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Home » Destinations » Asia » Vietnam » Riviera Travel Grand Tour of Indochina
Explore the highlights of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, delving into the rich tapestry of French colonial history, local culture, and stunning natural landscapes. Vietnam offers a picturesque blend of misty mountains, lush forests, rice fields, and pristine beaches, all steeped in a 2000-year-old civilization. Journey through charming countryside scenes where bicycles carry loads from sacks of rice to flocks of ducks. In Cambodia, immerse yourself in the hidden gem of Phnom Penh, situated at the meeting point of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. Discover the vibrant and captivating destinations of these Southeast Asian countries, each brimming with its unique traditions and allure.
Arrive at the airport for your overnight flight to Hanoi
Upon your morning arrival, promptly check in at the hotel. Then, embark on a delightful introduction to Hanoi as you explore the old town via cycle rickshaws, allowing time for a leisurely lunch before returning to the hotel. The remainder of the day is free for leisure and relaxation.
Today we explore Hanoi, past and present. The French created this colonial city of tree lined avenues, belle epoque villas, grand public buildings and an Opera house, all built around more than a dozen enchanting lakes. This graceful scene blends beautifully with its old quarter, a tangle of narrow streets, the commercial heart of the city for hundreds of years and now full of tiny shops, pagodas and the ever-present populace astride their bicycles and mopeds.
During the guided tour, you’ll also see the beautiful Temple of Literature dedicated to Confucius and Vietnam’s first university, and the imposing marble mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh himself.
This afternoon is free for you to explore this beautiful city as you wish.
Today, explore Vietnam’s greatest natural wonder, Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Leaving Hanoi, traverse the timeless landscape of rice paddies, following the Red River delta to the emerald Gulf of Tonkin. Just offshore, around 3,000 limestone islands and outcrops rise vertically from the sea, forming one of the world’s most extraordinary bays.
Boarding a converted Chinese junk, gracefully sail on jade-green waters, where the myths of their creation began—a dragon plunging into the sea, its thrashing tail sculpting the craggy islands. You’ll visit vast, beautifully illuminated caves and grottoes before enjoying lunch onboard.
In the late afternoon, we return to Hanoi.
Today, fly south to Danang and then drive over the stunning scenery of the Hai Van Pass before descending to Hue, Vietnam’s last royal capital and its traditional centre of religion, culture and education. It’s one of the country’s most beautiful small towns, bisected by the serene Perfume River and dominated by its immense Citadel. This houses the ancient capital, encircled by an amazing 6 miles of high, 65-foot-thick walls and a moat.
This morning, begin with a tranquil river cruise to Thien Mu Pagoda, a seven-storied Buddhist shrine with stunning mountain views on the Laos border. Next, explore the impressive Citadel and the Imperial City, featuring the Palace of Supreme Harmony, where the emperor’s vital ceremonies took place. The royal colours of red and gold adorn everything, showcasing the opulent lifestyle of the Vietnamese royal family.
In the afternoon, we visit Emperor Tu Duc’s mausoleum. His extraordinary mausoleum, with a vast lake, pavilions, and a theatre, was built over three years by 3,000 workers.
Today, fly to Ho Chi Minh City, often referred to as Saigon by the locals. This vibrant city, born from French colonial influence and situated along the Saigon River. Saigon is Vietnam’s culinary hub, offering a diverse range of dining options, from upscale restaurants in luxury hotels to a wide variety of international cuisines.
Visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels, a complex underground network stretching for 200 kilometres, which included hospitals, meeting rooms, sleeping quarters and kitchens.
Your visit here is a fascinating insight into these times: see the tunnels themselves and examples of the many mantraps and stake pits which protected them. Then, continue through rural farming communities back to Saigon. In the afternoon, a city tour covers all the major sights including the colonial-style central post office, the cathedral and the Reunification Palace. We also see the War Remnants Museum and the Lively Ben Thanh market, a fascinating insight into Saigon daily life.
This morning, depart Saigon for the Mekong River delta. Our first stop is an island village, where you’ll sample various tropical fruits grown in the area. Then explore narrow canals on small boats, visiting Coconut Island, known for rice paper and coconut cake production. After lunch at a local restaurant featuring Mekong specialties, including deep-fried elephant ear fish, return to Saigon in the afternoon.
On your final morning in Vietnam, enjoy a leisurely stroll through Saigon’s center, savouring coffee and delightful pastries at one of its many cafés. Soon after, board a short flight to Phnom Penh, where you’ll stay for two nights
Today, explore the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, and National Museum. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Tuol Sleng Museum, once a school turned Khmer Rouge prison, showcasing the city’s harrowing history. End the day with a visit to a local market before returning to the hotel in the evening.
Today, travel through the heart of rural Cambodia stopping at Kompong Thom for an included lunch en route to Siem Reap.
