Indochina ~ the Grand Tour
A Journey Through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia
Experience the best of Indochina Adventure Travel with this fabulous exploration of three unsurpassable UNESCO World Heritage sites: the otherworldly landscapes of Vietnam’s Halong Bay, the gleaming Buddhist temples and evocative French colonial architecture of Luang Prabang, Laos and Cambodia’s mystical Angkor temples. An ever-unfolding wonder, this journey is steeped in history, culture, stunning landscapes, fine class cuisine and more than a few delightful surprises! We stay at hotels specially chosen for their comfort, service, ambiance and location. Our local adventure travel guides share a wealth of knowledge, experience and fascinating stories about each of the three destinations. We have personally overseen every aspect of the itinerary, setting the stage for Indochina to capture your heart!
The magic begins in Hanoi. We tour its historic sites, explore the bustling Old Quarter, and enjoy its best and most unique restaurants. From there we head to Halong Bay, where our classic, junk-style private yacht transports us through a wondrous maze of fantastically shaped limestone islets. Swimming, kayaking and cave explorations are all on the menu, as is the finest Vietnamese cuisine, lovingly prepared by our onboard chef.
A short flight takes us to Northern Laos and Luang Prabang, a perfectly preserved French colonial settlement that redefines the meaning of atmospheric. Temple drums and gongs at dawn, saffron robed monks silently padding through the streets to collect alms, a dazzling array of local produce at the traditional market, the wide reach of the majestic Mekong River and ethnic villages set in the soft green folds of surrounding hills: such delights await us each day as we set out from the beautiful refurbished royal residence in the heart of the old town.
Finally we arrive in Siem Reap to discover one of the most astonishing accomplishments of mankind: the colossal temples of Angkor. A carefully crafted itinerary ensures we experience each temple at its very best, and our expert guide brings alive the enthralling history of these awe-inspiring sites. At the end of each day, our comfortable hotel is a perfect oasis to relax and reflect on the wonders of this once in a lifetime trip.
Experience the best of Indochina with this luxury exploration of three unsurpassable UNESCO World Heritage sites: ethereal Halong Bay, evocative Luang Prabang and mystical Angkor Wat. An ever-unfolding wonder, this journey is steeped in history, culture, stunning landscapes, fine class cuisine and more than a few delightful surprises! From our hotels, chosen for their comfort, ambience and location, to our hand-picked local guides who enthrall you with their stories and knowledge, we personally attend to every detail, setting the stage for Indochina to capture your heart.
Day 1 — Hanoi
Arrive in the bustling heart of Hanoi – the Old Quarter – and our stylish boutique hotel. In the evening, a welcome dinner in one of the city’s best restaurants awaits you.
Day 2 — Hanoi
Visit the city’s famous sites, including Ho Chi Min’s Mausoleum and the Confucian Temple of Literature, take in a Water Puppet Show and experience a truly unique local restaurant.
Day 3 — Halong Bay
Embark our luxurious mothership, cruise through jade-coloured waters past fantastically shaped islets to the far reaches of Halong Bay. Swim, kayak, toast the sunset with fine wine and feast on a sumptuous dinner of fresh seafood.
Day 4 — Halong Bay
Paddle far into sea caves with the sound of water gurgling and booming in their dark depths. Relax on a white sand beach below a towering cliff and explore colourful Ba Men Temple tucked into the greenery close by.
Day 5 — Halong Bay/Hanoi
Drift through a magical misty dawn back towards port. On your return to Hanoi, head for a tiny traditional restaurant where locals have been enjoying the same house-special for over a hundred years.
Day 6 — Luang Prabang
Take in the atmosphere of this historic city as we sip an afternoon espresso and savour a delicate pastry at our favourite French colonial café.
Day 7 — Luang Prabang
Rise early to see lines of saffron clad, barefoot monks streaming out of ancient temples of the the royal quarter. After breakfast jump aboard a traditional, long riverboat heading up the mighty, swirling Mekong River to Pak Ou cave, and light joss sticks to appease the river gods.
Day 8 — Luang Prabang
Walk with an elephant through bamboo forests to a beautiful waterfall for lunch.
Day 9 — Siem Reap
Put your feet up or indulge in the spa at Siem Reap’s exquisite Hotel La Residence. The afternoon visit to the Angkor treasures in the National Museum sets the scene for our adventures ahead.
Day 10 — Siem Reap
Start your exploration of the ancient Khmer temples at first light to watch the sun creep up above the spires of Angkor Wat and reflect off the lotus lake. Follow our top local guide as he coordinates our visits of Angkor’s highlights to make sure we miss the crowds.
Day 11 — Siem Reap
Hike through fragrant, tropical jungle to the banks of Kbal Spean where clear, cool water rushes over sacred sculptures carved into the riverbed. Explore Banthey Sre Temple when the afternoon light brings out the details on its fine stone carvings.
Day 12 — Siem Reap
Run your hands over huge tree roots that engulf Bayon temple and contemplate the passage of time and civilizations. Take in the sunset from the top of a remote and hardly visited temple.
