Indochina Tour - 14 days in through Asia top highlight destinations:
- Duration: 1 day / night
- From: $
|Day 1||Arrival Luang Prabang|
|Day 2||Luang Prabang|
|Day 3||Luang Prabang to Hanoi|
|Day 5||Hanoi to Halong Bay||(B,L,D)|
|Day 6||Halong Bay||(B,L,D)|
|Day 7||Halong Bay to Hoi-An||Halong Bay to Hoi-An|
|Day 8||Hoi An|
|Day 9||Hoi-An to Saigon||(B,L)|
|Day 11||Saigon to Phnom Penh||(D)|
|Day 12||Phnom Penh to Siem Reap||(B,D)|
|Day 12||Siem Reap||(B,L,D)|
|Day 14||Siem Reap||(B)|
Arrive at Luang Prabang Airport where you will be transferred to your hotel, the Boutique Hotel. This evening, take a walk through Luang Prabang's fabulous evening market with your local guide where there is an overwhelming selection of handicrafts on display, much which is produced and sold by locals from the many small ethnic minority villages surrounding Luang Prabang town.
After breakfast visit some of these priceless monuments around the old city, now under UNESCO protection as a World Heritage Site. Visit Luang Prabang's National Museum, formerly the Royal Palace. Displayed inside is a collection of personal artifacts of the former Laotian Royal Family, continue to visit the nearby Wat Mai - the five-tiered roof epitomizes the graceful Luang Prabang architectural style and Wat Sensoukarahm, which features a beautiful dazzling golden façade.
Visit Wat Xieng Thong - often said to be Luang Prabang's most beautiful. It is characterized by its several roofs sweeping low to the ground and the impressive "tree of life" mosaic. Stop for lunch at local Restaurant, enjoy a fresh menu of Lao dishes and are dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of the local cuisine.
After lunch, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure with the opportunity, for those that wish, to ascend to the summit of the forested slopes of Phu Sii Hill. Climb its 350 steps for some spectacular views out across the city and the surrounding countryside, taking in the majestic course of the Mekong and the hazy mountains in the far distance. Alternatively you may wish to visit the Traditional Art & Ethnology Center which is an excellent venue to discover more about the ethnic groups in Laos. (B,L)
This morning there is the opportunity to start the day early with one of the most memorable sights of Luang Prabang - The Tak Bat. At dawn hundreds of saffron robed monks move silently through the streets to collect alms (offerings of food). Your guide will explain the background behind this ritual which is still very much a part of everyday life in Laos. Take a stroll with your local guide through the colorful, open-air fresh early Morning Market. It's early but well worth the wakeup call! After breakfast, you will be free or exploring on your own before transfer to airport for flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. Upon your arrival in Hanoi, pick up and land transfer to the Silk Path Hotel for check- in. (B)
Enjoy an orientation of the tree-lined streets of Hanoi, resplendent with French colonial architecture, including the recently restored Opera House. Pass by Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Lake of the Restored Sword from the legend that surrounds it en-route to one of the city's fascinating museums (Army, History or Fine Arts, depending on your preference). Continue to the Temple of Literature, built in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, it is a serene retreat from the busy streets outside. Later it became Vietnam's first university. Then take to the streets on foot for a walking tour of the Ancient Quarter or 36 Streets District. This densely populated corner of the city was once a centre of commerce where goods were sold under the street name of a particular guild. Still a thriving community of sellers today, you will see street names such as Sugar Street, Tin Street and Paper Street. Ancient homes and temples are interspersed with stores in this souvenir hunter's paradise! Free at leisure in the afternoon.
Your cyclo (pedi-cab) awaits you for your transfer to the theatre where the ancient and unique art- form of water puppetry is enacted. The 'stage' is a pool of water in which the hidden puppeteer must stand (waist deep!) to skillfully maneuver dancing puppets attached to bamboo poles on its surface. Each short skit in the performance relates to the daily life of the people and featured are scenes such as 'Returning from School after Graduation' and 'Rearing Ducks and Chasing Foxes'. Following the performance you will transfer by private vehicle to dinner in one of Hanoi's many superb Vietnamese restaurants. Land transfer back to your hotel after the show. (B,D)
Start out early this morning on an overland drive to Halong Bay (approx. 4 hours drive). Made famous when it was featured in the French film Indochine - Halong Bay is dotted with thousands of limestone islands, their jagged points jutting out of an oceanic area of over 1500 sq. kilometres. Considered Vietnam's natural wonder, it is also believed to be home to its very own Loch Ness monster! Upon arrival at Halong Bay, board the Indochina Sails Cruise for a 3-day-2-night cruise.
On board the Cruise.
Continue with the activities onboard the Cruise until disembarkation. Return by road to Hanoi (approx. 4 hours). Transfer to the airport for the flight to Danang where you will be met by and transferred (30 km/approximately 45 minutes) to the Hoi An Resort for 2 nights.
