• Temple

Classic Vietnam and Laos tour

Our Classic Vietnam and Laos Tour is eleven days of back-to-back adventure and wonderful experiences. Starting in Laos, you’ll be immersed in the local culture, visiting phenomenal temples and tasting divine Laotian food. Exploring the vibrant market in Luang Prabang,  where you’ll discover unusual jungle vegetables and forest-picked mushrooms and taste Laos’ traditional breakfast treats. The night bazaars with their stalls piled high with local goods provide you with the perfect opportunity to mingle with the local people and find the perfect souvenir for your holiday. 

Laos offers breath-taking natural beauty too. Your day at the Kuang Si Waterfalls will be truly idyllic, whether you swim in the azure pools, trek to the top, or simply enjoy a picnic on the banks of these spell-binding cascades. Another highlight of your tour is a boat ride to see the Pak Ou Caves - their dramatic limestone cliffs and extensive caverns are a sight to behold. 

You’ll then get to explore some of the most famous locations in Vietnam. Cruising in the Gulf of Tonkin, glide through the emerald waters of Halong Bay on a cruise ship. These UNESCO World Heritage Site towering limestone islets are as impressive in real life as the reputation that precedes them. From marvelling at the Marble Mountains to discovering the grand pagodas, impressive citadels and charming towns, Vietnam has wonderous experiences for you to absorb at every turn. 

Our Classic Vietnam and Laos Tour is the perfect holiday if you wish to immerse yourself in the local culture of Southeast Asia’s most fascinating countries. It’s time for an adventure.

 

Duration
11 days
Best time to go
December to February
Options
Private basis, Escorted
Start your journey
Waterfalls

Trip highlights

  • Discover Halong Bay’s otherworldly landscape with a cruise through the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin
  • Enjoy a serene picnic by the beautiful Kuang Si Waterfalls, taking in one of Laos’ most treasured natural wonders
  • Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels and crawl through the underground tunnels where the Viet Cong soldiers were based during the Vietnam War
  • Enjoy a boat ride to visit Laos’ phenomenal Pak Ou Caves

Upon arrival, you will be met at Luang Prabang International Airport and driven to your hotel.
Once you have checked in, enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Santi Resort & Spa or similar
a body of water with a mountain in the background
Vat Xieng Thong

Your day will begin at Luang Prabang’s morning market, which is in the heart of the old town.
The market attracts locals and tourists in equal measure. As you peruse the stalls piled high with locally grown fruits and vegetables, spices and forest-collected mushrooms, it’s not hard to see why the market is such a local foodie hotspot. Discover unusual fresh produce including jungle vegetables that you have probably never seen before. The market is a great place to feast on unusual breakfast delicacies, such as deep-fried mung beans, coconut rice cakes and delicious chargrilled chunks of honeycomb. Afterwards, you will be driven back to the hotel, where you can enjoy a second breakfast.

Luang Prabang has many UNESCO World Heritage sites and after breakfast, it's time to discover its wonderful ancient history. Heading to the oldest Buddhist temple in Luang Prabang, Wat Visoun, where you’ll see an impressive collection of Buddha statues and religious artefacts that date back to the 15th century. You’ll also visit Wat Aham, which is a smaller Buddhist temple with two tiger statues at its entrance.

After seeing the cultural wonders of Luang Prabang, it’s time to take in the city’s most compelling vistas. Climb to the summit of the sacred hill of PhouSi Hill. It’s quite an ascent at 100 metres high, but it’s worth every step as the panoramic views across Luang Prabang are out of this world. Plus, you’ll definitely work off your double breakfast.

Your afternoon excursion takes you to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre where you will learn about the different ethnic groups of Northern Laos. Discovering the styles of clothing, household objects and handicrafts will give you a real insight into the traditional Laotian lifestyle. Head onwards to the National Museum, and then the Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre, where you will get to embrace the fascinating world of weaving, exploring Laos’ traditional textiles and handicrafts.

For your final stop of the day, head to Wat Phra Bat Tai, a unique ancient Buddhist monastery overlooking the Mekong River. This is the perfect end to a wonderful day as the sun goes down over all the activity on the river.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Santi Resort & Spa or similar
Waterfalls
Temple

After breakfast, you will be driven to the Nava Mekong Pier, where you’ll board a boat and set sail for the morning’s excursion to the Pak Ou Caves. Stopping en route at Ban Xang Village, you will have the chance to taste some of its liqueurs. It’s believed that Ban Xang Village has been making rice whisky for over 2,000 years.

