Laos + Vietnam + Cambodia 16days - 15nights
16days - 15nights
This is the quintessential Mekong tour – a fantastically well-organized 16-day romp through Indochina taking in the exotic sights of Vientiane...
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Day 1: Vientiane Arrival (Laos) – Half Day City Tour (/L/)
Upon arrival to Vientiane airport, our tour guide and driver will welcome and transfer you to the city for a half day city tour. The capital city of Laos, Vientiane still feels like a sleepy city with relaxed charm, tree-lined boulevards, interesting wats and colorful markets. Tour the different highlights of the city, including Pha That Lung, a gleaming golden stupa which is perhaps most important national monument in Laos; Ho Pha Keo, the formal royal temple, now a museum with beautiful examples of Buddhist sculpture; Wat Si Saket; and Patuxai, a monumental arch inspired by the Arc de Triomphe, but executed with Lao motifs.
Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 2: Vientiane – Luang Prabang (B/L/)
Transfer to the airport for the short flight to Luang Prabang. Set between the Nam Khan and Nam Ou rivers, Luang Prabang is an enchanting town filled with historic temples and colonial style buildings. The entire town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Begin your tour with Wat Visoun (Wat Wisunalat). The oldest living temple in Luang Prabang, Wat Visoun dates back to 1513 and contains a collection of antique wooden Buddhas. Visit the nearby Wat Aham before continuing to Wat Xieng Thong, the crowning jewel of all the monasteries and temples in the city. Its many ornate buildings feature exquisite mosaic and gold-stenciled murals. From there, stroll down the main street (Wat Street) of Luang Prabang. Time permitting, stop at some of the many temples that line its sides, including Wat Sibounheuang, Wat Si Moung, Wat Sop and Wat Sene. Visit Mount Phousi for sunset. Climb the hillside stairs to the small temples atop PHOU SI, the 100m high hill which sits in the middle of the town, offering beautiful views over the temples and river.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 3: Luang Prabang Discovery (B/L/)
In the morning, visit a Local Market to see the bustle and activity of the early morning. Continue to the National Museum (Royal Palace), a modest but graceful building which combines traditional Lao and French beaux-arts motifs. This turn-of-the century royal residence has been preserved as it was when the royal family last lived here and provides unique insights into the history of Laos. (Closed on Tuesdays). Afterwards, visit Wat Mai.
Excursion by boat to Pak Ou Caves. Travel down the Mekong River to the steep limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers, home to the Pal Ou Caves. These extraordinary caves are filled with Buddha images, of every style and material imaginable. On the return journey, stop at Ban Xang Hai, a local village famous for the production of lao lao, the local rice wine whisky. Visit the weaving village of Ban Xang Khong, A village near Luang Prabang well known for its traditional handwoven cotton and silk, as well as production of the local sa (mulberry) paper.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 4: Excursion to Kuang Si Waterfalls (B/L/)
From Luang Prabang to Kuang Si Waterfall, travel by vehicle to visit minorities village of Ban Muang Khai Continue by car to Kuang Si Waterfall, located in a perfect natural setting near Luang Prabang, this multi-tiered waterfall tumbles over limestone formations into a series of turquoise pools. Enjoy swimming in the clear water or just relaxing in the natural environment. Continue to Ban Tha Pene, a nearby Khmu village, before returning to Luang Prabang by vehicle. Free at leisure in the afternoon.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Day 5: Luang Prabang – Hanoi – Halong Bay (Vietnam) (B/L/)
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Hanoi. Upon arrival, pick up and transfer to Halong city. Drive about 03 hours through the rice fields in the Red River Delta to Ha Long city.
Overnight in a hotel in Halong City.
Day 6: Halong Bay Cruise – Hanoi (B/L/)
Have breakfast, check out and get on a cruise boat. We will cruise about 4 hours to discover Halong bay. While the junk is passing many islets, rocks, caves, floating villages and beaches on Ha Long bay, your lunch will be served on board with fresh sea food. You’ll then visit Thien Cung (Heavenly Palace Cave) & Dau Go caves (Wood Hidden Cave) - the most beautiful caves among the many caves in the Bay. 16: 30pm: Disembarking and leave for Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Day 7: Hanoi City Tour – Fly to Danang – Hoi An (B/L/)
Although it is the modern-day capital of Vietnam, HANOI still retains the mystery and charm of past centuries. Narrow lanes and traditional shophouses invite exploration by cyclo, while its many beautiful public spaces lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and monuments give the city an air of elegance and harmony with nature unique among Asian capitals. Begin your day visiting the Temple of Literature, a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, and one of the best surving examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam's first university. Continue to the miniature One Pillar Pagoda. Also dating from the 11th century, this monument was rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954. Today it stands near the vast Ho Chi Minh Memorial, a lovely park setting which is home to Ho Chi Minh's final resting place, as well as a museum and other memorials. Stroll past the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (closed to visitors on Mondays and Fridays), where visitors can pay respects to the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh. Continue through the park to Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House, the simple two-room dwelling where Ho Chi Minh lived from 1948 until his final days. Preserved in the same condition as during his life, it may be viewed through the windows.
