Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Luang Prabang, Ho Chi Minh City
An 18-day journey to get roundabout Indochina and explore the major cities of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Have chances to admire the great nature, colorful culture, appealing cuisine and the sobering histories. Begin the plan at northern Vietnam with Hanoi cultural capital and picturesque Halong Bay; then see the inspiring Hue former capital and atmospheric ancient town Hoi An. Next off, move down to the south of Vietnam with Ho Chi Minh vibrant City and Mekong Delta. Moving to Cambodia to enjoy the Phnom Penh capital city and Siem Reap Province where situating the Angkor Temples and vast Tonle Sap Lake. Laos is more laidback but serene with Luang Prabang old town and its stunning neighborhoods.
Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital with rich values of culture, culinary and history! Being one of the most charming Asian cities, Hanoi is featured by the narrow alleys in the Old Quarter with tiny shops and stores where local people sit on tiny plastic chairs for eating local food and drinking coffee. On the other side, you will catch a sight of large roads with lines of huge trees and yellow buildings as French colonial heritages.
Upon your arrival at Noi Bai Airport, you are greeted by your tour guide and travel to hotel in city center for check-in.
Begin the city exploration with Tran Quoc Pagoda lies on a peninsula on West Lake, the largest lake in Hanoi. Tran Quoc Pagoda, built in 6th century, was relocated and also changed name a couple of time making its specical location and name meaning Nation Guardian Pagoda.
Enjoying the view over West Lake and observe local people commuting along lovely Thanh Nien Road, you will take a leisure walk to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. This is the place preserving the embalm of Ho Chi Minh President’s body which is closed annually from in Sep or Nov for the maintenance. After the mausoleum, you will travel to Temple of Literature or Temple of Confucius also is the first university in Vietnam built in 1070. The temple is a fine exemplar to know more about Vietnamese culture, the education as well as feel the fond of learning when seeing the relics of 82 big stone turtles inscribed with Doctorates name in the history.
This afternoon, you will visit Hoa Lo Prison, built by French in 1896, and renowned as the most gruesome and fiercest Maison in Indochina. During Vietnam War, Vietnamese government captured the American POWs in Hoa Lo Prison. The US pilots nicknamed it “Hanoi Hilton”. Afterward, you will travel to Hoan Kiem Lake and hop on the local rickshaw and travel leisurely to French corner of Hanoi. You will admire the busy streets full of motorbikes and the colonial constructions like Metropole Legend Hanoi hotel, Hanoi Opera House, the State Bank of Vietnam, Trang Tien Street, etc. After roughly 50 minutes, you will walk on foot and explore Hanoi Old Quarter of 36 main guild streets.
After check-out hotel, you will travel from Hanoi to Halong Bay taking around 2.5 hours and arriving at noon. From the pier, you will embark Halong Bay overnight cruise and start off the incredible sails toward UNESCO Heritage Site. Halong Bay is a heaven of verdant green ocean and thousands of emerging limestone peaks. You will have lunch on boat among stunning landscape with nice breeze form ocean while the boat ventures East toward center of Halong Bay. Following the schedule of cruise, you will participate in many activities on the bay like hiking up to the dried cave, sunset party, spending time on a sandy island for swimming, do kayaking, etc. After the dinner if fresh seafood, you can try your luck in squid fishing and overnight on boat.
If you wish to do some exercises and enjoy the sunrise on Halong Bay, wake up early this morning and do Tai Chi with master on top deck. After breakfast, the cruise will carry on sailing for your further contemplation of idyllic Halong Bay. At noon, you are back to the main land and will disembark to see your driver; then travel back to airport in Hanoi for your flight to Hue.
Upon your landing in Hue, greetings by your local tour guide and have private transfer from Hue airport to city center.
Hue is an evocative city of amicable countryside, sophisticated gourmet and the historical citadel where reigned by the last feudal dynasty in Vietnam – Nguyen. Visit the Imperial Citadel this morning, you will cross the moats, walk along the fortress and explore the Citadel and the Forbidden City where were the home of Nguyen royal family from 1802 to 1945. While meandering around, you will see up-close the architecture of Vietnam in early 19th century and hear interesting stories of 13 Nguyen Kings. Then, you will pay a short visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, the iconic and historical pagoda in Hue with 7 story towers. From Thien Mu Pagoda, you can also have a view of still Perfume River winding through Hue city. Next, travel to Phu Mong Village where is a quiet and with many ancient houses up to hundreds year-old. Stop at Xuan Vien Tieu Cung garden house, the house of a Minister of Rites to have a cup of tea with the host and know more about this house.
