Travel across the heart of Indochina through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand

Vibrant Vietnam, charismatic Cambodia, beguiling Bangkok; this journey covers the very best of Indochina. From the graceful elegance of Hanoi, across the serene beauty of Halong Bay, to the quaint charms of Hoi An and the frenetic energy of Ho Chi Minh City, experience ancient customs and delicious cuisine while travelling through the heart of Vietnam. Embark on an exciting tour down the Mekong river to Phnom Penh, and spend several days exploring the enigmatic temples of Angkor Wat. The bright lights of Bangkok are the ideal way to cap off this Indochina Discovery adventure.

Start
Hanoi, Vietnam
Finish
Bangkok, Thailand
Countries
Cambodia,
Thailand,
Vietnam
Themes
Explorer
Code
TVSLC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
244kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Hop aboard a boat tour on Halong Bay
  • Glide down the Perfume River in a dragon boat
  • Take in the tranquillity of Hoi An
  • Dive into the excitement of Ho Chi Minh City
  • Be humbled by the Killing Fields outside Phnom Penh
  • Be mesmerised by sunrise over the ancient temples at Angkor Wat
  • Kick back with a brew in Bangkok

Itinerary

Arrive in Vietnam's capital, Hanoi, and get lost in the whirl of colour, commotion and horn-blowing traffic. Visit the mausoleum of the father of modern Vietnam and end the day at a water puppet show.
This morning we visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, which includes the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
This afternoon is free to explore on your own before witnessing the marvel of the Water Puppets this evening.
Have breakfast with the kids at the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation before leaving the frenetic pace of city life behind to visit one of Vietnam's most breathtaking spots, Halong Bay. Spend the evening being rocked to sleep by the boat bobbing on the water. Return to Hanoi and then travel overnight on the Reunification Express, bound for Hue.
Return to Hanoi by bus (approx 4 hrs), stopping at Dong Trieu Factory to watch locals working on the traditional art of ceramics.

Free time in Hanoi until taking the SE1 overnight train to Hue (departing 19:00 and arriving at 08.00 the following day).
Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth depending on seasonal variations and group configuration), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure.
As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings.
On arrival we transfer to our hotel. The rest of the morning is free. After lunch we will pay a visit to the Hue Imperial Citadel.
As passengers on the back of motorbikes we visit all the key sights, including:

The Forbidden Purple City which was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war.

Next is a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue. It's an active Buddhist monastery with its origins dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who in 1963 drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime.

We then enjoy a boat cruise on the Perfume River for about 40 minutes before getting back on our motorbikes and riding to our special lunch stop in a nunnery.

After lunch we visit the royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, with its central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees, before heading back to Hue.
Travel through Vietnam's coastal rice paddies to the fishing village of Lang Co before heading into the mountains and crossing the breathtaking Hai Van Pass. Take a step back in time in the ancient streetscapes of Hoi An. Here there are centuries-old family homes to explore, the wonderful Japanese Covered Bridge to wander across and bowls of Vietnam's mouth-watering cao lau to try.
Today is a free day for optional activities. Perhaps take a boat cruise down the Thu Bon River, or take a bicycle tour around the countryside. There’s also a day trip to the stunning ruins of My Son, the centuries-old Hindu temples.
Today is a free day for optional activities. You’ll have time to see the beautiful Chinese shophouses, enjoy the busy market, visit Cua Dai Beach, browse the array of art galleries or to pick up any items from the tailor.
Visit the sweeping beaches of Nha Trang, Vietnam's idyllic bayside destination. Devour a delicious seafood lunch or float in basket boats on the sparkling waters of the South China Sea.
Once referred to as the 'Cannes of the Orient', Nha Trang's sandy palm-lined beach and island-dotted bay still make an idyllic picture, and a cosmopolitan feel prevails in the town itself.

A highlight for many travellers is our boat trip amongst the islands. From the main boat, we take basket boats to shore and visit a fishing village, snorkel in the turquoise waters, enjoy a seafood buffet lunch, and pass the afternoon lazing in deck chairs or swimming.
A full free day to spend in Nha Trang. Perhaps treat yourself and soak in natural mud bath, at one of the nearby spas. Or venture to the Po Nagar Cham Tower, dating from 817 AD, which is still an active place of worship.

