15-Day Vietnam & Lao Experience

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Tour type

Tour Level:

Tour Comfort:

Tour Period: 15 Days

tour highlights

  • Explore Ho Chi Minh City’s Cu Chi Tunnels, an amazing complex of underground tunnels used during the Vietnam War
  • Share a meal with a local Vietnamese family in their home
  • Attend one of Hanoi’s famous water puppet performances
  • Cruise through the striking Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world’s most intriguing natural wonders
  • Discover historic Hue’s ancient palaces
  • Stroll through charming Hoi An, with its unique colonial architecture, on a walking tour
  • Play a private game of petanque with locals in Luang Prabang
  • Spend time at The Bamboo Experience to learn more about bamboo work in Laos while soaking up the natural scenery

tour details

Journey through the magical lands of Vietnam and Laos on this 15-day adventure that takes you through some of the countries’ most well-known cities and most breath taking natural sites. From squeezing through the labyrinth of Cu Chi Tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City to unwinding during a cruise on the incredibly Halong Bay, sharing a typical Vietnamese meal with a local family in Hanoi to witnessing the mesmerising morning ritual of monks collecting alms in Luang Prabang, the two weeks spent in two of Southeast Asia’s welcoming countries will leave you with a sense of wonder as well as a number of local connections and experiences you can’t find anywhere else.

Meet on arrival at Ho Chi Minh City / Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Transfer to the hotel and spend the rest of the day at leisure or join our interesting daily excursions in and around Ho Chi Minh City.

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included: None
In the morning, drive out of the city to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels, an amazing complex of underground tunnels used during the Vietnam War. There are more than 200 kilometres of tunnels, comprising a main axis system with many branches connecting to underground hideouts, shelters and other tunnels. You have the chance to crawl through this amazing system of tunnels. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant then explore Saigon during the afternoon city tour that will take you to Thien Hau Pagoda, the Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum and a local lacquerware workshop.

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included:
Breakfast
Lunch at restaurant
Today the journey continues to My Tho - the heart of the Mekong Delta famous for its vast rice fields and beautiful landscapes. Take a boat trip on the Mekong River to a local workshop that produces handicrafts and sweets made from coconuts. Take a short ride on a horse carriage to one of the many nearby orchards to taste some homemade honey, savour fresh seasonal fruits and enjoy a traditional live music performance. Proceed by sampan boats through the small canals and river passageways to observe the daily life along the riverbanks before returning to My Tho Pier. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Vinh Trang Pagoda in the afternoon then drive back to Ho Chi Minh City to enjoy the evening at your leisure.

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included:
Breakfast
Lunch at restaurant
Transfer to the airport for a flight to Hue, the former royal city of the 13 ruling Nguyen dynasties. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel. Explore the Imperial City of Hue. Built by Emperor Gia Long, the impressive Hue Citadel is situated on the northern bank of the Perfume River and was designed for the exclusive use of the Emperor and his household. The Citadel is made up of a two-square-kilometre wall encompassing three additional walled enclosures including the Forbidden Purple City, Tu Cam Thanh, where the Emperor lived. The Hue royal complex has been officially recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. After wandering through time, enjoy a scenic boat trip on the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda, one of the oldest ancient architectural structures for religious worship in Hue. At the end of the excursion visit the SPIRAL Foundation’s Healing the Wounded Heart Shop – an eco-friendly fair trade shop featuring products made by local disabled and disadvantaged artisans – before transferring to the hotel.

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included:
Breakfast
Lunch at Ancient Hue Restaurant
From Hue, take a morning transfer to the charming historic city of Hoi An. Known to early Western merchants, Hoi An was one of the major trading centres of Southeast Asia in the 16th century and still retains its distinctive Vietnamese and Chinese atmosphere with low, tiled-roof houses and narrow streets with the original structure of some streets still virtually intact. Many of the town’s houses are constructed from rare timbers and decorated with lacquer panels engraved with Chinese characters and carved pillars. One of the best ways to discover Hoi An and its surroundings is by walking so enjoy a relaxed walk to discover the daily life of the local people – green paddy fields, vegetable gardens, markets, temples, historic houses, fishermen and stunning countryside scenes will simply mesmerise you. This tour offers great photo opportunities!

