Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam
Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chao Phraya, Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, Hue, Imperial Citadel, Hoi An, Halong Bay
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Welcome to the colors of Southeast Asia, where the palette is broader and more vibrant than the imagination. Explore golden temples hidden in the thick green jungle, exotic hues in floating city markets, and Vietnamese ao dais dress, monks’ orange robes, and the blue and green of Halong Bay. This handcrafted tour spends two weeks in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and you can surround yourself with the complete artistic canvas of temples, karst, markets, cities, villages, and all of the beautiful...
Bangkok – A Relaxed Introduction
Welcome to Thailand, the land of smiles, and a country of striking color. Set off through the streets and the shocks come from all angles with the red of monks’ robes, a tuk-tuk’s yellow, and the colorful flowers and spices that abound in the markets. After your airport transfer, you will take a quick orientation tour and wander through the city’s back-lanes and markets. Aromas are as exotic as the colors, especially as you travel past sizzling barbecue stalls and great spreads of curries and noodles. You will not travel too far today, rather just take a look around your neighborhood as an introduction to what is yet to come with plenty of time to rest and refresh after your flight. Your hotel will have a rooftop pool and terrace with calming views across the metropolis.
Bangkok – Best of Bangkok and a Night Market Tour
The Emerald Buddha shimmers in an old temple as murals and frescoes shine brightly in the Grand Palace. Sacred Buddha images dot many temples, and then you enter Wat Pho and gaze upon the gold of the Reclining Buddha. Its size is remarkable, over 150 feet reclining beneath marble illustrations and inscriptions. You can spend half of today with Bangkok’s major highlights, and after resting through the afternoon heat, you can head back out to tour a night market with your local guide. Even in artificial light, everything seems brighter than home, such as exuberance to the color of the spices, fruits, trinkets, and treasures. Return to your hotel by tuk-tuk for an unobtrusive look onto life down the city’s lanes.
Bangkok – Cruising the Canals and the Siamese Capital of Ayutthaya
Temples clamber for attention on dusty plains, the remains of the second Siamese kingdom so suggestive as they glow beneath morning sun and chedis lie in their crumbling state showing what was here some 700 years ago. Ayutthaya is a great introduction to Southeast Asia’s ruined temple complexes and sets you up for Angkor tomorrow. Visit in the morning, and then weave back to central Thailand by boat. Cruise down the back-canals, through rural scenery and neighborhoods, where children play and life continues as it has for centuries. You drift past slowly, then join the Chao Phraya River to re-enter the colorful chaos of central Bangkok. Like the last two days, you will find that the journey provides innumerable new impressions.
Siem Reap – Jungle Temples and a Luxury Angkor Boat Cruise
Fly direct to Siem Reap, and the temples await with the Angkor archaeological complex stretching out beyond the hotel terrace. Angkor Wat is just one temple, the centerpiece of the kingdom. Angkor is far larger, and you can begin your exploration at the jungle-shrouded temples of Ta Prohm and Takeo. Tree roots dominate moss-covered walls, wrapping themselves around walls like an Olympian wrestler. Nature is winning, and the sight is spectacular, not to mention deeply mysterious. In contrast, at Takeo, the roots have not won, and jungle provides merely the backdrop to Khmer architecture. After some temples, you can cruise alongside the ancient city of Angkor Thom, traveling down the moat as canapes and cocktails are served. Watch the temples change hue in the sunset light, their gold frames a hypnotic memory from this first day in Cambodia.
Siem Reap – All the Major Angkor Highlights
Wake in time for the sunrise at Angkor Wat, orange and red in the sky with similar colors on monks’ robes. Asparasculptures cover walls, figures with many hands and chedis above their crowns. Inscriptions fill the walls as well, most of them so still lucid after so many centuries. Explore the temple and then visit a nearby pagoda, where monks talk you through modern Angkor life. Next, you can explore Angkor Thom, where Buddha's faces surround the Bayon Temple, and stories emanate from Elephant Terraces. There are countless highlights in this old city, to be expected considering it was once home to a million people. Today’s guided exploration covers the major icons and highlights, as well as providing an understanding of this old civilization.
