• boats in Vietnam

Grand Tour of Indochina

Discover three countries in one holiday and venture on the Grand Tour Of Indochina. This 15 day tour is an unforgettable experience that allows you to witness the cultural sites and natural wonders of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia

Starting in Laos, you’ll visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of its ancient capital, Luang Prabang. You’ll explore its ancient Buddhist temples and learn about the different villages’ traditions and handicrafts. Stand in awe at the splendour of Kuang Si Waterfall and the Pakou Caves. 

Vietnam takes you on a different journey. Diving in to the country’s history, you’ll have the chance to ride on the Reunification Express train, walk through the underground wartime tunnels in the Cu Chi District, and explore Hanoi’s Old Quarter on a cyclo ride tour. 

Finishing in Cambodia, you’ll head out on a thrilling motorbike as you tour the streets of Siem Reap, before discovering rural life in the countryside, and ticking the great UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Wat off your bucket list.  

Your Grand Tour of Indochina will provide you with an authentic experience in all three countries. You’ll often share meals prepared by local families, mingle and chat with farmers and local artisans, and visit places where the countries’ ancient traditions and customs are still practised. From taking part in a Buddhist monk’s spiritual cleansing ceremony to visting floating markets and houses on stilts, your Grand Tour of Indochina is an immersive and truly memorable experience. 

Duration
15 days
Best time to go
November to March
Options
Private or Group basis, Escorted
Start your journey
Waterfalls

Trip highlights

  • Visit Laos’ ancient capital of Luang Prabang and discover its beautiful Buddhist temples
  • Stand in the underground tunnels of the Cu Chi District, and learn how the Viet Cong soldiers hid here during the Vietnam War
  • Visit Cai Rang - one of the largest floating markets in Vietnam and witness locals trading goods on the water
  • Explore the streets of Siem Reap and the surrounding Cambodian countryside on an exhilarating motorbike tour

After landing at Luang Prabang International Airport, you will be met and driven to your hotel. After check-in, the rest of the day is free for you to enjoy at your own leisure. 

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Santi resort or similar
Wat Xieng Thong

Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage site teeming with culture and history, but it is also a great destination if you are a foodie. Begin your day strolling through the early morning market, situated in the heart of the old town of Luang Prabang. Locals travel from nearby towns and villages to do their food shopping here and it is a great place to discover wonderful local ingredients in Laos, including locally grown fruit and vegetables, spices and forest-collected mushrooms. Market stalls are piled high with fresh produce. Discover unusual jungle vegetables that you might not have seen before. Tuck into some of the breakfast snacks, such as chargrilled chunks of honeycomb, deep-fried mung beans, or coconut rice cakes. After taking in the colourful sights and aromatic smells of the food market, head back to your hotel for a second breakfast.

After breakfast, it is time to experience the ancient culture that makes Luang Prabang so wonderful. Start with a visit to Wat Visoun, the oldest Buddhist temple in Luang Prabang. Inside its grand stone building, you will discover religious artefacts including a collection of richly gilded Buddha statues that date back to the 15th century. Near to Wat Visoun is the smaller Buddhist temple of Wat Aham, which you will stop off at next. Look out for the two tiger statues guarding its entrance.

After your morning of exploring temples and markets, it’s time to take in the city’s stunning vistas. Climb up to the summit of the sacred hill of PhouSi Hill and you will not be disappointed. At 100m high, it is quite an ascent to reach the top, but the 360-degree views across Luang Prabang, the river, and the surrounding forested mountains are outstanding and are worth every step.

Next stop is your visit to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, where you will discover the clothing, household objects, handicrafts and lifestyle of the different ethnic groups of northern Laos. Afterwards, you’ll visit the National Museum and the Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre. Set in a tropical garden, Ock Pop Tok gives a fascinating insight into the world of weaving and Lao’s traditional textiles and handicrafts history.

At sundown, you’ll head to Wat Phra Bat Tai, an ornate monastery on the Mekong River. Here, you can watch the sunset - which marks the perfect end to a wonderful day.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Santi resort or similar
a person wearing a costume

Your excursion today is a delightful boat cruise on Mekong River. After breakfast, you will be met at your hotel and driven to Nava Mekong Pier, where you will board a boat to the Pak Ou Caves.

Along the way, stop at Ban Xang Hay Village, which is known for its rice whisky production. It is believed the tradition of making rice alcohol in Ban Xang Hay is over 2,000 years old. Look out for the big storage jars and enjoy sampling the village’s wide range of liquors.

