- Day 1: Arrive in Luang Prabang – Half-day City Tour
- Day 2: Cruise Mekong to Pak Ou Caves
- Day 3: KuangSi Waterfalls – Fly Hanoi
- Day 4: Hanoi City – Street Food Tour
- Day 5: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on board
- Day 6: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Fly to Danang – Hoi An
- Day 7: Hoi An – Walking Tour of the Ancient Town
- Day 8: Hoi An – Golden Bridge (Ba Na Hill)
- Day 9: Danang – Fly to Siem Reap
- Day 10: Siem Reap: Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm & Angkor Wat
- Day 11: Siem Reap Floating Villages – Departure
- This itinerary is a privately guided tour, designed just to show you what is possible.
- We can tailor this trip, it's inclusions and the accommodations, to meet your requirements, budget, and interests.
Arrive in Luang Prabang – Half-day City TourDay 1
On arrival at the airport, you will be met and transferred to check in the hotel.
After a soft break, you will begin with a visit to the magnificent Wat Xiengthong, a superb piece of Lao temple architecture, which presents a sweeping two-tiered roof and ornate mosaics including a beautiful ‘tree of life ‘glass montage on the rear temple wall.
If time permits, we will take a short walk around the small streets of the city center, watching the life of local people. After that, you will visit Royal Palace Museum, which was built in 1904 during the French colonial era for King Sisavang Vong and his family.
Late afternoon, we climb up to the top of Mount Phousi for an enjoyable exploration of the sacred, gilded stupa as well as a panoramic sunset view of the city and the Mekong River. From there, join a private Baci ceremony at a local family. The Baci ceremony as a traditional ritual of the Lao people expresses the spirituality of the country and is a highly memorable experience and a deep insight into Lao culture for the participants.
Dinner will be served after that for you to share with the host family. This is the best chance for you to have the first experience of local life and culture.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
Cruise Mekong to Pak Ou CavesDay 2
Wake up as the sun rises, we will prepare to join the most sacred tradition of Laos, the daily morning almsgiving, which dates to the 14th century. More than 200 Buddhist monks depart from various temple to gather their daily meal from the faithful residents sitting quietly on the streets.
From there, we will visit the temporary morning market near the former Royal Palace. Just set on the ground, the local people come here to barter their day’s catch from rice to vegetable, to fish, or chicken. This is the best chance to experience the taste of local life
Breakfast at the hotel, we will first visit the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene. After that, we embark on the leisurely cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a breathtaking view of the tranquil countryside, before reaching the mysterious Pak Ou Caves, a 16th century cave monastery filled with thousands of Buddha images, which locates 25 Kilometers North of Luang Prabang in the limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong river. En route, you will stop at Ban Muang Keo, a well–known village for its traditional Lao rice whiskey distilling. You will arrive back in Luang Prabang.
On arrival back in the city, we visit Wat Mai, which is one of the most beautiful temples of Luang Prabang. We then continue to Wat Visoun, dating back to 1513 during the reign of King Wisunarat (Visoun), this is Luang Prabang’s oldest temple and was once home to the Prabang Buddhas. Our last stop today is the Traditional Art and Ethnology Center (closed on Monday) to learn about Laos’ many ethnic cultures.
Overnight in Luang Prabang
KuangSi Waterfalls – Fly HanoiDay 3
After breakfast, we transfer directly to the beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls which is the biggest in the Luang Prabang area with three tiers leading to a 50–metre drop into spectacular azure pools before flowing downstream. The pools also make great swimming holes and are very popular with both tourists and locals
We will also take a short visit to the Bear Rescue Center, which houses a couple of dozen animals rescued from the hands of poachers and traffickers.
