New or repeat visitors to Indochina will be surprised with this two to three week travel program. While crossing sleepy borders, walking deserted mountain roads, and exploring the Mekong’s waterways by bicycle or traditional boat, travelers will have enriching encounters with the people from Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. We start in Bangkok and finish in either Ho Chi Minh City or Siem Reap. We follow a route off the beaten path that is very different from the usual sights visited by travelers to our region.
Day 1 | Bangkok: Arrival
Arrival in Bangkok, clear Immigration, collect your luggage and exit customs. Proceed to the Arrivals Hall and towards the Meeting Point, our guide will be waiting for you and transfer to the hotel (an early check in is on request and subject to availability). The rest of the day is free at your leisure.
Day 2 | Ubon Ratchathani | Meals: B
Check out time is at noon, but you can leave your luggage at the hotel until you meet our guide for your transfer to Hua Lamphong Railway Station for boarding a night train to Ubon Ratchathani.
Day 3 | Ubon Ratchathani – 4.000 Islands
You will be met off the night train when you arrive in Ubon Ratchathani by our Laotian guide. From here we’ll travel to the border crossing with Laos at Chong Mek. Cross the border from where you will be awaited for a transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Wat Phou.
A pre-Angkorian temple, Wat Phou’s ruins and mountain top temple make for some great photos, and offer an insight into cultures from the long distant past. From here, we continue southwards to Don Khone – the largest of the 4.000 Islands (Si Phan Don) that are formed by the Mekong River.
Day 4 | 4.000 Island | Meals: B
Today after breakfast, visit the Li Phi Falls, which were major obstacles for the French in their efforts to open the Mekong River to navigation. Here also live some 50-100 Irrawaddy (freshwater) dolphins. If lucky, you’ll have the chance to see them! See the small gauge railway and colonial bridge built by the French to circumnavigate the waterfalls.
Enjoy your afternoon free at leisure.
Day 5 | 4.000 Islands – Vietnam Border | Meals: B
After breakfast return to the mainland where a mini-van will await you for your transfer to the border between Laos and Vietnam. Upon arrival to Bo Y border, you will meet your guide and driver and they will transfer you to your hotel in Kon Tum city where most of the local villagers are part of the Bahnar ethnic minority. They have their own language, traditions and customs.
Each village has a communal house called a ‘Rong House.’ The Rong House is the place where village ceremonies and festivals take place. The Rong houses of the Bahnar are very beautiful and unique to Vietnam. They stand up to 30 meters high and the roof is curved.
Today we will visit the Catholic Seminary, a beautiful and imposing building, dating back from 1935. It houses an interesting exhibition on Kontum and the minorities living around the town. Next we visit the wooden Bahnar church. If time allows, we will also explore the Bahnar Village.
Day 6 | Kon Tum – Kon Ko Tu | Meals: B L D
After breakfast you will depart from your hotel and start walking through the local Vietnamese villages. You will meet villagers and learn about Bahnar culture. We will also trek through rivers and cassava plantations. At noon, we will make a stop for our picnic lunch. Later we will keep trekking to Kon Ko Tu village, where we will have dinner and spend the night at a homestay.
In the evening you will have the opportunity of witnessing the gong show and try the Vietnamese rice wine which is being consumed through long bamboo straws out of jars.
Day 7 | Kon Ko Tu | Meals: B L D
After having an early breakfast, you will continue trekking from Kon Ko Tu Village through rivers, hills and the countryside.
Dinner and overnight will take place at Kon Ko Tu Village with the same homestay family.
Day 8 | Kon Tum/Kon Ko Tu – Nha Trang | Meals: B L
After breakfast we meet our driver and guide and start heading to Nha Trang. On the way, you will to enjoy the scenery and panoramic views of the lowland country: rubber, coffee and pepper plantations. At noon, we will stop at a typical small Vietnamese restaurant for lunch.
Upon arrival to Nha Trang, check in at the hotel and enjoy the rest of the afternoon free at your leisure.
Day 9 | Nha Trang: Islands & Snorkeling | Meals: B L
In the early morning we drive to Cau Da Port, where your journey visiting beautiful islands in Nha Trang Bay will start.
