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Indochina Snapshot Tour

18 days, 17 nights

Introduction

Our most popular trip starts in Bangkok and covers the essentials of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and is a photographer’s dream.  Unique morning rituals in Luang Prabang, scenic Ha Long Bay, the Imperial City of Hue, treasures of the Mekong Delta combined with the majestic images of Cambodia will fill you with life long images surely have you coming back for more.


Brief Itinerary

Day 1: Bangkok - Luang PrabangElephant afternoon in Luang Prabang
Day 2: Luang Prabang City tour and Pak Ou Cave
Day 3: Luang Prabang - Elephant Riding - Hanoi/Vietnam

Day 4: Ha Noi City Tour
Day 5: Ha Noi - Ha Long Bay
Day 6: Ha Long - Hanoi - Hue
Day 7: Imperial Tombs -
the Imperial Citadel
Day 8: Hue - Da Nang - Hoi An
Day 9: Hoi An - My Son - Da Nang - Nha Trang
Day 10: Nha Trang – Boat trip to the islands
Day 11: Nha Trang - Ho Chi Minh City - City Tour
Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City - Tay Ninh - Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City
Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City - Can Tho
Day 14: Can Tho - Chau Doc

Day15: Chau Doc - Phnom Penh/Cambodia -
The Killing Fields - Toul Sleng Museum.
Day 16: Phnom Penh City Tour – Fly to Siem Reap
Day 17: Sunrise at Angkor Wat – Angkor Thom - Angkor Wat - Sunser at Angkor Wat
Day 18: “Grand Circuit” - Rolous Group – Siem Reap Departure


Day to Day Itinerary


Day 1: Bangkok - Luang Prabang

On your arrival in Luang Prabang, you are met by a Lao guide.  Hotel transfer is followed. You check into your hotel and if time permits we take a small tour.

We are off to the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre.  The Centre exhibits ethnic clothing, household objects, religious artifacts, and handicrafts, with information in English and Lao languages.  The Museum Shop sells books and exclusive handicrafts and photos from ethnic communities. From here we start our walk up to Wat Phu Si for sunset.  Wat Phu Si sits high above Luang Prabang offering excellent views of the town.

After dinner we suggest a visit to the Night Market to examine local handicrafts and souvenirs found only in Luang Prabang.

Accommodation: Overnight at your proposed Hotel from our list
Transit: 1 hour flight/transfer airport by car or minivan
Walking time: 3 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: none


Day 2: Luang Prabang City tour and Pak Ou Cave

In the morning, we’ll then visit the old Royal Palace which was built in 1904 during the early French colonial era as a residence for King Sisavang Vong and his family. The building features a blend of Lao motifs and French beaux-arts styles. We continue to Wat Visoun which was built by Visounnarat in 1513. It is the oldest operating temple in Luang Prabang. We continue to Wat Xieng Thong which was built by King Setthathirat in 1560. It is Luang Prabang’s most magnificent temple.  We then drive east to Thai Lu village of Ban Phanom, which is well known for cotton and silk hand – weaving. We finish our half day tour at Ban Xang Khong, Sa paper making village and back to the town for lunch.

After lunch, we drive slightly north of town and take a boat across the Mekong River to Pak Ou Cave.  Pak Ou is a popular pilgrim destination for local people.  The caves are filled with images and statues of Buddha and are a holy site for Lao People.  The upper and lower caves are explored and we will make an offering.  Only a short distance away from the Pak Ou Caves, lies the village of Ban Xang Hai. This village has for centuries made the earthen jars used as fermenting containers for Lao wine. Nowadays, it specializes in producing a wide range of lau lao (Lao whisky) and lau hai (Lao wine). Be sure to try just a little! We return down river by boat to Luang Prabang is in the late afternoon. 

