Indochina Express - 16 days
Travelling from bustling Ho Chi Minh City to enchanting Luang Prabang, cruise the Mekong Delta and explore the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam, then take in the best of Cambodia and Laos, including the incredible Angkor Complex, Vientiane and Vang Vieng's beautiful scenery on this 16 day tour.
Friday. Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City. There's an included transfer to your hotel where you can spend the afternoon getting acquainted with the city. Opt to explore on foot, shop at Ben Thanh Market or visit the grand Independence Palace, with its secret bunker and military command centre beneath. The evening is at leisure.
Overnight: Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City - Cai Be - Can Tho. This morning we drive to the Mekong Delta where we'll board a traditional sampan. Cruise downstream from Cai Be through the maze of waterways and watch locals going about their lives on the river. Lunch is served today in a traditional wooden home on Dong Hoa Hiep island. As the boat resumes its course, we pass the beautiful church of Cai Be before stopping at some home
factories where you can sample local sweets and see how they are made.
Overnight: Can Tho | Breakfast, Lunch
Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh City. Early this morning we visit the lively Cai Rang floating market to watch traders selling their wares before we drive to Ho Chi Minh City. On a walking tour of the city we’ll see the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Old Post office before visiting the sobering War Remnants Museum. This evening is free to enjoy as you please.
Overnight: Ho Chi Minh City | Breakfast
Cu Chi Tunnels & Phnom Penh
Ho Chi Minh City - Phnom Penh. This morning we visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet-Cong in their struggle to keep control of the region during the 1960’s. As we walk the bush trails you’ll see trapdoors, booby traps, living areas, weapon factories and kitchens. We can also safely crawl through sections of the tunnels, which have been widened for visitors. Later, opt to fire weapons of the era (including the M16 and AK47) at the firing range.
After crossing the Cambodian border we drive to the capital of Phnom Penh. Once deemed the ‘Pearl of Asia’, Phnom Penh offers a bustling mix of Asia’s past and present, a city quickly taking its place amongst the trendy capitals of the region.
Overnight: Phnom Penh | Breakfast, Dinner
Today we’ll enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh, starting at the National Museum of Fine Arts. Explore this graceful terracotta building, which houses the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculptures. We continue to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, famed for its lavish decorations – the floors are paved with silver tiles and statues of Buddha are encrusted with thousands of diamonds.
We later come face to face with the horrors of the Pol Pot regime as we visit Toul Sleng (Security Prison - S21), a school that was gruesomely transformed into a torture chamber under the Khmer Rouge. We also visit the Killing Fields where over 10,000 people were executed.
Overnight: Phnom Penh | Breakfast
Siem Reap & Angkor Wat
Phnom Penh – Siem Reap. This morning we check out and transfer to the airport for your included flight to Siem Reap. Visit the Angkor National Museum, which has a fascinating collection of Angkorian artefacts, with collections from the Khmer Empire's Angkor period circa 9th to 14th-century.
This afternoon we see the mother of all temples - Angkor Wat. This breathtaking monument of man’s devotion to his gods is believed to be the largest religious building in the world and contains thousands of wall carvings and extensive bas-reliefs. There are plenty of wonderful photo opportunities at this iconic site. This evening is free for you to wander into town and perhaps sample Siem Reap's lively nightlife. There are plenty of great bars and restaurants in the compact city centre which is easily navigated on foot.
Overnight: Siem Reap | Breakfast
Angkor Thom & NGO circus project
Early this morning opt to see Angkor Wat bathed in the spectacular golden light of sunrise. Later we head out to Banteay Srei temple, considered by many to be the art gallery of Angkor with some of the finest stone carvings in the world. Cut from stone of a pinkish hue, the Hindu temple is dedicated to Shiva and contains lavishly decorated libraries and stunning reliefs of divinities. Enroute to Banteay Srei stops will be made at an exotic butterfly sanctuary and the village of Preak Dak where we support a community tree planting initiative.
Our temple tour continues with a visit to the ancient city of Angkor Thom. This monumental fortified city is encircled by a 100m wide moat and is famed for the huge statue heads that glare down from every angle. In Angkor Thom we will see the fabulous Bayon Temple, Baphuon, the royal enclosure, and the Terraces of the Elephants and the Leper King. Last but not least is atmospheric Tra Prohm Temple where vast muscular tree roots envelop the crumbling towers and walls whilst the trees’ foliage dapples the temple in shade.
