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I am totally captivated by Asia. Having lived in Singapore, Nepal, South Korea, and Hong Kong, traveled extensively across all of our destinations in Asia, and worked in luxury travel for many years, curating exceptional trips comes naturally to me.
- from $5,323 PP
- 14 Nights
- Oct - Apr
- 12 hrs from London / 20 hrs from NYC
This complete tour showcases the very best of former Indochina – Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Privately guided throughout, you’ll enjoy fine food, great hotels, fantastic hospitality, a treasure trove of unforgettable travel memories. Start in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi, the first of several colorful and characterful Southeast Asian cities to be explored on this trip. Continue down the Vietnamese coast, passing through Lan Ha Bay, imperial Hue, charming Hoi An, and pulsating Ho Chi Minh City. You then fly across to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, before landing in Siem Reap, home to the magnificent temples of Angkor. The trip then concludes in magical Luang Prabang, a laidback and endlessly captivating Laotian city that boats heritage, culture, gastronomy, and luxury in equal measure.
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- 14 nights in 4-5 star accommodation
- Daily breakfast throughout plus other meals as per itinerary
- Private transfers and tours throughout, accompanied by private English-speaking guides
- Regional flights as described
- 24/7 support from our dedicated staff
- Flexible, personalized itinerary based on your interests
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Hanoi: Arrival into Noi Bai International Airport
Your begins with your arrival into Noi Bai International Airport. You’ll be greeted by your private English-speaking guide, and then private driver, and together they will transfer you to your downtown hotel.
Located in the northwest of the Red River Delta, Hanoi translates as “the hinterland between the rivers.” It’s also a city of lakes, with 18 found here, the most prominent of which is the picturesque Hoan Kiem lake situated right in the city center, just south of the bustling Old Quarter. A heady mix of Eastern and European styles, Hanoi is a fascinating and fun place to explore independently.
Your guide will provide a brief introduction to the city during the transfer and after checking into your accommodation you’ll have the remainder of the day to relax, or to head out and discover plenty of places to drink, dine and shop.
Day 2 Hanoi: City tour of the Vietnamese capital
After breakfast you will meet your guide and head out for a private tour of the city. Start with a visit to the Temple of Literature, the first university in the country, built in 1070 instructing the teachings of Confucius. You’ll then enjoy a walking tour of the atmospheric and energetic Old Quarter, which includes a short stop inside a family home to learn more about local life and lifestyles. Continue to the highly photogenic Ngoc Son Temple which sits proudly in the middle of Hoan Kiem lake, before rounding out the morning with a lunch at a local restaurant. The afternoon is then yours to relax back at the hotel or continue exploring independently.
Day 3 Lan Ha Bay: Transfer to Lan Ha Bay for an overnight cruise
After an early breakfast you’ll be transferred out to the mouth of the Red River delta, making for Tuan Chau Marina, from where you’ll begin your overnight cruise in Lan Ha Bay. Lan Ha is the less-visited but equally stunning neighbor to Halong Bay (which has begun to suffer from over-tourism), made up of 100s of dramatic karst outcrops and islets. Your overnight cruise will pass through some truly breathtaking scenery, and will include excursions such as visits to small and sparsely populated islands, kayaking or swimming, and cooking demonstrations. Accommodation is in an extremely comfortable private cabin, with dining and service on board second-to-none. Please note that your local guide is not permitted to join you on board; all excursions will be led by cruise guides and shared with other passengers.
Day 4 Hoi An: Disembark and fly down to Hoi An
You have the option of an early start for an energizing Tai Chi lesson on the sundeck before the cruise begins its sail back to the mainland. Breakfast and a further excursion on board will be included before you disembark back in Tuan Chua. You’ll be met by your private guide and driver once more and then transferred to the airport for an onward flight down to Hoi An.
Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port. It was most active between the 15th and 19th centuries, with much of the infrastructure dating back to the time still standing. The whole town is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
On arrival, your private guide will take you for a walking tour of the Old Town, with its narrow (and pedestrianized) streets full of historic shophouses. Take in the Phuc Kien Pagoda, the Japanese wooden bridge, and the lively central market. You will also find a great many tailoring outlets; Hoi An is famous for its tailors and is a great place to pick up well-priced bespoke clothing. Please speak to your guide for a recommendation.
