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  • The National Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Monks in the ancient stone faces of Bayon Temple (Angkor Wat), Cambodia
  • The Golden Pagoda at Wat Pha-That Luang, Laos
  • Local food being prepared in Thailand
  • The Royal Pavilion in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Route:
Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City
Days:
21
From:

US$989

+ local payment of US$490.00

This whirlwind three weeks will take you into the heart of the region's most diverse countries, visiting hilltop tribes, gorging on noodle soup and partying hard in Bangkok. Whether you are exploring the hill tribes in Chiang Mai, speeding down the Mekong River on the way to Pakbeng or strolling the French style streets of Hanoi, this tour will blow you away.

About this tour

  • Type of Travel: Public Transport
  • Group Size: Average 12-14. Maximum 18
  • Recommended Age: 18-39
  • Country: Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia

What you need to know

  • Wear modest clothes when visiting temples in Asia and pack shoes that are easy to slip on and off 
  • Always have a few ID photos on you for visas. This is especially important in arrival places such as Laos or Vietnam where photos are needed

Itinerary

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Day 1 to 3 - Arrive Hanoi

The first day of your tour is simply an arrival day with no pre-organised activities. In order to allow time to relax and see some of the sights you may wish to add pre-tour accommodation.

Hanoi is the capital of the Socialist Republic and is dominated by colonial buildings and tree-lined boulevards. The city boasts a convoluted yet elegant history which is characterised by its 'chameleon of names' - the city has changed names many times throughout history. In terms of recent history, the French withdrew their forces in 1954 and ever since foreign investment and property has developed substantially.

In Hanoi, exploring on your own is relatively easy on foot or by bike. Many travellers believe the true appeal and essence of Hanoi is discovered wandering the streets, tasting local market food, observing the local way of life, and taking in the architecture and surroundings.

Interested in visiting Ha Long Bay? On Day 2 you can arrange to visit the incredible Halong Bay, famous for its limestone islands jutting imposingly from the sea into the Vietnamese skyline and can even spend the night on a traditional junk boat. As this trip is so popular we highly recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment. Please speak to your Adventure Specialist for more details.

Optional Excursions

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum – free • Ho Chi Minh's house and presidential palace – VND 20,000 • Ho Chi Minh's Museum – VND 20,000 • Temple of Literature – VND20,000 • All tombs and citadels – VND 20,000 • Ngoc Son Temple – VND 5,000 • Fine Arts Museum – VND 20,000 • Military History Museum – VND 20,000 • Perfume pagoda – VND 20,000 • Water Puppet Theatre – VND 60,000-100,000 plus VND 40,000 for camera use

Accommodation

3 night(s) in hotels at Golden Charm Hotel or similar

Meals

2 Breakfast(s)

Day 4 to 4 - Vientiane

We take a flight across the border to Vientiane. The capital of Laos is extremely quiet - so quiet that, before 1970, there was only one set of traffic lights in the entire city (a far cry from some other South East Asian cities!). We have time to admire this tranquil city with its many murals and markets. Many buildings you will see when you wander the streets are of religious significance. You may wish to hire a bicycle and explore the local streets and markets which are excellent here.

Laos' currency is the Lao Kip (LAK).

Optional Excursions

Temples – most entry fees are US$2 • Wat Pra Kaeo (Grand Palace and museum) – LAK 5000 • National Museum – LAK 20,000 • Buddha Park – LAK 8,000 entrance (plus transport starting from LAK 80,000)

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hostels at Win Hotel or similar

Day 5 to 6 - Vang Vieng

As we make our way north from Vientiane we travel through stunning scenery to Vang Vieng. This peaceful town is situated in a plateau with stunning surroundings of limestone caves and waterfalls, and the area is inhabited by the Hmong and Yao tribes. The limestone caves are renowned in ancient mythology and have featured in the prose of many artists throughout time. Vang Vieng is an excellent place to try the local cuisine and there are markets to indulge in. Feeling energised we will take a bicycle tour off the beaten track through some of Laos' most incredible scenery and view a wonderful sunset across lush paddy fields before arriving for a swim at the Blue Lagoon.

Included Excursions

Countryside bicycle tour to Blue Lagoon

Optional Excursions

Bamboo rafting/kayaking including visit to caves – US$20 • Caves – most entry fees are US$2

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels at Vinutda Guesthouse or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 7 to 8 - Luang Prabang

We travel from Vang Vieng on the scenic route 4 to the sleepy town of Luang Prabang. Many say this is the most memorable town in all of Laos. Renowned for a fascinating history, some of the friendliest people and beautiful landscapes, Luang Prabang is a true gem in South East Asia.

We have two days to enjoy this peaceful town, which is located 300 metres above sea level on the upper Mekong. We have the opportunity to watch the local monks collect alms early in the morning, a truly humbling expeience. As you explore you will see that Luang Prabang is dominated by Phousi - the marvellous hill-top temple that sits in the middle of the town. You'll notice a combination of Lao, French and Lao-French colonial influence as you admire the city's buildings and architectural highlights - all of which you can see discovering the town on foot.

