Tailormade tour Indochina Explorer touring holiday Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

13 Nights/14 Days

Hanoi • Ha Long • Danang • Hoi An • Ho Chi Minh City • Siem Reap • Luang Prabang

This 13-night tour of Indochina provides the opportunity to discover the gems of Indochina in comfort and style. Highlights include the grand city of Hanoi, dramatic Ha Long bay, a cooking class in Hoi An and the sights of old Saigon in Vietnam; the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia and a taste of atmospheric Luang Prabang in Laos.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £5,090 per person.

Luxury touring holiday with local guides of Indochina visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

Highlights

Hanoi • Tran Quoc Pagoda • Ha Long • Danang • Hoi An • Ho Chi Minh City • Jade Emperor Temple • Siem Reap • Angkor Wat • Luang Prabang • Wat Xieng Thong • Pak Ou Caves

Day by day

You will be met on arrival and transferred to the Sofitel Metropole Hotel for 2 nights. Hanoi is a heady mix of ancient and modern where grand colonial mansions line equally grand boulevards and lakes and parks add colour to the city. After time to rest, ride around the Colonial and Old Quarters on a cyclo to discover the city’s architectural mixture, from French colonial to communal houses with Chinese features. This evening enjoy dinner at a restaurant in a restored French colonial building.

Enjoy breakfast and a morning at leisure. This afternoon visit the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century and the serene Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest in Hanoi, on the banks of Hanoi’s Ho Tay (West) Lake. This will be followed with the excellent Ethnology Museum for an overview of Vietnam’s 54 distinct ethnic groups. This evening watch a performance of traditional Water Puppetry - an art form unique to northern Vietnam.

After an early breakfast, drive to Ha Long Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karst’ landscape. Board the luxurious Violet Cruise wooden junk to visit the busy World Heritage area and then to an island beach. Weather permitting, there will be the opportunity to swim, fish, and climb a hill for an overview of the bay’s remarkable seascape. From there, board a tender to visit a fishing village. It will also be possible to explore one of the bay’s sea level caves in a small sampan or a kayak. The route is designed to avoid the busy areas and includes a very quiet location for your overnight stay.

Wake for a swim or Tai Chi session on the large sundeck. After a light breakfast, visit one of the most famous caves in the Bay. Return to the junk for brunch while cruising back to dock around noon. Drive to charming Yen Duc village with its small lanes and picturesque fields. Enjoy a performance of the uniquely Vietnamese Quan Ho singing and explore the historic ‘cave 73’ on Canh mountain to learn of the wartime struggles of its inhabitants during the French occupation. Visit a local house for lunch to meet and chat with the villagers and walk through the fields to Canh Huong Pagoda. Return to Hanoi late afternoon for an evening flight to Danang. Check-in to the Fusion Maia Danang Resort for 3 nights.

After breakfast, drive to the local market in Hoi An to purchase ingredients and then meet a local restaurateur who will teach you how to cook some of Hoi An’s traditional cuisine. After lunch, enjoy a guided tour of the Ancient Town before returning to the hotel.

The day will be free for strolling in the town or relaxing on the beach.

After breakfast, drive to the airport for a morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Check-in to the Caravelle Hotel for two nights. Formerly known as Saigon, this high-energy city is a dizzying mix of modern skyscrapers and ancient pagodas. This afternoon you have a guided tour of the city. Visit the Reunification Hall, the Jade Emperor Temple - one of the best Taoist temples in Vietnam – and Binh Tay market, located in China Town. Return to the hotel before an evening dinner cruise on the Saigon River.

After breakfast, visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels, a Byzantine maze of underground passages, chambers, rooms and booby traps used by both the Vietminh and the Viet Cong to suddenly materialise to launch a lightning ambush and vanish equally rapidly. After lunch, return to Ho Chi Minh City for the rest of the day at leisure.

