Bangkok to Saigon - 18 days
Kicking off in bustling Bangkok, discover the highlights of Thailand on a journey through the rural landscapes of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai before crossing into Laos to explore the ancient temples of Luang Pragang, and on to Vietnam to take in charming cities and beautiful Halong Bay.
Friday. Welcome to Thailand! Airport arrival transfer to hotel. Evening Welcome Meeting. The following day enjoy a city tour of Bangkok taking in the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Flower Market. Enjoy a longtail boat ride on the canals before exploring pulsating Khao San Road.
Overnight: Bangkok | Breakfast x 1
Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai - Chiang Khong. Today we set out for Chiang Rai, passing through spectacular mountain scenery and hill tribe markets along the way. We make a stop at the unconventional White Temple, known locally as Wat Rhon Khung, which displays scenes from modern day movies. We then visit a hill tribe community site where you have the chance to learn more about how five of the most prominent tribes in the area live, including their traditional costumes and homes. We continue our journey to the Thailand’s ‘Golden Triangle’ for a trip to the Opium Museum. We then follow the Mekong River to Chiang Khong - our base for the night before crossing the border into Laos tomorrow morning.
Overnight: Chiang Khong | Breakfast
Journey into Laos
Tuesday. Chiang Khong - Pakbeng. Bright and early we head to the immigration & customs office to exit Thailand. Bidding farewell to our Thai guide we cross the river by longtail boat. Meeting up with our Lao guide we attend to immigration formalities before we're back on the water, cruising by traditional long boat down the Mekong River. Serene and timeless Laos is often overlooked by travellers. A peaceful nation of people offering legendary hospitality, resilience and friendliness, Laos is old Asia preserved. As we travel downstream we stop off at a number of minority villages such as the Hmong, Yao and Khmu to get an understanding of their culture and way of life. Upon arrival in Pakbeng, we visit the local market to watch the colourful hill tribe trade their wares before retiring for the night.
Overnight: Pakbeng | Breakfast
Cruising the Mekong
Pakbeng - Luang Prabang. We continue our cruise arriving to the golden city of Laung Prabang mid afternoon. Tomorrow, opt for an early start early to see 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, takes in the highlights of Luang Prapang - the fabulous UNESCO Listed former royal capital. Sightseeing includes the ancient temples of Wat Visoun and Wat Aham, 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 x 2, Lunch x 1, Dinner x 1
Fly to Hanoi
Luang Prabang - Hanoi . On the morning of day 8 we head out of town to a local farm to learn about the production of rice. After lunch we cruise up the Mekong River to visit the incredible Pak Ou caves crammed with Buddha images of all shapes and sizes, stopping Ban Xanghai village en route to sample local rice wine. Later we return to Luang Prabang stopping along the way at Ban Phanom village - known for its hand weaving, before boarding our evening flight to Hanoi. The following day offers free time for you to explore Vietnam’s gracious capital. Lively markets, beautiful lakes, ancient pagodas and the thriving, historic city are all easily navigatable by foot.
Overnight: Hanoi | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 1
Hanoi – Halong Bay. Take a moment to picture in your mind some two thousand rugged karst islands dappled with lush vegetation seeming to float on top of pristine emerald coloured waters and you have the natural wonder that is Halong Bay. This morning a scenic drive will take us to this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site where we will enjoy a junk boat cruise.
Based on traditional designs, these wonderful vessels combine oriental style with modern luxury. Soak up the panoramic views from the sundeck as the boat gently plies its course, this afternoon we will visit the spectacular Tien Ong Cave which was recently opened to the public in 2010, with its stunning stalagmites and stalactites.
Later this evening back on board, watch a Vietnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before settling down for a sumptuous seafood dinner.
Overnight: Halong Bay, Deluxe Junk Boat | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Halong Bay - Hanoi - Hue. Early birds can start the day with a relaxing Tai Chi class on the sundeck or a traditional massage - the perfect way to start the day. Before heading back to port we'll explore by kayak the Floating Village of Cua Van, which is home to generations of fishing families. Here we’ll see the traditional and colourful floating wooden houses and the locals going about their daily lives.
On our arrival back into Hanoi mid-afternoon we'll explore the maze of streets known as the ‘36 streets of the old quarter’, named after the numerous guilds that once set up shop on a particular street from silk tailors to silversmiths. Travelling by cyclo (rickshaw), the quintessential mode of transport in Hanoi, we'll see traditional narrow-front tube houses with the chance to sample some of the local delicacies sold on street stalls from ripe fruits to steaming noodle dishes.
Later this evening there's a chance to freshen up before boarding the train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) on the ‘Reunification Express’ railway line to Hue.