There are many temples to visit in Luang Prabang - over 30 in fact, which is a large number for this small town. Along the way you may encounter some young monks eager to practice their English skills as well.

Included Excursions

Early visit to see Monks collect alms with TL

Optional Excursions

Royal Theatre dance performances – US$20 • Royal Palace – LAK 30,000 • Wat Xieng Thong – LAK 20,000 • Wat Poa Phon Phoa – donation expected • Kuang Si Falls – LAK 20,000 (not including transport)

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels at Treasure Hotel or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 9 to 10 - Pakbeng & Huay Xai

From Luang Prabang, we begin a two-leg journey that will take us towards northern Thailand entirely by boat along the mighty Mekong River. We stop overnight midway at the small riverside village of Pakbeng, where the pace of life really slows down and you can relax and enjoy a nice, cold, award-winning Beer Laos. The next day we are back on the river and continue our boat adventure to Huay Xai where the Mekong River is the only divide between Thailand and Laos. We stay in Huay Xai overnight and enjoy our last experience of Laos hospitality before crossing the river the next morning into northern Thailand and the infamous Golden Triangle.

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 11 to 11 - Chiang Mai

Our journey today culminates in Chiang Mai but the destination is only a part of the experience. After crossing the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge and clearing Thai customs, we continue in private, air-conditioned minivans to discover the Golden Triangle, the infamous centre of Asia's illicit opium production, where Laos, Thailand and Burma meet at a single point close to the Chinese border. Here we can enjoy a fascinating visit to the Opium Museum.

From the history of the Golden Triangle we make our way west towards Chiang Rai where you can see the incredible Wat Rong Khun, or White Temple, designed unlike any religious entity you have ever seen. While we don't want to spoil the surprise, the outside of the building although spectacular is not the end of the story. Explore both inside and outside to discover the hidden secrets of this modern day wonder. We will also compare this with the beautiful Black House, another temple with a distinctively unique design.

An amazing day ends with our arrival into Chiang Mai, the 'Rose of the North', where you can enjoy a Thai cooking course, relaxing massage, take in a night-time Thai kick-boxing bout (Muay Thai) or haggle the night away at Chiang Mai’s famous evening street bizarre.

You can take an optional excursion out to the beautiful caves of Chiang Dao, with its amazing limestone stalactites and stalagmites, and beautiful white marble Buddhist statues from Burma.

Included Excursions

Visit White Temple, Black Temple, Opium Museum & Golden Triangle

Optional Excursions

Thai cookery course – THB 800 per person (depending on class size) • Doi Suthep temple by Songthaew (type of Thai vehicle) – THB 300 • Bicycle tour – from THB 800 per day

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at Winner Inn Hotel or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 12 to 12 - Overnight sleeper train to Bangkok

Before we board our overnight train to Bangkok you will have some final free time to relax and enjoy Chiang Mai.

Accommodation

1 night(s) on overnight sleeper trains

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 13 to 14 - Bangkok

Thailand's capital, Bangkok, is a crazy and chaotic city! Known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon pronounced or Krung Thep "city of angels" for short, Bangkok was a small trading post at the mouth of the Chao Phraya River during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Bangkok is now the gateway to South East Asia for most travellers and international backpackers come and go and the streets are always buzzing and full of life.

No visit to Bangkok is complete without a visit to Khao San Road, the famous strip filled with markets, stalls, neon lights and young backpackers. From people watching to shopping, and nightlife to food and drink, this is the place to be on a night out in Bangkok. If you're feeling adventurous you might wish to try a fried insect or two!

On a more cultural note, Bangkok also boasts hundreds of Wats (temples), with Wat Arun being the main one visited by most travellers. The Grand Palace is also a popular attraction, and for something different you can cruise along the Chao Phraya River and through the canals. Bangkok once had an elaborate network of canals and was given the nickname, 'Venice of the East', and although some of them have been filled in and converted to streets, many still exist today. Travelling through these canals you will see how the locals live along the riverside - you almost forget you are in a large, bustling city.

Thailand's currency is the Thai Baht (THB).

Optional Excursions

Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew – from THB 500 • Thai Massage per hour from – THB 200 • Thai cookery course – from THB 1200 • Bangkok canal tour – from THB 750

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels at New Siam II or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 15 to 16 - Siem Reap

The name Siem Reap means 'Defeat of Siam' - today's Thailand - and refers to a century-old bloodbath which you can see commemorated in stone in the celebrated bas relief carvings of the monuments around the area.

You can head out on an optional excursion to the most famous temple, Angkor Wat, with a guide to give you an overview of the history and layout of the temple. Remaining time in Siem Reap can be spent at your own leisure exploring the expansive site armed with a cameras and the knowledge from a guide.

There are over one thousand temples here which attract over one million visitors annually. The temples range from small ruins to the famous Angkor Wat, and the site is said to be the world's largest single religious monument.

Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, pays homage to the Hindu god Vishnu and has a dazzling array of beautiful ornate carvings. The many ceremonial structures and temples here were built between the 9th and 13th centuries by the Khmer Empire that spanned a period of approximately 600 years. These temples are some of the most famous in the world and take up an area of approximately 400 square kilometres.

