From the temples of Angkor to the karst peaks of Ha Long Bay, experience the diverse landscapes and intriguing cultural heritage of Indochina. Immerse yourself in this beautiful land in many different ways: glide past floating villages on the Mekong in a sampan boat, soak up the atmosphere in ancient temples, and spend two full days among the astonishing Khmer sites of Angkor. Along the way, get acquainted with local culture during a water-puppet show, a cooking lesson, and visits to artisan villages.
Get an insider's view of Angkor Wat on a private tour with a Khmer scholar.
Practice tai chi on the deck of an intimate traditional-style junk sailing vessel as the sun rises over Ha Long Bay.
Explore the farming villages of the Mekong Delta via xe loi, a Vietnamese bicycle rickshaw.
Experience the contrast between charming Hanoi and the more cosmopolitan Ho Chi Minh City on private, guided tours.
Itinerary - 10 Days
Day 1 — Arrive Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Land in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Vietnam’s pulsating urban hub. Upon arrival, transfer to your five-star hotel in the city center. Caravelle Saigon
Day 2 — Ho Chi Minh City
Travel through the diverse eras of Ho Chi Minh City's recent history on a private tour. Uncover traces of the nearly 100-year-long French colonial period on visits to buildings like the Opera House, the Hôtel de Ville, and the ornate Central Post Office designed by Gustave Eiffel. Then time warp to the 1960s at the Reunification Palace, the one-time presidential residence of South Vietnam, left untouched since the city fell to the North. Caravelle Saigon (B, L)
Day 3 — Mekong Delta/Ho Chi Minh City
Spend a day in the Mekong Delta, a fertile region of rice paddies and fruit orchards known as the “rice bowl” of Vietnam. Cruise from Cai Lay deep into the countryside and disembark in a farming village to explore the tropical landscape by xe loi, or bicycle rickshaw. Float along the area waterways on a traditional wooden sampan boat before visiting a family home for a lunch of traditional Mekong specialties. Return to Ho Chi Minh City later this afternoon. Caravelle Saigon (B, L, D)
Day 4 — Ho Chi Minh City/Hanoi
Venture into the famous Cu Chi tunnels, a network of underground passageways used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The tunnels connected schools, residents, and hospitals, creating an intricate subterranean city. After emerging from the bunkers, transfer to the airport and catch a flight to Hanoi. Settle into your colonial-era hotel and discover the leafy lanes of the French Quarter on your own tonight. Hotel Metropole Hanoi (B)
Day 5 — Hanoi
Stroll along tree-lined boulevards, past serene lakes and charming pagodas as you discover atmospheric Hanoi. See the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh on a visit to the imposing mausoleum erected in his honor, and stop at the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university. Set out on a private walking tour of the lively Old Quarter, where vendors hawk garments and trinkets and cooks dish up exotic street fare as motorbikes whiz by. This evening, head to the theater for a captivating water-puppetry performance. Hotel Metropole Hanoi (B, L)
Day 6 — Hanoi/Ha Long Bay
Drive to mystical Ha Long Bay, named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its spectacular karst geology. Settle into your deluxe cabin aboard an intimate traditional-style junk and set sail on blue-green waters. Marvel at the bay's magnificent limestone islands as you enjoy lunch on deck. Navigate the stalactite- and stalagmite-decorated hollows of Tien Ong Cave, and visit the fishermen of Cua Van, a floating village on the bay. As the sun goes down, cook up local specialties during a class given by the boat’s chef. Halong Violet (B, L, D)
Day 7 — Ha Long Bay/Hanoi/Siem Reap, Cambodia
Rise early to catch a dazzling sunrise and soak up the bay’s serenity during a tai chi session on deck. On sandy Ti Top Island, relax on the beach or climb to a scenic vista overlooking the bay. Return to Hanoi and catch a flight to charming Siem Reap, Cambodia, located at the gates of the famous Angkor temple complex. Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor (B)
Day 8 — Angkor
Enjoy two full days to explore the immense Angkor Archaeological Park, a World Heritage site spanning nearly 100,000 acres and once home to several capitals of the Khmer Empire. Visit the haunting, tree-root-shrouded temple of Ta Prohm, a largely unaltered 12th-century stone structure that is slowly becoming one with the Cambodian jungle. Travel beyond the main complex to the intricately carved, pink-sandstone temple of Banteay Srei. In the afternoon, wander the narrow passageways that weave through the immense walled city of Angkor Thom. Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor (B, L)
Day 9 — Angkor
Your tour of the temple complex culminates at the renowned Angkor Wat. This extraordinary 12th-century Khmer temple is one of the largest religious buildings ever constructed. Join a Khmer scholar for a private tour and examine the architecture, artistry, and symbolism of this remarkable site, gaining insights into the civilization that created it. Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor (B, D)
Day 10 — Siem Reap/Depart
This morning head to Artisans Angkor and observe craftsmen practicing age-old Khmer arts and crafts techniques. Browse the on-site market for traditional stone carvings, silks, and other handicrafts. