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Asia Culinary Adventure March 29th 2019 - 3 nights Bangkok, 7 Night River Cruise on the Mekong with Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra with optional discounted add on to Myanmar on Strand Cruise

Join Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra as his guests on a Culinary Discovery of South East Asia. Massimo will match his skills in a fun showdown with Celebrity Chef Naroor from the world Famous Blue Elephant in Bangkok as they both cook together.

Highlights include:

  • Small group hosted by Celebrity Chef Massimo Capra
  • Cooking showdown with Thai Cooking Legend narrow and Massimo
  • Cooking class at Blue Elephant Cooking school
  • Foodie tour of Bangkok
  • Dinner at Issaya - one of the best restaurants in Asia
  • Dinner on a Rice Paddy Boat on Chao Phraya River
  • AMA Waterways luxury River Cruise along the Mekong,, 7 nights
  • Luxury 5* accommodation river front
  • Excursions to Grand Palace, Floating Market and Reclining Buddha

We start our journey in Bangkok, Thailand. One of my favourite cities and a true foodie paradise. Bangkok is home to many of the top restaurants in Asia and 5 of the worlds 50 best restaurants.

Itinerary

  • March 29th - Arrive into Bangkok International Airport. Check into your luxury hotel Anantara Riverside on the Chao Praya River. Evening Boat Dinner Cruise.
  • March 30th - Morning Excursion choice of Floating Market or Cultural visits to three Thai Temples. (See description below). Afternoon at leisure. Evening Dinner at Issaya Restaurant.
  • March 31st - Cooking class at the famous Blue Elephant cooking school. This hands on class will include learning how to cook several Thai dishes with our host, Chef Massimo and our teacher Naroor. Lunch at the Blue Elephant is included. In the early evening we will take a walking food tour of the best street food area of Bangkok. Part of the journey will be by Tuk Tuk, the famous mode of transportation in Thailand.
  • April 1st - check out of our hotel and leave for the airport to catch the short flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) . On arrival we will be met by a local tour guide and taken on a tour of Ho Chi Minh. Lunch will be at a local restaurant before embarking our AMA Waterways River Cruise along the Mekong River. - Board the AmaDara at My Tho Port. Meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Dinner as the ship cruises to Cai Be. (B,L,D)
  • April 2. - CAI BE – SA DEC. Take a local boat to Cai Be. You will have an opportunity to visit candy and rice paper making workshops and the historic Kiet Old House. Later in the day, journey to Sa Dec, a sprawling town on the Mekong Delta, where French writer Marguerite Duras spent part of her youth. You will visit the local market, Cao Dai Temple and the house of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le, Duras’ Chinese paramour, which her prize-winning novel, “The Lover,” is said to be based on. (B,L,D)
  • April 3 - TAN CHAU – BORDER CROSSING - Enjoy a visit to Tan Chau, a small Mekong River town unspoiled by tourism. You will have the opportunity to take a traditional “xe-loi” (trishaw) ride around the town, with stops at silk-making and rattan mat workshops, followed by a boat ride through the narrow channels of the Mekong River to “Evergreen Island.” Alternatively, simply take the boat ride to Evergreen Island and return to Tan Chau, where you will visit a rattan mat workshop. Later in the day, cruise from Vietnam to the Cambodian border en route to Phnom Penh. (B,L,D)
  • April 4 - PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - This morning’s excursion takes you to Cambodia’s infamous Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge’s grim Tuol Sleng S21 detention center (Genocide Museum). Alternatively, you may wish to shop for unique treasures at the bustling yellow-colored Central Market . After lunch on board, you will explore the highlights of the city, followed by a visit to the Royal Palace, the spectacular Silver Pagoda and the National Museum, which has an outstanding collection of Khmer crafts. After returning to the ship, enjoy Khmer folk dancing performed by local children in the Saigon Lounge. (B,L,D)
  • April 5. - OUDONG – KAMPONG TRALACH – PHNOM PENH. Visit Oudong, Cambodia’s former royal capital from the early 17th century until 1866. Today, Oudong is a place of pilgrimage for Cambodians. While here, be treated to a memorable Buddhist Blessing Ceremony at a monastery. You may also take a walking tour of Oudong. In Kampong Tralach, you will have a truly authentic excursion – an oxcart ride through a local village along the river bank. Later in the day, experience Phnom Penh via a tuk tuk ride and be enchanted by the city's French Colonial architecture and tree-lined boulevards set amidst monumental Angkorian architecture. (B,L,D) experience Phnom Penh via a tuk tuk ride and be enchanted by the city's French Colonial architecture and tree-lined boulevards set amidst monumental Angkorian architecture. (B,L,D)
  • April 6. OKNHATEY - ANGKOR BAN. In the morning, set sail for Oknhatey Village. Oknhatey is the “Silk Island,” located on the lush banks of the Mekong River and known for its rich tradition of silk weaving. While here, you will visit a local elementary school and observe the traditional silk weaving of handicrafts. Your cruise continues to sail to Phnom Penh. (B,L,D)
  • April 7 - ANGKOR BAN - KAMPONG CHAM- Go on a walking tour of Angkor Ban, one of the few villages in Cambodia that was not destroyed under the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. Here people still live in their traditional wooden abodes and keep their old cultural traditions alive. Hundreds of wooden houses stand intact on stilts, shaded with banana trees, among the hustle and bustle of the daily agricultural on-going of the local villagers. After visiting here, the ship sets sail for Kampong Cham, where you will go on an afternoon excursion via motorcoach to the Twin Mountains, known as Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei (male and female mountains). In the annals of Khmer legend, the twin mountains were formed as the result of a competition between the men and women of an ancient Cambodian kingdom to resolve which gender would be responsible for wedding proposals. Cap the day off with a festive Farewell Dinner on board. (B,L,D)
  • April 8 KAMPONG CHAM – DISEMBARKATION - SIEM REAP
  • *Note: We recommend that you schedule your onward flight to depart Siem Reap after 5:30pm today to avoid potential missed connections.

