Foodie Adventure in Vietnam and Thailand

Taste, experience and explore your way through Vietnam and Thailand on an exhilarating 15-day foodie adventure. While travelling from north to south, head to the source of both country’s most iconic flavours, learn how to prepare their most famous dishes, and visit some of their most alluring destinations along the way.

Destinations included: Hanoi - Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City - Bangkok - Chiang Mai - Phuket

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JOURNEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tasting your way through the narrow street-food filled alleys of Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
  • Enjoying traditional Vietnamese food surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of Halong Bay.
  • Preparing central Vietnamese cuisine alongside a local chef in the historical ambiance of Hoi An.
  • Exploring the “Rice Bowl” of Vietnam and the rich culinary heritage of Saigon and the Mekong Delta.
  • Learning the secrets of traditional Thai cuisine from one of Bangkok’s most acclaimed cooking schools.
  • Joining a local host family in Chiang Mai for dinner on a unique experience that’s equal parts cultural and culinary.
  • Wrapping your taste buds around southern Thai cuisine while exploring Phuket, and visiting a Thai rum distillery.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

  • Carefully selected accommodation with breakfast
  • Other meals listed in the itinerary
  • Expert English-speaking local guide
  • Tours as mentioned and air-conditioned transfers
  • Sightseeing and permit fees during guided times
  • Boat cruises and rides while on tour
  • Flights to tour destinations (Economy Class)
  • Service charges and government VAT tax
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ITINERARY BY DAY

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Welcome to Vietnam’s capital and the start of your Southeast Asian food adventure! Upon arrival you’ll be brought to your hotel to freshen up before meeting with your guide for a culinary tour of Hanoi’s famous Old Quarter district. Here you’ll wander through narrow streets and alleys packed with sizzling woks, bubbling pots and pop up restaurants.

Enjoy the Old Quarter’s unique and bustling ambiance as you sample your way through a range of local delicacies. Wash them down with a classic “bia hoi” –Vietnam’s famous local brew which traces its roots to eastern Europe. Then, pull up a tiny plastic stool and dine as locals do while enjoying the flame-grilled glory of Vietnamese barbecue. Top it all off with a sweet end to your night at one of Hanoi’s most popular ice-cream parlours. Then, head back to your hotel for good night’s rest.

Day 2: Hanoi Cooking class - Afternoon city tour

Starting bright and early in the morning, head to the famous Chau Long Market. Peruse through endless rows of stalls selling everything from farm-plucked garlic to pounded tapioca flour. Hanoi is famous for the vibrancy of its local markets. The memorable sights, sounds and smells of this unique environment are the perfect way to get in tune with the “real” Hanoi. With your guide showing you the way, discover local herbs, vegetables and salad greens unique to Vietnamese cuisine and learn how they’re used to accentuate its riotous flavours.

Next, head to the Hanoi Cooking Centre, a restored building at the edge of Old Quarter. Meet with your instructor over a welcome tea. An experienced chef and cookbook author, the instructor is a fountain of knowledge with regard to Vietnamese cuisine. Learn about the emphasis on fresh herbs, spices and greens before heading to your workstation to put your knowledge to the test. After following your instructor’s lead, head to the dining room and sample some of your creations along with a well-deserved beer or glass of wine. Afterwards, receive a selection of recipe cards to help jog your memory when you get home.

Next, embark on a tour of Hanoi’s historic highlights on-board a cyclo –the city’s traditional mode of transportation. These traditional bicycle rickshaws are a staple of the city and allow you to get along at a leisurely pace that’s perfect for taking photos while sightseeing. As your driver weaves through some of Old Quarter’s busiest streets, pass by French colonial houses, cafes and shop houses en-route to The Northern Gate of Ancient Citadel. This gargantuan fortress in the heart of the city dates back over a thousand years and is as imposing as it is impressive.

Next, head to Cua Bac Church, a beautiful remnant of the French and Catholic influence still present in the city. Then, head to Quan Thanh Temple. This 11th century Taoist temple is one of the oldest and most culturally significant in the city. Afterwards, head towards the picturesque West Lake, stopping at the historic Pho Cuon Restaurant for a quick bite to eat along the way.

Then, take a closer look at Hanoian culture at Chau Long Market and explore the countless stalls there before heading to Nguyen Truong To Street or “Dessert Street”. After satiating your sweet tooth, head to Hang Than Street. Also known as “Wedding Cake Street”, here you’ll learn about the unique wedding culture in Hanoi before heading off to Hang Cot Street where you’ll get an up-close look at how mats are woven out of reeds. Wrap up your street tour with a traditional Vietnamese coffee and head back to your hotel for a good night’s rest before departing for Halong Bay.


