17 days / 16 nights
Duration
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia
Destination
Da Nang, Ha Long, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Hue, Luang Prabang, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Vientiane
City
CRT-CLS-17D
Tour Code

This tour is the jewel of the crown: it will take you through 3 different countries and 10 fascinating enclaves to deeply meet the best of Indochina. Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat, Hoi An, Halong, Luang Prabang, Vientiane; Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos… this list of cities and countries is just the beginning of what will be an once in a lifetime experience. Religion, culture, food, people, landscapes, enormous cities and charming villages, mountain passes and paradisiacal beaches… With this trip you will make the most of your time. Only with us!

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION Phnom Penh/Vientiane
DEPARTURE TIME
RETURN TIME
WEAR
INCLUDED
16-night accommodation including breakfast
Domestic flights indicated in the tour
Private tour with English Speaking Guide
All entrance fees & excursions as per itinerary
Land tour and transfers with A/C vehicle
NOT INCLUDED
International air ticket
Visa in all 3 countries
Other meals not mentioned in the itinerary
Drinks, tips and other personal expenses
Extra charge for Christmas, New Year or Public Holidays
1

Day 1: Arrive Phnom Penh (Cambodia)

Welcome to Phnom Penh, a chaotic, energetic, and always fascinating city, with graceful tree-lined boulevards and riverfront promenades. You will meet us upon arrival at the Phnom Penh airport and transfer to your hotel.

Your sightseeing begins in the afternoon at the Royal Palace, still being used as the royal residence. We will visit the exterior palace grounds, including the Silver Pagoda. The Silver Pagoda has this name by its the 5000 silver tiles made up its floor, and it is one of the most exquisite structures in Cambodia, as well as the most sacred temple in the country. Our next stop will be a visit to the National Museum to view its 5000 works of art, including pre-Angkorean pieces, and special pieces from the temples.

Our next visit will be the central market, located in a distinctive domed Art Deco building, and the sprawling Russian Market, a labyrinth of stalls with plenty of value-for-money goods and souvenirs, particularly hand-loomed silk scarves and silver jewelry. We suggest you visit the large food section to take an opportunity to sample some of the local dishes such as Khmer curry chicken or shrimp wontons.

Overnight in Phnom Penh.

2

Day 2: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (B)

In the morning you will go to the Phnom Penh airport for your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel for a rest.

After lunch, we will meet to go to the biggest archeological site in the world, the magnificent Angkor Wat. It was built by Suryavarman II in the early 12th century to honor Vishnu, one of the many Hinduist gods. The temple complex covers 80 hectares, a similar size to the Forbidden City in Beijing, Angkor Wat is considered by art historians to be a complete example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Its soaring five towers, with their distinctive extraordinary low reliefs, are a proud part of the Cambodian flag.

You will end the day at Phnom Bakheng to watch the sunset over the Cambodian countryside.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

3

Day 3: Siem Reap (B)

Get up early this morning to visit the jungle-covered temple of Ta Phrom while it is still in cold, and not crowded by tourists. Ta Prohm is one of the most beautiful temples in the area, which has been left untouched, still swallowed by the jungle. After returning to the hotel for breakfast, let’s start your sightseeing for the whole day.

The first temple to explore is Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire. It was a fortified city possessed mostly by monks, palace officers, and soldier residences. The city is notable for its five monumental gates. The 20 meters tall gates are decorated with stone elephant heads and crowned by four gargantuan faces of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. In front of each gate, there stand 54 gods to the left and 54 demons to the right of the causeway. The complex comprises a variety of important temples with the prominent Bayon Temple at the center with its 54 towers decorated with more than 200 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara. See the Royal Enclosure, the Phimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace, and the Terrace of the Leper King. All of them were originally reserved to be special places for public ceremonies, now adorned with dramatic low reliefs.

In the afternoon we will go outside Siem Reap to the charming Banteay Srei temple. Built in 967 by Jayavarman V, this temple is considered as the jewel in the crown of Angkorian art as it showcases the most exquisite, deep and complex sculptures of all Khmer architecture. An added feature of the exquisite decoration is the use of a hard pink sandstone, the quartz arenite, giving a beautiful red color to the temple. Continue on the Grand Circuit to the Preah Khan, also called the “Holy Sword” Temple. This large temple Buddhist complex covers 56 hectares, and was built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, and dedicated to his father Dharanindravarman. Flat in design, the main Buddhist sanctuary is surrounded by many Hindu satellite temples. Still not restored, the main shrine and its adjacent buildings are richly decorated with Buddhist motifs and scenes from Hindu epic tales.