Accommodation: Overnight at your proposed Hotel from our lisl
Transit: Short period transfer from between locations of City Tour/0.5 hour to Pak Ou by car or minivan/1.5 hours by boat
Walking time: 3 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 3: Luang Prabang - Elephant Riding - Hanoi/Vietnam

After breakfast, you depart at about 8:30-9:00 a.m. Together with your local guide, you will proceed to the Elephant Park Project area about 15 km out of town and in the middle of a green, natural surrounding just on the banks of the Nam Khan river. After crossing the small river at the “Lao Spirit Resort”, you will be introduced to our protected Asian Elephants and go out for a

scenic ride. Enjoy the new perspective and the wonderful nature on this 1-1.5 hr. ride. A stunning landscape, tranquility and lush nature gives you a relaxed stay on the back of the Elephant. Lean back in your seat and enjoy… On the ride you make your way through forests and along the Nam Khan river. The ride brings you to/from the amazing waterfalls of Tad Sae waterfalls in July-January (In the dry season, Feb.-August, we walk through rice paddies, on the river bank and into the nearby Village, that is supported through the Elephant Park Project.) At the Tad Sae waterfall you can hang out go for a swim or a short walk into the forest. A short boat ride/transfer on the Nam Khan is also included. We return to Luang Prabang at about 13:30 -14:30.

You take an afternoon flight to Hanoi. On your arrival in Hanoi, you are met by your Vietnamese guide. You transfer to your hotel, check in and, if time permits, take an orientation in the Old Quarter.

Note - we are working with animals and in the nature, time changes may appear at any time. Bring shoes that can get wet!

Accommodation: Overnight at your proposed Hotel from our list
Transit: Short boat ride/1-1.5 hours elephant ride/ 1 hour flight/transfer airport by car or minivan
Walking time: 1 hour
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 4: Ha Noi City Tour

Today we spend a full day exploring the capital city and our first visit is to the Ho Chi Minh Complex.  We first visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum - the number one place of pilgrimage of Vietnam to pay respect to Uncle Ho. We continue to the Residential Palace - a beautifully restored colonial building constructed as the residence of the Governor General Indochina and now used for official receptions that is not open to public yet.  We then spend time at Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts where he lived on and off from 1958 to 1969.  The house is built in the style of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities, sitting in a well-tended garden next to carp-filled pond.  We then continue to One Pillar Pagoda, Hanoi’s most famous pagoda is designed to resemble a lotus blossom, symbol of purity, rising out of a sea of sorrow.  Our last visit before lunch is the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first university. It is an excellent example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture.

 

We break for lunch at local restaurant. Afternoon, we continue to the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. The museum features a fascinating collection of art and everyday objects gathered from Vietnam and its diverse tribal people. This wonderful museum is quite away from central Hanoi, but it shouldn’t be missed. On the way back to town, we’ll visit Tran Quoc Pagoda which is one of the oldest temple of Vietnam and Quan Thanh Temple, one of the four important temples, each located at North, South, East and West of Hanoi and dedicated to the Gods who are the guardians of the old capital Thang Long.

Accommodation: Overnight at your proposed Hotel from our list
Transit: 1.5 hours from location to location by car or minivan
Walking time: 3 - 4 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 5: Ha Noi - Ha Long Bay

You arrive in Hanoi very early in the morning, transfer to hotel to refresh and have breakfast. We then leave for Ha Long through the Red River Delta with its scenery of rice fields, water buffalo and everyday life in the villages. Upon arrival, you will get aboard a Traditional Style Junk and enjoying a well-prepared lunch of local fresh seafood while the junk cruises among thousand of odd shaped limestone islands. You will have opportunity to visit Surprise Grotto and have a swim at the Titop beach or follow the steps all the way up to the top for a view over the Bay below. You will then have dinner on board while watching sunset.  Should you feel like taking another swim, there will plenty of time. (Additional Option: Kayaking).

