Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam

Experience traditional lifestyles and exquisite natural attractions of Southeast Asia.

Country Information

Vietnam

Cambodia & Laos

Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam Enrichment Series

(Countries Visited)

Vietnam

,

Cambodia & Laos


(Interest Type(s))

Adventure Travel


(Tour Length)

15 Days


Tour Highlights

Starting at: $5,950
  • Begin your journey in Cambodia at Angkor Wat, one of the most impressive temple complexes in all of Asia
  • Explore Luang Prabang, Laos, an enchanting town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wealth of historic temples and colonial-style buildings
  • Enjoy the modern-day Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, which retains its charm of centuries past in its narrow lanes, traditional shop-houses, beautiful lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and monuments
  • Board a replica of the ancient vessels that plied the South Seas for a delightful overnight cruise on scenic Halong Bay, with its thousands of  limestone islands shooting skyward
  • Stroll the busy lanes of Hoi An, an exquisitely preserved merchant town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and Hue with its Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City of Peking

Day 1:  Arrive Siem Reap, Cambodia
Welcome to Cambodia!  Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel before beginning your afternoon sightseeing.  The crowning jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia.  The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings.  To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades.  As you enter the main building, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyards before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside.  On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted into the walls.  Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk.  Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones.  Seemingly miniature in comparison to the other Angkor temples, Banteay Srei is considered to be the jewel of classical Khmer art.  Built in pink sandstone, the walls are covered in exquisitely preserved carvings of unusual delicacy.  Because of its small size, fairy-like atmosphere and extraordinary examples of Khmer sculpture, this temple is often a favorite with visitors.  Watch the sunset over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple.  Park Hyatt Siem Reap

Day 2:  Siem Reap
The fortified city of Angkor Thom covers an area of 10 square kilometers.  Enclosed by a wall and wide moats, the city includes many of Angkor's most popular sights.  Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant naga.  Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings, former spaces for public ceremonies, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs.  Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple.  In this temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where you will find giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down at you from every angle.  Your next stop is Prasat Kravan, the five brick towers were built for Hindu worship in 921 AD, and are noted for the bas-reliefs cut into the bricks on the interior walls.  Banteay Kdei is a massive Buddhist temple dating from the second half of the 12th century.  It is surrounded by four concentric walls, the outer walls measuring 500 by 700 meters.  Continue on to Sras Srang, a basin opposite Banteay Kdei, measuring 800 by 400 meters with a tiny island in the middle where only the stone base remains of what was once a wooden temple.  Ta Prohm is one of the most popular sites at Angkor as it is still cloaked in the jungle and looks very much as all the Angkor monuments would have appeared to the first European explorers who stumbled across them hundreds of years ago.  Ta Keo was built by Jayavarman V, who ruled from 968 to 1001, and was the first Angkorian monument built entirely of sandstone.  The summit of the central tower is 50 meters high and surrounded by four lower towers.  Thommanon Temple mirrors Chau Say Tevoda just to the north because it built around the same time, the second quarter of the 12th century, with a similar plan. Park Hyatt Siem Reap (B)

Day 3:  Siem Reap / Luang Prabang, Laos
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Luang Prabang.  Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel for check in.  Then you will continue to Mount Phousi.  For those who can, climb 328 steps starting from entrance on the opposite side of National Museum or 410 steps on the other side of Khan River to the small temples atop the 150-meter high hill which sits in the middle of the town, offering beautiful views of sunset over the temples and river.  La Residence Phou Vao – Deluxe Garden View Room (B)

Day 4:  Luang Prabang
This morning you have the opportunity to give food and offerings to the monks.  You then begin your full-day sightseeing tour of Luang Prabang.  Between Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang is an enchanting town filled with historic temples and colonial-style buildings.  The entire town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.  Start the day at Wat Visoun, the oldest temple still in use in Luang Prabang.  It dates back to 1513 and contains a collection of antique wooden Buddhas.  Visit the nearby Wat Aham before continuing to Wat Xieng Thong, the crowning jewel of all the monasteries and temples in the city.  Its many ornate buildings feature exquisite mosaic and gold-stenciled murals.  From there, stroll down the main street of Luang Prabang, stopping at some of the many temples that line its sides, including Wat Sibounheuang, Wat Si Moungkhoun, Wat Sop and Wat Sene.  Continue to the National Museum (Royal Palace), a modest but graceful building that combines traditional Lao and French beaux-arts motifs.  This turn-of-the-century royal residence has been preserved as it was when the royal family last lived here, and provides unique insights into the history of Laos.  (Closed on Tuesdays).  Afterwards, visit Wat Mai before returning to your hotel.  La Residence Phou Vao – Deluxe Garden View Room (B)