Day 5 Hoi An: Cycling tour around Hoi An
Your guide will meet you after breakfast and together you will cycle out into the scenically and culturally rich countryside which surrounds Hoi An. Passing through paddy fields, coconut forests, farmland, and picturesque villages, you will cycle along quiet and flat tracks for approximately 6km, although this can be extended or shortened depending on your interests. The village lanes will bring you to an organic farm, where you will stop to spend some time learning about farming practices and get hands-on if you wish. You will also enjoy a basket boat ride along the Do River which finishes at the farm’s restaurant, where you will enjoy lunch.
The rest of the day is then at leisure. There is a wealth of activity on offer in Hoi An: take in a cycling tour of the nearby countryside and villages, shop for clothes or crafts in the Old Town, ask your guide about a side tour to the rural My Son temples, or spend the day relaxing back at the hotel or on the nearby beach.
Day 6 Hue: Scenic drive to Hue; afternoon Imperial sightseeing
After breakfast, you will depart Hue and be driven back north up the coast to the former Imperial capital, Hue. First pass through the port city of Danang, then the famous Da Nang Beach which was an R&R center for American GIs, before turning to the spectacular Hai Van Pass, passing up through the clouds and following a snaking path between the Marble Mountains and the South China Sea.
Arrive in Hue late morning. Set on the banks of the Perfume River, the city was the former home of the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 to 1945. Although Hue suffered heavy bombing during the ‘American War’, most of its cultural treasures thankfully still stand, and it remains a pleasant, laidback city with an easy-to-explore center and enticing riverside night market.
In the afternoon your guide will lead you around the city, starting at the Imperial Citadel. This sprawling complex covers an area of 520 hectares comprising three circles; the Hue Capital Citadel, the Royal Citadel, and the Forbidden Citadel. In the afternoon visit the Royal Mausoleums of former emperors Tu Duc and Minh Mang, built according to the laws of geomancy. Close the day with a sunset cruise on the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda, a working Buddhist monastery that dates to 1601, and remains a symbol of the city.
Day 7 HCMC: Fly down to Ho Chi Minh City; evening Vespa street food tour
This morning you’ll be transferred to Hue Airport from where you’ll take a short domestic flight down to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). Upon arrival you will be greeted by a new guide and driver who will transfer you to your downtown hotel.
Ho Chi Minh City is among Asia’s most dynamic and enthralling cities. Older travelers will know it by its former name Saigon – it was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1976, although you’ll find many locals still use the former name. Today’s HCMC is a dynamic metropolis of skyscrapers and shopping malls, juxtaposed with sprawling traditional markets and ancient temples. The former colonial center is especially charming, with French institutions such as the Opera House, Post Office, and Cathedral still standing in all their gothic splendor.
In the evening you will be picked up for a part-nocturnal excursion, part street food adventure – a tour of the city and its nightlife on the back of vintage Vespa scooters. Taking you through Chinatown and central Districts 1 and 4, the tour includes stops at several bars and cafes, with all food and drink included.
Day 8 HCMC: Cu Chi Tunnels by speedboat and city tour
After breakfast you will be transferred to Bach Dang jetty, where you will board a shared speedboat boat to the Cu Chi tunnels. This river journey provides a glimpse of the changing faces of Vietnam – the glittering skyscrapers and busy commercial center give way to green paddy fields and pottery villages dotted along the Saigon River. The Cu Chi tunnel complex was initially started in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. The tunnels also served as communication routes, storage facilities for food and weapon caches as well as hospitals and living quarters for guerrilla fighters throughout the American war.
A visit to the underground villages will provide a better understanding of how the tunnels were constructed, the hardship of life in the tunnels, and the Vietnamese resilience during combat. Note that the Cu Chi tunnels have been widened in places for visitors, however they can still be dark, hot, and claustrophobic inside so please bear this in mind if you do not like enclosed spaces.
Day 9 Phnom Penh: Fly to the Cambodian capital; Evening food tour
This morning you’ll be transferred back to Saigon Airport and then board a short flight across the Mekong Delta to Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is one of Asia’s most exciting and fastest-growing cities. Get settled into your room and enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure. If you want to take a stroll, you’ll find many elegant colonial buildings and grand boulevards which saw Phnom Penh donned the “Paris of the East” during the 1920s. We highly recommend a visit to the Central Market, an astonishing piece of Art Deco architecture which contains vast hallways housing countless stalls selling all sorts of items.
