Indochina is home to several stunning Unesco World Heritage Sites and this signature 15 day trip takes in the most impressive of these in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
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WORLD HERITAGE INDOCHINA
15 Days through Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia
All Year round – dates to suit
Indochina is home to several stunning Unesco World Heritage Sites and this signature trip takes in the most impressive of these in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Starting in lovely and languid Luang Prabang, we enjoy the combination of rich culture and lush nature in this charming town. Flying to elegant Hanoi, we pay our respects to Uncle Ho and explore the exotic Old Quarter. Halong Bay is the only natural World Heritage Site on this list, but it is undoubtedly one of the most memorable with a forest of karst peaks soaring skywards from the sea. Flying south, we stop in Hoi An to explore the compelling historic house, tailor shops, galleries and cafes of this atmospheric place. We leave some time to enjoy the beach before flying on to Siem Reap, our base to visit the simply sublime temples of Angkor. Our visit includes all the world famous temples such as Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building, as well as some of the floating communities of the Tonle Sap.
Day 1: Afternoon Sightseeing including Museum and Temples
We arrive in Luang Prabang and transfer to our accommodation. In the afternoon, we begin to explore the historic town of Luang Prabang. We walk along Sisavangvong St, the heart of the old quarter and explore the National Museum, set in the former Royal Palace. Built in 1904, the palace is a blend of Laotian and French influences and houses many royal treasures. The most important item is the solid gold Pha Bang Buddha, a gift from the Khmer King to his son-in-law, Fa Ngum, founder of the Lao Kingdom.
We then continue into the centre of Luang Prabang, exploring the narrow alleys that criss-cross the town, stopping to enjoy some views over the mighty Mekong River. We wind up at the beautiful temple of Wat Saen, originally built in 1718 and under the guidance of Ajahn Khamjan, one of the most revered abbots in Laos. There is the option of climbing Mt Phousi to explore the small temple here and enjoy sunset over this charming town.
Day 2: Wat Xieng Thong and Pak Ou Caves (B)
This morning, we travel to Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most celebrated temples in Laos. We then take a boat up the Mekong River, passing abandoned riverside temples and isolated villages. Our destination is the Pak Ou Caves, a sacred spot where thousands upon thousands of Buddhas were hidden for safekeeping during earlier invasions. Pilgrims have since added their own offerings and the caves are literally overflowing with Buddhas. After exploring the caves, we cross the river and have a local lunch on the banks of the Nam Ou River. We dine in traditional thatch bungalows overlooking a dramatic cliff face. We then return by boat to Luang Prabang and leave the rest of the afternoon free to enjoy the town.
Day 3: Kuang Si Falls (B)
After breakfast, the destination is Ban Long Lao, a small Hmong village. From here you will walk through open farmland and forest trails to the Kuang Si Waterfall, which, while not very high, is striking in its lush jungle setting. Upon arrival there are plenty of opportunities to swim in the refreshing pools and enjoy a boxed picnic lunch. There is also a Bear Rescue Centre where captured bears have been taken from poachers and rehabilitated and cared for. We’ll take some more time for relaxation and swimming before heading back to Luang Prabang by late afternoon. There is also the option to visit Ban Phonesay, a village well known for its silk weavings once been published on the New York Time Magazine. Back to your hotel for a free & easy evening.
Day 4: Fly to Hanoi. Old Quarter Tour and Water Puppets (B)
We arrive in Hanoi and transfer to our accommodation. We explore the burstling Old Quarter on foot. We walk through the vibrant street market before exploring a real hidden tube house. We take a rest and enjoy a tasty Vietnamese coffee while enjoying the fascinating view of the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem lake from the terrace of the house. This evening, we attend a water-puppet theatre performance. The art of water puppetry began a thousand years ago, possibly in the flooded rice fields of Vietnam.
Day 5: HCM Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, Museum of Ethnology (B,L) You’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital city. Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century, and a popular attraction, as is Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, his modest stilt house where he chose to live and work. We will also visit the museum dedicated to his memory. In the afternoon, we will proceed to the most beautiful of Hanoi’s museums, The Ethnology museum. This showpiece provides a fascinating insight into the histories and lifestyle’s of the 54 ethnic groups of Viet Nam.
