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Classic Vietnam, Cambodia & Laos

20days from
£3,815*per person

Overview

TEMPLES AND SACRED CEREMONIES

Three of Southeast Asia’s most enthralling countries are brought to life with cultural encounters, historical uncoverings, and experiences within nature.   A three-week itinerary, packed with wish-list highlights, and covering the must-see sights of each destination. Vietnam’s captivating Hanoi is the starting point, followed by an overnight cruise on a paddle steamer across the emerald waters of UNESCO-listed Halong Bay. Continue to the port of Hoi An, Imperial capital, Hué and Ho Chi Minh City, where guided tours will showcase monuments of note and free time ensures ample self-exploration.   Take to the Mekong River by boat, survey the Củ Chi tunnel complex of Ho Chi Minh, and revel in the royal past of French-colonial gem, Phnom Penh. A day spent with a local community in Kok Sangke allows for further immersion and cultural learnings before watching as the sun rises over the sprawling, vine-enveloped temples of Angkor Wat. Finally, tread alongside the orange-cloaked Buddhist monks in downtown Luang Prabang, paddle in the shallow pools of Kuang Si Falls, and observe a centuries-old ceremony in Laos.

Itinerary

  • Today, you’ll set off on an overnight flight from the UK to Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi.
  • Early this morning, you’ll touch down in Hanoi, and be welcomed by your friendly tour manager upon arrival. You’ll then be transferred to your refined hotel, set in the most ancient part of the city. After an opportunity to unpack at the hotel, you’ll go on a short introductory tour. The colonial architecture, the warren of the Old Quarter, and Hoan Kiem Lake with its Ngoc San temple will all be seen. In the evening, you can join your fellow travellers for a welcome cocktail before having dinner at your leisure.
  • Following breakfast, you’ll embark on a more detailed city tour of Hanoi under the guidance of your tour manager. The first stops will be the Ho Chi Minh Complex and the Imperial Citadel, the apex of regional political power for more than a millennium. Next, you’ll call at the Temple of Literature, which was the first university complex in Vietnam and is dedicated to the Chinese scholar, Confucius.  Ba Dinh Square, which is the largest square in Vietnam, located in front of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and where Ho Chi Minh declared Independence in 1945.  Lunch will be enjoyed at a local restaurant before you continue to some of the city’s major landmarks, including Hoa Lo Prison, the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” where captured American soldiers and airmen were incarcerated during the Vietnam War.   As night falls, you’ll sit down to watch a private traditional water puppet show at an artisan’s house before enjoying the Hanoian specialty dinner – Cha Ca. 
  • Once you’ve had breakfast, you’ll head off on a scenic journey through the paddy fields to Halong Bay, a natural wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Upon arrival, you’ll board a charming turn-of-the-century paddle steamer, Emeraude and set sail, passing countless limestone pillars and cone-shaped islands, which have made this bay so famous.   En route, you’ll have lunch, and the boat will stop in Sung Sot Grotto, also called ‘Surprise Cave’, the largest and most striking limestone cave in the bay. Weather permitting, you’ll also visit beautiful Ti Top Island, hugged by a white sandy beach and encompassing a tree-laden hilltop. Here, you can choose to take a dip in the surrounding emerald waters, go on a gentle hike or see the pearl farm.  Back on board and later in the day, you’ll partake in a Vietnamese cooking class and demonstration, where you’ll learn how to make some local delicacies. A buffet dinner will then be served, and if possible, you can try your hand at squid fishing under the stars.  
  • Wake up in paradise and join the fellow early risers to catch the sunrise while tucking into coffee, tea and biscuits. If you wish, you can also enjoy a tai chi class on the sundeck before brunch.   You’ll then pack your bags, disembark and return to Hanoi airport for a short flight south to Da Nang. When you have arrived, a transfer will take you to the port town of Hoi An, home to a well-preserved old town, interspersed with canals. Your hotel for the night is ringed by gardens and comprises French-colonial and Vietnamese-inspired architecture.   The rest of the day will be free for you to settle in and explore the area, perhaps seeking out one of the festive night markets for dinner.  
  • Following breakfast, you’ll board the coach and travel to the remote ancient village of Loc Yen, positioned in the enchanting valley of Tien Canh. The village, bounded by streams and pastoral landscapes is made up of houses built in typical traditional Vietnamese architecture.   You’ll be led along the winding canals, stone alleyways, and terraces, meeting some of friendly residents as you go. Lunch will be prepared and served by a member of a local family in one of the houses.   In the afternoon, you’ll return to Hoi An for a guided tour of the city, taking in the Japanese Covered Bridge, the Chinese Assembly Halls and the historic Ong Hoi An pagoda. The tour will continue to the bustling markets, awash with colour and stop for a snack.  In the evening, you’ll return to the hotel.  Please note: The Japanese Bridge is currently undergoing restoration and whilst we can still visit, the bridge is largely covered. This is scheduled for completion by early 2024 but this isn’t guaranteed. 
  • Today, you’ll have breakfast, check out of the hotel and head out on a scenic journey north, passing coast lagoons, the beautiful Lang Co beach, and the Marble Mountains, a collection of five marble and limestone hills.   You’ll also come across Da Nang with its French colonial port and the dramatic Hai Van Pass before stopping at the expansive, restored tomb of Emperor Tu Duc. The tour will then arrive in the imperial city of Hué. This laid-back former Vietnamese capital is a place of pagodas, tombs of the emperors and ancient temples, with the restored Imperial City of the Nguyen Dynasty at its heart.   There’ll be time to check into your polished hotel, just a five-minute walk from Perfume River, on which the city stands. Accompanied by your tour manager, you’ll then venture to the river for a cruise and a tour of the Imperial City’s moated, turreted palace.  As night falls, the evening is free to explore the town and its historic buildings and find somewhere for dinner.  