Day 3: Halong Bay Explorer day cruise

Departing early in the morning, head through picturesque countryside for the coastal town of Halong City by shuttle van. Upon arrival, board your traditional “junk boat” and set off on the “Bay of Descending Dragons”. Halong Bay is a widely celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site comprised of some 2,000 stunning jungle-clad limestone mountains known as karsts.

While careening through the emerald-green waters of the Halong Bay, stop at the stunning Dau Tung Lam Bay. In the presence of supreme natural beauty in every direction, enjoy a feast of traditional Vietnamese food. After a fully satisfying meal, set off again and enjoy the scenery as stunning karst formations rise out of the jade waters like the arms of giants. After a quick stop at the famous Ga Choi Island, said to resemble two cocks fighting, arrive at Paradise Cave. Get out and explore the confines of this geologic wonder, taking time to marvel at the stunning stalagmites and stalactites.

Afterwards, head back to your junk boat and spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the deck of the boat whilst soaking up the scenic ambiance and cool sea breeze of Halong Bay. Enjoy a cocktail or two as the boat slowly makes its way back to Tuan Chau Marina. From there, transfer back to Hanoi, arriving early in the evening. Get some rest or enjoy a night out in the town before your flight to Hoi An in the morning.

Day 4: Fly to Hoi An - Hoi An walking tour

Meeting with your guide early in the morning, be transferred to the airport in time for your flight to the lovely town of Hoi An, in Central Vietnam. Upon arrival, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel where you can freshen up.

Meet with your guide and begin a walking tour of the historic Hoi An Ancient Town. As a former trading port for Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab merchants between the 16th and 18th centuries, Hoi An Ancient Town is unique for the diverseness of its architectural influences. Following your guide’s lead, make your way through the charming flower-lined pedestrian streets where expert tailors, homemade silk producers ploy their trade. Stop at some of the famous landmarks in the town such as Chua Ong Pagoda, which was built in honour of Chinese general Quan Cong in 1653 and is today worshipped as a symbol of loyalty and justice. Next, stop by the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall and take a look at Jinshang Temple, which is dedicated to the goddess of the sea and protector of sailors. Then, walk to the 200-year old Tan Ky Ancestral House. Wind down your highlights walking tour of Hoi An at the 17th century Japanese Covered Bridge. This beautifully constructed bridge doubles as a temple and is easily the most photographed landmark of Hoi An. As the sun approaches the horizon, then set off on a relaxing boat ride up the Thu Bon River and get a glimpse at the ebb and flow of life along this picturesque tributary. Afterwards, head back to your hotel for an early night in or continue enjoying the riverside vibe.

Day 5:  Hoi An cooking class

After a refreshing night’s sleep, pay a visit to the local produce market for a look at all of the fresh ingredients used in Central Vietnamese cuisine before cruising along the Thu Bon River to the Red Bridge Cooking School. Here you will tour the school’s herb gardens to learn more about the ingredients involved in creating the dramatic flavours involved with local cuisine. Your chef and instructor will then walk you through some of the closely-guarded secrets on how to create traditional Hoi An food. Then, put your newfound knowledge and skills to the test whilst attempting to recreate traditional favourites such as Cao Lau, a medley of a yellow noodles, pork slices and pickled hot peppers, and Mi Quang, a noodle dish featuring boiled quails eggs and chunks of baked rice cakes. Then, enjoy the fruits of your labour and enjoy your own cooking alongside a glass of wine or local beer. Afterwards, head back to your hotel and enjoy your food coma before embarking on yet another food adventure. 

Starting late in the afternoon set off on a culinary adventure in Hoi An to discover the flavours and dishes that make this coastal town unique. Alongside an expert local guide, your journey introduces you to the stories behind Hoi An’s most iconic dishes at the town’s most famous eateries.

Start your tour at a local restaurant famous for white rose dumplings, found exclusively in Hoi An. Sit back and enjoy the wonder of the locals working here, who churn out up to 6000 of these dumplings every day! Your visit here includes a chance to try making a few of your own dumplings before sampling a few.

Down a nearby alley, depart the dumpling shop and head onward to another local specialty: banh can crackers. Served with quail eggs, pork and a tasty salad, this dish is a highlight of Hoi An street food culture. Pull a small street-side stool and enjoy with your guide.

Continue onward to sample grilled pork satay and spring roll at a local restaurant. Next up is fried wonton - lovingly referred to as “Hoi An pizza” - and finally famous Cao Lau noodle or chicken rice. Wrap up the tour with a stop at Sky Coffee Bar, a local favourite haunt within the Hoi An Museum. Chat with your guide over a beverage here before heading back to your hotel for a good night’s rest.

