Silk Traditions of Southeast Asia


Southeast Asia is the center of exquisite silk artistry, and the traditional villages in Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar are wonderful to visit and explore.  These locales are also sites with impressive architectural masterpieces:  Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, and Wat Xieng Temple in Luang Prabang.  This trip will focus on the centers of textile arts and the ancient capitals with stunning temples, landscapes, villages and markets.  Each of these countries has delightful people, fresh and flavorful cuisine, and fascinating villages and markets. 

Optional 3-Day Pre Trip Excursion: Singapore or Vietnam

Day 1 Arrive in Bangkok and transfer to Phnom Penh 

Welcome at airport and transfer to hotel.  Remainder of day at leisure to rest or a short walk to the Art Deco Central Market near the hotel. 

Day 2 Phnom Penh City Tour

After breakfast, explore Phnom Penh city with a visit to Wat Phnom, the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, including a famed solid gold Buddha encrusted with 9,584 diamonds and a small 17th century emerald and baccarat crystal Buddha.   Lunch at Khmer Sarin, a wonderful traditional Khmer restaurant.  In the afternoon, visit Tuol Sleng Prison, the school used as a prison and transfer site by the Khmer Rouge, and the Killing Fields outside of Phnom Penh for a deep understanding of the difficult Khmer Rouge era in Cambodia.  Return to town with a stop at Tabitha, a silk weaving studio for street women and a possible, optional spa appointment at the hotel or Bliss on Street 240.

Day 3 Phnom Penh - Siem Reap

After breakfast, shop the jewelry and silk counters at the Central Market with an immense Art Deco dome or the silk and silver shops at the traditional “Russian” market. Return to the hotel for checkout and transfer to the airport for the afternoon flight to Siem Reap.  Welcome at the airport and check in at the hotel.  Before dinner, take a tuk-tuk to the workshop and studios of Artisans d’Angkor to learn about their revival of traditional crafts of lacquer ware and stone carving.  Dinner at Viroth’s and ice cream at the Blue Pumpkin on Pub Street.

Day 4 Siem Reap – Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon Temples

Discover wonderful Angkor Wat temple (by sunrise, or later), the largest and most breathtaking monument of the Angkor regime, built in the first half of the 12th century dedicated to Vishnu, an architectural masterpiece. Enjoy lunch at an outside restaurant near the Archeological Park, or return to the hotel for relaxation poolside before an afternoon trip to visit Angkor Thom (the Great City), including the South Gate and the Terrace of the Leper King, Bayon and Ta Phrom.  Bayon and Ta Phrom are iconic temples –one with dozens of immense faces and the other atmospheric and overgrown with trees. As desired, return to Angkor Wat for sunset photos.  Have a cocktail at the FCC (Foreign Correspondents Club) before walking to dinner at a bistro on Pub Street.  After dinner, explore the night market.

Day 5 Siem Reap Silk Villages

After a leisurely breakfast, drive west of Siem Reap to the “Soieries du Mekong” workshop in Sras Chrey village.  Watch the silk weavers and learn about their revival of traditional patterns.  On the way back to Siem Reap, stop at the Artisans d’Angkor silk farm and see the entire process of silk fiber – from leaf to caterpillar to cocoon to spinning, dying, and weaving.  In late afternoon drive east of Siem Reap to the small workshops of a small weaving village for a glimpse into the life of a village woman, their weaving and their celadon pottery.

Day 6  Siem Reap to Luang Prabang

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for the flight to Luang Prabang for a welcome at the airport and transfer to the hotel. Enjoy lunch at an open-air bistro on the main street or overlooking the Mekong River. In mid afternoon, walk to Vat Xieng Thong, the Temple of the Royal City, and continue walking through the line of temples to the back path up to Vat Phousi Hill for an outstanding overview of the city and a slow, lingering, spectacular sunset.  Walk back to dinner at the 3 Nagas, the Blue Lagoon, or a local favorite, Le Petit Nid and try the famous appetizer, Mekong weed with Chili Sauce. After dinner shop at the sidewalk Night Market.

Day 7 Luang Prabang Temples and Silk Workshops

In the morning, visit Vat May and Vat Visoun, the oldest temple of the city that resembles no other with its wooden windows inspired by the Khmer Temple of Vat Phou.  Drive out to
Ock Pop Tok’s weaving studio for lunch and a lesson in either silk dying with natural plant materials or weaving at a loom.  Return to the jetty in late afternoon with tea or cocktails at a café overlooking the Mekong while watching locals cross the river on shallow long boat ferries and another wonderful sunset.  Dinner on your own and overnight at the hotel.

Day 8 Luang Prabang Museums and Pak Ou Caves

Rise early for sunrise at the crossroads in town for the procession of saffron robed monks from Luang Prabang’s many temples seeking offerings left by the faithful, and walk through the narrow and colorful local market.  After breakfast, visit the small Arts & Ethnology Center whose display of textiles, tools and artifacts provides insight into the diverse hill tribes of Laos.  Continue to the National Museum for the revered Emerald Buddha.  Return to the jetty for a long boat up the Mekong to the juncture of the Nam Ou River to see the cave where residents and villagers have stored thousands of Buddha statues to save them from raids or natural disasters.  On the way up and back, stop at local villages to see whiskey stills, mulberry paper making, or more silk dying and weaving.  Return to the town for leisure before dinner.

Day 9 Luang Prabang to Chiang Rai

Enjoy a morning at leisure before departing on the mid day flight to Chiang Mai.   Meet guide and driver and head up to the beautiful and remote Anantara Golden Triangle Resort.  Enjoy breathtaking vistas as you recline on crisp day beds and watch elephants grazing in the distance, listen to the sound of birdsong playing over the Mekong and Ruak rivers. Every room in this stunning resort features Thai textiles, teak furnishings and artwork from local cultures.