There are superb photographic opportunities here at most times of the day so make sure your camera batteries are fully charged and your memory card is ready to go! Tuk-tuks provide a convenient form of transport around the area here, and you can hire a tuk-tuk and driver for the day if you wish. The Angkor area (in and around the Ta Prohm temple) was the site where the film Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie was filmed.

Optional Excursions

Angkor Wat Temple Pass – US$37 • Tonle Sap Lake entrance including boat ride – from US$7 (depending on group size) • Landmine Museum entrance – US$3 (US$7 including transport)

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels at Golden Papaya or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 17 to 18 - Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is Cambodia's bustling capital city with a turbulent past. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonised Cambodia during the 19th century. The city has grown from a small fishing village to what is now the industrial, commercial, cultural and historical centre of Cambodia.

Take a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (a former torture centre) and the Choueng Ek Memorial at the site of the Killing Fields, to learn about one aspect of this country's turbulent past.

Phnom Penh has many other attractions including the Russian Market and National Museum. You could also take a stroll along the river's famous Sisowath Quay and enjoy a coffee or cocktail at one of the many cafes while observing the bustling river traffic. You may wish to take a tuk-tuk ride around Phnom Penh (a tuk-tuk is a motorbike-taxi with an enclosed passenger cabin that can fit around 4 people).

Optional Excursions

Royal Palace and The Silver Pagoda - US$10 • National Museum – US$10 • Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison) – US$5 • Wat Phnom – US$1 • Killing Fields – US$3

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hostels at Nawin Guesthouse or similar

Meals

2 Breakfast(s)

Day 19 to 19 - Mekong Delta

We cross the border from Cambodia to Vietnam by travelling by boat down the Mekong River from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc. Chau Doc is our base to explore the extraordinary Mekong Delta, a region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. Life in the Mekong Delta revolves much around the river, and many of the villages are often accessible by rivers and canals rather than by road. The region produces half of the country's rice output which is more than Japan and Korea together. Enjoy a pleasant evening in a comfortable hotel in preparation for tomorrow's bus journey. You will be travelling through the Delta where you can experience first hand the daily life in the region, before arriving in the bustling and vibrant Ho Chi Minh City.

Optional Excursions

Floating Market Tour- US$5-$10 depending on numbers

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at Hung Cuong Hotel or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 20 to 20 - Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City was known as Saigon until the end of the Vietnam War (around 1975). Originally a small fishing village, it is now the most important economic centre in Vietnam and is the largest city in the country.

Traffic in the city is fairly hectic at the best of times but getting around is suprisingly easy by taxi or motorbike taxi, although drivers may not always speak English. Bus is the only form of public transport and motorbikes rule the road; there are around 3 million motorbikes cruising around the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

If you're interested in the history of the Vietnam War make sure you visit the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Hall. If you're less of a history buff and more in the mood to haggle for a bargain, don't miss Ho Chi Minh's largest market, the Ben Thanh Market. You can buy everything from cosmetics to live ducks here. There are also numerous food stalls at this market, and at the popular night market nearby. The food in Ho Chi Minh City is some of the best and most diverse in all of Vietnam so make sure you eat well during your stay. There are also many bars and clubs to spend your evening in.

Vietnam's currency is the Vietnamese dong (VND).

Optional Excursions

War Remnants Museum – VND 15,000 • The Reunification Palace – VND 20,000 • Cu Chi Tunnels - VND 235,000 • Ben Thanh Market - free • Bitexco Financial Tower - free • Central Post office - free • Jade Emperor pagoda - free

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels at La Felix Hotel or similar

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

Day 21 to 21 - Depart Ho Chi Minh City

Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.

Meals

1 Breakfast(s)

What's Included

Excursions & Activities

  • Countryside bicycle tour to Blue Lagoon
  • Early visit to see Monks collect alms with TL
  • Visit White Temple, Black Temple, Opium Museum & Golden Triangle

Accommodation

16 night(s) in hotels, 3 night(s) in hostels, 1 night(s) on overnight sleeper trains

Transportation

Train, International Flight(s), Public Bus, Boat, Private Vehicle, Overnight Bus

Meals

14 Breakfast(s)

Other

Tucan Travel tour leader

What's Not Included

  • International flights to/from the start/end of your tour and departure taxes  
  • Tips on included excursions, visas, travel insurance, personal items and single rooms.  
  • Airport transfers and pre and post tour accommodation
  • Spending money – budget for meals, snacks, drinks, limited souvenirs, laundry, tips and any extras
  • International flights to/from the start/end of your tour and departure taxes  
  • Tips on included excursions, visas, travel insurance, personal items and single rooms.  
  • Optional excursions - On each trip, you may find there are some excursions that are not included. This might be because they are not to everyone's taste or there may be various options of differing value to choose from. More information on the excursions we recommend is listed under each day of your itinerary though prices may vary. If you are after something in particular, don't hesitate to ask your tour leader.
  • Local payment
  • Airport transfers and pre and post tour accommodation

Group

Group Size:Maximum 18. Average 10-14

Age Range: This tour is for those aged between 18 and 39.

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