Accommodation: Overnight at your proposed Hotel from our list
Transit: 2 hours by car or minivan
Meal plan: B, L, D


Day 6: Ha Long - HanoiHue
You enjoy breakfast in the fresh
morning air and serenity of the bay while the junk will continue its way among thousands of islets. You will then cruise through several beautiful views of Teapot Island, Chopstick Island, Horse Saddle and even Charles De Gaulle Island. You may wish for a swim before your lunch is served. The Junk will disembark Halong wharf at noon, where your bus is waiting to transfer you back to Hanoi. You will arrive in Hanoi about 16.00.

On arrival in Hanoi, you have time for shopping in the Old Quarter and take the evening flight to Hue. You transfer to hotel, check in and spend the night in Hue

Accommodation: Overnight at your proposed Hotel from our list
Transit: 2 hours by car or minivan
Drink: not included
Meal plan: B, L


Day 7: Imperial Tombs - the Imperial Citadel

In the morning, we take another cruise on the Perfume River to visit the extravagant mausoleums that were constructed along this water’s edge. We first visit the Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc who had the longest reign and lived a life of ultimate imperial luxury and then the Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang, the most majestic of the royal tombs.  Our river journey includes a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, an icon of Vietnam and has become an unofficial symbol of Hue. During 1960s and 1980s, it became a flashpoint of anti-government demonstration.

 

Afternoon, we’ll then continue on to the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled the country between 1802 and 1945 and the Ruins of the Purple Forbidden City which was constructed for personal use of the emperor and was entirely destroyed during Tet Offensive 1969.  After our tour of the Citadel, we drive out to Thuan An beach for sunset over the South China Sea.

Accommodation: Overnight at your proposed Hotel from our list
Transit: Riverboat, 1 hour total by car
Mean plan: B, L


Day 8: Hue - Da Nang - Hoi An

Today we depart for Hoi An, another World Heritage Site, via Da Nang. Along the way we stop at Lang Co Beach - a crystal clear turquoise lagoon beach followed by the spectacular view from atop Hai Van Pass.  Our next stop is in Da Nang at the Museum of Cham Sculpture where you can see the finest collection of Cham sculpture in the world. 

 

Following lunch, we continue to Hoi An. We check into hotel and stroll around the town visiting the Japanese Covered Bridge. The bridge was constructed in 1590 by the Japanese community to link them with Chinese quarter and a few interesting stories about the bridge will be revealed. We continue to the Museum of Trading Ceramics where a collection of white and blue ceramics of the Dai Viet period and a great ceramic mosaic are worthwhile.  Our next destinations are a sampling of beautiful architecture styles including Tan Ky House - a private home that features Japanese and Chinese influence, the Assembly Hall of the Cantonese Chinese Congregation - the temples and pagodas of molded on Chinese style. We end our day by walking along Silk Street of Hoi An. You may have your silk clothing made in just a few hours!

Accommodation: Hotel selection from our list
Transit: 3 - 4 hours by car/bus
Mean plan: B, L, D


Day 9: Hoi An - My Son - Da Nang - Nha Trang

Following breakfast, we depart for My Son, a World Heritage site, 40 km southwest of Hoi An. Located in a verdant valley; My Son was a capital and religious center of Cham people. My Son is considered to be in the same league as some of Southeast Asia's greatest archaeological sites, including Angkor in Cambodia, Bagan in Myanmar and Ayutthaya in Thailand.  The towers and sanctuaries were built from the 7 to 13 centuries and have survived war and time itself with care from Vietnam.  Vietnam’s dedication to My Son is to honor the distinct heritage of the Cham People.

 

After visiting My Son, we head straight to Da Nang, have lunch and take the afternoon flight to Nha Trang. On arrival in Nha Trang, we transfer visit Cham Po Nagar Temples and then back to town for check-in.

Accommodation: Hotel selection from our list
Transit: 2 hours by car/transfer airports
Walking time: 1 hour
Walking difficulty: Easy
Mean plan: B, L


Day 10: Nha Trang – Boat trip to the islands

You enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then take a morning boat trip to visit islands offshore. With 71 islands in remarkably clear water, the boat trip to these islands is one of the best reasons for visiting Nha Trang.  We’ll visit the Mun Island and Tri Nguyen Aquarium.  Lunch is served on the Tam Island.