Transfer back to the airport for flight to Hanoi. Pick up and transfer to the hotel.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi City – Street Food TourDay 4
After breakfast, we dive into the sights, sounds and smells of Hanoi. Your guide and driver will collect you from the hotel lobby to start your trip with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh complex on the site where he declared Vietnam’s independence in 1945 and see the reverence with which Vietnamese people treat their “Uncle Ho”. Other sites that we will visit with our local guide include House 54, Stilt House, Presidential Palace, and the One Pillar Pagoda.
Continuing on our journey through Hanoi we drive to the Museum of Ethnology, to learn more about the cultural diversity of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities. Established by the Vietnamese government in 1997, the museum provides us with a fascinating insight into the diverse cultures, customs, and lifestyles of the 54 ethnic groups that inhabit Vietnam.
After the visit to the Museum, we will have Pho for lunch at Pho Huyen, a Vietnamese Noodle shop. Some of the local people call this world-famous Noodle soup “Mac–Noodles” since it is as popular here as MacDonalds is in other parts of the world! At the restaurant, your tour guide will explain the routine during Vietnamese meal times, and also tell you which special ingredients are needed for you.
After lunch, we visit the Temple of Literature. Originally built in honor of Confucius by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong in 1070, a university was added to the grounds six years later. The university provided education to the royal family and children of the aristocracy or “mandarins”. The University remained here until Emperor Gia Long moved the countries administrative capital from Hanoi to Hue in the 18th century.
Return your hotel for some rest before starting the evening local food discovery.
17:00 – 20:30
We start our walking tour at Hanoi’s largest covered market, Dong Xuan. Along the perimeter of the market, dozens of street hawkers sell a staggering variety of produce from live seafood to exotic fruits and spices. Your expert English–speaking local guide will give you an insight into the intricacies and traditions of Vietnamese food culture including details on ingredients and historical backgrounds of popular northern dishes.
Walking through the maze of bustling streets that make up Hanoi’s Old Quarter, we tempt our taste buds with the famed Hanoi dish Banh Cuon at a local eatery. Watch in awe as the skilled chefs demonstrate for you how this tasty dish is put together. Continuing into the atmospheric heart of the Old Quarter, we wander past street stalls and quiet residential lanes where you can observe local life that has changed little since Hanoi was founded over 1000 years ago.
Our next stop is Banh My 25 shop “French Baguette”, a little food stall with a few typical tiny Vietnamese chairs on the sidewalk where we enjoy the delicious and fresh baguettes while observing the neighborhood.
Move on to Hanoi Food Culture at Phat Loc Street, where we sample some Bun Cha consisting of vermicelli, herbs and grilled pork. At this Hanoi’s best-kept secrets, a hidden café we will watch the demonstration and then try some egg coffee, a scrumptious local delicacy.
Continue to other food stalls in Hang Bo and Ho Hoan Kiem Street where we try some dishes such Che “Vietnamese style pudding” and Nom “papaya salad with beef”.
It’s the time for dessert as we venture down a small alley to join in the local tradition of feasting on fresh fruit served in a cup and smothered with crushed iced – this specialty is one not to be missed!
Note: The city tour program is flexible. Our guide would be more than happy to adjust the tour itinerary at your needs. You can skip one site or add another if you so wish.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Halong Bay – Overnight on boardDay 5
(No tour guide for Halong Bay cruise, there is a Cruise Manager to assist all clients on the boat)
Halong Bay is your destination today. Your private driver will collect you from the hotel and take you on a 4.5 hours journey on a scenic road with plenty to see along the way. You may even have some photo opportunities on the way.
Around midday, you arrive at Halong Bay. Board your boat in Halong Bay. Then enjoy a delicious seafood lunch while soaking up the magnificence of the UNESCO Heritage area.
After lunch, you will visit Sung Sot Cave (Amazing Cave) – one of the largest caves in Halong Bay, before climbing Titop Mountain for some panoramic views of the stunning sunset over Halong Bay. You will have our dinner back on your boat and settle in for a relaxing sleep onboard your junk boat.
Note: Each junk operates a different itinerary and onboard facilities may vary. Your consultant will be very happy to discuss each option with you.