Arriving at the Pak Ou Caves, it’s time to explore these two impressive caverns, where inside you’ll discover a multitude of Buddha statues. The impressive limestone cliff combined with the stunning backdrop of the Mekong River makes the Pak Ou Caves a mesmerising attraction.

Return to your boat for lunch back on board, as you slowly make your way back to the Nava Mekong Pier. You will then be driven back to your hotel.
In the evening, why not take a stroll through the local night bazaar? There are stalls selling everything from silk purses and embroidered scarves to paper lanterns and coffee beans. This is a wonderful way to mingle with the locals and find the perfect keepsake or gift.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Santi Resort & Spa or similar
Khuang Xi Waterfalls

After breakfast, today’s excursion takes you to the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfalls, which is just over an hour’s drive from Luang Prabang. En route, you’ll stop at the small Khmu village of Ban Thapene, which is known for its basket weaving.

A picnic lunch will be served upon arrival at the Kuang Si Waterfalls. Afterwards, you’ll have the opportunity to swim, trek or just relax and take in the area’s stunning natural beauty. It’s easy to get transfixed at the sight of the water tumbling into the crystal-clear, azure pools.

As you journey back to Luang Prabang, there’s the chance to visit and discover local cheeses and other delicious dairy products at the Lao Buffalo Dairy farm. If time is on your side, you will also visit another weaving village, Ban Phanon.

Once back at the hotel, it’s time to check out. You’ll then be driven to the airport to catch your evening flight to Vietnam.

After landing at Nội Bài International Airport in Hanoi, you will be met and driven to your hotel. After getting settled into your room, the rest of your evening is free to enjoy at leisure.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Grand Babylon hotel or similar
Halong Bay
Sung Sot Cave

Today is the day to witness Vietnam’s number one attraction - the UNESCO World Heritage site of Halong Bay. And what better way to discover Halong Bay’s outstanding natural beauty than on a delightful overnight cruise? Your ship will take to the Gulf of Tonkin where you can happily gawp at the impressive rock formations, all of which have delightfully unusual names. The bay’s towering limestone islets and mesmerising crystal emerald waters has awarded Halong Bay the title of a place of outstanding natural beauty - and as you glide through its waters, it’s not hard to see why.

In the afternoon, you’ll have the opportunity to visit one of Halong Bay’s beautiful caves, swim, or simply stay onboard and admire the breath-taking landscape.

In the evening, you can join a cooking demonstration and learn how to whip up some traditional Vietnamese dishes. Afterwards, dinner will be served onboard as the boat anchors for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Bhaya Classic Cruise or similar
Ho Chi Minh House
West Lake Hanoi
Thien Hau Temple China Town

Start the day at sunrise to enjoy a Tai Chi class on the sundeck. Afterwards, the boat will sail back to the pier, where you will disembark and be picked up and driven to Hanoi.

This morning’s excursion will allow you to explore the wonderfully charming and lively Old Quarter in Hanoi. Watch the city and its people go about daily life on a fascinating one hour cyclo tour. A cyclo (local bicycle taxi) is the favoured form of transport in Hanoi and it a wonderfully fun way to discover the city.

In the afternoon, you can explore the dazzling nightlife of Hanoi at your own leisure. If you choose to discover more of Hanoi, you will stay in a hotel for the night before catching your flight to Hue the following morning.

Alternatively, you can choose to travel overnight on a 14 hour journey on Vietnam’s most famous railway line - the Reunification Express. Running the full length of the country, the Reunification Express was built in 1936, but due to the Vietnam War, its operations ceased in 1954. It was with a grand fanfare when North Vietnam and South Vietnam were reunified in 1976 that this historical railway reopened. You’re sure to be charmed by the red, white and blue carriages of yesteryear and the train guards in their olde worlde uniforms.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Grand Babylon Hotel or similar
Vietnam by Rail

If you decided to stay in Hanoi yesterday, then after breakfast you will be driven to the Nội Bài International Airport where you will board your flight to Hue. After landing, you will be met at Phu Bai International Airport and taken to your hotel.

If you took the Reunification Express then your train will pull in to Hue just before 11am. After disembarking, you will be picked up and driven to your hotel.

