Any trip around south east Asia is an exciting and rewarding adventure but this 19 day tour taking in Cambodia, North and South Vietnam and neighbouring Laos is something very special. With the services of an experienced leader, you join a group of like-minded travellers to explore the natural and made-made wonders in all three countries - a journey of discovery that will leave you with so many great memories.
Arrive Phnom Penh
On arrival at Phnom Penh, the fascinating capital of Cambodia, you will be met and taken to your hotel in the city. Relax after the journey then go out on your own and explore seeing some of the sights. Then in the evening meet your tour leader and the rest of your fellow travellers in the reception area of the Sunway Hotel for welcome drinks and to hear about all that you will be seeing and doing over the next 19 action-packed days
After breakfast, set-out for a day of discoveries beginning by visiting Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes and The Killing Fields of Choeng Ek, for an insight into the insanity of the Pol Pot era and the country’s tragic recent history. After lunch stop at the Central Market, a remarkable example of French Art Deco architecture then explore the Royal Palace and its famous landmark, the Silver Pagoda. Then take a traditional cyclo ride through the backstreets ending with a boat ride on the Tonle Sap River.
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
This morning you fly to Siem Reap where you can relax around your hotel pool or wander through the old market. In the afternoon visit beautiful Tonle Sap, the second largest freshwater lake in the world. This lake is the lifeblood of the country and the primary source of fish for most of the Cambodian population. On your boat tour you see a floating fishing village which moves as water levels rise and recede and pass floating houses, schools and even a hospital.
Spend the whole day exploring the magnificent temples of Angkor. The adventure begins with a pre-dawn tuk-tuk ride to Angkor Wat, to watch the sun rise over the spires of the great monument. Later enter the walled city of Angkor Thom and marvel at the eerie stone heads and bas-reliefs of Bayon temple. Return to your hotel for lunch then visit Banteay Srei Temple and the jungle-enveloped Ta Prohm, one of the most atmospheric of all temples. Then enjoy a hotel group dinner of traditional food.
Siem Reap to Saigon
Today you may have time for a last look at some of the Angkor temples before being picked up from your hotel and driven to the local airport to catch a flight to Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City, the colourful commercial capital of Vietnam. Relax after the journey then spend the rest of the afternoon and the evening exploring this bustling, lively city seeing some of the many sights and enjoying some local dishes at one of the many restaurants.
Saigon is a friendly and welcoming city while still containing reminders of its turbulent past. This morning travel to the remarkable Cu Chi Tunnels to see how the communists fought the Americans so successfully during the Vietnam war. Then back in Saigon try delicious noodle soup for lunch before visiting the War Remnants Museum and walking past Notre Dame Cathedral, the historic Post Office, Dong Khoi Street, the famous Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh Square, and the Municipal Theatre.
This morning travel south to the Mekong Delta. Known as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam, it is the most fertile region in the country. Stop en route at an unusual Cao Dai pagoda, a uniquely Vietnamese sect that combines a mix of all the world’s great religions. Then board a boat and cruise along tributaries of the mighty Mekong River and narrow canals, gaining a real insight into the lives of the local people when visiting a brick factory and lunching with a family on local specialties.
Saigon to Hue
Today you take a flight to Hue, situated on the banks of the Perfume River, which was the scene of some of the Vietnam War’s most bloody fighting. The city provides a window into the country's complex past. Visit the elaborate tomb of the former emperor Tu Duc and the Citadel and Imperial Palace. From here stop at Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s most beautiful religious monument before ending the day with a visit to the Spiral Foundation to meet the deaf and mute workers.
Hue to Hoi An
This morning drive south to the beautiful town of Hoi An via the spectacular Hai Van Pass. This drive is considered one of the most beautiful in Vietnam and takes you through a combination of rural and coastal settings. The World Heritage listed old town of Hoi An reflects the influence of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, French and British traders. Arrive for lunch before taking a walking tour visiting an old merchant house, a Chinese assembly hall and the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in your hotel then the rest of the day is free for you to go out on your own or with other members of your tour group and explore the beautiful town of Hoi An with its many clothing shops, colourful fish market and river life. If you want a break from sightseeing you can relax on a nearby beach and soak up the sun or just chill out around the pool at the Hoi An Historic Hotel, where you spernd a second night.
