Culture - History
Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Ho Chi Minh City
A tailormade itinerary input with the main cities of three Indochina countries to explore the places, delve into the culture and learn of their histories. Laos, the million elephant Lan Xang Kingdom founded by the Prince Fa Ngum since 14th century who contributed to the prosperous country and made Theravada Buddhism the national religion. The country underwent some fighting against Siamese attacks, got rooted by Chinese and then under the rule of French colony. Visiting to Vientiane and Luang Prabang in Laos will introduce the culture richness of this Buddhist country and history devastation overtime. Vietnam history is also depicted via the Chinese colonization, feudalism time and then colony occupations with fierce fights for the country independence and reunification. Visit to country’s DMZ in Hue and Cu Chi Tunnels make further understand on Vietnam War. The local people in the meantime have preserved long lasting culture all over country like the water puppet theater originally an entertainment for farmers, royal etiquette and ancient houses in Hue. Also, Hoi An old town, Saigon City and Mekong Delta are charming and enticing regions to delve in Vietnamese culture. Lastly two cities of Cambodia of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap will make you in love with this country. Phnom Penh, once the Pearl of Asia were destroyed by the cruel killing of Khmer Rouge which seem pulled the country down to hell; then gradually recover and get gradually developed. Siem Reap is more backward but featured by stunning Angkor Temples with sophisticated constructions showcasing beautiful and valuable sculptures and carvings.
Welcome to Vientiane, the capital and the largest city of Laos located not so far from the border with Thailand. During the colonial rule, Vientiane was the administrative city and also the current capital that make it Laos economic center. In this Mekong River bank city, you will find both the French influence and the traditional ancient monasteries.
Upon your arrival, you will be greeted by your local tour guide and have transfer from Vientiane Airport to city center for check-in hotel.
In the morning, you will explore Vientiane’s main attractions. Start with the biggest and most marvelous temple Wat Sisaket bearing a unique architecture. Next, you will visit the Wat Phrakeo re-erected in 1965 which appear similar to the original one in 1942. This traditional sloping roof temple house the Emerald Buddha and surrounded with peaceful garden. You then pay a visit at the iconic Pha That Luang, the country’s monument bespeaks the Buddhist as well as country’s sovereignty.
This afternoon, stop at the COPE Center who work cooperatively with government to support the war invalid victims and raise the awareness on unexploded ordnances (UXOs). During Vietnam War, Laos was bombarded by the USA troop with roughly 2 million tons of explosion that have caused about 25% of Laos villages get contaminated with UXOs. The documentaries and the exhibitions in the center will tell you further on the situation as well as their projects.
Afterward, you will see the Patuxay, Arch of triumph in Vientiane which constructed to commemorate Laotian who died during the prerevolution war.
After breakfast, you will travel to Talat Sao Market, a place with variable goods made in Laos as well as imported. Next, head to Buddha Park with an impressive collection of Buddha and Hinduism deity statues. Dating back in 1958, the construction of this garden was from Luang Pu, a yogi-priest-shaman who re-consolidate two religions surrealistically and mystically. There are some sculptures that you can walk up and cast a view to the compound from above.
This afternoon, you will have a flight from Vientiane to Luang Prabang.
Upon your landing in Luang Prabang, greeted by your local tour guide and travel to hotel in Luang Prabang for check-in. Rest of the day is on your own leisure.
Luang Prabang is a UNESCO world heritage city sit at the confluence of two rivers Mekong and Nam Kham. This extraordinary city offers very unique laidback experience to nourish your spirit and find peace.
This morning, you will have a leisure walk around Luang Prabang and visit Wat Mai with special 4 tiered-roof and played significant role that sheltered and became the royal family’s temple when Chinese destroyed the town. Wat Mai also housed the sacred Phra Bang Buddha statue. In walking distance from Wat Mai is the Royal Palace which was made National Museum in 1975 after the royal abdication. The walking route along Mekong River will then lead you to Wat Xieng Thong, a vast area of several temples. Wat Xieng Thong is outstanding by its colorful and appealing mosaic of life tree on the temples’ walls. This was the place the kings get crowned and a significant temple for religious rites.
