- Day 1: Arrive in Bangkok
- Day 2: Bangkok Tour of Grand Palace and Wat Bo
- Day 3: Visit Ayutthaya & Fly to Chiang Mai
- Day 4: Elephant Owner For a Day (Group tour)
- Day 5: Chiang Mai Morning Tour – Fly to Ho Chi Minh City
- Day 6: Full day of Mekong Delta – Ben Tre Coconut Town
- Day 7: Ho Chi Minh City Tour – Fly to Phu Quoc Island
- Day 8: Phu Quoc Island – Beach Relaxation
- Day 9: Phu Quoc Island – Beach Relaxation
- Day 10: Fly to Hanoi & City Tour
- Day 11: Hanoi – Halong Bay – Caving and Kayaking in The Bay
- Day 12: Halong Bay – Hanoi
- Day 13: Hanoi – 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 BangkokDay 1
A warm greeting awaits at an International airport in Bangkok; our representative and driver will meet you in the arrivals lounge and transfer you to your hotel in downtown Bangkok. While every effort is made to have your room available upon arrival, check in time is at 02:00 pm; your room may or may not be ready before this time.
Overnight in Bangkok
Bangkok Tour of Grand Palace and Wat BoDay 2
After breakfast at the hotel, you start to discover Bangkok with your private tour guide and driver. A ride through interesting parts of Bangkok takes you to your first stop at the Golden Buddha. The statue, which can be disassembled into nine pieces, was housed in a wat in Ayutthaya until the mid-19th century, and its provenance from Ayutthaya excludes the possibility of it having been made after about 1750. Your next visit is to the Reclining Buddha.
The chapel and the reclining Buddha (Phra Buddhasaiyas,} were built by Rama III in 1832. The image of the reclining Buddha represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana and the end of all reincarnations. The posture of the image is referred to as Sihasaiyas, the posture of a sleeping or reclining lion.
After lunch, you will visit the Grand Palace. Probably the most visited and remembered landmark of Thailand, the Grand Palace in Bangkok is where every visitor must pay a visit at least once in their lifetime. The Grand Palace served as a significant royal residence until 1925 and is now used for ceremonial purposes only. Explore the Coronation Hall, Funeral Hall, and the famous Emerald Buddha.
Your trip continues with a long-tail boat ride along the canal to see Thai houses and typical rural life as well as a visit to the Temple of Dawn before ending your day.
Overnight in Bangkok
Visit Ayutthaya & Fly to Chiang MaiDay 3
After breakfast at the hotel, you drive north to Ayutthaya. Your first visit is to Wat Phu Khao Thong, originally built in 1387 by the second king of the Ayutthaya kingdom, an impressive monument in North-western part of Ayutthaya. When the Burmese took over Ayutthaya in 1569, the Burmese king built a Mon-style chedi (or pyramid) on top of the former temple to celebrate his victory over Ayutthaya and the Siamese.
Continue to the Ayutthaya Historical Park and visit the ancient palace ground. Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, once a royal temple lying beside the Grand Palace, was once the most significant temple during Ayutthaya period. Adjacent to Wat Phra Sri Sanphet is Viharn Phra Mongkolbopit, an impressive building that houses a large seated bronze Buddha image. Its rebuilt pristine hall was believed to be a replica of the old Assembly Hall of Ayutthaya.
After a delicious Thai lunch, you move on to Wat Lokaya Sutha to see the largest reclining Buddha of Ayutthaya at 8 meters high and 42 meters long. The Buddha image was made of brick and covered with plaster.
You continue to Wat Mahathat, a classic temple ruin of Ayutthaya and famous for the picturesque Buddha head engulfed by the Bodhi tree roots. The foundation size, remaining prangs, and towers attest the significance during its time. Late in the afternoon, you take your ride back to Bangkok. In the evening, you fly to Chiang Mai.
Upon arrival, you are welcomed by our local guide and driver. They will send you to the hotel in downtown Chiang Mai. Dinner is your own arrangement.
Overnight in Chiang Mai
Elephant Owner For a Day (Group tour)Day 4
Patara Elephant Farm invites you to hands-on experience on participating, sharing responsibilities and taking care of an elephant. “Elephant Owner for a Day” is a special program created for everyone to learn and interact with elephants as what an owner would do daily, during which time you are trained to approach your elephant correctly, know the elephant’s temperament, feed and check its health, learn about and take care of your own elephant, bathe and brush it in the river, learn how to ride on its neck, and communicate through different spoken commands. You will get a chance to bare-back riding to visit forest, waterfalls or local temples. The program is a specialized and meaningful activity to create trust and relationship between you and your elephant
With conservation philosophy “Extinction is Forever”, Patara Elephant Farm honored to encourage people to try, at least once in their lives, to experience this very special and sacred animal that should be treasured. Give yourself an opportunity to share the once-in-a-lifetime experience with the elephants; you will be touched by their beautiful hearts and will be brought closer to their special world.
Duration: Morning Session 7:30 am.-3:30 pm. (Include traveling time)
Suggestion: T-shirt, long pants, extra clothes, sandals or slippers, sunblock lotion, insect spray, swimming suit
The trip “Elephant Owner for a Day” is a specialized and meaningful day trip with happy elephants and their babies.