Day 5:  Luang Prabang
Today, you venture by Pak Ou boat to Pak Ou Caves where you will visit two caves, Tham Thing and Tham Phum.  Travel up the Mekong River to the steep limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers, home to the extraordinary Tham Pak Ou Caves that are filled with Buddha images in every style and material imaginable.  On the return journey, stop at Ban Xang Hai Village, a local village famous for the production of lao lao, the local rice wine whiskey.  Before returning to the city, visit Ban Xang Khong, a village near Luang Prabang well known for its traditional handwoven cotton and silk as well as production of the local sa (mulberry) paper.  Time permitting, you can visit Talat Night Market (Hmong Market).  La Residence Phou Vao – Deluxe Garden View Room (B)

Day 6:  Luang Prabang / Hanoi, Vietnam
After breakfast you will be taken to the airport for your flight to Vietnam.  On arrival in Hanoi, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.  The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.  This evening enjoy dinner at Nineteen 11.  This restaurant was named after the year 1911, when the construction of Hanoi Opera House was completed.  The philosophy behind Nineteen 11’s design is to capture the essence of the era when the Opera House was constructed and give it a modern twist.  The Nineteen 11 menu is based around international and Vietnamese cuisine, created from the freshest local ingredients and imported specialties.  Moreover, its menu is different every day which is made from the freshest seasonal ingredients, updated every morning.  Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel – Premium Room / Opera Wing (B,D)

Day 7:  Hanoi
Although it is the modern-day capital of Vietnam, Hanoi still retains the mystery and charm of past centuries.  Narrow lanes and traditional shophouses invite exploration by cyclo, while its many beautiful public spaces - lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and monuments - give the city an air of elegance and harmony with nature unique among Asian capitals.  And everywhere there are motorcycles, some of which seem to carry whole families or impossibly huge bundles of goods.  Begin your day visiting the Temple of Literature, a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, and one of the best surviving examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture.  Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam's first university.  Continue to the miniature One Pillar Pagoda, also dating from the 11th century.  This monument was rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954.  Today it stands near the vast Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex, a lovely park setting which is the site of Ho Chi Minh's final resting place, as well as a museum and other memorials.  Begin at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where visitors can pay respects to the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh.  The Mausoleum is closed in the afternoons, on Mondays and Fridays, and closes annually in October and November for restoration.  Continue through the park to Ho Chi Minh's Stilt House, the simple two-room dwelling where Ho Chi Minh lived from 1948 until his final days.  Preserved in the same condition as during his life, it may be viewed through the windows.  Afterwards head to Hoan Kiem Lake, located in heart of Hanoi, which contains an islet with the tiny Tortoise Pagoda.  En route, pass other colonial landmarks such as the magnificent Opera House (may be seen from the outside only) and St. Joseph's Cathedral.  From the lake, begin exploring the old quarter by cyclo.  This fascinating network of narrow alleys and shop houses is also known as 'The 36 Streets,' each street being named after the merchandise traditionally sold there, ranging from fabrics to crafts to medicines to tombstones.  A handicraft-lover's paradise and an endlessly interesting place to explore local life.  The cyclo ride lasts approximately one hour.  In the afternoon, visit The Museum of Ethnology (close Mondays and on Vietnamese New Year), which brings to life the astonishing ethnic diversity in Vietnam, with art and artifacts from the 54 different ethnic groups that inhabit the country.  Inside the museum are detailed descriptions of minority groups, with examples of their traditional clothing and way of life.  Outside are faithful reconstructions of traditional longhouses, cemeteries and other distinctive ethnic buildings, eateries and other distinctive ethnic buildings.  Later you will see a water puppet show performance, an art form originating in northern Vietnam, best seen in Hanoi.  Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Hotel – Premium Room / Opera Wing (B)

Day 8:  Hanoi / Halong
Today you will be transferred from Hanoi to the Halong pier where you will board the Halong Jasmine, a replica of the ancient vessels that plied the south Seas.  You will savor an overnight cruise on the quiet waters of the astonishing Halong Bay, with its thousands of limestone islands shooting skyward.  Enjoy lunch as you cruise through these calm waters.  After lunch, you have the opportunity to visit one of the islands and take a short trek to a nearby summit for a panoramic view of the bay, go for a swim or stay aboard and relax.  Later this afternoon, pass a floating fishing village where fishing families have lived for three generations.  Some of them including children row up to the cruise ship with items to sell from bananas to lights to shells.  At sunset, (weather permitting), those who are familiar with kayaks can opt to kayak the calm water to discover a water tunnel with many coral reefs in a scenic lagoon.  Halong Jasmine - Jasmine Deluxe with Kayak (B,L,D)

Day 9:  Halong / Hanoi / Hue
This morning you can greet the day with a morning Tai Chi exercise class and a view the sunrise over the bay.  After breakfast, visit beautiful limestone grotto then back to the boat for a final glimpse of the Halong Bay while cruising back to the dock.  After disembarking, you will be transferred to Hanoi and the airport for your flight to Hue.  After landing you will be taken to your hotel for check-in.  La Residence Hotel & Spa – Superior Riverview (B)