Venture onto the Pak Ou Caves, which are two famous caves inside an impressive limestone cliff. With the Mekong River as a mesmerising backdrop, the caves are filled to the brim with Buddha statues, which is a magical sight. After taking in the wonder of the caves, you will head back to your boat, where lunch will be served to you. After you’ve had your fill, you will then slowly cruise back to the Nava Mekong Pier, where you will be met and driven back to your hotel.

In the evening, you can explore the vibrant and colourful delights of the local night bazaar. Running along Sisavangvong Road into the town centre, the rows of stalls offer everything from embroidered purses and silk scarves to paper lanterns and coffee beans. This is a great way to meet and interact with the locals - and pick up a unique Lao souvenir or two.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Santi resort or similar
Waterfalls

Start your day with a one hour drive to witness Laos’ spectacular Kuang Si Waterfalls. En route you will have a chance to stop at the small Khmu village of Ban Thapene, which is known for its artisanal skills of basket weaving. If you’re lucky, you may get the chance to watch the Khmu men busy crafting their works of art.
Once you’ve arrived Kuang Si Waterfalls, a picnic lunch will be served near the waterfall. After lunch, you can swim, trek or simply relax at this incredible location. Kuang Si Waterfall is the largest waterfall in the area and the tumbling crystal-clear waters that descend into azure pools are a sight to behold.

On your drive back to Luang Prabang, you can visit Lao Buffalo Dairy Farm, a social enterprise that produces cheese and other delicious dairy products. If there’s time, you can also visit another weaving village, Ban Phanon, which practices traditional and artisanal textile techniques. Once you are back at your hotel, have freshened up and checked out, you will be driven to the airport to catch an evening flight to Vietnam.

After arriving at Nội Bài International Airport in Hanoi, you will be driven to your hotel to check in. The rest of the evening is free for you to enjoy at your own leisure.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Santi resort or similar
a boat floating along a river next to a body of water with Ha Long Bay in the background

After breakfast and checking out of the hotel, you will be driven to Halong City. Halong City is the gateway to Vietnam’s number one attraction- Halong Bay. Today, you will experience a delightful overnight cruise exploring Halong Bay’s emerald waters and limestone islets.

Gliding through the Gulf of Tonkin and marvelling at the impressive rock formations with unusual names, it’s not surprising that Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Visit one of the bay’s beautiful caves and take a dip in its turquoise waters. If you wish to stay on board the boat then you can simply admire its islets that are topped by forest from the deck. At sundown, your boat will anchor and you can enjoy a cooking demonstration before tucking into a delicious dinner. In the evening you can play board games and star gaze on the sundeck before retiring to your cabin for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Emeraude Classic Cruise or similar
a group of people riding bikes down a street

Today, if you’re up early you can join a Tai Chi class on the sundeck, and enjoy watching the sun rise over the bay. Afterwards, your boat will cruise back to the pier, where you’ll disembark and be driven to Hanoi. Now you’re back on land, it’s time to explore Hanoi’s charming, colourful and lively Old Quarter with a one hour cyclo ride tour. A cyclo is a local bicycle taxi and there’s no better way to explore Hanoi’s historical centre than by this traditional Vietnamese mode of transport.

In the afternoon, there is a choice of two activities. Firstly, if you fancy exploring more of Vietnam’s vibrant capital, than there is the option to simply enjoy some free time here before your flight to Hue the following morning.

Alternatively, you can begin your 14 hour journey to Hue with a delightful overnight train ride aboard the Reunification Express, Vietnam’s most famous railway. Running the full length of the country, the line was completed in 1936, in what was then French Indo-China. It ran for just 18 years after its completion, before the war ceased its operations. On the ‘reunification’ of north and south Vietnam in 1976, the train line reopened. Look out for the train guards’ olde worlde uniforms and the red, white and blue carriages that hark back to a bygone era.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Thien Thai Hotel or similar
Long Boat Halong Bay

Today, you will visit the city of Hue and there is a choice of routes for how to journey here.

If you’ve chosen to fly directly to Hue then after breakfast, you will be driven to Nội Bài International Airport to board a flight to Hue. Upon arrival, you will be met at Phu Bai International Airport and driven to your hotel.

If you’ve travelled overnight on the Reunification Express train then you will pull in at Hue at around 11am and upon arrival, you will be met at the train station and driven to your hotel

Once you’ve settled into your hotel, you will be met and taken out to a local restaurant where lunch will be served.