Have lunch at a lovely garden restaurant. In the afternoon, you will travel to Tu Duc King’s tomb where showcases the traditional art of Vietnam. The tomb was designed by Tu Duc himself, a king expertise at philosophy, history and especially the literature that his tomb nestled on a pine hill and surrounded by a complex of picturesque gardens, the lotus pond with wooden pavilion. On the way back to city center, you can stop at the Incense making village and try on making those traditional ritual sticks.
After check-out, you will travel from Hue to Hoi An passing the Lang Co beach and Hai Van Pass with stops en routes for photo taking. Upon your arrival, you will check-in hotel and have free time to chill out. At good time, board a local boat crossing Thu Bon River to reach the Thanh Ha Pottery Village. After walking around, you will visit a local house and see main steps of making local pottery products. There upon, visit the Thanh Ha Terracotta Park in the village before heading back to city center by boat.
In the morning, you will stroll to Hoi An Old Town where once the bustle trading port of Southeast Asia. Coming back and forth so often that the Chinese, Japanese and Western businessmen decided to construct their own houses and lived collectively in the same area. The old town of ancient architectures is mostly kept intact. You can explore diverse museum, the Chinese houses, museum, Fujian communal house, weaving and pottery museum, the Japanese Bridge, etc. After a few hours in the Hoi An Old Town, you will travel to Tra Que Village.
Before having lunch, you will hand on making the traditional Banh Xeo or Vietnamese sizzling cake. Some ingredients have been prepared and ready for you to try frying them on pan of which requires some technique. After lunch, you will have some rest; then walk to visit the vast herb and vegetable gardens of the hosts to see each of them. The host also show you some farming works in ploughing, planting, watering, etc.
Back to your hotel in Hoi An; and then have free time to enjoy the graceful Hoi An Old town at night with colorful lanterns.
After breakfast, you will have free time on your own. You can get a bicycle from hotel and travel around the countryside, getting to the beach or enjoy at a riverside café.
After check-out hotel, have private transfer from Hoi An to Da Nang Airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arriving, your local tour guide will welcome and take you to city center for hotel check-in.
This morning, you will have a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels, the iconic historical spot in Ho Chi Minh City. This underground system was dig by Viet Cong in 1948 during the war against French; then extended further in Vietnam War up to 200km long.
For further understand of the history, you can watch the documentary at Cu Chi Tunnels before coming down and investigate the systems. Underneath, you will find pretty well-equipped amenities such as the living rooms, clinics, hidden traps, weapon cavities, kitchens, meeting room and so on. Finish touring around Cu Chi Tunnels, you will head back to Ho Chi Minh City center.
In the afternoon, explore this tumultuous city with former name Saigon which influenced by Chinese and colonial cultures and architectures. Pay a visit to the War Remnant Museum, then walk pass by Reunification Palace. Next, stop at the Central Post Office and nearby Notre Dame Cathedral. Lastly, stroll around Dong Khoi walking street.
Leave Saigon this morning, you will head to Cai Be passing by the rural provinces of southern Vietnam. Arriving at Cai Thia Village, you will start a cycling tour in the exotic countryside landscape of Mekong delta. The place is brimmed with sub-tropical orchard gardens everywhere. You will stop at a local house and be invited with those sweet and ripen seasonal fruits.
After lunch of local culinary, board a small local boat touring on rivers of Mekong region and have more insightful observation of the area. Finishing the boat trip in Mekong, you will travel back to Saigon.
After breakfast, you will have free time to get around the bustling Ben Thanh wholesale market; or have a drink at a rooftop bar on Bitexco tower. At good time, have private transfer from Ho Chi Minh City to airport and take the flight to Phnom Penh.
Upon arriving, you will see your local tour guide in Phnom Penh and travel to hotel for check-in and relaxing.
Phnom Penh is the vibrant capital city of Cambodia, also once the “Pearl of Asia” is an exotic city sitting at the conjunction of Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake.
In the morning, you will visit the majestic Royal Palace situating in front of the river where once the residence of the king. The palace exhibits the bejeweled Buddha and many of the precious royal relics. In the same premise, you also can visit fanciful Silver Pagoda covered with about 5 tons of shining silver. Next off, visit the National Museum, an astonishing old building housing many relics since the pre-Angkor era. This Museum showcase Khmer finest art and sculptures with a huge collection of artifacts in diverse materials.
Then, climb up to the peak of Phnom Penh with the height of 27m for a lovely panoramic view on the city. There, you will visit Wat Phnom and also learn about the meaning of Phnom Penh. Afterward, visit the Toul Sleng Prison or the S21 which is a historical place showing the gruesome happenings during the Khmer Rouge period. Lastly, you will visit the Russian Market in Phnom Penh.
