Saturday. Welcome to Laos! Airport arrival transfer and hotel check in. Spend the afternoon and evening at leisure.
After breakfast we explore the charming capital on a city tour. Highlights include Wat Si Saket - the oldest Buddhist monastery temple in the country, the former royal temple of Haw Pha Kaeo, Pha That Luang monument and the Buddha Park with its incredible array of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures. We also visit to the COPE Centre, a charity working with victims of unexploded bombs and mines. End the day with a spectacular sunset dinner besides the Mekong River.
Overnight: Vientiane | Breakfast, Dinner
Vientiane â€“ Vang Vieng. This morning we journey north through breathtaking scenery to Vang Vieng. Along the way we visit Ban Keun, famous for its salt extraction plant and a village of local Lao rice wine whiskey distillation. A next stop is the busy and colourful market of Thalat market, where local hill tribes come to trade and shop and the
11th century archaeological site of Vang Xang. Upon arrival in picturesque Vang Vieng, spend the remains of the day at leisure or opt to explore the local caves, take a scenic bike ride or go tubing along the river.
Overnight: Vang Vieng | Breakfast, Dinner
Vang Vieng â€“ Luang Prabang. We explore the famous caves of Tham Jang this morning and visit Ban Huai Ngai village before travelling north to the enchanting Luang Prabang.
Overnight: Luang Prabang | Breakfast
Consider rising early this morning to view the daily ritual of saffron-clad monks and their procession down the streets of Luang Prabang collecting alms from the residents. Then a morning tour, taking in the highlights of Luang Prapang - the fabulous UNESCO Listed former royal capital. Sightseeing includes the ancient temples of Wat Visoun
and Wat Aham, the Ock Pop Tok weaving centre and the beautifully ornate former Royal Palace. In the afternoon we stop at ethnic minority villages before arriving at the beautiful Khouangsi waterfall.
Overnight: Luang Prabang | Breakfast
Discover more of Luang Prabangâ€™s holy sites with a morning visit to Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong. Then we set sail on a scenic cruise up the Mekong River to visit the incredible Pak Ou caves, which are crammed with Buddha images of all shapes and sizes, stopping at villages en route to sample local rice wine and shop for local handicrafts.
Overnight: Luang Prabang | Breakfast, Lunch
Luang Prabang - Hanoi. Today offers free time for you to relax by the swimming pool or further explore Luang Prabang. Elephant rides, cycling and kayaking can be arranged locally. Late this afternoon we fly from Luang Prabang to Hanoi in Vietnam. Day 8 offers free time for you to explore Vietnamâ€™s gracious capital. Lively markets, beautiful lakes, ancient pagodaâ€™s and the thriving, historic old city, are all easily navigated on foot.
Overnight: Hanoi | Breakfast x 2
Hanoi â€“ Halong Bay. A scenic drive early this morning leads us to the stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Boarding our traditional wooden junk boat we cruise the emerald waters soaking up the panoramic vista of the thousand or so karst limestone islands that stud the bay.
Later opt for a refreshing swim in one of the many sheltered coves before taking row boats to the pristine waterway known as 'Dark & Bright Lagoon'. Tonight, there's a Vietnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before an impressive seafood dinner is served.
Overnight: Deluxe Junk Boat | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Halong Bay - Hanoi - Hue. Start the day with a Tai Chi class on the sundeck or a traditional massage. After exploring a lofty grotto hidden beneath towering cliffs, we return to port.
Arriving to Hanoi mid afternoon an hour or so is spent exploring the quixotic web of streets, known as the â€˜36 streets of the old quarterâ€™ by cyclo (rickshaw). The motorbike swarming narrow lanes are each named after various guilds of the cityâ€™s artisan who established themselves here centuries ago. There is Silver Street, Silk Street, Comb Street, Paper Street and more. We explore the maze of rambling streets framed by narrow front tube houses and may have a chance to sample the exotic fruits, sizzling noodle dishes and delightfully sticky snacks being offers by the pavement vendors. After time to freshen up we board our overnight train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) on the â€˜Reunification Expressâ€™ railway line to Hue.