Today, explore Angkor Wat, one of the world’s largest religious structures, amidst the haunting morning light. At its zenith in the 13th century, Angkor boasted one million residents. Angkor’s remarkable preservation, stunning design, and sculptures have earned it a place among the world’s wonders.
You’ll also visit Angkor Thom, a fortified 13th-century city, featuring five grand gates and a vast moat, with the Bayon temple at its center. Additionally, explore the smaller, unrestored Ta Prohm temple, where massive tropical trees interweave with the ruins.
Today is at your leisure to revisit Angkor’s monuments, explore Siem Reap, or relax by the hotel pool. Alternatively, you can embark on a tour to Tonle Sap Lake to visit a floating village (subject to season and water levels – arrange and pay locally) or participate in an optional half-day cooking class (arrange and pay locally) to hone your culinary skills.
In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for a short 1h30 flight to Luang Prabang.
Luang Prabang, a UNESCO-protected area, combines French colonial buildings and traditional Lao houses. After breakfast, a walking tour explores the town, including the Royal Palace. Then take a private boat up the Mekong to the Pak Ou caves, home to numerous Buddha statues, with stops at riverside villages for rice wine making and weaving. Lunch is served on the boat.
Next, visit the Royal temple of Wat Xiengthong, known for its classic Laos-style architecture. As night falls, the bustling night market takes over the main street, offering street food and handicrafts.
This morning, we embark on a private boat ride up the scenic Mekong River for another visit to the sacred Pak Ou caves, filled with thousands of Buddha statues. You’ll have lunch on the boat while returning to Luang Prabang by mid-afternoon. En route, we visit the distinctive Wat Done Khoun Temple, situated on an island in the Mekong River.
This morning, you can witness or participate in the ‘Tak Bat’ almsgiving ritual before breakfast, offering great photo opportunities. You’ll also visit the local market to observe shopping for fresh produce. Nearby, Kuang Si waterfall offers turquoise pools for swimming and woodland trails. Adjacent is the Bear Rescue Centre, dedicated to protecting Asiatic black bears.
Return to Luang Prabang by lunchtime, leaving the afternoon at your leisure, with an included afternoon tea available at the hotel.
Fly back to the UK via Hanoi
Arrive back in the UK in the morning
Melia Hotel, Hanoi
Amenities include a bustling lobby, outdoor pool, spa, fitness center, and beauty salon. The 306 spacious rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with en-suite luxury bathrooms, hairdryers, safes, writing desks, wireless internet (chargeable in-room, free in the lobby), flat-screen satellite TVs, minibars (local charges apply), and tea/coffee makers.
Senna Hue Hotel, Hue
The five-star Senna Hue Hotel exudes classic modern French style and offers an array of amenities including a restaurant, bar, 24-hour room service, outdoor pool, spa, workout room, and boutique shop. Its 129 air-conditioned rooms feature private balconies or terraces, en-suite shower rooms, hairdryers, satellite TVs, safes, minibars (extra charge), tea/coffee facilities, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Equatorial Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City
The five-star Equatorial Hotel features a rooftop pool with a bar, fitness center, spa, and beauty salon. The 333 spacious and elegantly decorated rooms are air-conditioned and include en-suite luxury bathrooms, hairdryers, bathrobes, safes, writing desks, wireless internet (chargeable), flat-screen satellite TVs, minibars (local charges apply), and tea/coffee makers.
Palace Gate Hotel, Phnom Penh
The hotel boasts a ground-floor restaurant, rooftop bar, outdoor pool, fitness center, and spa. Its 105 comfortable rooms include air conditioning, bathrooms with showers, hairdryers, minibars (chargeable), TVs, safes, as well as complimentary tea and coffee facilities, and free Wi-Fi.
Privilege Floor by Borei Angkor, Siem Reap
The four-star superior Borei Angkor Resort and Spa features a main restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating overlooking a large pool, a cozy bar, and an extensive spa. The 188 air-conditioned rooms include amenities such as baths, showers, hairdryers, minibars (local charges apply), safes, TVs, tea/coffee makers, iron/ironing boards, balconies, and free Wi-Fi.
Pullman Luang Prabang, Luang Prabang
The hotel features three pools, stunning gardens with panoramic views, a spa, fitness center, and a restaurant offering local and international cuisines. Guests can also enjoy drinks and light bites at The Junction Bar & Lounge or the outdoor pool bar. The 123 well-furnished, air-conditioned rooms include baths and showers, safes, minibars, tea and coffee-making facilities, TVs, seating areas, and furnished balconies.
*All transfer times listed here are approximate and dependent on traffic. Please not, en route to the first hotel, you will stop for breakfast in Hanoi and have a sightseeing tour, lasting around 2 hours.
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