Day 6: Hoi An - Fly to Ho Chi Minh city - Evening street food tour

After an early breakfast, meet with your guide and head to the mouth of the Thu Bon River by shuttle van. Upon arrival you’ll board a shared boat and cruise to the confluence of the river and the Cua Dai Sea. Here you’ll witness the daily ritual of the local fishing fleet returning at sun rise. With traditions passed down from through generations of fishing, it’s the perfect opportunity to witness traditional Vietnamese coastal culture –and also a great opportunity to take amazing photos! Afterwards, visit a local fishing market and help local fishermen take fish out of their nets. Then, take part in a unique experience while learning how to paddle a strange and unique Vietnamese bamboo basket boat known as thung chai. Wrapping up an early and eventful morning, get back onto your boat and enjoy a coffee and complimentary traditional fisherman’s breakfast prepared by the captain of the boat. Then, head back to your hotel to freshen up and pack your things before setting off to the bustling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City!

After arriving in Ho Chi Minh City, your guide will take you to your hotel. Take this chance to drop off your things and relax a bit before heading off again. Your guide will meet you at your hotel take you to the city’s Central Post Office for the start of your city tour. One of the city’s most famous landmarks, the Central Post Office was designed by the renowned French architect Gustav Eiffel. Afterwards, head to the Notre Dame Cathedral, an iconic landmark built between 1863 and 1880 by the same architect. Admired for the grandness of its neo-Romanesque architecture, the cathedral is a popular backdrop for local wedding photographers.

Next, stroll toward the Saigon River along Dong Khoi Street, which figured prominently in Graham Greene’s famous Vietnam novel, The Quiet American. After enjoying the scenery, arrive at the Saigon Opera House, a commanding and iconic building completed in 1901. Shelled during World War II, it was used to shelter French citizens fleeing North Vietnam in 1954, the year Vietnam won independence from France.

The tour continues with a stop at the Reunification Palace, where a North Vietnamese tank crashed through the gates in 1975 to end a war that killed an estimated 58,000 Americans and three million Vietnamese. You will also visit the War Remnants Museum, where Vietnam’s government has assembled presentations - some of them graphic - of wartime hardships and atrocities that serve as a cautionary tale about the tribulations of war.

After exploring the architectural highlights of the city, the tour takes a culinary turn early in the evening. Head to the downtown area and dive into the heart of the city’s culinary scene. Walk along small alleys, and see the streets come alive at night. With the help of our guide, try some weird and wonderful foods and also see how they’re made. Pull up a stool and taste a selection of different Vietnamese favourites. Begin with a unique rice paper pizza, then enjoy some banh beo or water from cakes, try some fresh snail dishes, and savour a Vietnamese pancake known as banh xeo. End the night with dessert from one of Saigon’s little places for sweet soups before either heading back to your hotel or exploring some of the city’s vibrant nightlife.


Day 8: Fly to Bangkok - Evening street eats by Tuk Tuk

Meet with your guide in the morning and be transferred to the airport for your flight to Bangkok. Upon arrival your guide will meet you at the airport and give you a private transfer to your hotel. After checking in, take some time to relax at your hotel before heading out to explore the city.

After meeting with your guide, embark from BTS National Stadium Station on an exciting tuk tuk ride through Bangkok’s vibrant streets. Stroll along Phetchburi Soi 10, where food carts spring up as the day turns from evening to night, and sample delicious street eats such as skewered sausages and Thai-style grilled meat. From there, continue via tuk tuk to Saphan Khao Market, where you can sample from the vast array of fried fish-paste balls. Travel next to Phra Athit Road to encounter Bangkok’s Roti expert and sample incredible Thai-Indian cuisine, from freshly-baked Roti to uniquely flavourful curries. Indulge your taste buds at Bangkok’s most famous Pad Thai restaurant, enjoying the explosion of spicy and savoury flavours and the amazing variety of textures from the delicate noodles and crunchy peanuts. Take a short break from eating to visit the majestic Wat Pho after dark, where you can enjoy the temple’s sparkling golden towers beautifully lit up and marvel at the sight of the magnificent Reclining Buddha. Sip on a refreshing cocktail at the Eagle Nest Bar in Sala Arun Hotel as you take in splendid views of the Chao Phraya River. Later, stroll through Pak Klong Talat, Thailand’s largest flower market, which only operates overnight. End the night on a sweet note with mango sticky rice before the tuk tuk carries you back to your hotel. Be sure to get a good night’s rest to prepare you for the eventful day ahead.

Day 9: Bangkok cooking class

Beginning early in the morning, start your day with a sampling hot congee, a favourite breakfast long enjoyed by Chinese immigrants to Thailand. Then, visit the architecturally stunning Wat Traimit and the glistening Golden Buddha within, and encounter the fascinating history behind Chinese migration to Thailand. Discover local Chinese businesses, shops and temples as you trek along Yaowarat Road, through Bangkok’s centuries-old Chinatown neighbourhood. Along the route, enliven your senses with tastes of traditional foods brought by the Chinese, including moon cake and chestnuts. Enjoy the colourful buildings and rich history found at Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, the most important Chinese Buddhist temple in Bangkok.