As the sun dips you will head back out to explore the vibrant Cambodian capital’s drinking and dining scene. Your guide will first take you to a rooftop bar for a sundowner accompanied by epic views. You’ll then be whisked away by ‘remork’ (as tuk-tuks are known in Cambodia) to a hidden back-alley restaurant, where you’ll whet your appetite on local Cambodian-style tapas. Next stop is main course at another fantastic hidden gem, well known by locals and expatriates but far from the tourist trail, where you will feast on Cambodian barbeque and locally-brewed beer. End the evening with coffee and dessert in the heart of Phnom Penh’s lively riverfront nightlife area. From here you can either be taken back to the hotel for a well-earned rest or – armed with suggestions from your guide – continue the night independently.
Day 10 Siem Reap: Phnom Penh city tour, then fly to Siem Reap; sundowners at Angkor Thom
After breakfast you will meet your guide and head out for a private tour of the city. Begin at the attractive Royal Palace, and then the neighboring Silver Pagoda, covered in approximately 5,000 silver tiles. Afterward you’ll explore the massive collection of Khmer sculptures and artifacts in the National Museum which were recovered from the ancient Angkor Empire. You will then learn more about the sober recent history of Cambodia, visiting the infamous Tuol Sleng prison and then the “Killing Fields” of Choeng Ek where over 17,000 civilians were killed and buried in the 1970s. These visits can be skipped should you prefer – please discuss locally with your guide.
After the sightseeing, you’ll be transferred to Phnom Penh Airport for your flight over to Siem Reap. While best-known for the temples and ruins of Angkor, once the world’s largest and greatest pre-industrial city, Siem Reap also offers opportunities to explore museums, markets, and buzzing nightlife. Once checked in you will have the remainder of the day free to rest and recuperate at the hotel, or jump in a tuk-tuk and head out to explore.
In the late afternoon, you’ll be taken for your first taste of Angkorian temples, exploring the labyrinthine Banteay Kdei, with its intricately carved hall of Dancing Girls. You’ll then be taken to the moat of Angkor Thom, enjoying a leisurely boat ride as the sun sets, with cocktail in hand.
Day 11 Siem Reap: Temples of the forest tour; Afternoon cruise on Tonle Sap
Wake early this morning to enjoy the lesser-visited corners of the Angkor complex at their quietest time of day. Head first to Srah Srang, Angkor’s expansive 700m x 350m reservoir, which glows a deep orange at sunrise. Continue to the legendary jungle temple Ta Prohm, its crumbling ruins now held together with roots and vines. A 15-minute walk through the forest north of Ta Prohm then takes you to Ta Nei where you’ll be served a delicious picnic breakfast. At this time of day you’re likely to have the entire temple site to yourselves. A short drive then brings you to the final stop of the morning – Ta Keo, known as the ‘Mountain of Bronze Peaks’, with its impressive five-tiered pyramid structure. You’ll be dropped back at your hotel in the mid-morning and have some time to relax.
As the sun dips head out to the great Tonle Sap Lake: the richest freshwater fishing ground in the world and a Cambodian national treasure. A privately guided boat tour will introduce you to the communities that live around the margins of the lake, who adapt to the continual variation in water levels by building their homes on floating stilts. Take the opportunity to pause at the stilted houses to learn how a subsistence fishing family lives, before returning to shore, where you will find some cool sundowners have been prepared for you.
Day 12 Luang Prabang: Sunrise at Angkor Wat, then fly to Luang Prabang
This morning you will visit Angkor Wat, the mother of all temples. Timings are flexible but we recommend visiting at dawn, seeing the sun climb over the temple and bathe it in the softest and best light of the day. Angkor Wat is reputed to be the largest religious complex in the world. Constructed over 30 years during the reign of Suryavarman II, it was originally a Hindu mountain temple, then later converted to Buddhist use in the 16th century, remaining in such use today. The sheer scale of Angkor Wat, coupled with the incredible complexity and detail of its bas reliefs, is difficult to comprehend.
