Experience The Magic Of Southeast Asia

Twelfth Century walled cities, provincial capitals and priceless treasures await your presence

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Journey to Southeast Asia to discover ancient ruins, provincial capitals, the scenic beauty of tropical waterways and the genuine friendliness of a populace that welcomes travelers in a heartfelt manner. Begin your escapade with an arrival into Bangkok, Thailand, gateway city to the many wonders that will become lasting memories, rekindled over a lifetime. Choose to stay at excellent 4-star boutique hotels or select the finest of 5-star properties, which offer a wealth of amenities to satisfy the most discerning of tastes. Travel by private car, private driver and private guide to insure that your journey matches your wishes, allowing more time at sites that attract greater personal interest, and to travel at a pace that suits your fancy. There is no better option than to have a say in the timeliness of arrivals and departures while en route.

Luxury travel to Vietnam would have seemed unfathomable to those who ventured forth in the early post-war years during the 90’s when the infrastructure within the country was a in ruins, due both to the war torn nature of the years of conflict and the result of economic sanctions imposed upon the country.I n 1994, the United States reopened relations with Vietnam and opened the country to travelers from the United States. In those early years, accommodations were sparse and the conditions within the hotels that were available were Spartan. The vast majority of residents within the country rode bicycles, and the vehicular traffic that did exist was primarily military vehicles assigned to various branches of the military guard. 

Slowly, the country began to evolve economically with the influx of tourism and trade. The Vietnamese government initiated a program allowing its citizens the ability to open private enterprises, which took hold instantly and greatly improved economic conditions for the local populace who beforehand were stymied by the communistic-style of government control over their lives. Vietnam opened its doors to outside investment, which quickly resulted in vast improvements in the hotels being offered to visiting tourists. Fast tract some three decades and Vietnam now sports some of the finest resorts within all of Southeast Asia. In addition, the local citizenry has opened smaller 4-star boutique hotels, which although lacking the bells and whistles of the major hoteliers and resort properties, are well maintained and provide great value for the dollar spent.

Two luxury properties within the country are worthy of mention. The Sofitel Metropole in Hanoi and the Nam Hai in Hoi An Vietnam. The Sofitel is a colonial style property, opened by two Frenchman in 1901 and has stood the test of time, being one of the classic landmarks within the city of Hanoi. The Nam Hai Resort and Spa fronts miles long stretches of beachfront abutting the South China Sea. The resort is one of modern classical beauty, spread out upon beautifully landscaped acres of natural wonder. Each city within the country offers its own unique treasures, its history intertwined with a strong French cultural influence, 

There is no finer way to travel within the country than by air between the major cities and then by private car, driver and guide to effectively and comfortably experience all of their highlights on a private tour.

First Cabin Travel was one of the very few and very first travel companies that began sending clients to Vietnam in 1994. Some twenty-eight years later, our tour Hanoi to Angkor Wat remains our most popular itinerary. A traveler need only choose whether they wish to spend the majority of their touring out and about, returning to a pleasant and comfortable 4-star boutique hotel or choose a 5-star property, which offers some of the finest amenities found within the region. In either case, all touring will be by private car, private driver, and private guide, and at times on a private boat, be it a Chinese-styled junk plying the waters of Ha Long Bay, on the waters of the Perfume River in Huè heading out to the royal tombs or on a day long journey up into the Mekong Delta to Ben Tre, the time will be well spent and the experiences well remembered to be rekindled over a lifetime. 

Huè, Vietnam is one of the most picturesque cities in all of Vietnam, known for its beauty, historical importance and scholarly eminence. It is a city not to be missed while touring the country. One of the more interesting visits will be to the royal tombs scattered about the countryside. There are seven known royal tombs in Huè, most to the southeast of the Citadel across the expanse of the Perfume River, and the lone one not far from the Citadel itself. Three of the seven remain in the best condition and are most visited by those who visit the city. The Minh Manh royal tomb, which is on the side of the river with the Citadel is the most traditional of the tombs and is laid out in a classical Chinese style, emphasizing a symmetry reflective of that same traditional style. The tomb has some forty edifices upon the grounds, with a main pathway that leads to the salutation court, stele pavilion, and thereafter the emperor’s tomb. The emperor did not live to see the completion of the tomb that he ordered and it was his son who finished completion with the emperor’s burial in 1843.

