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The Arc of the Sacred Symposium: Indochine

Angkor Wat and the Best of Vietnam: Saigon, Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay, Hanoi
with WT Trip Leader Mathew Smith

The Arc of the Sacred Symposium: Indochine route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7595  
Length: 13 days
Arrive: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Depart: Hanoi, Vietnam
Lodging: 11 nights deluxe hotels, 1 night aboard private traditional junk
Meals: All meals included except 2 lunches and 3 dinners
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Overland travel with walking tours, cultural explorations


  • Four-day symposium at Angkor, one of the world’s most phenomenal artistic achievements, featuring five of the world’s top experts in classical Asian art and archaeology, architectural conservation, and Hindu and Buddhist cultures
  • Hanoi, “Paris of the Orient”, magical Halong Bay
  • Charming Hoi An, historic Hue, with its moated Citadel
  • Special extension to atmospheric Luang Prabang in the heart of the old Lao kingdom

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

This itinerary is part of the Arc of the Sacred Symposium & Tour Program, an extraordinary four-day symposium in Siem Reap, Cambodia, that explores the remarkable spiritual synchronicity that exists across Asian cultures.

The tour described on this page is one of six special journeys which are being offered in conjunction with the symposium. For information on the other symposium tours, click on these links: Temples & Treasures of Cambodia, Ancient Cities & Monuments of the Deccan Plateau, Buddhist & Hindu Kingdoms, Sacred Sites of Java & Bali, and Burma: The Golden Land.

The intriguing land of Vietnam offers a world of enchantment, with its traditional cultures, landscapes of great beauty, elegant architecture, and mouth-watering cuisine. We’ve created a journey that immerses you into this engaging realm, from its vast cultural treasures to the vibrancy of modern-day life. We discover irresistible settings like breathtaking Halong Bay, where we overnight aboard a private junk amid emerald waters and dramatic rock formations, and Hoi An, Vietnam’s beautiful 17th century trading port, now a World Heritage Site. An extension to Luang Prabang, Laos, in the heart of the old Lao kingdom, is available.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
The Arc of the Sacred Symposium

Fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Presentations, excursions, and other activities with our guest speakers at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort.

Days 4-6
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) / Hoi An

Flying to Saigon, our explorations include the historic Reunification Palace (formally the Presidential Palace of South Vietnam), with its ornate chambers. On Day 5, we fly to Hoi An. Known as Faifo to early European traders, Hoi An developed into a major international trading port between the 15th and 19th centuries and many splendid buildings still remain. In this lovely riverside town, our explorations include the old Japanese Covered Bridge and the lively market where fishermen bring in their catch.

Days 7-8

A beautiful drive along the coast brings us to the Marble Mountains, where we hike on Thuy Son (“Water Mountain”) and explore its natural caves and Buddhist sanctuaries. Crossing Hai Van (“Sea Cloud”) Pass, with its spectacular views, we arrive in Hue, Vietnam’s ancient cultural capital. Here we visit the majestic royal tombs of the Nguyen emperors, explore their imperial citadel, and stop in at the Central Market, where many goods are on display, including exotic fruits and vegetables, traditional Hue clothing, and the famous Vietnamese conical hats.

Day 11
Halong Bay

A World Heritage Site, Halong Bay is a magical realm of limestone islands set amid a jade-green sea. Our overnight aboard a private junk is a unique opportunity to capture the evening and early morning vistas in this magnificent setting, with visits to stunning rock formations, lagoons, and beautifully illuminated caves.

Days 12-13
Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi is graced by many parks and lakes, and the Old Quarter still features some magnificent French colonial architecture. We explore the back streets of the Old Quarter by bicycle rickshaw, visit the Confucian Temple of Literature, enjoy a lunch of cha ca, Hanoi’s famous fish and noodle specialty, visit an artist’s studio, and take in the excellent Museum of Ethnology, designed with the help of the Musée de l’Homme in Paris. We also attend a performance of Hanoi’s famous national Water Puppets. Depart on Day 13 or join our Luang Prabang, Laos extension.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

The Arc of the Sacred Brochure

Download The Arc of the Sacred brochure, featuring a symposium at Angkor Wat with journeys from Nepal to Indonesia. Or request a print copy to be sent by mail.