  • After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport for a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), the former Saigon.   Once you’ve arrived, you’ll be taken to your hotel in the city centre before embarking on a guided, introductory tour. Your tour manager will take you through the streets, bringing to life its French colonial past as you experience its modern energy.   Major landmarks covered will include the grand General Post Office, the striking Reunification Hall, the Xa Loi Pagoda with its bronze Buddha and, if there’s time, the War Remnants Museum.  This evening, you can explore the markets and nightlife on your own.  
  • Have breakfast and then prepare to leave the city for a day in the Vietnamese outdoors. Your coach will travel through the Mekong Delta, where the most fertile agricultural lands in Vietnam can be found to the town of My Tho.   Here, you’ll board a boat and glide along the Mekong River to the nearby fishing villages and islands. The boat will then cruise through a small canal, Vàm Xếp, where you can observe the daily life of the inhabits on the banks before having lunch at a local family’s home.   You’ll continue on to a bee farm and a handicraft workshop, with the opportunity to enjoy some honey tea and watch how the local people craft products from coconut wood. A horse cart will then take you along the country roads to some fruit orchards, and you can taste some tropical fruits while listening to traditional music.   Next up, you’ll travel in a small sampan, flat-bottomed, wooden boat back to Coconut Village for a coconut candy workshop and tasting. Finally, you’ll visit Phoenix Island to learn how rice paper is made, board the boat to the mainland and return to Ho Chi Minh City.   Back at the hotel, you can relax and find somewhere for dinner at your leisure.
  • Enjoy breakfast at your leisure and then a free day of self-exploration, perhaps ticking off any of the sights or experiences left on your wish-list.  
  • Have breakfast, check out of the hotel and board the coach for a drive to the outskirts of the city. It’s here that the Củ Chi tunnel complex is located, a well-known historical vestige of the Vietnamese revolution.  This underground labyrinth now serves as a permanent memorial of the conflict and makes up a network of dug outs featuring meeting, living and fighting quarters. You’ll learn first-hand about how the Viet Cong survived the Vietnam War using this complex and get a chance to look down into the tunnels themselves.   You’ll then continue to Tay Ninh, home to the extraordinarily ornate Great Temple, and onto the Cambodian Border at Bavet (stopping for lunch on the way). Border formalities completed, you’ll travel to the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, and check into your hotel.  Perhaps have a drink at the rooftop bar before finding somewhere to enjoy dinner on the banks of the Mekong River.   Please note: Please note: It takes five to six hours to drive to the hotel in Phnom Penh offering you ample time to immersive yourself in the changing landscapes between Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • Following breakfast, you’ll be introduced to what was once one of Southeast Asia’s most elegant, European outposts that now mixes faded colonial glories with Buddhist traditions and 21st-century modernity.  The first stop will be the private quarters of the Royal palace, the residence of the King of Cambodia. Your tour manager will point out the Silver Pagoda, believed to be the most sacred temple in the country, housing several priceless artefacts.   Next, you’ll walk up a small hill to see the legendary Wat Phnom temple, which boasts enchanting views over the surrounding areas. There’ll then be a break for lunch at a local restaurant before the tour continues to the Toul Sleng Museum, which chronicles the inhumanity of the Pol Pot dictatorship. Lastly, you can opt to see some of the exhibits in the National Museum, Cambodia's largest museum of cultural history.   Back at the hotel, you can relax before joining your fellow travellers for an included dinner at one of the on-site restaurants.  
  • After breakfast, you’ll check out of the hotel and be transferred through the Cambodian countryside to Siem Riep (a seven to eight-hour journey). On the way, you’ll stop for lunch at a local restaurant in Kampong Thom.   By evening, you’ll have arrived in the colourful market town of Siem Reap, not far from the incredible complex at Angkor Thom. After checking into your hotel, you’ll join your fellow travellers for dinner at a nearby restaurant in town. 
  • Following breakfast, you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in traditional Cambodian culture by travelling to the Kok Sangke community. This excursion will start with a visit to the home of a local family who’ll make you bamboo sticky rice and several other traditional Khmer desserts.   Next, you’ll watch a blacksmith family demonstrating their traditional skills and techniques, which have been passed down through three generations. You’ll observe them crafting iron into farming materials like knives, hoes and axes. From here, the tour will walk through the village, and you can interact with the local people, observing their farming activities and crafts.   A delicious Khmer lunch cooked by the local community will be served in the afternoon, and you’ll then continue to Wat Luang Proleung, an ancient pagoda, to see locals perform a traditional dance called Chhayam. There’ll be time to wander around the pagoda and receive a blessing from a monk, which is said to bring you good luck.   You’ll then head through the rural countryside scattered with picturesque villages to Kampong Khleang, a community built on high stilts across Tonle Sap Lake.   Home to approximately 10,000 people, the residence of Kampong Khleang’s main income comes from fishing. The tour will continue by cruise, sailing around Tonle Sap Lake and taking in the beautiful scenery on the banks. Depending on the time and season you visit Kampong Khleang, the landscape will be different, as the lake is tidal.   In the evening, you’ll return to the hotel to relax and have dinner.   
