16 Nights / 17 Days
Classic Tour ¦17 Days¦Physical Level 1
Saigon – Hoi An – Hanoi – Halong Bay – Luang Prabang – Siem Reap
The perfect introduction to Indochina. Explore Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia with this fantastic introduction to the region. Featuring Halong Bay, Luang Prabang and the temples of Angkor, all of the best sights are covered.
● See local life on the Mekong
● Learn ancient farming techniques in Hoi An
● Practice Tai Chi on Halong Bay
● Explore Hanoi by cyclo
● Be charmed by Luang Prabang
● Admire Kuang Si Waterfalls
● Marvel at Angkor Temples
● Enjoy the Quintessence of Tonkin
Indochina Delights inclusions:
All sightseeing and entrance fees
All transportation and transfers
English speaking National Escort (if your group is 10 or more passengers) or Local Guides
Cambodia visa fees for UK and EU passport holders (please see visa section below for further information on Vietnam and Laos visas)
Specialist advice from our experienced travel consultants
Comprehensive travel guides
Safe and secure with ABTA, ATOL and IATA
Please ask our sales agent to price the International Flights
The only thing you may have to pay for are personal expenditure e.g. drinks, optional excursions or shows, insurance of any kind, early check in or late checkout and other items not specified on the itinerary.
Itinerary – Indochina Delights
Day 1-2: Saigon
Fly to Saigon, where you will be met at the airport in the arrivals hall by your Local Guide or National Escort. Together with all other group members who may be arriving at a similar time, you will transfer 45 minutes to your hotel and check into your room, or store any luggage if arriving before check-in time.
Saigon – Formally renamed Ho Chi Minh City, but still locally known by its older name of Saigon, this exuberant city is driving Vietnam forward into the modern world, but is also a treasure trove of fascinating heritage. It was a major base of the American military during the Vietnam War, and was the seat of the South Vietnam government until the events that led to the country's reunification. Today, the old mixes seamlessly with the new and you can wander through timeless alleys to incense-infused temples before catching up with the present in designer malls beneath sleek skyscrapers.
Day 3: Saigon
Explore bustling Saigon with its heady mix of local culture and colonial influences. You’ll pass by the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, the Reunification Palace and the chilling War Remnants Museum. Later, wander around Chinatown and visit the Thien Hau Pagoda.
Please note: The Notre Dame Cathedral will be under renovation until 2023. During this time we are unable to enter the Cathedral; however we can view it from the outside.
Notre Dame Cathedral
● Influenced by French design and built between 1863 and 1880, the red brick exterior and 60-metre bell towers overlook downtown Saigon.
Central Post Office
● Located next to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The Central Post Office building was constructed in the late 19th century. It counts Gothic, Renaissance and French influences and was designed by Auguste Henri Vildieu and Alfred Foulhoux, but is often erroneously credited as being the work of Gustave Eiffel.
● Built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, is a landmark in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was designed by architect Ngô Vi?t Th? and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on 30th April 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.
War Remnants Museum
● Comprised of numerous buildings displaying military equipment, photographs and artefacts relating to the Vietnam War from 1961-1975. This museum illustrates a harrowing period in this nation’s history.
Day 4: Saigon
Drive 2 and a half hours down to the picturesque province of Ben Tre situated along the mighty Mekong. This area is known as the ‘Rice Basket of Vietnam’, because its rich and fertile lands produce large amounts of rice, coconuts, vegetables and tropical fruit. Spend the day cruising and exploring these waterways by traditional Sampan boat. Sightseeing involves stepping on and off these boats, sometimes on unsteady and slippery surfaces, sometimes without handrails or assistance
● Although primarily rural, the Mekong Delta is a densely populated area where life progresses around its fertile banks. The Mekong Delta is the 13th longest, and the 10th largest, by volume alone and people live, trade, travel and even go to school on the riverbanks. The rice which is cultivated in the many farming lands is said to be enough to supply the entire country with a little extra.
Day 5: Saigon – Hoi An
Confront the reality of guerrilla warfare at the Cu Chi Tunnels. The cramped tunnels were central to a few of the war’s strategic operations, including the famous 1968 Tet Offensive, and they did not escape damage. American B52 bombers dropped hundreds of missiles leaving huge tell-tale craters behind. The Cu Chi experience can be emotional for some visitors, but it offers a fascinating window into the hardship and traumas of war. This afternoon, fly 1 hour and 20 minutes to Danang and transfer 45 minutes to the ancient town of Hoi An for your 2 night stay.
● The tunnels of Cu Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Cu Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters.
● Perhaps more than any other place in Vietnam, Hoi An retains the feel of centuries past. Once known as Faifo, Hoi An was an influential port along the Silk Road. For over 500 years merchants from China, Japan, France and Portugal settled in the prosperous town resulting in a distinctive blend of culture, cuisine, religion and architecture.
