FROM MYTH TO REALITY - Leave your expectations behind on this remarkable voyage to the truly exotic, a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of rare sights including the bell-shaped pagodas of Myanmar, the majestic elephants of South Africa and the peacock-blue waters of the Maldives.
Indulge your senses in the city's fabulous golden temples and palaces, the royal barges and the Emerald Buddha. Explore the hidden city of teak mansions and lovely gardens or learn about Thai culture. The Royal Palace, familiar to many as the scene of the true story of Anna and the King of Siam, is a massive complex of carved and gilded buildings still used by the Thai royal family. Or visit the home of Jim Thompson, former spy and promoter of the local silk industry who disappeared mysteriously.
Ko Samui, Thailand
Explore this idyllic, forested island and its pristine beaches. Visit the giant Buddha at Wat Phra Yai, the elephant camp where these intelligent animals display their work skills and a plantation where monkeys harvest coconuts. Head to the interior and see majestic cascading waterfalls and how rubber trees are tapped. Enjoy the gorgeous beaches.
Discover a delightful city of contrasts, from its old Chinese quarter and colorful Hindu temples to its modern skyscrapers, famous Tiger Balm Gardens and magnificent National Orchid Garden. Stroll along the Esplanade. Take a short cruise along the Singapore River and a tri-shaw ride through town. Visit the Kranji Memorial and Changi Chapel and Memorial, dedicated to those who lost their lives here during World War II.
Experience the many aspects of beautiful Phuket, from its lush landscape and gorgeous beaches to its 19th century Chinese and Western architecture and stunning temples. Visit the fascinating Sea Shell Museum, see the ornate Wat Chalong, watch elephants go through their paces at the elephant camp, and explore the unique and breathtaking Phang Nga National Park. Or just play on one of the island's fabulous beaches.
See the magnificent splendor of the Shwedagon Pagoda, a golden shrine towering to a height of 326 feet. Nearby visit the Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda with its reclining 230-foot-long Buddha statue, which was completed in 1966. Rising up from the Royal Lake, Karaweik Hall was built in the shape of the mythical Karaweik bird. The Botahtaung Pagoda was named after the 1,000 military leaders who escorted the sacred hair relics of Buddha, brought from India over 2,000 years ago. Opened in 1906 and located near the Kandawgyi Palace Hotel, the Yangon Zoo is noted for its collection of wild animals from around the world.
Cochin (Kochi), India
Discover the amazing contrasts of this cosmopolitan, Portuguese-founded city with its lovely colonial architecture, Dutch-style palaces, historic churches, Jewish quarter and huge Chinese fishing nets. Or explore tranquil canals by boat and see ancient villages, exquisite scenery, plantations and temples. See Indian cotton made in traditional fashion.
Enjoy the beautiful beaches on the Arabian Sea, watch the fishing boats and explore the city, especially the 10th century Manjunatha Temple, St. Aloysius College Chapel, the Sultan Battery, Light House Hill Garden, Mangala Devi Temple and the Jumma Masjid. See a traditional South Indian dance performance or perhaps encounter a festival honoring a local deity.
As the capital of the low-lying, coral-bed Maldives, winsome Malé is surrounded by a sea wall, where you might watch the fishing dhonis return with the day's catch. Also be sure to see Friday Mosque, a masterpiece of filigree-curved coral built in the mid-1600s, and the Mulee-aage Palace.
Gorgeous and romantic, the Seychelles define tropical beauty. A mountain range runs through the spine of Mahé, the largest island, and scenic national parks have sprung up around it, attracting hikers. Still, it's the idyllic beaches that have immortalized Mahé and its laid-back capital of Victoria, where the Seychellois speak a mellifluous Creole patois.
La Digue, Seychelles
The most tranquil and relaxed of the Seychelles islands, La Digue allows you to step back in time, to appreciate a slower pace, to dive or snorkel the untouched reefs, enjoy the white sand beaches, hike into the stunning mountains of the interior for bird watching.
The palm-fringed archipelago of Zanzibar lies about 20 miles off Tanzania. It's a sensual paradise of aromas from locally grown spices, vistas of idyllic beaches, and the sounds of commerce echoing through the Arabic alleyways of Stone Town. Don't miss the Anglican cathedral, built on the site of the slave market to commemorate its closing in 1873.
Nosy Be, Madagascar
Lying off the northern coast of Madagascar, Nosy Be (which means "Big Island" in Malagasy) contains seven volcanic lakes and is blanketed with fragrant flora such as ylang-ylang, frangipani and vanilla. Unusual wildlife flourishes here, as witnessed in Lokobe Nature Reserve, home to maki lemurs, chameleons and paradise flycatchers.
Mayotte, French Comoros
While the other islands of the fragrant Comoros (known as the "Perfume Islands") gained independence from France in 1975, Mayotte remained under French rule, and you'll welcome the influence. The Petit Terre district boasts fine patisseries, boutiques and art galleries, and there's a French flair everywhere.
Intent on recapturing its former glamour, Maputo once again attracts the rich and famous, whom you may see while sipping a cocktail at the extravagant Hotel Polana. Maputo's struggle for freedom from Portuguese colonialism is recounted in local museums.
Richards Bay, South Africa
Take an excursion to one of the nearby game reserves or simply gaze over the surrounding waters, where you might get a glimpse of dolphins, whales and kite-surfers. The best view is from the lookout point at Alkantstrand Beach. Richards Bay is a busy port and the myriad of specialized ships will intrigue marine buffs.
Mossel Bay, South Africa
With an average of 320 sunny days a year, Mossel Bay has the second mildest climate in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Enjoy walks along the beautiful beaches, horseback riding and whale and dolphin watching. Track big game on a thrilling safari or take a cruise to Seal Island, populated by over 2,500 Cape fur seals.
VS - Suite
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OS - Suite
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