In the afternoon, a sail with local boat will take you to Pak Ou Cave renowned as the cave in the cliff sheltering thousands of buddha images. You can hike up and explore the upper and lower caves and admire the view toward the Ou River’s estuary. When the sun is setting, the boat will sail you back to Luang Prabang center.
Early morning, meet up with your tour guide and tuk tuk driver then head to a local temple where you will observe the tak bath ceremony in Luang Prabang. After the chanting ends, monks and novices in Luang Prabang leave the temple and walk slowly by barefoot in line along streets of the town and collect the morning alms from devout people. The Buddhist followers, making up around 67% of Laos population, believe that they will be granted merit by the monks and accumulate the good karma when devoting the food to monks. Strolling along the street, you will have an up-close observe of this alms-giving ritual in Luang Prabang; also, stop at a local market and intermingle further with local life. Afterward, head back to your hotel for breakfast.
Early this afternoon, you will head to Khuang Sy Waterfalls or Tat Kuang Si, one of the must-to-see attractions of Luang Prabang. Before entering the main premise of the waterfalls, you will get off the car at Ban Long Lao Kao and begin a short trek through valleys and spot some Hmong minority villages. Keep wandering passing by rice fields and the lush forests you will find the sight of staggering Khuang Si Waterfalls, a paradise nestles amidst the jungle. This tiered waterfalls with crystal turquoise pools is an intriguing place for you to cool down with some swimming. After pleasant time here, you can walk down and see the Bear Rescue Centre in Khuangsi Waterfalls homing wild bears before getting back to your hotel in Luang Prabang.
After breakfast, have leisure time to chill-out at the hotel till having transfer from Luang Prabang town to airport for your flight to Hanoi.
Welcome to Hanoi, the capital and also the second largest city of Vietnam where witnessing the vast economic development but still preserve the country’s cultural quintessence, rituals as well as colonial heritage.
When arrive, you will see your driver and local tour guide then take transfer from airport to Hanoi. Rest of the day will be on your leisure.
Explore Hanoi City in a day, you will get familiar with and learn more of this enticing city. Start the tour of Hanoi at Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest Buddhist pagoda in Hanoi since 6th century. The location of this pagoda on an island on West Lake offers the visitors with freshness and peacefulness while getting around. Later, the walk along the lovely Thanh Nien road dividing the giant lake into West Lake and smaller Truc Bach Lake will offer you exciting chances to look at the traffic in Vietnam and local people in their daily life. The road will lead you to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum where preserve the body embalm of the great president Ho Chi Minh. Locating in the same compound with mausoleum are the former houses of Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace and One Pillar Pagoda, like a lotus flower on the lake, whose erection dates back to Ly Dynasty in 1049.
Pay a visit to Temple of Literature renown as the very first university of Vietnam. Originally this was a Confucius Temple since 1070 and then the study sanctuary for royal children and elite students. The temple showcases Vietnamese culture over thousands of years as well as the development and harmony of religions in Vietnam. Next, you will visit the house of an artisan whose family have been performing the water puppet shows for 7 generations. The artisan will introduce more information of this traditional show, the puppet characters and then treat you with a private show on miniature stage at his house. Lastly, have a stroll and discover Hanoi Old Quarter.
This morning, you will have a walk to Hoan Kiem Lake and observe local energetic people doing exercises of diverse practices depending on different ages. Then go back to hotel for breakfast. At 9:00am, you’ll check out and head east to secluded Halong Bay via roughly 2.5-hour drive. Embark the Halong bay overnight cruise at noon, you will have lunch on boat while it’s sailing; and admire the captivating seascape with thousands of emerging karst peak and grottos. The cruise’s schedule will be included with plenty of activities for your exploring like kayaking through the water lagoon, hiking up to the dried cave, go swimming on an island, relaxing sunset time on the boat and sumptuous meals on the cruise. The boat will anchor at a calming area for overnight; and you can try luck with squid fishing by bamboo rod from the boat.
