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The best of Indochina

Highlights of this trip:

Hanoi, ethnic minorities in Sapa, mini cruise in Ha Long Bay, the Imperial tombs and the Citadel in Hué, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, Phom Penh, the Killing Fields, Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Luang Prabang, the Pak Ou Caves, Kuang Si Falls

This package holiday includes the following:

  • Flight from the UK to Hanoi
  • Flight from Luang Prabang to the UK
  • 2 domestic flights in Vietnam: from Hanoi to Hué and from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City
  • 1 domestic flight in Cambodia: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap
  • 1 flight between Siem Reap in Cambodia and Luang Prabang in Laos
  • 18 nights at 3-star hotels
  • 2 nights in a 4-bunk sleeping car on the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, round trip
  • 1 night on the 4-star mini-cruise ship Emeraude
  • Speedboat from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh
  • Local English-speaking guide on the tour
  • 21 x breakfast (days 2–22)
  • 9 x lunch (days 3, 6, 8, 9, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21)
  • 3 x dinner (days 6, 14 and 15)
  • Travelling in a car or minibus with air conditioning
  • 24-hour manned emergency telephone line throughout the tour
  • Departure guarantee – the tour goes ahead regardless of the number of participants

The following package of excursions are included:

  • City tour in Hanoi including the Temple of Literature and a Cycle tour of the old quarter
  • Half-day guided walking tour around Sapa
  • Overnight cruise in the Ha Long Bay
  • Hué city tour to the Imperial Tombs and the Citadel
  • Driving tour over the Han Van Pass
  • Hoi An’s Old Town, the Chua Ong Pagoda, the Tam Ky house
  • The Japanese Bridge
  • Notre Dame Cathedral, The Central Post Office, Dong Khoi street
  • The Opera House, the Reunification Palace
  • The War Remnants Museum
  • The Mekong Delta, sail trips, visits to small home crafts industries
  • All-day guided sightseeing tour in Phnom Penh
  • All-day guided sightseeing tour at Angkom Thom, the Bayon Temple, Ta Phrom and Angkor Wat
  • All-day guided sightseeing tour in Luang Prabang and to the Pak Ou Caves
  • Half-day excursion to the Kuang Si Falls
  • Admission fees to the sights and attractions mentioned

Further tours as optional extras:

  • Silver Waterfalls and Heaven’s Gate
  • Half-day excursion to My Son
  • Cooking classes at The Red Bridge
  • Cu Chi Tunnels

Single room supplement £630
Discounts for large groups

Choose this trip because...

The journey begins in adventure-filled Vietnam. Competent, local, English-speaking guides take you to the main sights in the long, beautiful country, and along the way, you have some time on your own to explore or relax. From Vietnam, you sail along the mighty Mekong River to Cambodia, where you will discover the country’s largest city and capital, Phnom Penh, before travelling to Siem Reap. A visit to Ankor Wat and the surrounding ruins will leave you with a lasting memory. The tour ends in Laos’ old royal city, Luang Prabang. The peace, quiet and idyll of Luang Prabang is just what you need to really digest the last weeks’ experiences of the best of Indochina.

Detailed Itinerary
(Click an image to view at full size)

Day 1: Flight from the UK

Departure from the selected airport in the UK with with connecting flights along the way.

Day 2: Arrival in Hanoi

After arriving in Hanoi, you go through immigration and collect your luggage. Your guide awaits for you in the arrivals hall with an Asia Tours sign. You are driven to your hotel, where you will spend the night. Once you arrive, the rest of the day is at your leisure. You could take a little trip to the small, busy streets in the exotic Old Quarter, while taking in the variety of sights and sounds of the city. Lake Hoan Kiem is close by. A walk around it takes about half an hour, and can be quite refreshing in the shade of the many big trees.

Overnight stay Authentic Hanoi Hotel ***

Day 3: Sightseeing in Hanoi - Night train to Sapa

After having breakfast, you check out and keep your baggage at the hotel. An exciting guided sightseeing tour awaits, taking you to the greatest sights of Hanoi. You visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, constructed in honour of the first president and father of the republic of Vietnam, who spent most of his life living and working in Hanoi. Please note that the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed every Monday and Friday, and is completely closed in the entire period from the beginning of September to the start of December.

Following a traditional Vietnamese breakfast, a visit to the imperial citadel Thang Long is next. For 13 centuries, the citadel was a centre of political power, and today it is recognised as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO.