Overnight: Sleeper train | Breakfast
Arriving into Hue we embark on a guided sightseeing tour of the 19th-century Nguyen empire capital. We visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city, whose 21m high tower has become something of a symbol for Hue and the citadel. Within the citadel is the Imperial Purple Palace, an exact copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing, with its impressive ramparts, formal moats and imperial palaces, some of which lay in ruin.
In the countryside lies the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen kings, here weâ€™ll view the elaborate mausoleums of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. As the sun sets opt for a cruise in a long boat along the gentle Perfume River, beautifully illuminated at night.
Overnight: Hue | Breakfast, Lunch
Hue - Road of the Ocean Clouds - Hoi An. Today we take the scenic Hai Van Pass (Road of the Ocean Clouds), which offers magnificent views of beaches to one side and lush hills to the other. En route we stop for a walk along China beach, featured in Francis Ford Coppolaâ€™s movie â€˜Apocalypse Nowâ€™. Perhaps enjoy a refreshing swim in
the sea before continuing our journey along the coast road to Hoi An.
The charming, old-world trading port of Hoi An with it cobbled streets, traditional homes and tiny shop houses is a perfect place to lose yourself in a by gone era. Boutique restaurants, hip cafes along the waterfront, delightful craft shops and artisans including some of Asiaâ€™s best bespoke tailors (whose services come at a nominal price), all can be found here.
On a short walking tour of the enchanting historical town, weâ€™ll visit the Chua Ong Pagoda, Chinese Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house, former merchantsâ€™ homes and the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast
A bicycle ride into the countryside, leads us to Tra Que village. Here,we discover age old farming practices and learn about traditional medicine. Itâ€™s a hands on experience today where weâ€™ll assist with tending the fields and gardens and cooking lunch.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast, Lunch
A free day for you relax or further sightsee. You may wish to take a relaxing rowboat journey along the river or spend the day lazing by the beach or hotel pool. Itâ€™s also possible to take an optional excursion to the most holiest and evocative of Vietnamâ€™s Cham sites, My Son or to Quang Ngai, the site of the My Lai massacre memorial. The massacre was a significant turning point in the Vietnam War and the story is told through photo presentation on a walk through the village.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast
Hoi An - Saigon. Early morning flight to Saigon. Drive to the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as the â€˜rice bowlâ€™ of Vietnam, the fertile Mekong Delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as it fantastic views while boating along the canals. Taking our sampan from Vinh Long weâ€™ll cruise Cai Beâ€™s maze of waterways visiting local cottage industries that produce popcorn, coco candies and paper along the way. Lunch is served today in a traditional wooden home on Dong Hoa Hiep Island.
Overnight: Can Tho | Breakfast, Lunch
Can Tho - Saigon. Early today we visit colourful Cai Rang floating market and drive to Saigon. Once called the Pearl of the Orient, modern Saigon is a thriving metropolis on the move. Sleek sky scrapers, gourmet restaurants, designer malls and swanky bars and spas are scattered between ancient pagodas, colonial era landmarks and lively street markets. Our walking tour of Saigon includes visits to the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post office and the sombering War Remnants Museum. Evening at leisure.
Overnight: Saigon | Breakfast
Monday. Today offers free time in Saigon till your departure transfer to the airport. Opt for a relaxing foot massage, shop for souvenirs at Ben Thanh Market or visit the grand Independence Palace, with its secret bunker and military command centre beneath!
If extending your stay consider joining us on a day trip to Chu Chi. Here you can go underground to explore the vast network of tunnels and hideouts used by Viet Cong guerrilla fighters, see booby traps, trap doors or test your skill with an AK 47 at the firing range.
Cu Chi Tunnels - Viet Cong HQ
Discover the Cu Chi Tunnels - a vast underground network of tunnels and hideouts used by Viet Cong guerrilla fighters during the 1960â€™s. Often lead by a relative of a Viet Cong fighter in green fatigues youâ€™ll walk the bush trails discovering grass covered trapdoors, ingenious, yet gruesome booby traps and hidden underwater entrances in rivers. There is also an opportunity to go underground and pop off a few rounds at the firing range. Our Cu Chi Tunnels bolt-on includes return transportation to and from Cu Chi, guided tour and 1 night accommodation in Saigon.
