Personalized, Private Special Interest Tours

Everyone is different, right? We all have our own individual tastes, interests and comfort levels. That is why we believe your experience with Purple Dragon should be as unique as you are. You have probably already noticed that we have programs for honeymooners, people who enjoy food and cooking, and for those who want more active adventures. Programs that involve boat travel, elephants and shopping are our most popular special interests, so we are happy to offer several "theme" programs below. Everyone else's interests have not escaped us. If you are a bird-watch, orchid enthusiast, golfer, a foodie, bicycle adventurer, polo fan or just about anything else, Purple Dragon can customize many of our other packages to create personalized private tours to match your individual interests. Just ask!

Boats

Travel by water has always held a special allure for many of our guests. Not only is it pleasantly relaxing and often luxurious, but it gives passengers special opportunities to see things they would not normally see through the window of a bus. Although luxury ocean liners are rarely seen in our part of the world, we still have opportunities for customers who want enjoy the pleasures of traveling by boat.

Saigon to Angkor Wat dot  Two luxury ships make this epic voyage in eight days via the Southern Mekong and Tonle Sap with stops in places most tourists never visit.

Beyond Luang Prabang dot  This is an overnight side trip from Luang Prabang. Travel upstream to the tiny, landlocked village of Kamu, where you spend one night in a safari-style eco-lodge. You can hike, pan for gold, or simply watch the rice grow. This trip is supremely relaxing and gives you an up-close look at both the mighty Mekong, and rural life in Laos.

Way Beyond Luang Prabang dot  Journey from Chiang Rai by road to Chang Khong and across the Mekong River to board the Luang Say, a comfortable but speedy river craft destined for Luang Prabang. Along the way you overnight in a luxury eco-lodge adjacent to a colorful rural village. The boat also stops at one or more small villages, where you can see the authentic Laos. You can travel downstream or up. Meals, snacks and breathtaking scenery are all  included.

Southern Laos dot  Unspoiled, undeveloped and largely undiscovered, Southern Laos is green, pristine and full of both nature and history. Cruise for two nights aboard a luxury floating hotel on the Southern Mekong, visit landlocked villages and a Khmer temple complex that predates Angkor wat. If you have time you can add a couple of days on Bolaven Plateau to see waterfalls, coffee plantations and ethnic minority villages. Maybe you will even see the rare and endangered white dolphins that call this part of the Mekong home.

River of Dreams dot An overnight cruise from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, Thailand's ancient capital, in a beautifully resorted teak rice barge. You can enjoy a scenic up the Chao Praya, Thailand's River of Kings, dock overnight at a 400 year old temple, then continue to Bang Pa In the following Morning. Our guide meets you there for a day of touring one of the royal family's oldest palace complexes, the remains of the old walled city, and much more. Dinner, snacks and breakfast served aboard.

Cruise the Irrawadi dot Sail between Bagan and Mandalay (Burma/Myanmar). One and two night cruises, depending on whether you travel upstream or downstream. We work with two different luxury cruise companies that operate these and longer itineraries in Myanmar.

Halong Bay dot We offer several different options to see spectacular Halong Bay during a stay in Hanoi. Although we offer a day trip, we encourage our customers to spend the night there. As an overnight trip you may stay in a hotel in Halong City and enjoy an afternoon of sailing on the first day, and a morning cruise the following day. Our Grand Hanoi program includes two days of cruising on a sleep-aboard boat with all meals included. If you take one of our other programs you may substitute the sleep-aboard option at a small additional cost. Although not yet on our website, we also offer optional luxury sleep-aboard vessels, both private and shared with a small group of other passengers.

Day Trips on the Water dot If you cannot get enough of seeing Asia via its waterways, we have plenty of day trips that include sightseeing by boat. In Hue you explore the summer villas of dead emperors by boat on the Perfume River. Or how about awesome Pangnga Bay near Phuket.

House Boats and Floating Hotels dot Take our two-night trip to Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai and you will stay in a very unusual hotel built on gigantic bamboo rafts. It is surprisingly comfortable and the river is just outside your door. In India you can stay in an expansive and luxurious house boat on Lake Dal in Kashmir and take day trips by boat on the lake. Kerala, in Southern India, offers opportunities to travel by houseboats through "backwater" jungles. We offer both on a custom tour basis.

Elephants

Over the year we have learned that many of our guests are crazy about elephants and long to get up close and personal with a pachyderm. If your special interest is limited to just an elephant ride, please note that riding elephants or training them to paint pictures, stand on their heads or play soccer are all now considered animal cruelty. Why? Because elephants must be subject to torture in order to make them docile enough to do these things. However, you can still get up close and personal to elephants, including bathing them, if you like. Here are several places where we offer these activities:

Our Cool Charming Chiang Mai package includes a day with elephants. You travel into the countryside to the best of several elephant camps in the area. There are about thirty animals in the camp and the mahouts show off the intelligence of the pachyderms, which perform numerous tricks, including painting pictures and playing musical instruments. This is followed by a ride of almost an hour through the adjacent forest.

In nearby Lampang you can spend two or three days working with elephants at an elephant rehabilitation center. This is hard work and the living conditions are not luxurious, but you get to bond with the animals you work with. We can arrange this on a custom basis. Please give us two months advance notice. Contact us for more information.

Laos is known as the "land of a million elephants," so there may be no better place to learn to work with pachyderms. If you dream of becoming an amateur mahout, we have the perfect experience for you in Luang Prabang.

Shopping

Our Managing Director loves to say that "shopping is my religion." If you are of the same faith, our part of the world is one of the best places to worship and you  have plenty of  options for personalized private tour programs. There are so many opportunities to buy unique, wonderful things in our eleven countries that we cannot single out any of them as special. Handicrafts are still a part of Asia's cultures and have not been forgotten in the past. Village artisans still thrive in a world that seems to have given into factory made plastic junk.

If you love to shop and are looking for specific kinds of things, please let us know in advance so that we can weave your wish  into the program we create for you. This could be anything from custom made clothing in Thailand (which now rivals Hong Kong) to custom made jewelry, carpets, textiles of every description, to container loads of ceramics or teak patio furniture for your shop back home. We probably already know where to find the things you are looking for. Incidentally, we do not take any of our guests to fake "factories" that sell poor quality merchandise to tourists at inflated prices and pay big commissions to tour guides. Our guides know our rules that prohibit this common, yet corrupt tradition of tourism here.

Cooking Schools and Gastronomy

Asia is a paradise for foodies and we can help you to discover real local and regional cuisine on practically any of our packages if you are adventurous. We can take you places to enjoy real Thai food (not the stuff you get in restaurants back home), the unique flavors of Burmese, Lao and Vietnamese cooking, the potpouri of culinary influences in Singapore, and India. Hong Kong has more than a dozen distinct regional cuisines.

If you want to sharpen your Thai cooking skills, we have cooking school packages in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket that combine half day classes with local sightseeing and nightlife.

And Everything Else

If you have a special interest we have not anticipated please give us as much information about what you would like to do as possible. We will do our best to offer an itinerary that includes as much to satisfy your personal interests as possible. We have not been stumped yet! All you have to do is ask us! You will not be the first guest who is interested in photographing orchids or collecting bird cages. We are serious about making your Purple Dragon experience as unique as you are!