it extremely fertile and perfectly suited to coffee production, with excellent Arabica and Robusta strains cultivated here. We visit one of the plantations and sample their produce following a tour of the site with its owner. In the afternoon we embark on a 30 kilometer bike ride to Tadlo Waterfall, passing minority ‘Mon’ hill tribe villages that have developed in the area. While exploring the countryside surrounding Pakse city, we stop at Vat Phou, a pre-Angkorian Khmer temple ruin that was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2002. It boasts an impressive setting, perched on a hillside with spectacular views of the plain below. From here we take a boat downstream on the Mekong River to the Don Khong Islands with a delicious lunch served onboard. From the islands we can kayak along the Mekong River when it is possible to see the endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins. An adventure to be remembered.
Phuket Vegetarian Festival
The Phuket Vegetarian Festival has little to do with vegetables though is an experience not to be missed while in Thailand from October 15-23.
The festival features astounding feats by ascetic believers, such as piercing their bodies with a variety of sharp objects while in a state of trance. Originating amongst immigrant workers during the 19th century, it remains one of Phuket’s major events with dates varying each year based on the Chinese lunar calendar. Our local Phuket guide will explain the proceedings and take you to the best viewpoints for each procession. The food eaten during the festival is actually vegetarian. Taking place over one week, the proceedings culminate with an intense and dramatic parade through Phuket Town. Don’t forget your camera as firecrackers create a symphony of billowing smoke and sound that fill the streets. Waking up at 6 am we get dressed in white clothing (symbolizing cleanliness) and head to Sam Kong Shrine. Here we can witness the very first person receive their piercing. Quickly others arrive and soon there are participants covering the grounds of the temple waiting to be pierced. It is a captivating scene and remarkably – not a drop of blood is spilt.
For more incredible experiences based around our selection of diverse themes, browse our new ‘Exceptional Experiences Across Asia’ brochure, available to view now as an e-book (click here).
For a hard copy please send an email request using the link below.