You also visit the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, dating back to the year 1070. Here the nation’s powerful officials, the Mandarins, were educated in accordance with Confucian teachings.

Finally, you also see the iconic Long Bien Bridge over the Red River, getting a half-hour cyclo tour through the narrow, chaotic streets and squares of The Old Quarter.

The day is finally complete when you enjoy a cup of Vietnamese coffee at a local café with a view of lake Hoan Kiem.

At the end of the day, you return to your hotel and collect you bags. The guide then drives you to the train station , where you take the night train to Lao Cai.

Overnight stay Sleeper carriage on the night train, Hanoi - Lao Cai

Day 4: Arrival at Lao Cai – Transport to Sapa

In the mountains north of Hanoi is the small mountain town of Sapa. The region is famous around the world for its gorgeous nature, with grass-green, painstakingly-laid rice terraces, high mountains and ethnic mountain tribes in colourful clothing. The trekking routes are phenomenal –  on a good day, you can get a view of Vietnam’s highest mountain, Fansipan, its top often shrouded in clouds or fog.

Upon arrival at the Lao Cai train station you are picked up and driven to your hotel in Sapa, where a nice breakfast awaits you. Your room is ready for you the moment you arrive, so you can take a bath and unpack at your own pace and leisure. The rest of the day is at your leisure, and you are free to explore the small mountain town. The hiking trails start at the outskirts of the city, and make sure you don’t cheat yourself out of a visit to the local markets, where various ethnic tribespeople come to sell their crafts.

You have the option to purchase the following tours:

Overnight stay Sunny Mountain Hotel ***

Day 5: Walking tour in Sapa – visit a local Hmong family – Night train to Hanoi

You check out of the hotel after breakfast. You can keep your bags at the hotel, after which the guide takes you to this morning’s experiences.

You start by driving to where the small village of Ta Van sits snugly in the Muong Hoa valley. From here you set off on a scenic walk along the small paths between the rice terraces. You are on the way to Lao Cai, a valley that is home to the Black Hmong people. The view is fantastic across the valley. The rice terraces are neatly wrapped around the mountainsides, and the farmers walk along them with their oxen, ploughing the fields. On the way, you are invited to visit Mrs. Moo. She tells you about life up here in the mountains while you rest your feet in a traditional Hmong herbal foot bath.  Although she leads a simple life, it’s hard not to be a little envious of her daily view.

The Hmong are famous around the world for their colourful clothes, and in Lao Cai you are introduced to the Batik and get a chance to try your own hand at its craft. Batik crafts have been threatened by modern means of production, but local initiatives like this one in Lao Cai ensure that the tradition stays alive, so that it won’t become a distant memory. After the visit to Lao Cai, you head back to Sapa.

You have the afternoon to your leisure, until you are driven back to Lao Cai in the evening. From here you take the night train back to Hanoi.

Overnight stay Sleeper carriage on the night train, Hanoi - Lao Cai

Day 6: Arrival in Hanoi - Ha Long Bay

You arrive in Hanoi very early in the morning and are picked up at the train station. From there you are driven to a hotel, giving you a chance to relax and take a bath. After breakfast, you head on – this time, towards the Ha Long Bay.

The Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam’s most unique nature areas. Hundreds of green-clad limestone cliffs protrude from the sea almost vertically, and the water below shifts between deep blue to jade green over the course of the year. Many of the islands have large grottos. On the large Cat Ba island, there are several villages, some of the smaller islands have smaller fishing villages as well.

To tourists, the Ha Long Bay is primarily a world-class, gorgeous nature area, but to the Vietnamese it is also linked with legends of dragons and drama. The Ha Long Bay is approx. 1500 km² and was added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1994.

You are going on a mini-cruise in the Ha Long Bay. The boat sets off for the secluded islands out in the bay, letting you take in the beautiful scenery of the sea and beautiful isles. You can also experience life in a fishing village. You can also choose to just relax completely and enjoy life, the view of the islands and the floating fishing villages, perhaps sneaking in a swim in the turquoise water.

NB: In the event of inclement weather or storms, the Vietnamese authorities reserve the right to bar travel in the Ha Long Bay for safety reasons. This happens a few times a year. In this case, the mini-cruise will be replaced with a hotel stay and an excursion in Hanoi.