Next, head to Bang Pai Thai Cooking school for a culinary learning experience. Learn how to make some of Thailand’s most iconic dishes such as Green Chicken Curry, Tom Yum Kung, Pad Thai and much more during a fun and hands-on workshop in a traditional Thai house. Considered to be one of the best cooking schools in Bangkok, here your cooking skills will be encouraged with a hands-on experience that incorporates traditional techniques and essential knowledge of Thai cuisine all together. After sitting down to sample some of your own creations, be sure to pick up a recipe book on your way out just in case you forget anything you learnt.

Afterwards, head back to your hotel with a full stomach and spend the rest of the day at your leisure: either relax at your hotel or head out for some independent exploration.

Day 10: Bangkok floating market -  Fly to Chiang Mai

After a good night’s rest, make an early-morning escape from Bangkok in search of the peculiar ‘Maeklong Railway Market', a market that makes its home right on a railway! Explore stalls stocked with fresh produce, souvenirs and accessories for shopping - although this isn’t what makes this market unique. The train rolls slowly through eight times per day, just inches away from goods for sale on the ground. It makes for an interesting and photogenic spectacle that you won’t soon forget!

Afterwards, hit the road again for the day’s second market - this time not on the train tracks - but on the water. Damnoen Saduak is one of the most famous floating markets in Thailand. Take in the vibrant sights, sounds and smells of this iconic place as you explore it by food and longtail boat.  Then, head back Bangkok, grab your things, and be transferred to the airport for your flight to Chiang Mai.

Upon arrival you’ll be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel for a brief respite before heading out to explore Chiang Mai on a unique culinary experience. On an evening journey blending cultural and culinary discovery, get a taste of northern Thailand’s unique flavours. Under a blanket of stars, head out into Chiang Mai’s culinary heart, stopping first at a collection of food stalls frequented by hungry locals after the sun sets. Make sure to sample some of the locals’ favourites here - Thai curry fish cake, sticky rice with pork and crispy fried munch! After getting your fill, follow your guide into a small nearby alley leading to a sleepier residential area, and pick up a refreshing fruit shake along the way.

Wander further on until arriving at Wat Chedi Luang, a 15th Century stupa that looks its most mysterious and beautiful in the moonlight. Sample some famous Thai noodles here before heading to another of Chiang Mai’s most famous food streets, this time for a taste of pork skewers, pork leg with rice and coconut desserts. Afterwards, hop on board a local truck and zip off to a hidden bar that’s well-known with local night owls. Wrap up your culinary journey with a refreshing drink and a chat with your guide before heading back to your hotel for a good night’s rest.

Day 11: Pantara Elephant farm - Dinner with a local family

Departing from your hotel early in the morning, make your way to Patara Elephant Farm for a day of mahout training and bonding with the resident elephants. Change into your mahout outfit and enjoy a brief presentation about elephant care and how best to interact with elephants. Learn about elephant farm management and Patara Farm’s breeding program before having a chance to meet the elephants themselves! Practice approaching the elephants and take them to the river for their morning bath before enjoying a trek aboard the elephants through the jungle. Visit pristine waterfalls and a local temple, all while getting a feel of the environment that your new pachyderm friend calls home. Feast on a delicious picnic lunch and enjoy a swim with the elephants beneath a waterfall before returning to camp. Then, bid farewell to your lumbering friend before being transferred back to your hotel in Chiang Mai.

After taking a break, get to the heart of the true, authentic Thai cuisine by joining a host family for a traditional, home-cooked meal. In this evening tour, get picked up from your hotel in Chiang Mai in the late afternoon and transferred to San Ton Pao Village in the San Sai district. Here, meet your host family as part of the Home Hosted Meals program. This fantastic cultural exchange program turns strangers into friends over gourmet meals cooked by travellers and local hosts. Each gaining insight into the other’s culture as they share and enjoy meals together.

First, enjoy some herbal juice after your arrive. Upon arrival you’ll be greeted with some refreshing herbal juice. Then, the evening will commence with you providing assistance to host family as they prepare food. The meal you prepare together is authentically northern Thai and is served on a footed tray known as a “Khantoke.” Help prepare the area for dinner and then enjoy the tastes and smells of the freshly-cooked food with your host family. While you dine together, learn about the daily life, culture and traditions of your host family. This is a great opportunity to learn and interact with locals in an informal, relaxing way. After being made full of delicious food, new friends and heart-warming memories, head back to your hotel in Chiang Mai and enjoy the rest of the night at your leisure.