Day 6: Hoi An
Enjoy a walking tour this morning of this traditional, laid-back UNESCO listed town. See a traditional house occupied by the same merchant family that originally built it over 200 years ago, the bustling markets, Quan Cong Chinese Temple and the elaborate Japanese Covered Bridge. Visit the Reaching Out Arts and Crafts Workshop and enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure to explore Hoi An’s narrow and ancient streets, or go to the beach.
Japanese Covered Bridge – First constructed in the 1590s to link the Japanese and Chinese quarters of the town, this iconic pink-hued bridge has been restored to its former splendour.
Reaching Out – A social enterprise which provides opportunities for people with disabilities to learn skills and gain meaningful employment. The arts and crafts workshop provides a platform for local people to showcase their talents.
Day 7: Hoi An
This morning, visit a local community farming project just outside of Hoi An
● Tra Que village, where the community has come together to create a large vegetable farm. Learn the traditional methods the farmers use to plant, fertilise and harvest the crop, then try your hand at raking the ground and sowing seeds. Later, fly to the bustling city of Hanoi.
● With a population of approximately four million, Hanoi is a charming and richly historic city of lakes, shaded boulevards and leafy open parks. The centre is an architectural museum piece housing groups of ochre coloured buildings holding the air of provincial French towns of the 1930s, a “Paris of the Orient” as people have called it.
Day 8: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Drive around 2 and a half hours today from Hanoi to Halong, where you will take an overnight cruise to the far-most corners of the bay. Boarding your boat could involve navigating your way over and through other boats, moored between it and the dock, sometimes without handrails, ladders or assistance from staff. Enjoy lunch onboard as you cruise out into the bay, stopping to anchor for an afternoon of activities (which are subject to change due to cruise selection and weather conditions). Sightseeing includes visiting underground caves on the islands, which require climbing up and down steps inside and outside of the caves. End the day on deck with a drink in hand to watch the sunset over the bay followed by a freshly prepared dinner, before retiring to your cabin for the night.
You will need to pack a smaller overnight bag for your trip to Halong Bay. Main luggage will be left in safe storage at the hotel in Hanoi and picked up your return.
Please note: Weather conditions such as mist, fog, wind, rain and storms may delay the departure time of your cruise, or in some cases your cruise may be cancelled. Notifications of any delays or cancellations may not be known until your group’s arrival in Halong Bay. If your cruise is cancelled after your arrival in Halong Bay, you will have lunch in Halong City and return to Hanoi. If notification of the cruise cancellation is given prior to your departure for Halong Bay an alternative day trip will be arranged to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc or ‘Halong Bay on Land’, an area located approximately 2 hours from Hanoi. Our guides will make every effort to inform the group at the earliest possible moment should there be any itinerary changes.
● Compared to the landscape of the limestone islets of Guilin in China and Krabi in southern Thailand, Halong Bay shares a common border with China in the north and harbours some of the most stunning scenery in Vietnam. Unique rock sculptures jut out dramatically from the clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and numerous grottoes have created an enchanting, timeless world, looking out onto the horizon with the sails of the junks and sampans completing the picture.
Day 9: Halong Bay
Spend the morning sailing through Halong Bay. After brunch disembark your cruise and return to Hanoi for an afternoon at leisure. This evening, attend The Quintessence of Tonkin show, an artistic open-air performance celebrating the rich history of northern Vietnam.
Day 10: Hanoi – Luang Prabang
This morning, pass the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, visiting the complex, the Temple of Literature and the Ngoc Son Temple. Later, experience an exhilarating cyclo ride through Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Each cyclo takes one passenger and is operated by a cycle driver behind the carriage. This afternoon, you will also have the opportunity to taste some traditional egg coffee. This evening, say goodbye to Vietnam and transfer to the airport for your 1 hour flight to Luang Prabang.
Ho Chi Minh Quarter
● Dedicated to the father of modern Vietnam and where Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum stands in Ba Dinh Square. Ho Chi Minh first declared independence from French rule in 1945.
● The capital of Luang Prabang Province in northern Laos, lies in a valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. It’s known for its many Buddhist temples, including the gilded Wat Xieng Thong, dating to the 16th century, and Wat Mai, once the residence of the head of Laotian Buddhism.
Day 11: Luang Prabang
Rise early this morning to view Takbat, a Buddhist ceremony before climbing Phousi Hill for panoramic views of the city. Visit Wat Xieng Thong before boarding a boat to cruise the mighty Mekong up to the sacred caves of Pak Ou, known for the hundreds of miniature Buddha sculptures that reside within. Return to Luang Prabang and visit the villages to witness the daily life of the local people
● A 100m high hill in the centre of the old town of Luang Prabang. It lies in the heart of the old town peninsula and is bordered on one side by the Mekong River and on the other side by the Nam Khan River. The hill is a local religious site, and houses several Buddhist shrines. Halfway up the hill, overlooking the Nam Khan is Wat Tham Phou Si, a Buddhist temple. At the summit of the hill, overlooking the town and surrounding countryside, is Wat Chom Si, which is also a Buddhist temple and is a tourist highlight of Luang Prabang.