4

Day 4: Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) (B)

After breakfast at the hotel, you will leave Siem Reap to take a flight to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. You will be met on arrival at the airport and then transferred to your hotel. Ho Chi Minh City is where colonial buildings and traditional temples stand side by side with the emerging modern skyline.

This afternoon we will enjoy a half day sightseeing tour of the downtown. Discover why Vietnam has been one of the main symbolic historical scenarios in the world during the last century while you pass around the Reunification Palace, the original Norodom Palace built by French and also used as the presidential house by the South Vietnam government until the Vietnam war end at 30th April 1975. You will visit the War Remnants Museum, then walk into the heart of the old colonial Saigon to see the old French colonial Post Office and visit the historic Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as the City Hall and the Opera House. Then drive along the former Rue Catinat, now called Dong Khoi Street. On the evening, stroll through the living Ben Thanh Market with its hundreds of stalls teeming with silks, spices, and assorted souvenirs. The rest of the day is for you at leisure to explore this bustling metropolis.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

5

Day 5: Ho Chi Minh City to Mekong Delta (B, L)

After breakfast, you will have a full day trip to the charming city of Ben Tre of the Mekong Delta. On arrival, we will take a boat heading to one in many small islands in the Mekong Delta to visit the tropical fruit plantations. Here you can learn about how the local specialty of coconut candy is made. After tasting it with the rest of local specialties, we will come back to Ho Chi Minh City with a short stop at a bonsai garden in My Tho. Return to Ho Chi Minh City in the late afternoon.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

6

Day 6: Ho Chi Minh City to Cu Chi Tunnels (B)

This day we are going to explore the outskirts of the city. In the morning we will visit the nearby Tay Ninh, considered as the epicenter of Caodaism, a syncretic religion created in Vietnam in the XX century that incorporates the main concepts of major religions around the world.

In the afternoon, take a tour to the historical Cu Chi tunnels to explore part of the 245 km underground network that zigzagged from the southern tip of the Ho Chi Minh Trail near the Cambodian border to the Saigon River. The tour will give you a deeper understanding of the vital guerrilla warfare of the Vietnamese against both the French first and then the Americans. Developed in the late 1940s, these crisscrossing tunnels were constructed by local insurgents for hiding their weapons from the French. Discover the secret trapdoors, field hospitals, command posts, underground kitchens, living areas and meeting rooms, etc., in an authentic underground village ready to defeat the enemy.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

7

Day 7: Ho Chi Minh City to Danang & Hoi An (B)

Take your morning flight to Danang. Explore Danang by visiting the Cham Museum with the largest collection of Champa artwork and sculpture in the world, spanning from the VII to the XV century. Enjoy the Marble Mountains, adorned with the subtle, lyric and poetical ambiance of pagodas, grottoes, and green trees. Five hills of the area are named after the five elements of the universe. Passing the curving beaches and clear blue lagoons of the South My Khe Beach, you will arrive in the picturesque riverside town of Hoi An. Previously known as Faifo, Hoi An was an ancient port town has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sightseeing in Hoi An town, one of the best places to discover genuine Vietnamese architecture. Stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets of the Old Quarter, seeing the ancient homes (Phung Hung House) and merchant houses still filled with local vendors. See the Japanese covered bridge and visit a lantern workshop. Visit Quan Cong Temple, Phuoc Kien Pagoda and Sa Huynh Museum.

Overnight in Hoi An.

8

Day 8: Hoi An (B)

Today you are free at leisure to enjoy the town, try tailoring services or head to the beach by bicycle.

Overnight in Hoi An.

9

Day 9: Hoi An to Hue (B)

This morning you will be taken north to Hue through the dramatic Hai Van Pass. This highest pass of Vietnam is the dividing line between the climate zones of north and south Vietnam. We will stop at several places to admire the spectacular views and take pictures, as well as a visit to a fishing village near Lang Co Beach.