Day 13 — Siem Reap
Say farewell to your fellow travelers and embark on your flight home or onward journey.
Please note: this itinerary serves as an example of trip highlights and is subject to change.
We think of our itineraries as melodies: they have a beginning and an end, a certain arc, dramatic highlights and a few surprises. We like to improvise, to adapt to the mood of our guests or to circumstances that arise — an invitation to a traditional wedding, say, or a local ethnic festival…
Crafting beautiful, harmonious trips with delightful twists is our trade mark and passion.
Why are these places the ‘crown jewels’ of SE Asia?
Each of them is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – all of them stunning and awe-inspiring and the pride of their respective countries. From Halong Bay, where thousands of limestone islets rise vertically from jade waters to form an otherworldly landscape, to the ancient royal city of Luang Prabang with its gleaming temples and atmospheric French colonial architecture, and finally to the splendor and mystery of the Angkor temples around Siem Reap, this is a journey to the heart of Southeast Asia and the very best it has to offer.
What are the ‘surprises’ you mention in the trip description?
It would defeat the purpose if we told you! This is part of our modus operandi: to create those “wow” moments that you’d never expect. Rest assured that you will be delighted on every day of the trip, and we will do everything in our power to make this your journey of a lifetime.
Where does the trip start and end?
We start in Hanoi, a bustling city with a unique atmosphere, history and charm. From there we travel by road to Halong Bay, where we board our luxurious, traditionally styled sailing vessel. After returing to Hanoi we take a short flight to Luang Prabang. And from there we fly to our final destination of Siem Reap, Cambodia.
How do I get to Hanoi and home from Siem Reap?
The most direct flights to Hanoi are with Korean Air via Seoul , with Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong, or with China Airlines or Eva via Taipei. From Siem Reap you can fly direct to Seoul or to Hong Kong or Taipei via Bangkok.
What are the physical activities on the trip and what level of fitness do I need?
A general level of fitness is required. In Halong Bay, we have the options of some gentle kayaking and, of course, swimming. In Luang Prabang and in Siem Reap we will be on a number of walking tours, which are always paced to the needs of the group.
I’m a vegetarian, is that a problem?
Not at all, but please let us know in advance, and advise us on what you can’t eat.
Do I need a visa?
In Laos and Cambodia you will be issued with a visa on arrival at the airport. For Vietnam, you will require a visa in advance, and it’s advisable to apply for it as soon as possible. You can apply directly through a Vietnamese Consulate, or use a visa agency.
Do I need any special insurance?
Medical insurance, including emergency evacuation, is mandatory on all our trips. We also strongly advise you to purchase trip cancellation insurance.
Do I need vaccinations?
Your routine vaccinations (tetanus/diphtheria, polio, etc.) must be up to date. Another general precaution for travellers anywhere in the world is a hepatitis A and possibly a typhoid vaccination. Please consult your local travel clinic or physician.
What about malarial medication?
Hanoi and Halong Bay are malaria free; Luang Prabang and the Angkor temple complexes around Siem Reap are regarded as a low-risk area for malaria transmission (especially during the dry season when we offer scheduled trips). If you do decide to opt for preventative malarial medication Docxycline is most recommended, however please consult your physician about this.
What does the trip price cover?
Airport transfers on the first and last days of the trip, all cultural tour guiding and entrance fees, all accommodation and meals.
What does the trip price not cover?
International and domestic flights, alcoholic drinks, personal insurance and gratuities.
How can I access cash when I’m on the trip?
ATMs are readily available in Hanoi, Luang Prabang and Siem Reap. In Halong Bay, however, you will not be able to access cash. On our mothership you can pay for drinks and souvenirs by credit card. You should bring enough cash with you to Halong Bay to cover tips for the local guide and mothership crew.
What clothes and equipment will I need?
When you sign up for the trip, we will provide you with a comprehensive clothes and equipment list.
I’m travelling alone, is that a problem?
Absolutely not. We have many guests who travel with us on their own. They appreciate the camaraderie of our Hidden Places groups , and usually go home with new-found friends.
From US $4980 per person
Private: Nov through Mar
Cultural tours, boat cruise in Halong Bay with optional kayaking and swimming; village visits; gentle hiking; river boat cruising; temple visits; elephant friendly riding.
10 nights in lovely 4 star hotels
2 nights luxurious, classic yacht
Hanoi, Vietnam / Siem Reap, Cambodia
This trip is like having three vacations in one – each so unique. You have such a wonderful way with people of all ages and nationalities; it is a pleasure to travel with you! Thank you for finding the most amazing ‘Hidden Places’’ and sharing them with us.
Thanks for the wonderful memories and experiences. Floating through caves, swimming in Halong Bay, riding on the neck of an elephant through the jungle, wonderful meals at waterfalls and five star restaurants. A great trip. I’ll be back for more adventures!
Best. Birthday. Ever. I will never forget all our adventures in Indochina, but especially my unbelievable birthday. This trip has given us the best possible combination of adventure and pampering. You have exceeded all our expectations.
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Stunning landscapes, rich cultural diversity and wonderful, welcoming smiles. This is a journey of the heart.