Itinerary Highlights
  • The itinerary includes Halong Bay, Luang Prabang and Angkor, three wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Stay in an exceptional hotel in Luang Prabang: the home of Prince Souphanouvong
  • All tours and activities have expert private guides
  • An array of additional services are included, such as our local Concierge service

Contact one of our Vietnam specialists + 44 (0) 20 3958 6120

Three in one?

The three states of former French Indochina are sometimes merged into one under the shadow of a colonial triptych. Yet, they each have their own distinct characters. This is a journey to explore the differences between these areas, to uncover their unique culture and traditions. The first stop is Hanoi, Vietnam's capital. It may be a former town of trade and Confucianism, and the administrative centre of Mainland Southeast Asia and socialist Vietnam, but it's also a buzzing modern city, complete with beautifully tranquil green spaces. From here, spend a night on a junk boat in Halong Bay, a geological wonder where General Tran Hung Dao defeated the Mongols in 1288, and where James Bond found Elliot Carver's stealth ship in 'Tomorrow Never Dies' in 1997.
Then, it's off to Laos and Luang Prabang, with its rich Buddhist atmosphere. Around 67% of Laotians are Buddhist and their particular brand of Buddhism forms the basis for Lao culture. There are strong references to animist beliefs and ancient spirits in Lao Buddhism, which feeds into a culture of respect for nature and the environment. There's a balance here, however, that doesn't prevent the country from embracing 21st century issues. Then, it's off to Angkor in Cambodia. Pictures of this majestic site are iconic, however, none of them conjure up the emotion that you feel when you actually enter the sacred site. The Hindu, Buddhist and hydraulic civilisation of Angkor is one of the greatest achievements in human history. The Cambodians are now starting to carefully reintroduce religious rituals into the temples. And of course, UNESCO has declared this as a World Heritage Site.

Your Trip

To keep your nights on par with your days, we've cherry-picked the three hotels that you'll be staying in during your trip. Stay in a French landmark made in Hanoi, the Metropole, where Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Godard spent their honeymoon and where Joan Baez recorded songs as bombs were being dropped in 1972 during the Vietnam War. In Luang Prabang, your hotel is fit for a prince. Finally, stay in a stunning small and intimate Cambodian retreat in Siem Reap/Angkor. Feel as fresh as a daisy in the morning after blissfully recharging in the evenings from your busy days exploring. Take a plane to get from one town to the other then travel around locally in cars with drivers. And in the city, it's all about tuk-tuks, bikes and boats. Your itinerary includes tours and activities with private expert guides. They are there to make your discoveries easier and to connect you directly with your destinations. The itinerary is packed but varied, but you'll have a lot of free time to explore on your own; it's not about turning the trip into an expedition. The spur of the moment, languorous downtime and adventuring spirit are all welcome here. If there are any setbacks along the way, just contact our local Concierge service. They are there to help and be your guardian angels.

Sailing on a junk boat

Set off for Halong Bay, one of the world's most famous rock formations. Karst peaks emerge from the sea, seemingly oblivious to the laws of physics, revealing a landscape reminiscent of an ancient Chinese painting. The boat will gently float along, as you watch local fishermen cast their nets.

Route

Everything is 100% tailored to you
DAY 1

Flight to Hanoi (Vietnam)

DAY 2

Hanoi

Transfer and two-night stay in one of the most beautiful hotels in the capital, country and continent. Built in 1901, it exudes colonial charm. The decor combines elegant Vietnamese elements with Belle Epoque luxury. The service here is also impeccable. There is a lovely swimming pool and gym, while the restaurant serves award-winning cuisine.
[bIncluded in the itinerary - Discover Hanoi with a private guide. Go for a walk in the gardens of the presidential palace, then head to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the communist leader's stilt house, the One Pillar Pagoda, the Temple of Literature (Confucian, founded in the 11th century) and the Quan Thanh Taoist Temple (founded in the 11th century).

DAY 3

Hanoi

Included in the itinerary - At the crack of dawn, set off for Hoan Kiem Lake for a tai chi lesson. It's great for balancing the mind and body. This is followed up by breakfast and arguably the most popular Vietnamese dish there is: pho (broth of beef, noodles and coriander). Vietnam has a complex social history that can sometimes feel impenetrable, so tonight we've organised for you to meet a local journalist over a glass of wine; they will help you put this fascinating country into context.
In between, you can do whatever you please. Have a look at the 36 Old Streets in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, for example, which is the district of traditional craft and merchant businesses. Visit the Long Bien metal bridge and the AON Hanoi Landmark Tower designed by the Carlos Zapata Studio, 2007-2011. No trip to a Vietnamese city would be complete without also sampling some street food.

