Songkran Festival, the Water Festival, is very closely associated with water. Originally, people gently pour water to elders and family to give good fortune, but now it has evolved to splashing strangers on the streets with water, either with water gun or bucket of water, all in the spirit of good fun.
Many Thai people celebrate Songkran by visiting Buddhist temple (wat) to pay respect to Buddha and to give alms to Buddhist monks. The Songkran Festival is the most important festival for Thai people.
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THE SONGKRAN FESTIVAL
What to Expect
Bangkok, Thailand - 13th - 15th April, 2013
Songkran 2013 is the most important festival for Thais and is a Thai national holiday. While the official national holiday is for 3 days, from 13 April to 15 April , workers’ days-off often last for as long as a week.
Songkran Festival, the Water Festival is very closely associated with water. Originally, people gently pour water to elders and family to give good fortune, but now it has evolved to splashing strangers on the streets with water, either with water gun or bucket of water, all in the spirit of good fun.
International tourists have mixed preference about this. Some will avoid traveling to Thailand during Songkran festival, but many plan their travel to coincide with the festival and join in the fun of Songkran water fights.
Pay Respect to Buddha.
Many Thai people celebrate Songkran by visiting Buddhist temple (wat) to pay respect to Buddha and to give alms to Buddhist monks. People also clean Buddha images in the temple by gently pouring water on them.
Songkran 2013 will be celebrated throughout Thailand and is one of the tourism highlights.
PLEASE CONTACT THE INDEPENDENT TRAVELLER FOR A QUOTATION
When to Visit
13 – 15 April 2013
Songkran 2013 Celebrations Around Thailand :
Chiang Mai Sukhothai Songkran Festival Bangkok Songkran Splendours Festival
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Songkran Festival
The Great Songkran Day 2013
Suphan Buri Province Phra Padaeng Songkran Festival
Samut Prakan Nakhon Si Thammarat Songkran Festival
Songkran on the Beach & Phuket Bike Week 2013
Hat Yai Midnight Songkran Festival
Songkhla Chon Buri Songkran Festival
Songkran Festival and Dok Khun Siang Khaen Festival on Khao Nieo Road
Nakhon Phanom Songkran Festival
Nong Khai Songkran Festival
- 18 nights
Arrival Bangkok - City & Temple with Grand Palace (D) Arrival Bangkok international airport - meet and transfer to hotel Take in the most important of Bangkok’s sights. We start with a visit to the opulent Royal Grand Palace which has a place in the hearts of all Thai people. The king is loved by the nation and is revered as a semi divine figure, as were his predesessors. We’ll visit the palace, Wat Phra Kaeo (the Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and also Wat Pho, home to a famous 48 metre, gold plated reclining Buddha. There will be the chance to stop at the landmark Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). Overnight in Bangkok.
For an evening out, this is a night to remember, enjoy the good times from centuries past at a traditionally decorated Thai restaurant “Silom Village”, served by Thai ladies/men dressed in attractive regional costumes. Special Thai food prepared to the visitor’s taste. Thai classical dancing (aprox. 40-45 minutes), graceful and sometimes humorous, is one of the most cultivated forms of art. Each movement has a meaning and expresses a particular emotion. You are required to take off shoes and sit to eat at a long low table. Drinks excluded
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market – Jim Thompson House (B,L) Early breakfast and leave your hotel. Depart for Damnoen Saduak Floating Market about 100 Kms on the southwest of Bangkok. This buzzing market is at its best in the early morning before the crowds arrive and the heat of the day builds up. The tour continues with a 30 minutes longtail boat trip along fruit plantation to see Thai houses and the traditional way of life. Then board on small boat and venture among shopping boats selling all kinds of products then we drive back Bangkok lunch will be served at local restaurant on the way.
PM visit Jim Thompson's House. The home of James H.W. Thompson, a self-made American entrepreneur who was the founder of the world renowned Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company. Thompson's achievements during his 25 year stay in the Kingdom of Thailand have won him much fame as the "Legendary American of Thailand".