Overnight stay Emeraude cruise ship ****

Day 7: Ha Long Bay – Hanoi - Hué

Start the day with a refreshing dip in the warm, clear water of the Ha Long Bay, or perhaps you’d like to enjoy the sunrise from the ship’s magnificent sun deck. Breakfast is served as the ship calmly begins to make the trip back to port. On the way, there is still time for a visit to a grotto featuring both stalactites and stalagmites. Once you reach land, the trip continues by car back to Hanoi, then by plane to Hué. In Hué you are picked up at the airport and driven to your hotel.  The rest of the day is your own.

Overnight stay Êmm Hotel Hué

Day 8: Hué city tour

Hué was the capital of Vietnam from 1802 to 1945, and the ruins of the city’s royal past can still be experienced in the Citadel and the Imperial City. Today you visit the citadel. Built at the beginning of the 1800s, it was modeled after the Forbidden City in Beijing. During the Indochina War and later, in the Vietnam War, many of its buildings were damaged by bombs. Today the area is being restored to its former glory with the aid of UNESCO donations. The sightseeing tour also includes visits to the impressive imperial tombs, and concludes with a sail trip on the Perfume River. The afternoon is at your disposal.

Overnight stay Êmm Hotel Hué

Day 9: Hué – Hoi An

In the morning you drive a charming route from Hué to Hoi An. The route goes along the coast part of the way, then passes over the Truong Son mountains and through the world-famous Hai Van Pass, also known as “the pass in the clouds”.  You arrive at Hoi An in the late afternoon.

Once you check in at the hotel, it’s time for a guided walking tour of the Old Town in Hoi An, recognised as a world heritage site by UNESCO. This district is a spectacular example of an active, international port dating from the growth and golden age of the European East-Asian trading companies in the 1500s and on. You see sights including the Chua Ong pagoda, the 200 year old Tam Ky house and the Japanese Covered Bridge.

Overnight stay Êmm Hotel Hoi An***

Days 10 - 11: Hoi An

The days are spent at your leisure. Enjoy the beach, explore Hoi An, make an excursion to the temple region Cham, your options are many.

You have the option to purchase the following tours:

Overnight stay Êmm Hotel Hoi An***

Day 12: Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City

In the morning you are picked up at the hotel and driven to the airport, before flying to Ho Chi Minh City. This is the biggest city in Vietnam, and it is still often referred to by its old name, Saigon. It’s a hectic city, home to millions, where trade and foreign contact is everywhere. You are picked up at the airport and driven to your hotel.

In the afternoon, a sightseeing tour awaits you in the city. The sightseeing tour starts at the Central Post Office, which was designed by the world-famous French architect Gustav Eiffel. Later it’s time for the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, which was constructed from 1863 and 1880. From here you walk towards the Saigon River along the Dong Khoi shopping street, which held a central role in Graham Greene’s novel “The Quiet American”. You later pass the beautiful Saigon Opera House, which was completed in 1901. Your final stops on the sightseeing tour are the War Remnant Museum and the Reunification Palace, where the Vietnam War –  or the American War, as the Vietnamese know the war – ended on April 30, 1975.

Overnight stay Sonnet Saigon Hotel ***

Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City

You spend the day at your leisure in Ho Chi Minh. You can choose to explore the city on your own – take a look at the various markets or eat your way through the delectable street kitchens.

You have the option to purchase the following tours:

Overnight stay Sonnet Saigon Hotel ***

Day 14: Ho Chi Minh – The Mekong Delta

From its source, the Mekong River runs 4500 km through 6 countries to the delta at the coast south of Ho Chi Minh City.  The Mekong Delta is known as the rice bowl of Vietnam and is – as the name suggests – a lush place. The delta covers an area of about 40,000 m². The size of the area covered in water depends on the season and precipitation.

Today’s schedule starts with a drive from Ho Chi Minh city to the south, and soon enough, you see some green rice paddies. The climate here allows the farmers to plant and harvest 3 crops a year. You reach the city of Cai Be, famous for its markets floating on the Mekong itself. Here you board a private boat and sail through the city’s channels to visit the floating market. You sail through some sections of the immense labyrinth of channels and natural waterways to reach Vinh Long. On the way, you visit a bonsai garden, as well as some local craftspeople and producers. A good breakfast is included, where you can taste local specialities such as the “elephant ear fish”. It can only be found in the Mekong Delta, and its taste is divine. After breakfast, you continue your experiences in the waterways of the delta.