DAY 4

Hanoi - Halong Bay

Already in the itinerary - Transfer to Halong. Embark on a bay cruise on a modern-day junk boat. Nearly 2,000 karst islands topped with thick jungle vegetation make up a stunning landscape, which is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Explore the caves by kayak and take a dip. Meals on board: all courtesy of the bay! Watching the sun slowly set in this magical setting is really a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After a day of soaking up your surrounds on deck, retire to your cabin or get a massage at the on-board spa. Spend the night on the water.

DAY 5

Halong Bay - Hanoi - Luang Prabang (Laos)

In the morning, get in tune with the ethereal romance of the bay with a tai chi lesson. Disembark the boat and transfer to Hanoi airport and flight to Luang Prabang. Transfer and five-night stay in the centre. Satri House was built for Souphanouvong, the Red Prince (1909-1995), who was the first president of the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Nevertheless, this didn't stop him from adding a wide range of colonial motifs. Everything is very attractive and tastefully adorned with fine crafts and antiques. The rooms are well-sized, and the large beds have mosquito nets and an abundance of tropical charm; the bathrooms are impeccable. In the garden, there are quiet little corners to get away from it all and swimming pools for a relaxing swim. The spa features a wide range of massages and treatments; the traditional foot massage is particularly great. The restaurant serves up a fantastic variety of fish, steaming it in banana leaf (mok pa) or tamarind sauce (pa mac kham), or cooking it in white butter with a medley of vegetables.

DAY 6

Luang Prabang

Included in the itinerary - Luang Prabang by bike. Cycle around accompanied by a Laotian expert guide, visit the top sights, such as the Royal Palace (early 20th century), the Wat Visoun temple (15th century), Wat Aham (19th century) and Wat Xieng Thong (a wonderful 16th century landmark). In the late afternoon, 'climb' Mount Phou Si, which stands high above the old town. From the vantage point of Wat Chom Si, the view over the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers is wonderful.

DAY 7

Luang Prabang

Included in the itinerary - A morning trip to the Pak Ou caves, which devotees have crowded with hundreds of Buddha statues. With a private guide, take a trip down the Mekong and soak up the lush river scenery. The afternoon is free for you to do a little bit more exploring at your own pace. The Baci is a ceremony that 'calls' protective spirits. Traditional religious thought purports that each person is made up of thirty-two souls, which tend to roam, however, it's necessary on certain occasions when you want to wish someone good luck or good health, to bring them back so that this wish can be fulfilled. The good wishes are represented by threads of cotton that are tied to the wrists of the person receiving said good wishes. In the late afternoon, attend a ceremony with a Laotian family and your guide.

DAY 8

Luang Prabang

Included in the itinerary - Immerse yourself in Buddhism. Rise at dawn to witness the 'tak bat', a daily ritual of offerings made to Buddhist monks. There is a profound mutual respect between those who give and those who receive. After going back to the hotel for a nice Laotian coffee, set sail on the Mekong to a temple nestled in the countryside. Meet with the priest and find out more about the history of Buddhism in Laos, the discipline of life at the monastery and meditation. Then, enjoy a vegetarian lunch with the monks. In the afternoon, hike through rice paddies and banana groves. Visit the village and temples of Xieng Mene. Day with a private guide.

DAY 9

Luang Prabang

Included in the itinerary - Laotian cuisine. Today you'll be trying your hand at Laotian cooking. First stop is the market to get some fresh ingredients. Once your shopping bag is full, cook under the skilled guidance of a food lover. Put your best foot forward because what you cook will not only feed you, but your entire host family... no pressure! In the evening, catch a show at the Garavek Storytelling Theatre, which showcases the popular traditions of northern Laos. The stories, which are translated into English for foreign viewers, are accompanied by the Khene, a Lao mouth organ.

DAY 10

Luang Prabang - Siem Reap (Cambodia, Angkor)

Transfer to the airport and flight to Siem Reap. Four-night stay in luxury accommodation close to the great temples of Angkor. You'll be staying in a lovely bungalow with its own small private garden. You'll be able to pick between an indoor and outdoor shower, while in the rooms there's parquet flooring and beautiful bedding. Foie gras sashimi and giant freshwater prawns from the Mekong are stars of the show on the restaurant's menu.