His silk company produces some of the most celebrated designs to emerge from Thailand and his collection of renovated traditional Thai houses is an oasis in the heart of Bangkok. He almost amassed a priceless collection of antiquities from around Asia during his lifetime and these are on display here, making it a museum more than a house. The rest of the day is free to explore this Asian metropolis.
Overnight in Bangkok.
Cooking with Poo [Helping Hand Cooking School]
After Breakfast – pick up and drive to meeting point at The Emporium Suite hotel, then meet with staff to take you visit local market (Klong Toey market) to learn how to select and purchase fresh vegetables and ingredients to suit your menu choice. before going to school, introduction and teaching you to cook for the menu of the day… Khru Pooh will teach you how to blend the different herbs & spices for the tastiest Thai cuisine while you learn how to create authentic Thai food for yourselflater…then turn back to hotel.
P.M – free at leisure. – overnight in Bangkok
Day 4 :
Bangkok to Trat by flight. Transfer to 4 Rivers Lodge (B)
Today, we transfer to the airport for our domestic flight to Trat in the far southeast of Thailand. Upon arrival in Trat, we transfer by road to the Cambodian border at Hat Lek and Cham Yeam. Proceeding through immigration, we continue by road through Koh Kong town and on to Ta Tai River where we board a boat to transfer to 4 Rivers Floating Ecolodge. This striking resort is unique in Cambodia as the tents are built on floating platforms that sit on a beautiful and isolated bend in the river.
Overnight in 4 Rivers Floating Eco Lodge.
Day 5 :
Kayaking and sightseeing around 4 Rivers (B,L) Today we enjoy some eco-friendly activities around the Koh Kong area. In the morning, we have fun kayaking through the mangroves that surround the lodge. We explore the waterways that penetrate the jungle, visit a remote island village and can try your hand at fishing.
After lunch, we travel upriver to the pretty waterfall of Ta Tai. The large boulders here ensure there are many swimming holes. Later we return to the lodge.
Overnight in 4 Rivers Floating Eco Lodge
Day 6 :
Drive to Phnom Penh. National Museum and Royal Palace (B) This morning we drive to Phnom Penh. Having checked in and rested we then explore the stunning Royal Palace complex, home to the Cambodian royal family and a symbol of the nation. We continue to the Silver Pagoda, named after the 5000 silver tiles covering the floor, each weighing 1kg. Inside are some of the country's most cherished treasures, including a life-size gold Buddha studded with 9584 diamonds, the largest weighing 25 carats. We leave the Royal Palace and continue to the nearby National Museum, home to the world's finest collection of sculpture from the Angkor period.
Day 7 :
Tuol Sleng and Killing Fields.
Free afternoon (B) We come face to face with the horrific crimes of the Khmer Rouge. Tuol Sleng was a former high school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a centre for interrogation, torture and death. Today it is a museum of torture and serves to remind visitors of the terrible atrocities that came to pass in Cambodia. 17,000 people passed through the gates of this prison and only seven lived to tell the tale. We then travel out of town to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. Prisoners from Tuol Sleng followed this same route to their fate. An old Chinese cemetery, Choeung Ek was turned into an extermination camp for political prisoners. The remains of 8985 people were exhumed from mass graves and are kept in a memorial stupa here
Day 8 :
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap via Sambor Prei Kuk (B) We leave Phnom Penh and travel north towards the provincial capital of Kompong Thom. En route, there is the chance to pause at Skuon, affectionately known as 'Spiderville', where it is possible to sample the local delicacy of deep fried tarantula.
Then we explore the impressive pre-Angkorian capital of Sambor Prei Kuk. The first major temple city in South-East Asia, the brick temples of Sambor Prei Kuk are a peaceful contrast to their more illustrious relatives at Angkor. On our way to Siem Reap we’ll stop at the Angkorian Praptos Bridge which has more than 20 arches and is a spectacular sight, reinforcing the impression that the Khmers were like the Romans of Southeast Asia.
