Insight /

Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam

Insider Access Exploring South-East Asia

There are few better ways to experience the soul of South East Asia than through the eyes of its people.

From culinary secrets to ancient spirituality

We can take you far beyond each country’s main highlights to bring you face to face with some of the region’s most interesting and engaging figures.  Here is just a small selection of immersive encounters we can arrange that will bring these destinations to life like never before.

  1. Vietnam – Hidden History of Ho Chi Minh City

    Delve into Ho Chi Minh City’s hidden history in the company of an accomplished local academic, Mr. Cau, who will share his expansive knowledge of Vietnam’s colourful past as he takes you on a tour of some of the city’s lesser-visited monuments.

    You’ll begin in the French colonial area with a visit to the imposing Archbishop’s Palace and its more than 200-year-old house of prayer. Then continue through the ages to Gia Long Palace, built in 1885 and combining classical Baroque architecture elements with European and Oriental influences.

    Mr Cau will then take you inside a private home famous for its role in the Vietnam war’s Tet Offensive, before offering insight into another side of Ho Chi Minh City’s history with a visit to a restored opium factory.

  2. Thailand – Muay Thai Masterclass

    Go behind the scenes at Bangkok’s premier Muay Thai gym for an unforgettable, truly-Thai experience.

    Head from your hotel to boxing camp, where you’ll get the lowdown on the ‘Art of Eight Limbs’ from an experienced professional tutor. After observing local boxers’ training and learning about their rituals, you’ll hop into the ring with your trainer to mimic traditional movements and learn basic fighting manoeuvres.

    After a cool down, your trainer will take you for a backstage tour of Rajadamnern Boxing Stadium, Bangkok’s most famous Muay Thai venue, where you’ll see the fighters as they go through their pre-match rituals. Then grab a ringside seat and soak up the energy of a fight, after which you’ll have the opportunity to meet the champion.

  3. Cambodia – Learn to Cook Khmer with a Celebrity Chef

    Join renowned Cambodian chef Kethana Dunnet to discover the secrets of authentic Khmer cuisine during a special cookery class at her beautiful country home in a village near Siem Reap.

    You’ll learn to make various dishes served at her famed Sugar Palm restaurants, such as traditional fish amok – a sweet coconut-based curry presented in a banana leaf bowl. Kethana will explain Cambodia’s regional culinary differences and teach you how to adapt the dishes so you can cook them at home.

    The class culminates in a four-course meal overlooking the rice fields, where you’ll be able to taste the fruits of your labour. You can combine the class with a visit to the pretty temple of Banteay Srei and the Landmine Museum, both of which are located nearby.

  4. Laos – Architectural Insights in Luang Prabang

    Take an eye-opening walk through Luang Prabang with Francis Engelmann, a former architect at the city’s UNESCO Office. Born in Paris, Francis has spent the last 20 years researching Laos’ ancient and modern buildings to become the leading expert on the country’s architecture.

    From traditional bamboo buildings to Chinese-style shop houses, the walk will focus on four different building types which each reflect a different era in Laos’ history.

    You’ll be led down charming lanes in some of the city’s lesser-known parts as Francis provides engaging insight into the culture of the country and recounts interesting side stories that add to the character of the structures. He was deeply involved in the mission to enter Luang Prabang as a World Heritage in 1995 and will be happy to answer any questions regarding the town.

  5. Myanmar – Meditation in a Monastery

    Get to grips with Myanmar’s spiritual culture during an exclusive meditation session with a monk at one of Yangon’s most revered monasteries.

    We’ll introduce you to a venerable monk at Mahasi Meditiation Centre, an ‘Educational Spa’ where many pilgrims come to learn, study and practice. He’ll begin by discussing the importance of meditation in the life of Burmese Buddhists, after which a meditation teacher will introduce you to ancient techniques to calm the mind and soothe the soul.

    It’s then time to put your new-found knowledge into practice as you move into the quiet meditation hall to slip away into a deep meditative state. Having gained a deeper connection to traditional Buddhist culture, you can continue to explore Myanmar’s spiritual side with a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda.

    Please call Real Holidays on 020 7359 3938 to start planning your South East Asia itinerary.

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