Overnight: Sleeper train | Breakfast
Today discover the delights of Hue visiting 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 we’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. En route to Hoi An we stop for a stroll along China Beach. Enjoy a short afternoon walking tour of the historic Hoi An old town with its cobbled streets. On day 16 we take a bicycle ride to the rural village of Tra Que where we’ll assist with tending the fields and cooking lunch. Spend the following day at leisure.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast x 3, Lunch x 1
Hoi An - Can Tho. Fly to Saigon and drive to the mighty Mekong Delta. Onboard a sampan we cruise to Cai Be passing colourful trading boats, house boats and children swimming we stop to visit some of the 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 taking longboats we cruise by the colourful and lively Cai Rang floating markets before driving back 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
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price.Read More
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.
Furama Silom, Bangkok
An elegant flagship hotel, the Furama Silom tastefully combines classic Thai style with contemporary design. Guest rooms are well designed with sleek glass panels giving a luxurious feel. Complimentary high speed internet is available. The dining options are simple yet sophisticated. Head to the Rama restaurant for delicious Thai and international cuisine or spend an evening at the Silom Sky Bar - a gorgeous roof top pool with stunning views of the city to marvel at. Centrally located in the of Silom just 5 minutes from the Sky Train.
Amora Hotel Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai
Close to the Tapae Gate, Amora Hotel Chiang Mai is a modern property with great amenities. Guest rooms are designed in the modern Northern Thai (Lanna) style and come with air conditioning, TV, mini bar and room service. The hotel also boasts a refreshing outdoor pool and fitness centre as well as Chili's restaurant - serving up a delicious array of transitional Thai and international cuisine. The Lobby Lounge Bar and Pool Bar are great places to enjoy a cocktail at the end of the day.
Teak Garden Hotel, Chiang Khong
On the banks of the Mekong River, the Chaing Khong Teak House offers comfortable accommodation. Guest rooms are spacious with comfortable facilities and private balconies. Complimentary wi-fi is available throughout and the onsite restaurant offers a selection of cuisine in an al fresco setting right on the river. If staying here in the winter be sure to ask for an extra blanket or too – it can get quite nippy! Well located in Chiang Khong just a 5 minute drive to the border with the Laos.
Santi Resort and Spa, Luang Prabang
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.
Sunway Hotel, Hanoi
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.
The Ann Hotel, Hanoi
In the centre of Hanoi sits the contemporary and sophisticated The Ann hotel. Guest rooms are spacious and well appointed with delightful en suite facilities including bath and shower. The hotel boasts both a bar and restaurant. The swanky A lounge offers a wonderful selection of beverages and diners can enjoy the Onyx house for delicious local and international dishes on A la carte or buffet style. Our top tip is to head to the roof top pool for a refreshing dip and wonderful views across the city.
Bhaya Classic Junk Boat, Halong Bay
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.
Syrena Junk Boat, Halong Bay
A tradition hand crafted boat, the Syrena Junk Boat offers superb en suite air conditioned cabins with comfortable interiors and balconies. The on board Lotus Restaurant serves up a delicious array of Vietnamese and International cuisine. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in the public areas. Swimming, kayaking and tai chi are all offered on board and movie nights are also very popular.
Mondial Hotel, Hue
Just a 5 minute walk from the Ho Chi Minh museum, the Mondial Hotel is a contemporary hotel with excellent amenities. Guest rooms benefit from spacious interiors, comfortable beds and lots of mod-cons. There is complimentary Wi-Fi for guests, an outdoor pool and onsite spa - perfect for a re laxing massage. As well as the delicious Huong Xuan Restaurant there is also the Lobby Lounge - great for cocktails before dinner!
Vinh Hung Riverside Resort, Hoi An
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.
Thanh Binh Riverside hotel , Hoi An
Boasting a beautiful outdoor swimming pool, the Thanh Binh Riverside offers excellent accommodation in a great loacation. Guest rooms benefit from garden or river views and all come full air-conditioned, with stunning hardwood floors and all mod-cons. The onsite restaurant offers a great selection of Vietnamese and International dishes and the town centre is just a mere 200m walk away. Why not grab a cocktail and relax by the pool in the afternoon - a great way to refresh yourself from the Vietnam heat.
Victoria Hotel Can Tho, Can Tho
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.
Iris Hotel, Can Tho
This elegant hotel is housed within a modern building in the city of Can Tho. Each guest room comes equipped with plush furnishings to ensure a good night's sleep and is decorated with a neutral palate and calming tones. Rooms look over the city and boast a range of modern amenities such as air conditioning and stylish ensuite facilities. Magnificent views of the city can be had from the hotel's skybar while a range of gourmet local and international dishes can be sampled at the onsite restaurant. The accommodation is just a few kilometres from the Cai Rang floating market.
Northern Hotel, Saigon
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.
Enhance your trip with these amazing added extras and bolt-ons
Good day, we just returned from a fabulous 20 day tour of Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. The tour was top notch from the accomodations, buses, tours, to the people and the guides. We met many great friends from all over the world! We would like to nominate Winn, our Vietnam tour guide, for your person of the year. Winn was professional in every aspect, very punctual, answered all of our questions....unlimited knowledge on this very special country. He was friendly, fun, and always ready to lend a helping hand. Please join us in voting for Winn as tour guide of the year. ”