Just a short drive from Danang is the unique trading town of Hoi An - a civilization cut off by destroyed rail lines and a silted river, leaving it untouched by war and almost frozen in time. No cars are allowed to pass through Hoi An, rendering it an excellent walking village. You are transferred from your resort to the town to start your walking tour which includes a visit to Chinese communal houses/pagodas, the unique Japanese covered bridge, architecture reminiscent of traders of a bygone era - Japanese, French, Chinese, and Indian, as well as beautifully preserved ancient houses. You will also have chance to visit the Hoi An local market or shop for art at one of the numerous galleries and enjoy the riverside ambience. We will also stop at the home of a craftsman in the old quarter for a silk lantern making workshop. We'll have a brief introduction to the history, shape and color of the lanterns, as well as the many stages of making them.
The afternoon is free to relax on the beach or spend further time exploring the old town. Hoi An is renowned for its tailor shops and for its production of cotton cloth providing an ideal opportunity to purchase made to measure clothes and shoes. There is also an optional excursion to My Son, Vietnam's most important Cham site, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. A number of the 70 towers dotted around this remarkable complex were damaged during the Vietnam War, but it still remains an important testimony to a unique culture.
Or opt for a half-day bicycle tour discovering Hoi An's surrounding countryside away from the crowds and to lesser known areas which still retain their authenticity and old world charm. This evening enjoy the Hoi An Full Moon Festival when the town turns off any excess lights and decorates the streets with candles and lanterns. Traditional music fills the air whilst tea lights float down the river in a truly magical evening. All of our tours are timed to coincide with this ancient event. (B) * Please note the activities are subject to change without prior notice
Transfer to Danang Airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Pick up and transfer for lunch at local restaurant before taking a half-day Saigon City tour. In this essential highlight tour we visit the former Presidential Palace, now preserved as a museum and including the underground communications bunkers, headquarters for the Saigon Government during the American War. Onwards to visit Notre Dame, an impressive neo-Romanesque cathedral in the centre of city. The 'wedding cake' styled hotel d'ville and Dong Khoi Street, formerly the centre of haute couture in Saigon when it was known as Rue Catinat. Then, continue to the History Museum, which houses an excellent display tracing the origins of the indigenous Vietnamese. Or alternatively you may wish to visit the Fine Art Museum of the city that is indispensable for those who are keen on Vietnam arts and culture or the War Remnant Museum which primarily contains exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War. The final stop would be the Jade Emperor Pagoda which is a Taoist pagoda first built since 1909 by the Chinese Community to worship to the Jade Emperor - King of the heaven, according to Chinese folklore religion. Guests are transferred back to the hotel or if interested guests can make the free wandering at Ben Thanh market for shopping, on your own. Drop at the Hotel Saigon for 2 nights.
Journey out of the city centre to the Cu Chi region where you will visit the vast underground network of tunnels built first as a defense against the French and later expanded during the American war. It was from here that the North Vietnamese waged their guerrilla warfare. You will marvel at their ingenuity and resilience. See secret trapdoors, underground kitchens, living areas and meeting rooms. The more adventurous may explore the deeper second, and even third level tunnels. For those preferring to remain above ground there is ample opportunity to view excavated areas from above. Your guide will advise you of the length and level of difficulty of each tunnel before entering - some are easily accessed by stairs. We recommend good walking shoes and sun protection for this tour and advise you may get a little dirty! The afternoon is free to relax at the hotel or spend further time exploring the City on your own.
On this morning tour our guide will collect you from your hotel and transfer you to District 4. District 4 is a triangular cay and the smallest within urban Ho Chi Minh being only 4 square kilometers. It borders the Saigon River which can be seen clearly as we head into the very heart of the vibrant and very local District. Our transfer will be to Ton Dan Street where we will begin our walking adventure. Almost immediately you will be in the middle of a street market with everything from fish and meat to wooden products and chickens being offered for sale. This is a daily occurrence and it is fascinating to pass by endless street vendors occupying simple stalls erected on the roadside and in front of local homes. The tour continues through the maze of vendors until heading off down one of the many alleyways towards the Xom Chieu Church (built since 1856). This Spanish style church has the body of a 100 year-old female Saint on display - not for the faint hearted and a cemetery inside the church which houses the remains of locals that were relocated during a land reclamation. The parish actually predates the Notre Dame Basilica. Surrounding the church are many statues, shrines and chapels. Our walk continues back through one of the many alleyways and eventually we cross Ton Dan Street and head for the Xom Chieu market. This market is surrounded by street vendors and also houses its own indoor market. Looks can be deceiving. Like so many of Saigon's markets, from the outside Xom Chieu is an eyesore: a horrible concrete egg carton of a building; grey, grim and bleak. But such is the buzz of people and produce around the perimeter of the market square, you quickly forget about the shortcomings of its facade. All along the outer edge of the market square there are food stalls selling delicious street food dishes and opposite them, under the concrete slabs of the market exterior, are fruit and vegetable stalls, all bursting with color in the early sunlight.