In the afternoon, visit the Imperial Citadel, a vast 400-hectare complex built in 1800’s. It was modeled following the Forbidden City in Beijing, with a 9.6 km wall and surrounding moat. Even though it was seriously damaged after wars, you can still see the monuments of the 19th century Nguyen Dynasty. View the Flag Tower and the imposing Ngo Mon Gate, one of the ten entrances to the complex. In the spacious courtyard area, see the Palace of Supreme Harmony and the throne hall, where the Emperor would meet foreign rulers and other high-ranking dignitaries. Explore the heart of the Imperial City, site of the Forbidden Purple City. Only members of the royal family, the Emperor’s concubines, and trusted senior mandarins were allowed inside to these various palaces and the Emperor’s private apartments. Then see the Thai Hoa Palace, Hall of Mandarins and the original Nine Dynastic Urns.

Overnight in Hue.

10

Day 10: Hue (B)

We will start the day going by boat down to the Perfume River, heading to the Dinh Market where paper mache is made, and then visit the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda (Heavenly Lady Pagoda). This elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower is one of the oldest pagodas in the country. Built in 1601, it is Hue’s most widely recognizable monument and one of the prettiest religious buildings in the country.

After the cruise, we will visit a local home to enjoy a lunch repast of local dishes with the family. Next is the time to explore some small country villages producing the trademark Vietnamese coco hats, and incense. Then you will pass by the “Phuong Duc” where produce bronze products are made. Even though not as active as in the past, it is still a wonderful traditional handicraft village of Hue.

Later we will visit the Tomb of Tu Duc. The longest reigning Vietnamese emperor, the king Tu Duc had designed and built this elegant tomb to use as a retreat for meditation, reading and theater performances. It is one the most beautiful works of the Nguyen Dynasty Royal architecture, lying on a boundless pine forest with mounts and lakes.

Overnight in Hue.

11

Day 11: Hue to Hanoi (B)

Take the morning flight to Hanoi. You will be met on arrival at the Hanoi airport, and then transfer to your hotel. Enjoy a walking tour through the Old Quarter – the oldest part of Ha Noi which still continuously develops, highlighting more than 1000 years of history. Explore the network of narrow alleyways known as The 36 Streets. This is an ideal place to watch the local life and purchase items from fabrics to crafts, or exotic medicines. Each street was named to reflect the specialized trade of the merchants – such as silk traders, jewelry, etc. Go around the Hoan Kiem Lake and visit the Ngoc Son Temple right in a small island.

In the evening, you will watch the delightful water puppet show. This unique art form created in the 10th century and came from the Red River Delta region of northern Vietnam. Using the water’s surface as the stage, puppeteers stand behind a curtain and control the puppets using long bamboo rods and a string mechanism hidden beneath the water surface. A Cheo (a form of opera) is sung to tell the story acted out by the puppets.

Overnight in Hanoi.

12

Day 12: Hanoi to Halong (B, L)

Halong Bay is a 1500 Km2 area of picturesque islands shrouded in mist, floating villages and pearl fisheries. Today, enjoy a relaxing full day private boat excursion in a traditional Chinese-style wooden ship. You will cruise among dolomite islets and some of the 3,000 craggy limestone cliffs dotted with breathtaking caves and grottos, then stop to explore the Thien Cung or Sungsot Cave to enjoy the beauty of the surreal and subterranean world of stalagmites and stalactites.
– Anchor at Titop Beach to relax under the sun or enjoy a swim.
– Have a wonderful seafood lunch with a spectacular sightseeing of this mystical bay

Overnight in Halong.

13

Day 13: Halong to Hanoi (B)

Drive back to Hanoi in the morning. Arrive in Hanoi, where you will have a half day sightseeing which begins with a visit to the Van Mieu or Temple of Literature. The temple dates back to 1070 and is dedicated to the cult of Confucius. Its peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways is one of the best examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Next, continue to the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex, containing a museum and Ho Chi Minh’s final resting place. See the Ho Chi Minh’s Stilt House, the simple two-room dwelling where he lived from 1958 until his final days in 1969. Nearby, sitting in a lotus pond is the miniature One Pillar Pagoda, or Chua Mot Cot. Made out of a single large tree trunk, it was originally constructed in 1040, and then rebuilt after destroyed by the French in 1954.

Overnight in Hanoi.