Day 9 :
Roluos Group, Preah Khan and Remote Temples (B) We travel back in time to one of the earliest capitals in the Angkor area, Hariharilaya, now known as Roluos. We begin with a visit to the brick temple of Lolei, originally set on an island in the centre of the Indratataka baray (reservoir). This temple has some well preserved sandstone carvings and the vast stone doors are carved from a single piece of stone. We continue to Preah Ko and finally onto Bakong, the earliest of the temple mountains. In the afternoon, We travel to the mighty temple of Preah Khan or 'Sacred Sword'. This is one of the few temples originally dedicated to Buddhism and Hinduism. We then continue on to the elegant curves of Neak Poan.
Our day ends with a sunset over the rice fields from the royal crematorium of Pre Rup, a classic view of the Cambodian countryside.
Day 10 :
Ta Prohm at Dawn, Cooking class at Suger Plam. Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre (B) We rise early to travel to Ta Prohm in the dawn light. Cooking Class at Sugar Palm: Set in a beautiful wooden house in the west of Siem Reap, Sugar Palm has developed a well-deserved reputation for serving its clientele excellent traditional flavours infused with herbs and spices, including delicious ‘char kroeng’ (curried lemongrass) dishes. Katana is the Khmer-born wizard in the kitchen and returned to Cambodia after many years in New Zealand. She recreates authentic Khmer dishes and will provide you with an expert hands-on cooking class that will capture your imagination and provide you with recipes to entice your friends and family. And you get to eat your own creations.
In the afternoon, we head to Banteay Srei, Angkor’s ultimate art gallery. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia. Later we visit the 12th century temple of Banteay Samre. Built by King Suryavarman II, the genius behind Angkor Wat
Day 11 :
Angkor Wat sunrise.
Afternoon at Walled City of Angkor Thom (B) Rising at the crack of dawn, we journey out to the Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat. Believed this temple is the perfect fusion of symbolism and symmetry and a source of pride and strength to all Khmers. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this is most famous temple at Angkor. In the afternoon, we visit the immense walled city of Angkor Thom that was the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII. We begin our visit at the Terrace of the Leper King and continue to the Terrace of Elephants, originally used as a viewing gallery for the king to preside over parades, performances and traditional sports. Our climax is the enigmatic and enchanting temple of the Bayon
Day 12 :
Fly to Phnom Penh and transfer to Kep (B)
This morning we fly to Phnom Penh and travel south towards the coast. As we leave behind the suburbs of Phnom Penh, the road passes through some beautiful rural areas and there may be some good photo opportunities as we make our way through the villages and rice fields. We stop for a short break in Angk Tasaom before continuing to the old French-era beach resort of Kep.
We check into a comfortable hotel for the night
Day 13 :
Rabbit Island am. Cave pagodas pm (B) We travel to the boat pier to board a local boat for the journey to Koh Tonsay or Rabbit Island. We journey across calm waters to this beautiful palm-fringed island, home to a small community of fisherfolk and farmers. We leave some time free to enjoy the white-sand beaches that ring the island. After a lunch of fresh seafood, there is more time to enjoy the sun, sea and sand before we travel back to Kep by boat. In the afternoon, we travel to the little town of Kompong Trach. We stop to visit the interesting cave temple of Wat Kirisan, built into the base of Phnom Sor. We travel through a small cave to a hidden chamber open to the elements, the sheer walls dripping with foliage. There are several hidden shrines here, as well as the Cave of a Thousand Ricefields and the White Elephant Cave. We then journey to Phnom Chhnork, a large cave that contains a 7th century brick temple in remarkable condition. This hidden temple is a very sacred place for local Khmers.
Later we return to Kep, our base for the night
Kep to Phu Quoc via Ha Tien (B) Today we head South to the Vietnamese border. Here we say a fond fairwell to Cambodia and “Good morning Vietnam!.”
We’ll stop for lunch in Ha Tien and continue to the ferry terminal of Rach Gia. Here we board a catamaran ferry to the beautiful island of Phu Quoc
Day 15 :
At leisure in Phu Quoc The tropical island paradise of Phu Quoc is our base for the next couple of days. We leave this day free to explore the beautiful beaches on this lovely island. Choose from the (unsurprisingly) long Long Beach or the accessible Bai Cua Can or venture to the uncrowded beaches in the north, Bai Dai and Bai Thom. There are no shortages of beautiful beaches on Phu Quoc Island.