Our Host - Chef Massimo Capra is no stranger to television being the host of his own show Gourmet Escapes and is a regular guest expert on the long running City TV Cityline, chef host on the hit series Restaurant Makeover on the Food Network and now Massimo is a judge on the hit show Chopped Canada.

Highlight

Cooking Class and Culinary Showdown at The Blue Elephant- Master Chef Nooror Somany Steppe has always enjoyed a deep link with the culinary world. Her passion for Thai cooking was inspired by her mother, an established cook and well-known for her delicious homemade curries. Chef Nooror creates new Thai dishes using the Royal Project products and ingredients, and travels worldwide with the pride of showcasing Thailand in her capacity as not only one of the country's foremost Thai women chefs but also an ambassador who plays a significant role in promoting Thai cuisine and culture globally.

Blue Elephant Cooking School

Highlight

We will enjoy dinner at one of my all time favourite restaurants and top 50 restaurants in the world. Issaya Siamese Club, is the flagship home for internationally renown Chef Ian Kittichai and incorporates Chef Kittichai’s Thai cuisine and style in a relaxed atmosphere of dining and lounge with a hip garden party vibe – all in an historical 100-year-old Thai villa and its tropical gardens in central Bangkok. In 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Issaya Siamese Club was honored to be included in Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants, sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Aqua Panna.

Bangkok Excursion - 2 Options

1. Half-day Damnern Saduak Floating Market - 07:00-12:00HRS

Take an unforgettable boat tour on a peaceful canal that weaves through Thailand's picturesque countryside. Experience the lifestyle of locals who live and work on these interconnected waterways, and take in the daily bustle at Damnoen Saduak, popular floating market selling colorful handicrafts and fresh produce. Begin your day by getting picked up at your hotel and then head out of town, passing through the beautiful Samut Songkram Province to glimpse the timeless lifestyle of the people who reside along the canals in the Damnoen Saduak District. top by a coconut farm for a look at the process of making sugar from this useful native fruit, and then continue past houses set right on the water. Listen as your guide shares stories about the area's farmers, who use canal waters in this naturally fertile area for both irrigation and transportation. When you reach your boat, hop aboard and cruise through the scenic waterways on your way to the famous floating market. Arrive and admire massive piles of fruit and vegetables carefully stacked on small boats. Snap photos of each vendor, consider bartering for your own tasty snack, and look for handicrafts from artisans cruising through the market before you head back to shore and your hotel.

Option 2.