Day 10 Chiang Rai Elephant Camp

Experience a morning or a day with the elephants: treks through bamboo groves and rice paddys for a rare glimpse at life in a traditional mahout's village. The Elephant Camp at Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa is designed along the lines of the traditional mahout's villages found in the hills of Northern Thailand in the days when logging employed the majority of Thailand's elephants.  The Royal Thai Government, with Royal support, set up the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) to act as a central body for the conservation of elephants, both domestic and wild and the communities that depend on them for their livelihood. Anantara Golden Triangle is proud to host the Northern extension of the Centre's activities.  Return to the hotel for a spa treatment or an afternoon at leisure.

Day 11 Chiang Rai – Taichialeik – Inle Lake

Drive across the border to the border town of Taichialeik and board the flight to Heho.  Drive to the north jetty at Nyaung Shwe and board an Inle Lake long tail boat down the channel to the Inle Princess.  Check into the hotel and enjoy the sunset over the lake before dinner.

Day 12 Inle Lake Villages and Silk Workshops

After breakfast, boat across the lake, passing villages built on stilts, inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens, anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. Visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery with dozens of Shan Buddha images, famous once for its unique “jumping cats”.  Continue to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main sanctuary, with five sacred Buddha images covered in gold leaf. 

Join a local Inthar family in their kitchen to cook local dishes with the traditional flavors of Burmese cuisine, then sit on the floor at a round table and dine in the local way.   After lunch visit the silk village and get a lesson in creating the unusual lotus fibers woven into Inle’s unique silk products.

Return to Nyaung Shwe for a welcome dinner with Red Mountain Estate wines, locally produced. The beautiful Red Mountain Estate is located near Nyaung Shwe in the Shan Hills with spectacular views over Inle Lake. After touring the grounds, sit in the open-air bar and taste the locally produced wines while enjoying the view.  After dinner return to the hotel.

Day 13 Inle Lake – Heho - Bagan

Transfer to the Heho airport for the flight to Bagan.  Check in at the hotel and drive a short distance to an open-air restaurant for lunch overlooking the Irrawaddy River.  After lunch visit the lacquer ware workshops to experience the delicate and detailed time consuming process of Bagan’s famed lacquer ware.  Enjoy the fabulous views as the sun rises over the stupas and Irrawaddy River.  This is truly an unforgettable and unique experience.

Day 14 Bagan Temples

Start the morning with an optional hot-air balloon flight over the plains of Bagan.  Return to the hotel for breakfast, then start your exploration of Bagan’s temples with Thagyar Pone Temple with spectacular views over the surrounding plains – a perfect introduction to the grandeur and scope of Bagan’s architecture.  Next continue to Ananda Temple, one of the most revered temples in Bagan, visiting it in the morning before the usual schedule of tour buses.  Break for lunch at Shwe Myanmar, a favorite among visitors for the delicious local cuisine.  Be sure to purchase tamarind flake candy.

Continue after lunch with Myinkaba Village and Gubyaukgyi Temple, noted for its beautiful mural paintings on inner walls and well-preserved plaster carvings on the exterior.  If time permits, include nearby Manuha Temple and Nan Paya Temple, two smaller temples with classic Buddha statues and stonework. 
In late afternoon, board a local boat at the jetty for a slow cruise up and down the Irrawaddy River.  As you cruise the waters, observe the lifestyle of the fishermen and riverside villagers as well as enjoying the perspective of the landscape of temples from the river.  Return to your hotel for dinner and overnight.

Day 15  Bagan to Yangon

Welcome at the airport upon arrival in Yangon.  Check into the hotel and in the afternoon walk through Colonial downtown Yangon and learn about the efforts of the Yangon Historic Trust to preserve the colonial buildings.  Complete the walk with a visit to Pansoden Art Gallery and the Strand Hotel Art Gallery for a perspective on the emerging contemporary art of Myanmar.  Finish the after with cocktails or dinner at the Strand Bar, now the favorite spot for the diplomats resident in Yangon.

Day 16 Yangon Temples and Museums

Start the day with a visit to the immense Chaukhtatkyi reclining Buddha, and the Chinatown farmer’s market. Visit the art galleries of Golden Valley and the inexpensive art stalls in Scott’s Market, and the fascinating small Gem Museum  End the day with sunset at Shwedagone Pagoda for intense pink skies behind the golden spires.  Dinner at Monsoon and overnight at the hotel.

Day 16  Yangon - Bangkok

After an early breakfast return to the airport for the morning flight to Bangkok.  Transfer to the hotel on the river and after checking in,  enjoy lunch overlooking the river traffic.  Take the water ferry a short distance up river to River City for it’s many shops with antiques and jewelry.  Finish the day with cocktails and dinner at Arun Residence overlooking the river and Wat Arun as the sun sets.

Day 15 Bangkok – home

Arise early for the shuttle to return to Bangkok airport for the international flights home.

Optional 3 Day Post Trip Extension to Bangkok

Enjoy the temples, cuisine, silk and antique shopping in Bangkok before returning home on international flights.

For more information, please contact Silk and Stones Travel.

What Makes This Trip Unique?

  1. Unique access to special silk studios and workshops

  2. Special activities and sights in each location

  3. Guidance and insights about silk traditions in each country

Check Resources, Packing List, Application and Terms and Conditions for additional help planning your trip.  Consider an extension before or after your trip to Vietnam, Laos, Sapa, Myanmar, Singapore or Bangkok

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Silk Spinning and Weaving, Siem Reap, Cambodia and Mandalay, Myyanmar