  • An unforgettable day awaits as you’ll wake up early and travel to Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious structure in the world. Upon arrival, you’ll get to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – watching the sunrise over this iconic UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll have a chance to walk around, observing the intricately carved sandstone walls, surrounding moat, and five towers.   The coach will then drop you at the hotel for breakfast and to freshen up before you head back out to explore the ‘lost city’ of Angkor Thom, the great citadel of the Khmer Empire, which ruled up to half of Southeast Asia for nearly six centuries.  Here, amid the verdant jungle, great ruins litter a vast area. Among the most astounding are the Bayon Temple, with its four giant heads and countless other faces carved into the rock, and the Indiana Jones-like, half-hidden Ta Prohm Temple.   At the end of the day, you’ll have dinner at a traditional Khmer restaurant while watching an Apsara dance performance. This style of classical dance, which dates back to the 7th century, was originally reserved for royalty, and only preformed during special ceremonies and festivals. You’ll learn how this traditional dance is a vital part of Khmer culture while feasting on authentic Cambodian cuisine.  
  • Enjoy a relaxed breakfast and some time to explore Siem Reap. You’ll then be transferred to the airport for a 90-minute flight to the ancient royal capital of Laos, Luang Prabang.  When you arrive, you’ll meet your tour manager and travel to your hotel. You can check in, and then choose to have dinner at the hotel or in one of the nearby restaurants, known for traditional and French-influenced food.  
  • You’ll rise early to the sounds of the temple gong and walk towards the downtown area. Here, you’ll see the daily procession of around 300 young, saffron-cloaked monks walking through the streets and armed with bronze bowls to collect sticky rice or other food. This ritual is linked to a Buddhist tradition where monks beg for their daily food as a way to demonstrate humility.  If you’d like to partake in the offering of food, your tour manager will be more than happy to show you the respectful way to interact with the monks. You can take photos, but please use your discretion and refrain from using your flash.   The rest of the morning is free to stroll to Luang Prabang’s lively morning market, where you’ll see the locals haggling for fresh meat, fruit, and vegetables. Breakfast will be enjoyed back at the hotel, and you can also freshen up before your day out.   Your tour manager will then take you around some of the former royal capital’s cultural highlights. The first will be Wat Xieng Thong, one of the largest and most decorative temples, which rises above the river. You’ll then visit the former Royal Palace, a commanding structure in the centre of town that until 1946 was the heart of the Lang Xang Kingdom. It now serves as the National Museum, and its halls contain rare religious and cultural artifacts. Next, you can climb 328 steps to the top of Mount Phousi and take in panoramic views of the city.   Lunch will be at a nearby local restaurant. Later in the afternoon, you’ll head to the UXO Visitors Centre, with real-life bombs on show, survivor stories on the walls, and a moving documentary on display. Finally, you’ll call at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre – a major source of information on the country’s many ethnic-minority groups.  In the evening, you’ll be transferred to a local restaurant for dinner.   Please note: The UXO Office Centre is open from Monday to Friday only, and the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre is open from Tuesday to Sunday. If your itinerary has fallen into the closed date, we’ll move the visit to the next day.  
  • It’s the last full day of your holiday, and you’ll start with breakfast followed by an excursion to Kuang Si Falls surrounded by jungle landscape. On the way, you’ll stop at Hmong and Khamu village and Ock Pop Tok Living Crafts Centre set on the Mekong River. Once you reach the falls, you can cool off by swimming in the designated areas (don’t forget your swimming costume!).   Later, you’ll head back to town, where you’ll get to witness a Baci ceremony. This centuries-old ritual involves tying strings around a person’s wrist to preserve good luck and celebrate important events and occasions, like marriages and births.    Your Southeast Asian adventure draws to a close this evening with a farewell dinner, during which you’ll no doubt relive the many highlights of the past days and weeks.   Please note: The Baci ceremony and farewell dinner will be set up at your hotel. 
  • Savour a final breakfast with your fellow travellers, check out of your hotel and be transferred back to the airport for your flight to Hanoi. From here, you’ll catch your connecting overnight flight home.
  • You’ll touch down back in the UK after an incredibly enlightening holiday.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Discover the historical landmarks of Hanoi, including Hoa Lo Prison, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the Imperial Citadel
  • Set sail on an overnight cruise around the spectacular Halong Bay, with a cooking class, squid fishing and morning tai chi
  • Travel to the ancient village of Loc Yen and have lunch at a local family’s house
  • Visit French colonial Da Nang and cruise through the city of Hué on Perfume River
  • Explore the highlights of Ho Chi Minh on a guided tour with an opportunity to wander around the Ben Thanh Market (if time permits)
  • Glide along the Mekong River, stopping at fishing villages to interact with the local people, observing their way of life
  • Experience a day at leisure in Ho Chi Minh, allowing you to relax or explore at your own pace
  • See the Củ Chi tunnel complex while learning about the importance of this underground labyrinth
  • Be guided around Phnom Penh and call at the private quarters of the royal palace, the residence of the King of Cambodia and Wat Phnom temple
  • Spend a day in the Kok Sangke community, enjoying lunch with a local family and watching a traditional dance performance
  • Gaze as the sun rises over Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious structure and explore the ‘lost city’ of Angkor Thom
  • Amble around downtown Luang Prabang as a Buddhist ritual is carried out before experiencing the must-see monuments
  • Take a dip in the three-tiered Kuang Si Falls and witness a traditional Baci ceremony

