Indochina Discovery - 23 days
Travel from Vientiane to Bangkok, taking in the highlights of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia en route. Explore enchanting Luang Prabang and cruise Halong Bay and the Mekong. Discover the Cu Chi Tunnels, marvel at Angkor Wat and more on this 23 day Indochina adventure.
Sunday. Welcome to Laos! Transfer to hotel and check in. Spend the rest of the day enjoying free time in Vientiane.
Vientiane city tour
Today we enjoy a city tour of this charming capital, taking in sights such as the Pha That Luang monument, the former royal temple of Haw Pha Kaeo and Wat Si Saket, believed to be Vientiane’s oldest surviving wat. We also explore Buddha Park and marvel at the array of over 200 Hindu and Buddhist sculptures, before visiting a local charity known as the Cope Centre, which works with the victims of unexploded bombs and mines. Our day ends with dinner beside the Mekong River, where we enjoy a spectacular sunset.
Overnight: Vientiane | Breakfast, Dinner
Vientiane – Vang Vieng. This morning we have an early start and travel north through lush countryside to the small town of Vang Vieng. Our stops en route include Ban Keun, famed for its salt extraction plant, a village of local Lao rice wine whiskey distillation and the colourful market of Thalat, where local hill tribes trade and shop.
On arrival to Vang Vieng we find our rustic hotel, which is nestled on the banks of the Nam Song River. Spend the remainder of the day enjoying free time, with popular activities including river tubing, taking a scenic bike ride or exploring the local caves.
Overnight: Vang Vieng | Breakfast, Dinner
Tham Jang Cave, Ban Huai Ngai village
Vang Vieng – Luang Prabang. This morning we explore the famous caves of Tham Jang, which were used as a bunk to defend against the Yunnanese Chinese. We also visit the Ban Huai Ngai village before heading north and travelling to the UNESCO-listed city of Luang Prabang.
Overnight: Luang Prabang | Breakfast
Luang Prabang sightseeing
Early risers this morning will see the daily procession of saffron-clad monks as they walk through the city’s streets collecting alms from the residents. Next, we enjoy a unique sightseeing tour around the old quarter of Luang Prabang aboard vintage tuk tuks. Our tour takes in the bustling Morning Market, where we learn about local products, and the magnificent Wat Xiengthong temple, which features classical Loatian architecture. Our morning ends with a visit to the former Royal Palace, which is now a national museum and contains a sacred statue of Buddha known as Pha Bang.
This afternoon we get the chance to meet the locals of several ethnic minority villages including Laoloum Village, the H’mong village of Ban Ou and the Khmu Village of Ban Thapene, gaining a fascinating insight into the local culture. We then make our way to the breathtaking Khouangsi waterfall, where you can walk the forest trails or take a dip in the beautiful turquoise pools.
Overnight: Luang Prabang | Breakfast
Luang Prabang - Hanoi (Vietnam). Today we venture into the countryside and enjoy a fun and hands-on half-day farming experience at the Living Land Farm. We experience what life is like as a local farmer and learn how rice is planted and cultivated in a rice paddy. We also try ploughing the field with a water buffalo and other farming activities.
Next we enjoy a tasty Laotian lunch at the farm’s Rice House, which boasts spectacular views of the surrounding rice terraces and mountains, before returning to Luang Prabang to enjoy some free time. This evening we board our flight to Hanoi.
Overnight: Hanoi | Breakfast, Lunch
Enjoy a free day at leisure in Vietnam's capital. The wide tree lined avenues, beautiful lakes, ancient pagodas and bustling old town are all easily navigated on foot. Highlights of the city include Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum (closed Oct-Nov), the beautiful Presidential Palace, Ho Chi Minh's iconic House on Stilts and the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first 11th century university. This afternoon there is a Vietnam welcome meeting at 17:00 where you will have the opportunity to meet other tour group members who arrived today.
Overnight: Hanoi | Breakfast
Hanoi – Halong Bay. This morning we take a scenic drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay, where we enjoy a junk boat cruise through this spectacular karst landscape. A true natural wonder, the bay consists of some 2,000 rugged islands dappled with vegetation emerging from emerald-coloured waters.
Combining oriental style with modern luxuries, our junk boats are based on traditional designs and boast panoramic views from the sundeck. This afternoon we visit the magnificent Tien Ong Cave, with its stunning stalagmites and stalactites which are thousands of years old.
Back aboard our junk boat, we enjoy a Vietnamese cooking demonstration on the sundeck before tucking into a delicious 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 arrival back into Hanoi mid-afternoon we’ll explore the maze of streets in the French Quarter on our very only cyclo (rickshaws), taking in highlights such as the Opera house and Ly Thai To park. We then swap our wheels for a leisurely walk through ‘36 streets of the old quarter’, named after the numerous guilds that once set up shop on a particular street from silk tailors to traditional medicine shops.
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. An option to fly from Hanoi to Hue is also available.
