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On this Indochina Culture & Beach Tour you’ll explore the world’s greatest treasures including spectacular Angkor Wat, charming beauty of Halong Bay and peaceful town of Luang Prabang. End of the tour is a highlight with beach relaxation in Sihanoukville. It’s a vacation of a lifetime!
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DAY 01: LUANG PRABANG ARRIVAL
Arrive in LUANG PRABANG, your local guide will pick you up then transfer you to the hotel in for check in. After checking in, enjoy the remainder of the day free at leisure.
In the early evening, you may consider having the first dinner in Laos at the incredible Blue Lagoon Restaurant, one of the best fine dining restaurants in town, offering traditional Laos cuisine in a lush contemporary setting. It is also worth exploring on your own the Luang Prabang’s bustling night market, which is open daily from dusk until about 10:00 PM. Taste local street food, drink the famous Laos Beer and buy souvenirs for your family and friends.
Wake up early for a pre-dawn experience of Luang Prabang. Begin by climbing the 328 steps to the top of Mount Phousi, before the sun comes up. Enjoy panoramic views of the city, surrounding countryside and witness the breathtaking sunrise, one of the most unforgettable sights on this tour. Then we return hotel for breakfast.
Continue with an interactive tour of Luang Prabang, a delightful mix of exquisite temples and French colonial. Discover what makes this UNESCO city so unique. First, we will take a visit to the former Royal Palace (now the National Museum) which was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family. The museum hosts a range of interesting artifacts from the Royal period in Luang Prabang.
Followed by Wat Mai, one of the largest and most richly decorated temples in Luang Prabang and Wat Sene. Next stop is the Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument to the spirit of religion, royalty and traditional art. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant where it is possible to sample Laos traditional dishes.
After lunch, continue tour to visit the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun (Wat Wisunarat), oldest operating temple in Luang Prabang. It was built in 1513 under King Wisunarat’s order. Pay a visit to Wat Aham which means “Monastery of the Opened Heart” and Wat That means "the Stupa temple" one of the most symbolic religious relics in Luang Prabang. Finish our today’s tour with the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center, a private and non-profit museum which is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the many ethnic minorities existing in Laos.
In the early morning, wake up early to the sound of the temple gong and observe the Morning Alms-giving Ritual procession. You would get a better understanding of local people's piety towards their religion and belief. Return to the hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast, your driver will transfer you to a boat jetty on edge of the Mekong River. Start a Mekong River Cruise trip on the mighty Mekong River to visit the famous & sacred Pak Ou Buddha Caves. These caves, overlooking the confluence of the Mekong & Ou Rivers from on high, have been home to many thousands of Buddha images that were placed here by local people since 16th century. On the way back, make a short stop along the way to visit a local village where they make a living from weaving on ancient wooden looms. After that, broad back Luang Prabang for lunch.
In afternoon, we continue to visit Kuang Si Waterfalls, where you can enjoy beautiful natural scenery, have fun in waterfalls and relax. On the way back to your hotel in Luang Prabang, stop to visit a Black Hmong village. There is a chance to see and chat with villagers who make handicraft as souvenirs and sell them for visitors.
After breakfast, spend some free time at leisure. You can see the glinting stupas at the summit of Mount Phousi, the hill that stands over 300 feet tall at the city center or stroll along the ancient streets or indulging in the sweet, buttery pastries.
Soon your private transfer will ferry you to the airport for the flight to HANOI, Vietnam’s vibrant capital. Be met by your local guide and transported to hotel for check in.
After a refreshing night’s sleep, begin your journey this morning encompassing some of the highlights and hidden gems of Hanoi. The city showcases superb French architecture from its colonial days, with large tree-lined boulevards and low-built mansions and houses.
Depart the hotel for a visit to the Temple of Literature, founded by fatherless King Ly Thai Tong in 1076 and was Vietnam’s first university. Built in 1076. The compound was established to educate Vietnam's royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years. Its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer fascinating glimpses into Vietnam’s past.
Nearby, pay a visit to Hanoi’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. The Citadel was built on a Chinese fortress dating back from the 7th century and re-built in the 11th century by the Ly Dynasty. The historical site and its remains represent a unique fusion of traits, with influences from the ancient Kingdom of Champa in the south and China in the north. Head to the One Pillar Pagoda, one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples, founded by fatherless King Ly Thai Tong in 1049.
Close by is the monumental Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which houses the embalmed body of the communist leader in a glass coffin then the wooden stilt house where the president Ho Chi Minh resided in his later years. Ho Chi Minh himself, a spartan-living and scholarly man, chose not to live in the Presidential Palace; he preferred instead a simple teak stilt-house specially built for him in the grounds.
NOTE: Sites are viewed from outside; closed on Mon and Fri and from Oct-Nov.