Possible activities include diving and snorkeling during the dry season months of November to May for those that want to explore the underwater world and sea kayaking for those who prefer to stay above the surface
Day 16 :
At leisure in Phu Quoc Today is also free time for leisure in Phu Quoc
Day 17 :
Phu Quoc to Saigon. Afternoon War Remnants Museum This morning we leave the white sands and tropical waters behind and fly to the bustling city of Saigon.
This afternoon, we begin exploring the sights of Saigon. We learn about the legacy of war at the dramatic War Remnants Museum. The Requiem photo exhibition showcases the work of the era's most famous combat photographers and is a must. We also visit Reunification Hall, formerly the Presidential Palace of South Vietnam. It was here that a North Vietnamese tank famously crashed through the gates bringing an end to the long Vietnam War and the building has been preserved exactly as it was in 1975. We then take a stroll around the impressive old French-built post office and Notre Dame Cathedral before continuing to the City Hall area, another grand old colonial-era relic.
We then leave guests free to explore the famous Dong Khoi area, home to the legendary Continental Hotel, made famous by Graham Greene in the Quiet American, and lots of popular restaurants, bars and boutiques.
Ho Chi Minh – Cooking Class at Hoa Tuc center - Cu Chi Tunnels
8h00: picked up at your hotel and transferred to Saigon Cooking Class Center – Hoa Tuc. 8:30am to 9:30am: Follow our Vietnamese Chef to the colorful and vibrant Ben Thanh market to purchase the ingredients. Then we’ll use Vietnamese kitchenware to realize and enjoy a tasty 3 courses meal. Complimentary dessert & free flow of Tra-Da and water. Nice folder with detailed recipes.
Afternoon, we continue to the Cu Chi Tunnels an incredible underground world used by the Vietnamese communists to elude the Americans. Whole villages went underground during the 1960s and the tunnels stretched for more than 250km, from the Cambodian border to the suburbs of Saigon. Using this incredible warren of tunnels, the Vietcong were able to stage ambushes and attacks on American patrols and even bases. We explore this astonishing complex, a testament to the tenacity of the Vietnamese people.
Return to Saigon.
Transfer to airport for onward travel After breakfast, free at leisure for shopping or packing. Transfer to the airport to catch the departure flight.
GROUP SIZE :
Maximum of 10 people
£ 2580.00 per person sharing a twin room
Single supplement : £ 900.00
What is included?
Private transfers and sightseeing as per the itinerary
English speaking guides for the whole trip
Accommodation with breakfast
All entrance fee and permit
Meals as indicated (L: Lunch & D: Dinner)
What is NOT included?
Meals other than those stated
International Flight ticket
Tips and gratuities
Items of a personal nature – telephone calls, laundry etc.
Any optional additional tours or activities during free time
Late check out from the hotels
Things not mentioned in the above list.
We have NOT included international airfares because, we believe that we should give all our customers, wherever you live, the best opportunity to secure the flight deals that suit you best and give you complete flexibility.
The Independent Traveller does have access to some amazing special fares, so – do ask us for a quotation – we would be happy to assist – however we want YOU to have total flexibility..
Where are we staying :
Bangkok: Chatrium Riverside : Deluxe room
Koh Kong: 4 River Eco Lodge: Floating tent
Phnom Penh: Amanjaya Pancam Hotel: Deluxe Junior Suite
Siem Reap: Borei Angkor Resort: Deluxe room
Kep: Verenda Resort – Deluxe Bungalow
Phu Quoc: La Veranda resort – Deluxe room
Ho Chi Minh: Majestic Saigon: Colonial Deluxe City View
You will need a visa for CAMBODIA AND VIETNAM. Your Cambodian visa can be obtained upon entry – but you must obtain a visa for Vietnam before travel. More details will be sent to you with your travel confirmation. It you are not a British citizen, please check with us regarding visa for Thailand Pre and post tour arrangements
If you would like to book pre or post tour hotel arrangements or are interested in doing additional quality touring before or after your Small Group Journey, please contact The Independent Traveller for more details and a quotation