Day 6: Transfer to Halong Bay. Overnight aboard junk (B,L,D)
We leave Ha Noi and drive to Ha Long City through the Red River Delta. Our Cruise begins and we enjoy a seafood lunch while cruising into misty Bai Tu Long Bay to see the amazing karsts with different formations, such as Teapot Islet, Dragon Islet, Vung Oan Islet. Stop to visit the Thay cave enroute and have time for swimming and kayaking. After dinner, night fishing is available upon request. Enjoy a quiet night in your cozy cabin.
Day 7: Transfer to Hanoi for Flight to Danang – Hoian (B,L)
Early risers can have a swim or enjoy a morning view of the Bay’s landscape with a cup of tea or coffee, fresh fruits and cake. Sitting on the upper deck, you can enjoy the bay. We’ll Visit Vong Vieng floating village by sampan. Meet the locals, call at floating school and fish farms. We then return to Halong City and transfer directly to Noi Bai airport for our flight to Danang. We then make the 40km drive to Hoi An.
Day 8: Exploring Hoi An Old Town. Afternoon Free (B)
This morning we visit the port town of Hoi An. Recently named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this is a trading outport dating back to the 16th century. Because of its location on the Thu Bon River, Hoi An became a magnet for merchants from all over the world. Today its streets display a rich mix of Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, and European architecture and culture. Explore the small town on foot. Visit Tan Ky House, a late 18th-century merchant’s residence. The Fukhien Association, also known as the Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation, was founded as a place where minority Fujian Chinese could hold meetings. Later it became a temple for the worship of Thien Hau, goddess of the sea and protector of fishermen and sailors. Free afternoon at your leisure
Day 9: Visit My Son Cham Temples (B)
After breakfast (or before for those who want a sunrise option), we head inland towards the ancient Cham city of My Son. Surrounded by mist-shrouded jungle and lofty peaks like Cat's Tooth Mountain, this is a very atmospheric location. A Unesco World Heritage site, this is the most extensive Cham site in Vietnam and dates from the 4th to the 13th centuries. The Kingdom of Champa controlled much of southern Vietnam and was one of the most powerful empires in the region. After extensively exploring the site, we return to Hoi An by road.
Day 10: Free Day to Explore Hoi An or Relax on Beach (B)
We leave today free to enjoy the atmosphere of this spiritually, culturally and historically enriching town. Rent a bicycle and explore beautiful Cua Dai Beach, one of the loveliest stretches of sand on the coast. Hoi An has a wealth of experiences and adventures to offer and is one of the nicest places in Vietnam to explore at leisure.
Day 11: Fly Danang to Siem Reap (B)
We’ll take some free time before its time for us to return to Danang and then fly onto Siem Reap in Cambodia. Home to the Amazing temples of Angkor.
Day 12: Roluos group. Kompong Pluk to Chong Kneas by boat (B)
We travel back in time to one of the earliest capitals in the Angkor area, Hariharilaya, now known as Roluos. We begin with a visit to the brick temple of Lolei, originally set on an island in the centre of the Indratataka baray (reservoir). This temple has some well preserved sandstone carvings and the vast stone doors are carved from a single piece of stone. We continue to Preah Ko and finally onto Bakong, the earliest of the temple mountains. Taking a break from the temples, we travel out to the mighty Tonle Sap Lake to visit the floating villages Kompong Pluk and Chong. Everything floats on water in these living fishing communities. There are floating schools, floating shops, floating petrol stations, even floating karaoke bars. Many of the houses are floating fish farms with large pens of fish underneath. We then climb Phnom Krom for a glorious sunset over the Tonle Sap before heading back to Siem Reap by road.
