Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos
Hue, Hoi An, Siem Reap, Luang Prabang, Hanoi, Angkor Wat
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Let yourself be introduced to the stunning landscapes and remarkable history of Southeast Asia on this custom tailored tour through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. From ancient temples of the Angkor complex that are decorated with tremendous carved detail and grand size, to the natural caves that wind deep into the mountains of Vietnam, on this tour you will find the culture of hill tribes and the historic ruins of emperors. Whether strolling along French Colonial architecture or hearing monks chant...
Hanoi – Only the Beginning
Welcome to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and a city that is both lush with modern luxury and in touch with its historic roots. You are met at the airport by a private transfer and taken to your hotel where you can enjoy the comforts of its central location. The city’s greenery dangles on the fringes of the trees that surround the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake. You notice the boulevards that resemble French design dating back to the colonial days where it is common to see modern motorbikes roaming through the city alongside wandering bicycles. The riders wear traditional conical hats and button down shirts and carrying a wide basket on the handlebars filled with limes or lemon grass. In the evening you will enjoy the cultural phenomenon of Water Puppet Theater. What grew out of rural entertainment from 11th century flooded rice paddy fields turned into a way to share the collected familiar legends of North Vietnam.
Hue – Venturing into the Imperial City
After breakfast you will take a private transfer to the airport and soon find yourself within the ancient imperial city of Hue situated along the banks of the Perfume River. The quaint scenery near the water looks out over the rolling mountains in the distance, filled with lush greenery and set beside the impressive architecture of the city and country’s history. Step aboard a dragon boat, where the vibrant colors of the dragons’ faces help ward away spirits, and float down the calm waters. Soon you will come to the rising hill of Thien Mu Pagoda.
The faded red color wraps around the seven stories of hexagonal tiers, each one representing a step to enlightenment. The sanctuary was constructed in the 17th century and when you step through the open pillars and around the modest temple you can see the monks going about their daily tasks of cleaning and stacking wood. The scent of ginger and lemongrass drifts from the monastic buildings. Your introduction to the river and the city has already brought serene landscape and culture allowing you to witness tradition.
Hue – A More Recent Past
The morning washes over the surrounding mountains and you can almost hear the gentle rush of Perfume River in the distance. Your guide meets you after breakfast and takes you outside the city to a more contemporary history within the mountains. Situated within the central mountains you will find the Demilitarized Zone which once separated North and South Vietnam. In a stretch of discolored land within the surrounding lush vegetation you will find the ruins of what was once a military base. The breeze brushes against the tall grass and dangling leaves.
Bunkers have been reconstructed and a tank sits at the edges of the brush, its exterior rusted by the years and elements. The history of the area is not just within what remains but also within what doesn’t. Continue your exploration of central Vietnam with a visit to Paradise Cave. The entire system extends for over 17 miles filled with wooden staircases that make the lofted roofs look like cathedrals. Magnificent stalagmites fall from the ceiling while stalactites shaped by white crystal shimmer like glass. Stepping into the cave is like walking through a naturally shaped palace that reaches deep within the earth.
Hue – Showing Imperial Stature
After breakfast you will follow your guide through the rich history of Hue where the regal architecture continues to carry the name of the emperors for whom grandiose tombs were built. The Tomb of Tu Duc sits on the edges of Luu Khiem Lake bringing tranquility to the impressive complex spreading through the trees. Walk along the pathway leading through the entrance and the lakeshore to the Honor Courtyard. Standing proud and on guard are stone elephants, horses, and Mandarins, eternally keeping watch over the Stele Pavilion at the far end of the plaza. It isn’t hard to find the beauty within the striking design of the complex, from the encompassing nature to forceful temples and stoic statues.
Hoi An – Along the Hai Pass
In the morning a cool and calm breeze settles through Hue, reaching the citadel and rippling the river. Indulge in breakfast before meeting your private transfer and waving goodbye to the Imperial City as you head for the quaint streets of Hoi An. The Hai Van Pass is the highest in Vietnam. The hills turn into mountains that slope down to the South China Sea. The landscape is jade and the water is sapphire and you have a tremendous view of them both.
On the other side of the range you will come to Danang to visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture. Located within a building that blends Western architecture with Cham styling and dating back to 1919, you will find the open-air display of an empire that reaches back to the second-century. From Hindu icons to dragon relics, and from statues to reliefs, the history on display represents almost two millennia of culture that has survived within the mountains of Vietnam and is now ready to be displayed for the world to see. In the evening you will arrive in Hoi An where the Chinese paper lanterns are strung along the streets of Old Town lighting up the night.
