Transfer to the hotel and enjoy the morning at leisure. After lunch embark on an introductory tour of this bustling metropolis. Return to the hotel for a welcome dinner and overnight.
Chennai is historically ancient and boasts a rich cultural heritage. Today continue your explorations with a tour that incorporates both colonial history and the dynamic energy of modern life. Visit the National Art Gallery and Museum, San Thome Cathedral, the South Indian Temple, and Fort St. George Museum. Enjoy a sumptuous lunch at a local restaurant before a scenic drive along Marina Beach. This evening embark the Odyssey and begin your voyage through the Bay of Bengal.
Sail eastward today as your lecturers enlighten you on India’s Andaman Islands and lend insight into this fascinating corner of the world.
Flung across a velvet blue-green sea, the 572 Andaman- and Nicobar-Island Archipelago is a mountainous wonderland of dense forest and exotic flora, wrapped in ribbons of white sand. During your two days here have the opportunity to truly savor the landscape, the marine environment, and the historical perspective. In Port Blair visit the Anthropological Museum, where exhibits spotlight local history and archaeology. The Cellular Jail, its 698 jail cells built by the British in the early 1900s, is a reminder of the dark days of forced labor endured by India’s freedom fighters against colonial rule. And the Aberdeen Bazaar gives you a glimpse into daily island life. Beach walkers enjoy the unspoiled beaches, while snorkelers investigate the surrounding waters and coral reefs that are home to a variety of tropical fish. Birders watch for several endemic species, including the Andaman woodpecker and Andaman serpent eagle.
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea as your lecture series continues.
This morning arrive at Myanmar’s capital city, Yangon. Here visit the 2,000-year-old Sule Pagoda whose gold dome houses a single hair of Buddha; the impressive Chauk Htat Gyi, a colossal reclining Buddha; and wander through the amazing Bogyoke Aung San Market with its vast selection of local crafts. At one of Yangon’s monasteries participate in a Food Donation Ceremony; Buddhist monks eat twice daily and rely solely on the generosity of the community. A tour of the monastery gives you the chance to witness the rituals of the monks’ daily lives. As twilight softly descends upon the city explore the magical, massive Shwedagon Pagoda — the region’s most sacred Buddhist pagoda — whose glittering stupa soars above the city. This evening attend a special performance and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. Return to the ship for overnight alongside.
After an early breakfast fly to the ancient capital of Bagan, its 2,000 pagodas, temples, and monasteries make this one of the world’s most enchanting places. Begin your exploration with a stunning view over the city from one of the temples, then visit the lively Nyaung Oo daily produce market. The Shwezigon Pagoda, Bagan’s largest and most venerated reliquary shrine, is distinguished by its huge, gold bell-shaped stupa.
After lunch visit a workshop for a lacquer ware demonstration. Your temple exploration continues at the Ananda Temple, a whitewashed masterpiece of Mon architecture. Visit Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple covered with superb frescoes, before flying back to Yangon to reboard your ship.
Time and tides permitting, continue your exploration of Yangon this morning before setting sail for the remote Mergui Archipelago.
Lecturers recap your experiences in Myanmar and prepare you for the natural wonders ahead.
The Mergui Archipelago is comprised of over 800 emerald islands bathed by the sparkling waters of the Andaman Sea. In the company of your naturalists, explore lush islands draped with tropical foliage and seek out exotic flora and fauna. Snorkel or dive in the warm, inviting waters and step ashore on isolated shores where you will beachcomb along pristine white-sand beaches.
Endowed with legendary scenic beauty, your time in Thailand is spent exploring the rich marine ecosystems surrounding idyllic Koh Rawi.
The large mountainous island of Langkawi, (also the name of the archipelago) is a wildlife sanctuary teeming with indigenous bird species. In 2007, UNESCO declared the island a Geopark. Explore the network of mangroves and walk through lush forest to dazzling waterfalls. Birders seek Oriental pied hornbills, black drongos, and Asian fairy bluebirds. This afternoon explore the watery passageways and some of the islands that make up the Langkawi archipelago.
This morning arrive at Pulau Penang, the site of the East India Trading Company and the first British trading post in the Far East. Choose one of three half-day tours. Enjoy an in-depth exploration of Georgetown, also a World Heritage Site. A tour along “the road of harmony” highlights many houses of worship. Visit the indigo-blue Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion Hotel — its impeccable restoration made it a winner of UNESCO’s Asia Pacific Heritage Award; tour the majestic Khoo Clan Ancestral House, featuring ornate wood and granite carvings; and the brightly-painted Wat Chayamangkalaram to marvel at the 108-foot long Buddha, reputed to be the fourth largest in the world. Or, immerse yourself in a tropical spice garden to learn about various spices and their functional and medicinal uses. Here, attend a cooking demonstration to learn traditional techniques for grinding dried spices and secrets on how to draw out the flavor and aroma. Sample piping hot dishes straight from the pan. A third tour option visits a lovely 120-year-old botanical garden set amidst the foothills and showcasing a wide variety of tropical trees and plants.
Go ashore at Malacca, a World Heritage Site, for a full-day exploration of this 14th-century port city ruled by Malaysian princes, the Portuguese, Dutch, British, and Japanese — a tumultuous history brilliantly illustrated at the Ethnographic Museum. Visit the former official residence of the Dutch Governor, the impressive Christ Church, and the Portuguese fortress, known as A’Famosa, built in the 16th century. The Baba Nyonya Museum showcases the traditions and lifestyle of the Chinese social elite, who once entertained the colonial leaders.
Arrive in Singapore and transfer to the airport for your independent flight homeward.