It’s a great day out for visitors who want to be with, learn, take care for elephants and riding elephant bareback as what’s an elephant caretaker would do daily to keep elephants healthy.
The farm welcomes all including children and those with disabilities
Overnight in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Morning Tour – Fly to Ho Chi Minh CityDay 5
The Chiang Mai temple tour is the perfect chance to sample the most famous and beautiful of the city’s 36 Buddhist temples (Wats), both inside the city walls and in the nearby countryside.
Start your Chiang Mai temple tour with a pick-up from your hotel in the city before the start of the tour. From there you’ll visit Wat Chedi, an ancient structure in Central Chiang Mai first constructed in 1411. The temple once rose over 278 feet (84 meters) above the city before it was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1545. A glance inside the temple to observe statues of guardian spirits that some say protect the temple to this day.
The tour will also ascend the rolling hills surrounding the Chiang Mai to experience the immaculate Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, perched high above the urban center near the summit of the peak of Doi Suthep. The final staircase leading to the site is adorned with the impressive body of the mythical dragon-headed serpent, or Naga, snaking its way down 306 steps. Over the course of the tour, gain first-hand insight into habits of the temples’ Buddhist monks as they go about their daily routines, plus plenty of opportunities to photograph historic environs of Chiang Mai and the majestic views from the foothills surrounding the city.
After morning tour, you are transferred to Chiang Mai International Airport. In the early afternoon, you fly to Ho Chi Minh City.
Flight lands in Tan Son Nhat International Airport. You are welcomed by our local guide and driver. After greetings, you are driven to the hotel in downtown.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City
Full day of Mekong Delta – Ben Tre Coconut TownDay 6
After breakfast and check out, your private tour guide will pick you up and take you to the heart of the Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta, popularly known as the “rice bowl” of Vietnam, is famous for its vast rice fields, numerous waterways, and beautiful landscapes.
On the way, about 1.5 hours into the drive, you will stop at Ben Tre town where you will embark on a boat trip on the Ben Tre river exploring the coconut villages and observe various local industries along the way. You will see how bricks & sleeping mats are made, as well as visit a coconut workshop. You will also take a trip through rice and vegetable fields by motor cart (Xe Loi), and return to the docks for lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch, your journey will continue through the fields and towns of the Mekong to come back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City Tour – Fly to Phu Quoc IslandDay 7
You start the city tour to explore great architectures in one of our largest cities in Vietnam.
The architecture of Ho Chi Minh City is a splendid mix of Vietnam’s historical heritage, from French colonial villas to modern steel and glass monuments.
The top architectural sights for tourists date back to the time when Saigon, the “Pearl of Indochina” was the capital of French Indochina. More has been added to the cultural heritage since then and we see interesting times ahead in terms of modern architecture.
Based on the Hotel de Ville in Paris (Paris City Hall), Saigon’s City Hall was finished in 1908. It proudly sits at the beginning of Nguyen Hue Street, showing off a beautiful building style. Nowadays it harbors the main office of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee and is closed to the public.
The Central Post Office is a popular tourist spot and THE place in HCMC to send postcards from. And of course, a famous monument among travelers for its beautiful paintings and architecture, finished 1891 by Gustave Eiffel, a splendid French engineer who also built the Eiffel Tower.
The Reunification Palace is an important historical landmark and a popular tourist attraction because the day the building’s main gate was broken in 1975 marks the end of the American War. The palace was designed by Ngo Viet Thu for South Vietnam’s former President.
The Saigon Opera House is also a famous landmark and popular site for tourists in Ho Chi Minh City. It was built in 1897 by the French architect Eugene Ferret and is open to visitors during events.
The architecture in Ho Chi Minh City evolved from the colonial time, over the period of South Vietnam and the reunification until today. More skyscrapers and other interesting, modern monuments are in the planning and in the making, so you witness the development of an interesting skyline.
After lunch, you are transferred to Tan Son Nhat Airport. In the afternoon, you fly to Phu Quoc Island.
Upon arrival, you are welcomed by a private driver. He will take you to your beach resort. After checking in, the rest of the day will be at leisure, perhaps relaxing at the stunning beach. Phu Quoc Island is an undiscovered paradise in the warm turquoise waters of the Gulf of Thailand, about 50 km from the Vietnamese mainland. In Phu Quoc, you’ll find beautiful beaches, an untouched natural environment, a relaxed atmosphere, friendly locals and fantastic scuba diving.
Overnight in Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc Island – Beach RelaxationDay 8
Today is a free day. You can visit the local market, take a scuba diving class, bicycle around the island or just relax at the hotel beach.
Overnight in Phu Quoc
Phu Quoc Island – Beach RelaxationDay 9
Another free day. You may want to enjoy some more beach time, or perhaps play a game of water polo.
Overnight in Phu Quoc Island
Fly to Hanoi & City TourDay 10
Our driver will see you in the lobby of the hotel. He will send you back Phu Quoc Domestic Terminal. Today, you fly to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam.