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included:
Breakfast
Lunch at local restaurant
Compulsory dinner at hotel (applied for group from 15 clients up)
Today is at your leisure – explore all the little delights of Hoi An!

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included:
Breakfast
Lunch at local restaurant
In the morning, transfer from Hoi An to Danang Airport for a domestic flight to Hanoi. On arrival, transfer to hotel for a short rest. In the afternoon, begin an insightful city tour including stops at the Temple of Literature, known as the first university in Vietnam and built more than 1,000 years ago, Hoa Lo Prison and more. After the introduction to the city, enjoy one of Vietnam’s famous water puppet performances. The Vietnamese traditional art of water puppetry has roots dating back to the 10th century when it originated in the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam where farmers in the region celebrated festivals and harvests by performing this unique art form. The puppets are made of wood and usually stand 16 inches high, but can be as tall as three feet. Puppets are attached to a long bamboo pole and dipped in and out of the water by a person behind a rattan curtain. Learning to manipulate the puppets is usually a tradition that is passed on as a family secret and takes a great deal of skill with puppeteers standing in waist-deep water.
In the evening, take advantage of the unique opportunity of sharing a meal with a local Hanoi family in their home. Enjoy a personal tour of their home, including the family’s ancestor altar and room for worshipping, learning more about the family’s history before dining together. The generous host will introduce the evening’s cuisine, which will include traditional Vietnamese dishes such as stir-fried water morning glory, roasted sesame and peanuts, spring rolls and more delectable dishes.
After dinner, relax, chat with the hosts while savouring traditional tea and sweets, and learn more about the family. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Before the farewells, take a picture with your new Vietnamese family.
Transfer back to the hotel.

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included:
Breakfast
Dinner with local family
From Hanoi’s Old Quarter, transfer to Dinh Vu Port, Haiphong for the next adventure – an overnight journey on Halong Bay with Orchid Cruise. Enjoy a special tea in the Orchid Cruise’s lounge before being welcomed aboard the boat and checking in.
After a welcome drink and safety briefing by the crew, get ready to sail through one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of Nature’. Unchanged for centuries, Halong Bay is steeped in striking vistas, beautiful seas and impressive islands.
Head first toward the Da Chong islet, where you can see a lighthouse that was built by the French over 100 years ago and enjoy an on-board lunch before continuing the journey via the islets of Con Vit and Gia Luan. These amazing limestone karst formations rise up out of the sea in an impressive manner and remain in an untouched area as not many cruise ships use this route.
Continue on to the Ba Trai Dao beach area of Lan Ha Bay, a separate part of Halong Bay that is known for its pristine beaches and spectacular beauty with roughly 400 fascinating forested islands. Next, witness how the local fishermen go about their trade, casting nets whilst navigating the waters in their tiny boats. Alternatively, you may prefer to try your hand at kayaking or simply just enjoy a swim. In the winter months (December to March) guests may visit Viet Hai village with a guide where one can cycle along the village path through rainforests and tunnels and enjoy stunning its rice fields on the way before stopping at the village to relax. (An optional electric cart service is available at an extra cost.)
In the evening, watch the magnificent sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin. Back on board, join a traditional cooking class where a chef will demonstrate how to prepare popular Vietnamese dishes or take part in Happy Hour on the deck. Enjoy a delicious dinner of local food in an intimate, romantic setting before relaxing on the top deck with a drink in hand. Additional activities, such as night squid fishing, watching a film or booking a massage treatment through the Cruise Manager, are also available.

Accommodation on Orchid Cruise (Suite Balcony cabin)

Note: our tour guide will not be on board.

Meals included:
Breakfast
Lunch on board
Dinner on board
Rise early to witness the bay at its very best – at sunrise – whilst enjoying an invigorating Tai Chi session on the sundeck and breakfast. Upon finishing breakfast, head out in canoes to explore the bay around Toi Sang Cave.
Indulge in a delightful brunch while cruising to the mainland and transferring back to Hanoi. Enjoy an evening on your own with dinner at your leisure.