Day 13: Ta Prohm dawn. Preah Khan, Neak Poan, Pre Rup (B)
We rise early to travel to Ta Prohm in the dawn light. Ta Prohm has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhot in 1860. We continue to the giant pyramid of Takeo, one of the highest temples in the Angkor area. This morning we also visit the remains of an old Angkorian bridge which once spanned the Siem Reap river. There is also the option to visit the smaller temples of Chau Say Tevoda and Thommanon for avid temple enthusiasts. In the afternoon, We travel to the mighty temple of Preah Khan or 'Sacred Sword'. This is one of the few temples originally dedicated to Buddhism and Hinduism. We then continue on to the elegant curves of Neak Poan. Our day ends with a sunset over the rice fields from the royal crematorium of Pre Rup, a classic view of the Cambodian countryside.
Day 14: Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre. Angkor Thom (B)
This morning we head to Banteay Srei, Angkor’s ultimate art gallery. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia. Later we visit the 12th century temple of Banteay Samre. Built by King Suryavarman II, the genius behind Angkor Wat. In the afternoon, we visit the immense walled city of Angkor Thom that was the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII. We begin our visit at the Terrace of the Leper King and continue to the Terrace of Elephants, originally used as a viewing gallery for the king to preside over parades, performances and traditional sports. Our climax is the enigmatic and enchanting temple of the Bayon.
Day 15: Angkor Wat sunrise and Visit.
Free Time until Departure Rising at the crack of dawn, we journey out to the Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat. Believed this temple is the perfect fusion of symbolism and symmetry and a source of pride and strength to all Khmers. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this is most famous temple at Angkor. The rest of the day is free until departure.
This is an itinerary outline for a private tour with your driver/ guide. It can be amended to suit your individual requirements.
Contact us to create a holiday that is exactly right for you - the right length, right place and right budget!
4 star accommodation : From £ 1725.00 per person
5 star accommodation : From £ 2090.00 per person
Private transfers and transportation as per program
English speaking guides for the whole trip
Accommodation with breakfast
All entrance fee and permit
Meals as indicated (L: Lunch & D: Dinner)
What`s not included
Travel Insurance - (cover against all cancellation costs, medical expense, including repatriation in the event of accident or illness).
We have NOT included international airfares because, we believe that we should give all our customers, wherever you live, the best opportunity to secure the flight deals that suit you best and give you complete flexibility. The Independent Traveller does have access to some amazing special fares, so – do ask us for a quotation – we would be happy to assist – however we want YOU to have total flexibility.
WHERE WE ARE STAYING :
4 star accommodation
Luang Prabang: Villa Maly: Superior room
Hanoi: May D’Ville City hotel: Superior room
Halong: Dragon’s Pearl Junk – shared boat, private deluxe cabin
Hoian: Hoian Ancient House Resort: Superior room
5 star accommodation
Luang Prabang: Satri House: Deluxe room
Hanoi: Intercontinental Hanoi westlake hotel & resort: Deluxe Hanoi View
Halong: Victory Cruise – Shared boat – private deluxe cabin
Hoian: Palms Garden Resort: Superior Garden View
Siem Reap: Hotel De La Paix: Deluxe Urban view
You will need a visa for LAOS, CAMBODIA AND VIETNAM. Your Laos and Cambodian visa can be obtained upon entry – but you must obtain a visa for Vietnam before travel. More details will be sent to you with your travel confirmation. It you are not a British citizen, please check with us regarding visa for Thailand
The World Heritage Tour of Indochina can be enjoyed at any time of the year. In general, North Vietnam experiences two seasons; summer and winter. Summers are dry and warm, averaging 25-33 degrees Celsius (77-91 degrees Fahrenheit). Winters (October to March) can be cool with temperatures in Hanoi averaging 10-20 degrees Celsius (50-68 degrees Fahrenheit) in January. Some winter months experience a light, drizzling rain. In Central and South Vietnam, the ‘dry’ season runs from November to May. Temperatures average between 22-30 degrees Celsius (72-86 degrees Fahrenheit). The ‘wet’ season is characterised by a brief shower late in the afternoon with temperatures from 25-33 degrees Celsius (77-91 degrees Fahrenheit).
Pre and post tour arrangements
If you would like to book pre or post tour hotel arrangements or are interested in doing additional quality touring before or after your tour please contact The Independent Traveller for more details and a quotation.