Upon arrival, you are welcomed by our Vietnamese guide and driver. After greetings, they will send you to a local restaurant in downtown for a light lunch.
You 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, you start the city tour with a visit to the Soviet-style Ba Dinh Square where Ho Chi Minh read out the declaration of the nation’s independence in 1945. We visit the museum dedicated to Ho Chi Minh before passing through his Mausoleum; escorted by the soldiers in full regalia (you will be asked to remove hats if entering, and no shorts or vests are allowed either). As you leave, you will be able to walk through the gardens of the Presidential Palace before seeing “Uncle Ho’s” house; the humble dwelling he built (based on a traditional Vietnamese stilt house) and where he lived for the last ten years of his life.
We will then continue to the One Pillar Pagoda and the 900-year old Temple of Literature, the principal Vietnamese Confucian sanctuary, and its historical center of learning. Made up of five courtyards, this is one of the few remnants of the original city.
Visit Ngoc Son Temple before attending a water puppet show, a typical art unique to North Vietnam, with traditions dating back over a thousand years.
We finish the day with a cyclo (rickshaw) tour of the Old Quarter, where each street is named after the trade (or guild) that has carried on there for centuries such as Hang Bac (Silver Street) and Hang Trong (Drum Skin Street). The trade spills onto the street, mixing with the herbal scents for sale and the atmosphere is lively and sociable.
Overnight in Hanoi
Meals: (Breakfast/Light Lunch/_)
Hanoi – Halong Bay – Caving and Kayaking in The BayDay 11
After breakfast and check out, the luxury shuttle bus and driver from cruise company will pick you up and take you through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta to the legendary Halong Bay (travel time approximately 3 hours).
You will arrive at the docks around midday, and you will board a traditional wooden junk boat for a relaxing and unforgettable cruise around the breathtaking and unique limestone mountain islands. A sumptuous local seafood lunch will be served as you cruise this spectacular bay.
You will visit one of the famous caves of Halong Bay, and there will be a stop at Ti Top Mountain, where you will climb to the top for a stunning panoramic view of Halong Bay.
Take part in a cooking demonstration on board. It is then followed by a scrumptious dinner. For the night activities, you can try some squid fishing, unwind on the top deck and enjoy a glass of cocktail. Then return to your cabin for a good night sleep.
(Note: Program may differ slightly base on cruise ships)
Overnight on board
Halong Bay – HanoiDay 12
In the morning, enjoy breakfast on board your junk boat as you take in the scenic treasures of the bay. There will be an opportunity for you to kayak on the bay’s placid waters to access some of the sites inaccessible by the larger boats, including a cave.
Lunch will be provided onboard before arrival back at the dock, where you will be picked up by a luxury van & driver from Cruise Company and taken back to Hanoi.
Overnight in Hanoi
Meals: (Light breakfast/Brunch/_)
Hanoi – DepartureDay 13
After breakfast and a leisurely morning on your own, you will check out by midday as this mark the end of your 13 day trip to Vietnam & Thailand. Your private driver will pick you up and take you back to Noi Bai International airport for your departure flight home.
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Luxury boutique hotels
Luxury Boutique Hotels
Bangkok: The Aetas Bangkok/ Superior room www.aetashotels.com
Chiang Mai: Rimping Village/ Superior room www.rimpingvillage.com
Ho Chi Minh City: Alagon D’Antique Hotel& Spa/ Deluxe window www.alagonhotels.com
Phu Quoc: Cassia Cottage Resort/ Garden Cottage cassiacottage.com
Hanoi: Lapis Hanoi Hotel/ Superior room thelapishotel.com
Halong Bay: Huong Hai Sealife Cruise/ Suite balcony huonghaisealifecruise.com
Bangkok: Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn/ Superior room www.eastingrandsathorn.com
Chiang Mai: Le Meridien Chiang Mai hotel/ Deluxe room http://www.lemeridienchiangmai.com/
Ho Chi Minh City: Hotel Des Arts Saigon/ Deluxe King https://www.hoteldesartssaigon.com/
Phu Quoc Island: Salinda Premium Resort and Spa/ Deluxe Hill View www.salindaresort.com
Hanoi: Hotel de L’ Opera/ Deluxe room www.hoteldelopera.com
Halong: Huong Hai Sealife Legend Cruise/ Suite balcony www.sealifegroup.com
Special Benefits Added:
- Free visa approval letter
- One free local sim card
- Special secret souvenir created by Indochina Pioneer
- Accommodation with daily breakfast at selected hotels
- Private Vehicles and Drivers
- Private English Speaking Guides (Other languages if available, upon request)
- 4 flights within Vietnam and Thailand
- Airport Taxes and Fuel charges
- Entrance fees for all mentioned sights visited
- Service Charge & Government Taxes
- Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner)
What’s Not Included?
- Your International Flights
- Entry Visa Fees (contact us for further information)
- Any bank fees or charges at your end
- Meals other than those mentioned in the itinerary
- Tips for guides and drivers
- Personal Expenses (such as laundry, telephone, drinks, etc.)
"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!
"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.
"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.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
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!