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included:
Breakfast on board
Lunch on board
In the morning, transfer to Hanoi / Noi Bai International Airport for a flight (ticket booked by guest) to Vientiane, Laos.
After meeting the Lao guide at Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, continue the adventure with a city tour starting by visiting Vat Sisaket, the oldest original temple in Vientiane. Built in 1818, Vat Sisaket is the sole survivor of an invasion in 1828 and features remarkable frescoes and 6,840 Buddha images. Nearby is another famous site, Ho Phra Keo, which was once the royal temple of Lao monarchy. Built in 1565, Ho Phra Keo has been used as a museum since 1970 and contains some of the finest Buddhist sculptures and artefacts in the country. Continue on to the Morning Market (Talaat Sao), known for its superior silk weaving, metalwork and woodcarving.
From the market, visit the COPE Visitor Centre. Laos is still littered with a significant amount of UXOs (unexploded ordnance) from the war ending in 1975. Standing for Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise, COPE provides prosthetics and mobility devices free of charge for people in need who cannot afford to pay for them. The visitor centre is a free museum and interactive exhibit educating guests about the UXO problem tells how UXO affect communities.
Finally, end the excursion with a little pick-me-up tasting local Lao coffee at the Sinouk Coffee Shop.

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included: Breakfast at hotel
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before being picked up and continuing your tour of the capital starting with a stop at Haw Phra Kaew – the main structure originally housed the famous Emerald Buddha that now resides in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew.
Moving on, visit one of the most photographed images of Vientiane, Patousay, the victory gate also known as Anousavari. Constructed in 1958, its architecture is inspired by the Arc de Triomph in Paris. Another famous Vientiane landmark is the That Luang Stupa, which King Setthathirath built in 1566. Its central structure is 45 metres tall and echoes the curving lines of an elongated lotus. The original stupa was said to contain relics of Lord Buddha.
After lunch at your leisure, drive outside of the city to discover Vientiane’s surroundings including the unique Buddha Park and impressive Friendship Bridge. Return to Vientiane and stroll along the banks of the Mekong River at sunset.

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included: Breakfast
Be picked up at the hotel after breakfast and transfer to Wattay International Airport for a flight to Luang Prabang.
Upon arrival at Luang Prabang Airport, transfer and check in to the hotel then enjoy some free time until the welcome city tour.
The crown jewel of Laos, Luang Prabang is perhaps the best-preserved colonial city in Southeast Asia. Magical and charming, it has maintained its long-standing reputation as a stronghold of Lao culture with splendid natural scenery and beautiful sense of timelessness, which led to UNESCO naming the city as a World Heritage Site in 1995.
Visit Vat Visoun, the site of an impressive stupa, and That Makmo before continuing on to the nearby Vat Aham, one of the city’s major tutelary shrines dedicated to Deveta Luang (spirit) Pu Gneu Ya Gneu (ancestors). Next, visit Vat Xieng Thong, the most important Buddhist monastery in the country. The main sanctuary represents the classic Luang Prabang temple architecture with roofs that sweep low to the ground.
From there, stop at the former Royal Palace, now a National Museum, with ornate gilded and brocaded reception rooms, and spectacular artefacts.