Hoi An – Charming Old Merchant
The new day arrives over the city of Hoi An which wraps around the Thu Bon River. What has become emblematic of the city is the Japanese Covered Bridge that connects the two sides of the river in the heart of town originally constructed in the 16th century. The stone archway is covered with wooden panels and a sloping, angled roof adorned with traditional geometric shapes. At either end of the bridge you will see statues of monkeys and dogs; they are eager to defend the structure from spirits. The Assembly Hall of Fujian Chinese Congregation shows a strong brick façade with green tile along a triple gateway. You can see the right hand mural displaying a Thien Hau, the goddess, lighting her own way across a stormy sea by lantern.
Hoi An – Standing Ancient Relics
Today you will venture outside of Hoi An’s quaint streets and to the spiritual heart of an ancient empire at My Son. The sanctuary complex remains, leftover from the powerful Champa culture that has now vanished from the surrounding mountains. When you arrive within the exposed red coloration of the structures in the clearing you can hear the gurgling streams around them. From the 4th to the 15th centuries the culture was dedicated to a spiritual Hinduism of Indian ancestry. The towers stand with a blend of styles, from Hoa Lai to Dong Duong and the largest tower, standing over 72 feet tall, is a wonder of Cham architecture. Two doors on the east and west sides allow access while the body is delicate with paved pillars and six smaller towers around it resembling a lotus flower. From the ambiance to the architecture, the remains of the empire are spectacular.
Siem Reap – Arrival in Wonders
Today you will leave behind the charismatic streets of Hoi An with a private transfer to the airport. Soon you will find yourself within reach of the Angkor Wat, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. After settling into your accommodation you will be on the verge of bursting with anticipation, so close to the cultural majesty of the 12th century temple. Siem Reap is a city that feels like a sleepy traditional town with pockets of modern luxury along the main streets near the Siem Reap River.
You will be met by a private guide who will soon have you journeying through the Angkor complex for your first experience with the impressive stone architecture. The preserved Khmer architecture is wrapped in the grand display of the five rising towers that arch in a hive formation. The temple was dedicated to a royal deity and has maintained its pilgrimage status within the Buddhist community. You can still see the vibrantly robed monks stroll through the outer courtyard along the lily pond and disappear within the hidden niches of the temple.
The scent of a tropical jungle afternoon mixes with aroma of spiced incense and stone. Step into the third gallery to find five shrines enclosed on a raised terrace. A carved snake glides along the roofing and ends in the head of a garuda or a lion. The imagery is captivating and the atmosphere of the ancient city makes you feel like an explorer discovering the grand cities of old. In the evening you will return to Siem Reap to taste the traditional cuisine of the region and witness the cultural dances that tell the stories of passing time.
Siem Reap – Beyond the Ancient Gates
Wake up before the sunlight has had a chance to reach over the horizon. You are met by your private guide and step out into the early energy of Siem Reap filled with visitors hoping to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat. Instead of joining them, you part ways with the anticipatory crowd and make your way to Ta Prohm. This temple is recognizable for its feature in the movie Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie, but is also a true treasure due to the surrounding nature that has attempted to overtake the stone. Constructed in the 12th century and taking around 80,000 workers to complete, the large and impressive temple is made that much more remarkable by the greenery that consumes it.
As the daylight begins to rise above the edges of the earth you can see the sprawling height of over 39 towers rising into the air, connected by a number of galleries. The exterior wall is approximately a half a mile long and leads to one of the most striking features; the entrance gate where a Jayavarman face looks on as guard. The sunlight dips through the shading greenery and offers you a fabulous view of the tree growing along the pediment, its strong oak roots dangle down to the floor and the twisted base rises to outstretched branches above.
Siem Reap – Red Stone and Detail
Today the fragrant delicacies of breakfast come from the fresh tropical flavors of jackfruit and oranges accompanied by delightfully pressed coffee. After your meal you will step outside of Siem Reap to visit the surrounding sites that have added to the history of the region, from Tonle Sap Lake’s delicate dependence on the water, living on stilt homes, to the almost glowing red sandstone temples of Banteay Srei. Swaying trees open to the bright coloration of the temple complex, which dates back to the 10th century, leaving you speechless. The collection of temples rise with sophisticated construction and delicate carvings surround almost the entirety of each temple. The pediments run larger than the entrances and are guarded by old-fashioned dvarapalas, warrior faces or fearsome giants. The walkways are quieted with the unique moment when everyone becomes absorbed with the exquisite detail of the ancient site, a moment which will be a treasured memory of the day and of the surrounding complex.
Luang Prabang – A Variation of Ancient Charisma
The scent of breakfast is filled with rich, fresh coffee leaving you alert and awake. Make your way to the airport to catch your flight to Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos; a city encircled by majestic mountains and opulent jungle. Outside of the city you will find the mesmerizing Kuang Si Falls. The iridescent sapphire water pools along terraces that lead to a 150 foot drop. The jungle shade captures the mist and cools the air. You can watch the cascade from the river below or from the top of the hill. The wonderful display of nature only compliments the character of the ancient city set along the Mekong.