Overnight on board
Halong Bay – Hanoi – Fly to Danang – Hoi AnDay 6
Wake up with the sunrise, join a Tai Chi lesson on the sundeck. You will then enjoy a buffet brunch on board while continuing to cruise and head back to the shore. Disembark, meet your driver again, you will drive back to the airport for short flight to Danang, then take a short ride to the “once visited, never forgotten” town – Hoi An.
Pick up and transfer to hotel
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Walking Tour of the Ancient TownDay 7
This walking and lantern making tour gives you a quick but consistent insight of Hoi An Ancient Town and allows you to get in touch with your creative side, as well as provides you with the opportunity to take part in an important aspect of the Vietnamese culture.
After breakfast your tour guide will pick you up at the lobby of the hotel, to go to the center of Hoi An city where you will visit the town’s major attractions such as Hoi An Museum, Ancient Houses, Assembly Hall with Chinese influence, handicraft workshops, and the Japanese Bridge.
Move on to the house of a lantern craftsman. There, you can observe the lantern craftsman’s technique before hands-on work through each stage of lantern making under the guidance of the enthusiastic craftsmen: from bending it into the frame, cutting cloth, gluing, to completing lanterns. Before this trip concludes, you will have your own lantern created by your own hands. This is the perfect souvenir for you to show off your craftsmanship upon your return home.
The rest of the day will be yours to explore at your leisure. Hoi An has an abundance of tailors who can produce a custom suit in 24 hours or less, at very reasonable prices.
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Golden Bridge (Ba Na Hill)Day 8
Morning, your guide picks you up at your hotel in Da Nang (or Hoi An) then depart to Ba Na Hills, pass the seashore on Nguyen Tat Thanh Street, one of the most beautiful roads of Da Nang City and Red Beach, where the French first landed in Da Nang.
Arrive at the Cable car station at the foot of Ba Na Mountain. Enjoy the first leg Cable car, which achieves two Guinness World Records in 2009, longest non–stop cable car (5,042m) and highest non–stop cable car (1,292m). Sitting in the cabin, in midair, looking upon the endless tree line of the forests, bring you with spectacular views of the lush jungle and fairly waterfalls along the way.
Experience pristine ecological systems of the Ba Na Mountains will leave you the sense of unforeseeable discovery. Visit the Le Jardin, old wineries remains of French Villas and Ling Ung Pagoda with 27m high Buddha status. We then leave the Le Jardin for the second cable car station to visit the top of the mountain and see the remains of old villas. Conquer the Peak of Chua Mountain at the height of 1,487m.
View the whole Da Nang city under the cluster of white clouds. Leave Peak of Chua Mountain, visit the trail of Dreaming Stream, Rainbow Waterfall, Suspension Bridge, Golden Valley, and ruined Opera House. Lunch at the local restaurant. Play with wild monkeys and take photos, freely then we return to Cable car station at foot of Ba Na Mountain then transfer back to Hoi An City.
Overnight in Hoi An
Danang – Fly to Siem ReapDay 9
Enjoy your free time until transfer to the airport for short flight to Siem Reap. Pick up and transfer to hotel.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Siem Reap: Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm & Angkor WatDay 10
After breakfast, you’ll begin your explorations of the remains of an ancient civilization that once ruled much of Southeast Asia.
Today, you’ll be visiting the ancient capital city of Angkor Thom. On your way to Angkor Thom, you’ll catch a glimpse of the front of Angkor Wat as you pass by, which will leave you with a tingling feeling on the back of your neck as you take your first glance of the enormity and wonder of the largest religious complex to ever exist. However, we’ll be saving the best for last as you go on today to see some other equally impressive structures of Ta Prohm Temple, Bayon Temple, Banteay Kdei, Baphoun, Elephant Terrace, Leper King Terrace, and the Royal Palace.