The early risers can wake up and enjoy the breathtaking view of sunrise and freshness in the morning; as well as join with Master to and do some Tai Chi on top deck. After breakfast, the boat will carry on its schedule for you to delve further into the scenic beauty of Halong Bay. Back to the shore at noon, you will travel back to Hanoi and head to the airport for the flight to Hue.
Upon your arriving in Hue, your local tour guide will welcome you and transfer from airport to Hue city to check in hotel and overnight.
Hue was the capital of Vietnam during Nguyen Dynasty ending in 1945 when the French took over Vietnam, is a city so much on culture and history. Start off your Hue City at the Imperial Citadel, a majestic royal enclosure by fortress and moat built in 1804. Touring around, you will visit the capital city, imperial city and forbidden city. Move on to the charming village in Phu Mong and pay a visit at the ancient house up to hundred years old which is a typical traditional house with verdant green gardens surrounding. Have a cup of tea with the host and hear more stories of the house before leaving to Thien Mu Pagoda located on the bank of Perfume River.
Have lunch at a garden restaurant, you then will visit Tu Duc King’s tomb on Van Nien pine Hill, an impressive exemplar of Vietnamese art. On the way back to Hue center, you can stop at a local house and try making traditional incense sticks with the instructions of local people.
On this day, you will travel 2.5 hours to the demilitarized zone from Hue and visit the Vinh Moc tunnel where was the bombing target during Vietnam War. Descend to the three-floor tunnels, an underground village which shelter the people from bombing. Next, stop at Hien Luong Bridge and Doc Mieu Base which was the American base located closest to the DMZ. After your trip, you will return Hue city. Rest of the day will be free & easy.
Leaving Hue in the morning for Hoi An old town, you will travel along a stunning path passing pristine Lang Co Beach, the Hai Van Pass where the ocean meets the cloud. You can stop on the way and cast the view toward the picturesque scenes; and tentatively arrive in Hoi An late noon.
In the afternoon, explore and enjoy the atmospheric Hoi An old town when meandering through tiny alleys with Chinese houses of over two centuries, the Japanese old bridge, the Tan Ky house which once belong to a rich merchant. This town is the place of cultural blend when the Asian and Western traders came over regularly and constructed their own houses in this town. The evening will be free on your own to enjoy the night time in the Hoi An town with colorful lanterns, plentiful options of local street food and explore the night market.
This morning, you will hop on your bicycle and travel through the lush countryside of Hoi An toward Tra Que Village. Participate with local people, you will learn and do gardening works planting the herbs as well as the region vegetable. Afterward, try making one of Vietnamese best dishes - Banh Xeo or sizzling cake; following with a lunch. After lunch, you can have a rest before carry on the cycling to Cam Thanh Village crossing the floodplain, rice fields and enjoy the scenic countryside as well as the villagers. From here, board the local boat at the mouth of Thu Bon River and initiate to the local fishing styles and catch fish. The bamboo basket boat then will take you into mangrove forest. Have a break before returning to Hoi An town by transfer.
At leisure till your transfer from Hoi An to Da Nang Airport and take the flight to Ho Chi Minh City, the most vibrant and developed city of Vietnam in the southern region.
Upon your arrival, you will see your local tour guide and travel to city center. In the afternoon, you will explore historical sites of Ho Chi Minh City. Visit the War Remnants Museum and learn more about Vietnam War with the exhibitions of US weapons, photos of the war consequences, details of chemical weapons and so on. Then admire the buildings since French colonial buildings like the old Post Office, close-by Notre Dame Cathedral and the walking Dong Khoi Street.
Late evening, travel to the Saigon River pier and board the Bonsai Legacy Cruise with stunning view from top deck for 2-hour dinner of delicious Vietnamese gastronomy. There are performances of traditional art and music on the cruise while you are enjoying the food too.