Luang Prabang – Time within Time
Just after sunrise you can hear a soft gong chime in the cool, misty morning. The daily procession of monks has begun. You can watch as devout Buddhists, and even those not so devout, line the street to offer alms to the monks, from rice to cookies, money to tea. Their orange robes are vivacious as the mist begins to dissipate leaving a sunny blue sky in its wake. The rich collection of temples and palaces has given Luang Prabang the title of “best preserved example of an ancient city.” The Royal Palace Museum is set within the former palace that blends traditional Laotian and French styles dating back to the early 1900s.
Walk along the Italian marble steps and into the building where you will find the gilded dais at the center of the gallery. The luxurious décor is no more apparent than in the dedicated treasure Pha Bang, a Buddha image over two and a half feet tall made from gold-alloy arriving to the city in the 16th century. The atmosphere is cool and shimmering. There is a definite energy that sweeps off of Pha Bang, from its luster, fame, and charm. It is within the old palace that you can find the past extolled through relics while the rest of the city brings the past to life.
Luang Prabang – City Wonder to Natural Grandeur
The morning brings with it another procession of monks in sienna robes walking through the streets followed by a soft chant that sounds like a hum. Today your guide will take you away from the city streets to where the Ou River glides beside towering, breathtaking karsts. At Pak Ou caves you will climb up a wooden staircase into the mouth of a cave that is buried into the cliff. The mouth rises 50 feet above the riverbanks as the water rushes slowly by.
The scent of damp limestone and rich earth drifts through the air. The sunlight makes its way into the cave where you find thousands of Buddha images dressed with flowers of all shapes and sizes. Whether within the smaller Tham Ting cave or the larger, darker Tham Theung cave, there is a particular spirit that lifts you up, filled as they are with a mixture of lavish and modest icons spread throughout the cool vessel of the earth.
Luang Prabang – More than an Introduction
Enjoy the morning with the scent of rich coffee and fresh pastries reaching through the streets beside the dawn’s procession of monks. You can see the glinting stupa at the summit of Mount Phousi, the hill that stands over 300 feet tall at the city center. Spend your morning strolling along the ancient streets or indulging in the sweet, buttery pastries. Soon your private transfer will escort you to the airport to begin your journey home. From imperial cities to quaint streets, decadent mountains to rich history, you have been introduced to the splendor of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, and will always be ready for another visit.
- Experience the expansive architecture and delicate artistry of the Angkor temple complex home to Angkor Wat
- Witness the remaining imperial grandeur within the city of Hue including a collection of emperors’ tombs
- Explore the history of Hoi An along its charming, Chinese lantern strung streets
- Discover the imperial past and the magnificent landscape of Luang Prabang
- Visit the ancient temple complex of My Son to see the incredible uniquely carved details
- Find the impressive grottos of Vietnam’s famous caves within the expansive space at Paradise Cave
It doesn’t have to be your first time to Southeast Asia for you to be introduced to the paramount culture and landscapes of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Spend your days strolling along classic streets within the charm of an old bustling merchant town and discovering the ancient temples of Angkor. From the ancient imperial capitals of Luang Prabang and Hue to the gilded caves within the mountains of Vietnam you will be introduced to the fabulous history and magnificent landscape, with each moment growing in significance.
Your introduction to Southeast Asia begins with your arrival in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. The streets are filled with a combination of the past and present in the skyline and the ancient lake that sits at the city center. The following day you will make your way to the imperial capital of Hue. Cruise along the Perfume River and visit the elegant and modest temples set within the staggering landscape. A tour along the Demilitarized Zone brings contemporary history into the present, and offers an opportunity to see the shaken earth and surviving villages that were once at the center of a battlefield.
Within the sweeping complex of the earth you will find not only the Vinh Moc Tunnels but also the sensational natural Paradise Cave that reaches over 17 miles beneath the surface. Spend the rest of your time in Hue finding the magnificent architecture of Minh Mang and Tu Duc before transferring to the ancient commercial city of Hoi An. The quintessential streets of Hoi An stem from 16th century trade. Tour through the classic architecture before venturing to the bright red sandstone temples of My Son ; witness its graceful display of reliefs and statues. From Hoi An you will transfer to Siem Reap, gateway to Angkor Wat and the surrounding temple complex.
Your days will take you through the majesty of the ancient Khmer stronghold, and deeper into Banteay Srei and Tonle Sap Lake as well. Once in Luang Prabang you will find yourself in an imperial city once more, only this time the preservation of the architecture sits within the palace and the temples while surrounded by marvelous jungle clad mountains. Explore the cityscape and the landscape beyond, from Kuang Si Falls to the Pak Ou Caves, each detail bringing a new and radiant memory to light before your journey home.
$2,515 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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