Overnight: Sleeper train | Breakfast
On arrival into Hue, we take a guided sightseeing tour with highlights including the Thien Mu Pagoda. This site is home to the city’s oldest monastery, whose 21-metre-high tower has become a symbol of Hue. We also discover the citadel, which contains the Imperial Purple Palace, an exact copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Our next stop takes us into the countryside to the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen kings, where we visit the elaborate mausoleum of Emperor Tu Duc. This evening there is an optional sunset cruise (payable locally) in a long boat along the gentle Perfume river, which is beautifully illuminated at night.
Overnight: Hue | Breakfast, Lunch
Hue - Road of the Ocean Clouds - Hoi An. This morning we take the scenic Hai Van Pass, otherwise known as the Road of the Ocean Clouds, which boasts spectacular views with lush hills on one side and beautiful beaches on the other. Along the way we stop for a walk along China beach and visit the grottoes at the summit of Thuy Son Mountain, the largest and most famous of the five Marble Mountains. These natural caves have become Buddhist sanctuaries, with the enormous Huyen Khong cave featuring a towering seated Buddha that’s been carved from the rock face.
Next stop is the enchanting port town of Hoi An, brimming with charming architecture, cobbled streets and tiny shop houses that make you feel transported back in time. Along the waterfront are boutique restaurants, delightful craft shops and artisans offering some of the best, and most affordable, tailor-made clothing in the whole of Asia.
We explore the old town on a short walking tour, visiting the Chinese Assembly Hall, Chua Ong Pagoda, former merchants’ homes, 200-year-old Tam Ky house and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast
Today we embark on a leisurely bike ride through the countryside to Tra Que village. Once there, it’s an entertaining, hands-on experience as we learn about the age-old farming practices of the region and have a go at tending the fields ourselves. We also learn about traditional medicine and enjoy an interactive cooking demonstration where we’ll prepare lunch.
This afternoon we journey back to the Hanoi. The remainder of the day is free to spend at leisure.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast, Lunch
Today is free for you to further sightsee or simply relax. Either laze by the beach or hotel pool, or take a relaxing rowboat journey along the river. It’s also possible to take an optional excursion to My Son, a UNESCO-listed site of Cham remains, or to Quang Ngai, home to the My Lai massacre memorial. The massacre was a significant turning point during the Vietnam War and the story is told through a photo presentation as you walk through the village.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast
Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City. Early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City and drive to the Mekong Delta. Famous for its abundant harvests of rice, flowers and tropical fruits, this fertile delta is often referred to as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam. From Vinh Long we enjoy a cruise downstream aboard a traditional sampan. Amongst the maze of waterways, we visit local cottage industries that produce coco candies, paper and popcorn, before lunch in a traditional wooden home on Dong Hoa Hiep Island.
Overnight: Can Tho | Breakfast, Lunch
Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh City. This morning we have an early start to visit the Cai Rang Floating Market, the largest of its kind on the Mekong Delta. Packed along a section of the river, sampans are selling all sorts of fruits and vegetables grown in the area. Watch as watermelons, pineapples, carrots and more are tossed from boat to boat, all at great heights and speeds. Leaving the market, we drive to Ho Chi Minh City, a thriving metropolis where sleek skyscrapers and gourmet restaurants mix with ancient pagodas and lively street markets. Our walking tour takes in the Old Post Office and the Notre Dame Cathedral, before the sobering War Remnants Museum. Evening to spend at leisure.
Overnight: Ho Chi Minh City | Breakfast
Ho Chi Minh City - Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Today we visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, offering an insight into the underground life of Vietnamese soldiers during the war. Next, we drive to the Cambodian border (crossing at Moc Bai/Bavet) and journey on to the bustling capital of Phnom Penh, noted for its historic sites, beautiful architecture and superb restaurants.
Overnight: Phnom Penh | Breakfast, Dinner
Today we spend a full day sightseeing in Phnom Penh. Our tour visits the National Museum of Arts, Cambodia’s largest archaeological and cultural history museum, which contains the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculpture. We continue on to visit the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, which contains diamond-encrusted statues of Buddha and a floor paved with five tons of gleaming silver.
Later we visit Toul Seng (Security Prison – S21) and come face to face with the horrors of the Pol Pot Regime as the school here was transformed into a gruesome torture chamber under the Khmer Rouge. Our day ends with a visit to the Killing Fields, where over 10,000 people were executed.
Overnight: Phnom Penh | Breakfast
Angkor National Museum & Angkor Wat
Phnom Penh – Siem Reap. Hotel check out and airport transfer for included flight to Siem Reap.
After freshening up, we visit the Angkor National Museum, home to a collection of relics from the ancient Angkor Empire dating from around the 9th to the 14th century.
This afternoon we explore the spectacular Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world and a symbol of Cambodia. This vast, three-tiered structure is crowned by five lotus-like towers which rise 65-metres high. As the best preserved of all the temples within the complex, Angkor Wat easily steals the limelight and offers plenty of incredible photo opportunities.