This morning, fly to Siem Reap in Cambodia. Check-in to the Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor for 2 nights. Siem Reap has undergone a recent renaissance but at its heart it is still a small charming city by the Tonle Sap River with tree-lined boulevards and old French shop-houses. This afternoon you visit Angkor Wat - the largest and most impressive temple in the complex. Walk to the summit of Phnom Bakheng Hill for sunset over the whole complex.

After breakfast, visit Angkor Thom, starting with the Bayon, a bizarre structure of several architectural changes reflecting a switch from Hinduism to Buddhism. Then visit the Elephant and Leper King Terraces followed by the Baphoun Temple, which is now nearing the end of an eight-year multi-million-dollar restoration programme. After lunch, visit Ta Prohm, strangled by massive tree roots and typical of the condition of the whole complex when it was discovered in 1860. You will also see the Prasat Kravan (also known as the Cardomom Sanctuary) and Srah Srang Lake and landing terrace. The Srah Srang is less touristy and could be a sunset alternative to Angkor Wat.

After a leisurely breakfast, transfer for your noon flight to Luang Prabang and check-in to La Residence Phou Vaou for 3 nights. Encircled by mountains and sitting at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, produce markets, coffee shops and historic French colonial buildings sit alongside gleaming temples.

After breakfast, visit the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong, the roofs of which sweep low to the ground, typical of the classical architecture of Luang Prabang. This is followed with a walk around Wat Mai temple and a visit to the ‘Day Market’. After lunch, climb up the steps to the top of Mount Phousi for a panorama of the ancient royal city and the Mekong River - the evening views can be spectacular if there’s a good sunset. Mount Phousi also has many shrines and votive statues, topped by a large gilded stupa. In the evening, you may wish to stroll around the Night Market, where you can find handmade textiles made by locals and ethnic minorities from the surrounding countryside.

After breakfast board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, giving a panoramic view of the tranquil countryside as well as an interesting visit to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves - two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by pilgrims. En route, stop at the village of Ban Xanghai, where the local speciality of rice wine is produced. Once back in Luang Prabang, drive a short way to Ban Phanom, a village well known for its hand weaving. Also visit Ban Xangkhong and Ban Xienglek, small villages well-known for silk weaving and for saa (jute) papermaking.

You depart today for the airport and your flight home.

Holiday price guide From about £5,090 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code VNDG02

Luxury touring holiday with local guides of Indochina visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

Holiday price guide From about £5,090 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code VNDG02

Our prices include ● Return scheduled flights with Vietnam Airlines from London to Hanoi and returning from Luang Prabang via Hanoi in economy class
● Regional flights from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap and Siem Reap to Luang Prabang including airport taxes
● Domestic flights from Hanoi to Danang and Danang to Ho Chi Minh City, including domestic airport taxes.
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Hanoi
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast on the Ha Long river cruise boat
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in Danang
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Ho Chi Minh City
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in Siem Reap
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast in Luang Prabang
● Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary)
● Private transfers and sightseeing tours in an air-conditioned large car
● Services of an English-speaking guide
● Cooking class in Hoi An
● Entry fees for all visits included on the itinerary
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, payable locally to the hotel
●Visas
●Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses
●Camera fees where applicable

Luxury touring holiday with local guides of Indochina visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this touring holiday as suggestions, but they can be substituted by others in the same region, if you have a preference to stay elsewhere.
Hotels included in this tour

Holiday price guide From about £5,090 per person based on two people sharing a double room and including for economy flights from London.