Day 12: Chiang Mai city tour - Fly to Phuket - Phuket street food tour

Beginning early in the morning meet with your guide and head to Tha Pae Gate to explore the charming city of Chiang Mai without leaving a carbon footprint - ride on a traditional Rickshaw, which has been used in Thailand for over 60 years. These three-wheeled bikes continue to be an useful mode of transportation in the city, used by visitors and locals alike. From the vantage point of a rickshaw, ride leisurely through the colourful narrow streets towards Wat Puak Tam Community. Walk around this unique artisan village, where they make beautiful brass ornaments and regalia. Look out for the detailed golden parasols found in many Southeast Asian temples. Learn the story behind a unique local restaurant also known as Chiang Mai Woman Correctional Institution. Enjoy a Thai snack served by female prisoners who use their time to learn skills that will improve their quality of life after being released. Then, head to Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple in Chiang Mai and enjoy the spectacular Buddhist art found here. Afterwards, wander through the bustling local food stalls of Waroros Market and end the tour with fruit tasting at this lively spot before being transferred back to your hotel.

Freshen up and be transferred to the airport for your flight to Phuket. Upon arrival you’ll be brought to your hotel where you can drop your bags before heading out again.

Meet with your guide and get a taste of Phuket’s best street food fare on a whirlwind culinary primer of southern Thai food, stopping by foodie haunts only the locals know. With your local guide’s lead, follow a winding path through the city to stop for a selection of tasty snacks, street food stalls and famous local restaurants. Along the way, see some of the area’s cultural highlights by night - including the famous Khao Rang Hill Viewpoint and the LED-lit Talang Road! Your tour includes a sampling of items like coconut cake, pork or chicken skewers, boiled rice and mango sticky rice, among plenty of other local favourites! After filling up on local snacks, head back to your hotel and get a good night’s rest or take advantage of the next day’s late start and explore the famed nightlife of downtown Phuket.

Day 13: Chalong Bay Rum Distillery tour

Meet with your guide in the afternoon and head to Chalong Bay Rum Distillery. Tour the facility and learn from an expert rum distiller how award-winning natural rum is sustainably produced from Thai sugarcane. Check out the traditional French copper still and see the bottling plant in action. Then, sample the distillery’s signature ingredient, Chalong Bay Rum, and try your hand at bartending. Finally, learn how to make three impressive cocktails in a group bartending workshop before finally tasting your creations accompanied with sumptuous snack. Then, head back to your hotel for a relaxing night or head back out again to explore the island.

Day 14: Free day in Phuket

Sleep in at your leisure or wake up early –it’s your choice! Enjoy a full day in Phuket to explore the island at your leisure. Check out some of the island’s greatest temples on a Phuket City tour, stopping to take a photo at some of the island’s best view points. Sample some delicious street food and pop into the shops and cafes along the way. If you’re feeling really adventurous, stop in at a Thai cooking class, where you’ll be able to eat the traditional meals you make, take a fruit carving course or, if you like, do nothing at all and just relax by the edge of a pool!

Day 15: Depart Phuket

This is the end of your epic culinary adventure! Meet with your guide in the morning and transfer from your hotel to Phuket Airport and head back to Bangkok. 

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Highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia

Discover the highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia on a journey that will take you through the history and culture of two diverse countries.  With the stunning natural landscapes of Halong Bay to the charming riverside town of Hoi An, from the magic of Mekong to the inspiring temples of Angkor, this is an unforgettable journey.

Destinations included:
Hanoi - Hue - Hoi An - Saigon - Mekong Delta - Phnom Penh - Siem Reap

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JOURNEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Soaking up the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s Old Quarter
  • Cruising on a traditional junk boat through scenic Halong Bay
  • Visiting the imperial city of Hue and enjoying a cruise along the Perfume River
  • Strolling through the lantern-filled streets and riverside promenade of Hoi An Ancient Town
  • Feeling the metropolitan pulse of Ho Chi Minh City and experiencing its highlights
  • Living out your travel dreams exploring the famous ruins of Angkor Wat and surrounding temples

TOUR INCLUSIONS

  • Carefully selected accommodation with breakfast
  • Other meals listed in the itinerary
  • Expert English-speaking local guide
  • Tours as mentioned and air-conditioned transfers
  • Sightseeing and permit fees during guided times
  • Boat cruises and rides while on tour
  • Flights to tour destinations (Economy Class)
  • Service charges and government VAT tax
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ITINERARY BY DAY

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Arrive in Hanoi where you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.  Relax at the hotel or take a walk and explore the city streets.

Day 2: Hanoi day tour

Discover the story of Hanoi by exploring its top sites and labyrinthine Old Quarter. See all the highlights including the Presidential Palace, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum — the resting place of Vietnam’s founding president. You’ll also see the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, an 11th century archaeological site, and the famous Temple of Literature. End the afternoon viewing Long Bien Bridge, which was partially bombed during the Vietnam War, then take a breezy cyclo ride through the Old Quarter’s 36 streets, finishing with a coffee at a local café.

Day 3: Transfer to Halong Bay

Drive about four hours to the coastal port of Halong to explore the amazing natural wonder of Halong Bay a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your two-day cruise through the jade green waters will see you cruise to the far-most corners of the bay on a traditional wooden junk, visit fishing villages and kayak past jungle-clad karsts towering up out of the water. 