First, we will visit Mun Island where we will do some snorkeling on the amazing coral reefs covered with multicolored fishes. We will then explore Mot Island where we will also snorkel for a while. You can choose to do some fishing with the crew or relax on board.
At noon we will stop at Con Se Tre Island where we will explore the village and have lunch. After relaxing for a while on the beach, we will start heading to Tri Nguyen Aquarium where you will be able to learn about the life of marine creatures under water.
In the late afternoon we will start heading back to the pier and you will be then transfer to your hotel back in Nha Trang.
Day 10 | Nha Trang – Da Lat | Meals: B L
After breakfast, check out from the hotel and head towards Da Lat (Dalat) – the jewel of the Central Highlands. Upon arrival to Da Lat, we will bring you to visit the Prenn Waterfalls, located a bit outside Da Lat. On the way we will stop in Tuyen Lam Lake, where Truc Lam, a Zen Buddhist temple is located. Obviously, we will explore the hilly roads of Da Lat during today’s tour.
In the evening, you will have time free at leisure. Take advantage of this time to walk around and try Da Lat’s well-known coffee and cake shops.
Day 11 | White Water Rafting | Meals: B L
Today we go for white water rafting, our trip begins at a trailhead that leads to the river. This is expedition style rafting with no close access to the river by any major roads. This river is remote. The walk down to the river and the boat launch area is about 45 minutes and through three kilometers of stunning scenery. Once reach the river, you take a few minutes to inflate the rafts. You use two man kayak style rafts to navigate the river as they provide better maneuverability and allow us to run the river even when the water level is lower.
The river has continuous sections of rapids, one right after the other, with short flat sections in between (to catch your breath). This makes for non-stop action. After about an hour, and half way down the section of river we are running, there is a waterfall to stop at for a rest. A quick snack can be taken here before powering through the remainder of this mighty river.
Great photo ops are available. The rafting ends after about two and a half hours (7 km of river) of crashing through the waves, and a welcoming lunch spot is set up right alongside the river. Rest for a while and enjoy the remoteness of the spot we are at. Then, you start to make your way out of the valley and up to the road to catch your transport back to Dalat. The walk is for about an hour and a half and can be steep in sections, it is very scenic and a beautiful hike.
Day 12 | Da Lat – Ho Chi Minh City | Meals: B
After breakfast, you will start heading to Ho Chi Minh City – the early part of the journey takes you through attractive scenery and large coffee plantations. You will arrive to Ho Chi Minh City in the early afternoon.
Upon arrival to Ho Chi Minh City, check-in at the hotel and get ready for your motorbike street food tour. They will pick you up around dinnertime. This is a really fun way to discover more of Vietnamese food and learn how to wrap the leaves around the rich Vietnamese dishes. We each have our own motorbike driven by a well-informed and very friendly guide. Along the way we take in Saigon city life and taste a large variety of mouthwatering Vietnamese delicacies. We finish the motorbike tour at a popular street barbecue place.
At the end of the night when you have eaten your fill we will drop you back at your hotel.
Day 13 | Ho Chi Minh City – Ben Tre – Can Tho | Meals: B L
Today we head towards Ben Tre. Upon arrival, enjoy a boat cruise along the river which is a branch of the Mekong. We will start the day taking a short walk through various local workplaces where you will be able to picture how local people work. We will also visit the brick kiln, the fruit orchards, a coconut candy workshop and other local cottage industries.
The boat will then stop at a quiet village where you may have a short walk and experience the village life, visit a mat weaving house where straw mats are woven by hand – you can even try weaving yourself.
At noon, you will take a xe loi (a kind of motorized rickshaw) to a riverside local restaurant for lunch. Then it’s time to board a sampan for a relaxing trip along narrow canals. Later, you will pick up your bike and start cycling through the orchards to Mr. Khanh’s house. Khanh is a passionate antiques collector and his house is full of fascinating artifacts from Vietnam and many other places in Asia. He also has some fascinating family albums dating back to French colonial time.