Holiday Code VNDG02

Luxury touring holiday with local guides of Indochina visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

Highlights of Vietnam

Boat trips on Halong Bay, with the more adventurous able to explore its caves and secret lagoons by kayak, paddling around its limestone peaks; the long, sweeping beaches of Nha Trang; Vietnamese cuisine, bursting with fresh, vivid spices, as delicious in roadside food stalls as in top restaurants such as Mango Rooms in Hoi An; historic, riverside Hoi An, with superb galleries, particularly Apricot and Mai Tai galleries in the Old Quarter, and Dong Phong Art Gallery in the French Quarter; full-moon ‘Legendary Nights’ in Hoi An, when vehicles are banned from the Old Town, which is transformed into a magical land of silk lanterns, traditional food, song and dance, and games in the streets; explore Phong Nha Cave, the largest and most impressive cave in the country; cycle through Ho Chi Minh City, the city where bike is king; the beaches and unique Cham architecture of Quy Nhon; the rugged mountain retreat of Sapa, home to a plethora of minority tribes, and gateway to the Tonkinese Alps; the mountain town of Dalat; Cat Tien National Park, a lush refuge for city dwellers with ample hiking and bird-watching, plus elephants, crocodiles and the endangered Javan rhino; the beaches of Mui Ne; river trips on the Mekong river, past river towns and sleepy villages, floating markets and fish stalls; the white-sand beaches of Phu Quoc, a little developed forested island gem; Hue, the old imperial capital and now the intellectual, cultural and spiritual heart of Vietnam.

Travel around Vietnam

The 1,600-mile Vietnamese railway system, operated by Vietnam Railways, runs along the coast between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and links the capital with Hai Phong and northern towns. While sometimes even slower than buses, trains offer a more relaxing way to get around and more room than the jam-packed buses. Vietnam has an enormous number of rivers that are at least partly navigable, but the most important by far is the Mekong River and its tributaries. Scenic day trips by boat are possible on rivers in Hoi An, Danang, Hué, Tam Coc and even HCMC, but only in the Mekong Delta are boats used as a practical means of transport. Boat trips are also possible on the sea. Cruising the islands of Halong Bay is a must for all visitors to north Vietnam. In the south, a trip to the islands off the coast of Nha Trang is popular.

Facts in brief

Capital Hanoi
Airport There are three international airports in Vietnam. They are Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City, Noi Bai airport in Hanoi and Da Nang Airport in Da Nang.
Size 128,000 sq. miles
Population 95 million

Luxury touring holiday with local guides of Indochina visiting Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

Highlights of Cambodia

Angkor Wat, with its near-900 year old temples, a staggering ancient city you could spend a lifetime exploring; river trips on the Mekong, particularly the stretch between Siem Reap and Battambag; the south-coast islands and their bone-white beaches; the sleepy seaside town of Kampot, gateway to a myriad of caves and pagodas; trekking in Bokor National Park, with its rainforest hikes and French colonial ruins; elephant trekking in the jungles of Mondulkiri Province; looking for some of the region’s last remaining Irrawaddy river dolphins at Kratie; the mountains, waterfalls and pristine crater lakes of the north; the hilltop temple of Prasat Preah Vihear; Koh Ker, the 10th century capital with its fascinating ruins; hilltop temples of Battambang; explore the jungles and mangroves, waterfalls, islands and beaches of the southern Cardamom Mountains; swim in a volcanic caldera in Virachay National Park; Kompong Cham, with its beautiful rice paddies, and sugar palms, pagodas and temples; Phnom Penh, the ‘Pearl of Asia’, shining once more with superb museums and sublime riverside setting; Siem Reap’s vibrant arts scene and fabulous riverside setting; cocktails overlooking the Mekon on the second-floor terrace of the Foreign Correspondents Club in Phnom Penh.

Travel around Cambodia

Buses provide an excellent service in Cambodia, but travelling by boat is a more romantic option, and a key element in the country’s transportation system, with more than 1,000 miles of navigable waterways, and the Mekong the country’s lifeblood. Best section, at least for scenery, is between Siem Reap and Battambang, though it is painfully slow. Car and motorcycle rental are comparatively cheap in Cambodia and many visitors rent a car or motorcycle for greater flexibility to visit out-of-the-way places and to stop when and where they choose.

Facts in brief

Capital Phnom Penh
Airport Phnom Penh and Siem Reap
Size 70,000 sq. miles
Population 16 million
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