In the afternoon, it’s time to explore Hue with a city tour. Hue was the former feudal and Imperial capital of Vietnam under the Nguyen Emperors, and it played an important role in Vietnamese history. Today, the city blends old with new, with Huong River at its heart. There are many UNESCO World Heritage sites for you to visit. Discover the city’s grand pagodas and impressive imperial citadels, before enjoying a scenic boat trip on the Huong River.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Thien Thai Hotel or similar
Dragon Bridge

After breakfast, start your morning with a visit to one of the most beautiful mausoleums in Hue - the Tu Duc Royal Tomb where lies the 19th century Emperor Tu Duc. The Emperor designed his own tomb himself while he was still alive - in fact long before his death. His extravagance combined with the enforced labour used to build this tomb eventually led to a planned coup. The plot was eventually discovered and stopped, but visiting the Tu Duc Royal Tomb gives you an insight into this royal families’ opulent lifestyle.

Your next stop today is to the coastal city of Da Nang. Your driver will meet you for the for the three hour drive south, which is across the Hai Van Pass, a 12 mile-long mountain road. The views of deserted sandy beaches, verdant forests and towering mountains are simply breath-taking.
Once you’ve arrived, you can enjoy your lunch in a local restaurant. Then, your first excursion of the afternoon will take you to visit the Cham Museum, which has artefacts and sculptures from Vietnam’s indigenous Cham people.

You can’t visit Vietnam without taking in the awesome splendour of its Marble Mountains. This cluster of five marble and limestone hills are situated just off the Da Nang Beach coastal road. Named after the five elements: Kim (metal), Thuy (water), Moc (wood), Hoa (fire) and Tho (earth), these jagged hills stand proudly overlooking Ngũ Hành Sơn District. All of the hills have caves with networks of tunnels and it’s possible to climb to the summit of Mount Thuy (water). It’s not surprising that the villages that have sprung up around these five hills specialise in marble sculpture.

Your road trip continues south to the enchanting town of Hoi An. En route, you will pass Vietnam’s Non Nuoc Beach. It’s not hard to see why it’s been voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Upon arrival, check-in to your hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Moonlight Hotel or similar
Hoi An
Cycling
Hoi An Lanterns

Hoi An is literally translated from Vietnamese as ‘peaceful meeting place’. After your visit here, you will agree that this name is perfectly fitting for this charming city. During the 16th century, Hoi An was one of Southeast Asia’s major trading ports. Today, it is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it is one of Vietnam’s best-preserved ancients towns. 

Hoi An’s narrow streets are lined with low tiled-roof houses and silk lanterns strung up at every corner. Vietnamese legend believes that hanging a silk lantern outside your home will bring warmth and happiness. Look out for the lacquer panels engraved with Chinese characters and the ornately carved pillars on some of the houses.    

Your first excursion in Hoi An begins with a short boat ride across the river to visit a boat builder’s yard, and visit a pottery and brick-making village en route. Afterwards, you will be taking to the Old Town of Hoi An for a delightful walking tour which will allow you to visit Japanese merchant and community houses, Chinese temples, as well as an iconic Japanese Bridge. 

Your afternoon and evening are free to enjoy at your own leisure. Be sure to visit the Old Town in the early evening when the streets become illuminated with the light from ornate hanging silk lanterns. If you’re able, try to time your visit to Hoi An with the Hoi An Lantern Festival, which takes place every month on the night of the full moon and where you can watch locals remember their ancestors by lighting a lantern and placing it in the river. By the end of the night, hundreds of brightly coloured lanterns can be seen floating along the river.

 

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hoi An Trails Resort or similar
Saigon River

After breakfast, check out of your hotel, where you till be met and driven the one hour journey to Da Nang International Airport where you will board your flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

Landing in Ho Chi Minh City, you will be met at Tan Son Nhat International Airport and driven to the city centre. After enjoying a delicious lunch at a local restaurant, your afternoon will start with a fascinating tour with a local guide. The vibrant and bustling Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s economic centre of the South. Formerly known as the ‘Pearl of the Far East’, Ho Chi Minh City was an important trading centre for the Chinese, Japanese and Western merchants. You tour will first take in the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office, where you’ll learn about the city’s colonial past. You’ll then head to French photographer Réhahn’s photo gallery, whose evocative portraits of the people of Vietnam, as well as his fine art photography, are simply breath-taking.

Spend your evening at leisure before you retire for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Aristo Hotel or similar
Cu Chi Tunnels
Cu Chi Tunnels

This morning’s excursion takes you to see the underground tunnels in the Cu Chi District. After a short drive you will arrive in Cu Chi District, located just 34 miles from Ho Chi Minh City. This district is famous for its amazing complex of underground tunnels that were used by the Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War, which are today known as the Cu Chi Tunnels. You will have the chance to crawl through the maze of tunnels here, which offers a real insight into what life must have been like for the soldiers that spent much of the war underground. Afterwards, return to Ho Chi Minh City for lunch at a local restaurant and then head to Tan Son Nhat International Airport for your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival at Siem Reap International Airport, you will be met and driven to your hotel. After check-in, you can enjoy a delicious dinner before retiring for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Aristo Hotel or similar
Angkor Thom

Today’s excursion takes you to the Angkor Wat, also known as Angkor Archeological Park. Dating back to the 9th century, Angkor Wat contains the remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.