Day 4: Halong Bay cruise – Transfer to Hanoi 

Wake up with the sunrise and admire the bay at first light. Take a small tender boat to visit Surprise Cave the largest in the bay and so called because you really are surprised on entering!  The cave is filled with impressive limestone formations that have been illuminated for the best views. Cruise through the bay arriving back at the port around midday. Drive back to Hanoi arriving late in the afternoon.

Day 5: Hanoi – Flight to Hue 

Fly to the former imperial city of Hue and explore the elaborate tombs belonging to past emperors. Nestled against the banks of the Perfume River, Hue has had an interesting history. See the mausoleum of the former emperor Minh Mang situated in a tranquil setting of gardens and lakes and walk around the Imperial Citadel the seat of power for the Nguyen dynasty.

Day 6: Hue – Transfer to Hoi An

Take a cruise down the romantically named Perfume River and let your mind wander to the empires of the past. Then drive about two and a half hours along the Hai Van Pass, the most scenic stretch of coastal road in all of Vietnam!  The scenic route climbs over the ‘Pass of Ocean Clouds’ before dropping down to the photogenic  fishing village of Lang Co. Arrive into the UNESCO Heritage Town of Hoi An late in the afternoon.

Day 7: Hoi An day tour

With its stunning mix of architecture, that tells a story of days gone by, to the colourful boats bobbing in the harbour, Hoi An is has a charm and style all of its own. Once a 15th century fishing village, the town is now a renowned for its tailors, galleries, boutiques and of course its food!  This morning, explore the beautifully restored town on a guided walking tour and see all the main sites.

Day 9: Cu Chi Tunnels

Travel by speedboat from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an underground city for Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. Cruise the Saigon River, taking in the scenery and river life as you leave the bustling city behind. In the tunnels, discover how the Viet Cong survived underground and see various man traps, bomb craters and other remnants of war. Then visit a farm and taste an unusual local specialty - cricket!

Day 10: Mekong Delta – Le Jarai Cruise – Transfer to Can Tho

Travel two hours south of Ho Chi Minh City and board a small boat and explore the waterways stopping off at a small home-based factory where workers process coconuts to be used in products like matting and candy. Then transfer to Le Jarai, a converted rice barge and continue your cruise along the Mekong River. Join in a demonstration of Vietnamese cooking and watch the river go by as you enjoy a sumptuous three-course lunch of Mekong specialties! Return to Ben Tre where you will be will be transferred to Can Tho, the delta’s economic hub.

Day 11: Can Tho – Transfer to Chau Doc

Rise early and go by boat to the township of Cai Rang to see the hustle and bustle of a floating market. Then, drive approximately three hours to the riverside town of Chau Doc, a colourful and sleepy town near the Vietnam-Cambodia border.  This afternoon take a cruise along the Vinh Te Canal which helps define the border between Vietnam and Cambodia.  After the cruise, head to Sam Mountain for breathtaking sunset views over a chequered patchwork of rice fields and earthen dikes.

Day 12: Chau Doc – Cruise to Phnom Penh

Travel by boat four and half hours up the Mekong River to Phnom Penh the capital city of Cambodia. See the jewels of the Silver Pagoda with its floor made of silver and Buddha’s studded in diamonds. Hear the moving stories of the prisoners of Tuol Sleng and end your day on a lighter note as you shop for trinkets at the central market.

Day 13: Phnom Penh – Flight to Siem Reap 

Fly to Siem Reap and the magnificent temples of Ankgor. This afternoon explore the ancient ruins of the Roluos group of temples.  These three small temples were the site of a former Angkorian capital. In the evening take your time to wander the old market area of the town with its labyrinth of lanes filled with boutiques, galleries, cafes and small bars. It’s the place to be after dark!

Day 14: Siem Reap - Temples of Angkor 

Be awestruck by Angkor Wat, marvel at the smiling faces of Bayon and the tree entwined temple of Ta Prohm, that featured in the movie Tomb Raider. You’ll also see the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of Leper King, the pyramid shaped Phimeanakas and watch the sunset from the top of Pre Rup. All the main highlight temples are covered so you won’t miss a thing!

Day 15: Depart Siem Reap

This morning you might like to pick up some last minute souvenirs at the market before you transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

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Indochina Highlights

Experience a 19-day Highlights Indochina tour that encompasses the very best of VietnamCambodia and Laos. Travel south through Vietnam from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, before crossing into Cambodia to discover the majestic Angkor Wat complex and the capital Phnom Penh. The trip ends in magical Laos with stays in laid-back Vientiane and Luang Prabang, the spiritual capital of this former French colony.