After lunch, follow your guide to Hanoi’s picturesque West Lake area and the sixth century Tran Quoc Pagoda, Hanoi’s oldest Buddhist temple, originally built in the sixth century, and the Taoist Quan Thanh Temple. Return to visit Hanoi Old Quarter, with a walking tour through the charming Hang Be Market and around Hoan Kiem Lake before finishing the day with a water puppet show. This is a uniquely North Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history.
Following an early breakfast, leave Hanoi for a 4-hour (approximately) drive to HALONG BAY, Vietnam’s most popular UNESCO World Heritage Site! Upon arrival around noontime to Halong City’s pier, proceed with check in formalities and board a Halong Bay cruise for a five-hour journey on the emerald green waters of beautiful Halong Bay, dotted with more than 2,000 towering karst islands topped with dense jungle foliage.
Lunch (with fresh seafood) will be served on board while cruising into the bay. In the afternoon, enjoy sightseeing, on-board activities or just spend some time relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board.
The scent of fresh brewed coffee rouses you from sleep. Wake up early to enjoy a memorable sunrise over the karst formations of Halong Bay. Watch the mist disappearing over the cool air of the sea where the karsts become suddenly visible and the water’s bejeweled color begins to shine again. After that, enjoy the delicious breakfast while the junk cruises back towards the port through more limestone formations.
Upon arrival to port, disembark and being transported back to the Noi Bai Airport for the domestic flight south to the bustling HO CHI MINH CITY.
NOTE: If time and practical conditions permit, en route to the Hanoi airport, stop to visit unique so-called Thanh Chuong Palace, the home and studio of painter Thanh Chuong, one of the most celebrated painters in Vietnam. More a living space than a museum, the palace is an architectural gem featuring Vietnamese traditional cultural objects, exquisite antiques and remarkable structures.
Reaching HCMC in the evening, you will be met and transported to the hotel for check in. Free at leisure at your hotel.
This morning, you guide and driver will pick up you then provide you with a 2-hour drive to the CAI BE, a region in the Mekong Delta Region, often referred to as ‘the rice bowl of Vietnam’. Cai Be is famous for its colorful floating market, vast emerald rice fields and lush back waterways.
Upon arrival, board a local motorized vessel for the a day cruise in the delta’s waterways. First we stop to visit a small handicraft factory on Turtle Island and to visit a tropical fruit orchard. There is also a chance to visit a cottage factory where ‘pop-rice’, rice paper and coconut candies are made. Later we will take a horse-drawn cart ride along country roads, admiring the scenery and the daily life of the local villagers and enjoy a taste of the locally-produced honey, and explore the Xep Canal by boat.
Lunch will be served in the local Mekong style with specialties of the area. After lunch we pay a visit to the Vinh Trang Pagoda, surrounded by beautiful gardens, in My Tho Town, before driving in the late afternoon to CAN THO and spend the night.
DAY 09: CAN THO – CU CHI TUNNELS – HO CHI MINH CITY
Today is an exciting and busy day, as you rise early to visit the Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho.
Then retrace your steps back to HCMC, en route stop to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, the remarkable underground tunnel network where Vietcong guerrillas hid out during the Vietnam War. Containing over 170 miles of networks and just 20 miles away from HCMC, the tunnels continue to burrow through the countryside, constructed deep enough below ground to not have been affected by rumbling tanks or aircraft. You’ll see secret trap doors, living areas, meeting rooms and underground kitchens while you can also view excavated areas if you prefer to remain above ground. Have lunch at a local restaurant.
Late in the afternoon, return to HCMC, the city once known as Saigon, continuing its whirling energy, filled with vitality that carries you along for the ride.
OPTIONAL: After having experienced the frenzy of Saigon by day, discover the lively local streets by night. Join the locals then have chance to sample authentic Vietnamese food. Tour concludes around 10.00 PM.
Begin our city tour in HCMC this morning with a visit to the Reunification Palace (formerly known as the Presidential Palace). This place was also where the Vietnam War concluded in 1975, when a Communist tank of the North Vietnam crashed through its gates.
From the palace, stroll to the other major sights of colonial city of Saigon: the elegant 19th century Old Saigon Post Office, elegant artistry of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Saigon Opera House. Continue to the War Remnants Museum (or History Museum) where exhibition halls display imagery of both the French and ‘American’ wars.
NOTE: History Museum is closed on Mondays.
After the museum visit, pay a visit to the Jade Emperor Pagoda located on the fringes of District 1. The visit will gain you very good insight into local culture and belief. Return to your hotel for refreshment.
This morning, fly to PHNOM PENH, the city located at the confluence of three rivers, the mighty Mekong River, Bassac River and Tonle Sap River. For a long time, it has been a vital trading hub for whole Cambodia and region. On arrival in Phnom Penh Airport, you will be welcomed by your local Cambodia travel guide and transferred to the hotel for check in.