You will then get on your bike and cycle back to the river to board your boat and return to the dock, continue to Can Tho, the largest city in the Mekong Delta and our destination for the night. We will stay at the house of local family tonight.
Day 14 | Can Tho – Chau Doc | Meals: B
After an early breakfast we will board our local boats to visit the Cai Rang Floating Market, the most famous floating market of the Mekong Delta. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and the bustling activity of the market. We will further venture through small canals visiting a rice husking mill and a shop where rice noodles are being produced.
Our guide will also bring you to visit the Binh Thuy ancient residence, a very beautiful and typical southern delta house. The ancient house has five apartments, two roofs and a French architectural style, built in 1870 by a family named Duong. Towards the end of the day we will head to Chau Doc where you will have the rest of the evening free at your leisure.
Day 15 | Chau Doc – Ho Chi Minh City (or onwards to Phnom Penh) | Meals: B
Following breakfast we will enjoy a row boat visit to villages of the ethnic Cham minority many of whom raise fish in cages beneath their floating houses. We will then spend a little time exploring Sam Mountain with its unique shrines and temples that dot the slope of this unusual mountain surrounding by the flood plains of the Mekong River.
Afterwards we will visit the Tra Su Cajuput Forest Reserve – an eco-tourism reserve – located just outside of Chau Doc. Tra Su is home of a wide variety of flora and fauna some of which we hope to see by row boat late this morning before departing on the long drive to Ho Chi Minh City, still commonly referred to as Saigon.
Day 16 | Ho Chi Minh City Departure | Meals: B
Today you will have the day free at your leisure until your driver and guide pick you up three hours before your departure time and transfer you to the airport for your flight back home / to next destination.
Day 15 | Chau Doc – Phnom Penh | Meals: B
After breakfast, you will meet your guide at the hotel lobby and transfer to the pier to take a speedboat to Phnom Penh. From the pier in Phnom Penh, a private driver will transfer you to your hotel. Spend the rest of today free at your leisure. We’d recommend visiting Phnom Penh’s charming riverside which is buzzing with activity and has many good restaurants.
Day 16 | Phnom Penh – Siem Reap | Meals: B
Today you will travel by a line bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap where we arrive in the afternoon.
Day 17 | Siem Reap | Meals: B
This morning before sunrise, depart the hotel for Angkor Wat, the largest and most breathtaking monument at Angkor. Built as the funerary temple for Suryavarman II, who ruled from 1112 to 1152, Angkor never fails to reward the first time or repeat visitor with its grand scale, surreal bas reliefs and unbelievable attention to detail. Here, you will spend the morning exploring one of man’s most magnificent creations before returning to the hotel for a late breakfast.
After breakfast you will start your full day visit to the South Gate of Angkor Thom and the temples of Bayon, Baphoun, Phimean Akas, The Royal Enclosure, the terraces of Elephants and the Leper King. In addition, visit the Bayon temple with its mysterious towers and beautiful bas-reliefs. We go from South gate of Angkor Thom to the Bayon temple.
Next we’ll explore Ta Phrom. This jungle-clad temple with overgrown trees exudes a haunting and exotic atmosphere. The magnificent roots of a tree push between the temple’s huge stone blocks in a strange embrace. An unforgettable sunset on one of the special places the Angkor Wat complex marks the end of today.
Day 18 | Siem Reap | Meals: B
Today is a free day on which you can opt to go for trip to a small village on the flood plains of the Tonle Sap Lake for a cooking sessions with a local family and exploration of the lake by boat. Or maybe you’d like to see the Phare Ponleu Selpak circus artists perform. Phare is a Cambodian non-profit art organization founded in 1994 by eight young Cambodians returning from refugee camps at the Thai border to Battambang. The purpose is to improve the development of local communities by providing education as well as leisure and professional artistic training. According to us, they’re really succeeding in that!
Day 19 | Siem Reap – departure | Meals: B
Today pack your things and your private driver will escort you to the Airport for your onward flight.
For more information on this ‘Hidden Indochina’ trip and booking requests, please contact at [email protected]