This evening we attend the wonderful Phare Cambodian Circus. The Phare NGO circus project trains street kids to become talented circus artists and the popular show blends circus skills with interpretations of modern life and issues in Cambodian society.
Overnight: Siem Reap | Breakfast
Tonle Sap lake
This morning we drive to Kampong Phluk, a cluster of three villages of stilt houses built within the floodplain of Tonle Sap Lake. We'll see houses built on soaring stilts which hover over the lake whilst nearby, the petrified trees of a flooded forest are revealed whenever the water level drops. After a boat trip on the lake we return to Siem Reap where the afternoon is free for you to spend at leisure.
Overnight: Siem Reap | Breakfast, Lunch
Siem Reap - Vientiane (Laos). Bidding farewell to Cambodia we transfer to Siem Reap Airport this morning to fly to Vientiane, via Phnom Penh. Upon arrival in Laos you will be met and transferred to our hotel in the capital. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Overnight: Vientiane | Breakfast
After breakfast we explore the charming and laid-back capital of Laos with a city tour. We visit the oldest Buddhist monastery in the country - Wat Si Saket - and the former royal temple of Haw Pha Kaeo, built to house the famed Emerald Buddha. Today it serves as the national museum of religious art. Learn about Laos’ tragic past and present suffering at the COPE Centre, an organization that works with victims of unexploded bombs and mines. Next visit Pha That Luang, the most important monument in Laos and a symbol of both Buddhist religion and Lao sovereignty.
We also stop to view the imposing Patuxay monument - Vientiane’s own Arc de Triomphe. Later in the afternoon enjoy time exploring the hundreds of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures scattered throughout Buddha Park. End the day with a sunset dinner besides the Mekong River.
Overnight: Vientiane | Breakfast, Dinner
Vientiane - Vang Vieng. We leave the capital early and journey north through lush countryside 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. Stop at the busy and colourful market of Thalat, where local hill tribes come to trade and shop. Later we visit the archaeological site of Vang Xang, which dates back to the 11th century. Arriving at Vang Vieng, we check in to our rustic hotel, nestled on the banks of the Nam Song River. The rest of the day offers free time, perhaps opt to explore the local caves or take a bicycle ride through the surrounding countryside.
Overnight: Vang Vieng | Breakfast, Dinner
Vang Vieng - Luang Prabang. This morning we explore the famous caves of Tham Jang, once used by the local people as a hideout during Chinese invasions. We observe the lifestyles of the local people at Ban Huai Ngai village before making our way further north to the UNESCO listed city of Luang Prabang.
Overnight: Luang Prabang | Breakfast
Consider rising early this morning to watch the daily ritual of saffron-clad monks and their procession down the streets of Luang Prabang collecting alms from the residents. Afterwards we hop on a vintage tuk-tuk to ride in style around the old quarter of Luang Prabang. The first stop on our unique sightseeing tour will be the bustling Morning Market where we'll learn about local products. Then we stop at the magnificent Wat Xiengthong temple with its classical Laotian architecture. Our morning ends with a visit to the the former Royal Palace, which is now a national museum and home to gilded rooms and Buddhist artefacts.
This afternoon we visit ethnic minority villages en route to the beautiful Khouangsi waterfall. Wander around the H’mong Village of Ban Ou, Laoloum Village and the Khmu Village of Ban Thapene, meeting the locals and gaining a fascinating insight into the local culture. We then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall where you can splash around in the turquoise pools or walk along the forest trails.
Overnight: Luang Prabang | Breakfast
This morning we head into the idyllic countryside to visit the Living Land Farm for a fun and hands on half day farming experience. Here we learn how rice is planted and cultivated in the rice paddy. Experience the life of a rice farmer first hand as you have a go at some farming activities, including ploughing the rice paddy with a water buffalo. Then we enjoy a tasty lunch of traditional Lao dishes at the farm's Rice House, while soaking up the spectacular views of rice terraces and mountains beyond.
The afternoon is free for you to independently explore more of Luang Prabang. Consider visiting the sobering UXO Centre to learn more about the Second Indochina War, take in some of the city's beautiful temples or head to the Ock Pop Tock weaving centre set in beautiful tropical gardens.
Overnight: Luang Prabang | Breakfast, Lunch
Saturday. Spend the morning further exploring this delightful city before hotel check out and an included departure transfer to the airport.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.