World Heritage Indochina
15 Days / 14 Nights
Day 1: Afternoon Sightseeing including Museum and Temples.
We arrive in Luang Prabang and transfer to our accommodation. In the afternoon, we begin to explore the historic town of Luang Prabang. We walk along Sisavangvong St, the heart of the old quarter and explore the National Museum, set in the former Royal Palace. Built in 1904, the palace is a blend of Laotian and French influences and houses many royal treasures. The most important item is the solid gold Pha Bang Buddha, a gift from the Khmer King to his son-in-law, Fa Ngum, founder of the Lao Kingdom. We then continue into the centre of Luang Prabang, exploring the narrow alleys that criss-cross the town, stopping to enjoy some views over the mighty Mekong River. We wind up at the beautiful temple of Wat Saen, originally built in 1718 and under the guidance of Ajahn Khamjan, one of the most revered abbots in Laos. There is the option of climbing Mt Phousi to explore the small temple here and enjoy sunset over this charming town.
Day 2: Wat Xieng Thong and Pak Ou Caves.
This morning, we travel to Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most celebrated temples in Laos. We then take a boat up the Mekong River, passing abandoned riverside temples and isolated villages. Our destination is the Pak Ou Caves, a sacred spot where thousands upon thousands of Buddhas were hidden for safekeeping during earlier invasions. Pilgrims have since added their own offerings and the caves are literally overflowing with Buddhas. After exploring the caves, we cross the river and have a local lunch on the banks of the Nam Ou River. We dine in traditional thatch bungalows overlooking a dramatic cliff face. We then return by boat to Luang Prabang and leave the rest of the afternoon free to enjoy the town.
Day 3: Kuang Si Falls
After breakfast, the destination is Ban Long Lao, a small Hmong village. From here you will walk through open farmland and forest trails to the Kuang Si Waterfall, which, while not very high, is striking in its lush jungle setting. Upon arrival there are plenty of opportunities to swim in the refreshing pools and enjoy a boxed picnic lunch. There is also a Bear Rescue Centre where captured bears have been taken from poachers and rehabilitated and cared for. We’ll take some more time for relaxation and swimming before heading back to Luang Prabang by late afternoon. There is also the option to visit Ban Phonesay, a village well known for its silk weavings once been published on the New York Time Magazine. Back to your hotel for a free & easy evening.
Day 4: Fly to Hanoi. Old Quarter Tour and Water Puppets.
We arrive in Hanoi and transfer to our accommodation. We explore the burstling Old Quarter on foot. We walk through the vibrant street market before exploring a real hidden tube house. We take a rest and enjoy a tasty Vietnamese coffee while enjoying the fascinating view of the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem lake from the terrace of the house. This evening, we attend a water-puppet theatre performance. The art of water puppetry began a thousand years ago, possibly in the flooded rice fields of Vietnam.
Day 5: HCM Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, Museum of Ethnology.
You’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital city. Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century, and a popular attraction, as is Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, his modest stilt house where he chose to live and work. We will also visit the museum dedicated to his memory. In the afternoon, we will proceed to the most beautiful of Hanoi’s museums, The Ethnology museum. This showpiece provides a fascinating insight into the histories and lifestyle’s of the 54 ethnic groups of Viet Nam.
Day 6: Transfer to Halong Bay. Overnight aboard junk.
We leave Ha Noi and drive to Ha Long City through the Red River Delta. Our Cruise begins and we enjoy a seafood lunch while cruising into misty Bai Tu Long Bay to see the amazing karsts with different formations, such as Teapot Islet, Dragon Islet, Vung Oan Islet. Stop to visit the Thay cave enroute and have time for swimming and kayaking. After dinner, night fishing is available upon request. Enjoy a quiet night in your cozy cabin.
Day 7: Transfer to Hanoi for Flight to Danang.
Early risers can have a swim or enjoy a morning view of the Bay’s landscape with a cup of tea or coffee, fresh fruits and cake. Sitting on the upper deck, you can enjoy the bay. We’ll Visit Vong Vieng floating village by sampan. Meet the locals, call at floating school and fish farms. We then return to Halong City and transfer directly to Noi Bai airport for our flight to Danang. We then make the 40km drive to Hoi An.
Day 8: Exploring Hoi An Old Town. Afternoon Free.