Finally, discover the Old Quarter of Hanoi by cyclo. This fascinating network of narrow alleys and shophouses is also known as 'The 36 Streets,' each street being named after the merchandise traditionally sold there, ranging from fabrics to crafts to medicines to tombstones. A handicraft-lover's paradise and a endlessly interesting place to explore local life. Transfer to the airport for the flight to Danang. Upon arrival, pick up and transfer to Hoi An Ancient town.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 8: Hoi An Ancient Town (B/L/)
The exquisitely preserved merchant town of HOI AN was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Its colorful shophouses and temples reflect a diverse heritage, dating back to the 16th and 17th century, when it was a major port for Western, Chinese and Japanese traders. Today it is a thriving center of traditional crafts and a shoppers’ paradise, best explored on foot. Wander through the cobbled streets, past low tile-roofed buildings, the bustling Central Market and the small Harbour where colorfully painted boats are moored. The walking tour will include visits to a Private House, where members of the same family have lived continuously for centuries in a traditional setting; to one of the Family Chapels built by prominent merchant or official families as centers for ancestor worship; and to a typical Chinese-Style Pagoda or Assembly Hall. Finally, continue to the famous Japanese Covered Bridge, first constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Day 9: Hoi An – Hue (B/L/)
Have breakfast, check out then drive to Hue. From Hoi An begin driving north, stopping just outside Danang to visit the Marble Mountains, five stone hillocks, once islands, that now rise sharply from the surrounding ricefields. Riddled with caves and shrines, they are said to each represent one of the five elements of the universe.
Continue to the city of Danang, briefly passing China Beach, a famous R&R spot for American soldiers during the Vietnam-American War, and touring the Cham Museum an elegant colonial building which now houses the finest collection of Cham sculpture in the world. From Danang, journey north past Lang Co, a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon and the South China Sea, before arriving at Danang. Continue along steep mountainous roads with spectacular views of the coastline, crossing the dramatic Hai Van Pass, the high dividing line between the climate zones of north and south Vietnam.
Sightseeing in Hue: Hue served as the capital of Vietnam for more than 140 years. It houses ancient temples, imperial buildings and French-style edifices. It was established in the 17th century.
Excursion to Thien Mu Pagoda with a boat trip on the Huong Giang river. Embark on a local boat and cruise down the Perfume River to the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue's most widely recognizable monument. During the early 1960s, this became a center of anti-government protest, and the site of the famous self-immolation of the monk Thich Quang Duc.
Overnight in Hue.
Day 10: Hue Citadel – Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) (B/L/)
Hue served as the capital of Vietnam for more than 140 years. It houses ancient temples, imperial buildings and French-style edifices. It was established in the 17th century.
Visit the Old Imperial City. Located in the heart of Hue is the Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modelled after the Forbidden City of Peking. The original walls stretched for 10 km and were surrounded by a wide moat. Today, most of the buildings have been destroyed due to bombing during the Vietnam-American War, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty. Approach the city past the striking Flag Tower, where a giant Vietnamese flag waves proudly overhead, to the imposing Ngo Mon Gate, the main entrance to the Imperial Enclosure. Enter into an area of spacious courtyards and serene lotus ponds, and visit Dien Tho Residence ( Dien Tho palace) is where the Queen mother lived, visit Thai Hoa Palace, the magnificently decorated reception hall, the Halls of the Mandarins, and the original Nine Dynastic Urns, among other sites.
Visit Dong Ba Market - A local market near the Imperial City. Transfer to the airport for the flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, pick up and transfer to the hotel for check in.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh city.
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City Tour (B/L/)
A vibrant metropolis, SAIGON teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the meeting of traditional and modern life. The emerging modern skyline stands cheek by jowl with colonial buildings and traditional temples. Outside on the streets, young professionals zip by on motorcyles, chatting on cellphones; inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense. Begin your tour of this exciting city with a tour of the historic center, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon. Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville, the old Opera House (both may only be viewed from the outside), and pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. Afterwards dive into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style uwas famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates.