After lunch, enjoy swimming and relaxation before returning to Nha Trang.

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 30 minutes by car/ boat cruise
Meal plan: B, L


Day 11: Nha Trang - Ho Chi Minh City - City Tour

After breakfast at the hotel, you transfer to airport for an early flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival, we take a sightseeing tour.

 

We start a sightseeing tour to the Reunification Palace, which was once the symbol of South Vietnamese Government until end of April 1975, and some French colonial structures including the Notre Dame Cathedral – a neo-Romanesque with two 40m-high square towers tipped and the Old Central Post Office. We break for lunch, check into your hotel and a little nap if needed.

 

In the afternoon, we continue to visit Cho Lon or China Town – a jewel box of interesting Chinese-style temples such as Thien Hau (the Protector of Mothers and Newborns and Quan Am Pagodas (the Goddess of Mercy) – the most active pagodas in Cho Lon. Emperor Jade Pagoda – one of the most spectacular and colorful pagodas in HCMC and the War Remnants Museum. We end the tour at Ben Thanh Market – a huge indoor market selling all manner of good surrounded by one of the city liveliest area.

 

We end our day by late afternoon. If you feel like thirsty after a long day sight seeing, the local beer Ba Ba Ba (333) is sure to satisfy!

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: Transfer airport/ 1 hour flight/ short journeys around HCM
Walking time: 3 - 4 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy
Meal plan: B/L


Day 12: Tay Ninh - Cu Chi Tunnels

Today we drive west to Tay Ninh, the head quarter of one of Vietnam’s most interesting religions, Cao Daism. The Cao Dai Great Temple is one of the most striking structures in all of Asia. On arrival we attend mid-day prayer session but will not disturb the worshippers. The hall is filled of colored robes, a symbol of the curious combination of the Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism – Vietnam’s Triple Religions.

 

On the way back, we visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, an underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese fighters during the struggle for independence. The tunnels contained hospitals, accommodation, etc. and were used as a military base for the Vietcong in the American War. Cu Chi has become legendary and a place of pilgrimage for Vietnamese school children and communist party cadres.

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 4 hours by car
Walking time: 2 - 3 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy, tunnels are slightly challenging
Meal plan:  B/L


Day 13: Ho Chi Minh City - Can Tho

Breakfast is followed by transfer to Cai Be. Here we take a boat for the cruise on the Upper Mekong River to visit a Cai Be Floating Market – a bustling river market. Customers in smaller boats can easily find what they need from wholesalers on bigger boats that hang samples of their goods from tall wooden poles. The trip to Vinh Long past beautiful small islands in the river gives an overview to agriculture, especially the growing of tropical fruit. We’ll also visit a boat building site and some small islands (time permitting).

 

At Vinh Long, we have lunch and transfer to Can Tho. Can Tho is the centre and largest city of Mekong Delta. The city is connected to most other population centers in the Mekong Delta by a system of canals and rivers. We spend the night in Can Tho.

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 3 hours by car, 2 hours by boat
Walking time: 2 - 3 hours
Meal plan: B/L


Day 14: Can Tho - Chau Doc

Leave Can Tho, we drive to Chau Doc. The amazing journey takes us 4 hours to get there. Chau Doc is a pleasant little town situated on the bank of the Basac River, close to the Cambodian border. On arrival, we check in hotel, enjoy lunch in one of many excellent restaurants in town.

 

In the afternoon, we visit a bonsai garden and head up Sam Mountain for a great sunset and a bird’s eye view over the paddy fields towards Cambodia.

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 4 hours
Walking time: 1 - 2 hours
Meal plan: B/L


Day 15: Chau Doc - Phnom Penh/Cambodia - The Killing Fields - Toul Sleng Museum.