First on the agenda is Ta Prohm. Worn by time, rain, and overpowered by the jungle, this immaculate structure is hidden under canopy will leave you feeling like you’ve stepped into the movie set of a treasure hunt adventure. Your private tour guide will give you the history and stories passed through oral tradition.
Have lunch next to Srah Srang Ancient Pool. Your exploits will continue as you visit Banteay Kdei (“Citadel of Chambers”). You’ll also visit Victory Gate, Terrace of the Leper King, the Royal Palace, Baphuon and Bayon. Bayon sets itself apart with its almost 200 smiling faces, sure to make you feel welcome on your second day to the Kingdom of Wonders. With its winding tunnels, chambers, and daring climbs, Bayon will give you many picturesque moments to keep your camera busy.
Finally, you will head to the Masterpiece, one of the Seven Wonders of the World: Angkor Wat. At this point, you most probably have gotten glimpses of the towers over treetops and the gates in front in passing. But now you’ll finally get to satiate that curiosity that’s grown in the last few days. Enter Angkor Wat and learn about the stories and amazing architecture that has stunned archeologists leaving more questions than answers. Angkor Wat possesses some of the most intricate and longest stone carvings in the world. This complex is four times the size of the Vatican City making it the largest religious site in the world. Spend the morning adventuring through the many passages, levels, and exploring chambers that once housed one of many treasures of the ancient world. It will be an experience you won’t forget.
As the sun approaches the horizon, you’ll enjoy a sunset from the top of the pyramid-shaped temple of Pre Rup. After sunset, you’ll be taken back to your hotel for the evening.
Note: During any visit to the Angkor temples, we ensure your day(s) remain both flexible and personal. Having met with your guide, you will be able to discuss in detail what you are looking to achieve from your time at the temples. Whilst some wish to explore as many temples as they can during their stay, others like to travel at a slower, more relaxed pace.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Siem Reap Floating Villages – DepartureDay 11
After breakfast at the hotel, you will travel through the countryside to Tonle Sap Lake. The Tonle Sap one of the world’s most productive bodies of fresh water. In the wet season, the Tonle Sap Lake swells to 12,000 km². During the dry half of the year, the lake shrinks to as small as 2,500 km², draining into the Tonle Sap River. Each year, millions of fish come to spawn in the seasonally flooded forest surrounding the lake, attracting a myriad of water birds as well as people, who have settled in villages along the shores and who live with the rhythm of the water.
Transfer to the airport for departure
This tour is built upon our firsthand knowledge & experience, offering you the best choices available. The price of this trip varies depending on the number of people in your party, dates of departure, and the availability of ground services. Please click on REQUEST A FREE QUOTE (above) and supply the required information, enabling us to send you your personalized quote within 24 hours!
Note: Amendments CAN be made to this tour to suit your requirements.
- Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
- Private Vehicles and Drivers
- Private English Speaking Guides (Other languages if available, upon request)
- Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
- Domestic flights within Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia
- Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
- Service Charge & Government Taxes
What’s Not Included?
- Your International Flights to and from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos
- Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos entry Visa Fees (contact us for further information)
- Personal Expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
- Any bank fees or charges at your end
- Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
- Personal Travel Insurance
- Tips for guides and drivers
"Indochina Pioneer – Great Tour Organizer"
I arranged a 28 day customized tour of Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand in January, 2016 the assistance of Indochina Pioneer. Lam, the principal of the company, was fabulous to deal with. He made many suggestions, booked all of our drivers and local tour guides, hotels, admission tickets, and even some restaurants. All of his choices were excellent, and when there was a need to make a last minute change, he was readily available. His tour included many extras that other tour organizers did not include, and he made sure that we visited off the beaten track places, took local tours that the big groups do not see, and that our hotels were carefully chosen to be very central and more of a local boutique nature. Lam never hesitated to make sure that our trip was going well as we travelled, and even made a point of meeting us at our stop in Hanoi and sent flowers to me on my birthday. The tour was priced very favorably compared to 3 others I contacted, and all of our guides were excellent. I would highly recommend this company and Lam in particular to anyone wanting to arrange a local tour or a detailed itinerary of Indochina.