Freshen up back at your hotel, then head back to Siem Reap Airport for your flight over to Luang Prabang. Arrive in the late afternoon, and after an introduction to your Laotian driver and guide you’ll be transferred to your hotel and have the evening to relax. Your guide will give you a brief orientation of the ancient town with its many excellent options for shopping and dining later this evening.
Magical does not begin to cover the experience of Luang Prabang, the former capital of Laos which sits at the confluence of the Nam Kha and Mekong rivers. This ancient, pocket-sized city has a population of just 50,000, around half of whom reside in a thin peninsula that falls wholly under UNESCO World Heritage Status thanks to a dazzling array of historic Buddhist sanctuaries and gorgeous traditional architecture. A UNESCO decree prevents any modern development within the Old Town, ensuring its atmosphere and character are remarkably well preserved. Spiritual nourishment is the order of the day here with many fine boutique hotels offering luxurious comfort, combined with an immersive array of activities which include food tours, photography walks, encounters with monks and former royalty, and a whole world of gorgeous mountain scenery to be discovered on all sides.
Day 13 Luang Prabang: Walking tour of the ancient city; Sunset cocktail cruise
This morning you’ll meet your guide for an immersive walk through the UNESCO-protected old town of Luang Prabang. Begin at the beautiful Royal Palace, a marvel of Laotian architecture which also houses the excellent National Museum next door. A short walk away you’ll also find the temple of Wat Mai, with its dazzling gold-leaf bas relief. All through these visits your guide will provide insight on Luang Prabang’s history and it has been influenced by spirituality. Continue through to Wat Sensoukarahm, and then finish at the oldest and most revered temple in Laos, Wat Xieng Thong, which sits at the tip of the peninsula and houses many fine reliefs, artworks, and mosaics. The afternoon is then free to relax back at the hotel or potter the shops, eateries, and galleries of the ancient city independently.
As an addition to this tour, ask your consultant about an early start (around 6am) to partake in the ‘tak bat’ alms-giving, a 14th-century ritual that sees vermillion-clad monks pace through the old town collecting offerings of food from locals.
In the early evening you’ll be picked up again for a private sunset cruise on the Mekong River. Enjoy a selection of Lao snacks accompanied by chilled wine or Beer Lao as you watch the sun dip behind the mountains, coating the scenery in a rich palette of oranges, pinks, and reds.
Day 14 Luang Prabang: Breakfast at Kuang Si Falls
Make an early start this morning to visit Kuang Si Falls. Located around 30 minutes drive from Luang Prabang, this series of azure cascades and rock pools has become an icon of Luang Prabang. The site can become very busy during the day, so you’ll be timing your visit early when the Falls are blissfully quiet and cool. Take your time to walk the forest trails around the falls – jumping in for a dip if you wish – before sitting down to a picnic breakfast.
Head back to your hotel to freshen up and then spend the rest of the day at leisure. There’s so much on offer in Luang Prabang, so make sure to ask your consultant how best to spend this day. For adventure enthusiasts, enquire about vigorous hikes or cycling in the surrounding hills, or kayaking adventures upriver to the revered Pak Ou Caves. For nature lovers, trips to a nearby elephant sanctuary or the beautiful Botanical Gardens are highly recommended. Families will enjoy an immersive rice-farming experience or a visit to the Lao Dairy, where you can get hands-on in producing Indochina’s best (and only!) buffalo cheese. Further cultural and spiritual immersion can be found via private audiences with monks or local artists.
Day 15 Luang Prabang: Departure day
Sadly your adventures in Indochina must come to an end. At the appropriate time, you’ll be transferred privately from your hotel back to Luang Prabang Airport, arriving in good time to check in for your onward flight.
What's not Included
- As we have clients from all over the world. Our itineraries do not include flights. If you would like us to include flights in your trip, we are happy to do so. Please speak to your travel specialist at the planning stage to include them.
- Gratuities for local guides
- We strongly advise all guests to purchase comprehensive travel insurance
- Visas if required
Hotel de l’Opera, Hanoi
Anantara Hoi An Resort
Hotel Saigon Morin, Hue
Hotel Des Arts Saigon
Baitong Hotel, Phnom Penh
Jaya House River Park, Siem Reap
Mekong Riverview Hotel
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