Siem Reap – Hot Air Ballooning and Floating Villages
Rise early and float above Angkor with a hot air balloon ride as the sun starts to travel skywards. Down below the gold and green shine on the sandstone temples amid lush lawns and trees. Temples reflect in the ponds, and the sky makes its shift into morning blue. From the air to the water you will head to a floating village, a small wooden canoe taking you into a local floating community. The houses rise on stilts, and people look out from small bamboo openings while mangrove forests provide a backdrop as locals invite you into their homes. Eat with a family and learn why and how their village is floating, and gain a sense of modern Cambodia’s mysteries.
Ho Chi Minh City – The Atmospheric Old Quarter
Seven days in, and you will already be in your third country with a direct flight connecting Siem Reap with Ho Chi Minh City. You may know it by its former name, Saigon, and the Old Quarter certainly feels like Saigon. French colonial buildings age elegantly while traders carry their goods on bamboo poles. Bicycles whizz beneath haphazard electricity wires and local businesses advertise with bright colors, from tailors to tanners all in crumbling colonial buildings. This is an enigmatic space, an evocative piece of history that carries its atmosphere into today. Explore the Old Quarter’s major sights with a guide and feast your eyes on the colors of Ben Thanh Market. Find spices, fruits, rice, bags, tea, leather, toy cars, suitcases, Buddhas, souvenirs, and everything you can think of in one atmospheric place.
Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels and Vietnamese Cuisine
There is not much color beneath the ground, but there is a remarkable city. Welcome to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a vast underground complex of hospitals, sleeping places, and farms. Whole civilizations existed here, hiding from the world during the war. Clamber through the hiding places and explore the interior, crouching down to explore this gloomy yet redolent world. After an underground morning, you will spend the evening high above Vietnam, in the new part of Ho Chi Minh City. A renowned local chef takes you through a culinary masterclass, demonstrating the exotic food that Vietnam is known for. You can dine above the city, comparing today’s experiences and appreciating the transformation that has been made over the last 40 years.
Can Tho – Exploring the Mekong Delta
Now a lesser-seen part of Vietnam, your guide will take you westwards towards the Mekong Delta. Travel along the canals of My Tho, comparing local life to what you witnessed in Bangkok and Siem Reap. Take your lunch along the canals, wonderfully fresh fragrances accompanied by rich Vietnamese coffee, and then continue to Can Tho, an enchanting city on the Delta. Not that many tourists make it out here, and the guide shows you around, introducing you to locals and showing what goes on along the waterfront. Your hotel is perched above the water and the guide can take you to an excellent local restaurant this evening.
Hue – A Floating Market, Lots of Noodles and the Imperial City
Cruise the Mekong this morning with the authenticity of Cai Rang Floating Market. Hundreds of boats are loaded with produce, including fruits, fish, vegetables, spices, tea, coffee, sugar, and rice all overflowing from the boat. Traders shout and the atmosphere is intense, this being an intoxicating part of Vietnam to travel. From the market, you can visit a noodle factory, which is far more entertaining than it might initially sound, and then return to Ho Chi Minh City and fly to Hue, the Imperial City, and major US Vietnam War battleground. Make up your own impressions this evening by taking a walk around the hotel, with the scars of history dotted all around.
Hue – The Forbidden Purple City
This morning you will enter the forbidden city, the imperial centerpiece of a former country. Temples stand resplendent, chedis have been restored, and grandeur speaks from the moss-covered facades. This place was off bounds to everyone and it reveals a royal past. The Tomb of King Ming Mang does likewise, showcasing what came long before the war and the French. From here you go cruising again, sailing along the Perfume River in a vessel of centuries past – a royal dragon boat. Hue is a city with many sights and today is pretty packed, so end it with a quiet restaurant beside the Imperial City, trying delicacies like beef vermicelli.
Hoi An – Cultures and Contrasts of an Enchanting Old City
The Hue experience is mostly about sightseeing. Hoi An is a city for the senses, a place to walk around without a plan and inhale the atmosphere. A Chinese temple, a Japanese bridge, and the faded grandeur of French architecture are all yours to take in alongside an aromatic flower market, bullock carts rolling past, and the soft twinkling of bicycle bells. Meet a renowned local guide and take a very slow tour of the city, walking through the history of what most visitors call their favorite place in Vietnam. You’ll find contrasts here, along with the various cultures that have made Hoi An distinct from other places in the country.