In the mid-afternoon, you reach Vinh Long and drive a good 4 hours to Chau Doc. Here you are up close to the Cambodian border – and deep within the Mekong Delta.

Overnight stay Victoria Nui Sam Lodge ***

Day 15: Chau Doc – half-day tour

You spend the morning at your leisure. Visit the local market, or some of the city’s temples, mosques or churches. Chau Doc is a melting pot of diverse cultures, living in peace and harmony on the banks of the Mekong Delta.

In the afternoon there is a boat trip through some of the countless channels and mangrove forests, passing small villages. Keep an eye out for birds and bats, and take in the life on the delta. Perhaps you can make a good trade with one of the various merchants sailing around the delta? You also visit a local Khmer village, setting a course past the local temple.

Overnight stay Victoria Nui Sam Lodge ***

Day 16: By speedboat from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh

From Chau Doc, a speedboat trip takes you along the mighty Mekong River. Today’s destination is Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The trip, which takes 4–5 hours, is in a comfortable speedboat. Along the way, you can observe the life along the banks of the river. Visas to Cambodia are obtained at the border, and the boat staff help to ensure that the process runs smoothly. On your arrival in Phnom Penh, you are met and driven to your hotel where you will spend two nights.

Overnight stay Harmony Phnom Penh Hotel ****

Day 17: Sightseeing in Phnom Penh

Today, a guided sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh awaits you. Not only is it Cambodia’s largest city, but it is also the country’s capital. The day begins with a visit to the royal palace. The palace was built in 1866, when the king moved his court from the city of Udong, which is situated roughly 40 km north-west of Phnom Penh and made Phnom Penh the capital of Cambodia. The palace is built in classic Khmer style, and is certainly one of the most beautiful sights in the entire city. The tour then heads to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which serves as a testament to the crimes of the Khmer Rouge. Some may find the visit a harsh experience, but it is important to remember that the museum conveys a historical reality for Cambodia.

Today’s tour ends with a trip to Choeung Ek, known worldwide as the “Killing Fields”, where more than 17,000 people were murdered and thrown into the mass graves by the Khmer Rouge. Late in the day, the tour heads back to the hotel, and you have the opportunity to explore Phnom Penh at your leisure in the evening.

Overnight stay Harmony Phnom Penh Hotel ****

Day 18: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap

You are picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport, from where you fly to Siem Reap. On your arrival in Siem Reap, you are met by a guide, who drives you to your hotel. You spend two nights in Siem Reap. The rest of the day is yours to relax or even explore Siem Reap.

Overnight stay Angkor Paradise Hotel ***

Day 19: Sightseeing tour to Angkor Thom – Angkor Wat

Today’s sightseeing tour takes you to one of the absolute highlights of Cambodia and the tour: Angkor’s magnificent temple complex. The area became a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1992. You start off at the south gate at Angkor Thom. You walk along the old city wall to see the temple ruin, Prasat Chrung. From there, you continue to the Bayon Temple, where you are greeted by ten smiling Buddha faces. You will also see the Elephant Terrace and the royal palace Phimeanakas and finally the famous Ta Prohm Temple, known for its many ruins, where the roots of the trees have fused with the buildings to a certain degree, holding the buildings together.

After lunch in Siem Reap, the tour heads to the best-preserved and most famous temple in the entire Angkor area, namely Angkor Wat. You explore the area, both with a guide and on your own, before going to Phnom Bakheng or Pre Rup to watch the sunset.

Overnight stay Angkor Paradise Hotel ***

Day 20: Siem Reap – Luang Prabang

You guide fetches you from the hotel and drives you to the airport. From here, you fly to Luang Prabang, where you are met by another guide, who takes you to your hotel. You spend three nights in Luang Prabang. The rest of the day is your own to start exploring Luang Prabang. The city is on UNESCO’s list of sites worthy of preservation, and is a truly unique blend of traditional Laotian architecture and French colonial era charm. The city’s rhythm is a chapter in itself, life is lived quietly and with a dignity rarely seen.

Overnight stay Villa Chitdara 1 **

Day 21: Luang Prabang sightseeing

Today, you are going on a guided sightseeing tour of beautiful Luang Prabang.