Half-day Grand Palace Tour 08:30-12:00hrs) Discover the Royal Grand Palace, an astonishing 60-acre Bangkok landmark that features spectacular Thai architecture. Tour the complex's temples and pagodas, including magnificent Wat Phra Kaew—the Temple of the Emerald Buddha - Get picked up from your hotel and head toward the the official residence of the Kings of Siam and Thailand—the Royal Grand Palace, built in 1782. Your guide shares insight into the architectural styles and Thai decorative techniques on display in the riverside compound. Cross the lawns and courtyards to reach Wat Phra Kaew. Regarded as the most sacred temple in Thailand, this temple's main building houses the 26-inch-tall (66-cm) Emerald Buddha, an astonishing, centuries-old statue carved from one large piece of jade. The Buddha's gold outfits are changed by the king during a special ceremony at the start of each new season to bring good fortune to the country. Next, roam the complex of the Grand Palace with your guide, admiring the proud golden domes, inspirational spires, mosaics of glass or porcelain, and exotic, richly carved wall murals. Depending on religious ceremonies and royal visits, you might even be able to enter the Coronation Hall and Royal Funeral Hall before leaving, making a stop to shop at the Gems Gallery on your way back to your hotel.

Charms of The Mekong River Cruise by AMAWaterways

Pricing Includes for 3 nights in Bangkok followed by 7 night River Cruise along the Mekong.

  • 11 days with Luxury Riverview room in Bangkok and Cabin Category with Balcony CB $5985 inc Tax and port charges and international flight Bangkok to Vietnam - Sold Out
  • 11 days with Luxury Riverview room in Bangkok and Cabin Category B - Double balcony $6584 inc Tax and port charges and international flight Bangkok to Vietnam
  • 11 days with Luxury Riverview room in Bangkok and Suite on the cruise $7244 inc Tax and port charges and international flight Bangkok to Vietnam

Air Canada and Asiana Airlines with one stop at $1343 from Toronto shortest time. Short Layovers. Economy Premium Economy from $2700

Business class from $4500

Optional Add on to Myanmar.

I’m a passionate traveler - I find almost childish excitement from every new place I visit even if it isn’t too far from home. I delight in the new discovery, the hidden restaurant or a new item I find handmade by a local vendor. As a travel agency owner I often get invited to places that seem even out of my comfort zone and Myanmar earlier this year was exactly one of those invitations.I happened to be visiting a travel trade event in Thailand and the person who owns the Strand Cruise asked if I had time for last minute adventure to go to Myanmar. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is one of the least known countries in Asia. So, feeling a little trepidation although not one to pass up an adventure, I said yes I would love to. I then embarked on one of my most surprising and uplifting travel experiences of my life.

Step back in time as we begin our journey in Myanmar. This country is as you would imagine most South East Asian countries to have been like hundreds of years ago before tourism became the currency of choice. It has the look of old Asia that has been preserved by its harshly imposed self-isolation. Each day we were greeted with grateful thanks from the people for coming to visit their country and we were made to feel very welcome and special. The area of Bagan to Mandalay has over 230,000 ancient pagodas. These vary in size from just a few feet tall to towering Gold and marble structures housing giant Buddha sculptures.

Myanmar Itinerary;

Arrive to Yangon on March 23rd. You will be collected at the airport and transported to your five star hotel in the Capitol Yangon. Spend 2 nights in the Capital of Myanmar, Yangon. Yangon originated as a small town called Dagon on the outskirts of the ancient kingdom of Okkalapa. In 1755 the founder of the Third Myanmar Empire, King Alaungpaya – who reigned from upper Myanmar – conquered the southern parts of the country and renamed the town Yangon, meaning End of Strife. After the British colonised the south they turned the town it into a busy port. The British have long since departed but they left a legacy of beautiful colonial architecture and tradition. Check into your 5* hotel and the rest of the day at leisure.

March 24th Foodie excursion in Yangon. - After a morning free to explore we will take a transfer and start our foodie activity, because it would be tragic for someone to visit a new land where flavour and life can be encountered in local cuisine and not know where to go to encounter this experience to its full extent with a local expert to help and explain the variety and history of the dishes on offer. The tour includes up to 5 courses eaten at up to 5 separate, well established eateries in Yangon. You will see the sites, smell and taste the flavour that is quickly becoming world renown. - Afterwards, we will transfer to Shwedagon, the landmark of this country and unforgettable sacred place of Myanmar. You will learn the history and observe local life within the pagoda, plus you will also enjoy participating in a candle ceremony. (If the weather is kind). This is a fascinating visit so have cameras at the ready. Evening at Leisure. Overnight in Yangon.