After you’ve settled into your room, you will be met and taken to a local restaurant to enjoy a delicious lunch. After lunch, the afternoon will be spent exploring Hue on a fascinating city tour. As the feudal and imperial capital under the Nyguyens Emperors, this ancient city has played an important role in Vietnamese history. With many UNESCO World Heritage sites, Hue seamlessly mixes the old with the new. Your Hue tour will take you to see the city’s grand pagodas and impressive imperial citadels, before cruising the Huong River - also fondly known as Perfume River - on a delightful boat ride. After a day filled with discovering interesting cultural sights, you will stay in a hotel in Hue for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Moonlight Hotel or similar
Marble Mountains

Your morning begins with a visit to one of Hue’s most elegant mausoleums - the Tu Duc Royal Tomb. As the resting place of the 19th century Emperor Tu Duc, this mausoleum was built while the emperor was still alive. The extravagance of the emperor’s plans coupled with the enforced labour used to build his tomb resulted in an attempted - but failed - coup. As you visit this opulent site, you will discover the royal families’ lavish tastes. Another highlight of you day is a visit to the Cham Museum, which has an interesting collection of artefacts and sculptures from the indigenous Cham people.

Your afternoon excursion takes you to witness the splendour of the Marble Mountains, which are situated just off the Da Nang Beach coastal road. These five limestone and marble hills have notable surrounding villages that specialise in marble sculpture.

Your final stop of the day is to the enchanting town of Hoi An, where you will check in to your hotel for the night. The journey involves a pittstop to see one of the most beautiful beaches in the world - Vietnam’s Non Nuoc Beach.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hoi An Trails Resort or similar
Riverfront
Hoi An market

Your day begins with a short boat taking you across the river to visit the boat builder’s yard. Watching the skills of the woodcarvers creating their masterpieces is a wonderful experience. Following on from this, your morning will continue along a similar artisanal route with a visit to a pottery and brick-making village.

After seeing the artisanal skills of Hoi An, it’s time to explore its Old Town on an interesting walking tour. In the 16th century, Hoi An was one of Southeast Asia’s most important trading ports. It’s low-tiled houses and narrow streets adorned with silk lanterns that make up this charming town are a delight to explore. In fact, Hoi An is considered one of Vietnam’s best-preserved ancient towns. During the tour, you will see the Chinese temples, the Japanese merchant and community house as well as the ornately carved wooden Japanese Bridge.
After your fascinating walking tour of the Old Town, the rest of your day is free for you to explore more of Hanoi by yourself. Be sure to take a walk in the evening to see the streets illuminated by the silk lanterns.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Hoi An Trails Resort or similar
Notre Dame Cathedral

After breakfast, you will be picked up and driven to Da Nang International Airport, where you will board your flight to Ho Chi Minh City.

After arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, you will be picked up at the Tân Son Nhất International Airport and driven in to the city centre. Lunch will be enjoyed at a local restaurant before your explorations of Ho Chi Minh City begins. With a local guide, you will enjoy a tour of the city, beginning by learning about its colonial past at the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. Another highlight of the tour is visiting the highly acclaimed French photographer Rehahn’s gallery. Rehahn’s evocative portraits and images of the Vietnamese people are strikingly moving.
After the tour, the rest of the evening is yours to enjoy at leisure.

Suggested Accommodation

  • Northern Hotel or similar
Binh Tay Market China Town

Today takes you on a fascinating journey to the Cu Chi District, which is just a 34-mile drive from Ho Chi Minh City. After arriving in the Cu Chi District you will visit its star attraction - the Cu Chi Tunnels. These historical tunnels were used during the Vietnam War by the Viet Cong soldiers. There’s the option to crawl through one of the tunnels and experience first-hand what life must have been like for the soldiers that spent much of the war underground.

After visiting this poignant site, you will return to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, before being driven to Tan Son Nhat International Airport for your onward flight.

Included

  • International flights and airfare taxes to and from Vietnam / Laos
  • Cost of accommodation (double room based on two people sharing) for a total of 11 nights (alternative but similar accommodation may be used at certain times of the year)
  • 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 Cu Chi Tunnels); Breakfast at Hoi An
  • 1 bottle of mineral water per person per day
  • Entrance fees (excluding video camera fee) for monuments and entertainment 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
  • Gratuities for drivers, tour directors, local guides, naturalists and hotel staff
  • 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
  • English-speaking local guide aboard the Halong Bay cruise