Halong Bay – Drifting Off In Nature
Fly to Hanoi then transfer onto a seaplane to see the rice paddies shimmering with green down below and villages appearing ochre red before you land on the purple-blue of the sea. Limestone karst covers the waters, like rugged rocks dropped from the sky. Forests cover their slopes, with trees jumping out at bizarre angles. You will then set off on a luxurious wooden boat and travel slowly, passing the karst islands and islets, heading away from congregations of other boats to a part of Halong Bay that day trips cannot reach. Drift off in nature, or attend a spa treatment on the deck before sunset dining and your first night on board.
Halong Bay – Another Day Amid the Karst
Some karsts have beaches with golden stretches of sand to spend an hour while others have caves with narrow entrances that open into vast caverns. You can kayak beneath overhangs or take a small tender boat alongside the dramatic cliff walls. But most of all, you can sail through the landscape and enjoy this time to relax. It will have been a busy two weeks of exploring and your boat provides a chance to reminisce about all the experiences. This time on the water will be a relaxing conclusion to your journey alongside just a handful of other passengers and the majesty of this natural landscape.
Hanoi – Departure
Wake up surrounded by karst and sail back to the harbor, where you board a seaplane and fly back to Hanoi. Land at the international airport and a representative will help you transfer onto your international flight.
- Cruise through the green and the blue of Halong Bay with a couple of days in the World’s Seventh Wonder of Nature
- Explore all the colors and smells of local city markets, in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Can Tho
- Discover Angkor, the majestic city and temple complex that is wrapped in jungle
- Celebrate Vietnamese history in two very different cities, imperial Hue and postcard-perfect Hoi An
- Marvel at the second Siamese capital with a day spent in Ayutthaya
- Float through a Vietnamese floating market, down Bangkok’s back-canals, and alongside Angkor Thom
- Explore the air with a hot air balloon ride above Angkor, then go underground to the Cu Chi Tunnels
- Spend a day in the Mekong Delta, discover the Forbidden Purple City, and marvel at Bangkok’s famous sights
Even in a busy city like Bangkok, the colors seem brighter than anywhere else on earth. There is just something about Southeast Asia that makes it seem as though everything has been rendered through a Photoshop filter with the contrast turned up and the vibrancy enhanced. New hues seem to be invented here with the color of limestone karst covered in the jungle, Angkor bathed in sunset light, a floating market dominated by spices and vegetables. Everything seems incredibly colorful, and the palette knows no boundaries. There is also an explosion of color experienced in the local dress, beaming faces, enticing food, traditional streets, and what lies inside temples.
This handcrafted tour is all about the evocative colors as you move across Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, showcasing each destination where the palette is at its best. You will explore many of the region’s highlights and enjoy a variety of classic experiences, from hot air ballooning above Angkor to the Cu Chi Tunnels and a floating market. There are some lesser-known destinations as well, like those in the Mekong Delta. Fly between most of the destinations and end with two days cruising through Halong Bay, a tranquil place to end your colorful adventure.
Several days in Bangkok are an introduction to Thailand and the region. Begin as you discover the grand highlights and then dive into night markets where food sizzles and colors shine in the gloomy light. Explore Bangkok neighborhoods on a canal cruise and then spend half a day in Ayutthaya, where the ruined temples showcase the second Siamese capital. Fly to Siem Reap and the grandest temples of them all, Angkor. With several days in Cambodia, you can fully explore the archaeological complex, from temples wrapped in tree roots to sculpted faces and the grandeur of Angkor Wat itself. You can travel beyond Angkor, visiting a floating village, meeting the locals, and sensing a country undergoing significant change.
Move next to Vietnam for a whole week to explore its secrets and histories. Surround yourself with the colors of Ho Chi Minh City, particularly its Old Quarter. Go beyond the beaten track in the Mekong Delta, where a floating market and small village provide new experiences. Fly to Hue, the Forbidden Purple City, and major battleground during the war. Travel next to Hoi An, a delightfully preserved city that shows the complexity of Vietnamese culture and history. End with blue and green, the colors of Halong Bay, the karst landscape, and one of the seven natural wonders of nature. Spend a couple of days cruising here as tranquility brings your vacation to a close.
To gain more inspiration from Zicasso travelers, take a look at our Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam tour reviews.
$2,890 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.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
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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