At the iconic Wat Xieng Thong temple, you will see a beautiful, traditional temple construction, but with a richly carved entrance covered in gold leaf. You also visit the National Museum, which is situated in the former royal palace. The contrast to the royal palace in Cambodia’s capital is striking. No visit to Luang Prabang is complete without standing on the top of Phousi Hill, after a climb of 328 steps. At the top, you can enjoy outstanding views of the city and the river.

Later in the day, you sail along the Mekong River to the sacred Pak Ou Caves. The caves are home to hundreds of Buddha statues in all manner of sizes, and are sacred to Buddhists. The trip to and from the caves is a wonderful experience in itself. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and the wind in your hair as the local life passes by. On the way back to Luang Prabang, you make a stop in a small local village. You are back in Luang Prabang late in the day and the evening is at your disposal.

Overnight stay Villa Chitdara 1 **

Day 22: Kuang Si Falls

Today, you’ll be getting up early! A very special experience in Luang Prabang takes place in the early hours of the morning, when 300+ monks proceed silently through the streets of the city to collect alms. All families send a representative onto the street with food or drinks, which is shared between the monks’ collection pots. As a spectator, you will be amazed by the respectful silence and great dignity with which this daily ritual takes place.

The rest of today’s experiences are located south of the city, where the crystal clear waters of Kuang Si Falls await you. At the base of the waterfall, a number of natural pools have formed, which you may swim in if you wish. By the waterfalls, there is also a centre for the beautiful Malay bears, which are a highly endangered species. This is partly due to the disappearance of their natural habitats, and partly because the bears are hunted for their bile, which is used in Chinese medicine.

The rest of the day is your own to explore Luang Prabang.

Overnight stay Villa Chitdara 1 **

Day 23: Departure Luang Prabang

You are driven to the airport where you catch a flight to the UK, with connecting flight(s) on the way.

Day 24: Arrival in the UK

You land in the UK after a lovely holiday.

Highlights of this trip:

Hanoi, ethnic minorities in Sapa, mini cruise in Ha Long Bay, the Imperial tombs and the Citadel in Hué, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, Phom Penh, the Killing Fields, Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Luang Prabang, the Pak Ou Caves, Kuang Si Falls

This package holiday includes the following:

  • Flight from the UK to Hanoi
  • Flight from Luang Prabang to the UK
  • 2 domestic flights in Vietnam: from Hanoi to Hué and from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City
  • 1 domestic flight in Cambodia: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap
  • 1 flight between Siem Reap in Cambodia and Luang Prabang in Laos
  • 18 nights at 3-star hotels
  • 2 nights in a 4-bunk sleeping car on the train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, round trip
  • 1 night on the 4-star mini-cruise ship Emeraude
  • Speedboat from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh
  • Local English-speaking guide on the tour
  • 21 x breakfast (days 2–22)
  • 9 x lunch (days 3, 6, 8, 9, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21)
  • 3 x dinner (days 6, 14 and 15)
  • Travelling in a car or minibus with air conditioning
  • 24-hour manned emergency telephone line throughout the tour
  • Departure guarantee – the tour goes ahead regardless of the number of participants

The following package of excursions are included:

  • City tour in Hanoi including the Temple of Literature and a Cycle tour of the old quarter
  • Half-day guided walking tour around Sapa
  • Overnight cruise in the Ha Long Bay
  • Hué city tour to the Imperial Tombs and the Citadel
  • Driving tour over the Han Van Pass
  • Hoi An’s Old Town, the Chua Ong Pagoda, the Tam Ky house
  • The Japanese Bridge
  • Notre Dame Cathedral, The Central Post Office, Dong Khoi street
  • The Opera House, the Reunification Palace
  • The War Remnants Museum
  • The Mekong Delta, sail trips, visits to small home crafts industries
  • All-day guided sightseeing tour in Phnom Penh
  • All-day guided sightseeing tour at Angkom Thom, the Bayon Temple, Ta Phrom and Angkor Wat
  • All-day guided sightseeing tour in Luang Prabang and to the Pak Ou Caves
  • Half-day excursion to the Kuang Si Falls
  • Admission fees to the sights and attractions mentioned

Further tours as optional extras:

  • Silver Waterfalls and Heaven’s Gate
  • Half-day excursion to My Son
  • Cooking classes at The Red Bridge
  • Cu Chi Tunnels

Single room supplement £630
Discounts for large groups