Destinations included:
Hanoi - Sapa - Hoi An - Saigon - Mekong Delta - Siem Reap - Luang Prabang

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JOURNEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Soaking up the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s Old Quarter
  • Trekking through Sapa's mountains and meeting colourful ethnic minority people
  • Cruising on a traditional junk boat through scenic Halong Bay
  • Feeling the metropolitan pulse of Ho Chi Minh City and experiencing its highlights
  • Exploring the vibrant countryside of Chau Doc and witnessing its rural magnificence
  • Living out your travel dreams exploring the famous ruins of Angkor Wat and surrounding temples
  • Experiencing the peaceful ambiance of Luang Prabang and visiting its cultural heritage sites


TOUR INCLUSIONS

  • Carefully selected accommodation with breakfast
  • Other meals listed in the itinerary
  • Expert English-speaking local guide
  • Tours as mentioned and air-conditioned transfers
  • Sightseeing and permit fees during guided times
  • Boat cruises and rides while on tour
  • Service charges and government VAT tax


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ITINERARY BY DAY

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Arrive in Hanoi and fall into the pace of the city with an evening street eats tour. Hanoi is famous for its street food cuisine and this walking tour has been designed for you to enjoy some of the very best of Vietnam’s street food. Pull up a stool and sample the local brewed beer while you people watch, then head through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter to have a Vietnamese style barbeque dinner of flamed grilled meats, tofu and vegetables on skewers.

Day 2: Hanoi day tour - Overnight train to Sapa

Discover the story of Hanoi by exploring its top sites and labyrinthine Old Quarter. See the Presidential Palace, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum — the resting place of Vietnam’s founding president. You’ll also see the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, an 11th century archaeological site, and the famous Temple of Literature. End the afternoon viewing Long Bien Bridge, which was partially bombed during the Vietnam War, then take a breezy cyclo ride through the Old Quarter’s 36 streets, finishing up with a coffee in a local café. Tonight board the overnight train to Sapa.

Day 3: Sapa day tour

Upon arrival, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Sapa.
 
You will take a short way north of Sapa town to the quiet valleys and gorges surrounding the village of O Quy Ho. The shallow winding valley sits in the shadow of Indochina’s highest peak, Fangxipan Mountain, and on clear days you can enjoy superb views of the range. Away from the major tourist routes, this trek is the perfect escape. Pass by oolong tea farms before joining a local footpath that clings to the contours of the rice terraces and takes you gently down the valley past grazing buffalo and working farmers. Walk along ancient stone paths and hear the story of the Black H’Mong migration to these mountains centuries before. Learn about the distinct cultures, languages and lifestyles that make northwestern Vietnam so fascinating, and visit an authentic Black H’Mong house, home to a local family. Transfer back to Sapa town in the early afternoon.

Day 4:  Sapa day tour

This morning, meet your guide at your hotel and walk south of Sapa towards the busy village of Cat Cat. The valleys that surround the village of Y Linh Ho are some of the most picturesque in the region, and this route allows you to explore one of Sapa’s less-traversed areas. Make your way along a gentle incline, through emerald paddy fields above a deep river gorge, before arriving on the river bank. Take a rest, dip your toes in the cool mountain waters and watch local children fishing with nets, before continuing deeper through the villages and terraces of the Black H’mong. Walk at your own pace and take in some of the best panoramas Vietnam has to offer. Enjoy lunch with a view at a local village restaurant before continuing through the valley towards the village of Lao Chai.

Day 5:  Sapa - Overnight train to Hanoi

Relax and enjoy the cool mountain air as you have a free day to do as much or as little as you like!  Shop for handicrafts in the market, climb to the top of Ham Rong Mountain for impressive views over Sapa or get a well-earned foot massage!  This evening return to Lao Cai and board the overnight train to Hanoi.

Day 6: Hanoi – Transfer to Halong Bay

It’s an early arrival into Hanoi with stop to freshen up and have breakfast before driving about four hours to Halong Bay.  Hop aboard a traditional wooden junk and admire the sublime beauty of the limestone karts jutting out of the jewel like water. Explore the bay by kayak as you discover sea caves and secluded bays. Visit a local fish farm and dine on fresh seafood before retiring to your cabin for the night.

Day 7: Cruise Halong Bay –  Transfer to Hanoi – Evening flight to Danang, Hoi An

Wake with the sun and watch as the dawn breaks. You might like to take an early morning dip or do a spot of tai chi before breakfast. Then head off to visit the Surprising Cave, with its amazing limestone formations that have been created over time. Keep an eye out for the big Buddha and frog on a rock! Cruise back to the main harbour and travel towards Hanoi and the airport for your flight to Danang. From Danang it’s only a short 30 minute drive to the artfully restored ancient town of Hoi An.

