- Spend the night onboard a traditional style wooden junk boat in stunning Ha Long Bay, and set out in kayaks to explore secluded lagoons and beaches.
- Join a Laotian family at their home in Luang Prabang for a Buddhist Baci ceremony, followed by a dinner of local specialties.
- See Angkor’s spectacular temples by bicycle, and enjoy a picnic lunch among the ruins.
- Trek across the Laotian countryside and visit remote hilltribe villages for a glimpse into the daily lives of local farmers
The allure of Southeast Asia is in the unexpected blend of stunning pagodas and romantic colonial architecture; the colorful cacophony of market streets where silks and silver are sold next to cilantro and roasted fish; the terraced rice fields and timeless villages. Experience Indochina on a unique adventure that adapts our activity to best fit each location. Bike through the garden districts of Hûe’ and among the ancient Khmer temples of Cambodia. Walk the historic streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Board a traditional-style Chinese junk for a two-night cruise on Vietnam’s magnificent Ha Long Bay, discovering the karst landscape by kayak. Go hiking and explore caves and waterfalls in the jungles surrounding Laos’ beautiful Luang Prabang. Then cap off the adventure among the spectacular temples of Angkor.
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and check in to our hotel. After time to relax or explore the city, meet for an orientation and a welcome dinner.
Go on a walking tour past the city’s famous sites, including the old Saigon Post Office, Reunification Palace, and Chinatown. Then fly to Hue—capital of the Nguyen dynasty from 1802 until 1945—where our home is a former French colonial governor’s mansion on the banks of the Perfume River.
This morning, ride a bike past dragon boats and long-tailed canoes on the Perfume River to the leafy Phu Mong District. Our path winds among gardens and stately homes to Tha Om, a garden house where a delicious lunch of Hue specialties awaits. Then return to the center of Hue to explore the Imperial City and the citadel. (6-8 miles bicycling, 1-2 hours)
After breakfast, we fly to Hanoi, a beautiful city of colonial architecture and lilting pagodas. Explore the captivating Old Quarter by rickshaw, where merchants preside over everything from silk and sandals to roasted fish. If you wish, attend an evening performance of traditional water puppetry before dinner. The next morning, trace the life of Ho Chi Minh at his mausoleum and his traditional stilt house. Visit the Temple of Literature—Vietnam’s first university—and discover the city’s restaurants on your own tonight.
Take a morning drive to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay, where our private traditional-style wooden junk awaits. Set sail into waters dotted with tiny islands and fantastic karst formations. After a kayak lesson the next day, venture into one of the most spectacular parts of the bay. Discover “tunnel lakes,” remote lagoons, and sandy beaches, and pull up on shore to explore on foot. Kayak to the remains of a floating village and then take a swim or relax on deck this afternoon. (2–6 miles paddling, 2–4 hours)
After breakfast, drive back to Hanoi and fly to Luang Prabang. A World Heritage site, the city is a breathtaking combination of Buddhist temples and charming colonial buildings nestled in jungle-covered hills at the junction of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers. Check into our secluded resort, located just outside the bustle of town.
Spend the day visiting some of the city’s many shrines, including Wat Xieng, Wat May, and Wat Visoun. Tonight, join a local family for a Buddhist Baci ceremony followed by dinner in their home.
After breakfast, we travel by private mini-van to the village of Ban Nong Heo. On arrival, take time to discover this charming Khmu village, with its traditional houses, water buffalo, and ducks walking around, and the farmers and master blacksmiths completing their daily tasks. Your local guide will take you for an easy hike in the countryside, passing through hill forests and plantations, with scenic viewpoints along the way. Continue to Ban Thapene, a village lying at a butterfly park where we’ll stop for a lunch and an interesting tour by the owner to hear more about Lao’s fauna and flora, as well as nature conservation and education projects in the surrounding communities. Take a rest or have a stroll around handicraft village Ban Thapene before returning to Luang Prabang. (2–4 miles hiking, 2-3 hours)
Rise early to catch an enchanting sight of hundreds of saffron-robed monks walking silently through town to collect offerings. After breakfast, visit Wat Xieng Thong, a temple whose swooping, overlapping roofs shelter a treasure trove of Buddhist and royal artifacts. Fly to Siem Reap and transfer to our hotel. There will be time to relax or swim at the pool before dinner at the hotel.
This morning, explore one of the most ancient temple sites in the region: the Roluos Group. Bike around the impressive Bakong—a 9th-century temple—followed by Preah Ko and Lolei, which today houses a small monastery. Continue cycling in the countryside and make a stop at local house to enjoy snacks and meet the locals. Later on, visit the ancient Ta Prohm Monastery, where immense branches have taken root in the stones—hence the “Jungle Temple” nickname. In the afternoon, we visit the Great City of Angkor Thom, and its famous Bayon temple, Elephant Terrace, and Leper King of the 12th and 13th centuries. The following day, rise early to enjoy a sunrise over the incredible temple of Angkor Wat, a World Heritage site with that was erected in the 12th century in honor of Vishnu. We then explore Preah Khan Temple. Later, transfer to the airport in Siem Reap for your flight home. (Day 12: 4-5 miles bicycling, 1-2 hours)
WHAT TO EXPECT
This trip has an activity rating of light/moderate; travelers should be in good health, comfortable walking or standing for extended periods, and prepared for multiple hours of activity on some days. In Ha Long Bay, we will kayak 2 to 4 hours per day (2 to 6 miles). On cycling excursions, we will bike 1 to 2 hours per day (4 to 8 miles). Vehicle support is provided. While there is no sustained hiking, there is ample walking over uneven terrain and streets.
We stay 10 nights in high-end hotels with full amenities. We spend 2 nights in a traditional-style wooden junk (sailboat) on Ha Long Bay with en suite cabins, a dining room, and a sun deck.
One or two seasoned adventure guides will lead this trip, often accompanied by local guides.
PRICES & DATES
Nov 2-14, 2018
Dec 7-19, 2018
- Transfers upon arrival and departure
- Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary
- Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
- Gratuities (with the exception of lead adventure guides)
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
- Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
- Alcoholic beverages
- Gratuities for lead adventure guides