08 December 2016
On this magical 13 day tour around Indochina you will see the very best that Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have to offer. Your adventure begins in Saigon, then you travel north to beautiful Halong Bay and on to Hanoi. Then it's off to the fascinating country of Laos where you explore the city of Luang Prabang and see the beautiful Kuang Si Falls. Finally, fly to Siem Reap in Cambodia, gateway to the amazing temples of Angkor. This tour really packs in the highlights of all three countries and will provide lots of lasting memories.
On arrival at Saigon international airport you will be met and driven to your hotel in the city. Time to relax after the journey before meeting your fellow travellers and tour leader in the evening for welcome drinks and a briefing about all that you will be seeing and doing over the next 13 days. This is a great chance to make new friends and talk about the adventures that await you. You will also receive a welcome pack with all the tour details included.
Saigon is Vietnam’s commercial capital and a city of extraordinary energy. It's a friendly and welcoming place with many reminders of its turbulent past. This morning travel to the Cu Chi Tunnels which were dug as a means of waging guerrilla war against superior French and later American forces. Return to Saigon for lunch then on a walking tour see Notre Dame Cathedral, the Post Office and nearby Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Ho Chi Minh Square, and Municipal Theatre. End the day with a drink at the magnificent Rex Hotel.
This morning travel south to the Mekong Delta. Known as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam, the Delta is the most fertile region in the country. Stop en route at an unusual Cao Dai pagoda then board your boat and cruise along tributaries of the mighty Mekong River. Explore some of the narrow canals, and gain a real insight into the lives of the local people. Visit a brick factory, stop at a riverside coconut processing factory and visit a home. After a delicious lunch featuring specialties, including Elephant Ear Fish, return to Saigon in the late afternoon.
An early start for your transfer to the airport for the flight north to Hanoi. There you are picked up and driven to Halong City, the gateway to Halong Bay, one of Vietnam's great natural wonders, which always captures the imagination of visitors. Here you board your boat for the cruise out to the bay. Enjoy a tasty seafood lunch as you sail over the turquoise waters. Halong Bay boasts more than 3,000 islands that rise out of the sea to provide a spectacular natural environment. Enjoy dinner on board before retiring to bed.
Rise early to make the most of Halong Bay’s stunning scenery. After breakfast, continue your exploration and discover what makes this area so unique and on the cruise back to Halong City a seafood lunch is served. Then in the afternoon travel to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, which has a wealth of sights to explore. Heavily influenced by French colonial architecture, the city is both historically beautiful and vibrant. Take a walking tour through the bustling Old Quarter and see daily life around the markets.
Begin your day by visiting the Ho Chi Minh Quarter, starting at Ba Dinh Square, where Ho Chi Minh first declared independence from French rule in 1945. Visit the humble house on stilts from which ‘Uncle Ho’, ruled Vietnam until his death in 1969. Also view the nearby Presidential Palace and One Pillar Pagoda. Drive across the city to the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ - Hanoi’s former central prison - then visit Hanoi’s first university - the Temple of Literature. Spend your last night in Vietnam enjoying a group dinner at a restaurant.
Today you fly to Luang Prabang, Laos’ most beautiful and engaging town. Surrounded by mountainous forests and situated at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang has a tranquil, old-world charm. The legacy of the European presence has blended delightfully with more than 30 gilded Buddhist temples to create a town rich in atmosphere and history. Begin with a walk through the old quarter, visiting the Royal Palace Museum and serene Wat Mai temple. In the evening enjoy a cultural cooking experience.
Begin today with a typically Lao experience, dining on a sumptuous breakfast of freshly made local noodles. Then walk to the very tip of the Luang Prabang peninsula - one of the most beautiful parts of town. Here, at the scenic junction of the Nam Kham and Mekong rivers, learn about the royal history. Walk to nearby Xieng Thong temple, regarded as the most beautiful temple in Laos, then board a boat for a trip up the Mekong to the mysterious ‘cave of a thousand Buddhas’ at Pak Ou. Then return to town for shopping at the night market.
Rise early to see robed Buddhist monks collecting alms, following an ancient ritual, then explore a morning market and learn about some of the delectable Lao fruits and snacks. Return to your hotel for breakfast by the Mekong then continue to the beautiful Kuang Si falls to swim and relax, surrounded by turquoise waters and jungle, and visit a nearby bear sanctuary. Return to the city and in the evening play a gentle game of petanque with the locals. Then stroll to a Buddhist temple for sunset drinks and snacks overlooking the distant mountains.
Enjoy free time this morning in Luang Prabang when you can explore the narrow alleyways and markets and shop for souvenirs before being picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport to catch your flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia, gateway to the temples of Angkor. On arrival in Siem Reap, a place where the old meets the new, you will be met and transferred to your hotel and the evening is free for you to explore this rapidly expanding town.
Today visit two of the most interesting temples outside the main complex - Boeng Mealea and Banteay Srei - stopping on way at the Dom Deak market to sample traditional Khmer snacks. Boeng Mealea Temple is a prototype for Angkor Wat and the second largest temple in the area. The atmosphere is eerie and raised platforms give you a bird’s eye view of the architecture. Then drive to the intricately carved and well-preserved Banteay Srei Temple and have lunch before exploring. Later back in Siem Reap visit the landmine museum.
A highlight of the tour today when you explore the Angkor temples. The adventure begins with a pre-dawn departure for sunrise outside Angkor Wat. Creep through the temple in darkness then venture deep into the central chambers and upper terraces of this truly great temple. Move to the Western gate and marvel at the Bayon temple then visit the famous jungle-enveloped Ta Prohm, one of the most atmospheric of all temples. In the afternoon take a boat out on mighty Tonle Sap Lake then spend your last night enjoying a group dinner.
It’s time to say goodbye, but just think of all the wonderful stories you will take home from your adventures in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Say farewell to all your travelling companions before being picked up from your hotel in Siem Reap and driven to the airport to catch an onward flight and see more of Indochina or begin your journey back home.
Classic fr £2081pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated