Overview

19 days and nights spent extensively exploring the natural, historical and cultural evidences of the Indo-China plateau, beginning in Phnom Penh, a city once known as the Pearl of Asia, currently finding its place back into being a moderately busy capital, and heading on to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, which many consider as one of the seven wonders of the world and the temple which is believed to be the world’s largest religious building. Moving on to the hustle and bustle of Saigon, to experiencing up close more culturally relevant towns of Hue for its many attractions featuring the majestic tomb of Minh Mang, renowned for its architecture and forest setting. Along the way, we explore the city of Hoi An, that boasts of its historical and cultural uniqueness and individuality. Living life like a local and overlooking the karst cliffs in the vanishing grey mists of the Halong Bay in Hanoi before moving on to the capital of Laos, Vientiane- home of the massive gilded stupa, Pha That Luang, a national symbol of Laos. Finally, finishing up the last leg of the journey by stopping over in Luang Prabang, the quaint and laidback town with its waterfalls, scaling peaks and the milky-brown waters of the surreal Mekong River.

Notes:

Museums remain shut twice a week, every Monday and Friday
The Mausoleum in Hanoi are open throughout the year apart from September and October
Hiring cycles and two wheelers are subject to government permits and availability of vehicles
18 Nights 19 Days 18 Nov, 19 Nov, 20 Nov, and more
Inclusions/Exclusions
What we'll give. What we won't

What is included in the tour

  • Hotel accommodation in all major cities
  • Airport transfers and domestic travel via flight, boat, or luxury car
  • Halong Bay and Mekong and Tonle Sap river cruise
  • Entry to ticketed exhibitions and tours mentioned in the itinerary
  • All local permits
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner as per mentioned in the itinerary
  • Road travel with local guides in private AC 4 wheelers

What is NOT included in the tour

  • International air travel to Phnom Penh and from Luang Prabang
  • Night-time ferrying services (after 23:00 hrs and before 06:00 hrs)
  • Request for guides speaking languages of your preference

  • Additional services like spa and massages
  • Compulsory gala dinners during festive and peak season

  • Expenses for visa in your country of origin or visa on arrival, as applicable

Highlights
What makes this tour special
  • Idle onboard a relaxing cruise with panoramic views of the sun setting on the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers, keeping you company
  • Explore the underground tunnel network of the ‘Cu Chi’ Tunnels in Saigon, which houses the jaw dropping complex used during the duration of the Vietnam War
  • Relish and feast on local Vietnamese fare with locals and their families
  • Enjoy the world renowned water puppet shows at Hanoi
  • Cruise through the surreal emerald waters of Halong Bay which houses thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests, for which it remains awarded the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Stroll through the historic ancient palace complexes in Hue, and Hoi An, which is a remnant of its colonial past with its unique and signature standing architecture
  • Learn how to play a game of petanque with the locals, in the old city of Luang Prabang
  • The Bamboo Experience, located at a distance of 10 minutes outside Luang Prabang, followed by a delicious dinner cooked with bamboo!
Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival in Phnom Penh
  • Land at the airport at Phnom Penh and be driven to the hotel for check-in. Rooms may be subjected to in house maintenance and cleaning work and may not be ready for occupation, until afternoon.
  • A visit is planned to the Independence Monument and Wat Langka, founded in 1422. These are one of Phnom Penh’s five original wats (pagodas) which was originally set up as a place for monks of Cambodia and Sri Lanka to meet and stay at.
  • Drive by the Royal Palace next. It was built in 1866 by King Norodom.
  • The location also houses the Silver Pagoda, within the grounds of the Royal Palace, The main feature of the Silver Pagoda being that its flooring is made up of 5,000 silver tiles, hence the name as well. Amongst the invaluable contents of the Pagoda include a 90kg solid gold Buddha amongst many other precious artefacts.
  • End your first day with a relaxing Sunset Cruise on the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 2: Sightseeing in Phnom Penh
  • Take a tuk tuk ride right after breakfast at the hotel for another tour of the city of Phnom Penh, beginning with a tour to the Tuol Sleng Museum. A school named Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over In 1975 by Pol Pot’s security forces and turned into a prison known as Security Prison 21 (S-21).
  • Thousands were held at S-21, and the detainees who died during their imprisonment and torture were buried in mass graves in the prison grounds.
  • The museum was established as a remnant to the dark past and pays a homage to the victims with photographs of the inmates lined up in the walls of every room.
  • Another museum called the National Museum that was built in 1917, falls nearby and is exclusively devoted to preserving and displaying Khmer art and sculptures. A visit to the Central and Russian Markets later, for shopping of antiquities, and other souvenirs.
  • An evening stop over at Wat Phnom. With its origins dating back to 1373, the pagoda was constructed to store relics washed ashore on the banks of the river. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 3: Phnom Penh- Siem Reap
  • Reach the Phnom Penh International Airport right after breakfast to catch a flight to Siem Reap. Drive to hotel and check into room right upon landing at Siem Reap International Airport as rooms may not be ready for occupying until afternoon.
  • The rest of the day can be spent as per your preference, staying indoors or choosing to explore the small town of Siem Reap to sip on your favourite breweries at nearby Siem Reap’s cafes and enjoy the vibrant nightlife that the city has to offer. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 4: Sightseeing in Siem Reap
  • Early morning start with a visit to the Angkor Archaeological Park for the sunrise at Angkor Wat.
  • Continue on to the temple of Ta Prohm at dawn. The temple is covered in tree roots and lives up to much of its mystery generated around it to this day. It is a part of the jungle,
  • Return to the hotel for breakfast right before heading out again through the typical Cambodian countryside to visit Banteay Srei temple (10th century), regarded as the jewel in the crown of classical Khmer art.
  • Later on, a visit the South Gate, with its statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk.
  • Afterward, visit the world renowned temples of Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and can be compared to the equivalent size of the Imperial Palace in China’s Beijing. End your journey at Siem Reap with dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 5: Siem Reap- Ho Chi Minh City
  • Catch a flight to Vietnam from Siem Reap International. On arrival at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport city of Ho Chi Minh /, transfer to the hotel in Ho Chi Minh City for check-in (check-in time is at 14:00 hrs; early check-in is available for a surcharge).
  • Spend the rest of the day as per your convenience and leisure discovering the city previously known as Saigon. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 6: Ho Chi Minh- Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Drive out to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, a complex of underground tunnels believed to be covering a total distance of 200 kms, used during the Vietnam War.
  • Lunch will be at a local restaurant after which a visit to Lam Son - Opera Square with its historic landmarks, such as the Opera House, the Continental Hotel, Notre Dame Cathedral.
  • The cathedral is a remnant of the French presence in the Orient. And, Vietnam’s colonial past. It was inaugurated in 1880. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 7: Ho Chi Minh City- Boat trip
  • After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we start our journey towards My Tho, which is known as the heart of Mekong Delta and is world renowned for its beautiful picturesque landscapes and scenic rice fields. The exciting part of the day begins shortly after when we set out on a boat trip on the Mekong river to head to a local workshop to see the production of handicrafts and sweets made out of coconuts. After interacting with the locals, we take a short horse ride to the beautiful and vast orchards to get a taste of some home-made honey-tea and fresh organic fruits while enjoying a traditional live music performance.
  • Next proceed through canals and river by sampan boats to catch a glimpse of a regular day along the riverbanks and transfer back for lunch. Lunch is organized at a local restaurant. Shortly after, drive to visit one last stop at the Vinh Trang Pagoda before driving back to Ho Chi Minh City. Overnight in hotel.
Day 8: Ho Chi Minh City- Hue
  • Morning flight to the city of Hue from Ho Chi Minh City Airport after breakfast at hotel. Upon arrival, check-in to your hotel in Hue. Timings for check-in fall around 14:00 hrs.
  • A boat trip during the afternoon, on the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda; an ancient religious structure for religious worship in Hue. Later, a visit to the Hue Citadel. Situated on the northern bank of the Perfume River and built by Emperor Gia Long, the citadel was designed for the exclusive use of the Emperor and his household. The two-square-kilometre wall encompasses the Citadel, Kinh Thanh Hue, and the Yellow Imperial City, Hoang Thanh and the Forbidden Purple City of Tu Cam Thanh where the Emperor lived. The Hue royal complex has been officially recognised by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Overnight in Hue.
Day 9: Hue- Hoi An
  • 4 hour drive to the city of Hoi An. with a stop at Hai Van Pass.
  • Upon arrival, explore and discover the ancient town through a excursion. The tour is usually covered on foot, with visits to some of the historic merchant and community houses, etc.
  • Overnight in hotel
Day 10: Leisure day at Hoi An
  • Spend the day as you please, exploring all the simple attractions and local delights of Hoi An
  • Accommodation at hotel
  • Meals include breakfast at hotel.
Day 11: Hoi An- Hanoi
  • Leave for Danang Airport after breakfast for a morning flight to Hanoi.
  • Upon arrival, begin tour with a visit to the Temple of Literature, known as the first university of Vietnam, built more than 1,000 years ago, and the historic Ba Dinh Square where one can see the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
  • After the tour, enjoy one of Vietnam’s famous water puppet performances at one of the many water puppet theatres. The traditional art of water puppetry traces back to the 10th century when it originated in the northern part of Vietnam where farmers celebrated new harvests and festivals by performing this unique art form. The puppets are made of wood and are between 16 inches to 3 feet in length.
  • Learning how to manipulate the actions of puppets in water requires time, skill and hardwork, and is usually passed on as a family secret from generation to generation. Share a meal with the locals and their families in their homes learning of their lifestyles, ways of life, cultures, traditions, and diets. Take pictures with them on your way back. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 12: Hanoi- Hai Phong
  • Day 12 is exciting as today you will get on-board the Orchid Cruise at Halong Bay. Transfer to the port in Hai Phon post breakfast and enjoy the hospitality in the Orchid Cruise’s lounge before being welcomed aboard the boat while you sip special tea.
  • You will be briefed about the safety measures and some rules to be followed while on-board before getting ready to set sail. Once aboard, you will learn about the significance of Halong Bay, which is known to have remained unchanged for centuries and comprises of beautiful islands along with being regarded as one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of Nature’.
  • Your first spot aboard will be the Da Chong islet to see a lighthouse built by the French over 100 years ago before breaking to enjoy an on-board lunch. Continue on to the Ba Trai Dao beach area of Lan Ha Bay, a separate part of Halong Bay that is known for its pristine beaches and spectacular beauty with roughly 400 fascinating forested islands.
  • In the evening, you can opt to try your hand at kayaking or even better, simply take a dip in the water to swim. Next, relax as you watch the magnificent sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin. Once you get back on board, you can enjoy a fantastic workshop of traditional cooking where the chef will demonstrate how to prepare popular Vietnamese dishes or take part in Happy Hour on the deck. Enjoy a delicious dinner followed by a night of utmost salubrity on the top deck with drinks flowing all through the night. Additional activities, such as night squid fishing, watching a film or booking a massage treatment through the Cruise Manager, are also available. Overnight on Orchid Cruise, Suite balcony cabin. Note: our tour guide will not be on-board.
Day 13: Halong Bay- Hanoi
  • An early start to the day to witness the bay at sunrise, while taking part in an invigorating Tai Chi session on the sundeck followed with breakfast.
  • Exploration in Canoes to around the Toi Sang Cave.
  • An extravagant brunch awaits while the cruise ship heads back into the mainland. Feel free to spend the evening as per your preferences and dinner as per leisure. Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 14: Hanoi- Vientiane
  • Drive to Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport to board a flight to the city of Vientiane.
  • Tour guides await your arrival at Vientiane Wattay International Airport and drive you to the hotel for check in. The city of Vientiane charms all with its manicured tree-lined avenues, quaint French architecture with the major takeaway being the monastery.
  • Overnight in Vientiane
Day 15: City tour of Vientiane
  • Visit Vat Sisaket, the oldest original temple in Vientiane. Built in 1818, with the royal temple of Lao monarchy nearby is Ho Phra Keo, once. Built in 1565, Ho Phra Keo has been used as a museum since 1970 and is home to some of finest Buddhist sculptures and artefacts in the country.