This morning, travel to Mekong Delta region in the southern Vietnam. Arriving at Cai Be, you will board local boat and cruise toward Vinh Long for a tropical hideaway. Make stops to taste the fruits from orchards of local villagers and learn of some handicraft works. Have lunch at a local house; afterward you will head back to Cai Be by boat and return Ho Chi Minh city by late afternoon.
In the morning, head to Cu Chi Tunnels dig by the Vietnamese Resistance force during war against French; and then extended further in Vietnam War. This shelter tunnels are pretty well equipped with many functional rooms like meeting, sleeping, hospitals, kitchen, weapon cavity, etc. You will first see a documentary regarding the tunnels and the war. Next, coming down to explore those dark tunnels reaching 200km long and around 3 to 4 meters deep. Finish your touring of Cu Chi Tunnels, head back to city center and head to Tan Son Nhat Airport for your flight to Phnom Penh.
Arriving in Phnom Penh, you will be welcomed by your local tour guide and take transfer from Phnom Penh Airport to city center. Check-in hotel and stay at leisure till rest of the day.
Spend this day to discover exotic Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. Before the devastation of war and revolution of Khmer Rouge since 1975, Phnom Penh was the Pearl of Asia. A full day around Phnom Penh will reveal the past and the present, the vibrant and cultural beauties and scattering of religious temples around this riverside city. You will visit the majestic Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda then the astounding old building National Museum to gain a glimpse of Phnom Penh and make friend with this city.
In the afternoon, visit the pathetic Toul Sleng Museum or S21 prison; then hike up to hilltop Wat Phnom where the city name was originated. Lastly get to the sobering Killing Fields at Choeng Ek.
In the morning, you will fly from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, the most important mosaic in your Cambodia holiday itinerary. This city is the gateway to mysterious Angkor Temples.
You will be welcomed by your driver and local tour guide and transfer from Siem Reap Airport to hotel for check-in.
This late evening, you will travel to enjoy the astonishing Phare – Cambodian Circus Show telling the stories of Cambodia via circus art, theater, music and dance. The show is performed by the young and talented Cambodian who have been supported by the vocational training center – Phare Ponleu Selpak.
In the morning, travel toward the jungle and venture your timeless journey in the intriguing and mysterious Angkor Archeological Park spotted with Angkor Temples. Most of the temples were date back to 9th – 14th century, the prosperous time of Khmer civilization. Travel from one to another, you will visit the famed Angkor Wat which is the largest and most religiously significant temple with breathtaking scenes. Then, Bayon Temple of 54 giant 4-facets towers which believed to assemble the King Jayavarman VII and Buddha. Next, you will walk and discover other highlighted temple in Angkor Thom including Baphuon Temple, the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of Leper Kings. Lastly, you will explore the thrilling Ta Prohm Temple mostly embraced by the giant tree roots.
Depart in the morning for Tonle Sap Lake, the largest fresh water in South-East Asia, whose tide changes annually. Visit the Kompong Khleang Village, the local boat will move to canals for your glimpse of local life and then lead to the giant lake. Though the landscape change differently in dried and rainy seasons, the trip to this village still offer wonderful chances to enjoy the countryside of Cambodia. Then, drive back to Siem Reap for your free & easy time.
At leisure on your own till the transfer from hotel in Siem Reap to airport for your flight to next destination.
Accommodation in double/twin sharing basic
Daily breakfast at hotel and meals as indicated in the program
Private air-conditioned transfer
Excellent English-speaking guide (other language on request)
Entrance fee, boat trip for sightseeing as mentioned
Cooking class and street food tour as mentioned
2 bottles of water per person per day
International and domestic flights
Visa and stamping fees
Tips and gratuities for guide, driver, etc.
Personal expenses and services not mentioned
11 days 10 nights
16 days 15 nights
8 days 7 nights
10 days 9 nights
13 days 12 nights