Your day’s tour will take you to visit the park’s most famous sites - Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat. Other highlights of the tour include visiting the beautiful jungle temple, Ta Prohm, and enjoying a tasty lunch at Sala Russey, a local restaurant that overlooks an ancient Khmer reservoir, Sra Srang. Your day ends with a sacred Buddhist ritual. Witness or take part in a spiritual cleansing ceremony, which is performed by Buddhistmonks. After adorning your wrist with special red ties, they will chant a wish of good luck, safe travels and a long life.

After discovering the cultural wonders of Angkor Wat, you will be driven back to your hotel in Siem Reap.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Palace Gate or similar
an old stone building
a sandy beach next to a body of water

Today, you will explore the Soutr Nikum District on Tonle Sap Lake. This district is home to one of the largest communities that live in houses on stilts over the water. You will stop at the amazing floating village of Kompong Khleang to discover this communities’ unique way of living. Heading ashore, your next stop is Beng Mealea, just over an hour’s drive from Kompong Khleang. Arriving at Beng Mealea, you will enjoy a homemade lunch at a nearby local family’s home. After lunch, you can enjoy discovering Beng Mealea, and what a sight it is to behold. This mysterious abandoned temple is at one with nature. Covered in plants and overgrown jungle, exploring this 12th century temple feels like something out of an Indiana Jones film.

After visiting the ruins of Beng Mealea, you will be driven back to your hotel in Siem Reap where you retire for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Tara Angkor or similar
Angkor Wat

Today starts with a tour of Siem Reap - but with an unusual and energetic twist. You will explore its streets by whizzing around on a Honda motorbike. If this feels a little too daredevil, you can also see the sites of Siem Reap on a local remork-moto.

Your morning tour will take you through to Siem Reap’s local market, which sells everything from clothes and vegetables to electronics and gold. As you mingle with the locals, your local guide will help you select some traditional breakfast treats to feast on. After tasting a true Khmer breakfast, it’s time to ride through the backstreets of Siem Reap.

You’ll head out of the city into the surrounding countryside where you can explore Cambodia’s rural side. Ride past farmers tending their crops in the rice paddy fields and vegetable gardens; learn how the local fishermen throw their nets, and meet the local farm animals, including water buffalo.

After all these diverse and wonderful experiences, it’s time for you to head back to Siam Reap. Lunch will be enjoyed at the Pou Kitchen & Restaurant.
Your afternoon takes on an artistic flavour. Visit Les Artisans d’Angkor - Chantiers Ecoles, a centre that works with young artists. Browse the school’s unique collection of ornamental sculptures, silk weaving and silk paintings. Another highlight of your day is a visit to Rehash Trash, which runs daily workshops that teach visitors how to turn rubbish into stylish pieces. You’re bound to walk away with innovative ideas. End your day on a high at Sombai Liquer, where you can taste 11 different flavours of homemade and artisanal liquors, which are an absolute treat for your taste buds.

After a day filled with wonderful memories, it’s time to return to your hotel in downtown Siem Reap.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Tara Angkor or similar

After experiencing your Grand Tour of Indochina, you will be driven to Siem Reap International Airport to board your flight home.

Included

  • International flights to and from Laos / Vietnam / Cambodia
  • Board basis is Full Board: breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Halong Bay; Half Board: breakfast and lunch/ at Luang Prabang, Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City (and Can Tho), Siem Reap; Breakfast at Hoi An
  • 1 bottle of mineral water per person per day
  • Cost of accommodation in shared twin/double room for a total of 15 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
  • Entrance fees (excluding video camera fee) for monuments and palaces and entertainment, and park fees for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary
  • All activities highlighted above
  • English-speaking local guides for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary, except aboard the Halong Bay cruise
  • Assistance and porterage: meeting and assistance on arrival/departure at airports and hotels

Not included

  • Visa arrangements and fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Optional attractions and excursions
  • Meals not specified
  • Personal expenses, such as alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, spa and business facilities in the hotel
  • Domestic airfares routing Hanoi/Hue & Da Nang/Ho Chi Minh; Hanoi/Hue & Da Nang/Ho Chi Minh and Luang Prabang/Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh/Siem Reap
  • English-speaking local guide aboard the Halong Bay cruise