This morning we visit the port town of Hoi An. Recently named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this is a trading outport dating back to the 16th century. Because of its location on the Thu Bon River, Hoi An became a magnet for merchants from all over the world. Today its streets display a rich mix of Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, and European architecture and culture. Explore the small town on foot. Visit Tan Ky House, a late 18th-century merchant’s residence. The Fukhien Association, also known as the Assembly Hall of the Fujian Chinese Congregation, was founded as a place where minority Fujian Chinese could hold meetings. Later it became a temple for the worship of Thien Hau, goddess of the sea and protector of fishermen and sailors.
Free afternoon at your leisure.
Day 9: Visit My Son Cham Temples.
After breakfast (or before for those who want a sunrise option), we head inland towards the ancient Cham city of My Son. Surrounded by mist-shrouded jungle and lofty peaks like Cat's Tooth Mountain, this is a very atmospheric location. A Unesco World Heritage site, this is the most extensive Cham site in Vietnam and dates from the 4th to the 13th centuries. The Kingdom of Champa controlled much of southern Vietnam and was one of the most powerful empires in the region. After extensively exploring the site, we return to Hoi An by road.
Day 10: Free Day to Explore Hoi An or Relax on Beach.
We leave today free to enjoy the atmosphere of this spiritually, culturally and historically enriching town. Rent a bicycle and explore beautiful Cua Dai Beach, one of the loveliest stretches of sand on the coast. Hoi An has a wealth of experiences and adventures to offer and is one of the nicest places in Vietnam to explore at leisure.
Day 11: Fly Danang to Siem Reap.
We’ll take some free time before its time for us to return to Danang and then fly onto Siem Reap in Cambodia. Home to the Amazing temples of Angkor.
Day 12: Roluos group. Kompong Pluk to Chong Kneas by boat.
We travel back in time to one of the earliest capitals in the Angkor area, Hariharilaya, now known as Roluos. We begin with a visit to the brick temple of Lolei, originally set on an island in the centre of the Indratataka baray (reservoir). This temple has some well preserved sandstone carvings and the vast stone doors are carved from a single piece of stone. We continue to Preah Ko and finally onto Bakong, the earliest of the temple mountains. Taking a break from the temples, we travel out to the mighty Tonle Sap Lake to visit the floating villages Kompong Pluk and Chong. Everything floats on water in these living fishing communities. There are floating schools, floating shops, floating petrol stations, even floating karaoke bars. Many of the houses are floating fish farms with large pens of fish underneath. We then climb Phnom Krom for a glorious sunset over the Tonle Sap before heading back to Siem Reap by road.
Day 13: Ta Prohm dawn. Preah Khan, Neak Poan, Pre Rup.
We rise early to travel to Ta Prohm in the dawn light. Ta Prohm has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhot in 1860. We continue to the giant pyramid of Takeo, one of the highest temples in the Angkor area. This morning we also visit the remains of an old Angkorian bridge which once spanned the Siem Reap river. There is also the option to visit the smaller temples of Chau Say Tevoda and Thommanon for avid temple enthusiasts. In the afternoon, We travel to the mighty temple of Preah Khan or 'Sacred Sword'. This is one of the few temples originally dedicated to Buddhism and Hinduism. We then continue on to the elegant curves of Neak Poan. Our day ends with a sunset over the rice fields from the royal crematorium of Pre Rup, a classic view of the Cambodian countryside.
Day 14: Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre. Angkor Thom.
This morning we head to Banteay Srei, Angkor’s ultimate art gallery. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia. Later we visit the 12th century temple of Banteay Samre. Built by King Suryavarman II, the genius behind Angkor Wat. In the afternoon, we visit the immense walled city of Angkor Thom that was the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII. We begin our visit at the Terrace of the Leper King and continue to the Terrace of Elephants, originally used as a viewing gallery for the king to preside over parades, performances and traditional sports. Our climax is the enigmatic and enchanting temple of the Bayon.
Day 15: Angkor Wat sunrise and Visit. Free Time until Departure.
Rising at the crack of dawn, we journey out to the Mother of all temples, Angkor Wat. Believed this temple is the perfect fusion of symbolism and symmetry and a source of pride and strength to all Khmers. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this is most famous temple at Angkor. The rest of the day is free until departure.