Continue to the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam- American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions. In the afternoon, head out to Cholon (China Town), stopping to visit two of Saigon's most interesting pagodas, the Jade Emporer Pagoda and Giac Lam Pagoda, the oldest in the city. The sprawling, densely packed Cholon retains a traditional Asian feeling, unlike the more modern Saigon city center. Explore the highlights of this fascinating area, beginning with a brief visit to Binh Tay Market, the vast wholesale market selling every kind of good from dried foods to T shirts to electronics. Continue to Thien Hau Pagoda, build by the Cantonese congregation and dedicated to the heavenly goddess. End your tour at the central Ben Thanh Market, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts, appealing to every taste.
Overnight in Saigon.
Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong River Delta (My Tho – Ben Tre) – Ho Chi Minh City
Our tour guide and driver will pick you up at your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City and depart for My Tho, enjoy the scenic journey along the National Highway bordered by green rice fields, stopping to see how the rice is cultivated an take pictures of the rice farms in the Mekong River Delta. On arrival at My Tho, take a leisurely boat trip to Tortoise Island. Then disembark and go for a gentle stroll through the picturesque orchards and fruit garden.
Enjoy lunch on the island, followed by a traditional cock fighting display. Enjoy a boat ride through Tan Thach natural canal in Ben Tre, Return to the water for a relaxing rowing boat ride along a small canal, cruising in the shade of the water coconut trees. Learn about bee-keeping in the delta and sip a refreshing cup of honey tea to the accompaniment of traditional Vietnamese folk music. Then travel the narrow rural road by horse and cart to visit the coconut candy mill to find out how this delicious confectionery is made and sample the finished product. Return by boat to My Tho and drive back to Saigon.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City – Phnom Penh (Cambodia) (B/L/)
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival, pick up and transfer to the city for city tour.
Explore Pnom Penh, a chaotic, energetic and always fascinating city. Graceful tree-lined boulevards and riverfront promenades are reminders of bygone eras; today they teem with life and activity, as motorcycles weave in and out of traffic, vendor hawk their wares, and pedestrians go about their business. Start your tour at Wat Phnom, the birthplace of the capital; according to legend the city began here when a woman named Penh found four Buddha statues and built the temple to house them. Afterwards, see the splendor of Cambodia's royal heritage by visiting the Royal Palace, still the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoi, the adjacent Silver Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha, and the elegant National Museum, which contains a comprehensive collection of Khmer art. In the afternoon, learn about a chapter from Cambodia's more recent, tragic, past at the Tuol Sleng Museum (Museum of Genocide). Formerly the Tuol Svay Prey High School, in 1975, this became the interrogation and torture facility for the Khmer Rouge regime - at that time known as Security Prison 21, or simply S-21. Kept largely unchanged, this prison now showcases photographs and exhibits about the thousands of victims that passed through these doors - only seven of whom came out alive. Finally, explore the modern-day city, visiting one of Phnom Penh's two great markets, the Central Market, located in a distinctive domed Art Deco building, and the sprawling Russian Market, a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from CDs and DVDs to silks, crafts, jewelry and more.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 14: Ho Chi Minh City – Siem Reap – Visit Angkor Thom (Cambodia) (B/L/)
Transfer to the airport for the flight to Siem Reap. The fortified city of Angkor Thom covers an area of 10 square km. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats, the city includes many of Angkor's most popular sights. Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant naga. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings, former spaces for public cermonies, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs. Visit the ruined Baphuon Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple. In this temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where you will find giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down at you from every angle.
Visit a temple for sunset. Watch the sun set over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 15: Siem Reap – Angkor Wat (B/L/)
Visit Angkor Wat: The crowning jewel of Khmer architecture, Ankor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. As you enter the main building, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyard before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stonecarvings that adorn nearly every surface, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted into the walls. Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones.
Visit Ta Prohm. One of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them.
Visit Banteay Srei Temple. Seemingly miniature in comparison to the other Angkor temples, BANTEAY SREI is considered to be the jewel of classical Khmer art. Built in pink sandstone, the walls are covered in exquisitely preserved carvings of unusual delicacy. Because of its small size, fairy-like atmosphere and extraordinary examples of Khmer sculpture, this temple is often a favorite with visitors.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Day 16: Siem Reap Departure (B/)
Free at leisure until transfer to the airport for the departure flight.
End of tour services.
- Local English speaking tour guide, other languages are available on request
- All transfers within the journey, including pick-up at airport.
- Domestic airfares as states in the itinerary in economy class.
- All entrance fees
- Hotel accommodation in twins or double room
- International air tickets from/to Indochina & airport tax
- Visa fees
- Travel insurance
- Hotel early check in & late check out
- Other personal expenses & tips
This is the quintessential Mekong tour – a fantastically well-organized 16-day romp through Indochina taking in the exotic sights of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Halong Bay, Hanoi, Hoi An, Hue, Saigon, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Find out more about the glittering culture of these lands, enjoy the fabulous beaches, discover the delicate cuisine and simply bask in the divergence that makes these destinations so alluring.