Roger CAustralia, Adelaide
"Excellent 20 day tour of Myanmar with Indochina Pioneer"
This was our first trip to Myanmar . We have traveled to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos with Lam Duong from Indochina Pioneer in the past and having had such a great trip chose Lam to organise our Myanmar trip.
Lam chose and booked great hotels in Yangon, Kyaing Tong, Kalaw, Inle Lake , Bagan and Mandalay as well as organise excellent tour guides and drivers at those places. We wanted to do a short cruise on the Irrawaddy from Bagan to Mandalay and Lam selected Amara River Cruises which operate small extremely well founded wooden vessels. Our boat Amara 1 was excellent, comfortable and with friendly attentive staff who took us on excursions and provided us with superb food and service.
We also did a memorable balloon flight in Bagan with Balloons over Bagan which Lam organised.
Our tour organised by Lam in Myanmar was superb, we could not fault the guides and the overall balance of the itinerary.
Full marks Indochina Pioneer!
goodtravelfort lee, nj
"Fantastic 17 days in Vietnam and Cambodia"
The best thing about Duong Dai Lam (Lam) from Indochina Pioneer is that he listens. We are interested in history, architecture and food, and really appreciate good views.
Our trip provided these things and more:
– In every city we had gorgeous hotels with fabulous views, with a number of upgrades. Hotels appreciated Indochina Pioneer business.
– Halong Bay cruise was one of the highlights – small, comfortable boat with great food and most incredible landscapes. How did they get such a good chef for a 10 cabin boat?
– Lam suggested many off the beaten track attractions that helped us to understand and appreciate the country.
– Our tour guides in every place were knowledgeable about history and architecture, forthcoming with cultural and lifestyle information
– They were very flexible both in planning, and trip changes when the weather did not cooperate. For example – we don’t ride bicycles, so we ended up doing one day tour on the back of 2 scooters. Fun!!!
– Street food tour with Luu in Hanoi was fun, delicious and educational. We kept eating on the street throughout the trip. No food poisoning, just delicious food.
– Private cars were medium size SUVs immaculately maintained and drivers were safe.
I infrequently gush – see my other reviews. But this was one of our best trips, and the private tour ended up costing less than a comparable group tour booked from US.
"2nd Time….just as great"
This is the second time I have used Indochina Pioneer. They excelled again. This time, we had 5 Rotarians who had completed a project in Cambodia, and needed some holiday time afterwards. We booked an 8 night Hanoi/Sapa/Halong Bay tour.
Again, the Indochina Pioneer Team performed beyond my expectations. On time, knowledgeable and flexible at all times.
We had a small problem with our van after the 5 hour drive to Sapa. By breakfast the next day, we had a new van and driver to look after us for the rest of our journey.
We got a great upgrade on the Halong Bay cruise.
I can’t commend Indochina Pioneer highly enough. If you want further details, please PM me directly, if I go again in Indochina, it will only be with Indochina Pioneer.
"12 days in Myanmar"
Kata Tran has organised many holidays for me – in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. All excellent. She organised a 12 day trip to Myanmar in January 2016 with a few days each in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle. Great guides and drivers. Lovely hotels. Terrific boat trip from Mandalay to Bagan. Day trip to old colonial Maymyo. Highly recommended. Kata always listens carefully to what you want and is very flexible.