Tonight we depart by the overnight train to Ho Chi Minh City departing late in the evening.
Enjoy a guided bus tour through Ho Chi Minh City. Visit the War Remnants Museum to learn about the sobering past of the Vietnam War. Later, take a rowboat along the Mekong Delta and be amazed at the magnitude of South-East Asia’s ‘rice bowl’. Learn about the production of longan honey from a family of beekeepers and observe the inner workings of rural life. End the adventure back in the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, perhaps take an option day trip to the cramped Cu Chi Tunnels if time permits.
As Vietnam's largest city, Ho Chi Minh City brims with street side shops, boutiques stores and motorbikes carrying everything from children to chickens. Arrive early to slurp a steaming bowl of Vietnamese pho or go bargain hunting in Ben Thanh Market.
Travel by public bus through rural Vietnam and Cambodia to Phnom Penh (approximately 6–7 hours). You will cross the border, exiting Vietnam at Moc Bai and entering Cambodia at Ba Vet. Your leader will assist you with border crossing procedures.
Confront Cambodia's tragic past on a guided tour of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former school which served as a Khmer Rouge torture centre. It's estimated that more than 20,000 people were held and tortured here. You will also head out to the Choeung Ek Memorial, where a stupa made up of some 8,000 human skulls marks the site of the infamous Killing Fields, the execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng. You can learn about a brighter period in Cambodian history by visiting the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda (optional). Wat Phnom, shrouded in myth, is equally worth a visit, as is the National Museum with its excellent Khmer collection. Cyclo tours around the city are a great alternative to walking and generally include the central market, US Embassy, Wat Phnom, Mekong river front, independence monument and Royal Palace. Keen shoppers can hit the art-deco Psar Thmei (Central Market).
Travel by private bus to Siem Reap (approximately 7 hours). Along the way you'll make several stops which are great opportunities to see the real Cambodia. You'll visit the cottage industry of Santuk Silk Farm, a fair-trade organisation that provides a valuable source of employment in a poor rural community. You'll even have a the rare chance to sample a deep-fried spider. Arrive in Siem Reap in the evening and relax as you prepare for your much-anticipated visit to Angkor tomorrow. Perhaps hit the markets for some delicious street food.
Notes: Santuk Silk Farm is closed on some important Khmer holidays.
Temple-hop with your local guide and make the most of your visit to the world-famous Angkor complex. The temples, dating back as far as the 9th century, were believed to represent the cosmic world and were set in perfect balance, symmetry and composition. The intricately carved bas-reliefs and architectural designs are mind-blowing and there are spectacular photo opportunities at any time of day. Watching a sunrise or sunset is a must. The ruins are scattered over an area of some 160 square kilometres, but the main cluster of temples is close to Siem Reap, so there will be plenty of time to fully appreciate the great archaeological sites of Angkor Wat, the Bayon and the jungle-covered Ta Prohm.
Continue your explorations of the Angkor complex. You may like to spend just the morning making further discoveries here, and save your afternoon for an optional activity elsewhere. Perhaps enjoy a boat trip along the Tonle Sap (freshwater lake), visiting one of its floating villages. Keen adventurers can take the 'Flight of the Gibbon' zip-line adventure which gives an amazing birds-eye view of the rainforest, not to mention an adrenaline rush.
Admire elegant French architecture and a relaxed country pace in Battambang. While here, learn the secrets of Khmer cuisine in a cooking class, take a walk along the river front or maybe take a trip out to surrounding villages.
Skip back across the border from Cambodia to Thailand and enjoy an evening in bewitching Bangkok. Grab a fragrant curry, a soothing Thai massage, charter a longtail boat or take in the Grand Palace's gleaming architecture as a fitting end to this historic journey.
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast, with no further activities planned.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
19 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 1 dinner
Transport
Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Private Bus, Private minibus, Private vehicle, Taxi, Train, Van
Accommodation
Hotel (18 nights), Overnight boat (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights)
Included activities
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
  • Hanoi - Blue Dragon breakfast
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and Museum
  • Hanoi - Water puppet show
  • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including Coconut Candy Factory and Village Tuk Tuk tour
  • HCMC - War Remnants Museum
  • Hoi An - Ancient town orientation walk and entrance
  • Hue - Imperial citadel
  • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
  • Hue - Perfume River boat ride
  • Hue - Royal tomb
  • Nha Trang - Basket boat ride
  • Nha Trang - Full day boat trip to Hon Mun Island
  • Nha Trang - Hon Mun Island swimming and snorkelling
  • Phnom Penh - Entrance to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and Choeung Ek
  • Phnom Penh - Guided Tour of Choeung Ek
  • Siem Reap - Guided Tour
  • Siem Reap - Three Day Angkor Pass
  • Siem Reap - Tonle Sap Lake boat trip

Dates

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Important notes

1. Please provide full passport details 45 days prior to departure in order to secure Vietnam train tickets.
2. A single supplement is available on this trip.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Reviews

Our Indochina Discovery trips score an average of 4.83 out of 5 based on 6 reviews in the last year.

Indochina Discovery , September 2015

Indochina Discovery , July 2015