March 25th - Early morning transfer to the airport for a very short flight to Bagan. From there our Strand Cruise will begin and our butler will meet you at the airport to transport you to the place we will be having breakfast. The Strand’s four-night cruise from Bagan to Mandalay begins with breakfast in the tranquil gardens of the oldest lacquerware house in Bagan, before passengers visit the nearby Shwezigon Pagoda, famous for its gold leaf décor, and the Ananda temple, one of most exquisite temples in Myanmar. After enjoying lunch on board, passengers continue their exploration of the Bagan Heritage Trail, including the beautiful Sulamani and Gubyaukgyi temples.

March 26th - The ship casts off on day two for a relaxing cruise upstream towards Mandalay to enjoy the passing landscapes and villages along the river bank, with scenes reminiscent of the days of Rudyard Kipling and other intrepid explorers who have visited this rugged landscape over the centuries.

March 27th - After a leisurely breakfast, day three brings a visit to Ava, the ancient imperial capital of successive Burmese Kingdoms from the 14th to 19th centuries. Horse carts await the ship to transport guests for a delightful ride through the naturally preserved Ava landscape and key landmarks.

March 28 th - Day four sees The Strand Cruise arrive in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second- largest city and the last royal capital of Myanmar. Our passengers first stop is the U-Bein Bridge, a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura, before visiting the Mahamui Buddha temple and the Shwe In Bin monastery. Following lunch back on board as we cruise, the ship stops in Mingun, one of the country’s former capitals. Guests will visit the unfinished pagoda, as well as the Hsinbyume pagoda and Mingun bell. Our final night is spent at an exclusive mooring overnight close to a temple in Ava, while guests say farewell to their fellow passengers with a gastronomic dinner.

March 29th. Morning flight to Bangkok where we start our Thailand Itinerary.

This fabulous once in a lifetime is at special rates and is all in US$ Prices include ground transportation and hotel in Chatrium Hotel or Similar for 2 nights and flight from Yangon to Bagan - Priced per person based on double occupancy.
  • Deluxe room $2400 US$ per person.
  • Strand Cabin $2800 US$ per person
  • Strand Suite $3100 US$ per person.

Transfers to and from the airports, One foodie excursion, Flight from Yangon to Bagan included.

Rates Include;

  • Flight from Yangon to Bagan
  • Fully escorted by your concierge from Canada
  • Accommodation on a per person basis double occupancy
  • Ground Transportation
  • Cruise - Three meals during full sailing days, breakfast on day of disembarkation
  • All sightseeing as stated in set itineraries
  • Soft drinks & local beer.
  • House wine during meals
  • Transfer from Point of embarking/disembarking to airport or hotel in either Bagan or Mandalay
  • Port charges
  • English speaking guide.
  • Wi-Fi available in all cabins and public areas with satellite internet connection. Due to the current environment and its infrastructure, the internet connection might be unstable.
  • Complimentary International daily newspapers.

Optional Upgrade to Strand Luxury Hotel $300 per person

Strand Luxury River Cruise

Lets get the elephant in the room out of the way.. Myanmar is not without it's problems right now. The troubled small northern area close to Bangladesh is undergoing a terrible time and has been putting off most nervous tourists. This affects the regular people of Myanmar who rely on you for their meal every day. The kind people of this charming country need your help. So please don't let a small isolated area of a country that is far away from anywhere we will go to put you off visiting. It's very safe where we go and we will be with you every step of the way.

Deluxe room Strand Cruise
Strand Cabin
Strand Suite

The Strand Cruise has all the features passengers would expect from a luxury river cruise experience, from flawless service standards to insightful guides and exceptional levels of comfort throughout the ship. Passengers can choose to spend their time on board on the Upper Deck, relaxing by the pool or on the shaded sofas of the Sun Deck, or relaxing in one of our 25 beautifully appointed cabins, spread across two lower decks.

Credits:

Created with images by sasint - "buddhist ritual water" • sasint - "children fishing teamwork" • sasint - "buddhism monk monastery" • sasint - "umbrella buddhism monk" • Raj Eiamworakul - "The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar" • Roxanne Desgagnés - "Field of plants"

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