"First trip to Vietnam"
As this was our first trip to Vietnam we decided to us Indochina Pioneer-and Mr Lam provided us with a 17 day itinerary. Thank you for arranging a most relaxing holiday, and we enjoyed every minute with our guides, Mr Dong (Hanoi), Mr Thoung and driver Mr Hai (Hoi An-Hue) Mrs Yen from Ho Chi Minh City and Mr Tom from the Dragon Peal No 1. Their warmth, friendliness and good humour has made our trip most memorable. The guides all did an excellent job with their knowledge on places visited as well as the history of Vietnam. Our visit to Halong Bay was unfortunately very cold, but was still made enjoyable, and guests still participated in canoeing and visiting the floating fishing village. Although there were many highlights with the sounds, smells and overall busy day to day life especially in the markets, my favourite highlight was in Ho Chi Minh City with a park becoming one enormous flower market and the boats on the river covered in flowers ready to sell, all for the Tet festival. We wished we stayed a few extra nights to enjoy the Tet festivities. Yes I would definitely recommend Indochina Pioneer to anyone wishing to travel to Vietnam, and will use this company again.
It was great to have a relaxing vacation and indochina took
Care of everything. Loved Hanoi and Halong Bay!
"Fantastic trip amazing service"
Fantastic trip from start to finish. All our expectations were met and exceeded from the moment we booked the trip with Mr Lam to our last day.
We had one minor problem during our stay and it was sorted immediately with profession
And made our trip the most memorable holiday ever.
Mr Lam customised our trip to suit us and we loved all of our guides and drivers.
We were even lucky enough to be invited to the companies end of year party and got to meet everyone who made our holiday so special. I can’t recommend this company enough and that’s something coming from someone in the tourist industry. Well done indoctrination pioneer.
keith mUnited Kingdom
"Cycling Mekong Delta and sight seeing in Saigon"
Perhaps the best way to explore the Mekong Delta area. Can Tho is a lively overnight stop with well situated lovely hotel. All hotels selected by Indo China Pioneer are well situated but don’t expect western standards in hotels beyond Can Tho. Good combination of cycling and site seeing including boat and ferry trips, workshop visits with good choice of restaurant and roadside stops for fresh fruit.
However the route rarely left normal roads and didn’t appear to be as described in the brochure. Some quiet rural roads followed but others were quite busy, particularly in the vicinity of the small towns we cycled through.
We were concerned that we were not measured for our bikes on the first day which just arrived in the back of the minibus that collected us from our hotel. The frame size for my partner’s bike was much too large for her and it was fitted with a male shaped saddle which caused her considerable discomfort on the first day. The saddle was changed on Day 2 after she refused to continue the holiday with that particular bike at the end of day 1.
The guide did not appear to be completely clear of the route at times and we needed to complete an ‘about turn’ 3 times during the trek which may be why our route didn’t appear to be as described in the brochure. Indo China guides are very knowledgeable and helpful and know many local secret gems to visit but their spoken english can be difficult to follow at times even for me as a native English speaker. Indo China Pioneer specialise in providing tailor made tours for small groups down to 2 in number and flexibility in preparing a holiday programe to suit individual customers requests including the selection of the most suitable hotel using their wealth of local knowledge. Moderately priced boutique hotels are typically chosen.
"An amazing trip"
In my younger years I spent months backpacking on the cheap around Asia. I now have more money, less time and a family. I found Indochina Pioneer on-line and contacted Mr Lam for our recent trip to Cambodia. He was full of information, answered all of my many questions, suggested great ideas, incorporated my changes and organised all smoothly.
I wanted airport transfers and to organise hotels before we left. Mr Lam suggested a range of hotels to choose from all of which were good. Internal transfers and flights were also organised. We only wanted tours for Angkor Wat and The Killing Fields which Mr Lam arranged. Our other days were left free for us to choose what we wanted. The tour consisted of myself, my husband and twin sons which was perfect. The tour guides were knowledgeable and helpful, as were the drivers.
Mr Lam suggested we get a speed boat from Chau Doc, Vietnam to Phnom Penh up the Mekong River which was a great way to travel. The crocodile farm on the way was well worth the lunch stop.
I would recommend Indochina Pioneer as a great tour company for families. My in-laws are travelling with them later in the year. I am currently planning another trip to Laos using Indochina Pioneer again.
For someone who doesn’t like or do package tours having a private tour for my family was just perfect.