Our Price Includes

  • 17 nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation in Hanoi (2 nights), aboard a Halong Bay paddle steamer (1), Hoi An (2), Hué (1), Ho Chi Minh City (3), Phnom Penh (2), Siem Reap (3) and Luang Prabang (3), plus two nights on the plane
  • One brunch, seven dinners and 10 lunches and a welcome cocktail
  • A tour of Hanoi
  • Cooking class in Halong Bay
  • Visit to Loc Yen
  • Tour of Hoi An
  • Cruise on the Perfume River
  • Tour of Hué
  • Tour of Ho Chi Minh
  • Excursion along the Mekong River
  • Tour of Củ Chi tunnel complex
  • Tour of Phnom Penh
  • Visit to the Kok Sangke community
  • Sunrise visit to Angkor Wat
  • Excursion to Angkor Thom
  • Tour of Luang Prabang
  • Cruise across Tonle Sap Lake
  • Visit to Kuang Si Falls
  • Baci ceremony
  • Return scheduled flights to Hanoi
  • Internal flights from Hanoi to Da Nang, Hué/Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City, Siem Reap to Luang Prabang, and Luang Prabang to Hanoi
  • Comfortable, air-conditioned coach travel throughout
  • Fully escorted by friendly, experienced tour managers
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Dates and Prices

 
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Departure Airport:
London Heathrow (LHR)

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Price from:£3,815
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Other Information

Hotel transfer times

The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately one hour.

Travel vaccinations

Requirements and advice can vary over time, and from person to person, so please contact your GP about eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or any other preventive measures.

Special requirements

If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.

Disabled access

The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

Itinerary changes

Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.

Changes to your hotels

Should circumstances require, we reserve the right to accommodate you in alternative hotels, of a similar standard, nearby. Full details of your hotels will be sent with your Final Travel Documents.

Foreign Office Travel Advice

Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.

Passports and visas

British citizens require machine-readable passports when travelling overseas. A visa is required for entry to Cambodia. Your passport must contain two blank pages and be valid for six months beyond the date of entry into Laos. The current charge for British Citizens is £30. British Citizens do not require a visa to visit Thailand. British Citizens do not require a visa for single entry visits to Vietnam if staying for less than 15 days. Full details of how and when to apply will be sent out about eight weeks before your departure date.

Holiday code

N1903

Holiday provided by Newmarket Holidays

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: fully flexible booking policy, covid-19 cancellation cover insurance as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Newmarket Holidays (ABTOT 5509, ATOL 2325, ABTA V7812), you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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