14

Day 14: Hanoi to Luang Prabang (Laos) (B)

Arrive in Luang Prabang, a quiet town designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique mix of Laotian and European architecture. This ancient capital is nestled in the mountains at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers and adorned with gilded temples on nearly every street corner. You will be picked up upon arrival, and transferred to your hotel with time to freshen up.

This sightseeing tour begins by visiting the impressive Wat Visoun stupa. Its style is closer to Silankalese than Lao artistic standards, and even though this is a replica built in 1898, it exudes the Middle Ages atmosphere from its original construction in 1513. Next, you will walk to Wat Aham, the old residence of the Sangkhalat, the Supreme Patriarch of Laotian Buddhism and the Wat Mai, the most important spiritual shrine in the whole town. Your tour continues hiking up the 355 steps to the top of Mount Phousi to explore Wat Chomsi, a sacred, gilded stupa. Enjoy the beautiful sunset view of the city and the Mekong River below.

During the evening we will visit the colorful Night Market. A red canvas canopy covers the street vendors and their extensive selection of handmade textiles, including silk scarves and a Hmong embroidery, all made by people of surrounding hill tribes, will undoubtedly delight you. Watch and mingle with the locals to learn about everyday Laotian traditions and culture.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

15

Day 15: Luang Prabang & Pak Ou Caves (B)

Wake up at sunrise to enjoy the sacred Buddhist ceremony of giving morning alms to the local monks. Watching the saffron-robed monks strolling peacefully through the throng of visitors is an unforgettable experience and a wonderful photo opportunity.

After having breakfast at the hotel, your tour begins with a visit to Wat Sene and Wat Xieng Thong with roofs that sweep low to the ground, which are good examples for the classic Luang Prabang temple architecture. The rear wall features an impressive “tree of life” mosaic set in a red background. Inside richly decorated wooden columns support a ceiling vested with Dharma–wheels. In the compound stand several small chapels housing bronze Buddha images, and an impressive 11-meter high funeral chariot and various funeral urns for each royal family member.

Our next location will be outside the city, as we depart through Mekong river in a pleasant two-hours longtail boat cruise on the Mekong River. Going upriver you will go through stunning landscapes of limestone cliffs dotted with waterfalls. You will stop at one remote village along the way, named Ban Xanghai, a renowned production center for Laotian rice wine. The final destination of the cruise is the Pak Ou caves. These holy limestone caves are located on a rock cliff, rising vertically from the waters of the Mekong River. The two most famous caves are filled with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of varied shapes and sizes left by devoted pilgrims. On the cruise back to Luang Prabang, you will stop for a short drive to the weaving village of Ban Phanom. This Tai Lue village is well known for its traditional hand-woven cotton and silk.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

16

Day 16: Luang Prabang to Vientiane (B)

This morning, you visit the National Museum, located in the former palace of exiled King Savang Vattana, to view the famous Pha Bang, a 45 kg solid gold Buddha. Then explore the Central Market – a great place for people watching and last minute shopping as well as lunch. You will have a free time until transferred to the Luang Prabang airport for your flight to Vientiane. Then you will arrive in Vientiane, nestled along the Mekong River, with French colonial roofs and gilded temples that form the skyline of this peaceful yet developing city. Monks in their classic orange robes are everywhere, along with birds, butterflies, and French cafes that serve coffee from beans grown in the Laos highlands. You will be met upon arrival at the Vientiane Airport, and escorted to your hotel.

In the afternoon, your sightseeing tour begins with a visit to the 19th century Wat Sisaket. This terracotta tile-roofed temple, the oldest in Vientiane, has countless niches displaying thousands of miniature Buddha statues. After that, we will go to the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo, which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. Visit the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, a national icon with this 145-foot tall structure has gone through many reconstructions. It first placed in the site of a XII century Khmer temple, where King Setthathirat built the first monument in 1566. Then it was destroyed by the Siamese, re-built by the French and in 1930 it took its current shape. The courtyard houses a sacred by Laotian people Bodhi tree. According to the local legend, to stay in Buddha’s good grace, you must walk around the stupa for three times. End the afternoon with a photo stop at the Patuxay Monument, known as the Vientiane Arc de Triumph, uniquely decorated with Laotian friezes from Buddhist mythology.

Overnight in Vientiane.

17

Day 17: Depart Vientiane (B)

Free at leisure until transfer from the hotel to the airport. Tour ends.

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