Through the narrow market entrance there's a tight outer circle of stalls specializing is all sorts of dried goods, kitchen equipment and bottled sauces. At the heart of the market, in a huge space filled with shafts of sunlight, the meat and fish take centre stage. The smells, visuals and sounds will attack your senses as we take in this vibrant market place. Heading back into the morning light we continue our walk (or get on the escorted car) and head towards the Long Buu Pagoda. Built in 1970 the Long Buu pagoda has been renovated many times and the architecture is a mix of Japanese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese architecture. It is a place that all Buddhists in District 4 gather together and the highlights are its main hall on the first floor with many wooden statues - the three largest of which are covered with gold. We conclude this tour with a well-earned cup of coffee or cold beverage at one of the numerous local cafes and then head back to your hotel by mid morning. Leaving Ho Chi Minh to the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, filled with countless testaments to Cambodia's fascinating history and colonial heritage. Upon arrival at Phnom Penh International airport, you will see our professional English speaking guide and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon, you will visit the Royal Palace, which was built in 1866 by King Norodom. The Palace is actually a number of structures within a pagoda-style compound. Silver Pagoda located within the Royal Palace compound, the Silver Pagoda is so names because of its floor, which is made up of 5,000 silver tiles.
The treasures are a solid gold Buddha encrusted with 9, 584 diamonds and weighing 90kilos and a small 17th century emerald and baccarat crystal Buddha. Next visit the National Museum, which houses Khmer art especially sculptures, from different periods of Cambodian history, 19th century dance costumes, royal barges and palanquins. You will also visit Wat Phnom, a symbol of the city was built in 1372 by 'Penh' to house the four Buddha statues found on the banks of the Mekong. Located on a man-made hill 27m high in the middle of Phnom Penh, Wat Phnom is a revered place of worship for all Khmers and is the namesake of the capital. Overnight at Hotel and dinner at local restaurant.
This morning, our guide will drive you to visit the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, a former high school. In the Pol Pot time they took this school as a prison for detentions and torture of prisoners. After interrogation the prisoners were transferred to Cheung Ek, to be killed. Then continue to visit Cheung Ek, a profoundly moving but depressing experience. During the Khmer Rouge years, thousands of Cambodians were tortured and imprisoned in Toul Sleng.
They were then moved to the extermination camps at Choeng Ek where they were bludgeoned to death and they were buried in mass graves. Nowadays, a large memorial has been built to commemorate the 17,000 victims who died here under the reign of Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot. The remnants inside the memorial and the mass graves that dot the area remind you of the suffering of the victims. Besides the tragic past, you will also start to appreciate the tremendous courage of the Cambodian people to move on and rebuild their nation. Afternoon flight to Siem Reap. Transfer to the Angkor Resort for 2 nights.
Visit Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world, with a volume of stone equaling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt. It is unlike all the other Khmer temples in that it faces west, and is inspired by 12th Century Hinduism. Its symmetrical towers are stylized on the modern Cambodian flag. Conceived by Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat took an estimated 30 years to build. It is generally believed to have been a funeral temple for the king.
It has been occupied continuously by Buddhist monks and is well preserved. Intricate bas-reliefs surround Angkor Wat on four sides. Each tells a story. The most celebrated of these is the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, which is located on the east wing. In it the Naga serpent, is twisted by demons and gods to spurt out the elixir of life. Enjoy sunset at Angkor Wat. Dinner at local restaurant.
This morning, you visit the monumental magnificence of Angkor Thom - last capital of the Khmers, with its Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and the stunning Bayon temple and Baksei Chamkrong. This 12th century masterpiece lies at the very centre of Angkor Thom and is an archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive bas-reliefs but the highlight is the "faces", more than 200 of them, silent but with the famous half-smile playing on their lips. PJ de Beerski wrote of them; "godliness in the majesty and the size, mystery in the expression." This morning, you will visit Ta Prohm, the temple that has been left largely in its natural state since its "re-discovery" by French explorers. Surrounded by jungle, its labyrinth of stone hallways is overgrown with the roots and limbs of massive banyan trees, which envelop the stone like tentacles. It is one of the largest temples at Angkor, dedicated in 1186. Historians have noted its mystical charm. Lunch at hotel. This afternoon, you drive to Banteay Srei; the citadel of women - a tiny, enchanting temple, which is one of the jewels in this remarkable city. Built of red sandstone in the tenth century and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the carved male and female figures in the niches are exquisitely executed in both style and proportion. This is the most Indian of all the temples in Angkor and in the words of H.W. Ponder, is a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest. Continue to Banteay Samre, is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia located east of the East Baray. Built under Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II in the early 12th century, it is a Hindu temple in the Angkor Wat style. Named after the Samré, an ancient people of Indochina, the temple uses the same materials as the Banteay Srei. Dinner with show at local restaurant - included
This morning, you drive to Ton Le Sap Lake, the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia, is the lifeblood of the Cambodian fishing industry. The Mekong River, from as a far away as Phnom Penh, reverses the direction of the Ton Le Sap river to bring an overflow of water and silt to support both rice growing and the breeding fish of many sizes and varieties. Hopping on board a small shaded vessel and moving between the floating homes and small fish farms you will experience close up, daily lake life. On the way back to Siem Reap town between the palms and other large vegetation you may take an optional visit to a development project teaching young adults, stone carving, wood carving, lacquer application, Les Artisans d' Angkor is a heart-warming reminder that progress in Cambodia. Afterwards you'll transfer to the airport for your evening onward flight .