DAY 11

Siem Reap

Included in the itinerary - Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. In a car, and with a private guide, visit two major monuments of the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire. Angkor Wat, the temple and capital city of Suryavarman II, was built in the 12th century and is the largest and best-preserved monument on the site. Restoration projects here remain ongoing with teams of archaeologists working with the latest technologies to make new discoveries. The collection of statues is particularly impressive. Buddhist worship continues in the shrine (which was first dedicated to Vishnu). Jayavarman VII built the Royal City of Angkor Thom in the early 13th century. The immense carved faces of the southern gate are unforgettable; the natural Bayon bas-relief sculptures and the central temple are astonishing, while the Terrace of the Leper King, a royal cremation site, is also well worth a visit.

DAY 12

Siem Reap

Included in the itinerary - Boat trip on the Tonle Sap[/b}, a freshwater lake which contributes to the natural regulation of the Mekong River. Your trip takes you to the village and flooded forest of Kampong Phluk. Houses are built on tall stilts, with water levels reaching several feet. This life on stilts, where everything depends on the river, feels like a different era and a different world. There are fishermen aplenty plying the waters of Tonle Sap and it's also home to a diverse array of birdlife, including spot-billed pelicans, Oriental darters and Bengal floricans. Tonle Sap has also been designated a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, an indication of its importance to the local ecosystem. Then, head to the site of the former city of Isvarapura, 12 miles north-east of Angkor, where you'll find the Banteay Srei temple, dedicated to Shiva. This is a beautiful, well-preserved pink sandstone temple from the 10th century, adorned with a wide array of art. Then you'll travel east of Angkor Thom to see the Ta Prohm temple, a 12th-century Buddhist school. Its beauty lies in the invasion of the sprawling roots of false hemp trees, and it's in the same state that it was in when the sacred area was rediscovered by the first archaeologists. Day with a private guide.

DAY 13

Siem Reap

Included in the itinerary - Trip to the Beng Mealea temple (12th century), which is almost built to the same floor plan as Angkor Wat, with a private guide. Then, it's off to Koh Ker, the ancient capital of Jayavarman IV (first half of the 10th century). The site, which is dominated by a large pyramid-shaped temple, has provided a great deal for the exhibitions of the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. Today, it peacefully sits under a beautiful layer of vegetation; it's not visited all that much.

DAY 14

Siem Reap - Hanoi - return flight

Transfer to the airport and flight to Hanoi, then return flight.

A la carte

If you have a few extra days - head to the beach...

Hoi An and Da Nang may be a little less well-known for their sand and umbrellas than St. Tropez or Ipanema, but both should boast about their beautiful beaches (and a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list for the old town of Hoi An). So if at the end of your cultural journey you're in need of some beach time, the Vietnamese coast has plenty of excellent options. We'd be happy to arrange this for you.
Optional

A Rough Idea of Price

Dependent on season, accommodation and activities
The estimated cost for this trip is £6,400 to £7,900 per person. and the final cost of the trip depends on the way we tailor it especially for you. The final cost varies according to several factors, which include the level of service, length of trip and advance booking time. The exact price will be provided on your personalised quote. The average price for this trip is £6800 per person.
  • Flights with a scheduled airline
  • Airline taxes and fuel surcharge
  • Private transfers
  • Two-night stay in Hanoi in a double room with breakfast included
  • Tours in the itinerary in Hanoi include a tour of the city, an introduction to tai chi and a meeting with a journalist. All come with private expert guides
  • Overnight stay on a junk boat in Halong Bay
  • Five-night stay in Luang Prabang in a double room with breakfast included
  • Tours in the itinerary in Luang Prabang include a cycling tour of the old town, the Pak Ou caves, a 'Baci' ceremony, a trip to a monastery, a cooking class and the Garavek Storytelling Theatre. All come with private expert guides
  • Four-night stay in Siem Reap in a double bungalow with breakfast included
  • The itinerary in Siem Reap includes trips to Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat, Kompong Phluk, Banteay Srei and Ta Prohm, Koh Ker and Beng Mealea. All come with private expert guides
  • A host of additional services are included when travelling with us, including our local Concierge service
  • Our local Concierge service
  • A few of the benefits of travelling with us
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    Contact one of our Vietnam specialists

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