After that, take an orientation tour with your guide. Despite its recent turbulent and tragic history, the city still retains much of its former colonial charm with wide, verdant tree-lined boulevards and classic colonial architecture buildings. Firstly, head to the Khmer-style National Museum which is house of the world’s finest collection (over 5,000 pieces) of ancient Khmer artistic, archaeological, and religious artifacts from the 4th to the 13th centuries.
Travel along the lively riverfront to the impressive French built Royal Palace, whose spectacular pagoda style structure is without doubt one of Phnom Penh's most impressive sights. A replica of King Norodom's old wooden palace, the building presents an ostentatious display of elaborate Khmer architecture, with golden nagas, orange, sapphire and green tiles and scenes from the Ramayana painted on the ceiling. The Palace also houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors. In this temple, view a collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze.
Continue to the Tuol Sleng Museum and Killing Fields, which provide gruesome testaments to life under the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot, the skull filled glass tower a vivid memorial to the 17,000 men, women and children who were murdered there between 1975-1978.
NOTE: You should be aware that by their very nature Tuol Sleng and the 'Killing Fields' can be a distressing experience for some people.
Late in the afternoon, take a sunset river cruise along the Mekong river, observe daily life of local, enjoy the sunset view on the river. Then return to your hotel for relaxation.
Fly to SIEM REAP in the morning. Soon you will find yourself within reach of Siem Reap, the charming gateway to the famed Temples of Angkor. Upon arrival, be met then transported by your local guide to the hotel for check in. After settling into your accommodation, you will be on the verge of bursting with anticipation, so close to the cultural majesty of the 12th century temple. Siem Reap is a city that feels like a sleepy traditional town with pockets of modern luxury along the main streets near the Siem Reap River.
This afternoon, begin our exploration at the South Gate of the colossal fortified city of Angkor Thom. Surrounded by an 8-metre-tall wall, the entrance to the Angkor Thom Complex is through an impressive stone gate carved with elephants and four giant faces. On each side of the entrance path there’s a row of 54 gods or demons holding a sacred Naga snake.
Continue to the Bayon Temple in the exact heart of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur and is well-known for its 54 towers with enigmatic faces representing the 54 provinces of the Great Khmer Empire.
Late in the afternoon, drift a relaxing cruise in a gondola paddle boat at the moat of Angkor Thom Complex while enjoying a beautiful sunset at Prasat Chroung Temple.
Instead of joining visitors hoping to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat, start the day with a tour to the temples of the Small Circuit in Angkor by local tuk tuk then make your way to the illustrious Ta Prohm Temple, built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries. This temple is recognizable for its feature in the movie Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie, but is also a true treasure due to the surrounding nature that has attempted to overtake the stone. It is unique in that it has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple having crumbled to the ground.
The visit will also include Banteay Kdei, a Buddhist monastery from the late 12th Century, and Srah Srang, also known as the “pool of ablutions”. Then we come to the hotel for refreshment.
After relaxing at your hotel to escape the heat of the midday, enjoy a 20-minute drive from Siem Reap to Kompheim Village then embark on a two-hour walking tour which provides insight into village life in Cambodia. Visit local homes for a firsthand look at how the local villagers live. Get to learn about rice farming and see ox and buffalo while strolling through rice paddies, and interacting with locals.
NOTE: By participating the village tour, half the proceeds go directly to a village enrichment fund managed by HUSK, a non-profit NGO that works with communities to improve the lives of Cambodians.
Lay back in the morning until your driver transfers you to the airport for a flight south to SIHANOUKVILLE. Located on the Gulf of Thailand, Sihanoukville is one of the relaxation paradises in southern Cambodia.
Wrap up your Culture and Beach Tour of Indochina today. You have visited all the best highlights of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, from picturesque landscape, tranquil villages, ancient capitals, tasty food and cuisine to iconic museums within a culture that was once foreign but is now familiar and endlessly friendly.
Laid back until your private transfer ferries you to the Phnom Penh Airport where you will catch your onward flight.
Private Tour (for 02 pax, cheaper if more)
Tour Price Includes
15 hotel night accommodation
Local English speaking guides
Meals as mentioned
Boat in Luang Prabang, Cai Be, Can Tho, Tonle Sap Lake
All sightseeing as specified and entrance fees included
Bottled drinking water per touring days
Overnight junk boat in Halong Bay
Tour Price Excludes
Visas if required
Other meals not mentioned in the program
Domestic and international flights (quoted separately)
Items of a personal nature such as laundry, drinks, etc...
Tips for your guides and drivers
Any camera or video fees at any sites
When to Go
See estimated monthly temperature and rainfall for this itinerary