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

The trip is Level 1+, or Easiest. It is a cultural adventure, and for the most part, physical activity is light. There will be extensive walking both during the symposium and during the tour, some of it up or down hill, some over uneven footing, and we will spend some time clambering around temple structures. We encourage you to get in shape for the trip because travel to remote places does require some physical stamina. Although this is not a difficult trip, please remember that travel in Asia can be an adventure. The essential requirements are flexibility, a sense of humor, curiosity, enthusiasm about new peoples and places, and an openness to the unexpected.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

Jan 25-Feb 6, 2015  Mathew Smith

Program Cost

Prices are for 2015
$7595 (15-16 members)
$7995 (11-14 members)
$8595 (8-10 members)
Single supplement: $1175
Internal airfare: $570 (subject to change)
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Bangkok Extension
   from: $645
Phuket Extension
   from: $795
Chiang Mai Extension
   from: $490
Phnom Penh Pre-Symposium Extension
   from: $795
Luang Prabang Symposium Extension
   from: $1095

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Program of presentations by Guest Speakers and symposium excursions
  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Deluxe accommodations based on double occupancy, including three nights at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort during the symposium, and deluxe hotels in Vietnam and Laos
  • Welcome and farewell dinners
  • All meals included except 2 lunches and 3 dinners
  • Sightseeing and activities as noted
  • Airport transfers on scheduled arrival and departure dates
  • Land transportation in air-conditioned buses
  • Entrance fees and service charges
  • Bottled water included with all meals; sodas and soft drinks also included with meals during tour
  • Baggage handling; gratuities to hotel and restaurant staff

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, internal airfare/taxes within Cambodia and Vietnam, any meals not specified after each itinerary day, beverages at group meals, international airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, hotels en route to/from Asia and any additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: $1000
Due July 29, 2014: 25% of trip cost
Due October 27, 2014: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $500 per person
270-181 days prior to departure: $1000 per person
180-91 days prior to departure: 100% of trip cost
90 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort

Days 1 to 3 (3 nights), Siem Reap, Cambodia

Set among lovely gardens and ponds, the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort will feel like an oasis of serenity after a full day exploring the temples ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Caravelle Hotel

Caravelle Hotel

Day 4 (1 night), Saigon, Vietnam

The chic Caravelle is situated adjacent to the French Colonial Opera House in Saigon’s downtown. Many luminaries have stayed here, including ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Anantara Hoi An

Anantara Hoi An

Days 5 to 6 (2 nights), Hoi An, Vietnam

Set along the scenic Thu Bon River in Hoi An’s French colonial quarter, the Anantara features three restaurants and guest rooms with one queen ...
Click here for full description and more photos

La Residence Hotel & Spa

La Residence Hotel & Spa

Days 7 to 8 (2 nights), Hue, Vietnam

Located on the Perfume River near the center of Hue, the La Residence Hotel & Spa is a former governor’s residence renovated into a ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Hanoi Opera Hilton Hotel

Hanoi Opera Hilton Hotel

Days 9 to 10 (2 nights),
Day 12 (1 night), Hanoi, Vietnam

This landmark hotel is located adjacent to the Parisian-style Opera House in the heart of Hanoi’s elegant French Quarter and just steps from ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Private Junk

Private Junk

Day 11 (1 night), Halong Bay, Vietnam

Overnighting aboard a private junk in a secluded cove of Halong Bay is a unique opportunity to capture the evening and early morning vistas of this ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Mathew Smith

Mathew Smith, a former language teacher from the UK, went to Thailand to teach in 1987 and fell in love with Southeast Asia. Fluent in Thai, Mathew is revered by trip members for his extraordinary knowledge of Southeast Asia’s politics, history, and culture, and also for his easygoing style and sense of humor. Mathew has led Wilderness Travel’s Indochine trips for almost twenty years, yet he’s still constantly intrigued, surprised and delighted by the people he meets and the places he explores. “It is seldom that you get to lead a trip to three such fascinating countries--Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia--whose histories and cultures, although unique, complement each other so well.” He also explores Burma frequently, enchanted by the country’s quiet beauty. “I particularly love the rural areas and am inspired by the nature of the relationships between the Burmese people and their environment…this is an especially exciting time to travel there.” Mathew is a gentleman and scholar with an uncanny ability to run a smooth trip. His home base is in Chiang Mai where he lives with his wife and daughter.

Upcoming Trips:

Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land, December 22, 2014-January 4, 2015
The Arc of the Sacred Symposium: Indochine, January 25-February 6, 2015
Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land, February 16-March 1, 2015
Indochine, November 7-22, 2015
Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land, December 19, 2015-January 1, 2016
Indochine, January 9-24, 2016
Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land, February 6-19, 2016

Client Testimonials:

Excellent! Low-key, unflappable, great leader! Margaret M., Orange CA
Mathew was an excellent leader. He made us all feel comfortable and really tried to accommodate us in every way. He made special things happen. Jean B., Carmel CA
Road to Mandalay
I’d gladly add Matt to the pantheon of WT guides I’ve had the pleasure of traveling with over the last 10 years. He is warm, easy-going, and has a fabulous sense of humor. He is also extraordinarily knowledgeable about Indochina. Sarah M., Seattle WA
Mathew Smith was a 5 star leader—always helpful, sociable, efficient, caring and topped off with a great sense of humor. We could not have asked for a better leader! Deborah H., New Orleans, LA
I can’t say enough about Matt. He was fun, pleasant, extremely knowledgable and unflappable. Very easy to be with. Had a lot of confidence in him. Helaina T., San Mateo, CA
Mathew Smith was extremely knowledgeable and was able to explain the history in a manner that really kept one's attention. He's a very witty and wonderful guy, an asset to WT. Mary M., Stillwater MN
Mathew was simply outstanding. Extremely knowledgeable with a terrific sense of humor. Sandra B., Oakland CA
Matthew was oustanding in every respect. His blend of humor and cheerfulness, combined with a quick mind and abundant facts, made the trip far more enjoyable and meaningful than we had expected. Jim C., Phoenix, AZ
I have never had a better trip leader than Mathew. He has an infectious sense of humor, is warm and fun to be with, and imparts a sense of adventure to the trip. He has a tremendous knowledge of history and tells the tale in an interesting manner. What a gem! Mark L., Melbourne Beach, FL Fantastic leadership in a relaxed, efficient manner. He's the best we've ever had. Emily A., Jackson, WY
Need I say more? Mathew was great! We travel to gain knowledge and understanding of the world's different cultures. Mathew's depth of knowledge and understanding of the culture is incredible and greatly added to our experience. BJ F., Alexandria, VA
Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land
We were all amazed by Mathew's comprehensive knowlege regarding every aspect of the trip. And, he was fun to be with. Francine B., Armonk, NY
Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land
Mathew is by far the best guide we have ever had. He is always in great spirits, patient, well organized, and he is highly educated about Indochine. He makes the trip engaging, informative, and fun. Marjo K., Bend, OR
Matthew has an amazing depth of knowledge about the history and cultures of the countries we visited. He is so casual and unpretentious that at first you don't realize how much he must have studied to understand and work in these cultures so effectively. He also has that amazing ability to get along with almost anybody! Great leader! Linda L., San Antonio, TX
Probably the best trip leader we have had the pleasure of being with. Ken K., Charleston, WV
Matthew was great. He is personable, knowledgeable, and patient. We enjoyed his considerable knowledge of the culture and history. Couldn't imagine a better leader. Dick S., Pound Ridge, NY
I've taken perhaps a dozen trips with a leader(s) and Matthew is at the top. His combination of knowledgeability and warmth is unusual. Norman M., Urbandale, IA
Mathew makes his leadership seem effortless, while it is far from that! Absolutely fascinating stories, filled with knowledge and detail, and always absolutely hilarious—what a great personality! Susan S., Riverwoods, IL
Matthew was like having Herodotus and John Cleese rolled into one. Logan R., Bloomfield Hills, MI
Mathew seemed to enjoy the trip as much as we did—which made it that much more fun, and encouraged everyone to have a good time. I would go with him again in a heartbeat! Ed W., Santa Rosa, CA
Mathew is extremely good at what he does. He has an ability to read the people in his group and then knows how to work with them as individuals. He has a great sense of humor and always had me laughing or smiling. His knowledge of the sites and history was amazing. Darren L., Howard, CO
I can't imagine a better trip leader than Mathew. He excels in all regards, is deeply knowledgeable, driven by his own infectious curiosity, a masterful storyteller. He's always looking out for the welfare and comfort of his group and goes to great lengths to ensure that our experience is superlative. Jim A., New Orleans, LA
Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land
We look forward to going on another trip with Mathew...what more needs to be said? Lauren P., Santa Fe, NM
Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land
Probable one of the best, if not the best tour guide I’ve ever had. He really, really makes everything happen. Alice G., Houston, TX
Burma: Wonders of the Golden Land
Mathew is incredibly knowledgeable about all aspects and places in the trip. The fact that he was at one point a teacher of history is a bonus. He brought a depth of detail and knowledge to each place that was unexpected and helped me connect to each place. Anna B., Mt. Kisco, NY

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:


Phnom Penh Pre-Symposium Extension

Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, Walking
3 days  -  Level 1


Luang Prabang Symposium Extension

Gilded Temples and Traditional Buddhist Culture of Laos

Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, Walking
4 days  -  Level 1+


wat arun bangkok thailand

Bangkok Extension

Discover the Beautiful Cultural Monuments of Bangkok

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

Chiang Mai Extension

Explore the Wonders of Northern Thailand

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2

Phuket Extension

Explore a Jewel Set in the Andaman Sea

Cultural Adventures, Sea Kayaking
4 days  -  Level 2