Day 10:  Hue / Hoi An
Your private guide will meet you at your hotel to begin your touring of Hue.  Located in the heart of Hue is the Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City of Peking.  The original walls stretched for 10 kilometers and were surrounded by a wide moat.  Today, most of the buildings have been destroyed due to bombing during the Vietnam-American War, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty.  Approach the city past the striking Flag Tower, where a giant Vietnamese flag waves proudly overhead, to the imposing Ngo Mon Gate, the main entrance to the Imperial Enclosure.  Enter into an area of spacious courtyards and serene lotus ponds, and visit Dien Tho Residence (Dien Tho palace), where the queen mother lived; the Thai Hoa Palace, the magnificently decorated reception hall; the Halls of The Mandarins; and the original Nine Dynastic Urns.  You will then embark on a local boat and cruise down the Perfume River to the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue's most widely recognizable monument.  During the early 1960s, this became a center of anti-government protest, and the site of the tragic self-immolation of the monk Thich Quang Duc.  After lunch, journey from Hue over scenic mountainous roads with spectacular views over the coastline.  Halfway to Danang, the dramatic Hai Van Pass serves as the dividing line between the climate zones of north and south Vietnam.  Continue southwards passing Lang Co, a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon and the South China Sea, and the large coastal city of Danang before arriving in Hoi An.  The Nam Hai – One Bedroom Villa (B,L)

Day 11:  Hoi An
The exquisitely preserved merchant town of Hoi An was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.  Its colorful shop houses and temples reflect a diverse heritage, dating back to the 16th and 17th century, when it was a major port for Western, Chinese and Japanese traders.  Today it is a thriving center of traditional crafts and a shoppers’ paradise, best explored on foot.  Wander through the cobbled streets, past low tile-roofed buildings, the bustling Central Market and the small harbor where colorfully painted boats are moored.  The best way to explore Hoi An is on foot.  The walking tour will include visits to a private house, where generations of the same family have lived continuously for centuries in a traditional setting; to one of the family chapels built by prominent merchant or official families as centers for ancestor worship; and to a typical Chinese-Style Pagoda or Assembly Hall.  Continue to Sa Huynh Museum, located near the Japanese Covered Bridge.  This museum contains exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An's history.  Visit handicraft workshops in Hoi An where local products are  made.  The city is also famous for its tailors, and many visitors have suits, shirts and dresses tailor made literally overnight.  Continue to the famous Japanese Covered Bridge Pagoda, first constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community of Hoi An to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream.  The afternoon is at leisure to relax or explore the area on your own.  The Nam Hai – One Bedroom Villa (B)

Day 12:  Hoi An / Danang / Ho Chi Minh City (SAIGON)
After a leisurely breakfast, you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Saigon.  Upon arrival you will be met and escorted to your hotel.  The rest of the day is at leisure.  Park Hyatt Saigon – Park Room (B)

Day 13:  Ho Chi Minh City
Today you have a full-day tour of the city, which many still refer to as Saigon.  A vibrant metropolis, it teems with energy, activity and motion.  Everywhere you look, you see the meeting of traditional and modern life.  The emerging modern skyline stands cheek to cheek with colonial buildings and traditional temples.  Young professionals zip by on motorbikes, chatting on cell phones while inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense.  Begin your tour of this exciting city with its historic center, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon.  Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate Hotel De Ville, the old Opera House (both may only be viewed from the outside), and pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.  Afterwards tours the Reunification Palace.  Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s-style building was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam.  It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates.  Continue to the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam-American War.  Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons.  A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions.  Visit Emperor of Jade Pagoda, one of Saigon's most interesting pagodas.  In the afternoon, set out to explore Cholon (Chinatown), beginning with a brief visit to Binh Tay Market, the vast wholesale market selling every kind of good from dried foods to tee shirts to electronics.  Continue to Thien Hau Pagoda, build by the Cantonese congregation and dedicated to the heavenly goddess.  End your tour at the central Ben Thanh Market, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts.  Park Hyatt Saigon – Park Room (B)

Day 14:  Ho Chi Minh City
This morning you have an excursion to Cu Chi Tunnels.  Never discovered by American forces, the Cu Chi Tunnels were an important Vietcong base during the American War.  Stretching over 200 kilometers, this incredible underground network, dug by hand out of hard laterite, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories.  Today, you can walk through the area and learn about the day-to-day life of the VC, see the disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps, and even venture inside the tunnels, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists.  The afternoon is at leisure.  Park Hyatt Saigon – Park Room (B)

Day 15:  Ho Chi Minh City / Depart
Today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.  (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy:  Starting from $5,950

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