We depart at 8am for a boat cruise from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh. The boat takes us along the Mekong River. It continues on to the Vietnamese/Cambodian border and then to Phnom Penh. The journey takes approximately 4 hours. On arrival, we transfer our hotel and enjoy lunch at a Khmer Restaurant.

Later in the afternoon, we head to the Tuol Sleng Prison Museum where your guide will explain the history of the Khmer Rouge and walk you through the different museum displays. After watching the movie they show every day, we drive out to the Killing Fields, where a memorial stupa and shallow pits remind visitors of the thousands killed under the Pol Pot Regime.

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 4 hours by boat
Walking time: 1 hours
Walking difficulty: easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 16: Phnom Penh City tour – Fly to Siem Reap

After breakfast, we start a sight seeing tour around Phnom Penh. We’ll visit the National Museum where pre-Angkorean pieces, as well as special pieces from the temples are housed. We walk over to Silver Pagoda, located within Royal Palace compound. It is so named because of the floor made up of over 5000 silver tiles. We then visit the Royal Palace to see the amazing royal collection and the beautiful architecture, just north of the Royal Palace. It was built by King Norodom and still is home to the royalty.

We break for lunch and continue to the renowned the renowned Central Market complex until the flight to Siem Riep in mid afternoon. Upon arrival, we’ll check in and take a walk around the town. You spend two nights in Siem Riep.

Accommodation: Your choice of hotel from our list
Transit: 1 hours fly, short transfer from and to the airports
Walking time: 2 hours
Walking difficulty: easy
Meal plan: B, L


Day 17: Sunrise at Angkor Wat – Angkor Thom - Angkor Wat - Sunser at Angkor Wat

Before breakfast we drive to Angkor Wat to witness sunrise over the plain of Angkor.  We’ll return to the hotel for breakfast and then begin exploring the temples of Angkor.  We start with South Gate of Angkor Thom and then enter.  We then proceed with a full tour of this complex seeing Bayon, Angkor Thom, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. 

Lunch at a nearby restaurant and in the afternoon we’ll continue on to Ta Prohm and then spend the rest of the afternoon at Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is a World Heritage Site since 1992, renowned for its beauty and splendor. Angkor Wat features the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which runs along the outer gallery walls and narrates stories from Hindu mythology. Angkor Wat was a temple dedicated to the Hindu God - Vishnu. It was constructed over a period of 30 years by King Suryavarman II, who reigned between 1131 and 1151.  Depending on your choice, we can view sunset from Angkor Wat or Bakheng.

Accommodation: Hotel or guesthouse from our list
Transit: 2.5 hours by car
Walking time: at your discretion
Walking difficulty: Easy, temple areas are uneven surfaces and some steep stairs
Meal plan: B, L


Day 18: Grand Circuit” - Rolous Group – Siem Reap Departure

Today we continue our tour of the temples of Angkor Wat and continue what is called the “Grand Circuit”.  Our first stop is Preah Kahn followed by Neak Pean, Ta Som and Pre Rub or Prasat Kravan. 

Lunch today is back in Siem Reap and following our break, we drive a little east of town for a visit to the Rolous Group of ruins, Bakong, Preah Ko and Lolei.  We return to town and take evening flight to Bangkok.

Transit: 3 hours by car, 1 hour flight
Walking time: 2 - 4 hours
Walking difficulty: Easy, temple areas are uneven surfaces and some steep stairs
Meal plan: B/L


Our trip includes

  • English speaking guide
  • Accommodation as indicated
  • Meals as indicated
  • Transfer and pickup airport
  • Transportation by car or minivan and boat
  • Flight Luang Prabang – Hanoi, HanoiHue, Da Nang – Nha Trang, Nhatrang – Hochiminh City
  • Tour as indicated
  • Entrance fee

Our trip excludes

  • Other domestic and international flights not indicated
  • Visa & visa arrangement
  • Meals not indicated
  • Drinking water, soft drink and alcohol
  • Tips & personal expenses

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