Overnight: Siem Reap | Breakfast
Angkor Thom & NGO circus project
Early risers can opt to return to Angkor Wat this morning to enjoy the beautiful sunrise. Later we drive out to visit the temples of Banteay Srei, with stops to visit an exotic butterfly sanctuary and to support our community tree planting initiative in the village of Preak Dak. Returning to the Angkor Temple Complex, we explore the ancient capital of Angkor Thom, home to the fascinating Bayon Temple, the Terraces of the Elephants and Leper King and the Baphuon royal enclosure.
Our next stop is Ta Prohm Temple, known as the ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ for its role in the blockbuster starring Angelina Jolie. Unlike the other temples, Ta Prohm has been swallowed by the jungle and was left in the same ruined state as when it was first discovered. Tonight, we attend the Phare Cambodian Circus, an NGO project that has transformed the lives of Cambodian children living on the streets by teaching them how to become talented circus performers.
Overnight: Siem Reap | Breakfast
Tonle Sap Lake
Our first stop this morning is Kampong Phluk, a cluster of three villages of stilt houses, where we enjoy a boat trip on Tonle Sap Lake. Next, we return to Siem Reap for free time, either checking out the action on lively Pub Street or picking up any last minute souvenirs.
Note: Between Feb - July the water levels at Kompong Phluk village maybe too low to go boating, if so, we will visit Chong Kneas floating village where it will still be possible to go boating. Afternoon and evening at leisure.
Overnight: Siem Reap | Breakfast, Lunch
Bangkok city tour
This morning it’s a short transfer to the Bangkok Flower Market, where most of the city’s restaurants and florists come daily to stock up on the latest blooms. From here we take a short but exhilarating tuk tuk ride to Wat Pho, home to the famous reclining Buddha. Then we visit the beautiful Grand Palace, the religious and royal heart of the country.
After a break for lunch, we board a longtail boat this afternoon to explore some of the many canals or klongs that crisscross the city. We end our tour of the city at the famous Khao San Road where there are street stalls, small restaurants and bars a plenty. It's a great place to eat, relax and party the night away. The rest of the afternoon and evening is free for you to explore at leisure.
Monday. Our epic Indochina adventure comes to an end today. Hotel check out and included transfer to the airport. Alternatively, if you'd like to extend your stay and see more of Thailand, we can assist you.
Breakfast x 1
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. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same sex on your tour, this can be arranged, thus avoiding the single person supplement.
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.
Mercure Hotel, Vientiane
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.
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.
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!
ÊMM Hotel, Hue
Situated in the heart of the former imperial capital, ÊMM Hotel is the perfect base from which to explore Hue’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed sights. Completely renovated in 2016, the guestrooms are generously-sized and complete with modern amenities. The imperial jade and royal purple colour scheme was inspired by ancient Hue itself and guests can take advantage of the mini-gym, pool-side bar and a spacious reading area. Enjoy delicious Vietnamese and international cuisine in the contemporary restaurant after a day of exploring.
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, Ho Chi Minh City
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.
Muong Thanh Centre, Ho Chi Minh City
Centrally located, yet on a peaceful, tree-lined street, you will find the Muong Thanh Centre. Only a ten-minute walk from top attractions such as the Notre Dame Cathedral, Opera House and Ben Thanh Market, this hotel is a great base for exploring the famous sights of the city. Its world-class rooms boast sophisticated designs and panoramic views. Warm and friendly, the Muong Thanh Centre also features a spa and swimming pool for you to relax and unwind after a long day of sight-seeing.
Harmony Phnom Penh Hotel, Phnom Penh
Just 5 minutes from the Royal Palace, the Harmony Hotel in Phnom Penh is an elegant hotel with a great location. The spacious rooms feature plush furnishings with a smart decor of dark wood flooring and white walls with accents of colour. The hotel features a rooftop infinity pool and Jacuzzi with views across the river and the city, a perfect spot to relax after a busy day sightseeing. Guests can dine on a choice of Asian and Western dishes at the hotel's restaurant and enjoy a wide selection of beverages.
Angkor Paradise Hotel , Siem Reap
Not far from Angkor Wat, the Angkor Paradise Hotel offers elegant accommodation in a world famous setting. Guest rooms are beautifully furnished with traditional wooden floors and all mod cons. All rooms have either fabulous views of the city or the hotel's outdoor pool. The hotel also boasts a great onsite restaurant, fitness centre and pool terrace. The Angkor Paradise Hotel is situated a short distance from Siem Reap international airport and the majestic Angkor Archaeological Park.
Royal Princess Larn Luang, Bangkok
Located in the heart of Bangkok Old City, The Royal Princess Larn Luang hotel offers stylish accommodation along with a range of facilities and, most importantly, comfort. The spacious guest rooms are decorated with neutral colours and equipped with modern amenities such as cable TV and internet access, with wonderful views of either the city or the pool area with its shady palms. The property has four restaurants, offering a range of delicious international cuisine, while tasty cocktails and light snacks are served in the lobby lounge and Princess Club. After a day of sightseeing guests can enjoy a refreshing swim in the hotel's large outdoor pool, or head to the spa and fitness centre, before listening to live music at the Princess Club.
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