Journey across Asia by private jet and experience treasures both ancient and exotic with top National Geographic experts. Step back in time amid the gilded temples of Myanmar; take in French colonial architecture set against rolling emerald mountains in the Laotian city of Luang Prabang; and stroll medieval plazas in Bhaktapur, Nepal. Immerse yourself in the intoxicating scents, sights, and sounds of Vietnam on a cycle ride through the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City; climb to the iconic Tiger’s Nest Monastery in the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan; and discover the grand palaces that line the shores of India’s Lake Pichola.
We begin our journey in Dubai, a cosmopolitan city with a futuristic skyline that stands in contrast to the vast Arabian Desert that encircles it. Meet experts, staff, and fellow travelers at a welcome reception and dinner.
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray (D)
Fly by private jet to Kathmandu, Nepal, and visit the medieval city of Bhaktapur, a former royal capital whose stunning pagodas, palaces, and squares still captivate today. The next morning, take a local flight to Bhutan, the last remaining Buddhist kingdom of the Himalaya.
Arrive in Paro, situated deep in a valley dotted with hilltop Buddhist monasteries and brightly decorated fortresses, or dzongs. Venture into the great Paro Dzong, one of the oldest in the country and still home to a large monastic community. At the Choeding Temple, witness a Buddhist prayer ceremony. Then enjoy lunch accompanied by traditional dancing. In Thimphu, visit the National Memorial Chorten, the Royal Textile Academy and Museum, and Dechen Phodrang Monastery, part of the larger Tashichho Dzong. Or, weather permitting, you may choose to set out on a vigorous hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, also known as Taktsang Lhakhang, perched more than 10,000 feet above sea level.
Dwarika’s Hotel, Kathmandu; Zhiwa Ling Hotel or COMO Uma Paro (B, L, D Daily)
Continue to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s pulsating urban hub. This afternoon, visit the Reunification Palace, left untouched since 1975 when the city fell to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Explore the building’s ornate reception rooms, presidential living quarters, and the underground compound of fortified communication rooms linked by a series of tunnels. See the grand 19th-century Notre Dame Cathedral, where faithful Vietnamese Catholics still flock to see its statue of the Virgin Mary. Directly across the street sits the ornate Central Post Office, designed by Gustave Eiffel in the late 19th century. In the heart
of the city, discover the Ho Chi Minh Municipal Theatre, a monument to culture and a shining example of French colonial architecture. Cap off your explorations with an exciting ride through bustling streets in a traditional cyclo.
Park Hyatt Saigon (B, L, D Daily)
Travel to Luang Prabang, a stunning city nestled in a dramatic mountain setting at the confluence of the Mekong and Khan Rivers. Due to its historical significance, as well as its intricate Buddhist temples
and French colonial architecture, UNESCO has designated the entire town a World Heritage site. Explore the Royal Palace and its fascinating museum housing the golden Phra Bang Buddha statue, for which the town is named. Visit the area’s most revered temples, including Wat Xieng Thong, layered with gold leaf and featuring an elaborate mosaic depicting the fabled Tree of Life. Then browse the central market, where members of the local hill tribes offer their fine wares. In the afternoon, cruise the Mekong River to the cave temples of Pak Ou, home to thousands of lacquered and gilded Buddha figures. Before departing Laos, you may witness the ancient tradition of almsgiving. Leaving their temples to the sound of drums, saffron-robed monks walk single file through the city to receive food that they will eat that day.
Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao or Amantaka Resort Luang Prabang (B, L, D Daily)
Once a key part
of the historic overland trade route between India and China, Myanmar is home to mist-shrouded lakes, Buddhist temples, and rural villages that remain largely unspoiled by the modern world. Upon arrival in Yangon, take a private local flight to the ancient capital of Bagan. On this vast plain east of the Ayeyarwady River, devotees built more than 10,000 Buddhist temples, stupas, and monasteries in the centuries before Kublai Khan overran the region. Visit the Ananda Temple, the complex’s holiest site, and the iconic Htilominlo Temple.
Then fly to remote Inle Lake to discover the traditions of the Intha people. Explore Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, set on stilts and teak planks in the lake, and learn about silk weaving from the craftswomen at Inn Paw Khone village. The next day, visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, and, in the evening, enjoy a private poolside dinner with traditional entertainment and dishes drawing on influences from local cuisine.
Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort, Bagan and Aureum Palace Resort & Spa, Inle (B, L, D Daily)
Board our private jet and fly to the Indian state of Rajasthan, the “land of kings,” where aristocratic Rajputs channeled their wealth from overland trade into sumptuous palaces and majestic gardens. Land in Udaipur, known as the “city of lakes,” and admire the grand palaces that appear to rise from the waters of Lake Pichola. Venture into a spectacular labyrinth of courtyards within the City Palace, a soaring creation of marble and granite perched on the lake’s edge. This palace complex blends Rajasthani, Mughal, European, and Chinese architecture, and is richly decorated with inlaid mirror-work, mosaics, and frescoes. Later, wind your way through Udaipur’s old town and its bustling bazaars, and visit the local folk art museum, which boasts an impressive collection of traditional toys, musical instruments, puppets, and other regional curiosities. Enjoy a beautiful sunset cruise aboard a royal barge on
Lake Pichola. On our final evening in Udaipur, celebrate our journey with a festive farewell dinner overlooking the city’s shimmering palaces.
Oberoi Udaivilas, Udaipur (B, L, D Daily)
Return to Dubai for your final night of the journey. Enjoy an evening on Dubai’s iconic Palm Jumeirah with stunning views of the city’s impressive skyline.
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Dubai (B, L, D Daily)
Following breakfast, transfer to the airport to connect with your commercial flight home.
A world-class team of experts will accompany this expedition to share their knowledge and insights with you and bring each destination to life. The expert featured below will be part of the expedition team on the date noted.
Jan Nijman is Distinguished University Professor in Geosciences and Director of the Urban Studies Institute at Georgia State University. Jan has been affiliated with National Geographic for more than 15 years, as a member of the Geographic’s Committee for Research & Exploration and as Chair of the Society’s Global Exploration Fund in Europe. He has traveled the globe in support of Society-funded projects in research, conservation, and exploration. The author of five books and more than a hundred other publications, his expertise is in urban and regional development and the history of world cities. A Dutch native, Jan speaks five languages and has received numerous awards including the Nystrom Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Jan lives in Atlanta and Amsterdam.
Jan will join the following departure:
Feb 12 - 26, 2019
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $6,495. Transportation by private Boeing 757 jet and other conveyance, as noted in the itinerary, is included in the expedition cost. Airfare to/from Dubai, United Arab Emirates is not included in the expedition cost.
Our specially outfitted Boeing 757 is ideally suited for this extraordinary expedition. Its long-range capabilities and ability to land in smaller airports afford us unmatched flexibility. We set our own schedules, flying direct and avoiding layovers, which allows us the freedom to make the most of our adventures on land. Instead of the standard 239 seats, the jet’s interior has been customized and refitted to accommodate just 73 passengers in two-by-two, VIP-style leather seating.
For your protection, all payments are secured in a bank escrow account. See special terms and conditions for these expeditions.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.