Hoi An to Halong Bay
Rise early for your transfer to the airport for the flight north to Hanoi. On arrival drive to Halong City, gateway to Halong Bay, which has assumed an important position in Vietnamese legend and always captures the imagination of visitors. Here you board a boat and enjoy a seafood lunch as you cruise through the turquoise waters. Considered Vietnam’s greatest natural wonder, Halong Bay boasts more than 3,000 islands and you will see lots of them before having dinner and retiring to your cabin.
Halong Bay to Hanoi
Today watch the sun rise over Halong Bay’s stunning scenery. After breakfast, continue your exploration and discover what makes this area so unique. On the cruise back to Halong City, enjoy a tasty lunch before arriving at the dock and being driven to Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam. Heavily influenced by French colonial architecture, the city is both historically beautiful and vibrant and is sure to charm you. This evening you have the opportunity to enjoy a performance of Hanoi’s famed water puppets.
Begin your discovery with a walking tour through the bustling Old Quarter - 36 ancient streets where you can see daily life around the markets. Continue to the Ho Chi Minh Quarter, starting at Ba Dinh Square, site of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Visit his humble house on stilts from which he ruled Vietnam and see the Presidential Palace, One Pillar Pagoda and Ho Chi Minh Museum. Then visit the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison where captured US pilots were held. Tonight join the group for a farewell dinner.
Hanoi to Vientiane
Another day, another country. After breakfast you have time to see more of the sights in Hanoi before being picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport for your afternoon flight to Vientiane, the capital of neighbouring Laos. On arrival in Vientiane you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Then you have free time to explore the city's boutiques, explore its old colonial quarter, or sip on a chilled fruit shake or cocktail.
Located on the Mekong River, Vientiane is Laos’ capital and is bustling with activity and development, and growing quickly. Begin with a visit to exquisite Wat Sisaket, Vientiane’s oldest original temple then see the golden-spired stupa, Pha That Luang and the grand Patuxai Monument. After lunch visit the shady colonial-era villa of Carol Cassidy to see artisan weavers working. Then round off the day with a traditional Lao baci welcome and blessing ceremony in a local house.
Vientiane to Luang Prabang
Fly to Luang Prabang, Laos’ most beautiful town and travel to your hotel by electric trolley. Surrounded by mountainous forests and situated at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang has a tranquil, old-world charm and more than 30 gilded Buddhist temples. Begin with a walk to the Royal Palace Museum and serene Wat Mai temple. After some free time you visit the Tamarind cooking school for an interactive traditional Lao-style cooking class.
Enjoy a typically Lao experience, dining on a sumptuous breakfast feast of freshly made noodles then walk to the tip of the Luang Prabang peninsula. Here, at the scenic river junction, learn about the origins of Luang Prabang and its former royal history. Walk to Xieng Thong temple, which is an architectural masterpiece, then take a boat ride up the magical Mekong to the mysterious cave of a thousand Buddhas at Pak Ou. Then return to town for shopping at the night market.
Rise early and see robed Buddhist monks collecting alms, following an ancient ritual, then explore a morning market. Return to your hotel for breakfast then travel to Kuang Si falls, the most beautiful of the waterfalls near Luang Prabang. Swim in the turquoise waters and visit a sanctuary to see Asiatic Black bears. On the way back stop at a rustic pavilion for a traditional Lao lunch and in the evening visit a tranquil Buddhist temple for sunset drinks. Then tonight there's a sumptuous farewell dinner
Depart Luang Prabang
Today your wonderful trip around Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos comes to an end. Maybe time for some more sightseeing and shopping for souvenirs in Luang Prabang before you are picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey back home. This comprehensive tour of three exciting south east Asian countries, seeing all the highlights, will leave you with a lifetime of great memories.