Add to your bucket list with a bicycle tour of Vietnam, a guided walking tour of Sri Lanka, and a cruise through the Philippines and Borneo.
on September 11, 2017
Bike, boat, and rickshaw through Vietnam’s beautiful landscapes and dynamic cities as you immerse yourself in its unique and ancient culture.
Are you dreaming of an escape to the Far East? Does the mystery and magic of Asia beckon to you? Then consider an unforgettable adventure in the largest continent on earth, from its dazzling mega-metropolises to its remote and idyllic islands, from its rich and ancient cultures to its exotic cuisines and lifestyles.
For the ultimate bucket-trip experience, here are three full-immersion voyages: a bicycle tour of Vietnam, a guided walking tour of Sri Lanka, and a cruise through the Philippines and Borneo, with stops in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Mysterious Philippines and Borneo
This is your chance to accompany Windstar Cruises’ President John Delaney on a 14-day insider’s tour, “Best of Philippines & Borneo,” cruising from Singapore to Hong Kong. It’s a taster’s choice of many less-visited Asian destinations.
Start your journey in flower-laden Singapore, where eye-popping skyscrapers sit cheek-by-jowl with historic shop houses. Sip a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar inside the legendary Raffles Hotel and indulge in world-class shopping on Orchard Road. Then it’s on to Borneo, the third largest island in the world and the largest in Asia, which is divided politically among Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. Experience the tiny sultanate of Brunei — one of the wealthiest countries in the world — by visiting the golden-domed Sultan Omar Saifuddin Mosque, considered the most beautiful in Southeast Asia, and by wandering the lively night market. In Malaysian Borneo, naturalists will thrill to an orangutan rehabilitation center and to Kinabalu Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to 1,200 species of orchids and more than half of Borneo’s plants, birds, mammals, and amphibians.
Once your arrive in the Philippines, you can unwind on postcard-perfect beaches; cruise the crystalline waters of Hundred Islands National Park in an outrigger; take a boat trip down the longest navigable underground river in the world on Palawan Island; snorkel or SCUBA dive among well-preserved WWII Japanese wrecks; and in the capital, Manila, explore Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and the oldest Chinatown in the world. End the cruise in dazzling sophisticated Hong Kong for a dining and shopping experience like no other.
Hanoi. Saigon. The Mekong Delta. These iconic names conjure strong impressions for many, like whispers from the past. You can see these places up close and personal on VBT’s 13-day bicycle tour, “Journey Through Vietnam.” Bike, boat, and rickshaw through the country’s beautiful landscapes and dynamic cities as you immerse yourself in its unique and ancient culture. There’s no better way to penetrate the heart of this intriguing nation — from its open-air markets to its family temples and gardens, from its pagoda-dotted mountains to its tiny villages.
Cycle along farm-lined rivers, peppered with dragon boats, sampans, and traditional houseboats topped with rooftop shrines. Explore age-old cities — Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An — replete with remnants of the country’s centuries-old past. Walk through bustling Saigon, where bicycles outnumber people. Enjoy cultural experiences such as a traditional water puppet show, a hands-on cooking class, and guided tours of ancient pagodas, citadels, and palaces. Visit reminders of the Vietnam War, such as the infamous Cu Chi tunnels near Saigon, a 75-mile-long underground maze dug by the Vietcong for protection. Shop in the colorful markets for therapeutic herbs, prayer flags, and silk fashions. And feast each day on Vietnam’s distinctive cuisine — from French-Asian fusion in Hanoi to regional specialties in Hoi An to sophisticated fare in Saigon. The beguiling tastes will linger long after you’ve returned home.
Sri Lanka Sojourn
Happy accidents and chance encounters. That’s what Sri Lanka’s original name, Serendip, means. Indeed, you can expect surprising discoveries around every corner on this eight-day guided walking tour from Country Walkers, “Sri Lanka: Ancient Temples & Tea Trails.” With its exotic blend of influences — from ancient Sinhalese fortresses and Buddhist holy men to English colonists and Portuguese traders — this island nation off the southeast coast of India is a mélange of many cultures, languages, and races.
Nature lovers will be awestruck by the country’s dramatic landscapes and diverse flora and fauna. Hike through rural forests dotted with terraced fields and lotus ponds and over misty hills blanketed with tea bushes, stopping to chat with locals harvesting the crop. Spot leopards, saltwater crocodiles, wild elephants, and more on an optional post-tour safari in Yala National Park.
Culture buffs will be fascinated by the ancient walled city of Anuradhapura, a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with temples and dagobas, or bell-shaped stupas. Climb the 1,200 steps to the top of Sigiriya Rock Fortress with its magnificent palace ruins and enjoy the frescoes, gardens, and statues around its base. Marvel at Buddhist and Hindu monuments carved into cave-dotted hillsides. Admire the exquisitely painted cave chambers and statues of the Golden Temple of Dambulla, a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site dating to the 1st century BC. Follow cobbled lanes through grand colonial cities, built by European traders when spice was king. And explore the far corners of Old Ceylon by historic train, floatplane, and well-trodden paths, encountering saffron-robed monks along the way.
It’s all the stuff of bragging rights in a fascinating destination few Westerners have experienced.
How to Explore by Cruise
Recognized by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler on the 2016 Gold List of Favorite Cruise Lines and by USA TODAY readers for Best Boutique Cruise Line, Windstar’s fleet of small luxury sailing ships and all-suite power yachts with 148 to 300 guests bring you closer to smaller ports and exclusive local experiences around the world. Visit windstarcruises.com or call 888-460-5098 for more information.
How to Explore by Bike
VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations is the value leader in active biking vacations and has been rated among the “World’s Best Tour Operators” by the readers of Travel + Leisure for six years. VBT offers more than 55 deluxe, small-group bicycling, walking, and barge & sail vacations in 29 different countries and 10 U.S. states. Unlike other companies, VBT also includes round-trip international airfare from more than 30 U.S. cities and select Canadian cities for all overseas vacations. Visit vbt.com or call 800-245-3868 for more information.
How to Explore on Foot
For more than 38 years, Country Walkers has provided active, immersive, and unforgettable travel experiences on five continents. They offer two distinct ways to explore: scheduled, small-group Guided Walking Adventures and independent Self-Guided Walking Adventures. On tour, guests enjoy superb local cuisine, first-class guides, fine accommodations, and authentic cultural and natural encounters. Visit countrywalkers.com or call 800-234-6900 for more information.
For more travel experiences to Beautiful Places on Earth™ available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.