Wat Xieng Thong
● A Buddhist temple (wat), located on the northern tip of the peninsula of Luang Prabang, Laos. Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument to the spirit of religion, royalty and traditional art. There are over twenty structures on the grounds including a sim, shrines, pavilions and residences, in addition to its gardens of various flowers, ornamental shrubs and trees.
Pak Ou Caves – Near Pak Ou (mouth of the Ou river), the Tham Ting (lower cave) and the Tham Theung (upper cave) are caves overlooking the Mekong River, 25 km to the north of Luang Prabang, Laos. They are a group of two caves on the west side of the Mekong River, about two hours upstream from the centre of Luang Prabang. The caves are noted for their miniature Buddha sculptures. Hundreds of very small and mostly damaged wooden Buddhist figures are laid out over the wall shelves. They take many different positions, including meditation, teaching, peace, rain, and reclining (nirvana).
Day 12: Luang Prabang
This morning, visit the National Museum. Drive 1 hour to Kuang Si Waterfall, sightseeing at the waterfall will involve around 1 hour of light walking and on the way up to the waterfall you follow a bush walking track which has a slight upward gradient. It is possible to take a swim in the river near the falls and if you wish to do this, please remember to bring along your swimsuit and a towel. Changing rooms are available on site. Return to Luang Prabang stopping at Ban Na Ouane village and Ock Pop Tok Weaving Centre before a local Baci Ceremony.
National Museum – Built in 1904 in the French colonial era, the original building was the Royal Palace but was later converted into a museum. Kuang Si Waterfalls
● A three-tier waterfall about 29 kilometres south of Luang Prabang. The falls begin in shallow pools atop a steep hillside, and lead down to the main fall with a 60-metre cascade. The falls are accessed via a trail to a left of the falls. Water collects in numerous turquoise blue pools as it flows downstream; the many cascades that result are typical of travertine waterfalls. There are walkways and bridges for your enjoyment. Most of the pools are open to swimming.
Day 13: Luang Prabang – Siem Reap
Fly 1 and a half hours to Siem Reap. On arrival, you will visit the local Cambodian artistry assembly, Les Artisan D’Angkor.
● Established in 1998, this community workshop teaches the unique arts of painting, silk weaving, wood and stone carving in traditional Cambodian style to local young people.
Day 14: Siem Reap
Spanning from the 9th to 15th century, the Angkor complex with over 1,000 temples was the seat of the thriving Khmer Empire. UNESCO manages the complex and to enter, your group will drive approximately 6km out of town to the main entrance gate to get your entrance passes, which you must carry with you. If you choose to climb at any site, you must be able to climb and descend without assistance. Begin at the temple of Ta Prohm, enveloped in a labyrinth of jungle before continuing to the city of Angkor Thom and the enigmatic Bayon, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King. This afternoon is devoted to the fascinating and awe-inspiring Angkor Wat. Next visit Banteay Srei to explore the Hindu temple before boarding a boat to view the sunset from the moat of Angkor Thom.
Please note: The Central Tower of the Angkor Wat complex is closed on Buddhist holidays and on all other days has a limited number of visitors allowed at any given time, under regulations from UNESCO. If you wish to climb this tower, you will be required to wait in the queue alongside all other visitors. The ability to do this will be determined upon the groups’ schedule.
● Swallowed by the jungle where Strangler Figs and Kapok Trees have entwined themselves around the ruins. Undoubtedly, the most atmospheric ruin at Angkor with several towers, closed courtyards and narrow corridors to explore.
● This fortified city is flanked by a row of 54 stone figures on each side, which leads you through an imposing 23-metre stone entrance gate to the various temples inside.
● Beautifully crafted central towers, decorated with four opposing faces representing King Jayavarman VII. Bayon’s stone galleries display extraordinary bas-reliefs incorporating over 11,000 figures.
Elephant Terrace and Terrace of the Leper King
● Giant viewing platforms used for public ceremonies, which served as a base for the King's grand audience hall. Angkor Wat
● Surrounded by a 190-metre moat and taking 30 years to build, Angkor Wat represents the Khmer civilisation at its grandest. With its fascinating decorative flourishes, extensive bas-relief and multiple tiers, it is the best-preserved temple within the complex.
● A Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and considered by many to be the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Angkorian art. The temple is cut from stone of a pinkish hue and contains some of the finest stone carvings in the world.
Day 15: Siem Reap
Today, explore the less-visited Beng Mealea, a mysterious temple completely overrun by the jungle where you will explore on foot for approximately an hour and half. In the high water season, you will also visit Kompong Khleang, a unique village on stilts. In the lower water season, you will visit Chong Kneas floating village. This evening, enjoy dinner whilst watching an Apsara performance.
● Dating from the 11th century, this sprawling temple covers over one square kilometre. Largely overrun by vegetation and constructed in a distinctly Angkor Wat-style, Beng Mealea precedes and may even have served as a 'prototype' for Angkor Wat.
● 17: Depart Siem Reap
Fly home, arriving home the following day.
18/02/23 & 25/02/23 & 11/03/23 & 25/03/23 & 16/09/23 & 14/10/23 & 11/11/23 and many more for 2024