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included: Breakfast at hotel
For those who do not mind getting up early in the morning, there is an excellent opportunity to observe the hundreds of monks on their alms rounds. As the day begins to break, monks appear everywhere throughout the old town of Luang Prabang. As they silently walk in single file, the inhabitants of the city come out onto the streets to offer food to the monks. Walk along the road to see the morning local market (close to the Ramayana Hotel/National Museum) and afterward return to the hotel for breakfast.
Today, venture further out continuing the journey with a stop at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC), a museum dedicated to the ethnic cultures of Laos. The centre is housed in a heritage building and exhibits ethnic clothing, household objects, religious artefacts and handicrafts with information in English and Lao.
Next, visit Vat Mai, built in 1796 and famous for the five-tiered roof of its wooden sim, before continuing to climb Vat Phousi Hill for an outstanding view over the city.
Moving on, board a traditional riverboat for a trip up the Mekong River to visit the famous caves of Pak Ou which house thousands of statues representing Lord Buddha. The next stop is at Ban Xang Hai, a village famous for distilling traditional rice alcohol and storing it in large jars which have been made onsite for more than 2,000 years.
After lunch at a local restaurant overlooking the Mekong River, walk around Ban Pak Ou Village, a small Laotian fishermen’s village, and then continue to Ban Muang Keo village, where you will see the production of coloured fabric, which is woven on simple weaving looms.
Return to Luang Prabang by boat then, if time permits, continue by car to visit Ban Xang Khong, another weaving village where traditional sa paper is produced.
Return back to Luang Prabang and play a private game of petanque with locals before transferring back to the hotel and enjoying the rest of the evening at your leisure.
Lunch and dinner at leisure.

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included: Breakfast
After breakfast, be picked up at hotel and journey to The Bamboo Experience to learn more about bamboo work in Laos while soaking up the natural scenery just outside the Luang Prabang town centre.
After meeting with the rest of the group, a guide will share some of the traditional and modern uses of bamboo and its significance within Lao culture, including the importance of many bamboo products such as baskets, fishing tools and music instruments.
Next, take part in a simple bamboo weaving class with an expert (but patient!) teacher. Try your hand at knife sharpening, bamboo cutting and traditional bamboo weaving to complete your own mat to take home as a souvenir. From there, proceed to the bamboo cooking demonstration (you are welcome to assist) to see how dishes such as bamboo shoot soup, bamboo shoots steamed in banana leaves, fermented bamboo shoot dipping and sticky rice, are prepared. Sample your creations at the end of the session in a traditional Lao house overlooking the serene scenery and rice fields.
Continue the day trip to the mesmerising Kuang Si Waterfalls that tumble over multi-tiered limestone formations into cool, clear pools ideal for swimming and relaxing. Visit the rescued bears of the “Bear Lao” project during your walk up to the falls as well as a stop at the Khmu minority village of Ban Thapaene. After swimming in the refreshing waters, return to Luang Prabang.
In the evening, enjoy dinner at the most beautiful restaurant in Luang Prabang – Manda De Laos – savouring a set Asian or Lao menu before returning to the hotel.

Accommodation at hotel

Meals included:
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Enjoy one last breakfast at the hotel before transferring to Luang Prabang Airport for your onward journey.

Meals included: Breakfast

includes

  • Accommodation in shared twin room with air conditioning (AC) and private bathroom
  • Meals as stated in the programme B= breakfast, L= lunch, D= dinner
  • Transfers and tours with local stationed guide in private air-conditioned vehicles
  • All entrance fees, boat fees and cyclo fees as mentioned in the programme
  • Drinking water and cold towels available on the vehicles

excludes

  • Domestic airfare (quoted separately, if requested)
  • International airfare to / from Vietnam (quoted separately, if requested)
  • Optional tours
  • Surcharges for other language guides
  • Surcharges for night-time services, especially applied for transfers with arrivals after 23:00 hrs and arrivals or departures before 06:00 hrs.
  • Surcharges for Lunar New Year (TET) holiday
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Personal expenditure, such as drinks, souvenirs, laundry, camera fees, communications, postage, gratuities etc.
  • Meals and services other than mentioned in the programme
  • Drinks with meals
  • Compulsory gala dinners during festive seasons and peak season surcharges which will be advised at the time of booking
  • Visa application and visa stamp fees at Vietnamese embassies overseas and/ or upon arrival (Please note that a visa is compulsory for most nationalities.)
  • Early check-in and late check-out at hotels, if not mentioned in the programme

notes

  • Most Museums are closed on Mondays and partly on Fridays and some public holidays.
  • The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi is closed every Monday and Friday and during the entire months of September and October. The Ho Chi Minh Residence in Hanoi is closed every Monday and Friday.
  • Please note that cyclo rides are subject to government approval.

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