For all our tours and tailor-made holidays we provide you with a clear categorisation of all hotels we use. The REGIONAL CATEGORY indicates the local rating of each hotel in each respective country. We have also rated each hotel using OUR CATEGORY, which will be in line with generally accepted western hotel grading standards.
Basic hotels and simple accommodation is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel.
Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant.
Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre.
Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care.
Lavish accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!
Renowned for offering travellers superb business and leisure conveniences in a pleasant surrounding, the fashionable rooms of this modern hotel are spacious and contemporary in design. Impeccable service is combined with superb amenities including a range of sporting facilities, entertainment services and a fitness centre.
Boasting breath-taking views of majestic limestone mountains, this boutique hotel creates a special Laotian ambience with a traditional open-air sala (pavilion) for relaxing, lounging and dining. The riverside restaurant and bar offers stunning views of the river and surrounding scenery whilst the beautifully furnished rooms each have a private balcony.
Set just outside the main town of Luang Prabang, the Santi Resort and Spa is a modern property set in manicured gardens. Guest rooms are set on two levels and are spacious with excellent amenities. Meals are served in the main restaurant and the outdoor pool is perfect for a cooling afternoon dip. If you need to get into town then take advantage of the free shuttle service that runs nearly every hour. Located on the outskirts of Luang Prabang.
This ambient, boutique hotel combines traditional appeal with modern pleasures. Rooms are furnished in a contemporary fashion with an array of amenities for added comfort. Its restaurant provides a great variety of Vietnamese cuisine and you are welcome to enjoy cocktails and live music in the Jazz Bar or relax in the hotel's health spa.
This premier cruise boat offers 18 well appointed cabins with en suite amenities. Cabins are contemporary in design, whilst the finer touches have a distinct oriental influence. All cabins feature large windows creating a bright and airy atmosphere as well as scenic views. Facilities and services onboard include a dining room and bar, a sunbathing area on-deck, masseur and small library. This boat departs from the port of Halong City and plies its route through the karst peaks of Halong Bay during their journey and overnight stay on the water.
Contemplate the beautiful city of Hue with the panoramic views afforded by this award-winning hotel. The well-appointed rooms blend traditional architectural styles with modern facilities including satellite TV and tea/coffee making facilities, whilst the chain of restaurants and bars cover a variety of international cuisine.
Vinh Hung Riverside Resort offers luxury and gracious hospitality in a traditional Vietnamese environment right on the banks of the Thu Bon river with top notch facilities.
The Mekong Delta's only luxury hotel, this attractive, colonial-style resort is tastefully decorated with well-appointed rooms and a wide range of facilities including a spa, tennis courts, open-air bar, restaurant and a gym. The hotel also offers sunrise and sunset cruises to the floating markets aboard the Lady Hau junk.
Located in Saigon's central business district, the Northern Hotel offers comfortable and stylish accommodation. Guest rooms are contemporary in style and are decorated with warming tones and excellent en suite facilities. The onsite restaurant offers a variety of European and Asian dishes set on the mezzanine floor. The hotel also offers complimentary use of computers in the lobby and a fully equipped gym for those who wish keep fit whilst staying in the city.
Tipping is not a natural part of many Western cultures and many of us feel uncomfortable, or unsure, about when, or how much, to tip. However, in Laos, tipping makes up a significant part of many people's wages so it's important that we get it right. For this reason we've developed a very simple system to take all the hassle out of tipping. With our 'tipping made easy' policy, a nominal pre-determined amount is collected from all group tour participants to cover tips en route. This then saves you the hassle of when and how much to tip bellhops, luggage handlers, local guides and other support staff through the tour. Our 'tipping made easy' doesn't include a tip to your group tour leader. Naturally, though, the amount is up to you as tipping is an entirely personal gesture.
The driver was outstanding - his courteousness and driving ability. The guide was thorough, knowledge of Buddhism and the Wats, courteous and considerate. ”