An Extraordinary Cultural Journey to Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia

Overview

Gold-leafed pagodas glinting in the tropical sun, women carrying goods to market by yoke basket, shy young monks in saffron robes—the visual images of Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia are striking. In Luang Prabang, Laos’ charming temple town, we boat along the Mekong and meet Hmong and Khamu hill villagers. Exploring Vietnam, we take a bicycle rickshaw through Hanoi’s Old Quarter, overnight on our own private boat in Bai Tu Long Bay, stroll the lantern-lit lanes of 17th century Hoi An, and marvel at the imperial palaces of the Nguyen emperors in Hue. Our final treat is Angkor, Cambodia’s surreal “lost city” rising out of an enveloping forest, where we explore the soaring stone towers of a medieval metropolis.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-4
Luang Prabang, Laos

Laos’ royal capital until 1975, Luang Prabang is a tranquil oasis of colonial architecture and hundred-year-old frangipani trees set along the wide Mekong River. We visit its 15th century pagodas, climb up to Buddhist cave-grottos, and visit Hmong and Khamu hill tribe people. At sunrise one morning, we’ll “make merit” by giving alms to the monks. The town’s lively night market is a great place to look for hill tribe crafts.

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Days 5-12
Hanoi, Vietnam / Bai Tu Long Bay / Hoi An / Hue / Saigon

Taking in the sights and sounds of Hanoi’s bustling Old Quarter by rickshaw and on foot, we stop for a delicious lunch of cha ca, Hanoi’s famous fish and noodle dish, and visit the studio of a local artist. In Bai Tu Long Bay, far less crowded than nearby Halong Bay, we board our own traditional junk for an overnight cruise amid the wonder of this World Heritage-listed landscape. We walk the riverside lanes of Hoi An, and in Hue, see the splendid royal legacy of the 19th century Nguyen rulers. Our last stop is Saigon, with its French colonial architecture and compelling museums.

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Days 13-16
Siem Reap, Cambodia / Temples of Angkor

With intricate bas-reliefs, pavilions, and reflecting ponds in a park-like tropical landscape, Angkor is a lasting monument to the glory of the Khmer Empire. Timing our visits for the least crowded times, we visit many of these evocative stone temples, including breathtaking Ta Prohm, where huge fig, banyan, and kapok trees have grown through the temple’s walls. Depart Siem Reap on Day 16.

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Highlights

Highlights

Explore Luang Prabang’s lively markets and ethereal temples, meet hill tribe people in their villages
Discover Hanoi’s famous Old Quarter by bicycle rickshaw and on foot
Savor the karst landscapes of World Heritage-listed Bai Tu Long Bay on an overnight cruise
Enjoy Hoi An’s atmospheric riverside setting and historic architecture
Sample the famous cuisine of Hue, Vietnam’s royal city
Experience the majesty of the temple-city of Angkor, one of the wonders of the world
Get an insider’s introduction to three ancient cultures

Details

Length: 16 days
Cost From: $6495  
Arrive: Luang Prabang, Laos
Depart: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Lodging: 14 nights deluxe hotels, 1 night aboard private traditional junk
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 4 dinners (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Cultural explorations and walking tours