Tu Duc’s tomb is one that actually was used by the emperor’s household as he fortified himself within the grounds. Longest reigning emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, he died childless, and wrote on his own stele since he had no son to perform the ritual. 

The tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh contains an European influence in contrast to all other tombs. Unlike the layout of the Ming Manh and Tu Duc sites, it has more the look of a monument. There was a heavy taxation levied upon the peasantry to pay for the construction of the tomb, which took 11 years to complete. Upon reaching the site, its massive concrete walls towering in the background, entry is through a triple wrought iron gate leading up the staircase, across the courtyard and into the chamber, which consists of colored glass and broken pieces of porcelain adhered to the walls, highlighting in stark contrast the elements of Eastern and Western design. 

A journey to Southeast Asia is one long to be remembered for the unique cities and towns that offer a widespread variety of activities and historical sites to enjoy while on holiday. The trio of countries, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos form the perfect itinerary. Time permitting, extended time in Thailand and a visit to Myanmar (Burma) would be ideal. 

Other sites in Vietnam would include Ha Long Bay to the north, the town of Hoi An, Saigon and passage by boat up the Mekong Delta to Ben Trè.  

A short flight over to Siem Reap, Cambodia, site for the magnificent ruins of Angkor Wat is a must within the itinerary as is the quaint and provincial town of Luang Prabang, Laos. The wonder that is Angkor is exemplified by the magnificence of the setting at Ta Prohm temple, where the jungle growth has been sculpted to allow for easy access while maintaining a scenic wonderland of forest and temple grounds. 

Angkor, the former capital city of the Khmer Empire was one of the largest cities in the world, covering wide regions within Southeast Asia before suffering defeat by Siamese forces in 1431. Hidden by jungle forest for centuries, and although well known to locals and a scant few western visitors, it has since become a well-visited tourist destination and received UNESCO protection in the year 1992. 

Ta Prohm is outside the arc of Angkor Wat, Bayon or Elephant Terrace and truly worth the added effort to include within the highlights of ones’ visit to Angkor. Its well tended grounds depict a site of somewhat crumbling walls and carvings, embraced by a assemblage of massively rooted Banyan trees that seemingly provide a foothold to the walls and terraces at what surely is one of the finest sites within all of Angkor. Crafted in the 12th century, it was meant as a Buddhist temple dedicated to the Mother of King Jayavarman VII. Ta Prohm, with its enclosed courtyards and narrow passageways, projects a serenity underneath its canopy of towering tree line. A proper visit to the site requires a minimum of two hours and is best planned by being dropped off at the main entrance while slowly proceeding along the narrow pathways and through the courtyards to the rear exit. A photographers delight, the combination of a brilliantly crafted temple grounds intertwined with the sheer power of nature’s influence makes Ta Prohm a must visit for any traveler considering Angkor as a destination. 

Luxury travel to a variety of destinations worldwide need not be out of reach for those wishing to experience the luxury of a private car, private driver, and private guide accompanying you to all of the sites within the customized itinerary. 

Since 1989, First Cabin Travel has offered luxury customized itineraries to destinations worldwide. Our mainstay of bookings are derived from repeat clientele and their enthusiastic referrals. Our staff first visited Southeast Asia in 1963, with all of the luxury custom itineraries created from having been on the ground at all destinations and not relying on what is suggested by local ground operators in various countries.

Each luxury-styled itinerary includes excellent accommodations in a choice of 4-start boutique-styled hotels, or 5-star elegant properties with breakfast and lunch daily. Transport and guiding to all sites within the itinerary by private car, private driver, private boat, and private guide. All of the highlights within each venue come as part of the touring experience and travelers are not burdened by offerings of optional tours. The private driver and guide accompany a traveler to all sites, allowing for better use of time and the opportunity for greater exploration.