Have some free time before the transfer to airport for your flight from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. When landing in Siem Reap, you will see your local tour guide and have private transfer from Siem Reap Airport to city center.
This afternoon, travel to Kompong Phluk floating village on Tonle Sap Lake. The boat trip takes you through the mangrove floodplain forest and see local houses on stilts of 10m high and different aspect of the village life.
Travel on shadowy roads of ancient trees and head to Angkor archeological park where housing the unique Angkor Temples. While the main tourist streams are focusing on the core area, you will head to Ta Prohm Temple which is almost embraced by the massive roots of hundred years old big trees. This temple is also renown by the movie “The tomb raider” with Angela Jolie. Then you will move to Angkor Wat, the largest and most significant temple of all. Opposite to the rest temples, Angkor Wat’s entrance is from the West. Far from apart, you will realize Angkor Wat Temple with 3 rising sharp towers. Indeed, there are total five towers of which the highest in the middle one is 65 meters high. This iconic temple will treat you with an awe-inspiring gallery of Khmer and pre-Angkorian arts of sculptures, the carvings on the sacred religious figures, rich cultures, historical legendary stories and so on.
In the afternoon, you will get to the Terrace of Elephant and Terrace of Leper Kings; from where entering the jungle and unveil more temples. Visit the ruin temple of Baphuon since 11th century; then Bayon Temple of emerging towers like a chaos with mysterious smiling faces everywhere. There are 54 huge towers with 4 facets each that come with Buddha faces observing toward four directions and the guardian on the Angkor Thom. Coming out at the south gate which is the best preserve one, you will find your driver and travel back to hotel in Siem Reap.
At leisure till having private transfer to Siem Reap Airport and fly to Luang Prabang, an exotic and appealing town in the northern Laos.
You will see your local tour guide in Luang Prabang, and have private transfer from airport to hotel in the town.
After breakfast at hotel, you will see your guide and local tuk tuk driver in Luang Prabang to explore this charming city. First stop of the day is Wat Mai mean “New Temple”. Wat Mai is one of the richly decorated architectures in Luang Prabang with the adorn of red and black lacquer and gold leaf. In a short distance, you will find the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang built in 1904 as home of King Sisavang Vong and royal family during colonial era. After Laos communist party took over the power, they turn the palace into National Museum where all the precious relics, the royal images and diplomatic gifts from other countries are still on display. Next, walk to Wat Xieng Thong, a complex comprises some sims and chapels displaying elegant carvings and elaborate decoration. In the Wat Xieng Thong, once happened the crown ceremony of the king; and carry on being the venue for crucial festivals.
In the afternoon, you will embark a local boat and sail to sacred Pak Ou Cave on the limestone cliffs and faces to the meet of Ou River and Mekong River. Hiking up to the caves, you will find the shrines with displays of thousands Buddha statues of different sizes and status like meditating, standing, achieving the nirvara and so on. Then, you will go downstream back to Luang Prabang town and enjoy the sunset on the boat. Balance of the day will be on your own account to spend time at Luang Prabang night market and tray Laos food or relax at hotel.
Early in the morning, you will get to a local pagoda or temple to observe the religious Alms Giving Ceremony. After the chanting ends, the monks and nuns in saffron robes will walk in line around streets of Luang Prabang to collect the offerings from local people. The devotees knee on the pavement waiting for the show up of each group of monks from different temples and pagodas to offer them food believing this will help them accumulate their karmas. Then, you will have a hike roughly 300 steps to the Phousi Mount right in the Luang Prabang town center to enjoy the panoramic view of Luang Prabang ground and the rivers. After a short stroll around local morning market in Luang Prabang, you will return your hotel, have breakfast and relax.
In the afternoon, you will drive around 40 minutes from Luang Prabang town to Khuang Si Waterfalls. This is a fantasy area of terraced crystal pools nestling in the lush jungle. Keep walking up and down in around total 2 hours, you can contemplate different layers of the waterfalls and enjoy some swimming upon interested.
At leisure on your own till good time, you will meet up with your local tour guide and take private transfer from Luang Prabang to airport and fly to next destination.
Accommodation in double/twin sharing basic
Daily breakfast at hotel and meals as indicated in the program
Private air-conditioned transfer
Excellent English-speaking guide (other language on request)
Entrance fee, boat trip for sightseeing as mentioned
2 bottles of water per person per day
International and domestic flights
Visa and stamping fees
Tips and gratuities for guide, driver, etc.
Personal expenses and services not mentioned