Day 8: Hoi An day tour

With its stunning mix of architecture, that tells a story of days gone by, to the colourful boats bobbing in the harbour, Hoi An is has a charm and style all of its own. This UNESCO listed site was once a 15th century fishing village, but now is renowned for its tailors, galleries boutiques and of course its food!  Take a guided walking tour and see the Chua Ong Pagoda, the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall and take a stroll across the often photographed 17th century covered bridge built by Japanese craftsmen. All living links to Hoi An’s ancient past.

Day 9: Flight to  Ho Chi Minh City

Fly to the bustling modern capital of Ho Chi Minh City formerly Saigon. Discover the story of Saigon, from the days of the French rule to the war years with America – this is one city with a tale to tell! See all the main sights including the Reunification Palace, the Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. End your day with a speedboat trip down the river to see a different side of the city.

Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi tunnels day tour

Travel by speedboat from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an underground city for Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. Cruise the Saigon River, taking in the scenery and river life as you leave the bustling city behind. In the tunnels, discover how the Viet Cong survived underground and see various man traps, bomb craters and other remnants of war. Then visit a farm and taste an unusual local specialty - cricket!

Day 11: Mekong Delta – Can Tho

Travel into the heart of the Mekong Delta to explore the waterways. See small home based factories perched on the river banks producing candy and oil from coconuts as you meander by boat through rivers and small creeks. Take part in a cooking demonstration and learn how to make the perfect spring roll before sitting down to feast on a three-course lunch aboard Le Jarai, a beautifully restored teak rice barge. Return to the pier and drive to Can Tho, the economic hub of the delta.

Day 12: Can Tho – Chau Doc

Rise early and travel by boat to the township of Cai Rang to see the hustle and bustle of a floating market. Watch as vendors hawk their wares from boats teeming with produce and buy a coffee from one of the floating cafes. Then, drive approximately three hours to the township of Chau Doc, a colorful and sleepy town near the Vietnam-Cambodia border.

This afternoon drive approximately 20kms from Chau Doc to Tra Su Forest and travel by sampan through endless waterways flanked by mangroves and lush greenery. This eco reserve spans 850 hectares and is an ecological haven for fauna and flora, with more than 100 species of water birds and colonies of bats. The best time to visit Tra Su is from September to November when the water is high, although it is accessible all year round. On the way to the forest you will visit a small village of ethnic Khmer, where you will learn about the importance of Buddhism in the community and have the opportunity to chat with monks at the local monastery.

Day 13: Chau Doc

It’s a long day as you drive for about 6.5 hours to Ho Chi Minh City. There will be stops on the way to stretch your legs and grab a snack. Arrive at the airport in the late afternoon and fly to Siem Reap. This evening, wander the old market area of the town with its labyrinth of lanes filled with boutiques, galleries, cafes and small bars. It’s the place to be after dark!

Day 14: Chau Doc – Flight to Siem Reap

It’s a long day as you drive for about 6.5 hours to Ho Chi Minh City. There will be stops on the way to stretch your legs and grab a snack. Arrive at the airport in the late afternoon and fly to Siem Reap. This evening, wander the old market area of the town with its labyrinth of lanes filled with boutiques, galleries, cafes and small bars. It’s the place to be after dark!

Day 15: Siem Reap (Angkor Temples)

Explore the amazing temples of Angkor on a full day greatest hits tour from Siem Reap. Be awestruck by Angkor Wat, marvel at the smiling faces of Bayon and the tree entwined Ta Prohm. You’ll also see the Terrace of the Elephants and Leper King, the pyramid shaped Phimeanakas and watch the sun set over the ancient ruins. All the main highlight temples are covered so you won’t miss a thing!

Day 16: Siem Reap – Flight to Luang Prabang 

Enjoy feel good tourism with a visit to a rural village supporting a proven model of tourism. Learn about rural life and roll up your sleeves and help out the community with their daily activities.  Bid farewell to Cambodia and fly to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed town of Luang Prabang, with its golden temples with glittering spires. 

Day 17: Luang Prabang

Explore the temples of Wat Xieng Thong and Wat Mai the spiritual hub of Luang Prabang with their sweeping roofs and gilded facades.  Visit the National Museum that was once the former Royal Palace to view the relics from Laos’ royalist past. Then head out of town to the Kuang Si waterfall, where the cool turquoise pools have a magical appearance and visit the Sun Bear refuge centre to say hello to the furry residents.  Pop into the Living Crafts Centre, where artisans are keeping traditional crafts alive and arrive back into Luang Prabang later in the afternoon.

Day 18: Luang Prabang

Cruise the tea coloured waters of the Mekong River to reach Pak Ou caves. The caves are home to hundreds of statues of Buddha, big and small, that have been left by devotees.  You’ll be amazed to see how many are crammed in!  Along the way you will stop at a riverside village to see weavers working on ancient looms. 

Day 19: Luang Prabang - Departure

This morning rise early to watch the procession of monks walking silently down the street to collect their daily alms, or shop for last minute souvenirs before transferring to the airport for you onward flight. 

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