  • After a museum visit, next head to a picturesque spot of the Victory Gate, which is also known as Anousavari. Due to its architectural brilliance, it has been credited with the tag of being the most photographed place of Vientiane. Following a short photography session, we leave to capture the magnificent Stupa built by King Setthathirath in 1566. The Stupa is a sacred symbol in the Buddhist culture and this particular Stupa stands 45- meter- tall and is said to have held relics of Lord Buddha in the past.
  • In the evening, set out to visit the Buddha Park and the impressive Friendship Bridge. Return to Vientiane to taste Lao coffee at Sinouk Coffee Shop and call it a day by taking a stroll along the banks of the Mekong River at sunset. Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 16: Vientiane- Luang Prabang
  • Today we leave behind the beautiful Vientiane to explore an exciting new city of Luang Prabang. Before bidding Vientiane good-bye, we chance upon one last spot shortly after breakfast to visit the COPE Visitor Centre. COPE stands for Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise and aims at providing prosthetics and mobility devices free of charge to people in need. As the war that ended in 1975 has left a considerable amount of UXOs (unexploded ordnance) behind, the centre educates visitors about the problems associated with UXO and how they affect the communities.
  • After an educational visit, our representative will transfer you to the airport for a flight to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival at Luang Prabang Airport, the guide in-charge will transfer you to the hotel for a timely check-in. Luang Prabang is an important city in Laos and has been voted as a World Heritage City in 1995 by UNESCO. Known as the crown jewel of Laos, Luang Prabang is the best-preserved city if the whole of Southeast Asia.
  • After lunch, visit Vat Xieng Thong touted as the city’s most beautiful shrine. In the compound stand several small chapels housing bronze Buddha images, which were displayed in Paris in 1911, and near the east gate stands the Royal Funeral Chapel. Inside are an impressive 12-metre-high funeral chariot and various funeral urns of each Royal Family member.  In the evening, visit a shrine built in 1796 and dedicated to Deveta Luang and Pu Gneu Ya Gneu at Vat Aham before heading to Vat Visoun, which is home to an impressive stupa called That Makmo. To end the day with a stunning view of the city, climb atop Vat Phousi Hill and soak in the serendipity. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 17: Kuang Si Waterfall
  • Today your day at Luang Prabang will be a spiritual journey where you will be accustomed with the Buddhist way of life. We break for the journey early morning to join the locals in reaching out to the monks. As per the ancient monastic tradition, monks and nuns walk with their alms bowl, and for people who feel the need or gratitude are allowed to offer food as a token of goodness. This activity will be then followed by visiting a morning market to see villagers from remote regions bring their products for sale. Transfer back to hotel for breakfast.
  • After breakfast, we drive to the King’s Palace- now turned into the National Museum. Here, you will come in close contact with a collection of ancient artifacts belonging to the Royal Family like personal family photos, jewellery, musical equipment and souvenirs. We then drive towards the Kuang Si Waterfalls to indulge in a relaxation therapy by diving into the clear pools formed by the tumbling waterfalls. But before unwinding in the pool, we stop by on the way at a minority village of Ban Thapaene known as the Khmu village where we will see the rescued beard of the ‘Bear Lao’ project. After an idyllic retreat, break for lunch at a place of your convenience.
  • Post lunch, head to board a traditional riverboat on the Mekong River which will take you up to visit the popular Pak Ou caves known as an abode to a host of Lord Buddha statues. Complete the journey by visiting the winery village of Ban Xanghai and come back along the river to Luang Prabang. Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 18: Luang Prabang- Living Land
  • Drive to the Living Land Company after an early morning breakfast at hotel, to explore the community-run organic farm supplying fresh vegetables to the people and the restaurants in Luang Prabang.
  • The Living Land will be a unique experience at rice farming and you will perhaps take away invaluable learnings from this short trip where they teach you all about the ancient harvesting and planting techniques along with winnowing and threshing rice. After spending a good time at the farmland, we drive back to Luang Prabang for lunch.
  • After lunch, indulge in some local activity with the locals and catch up on a game of Petanque before heading out of town to soak in ‘The Bamboo Experience’. Here, you will find yourself learning all about the traditional and modern usage of bamboo and its importance in the Lao culture. Interact with the experts at the centre and have discussions within the group to encourage awareness regarding bamboo.
  • After having learned all about bamboo and its significance, why not put the knowledge to practical use? Get involved in a bamboo weaving class under the guidance of an expert or a teacher. Go all out by trying activities like knife sharpening, bamboo cutting and weaving the bamboo. If all of these activities turn out to be success, you could also take home a self-made mat as a souvenir. If you think this is exciting enough, then hold back, because no activity is complete without having some food involved.
  • Shortly after (hopefully collecting your souvenir) head to savour the delicious ethnic dishes like bamboo shoots steamed in banana leaves and fermented bamboo shoot dipping sauce among others, which will be cooked with your participation, in a Lao-style house in the backdrop of stunning rice fields. Overnight in Hotel.
Day 19: Departure
  • Enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at hotel before being transferred by our representative to Luang Prabang International Airport for home-bound flight. We hope you had a great stay and enjoyed the different cultural experiences spread across three countries.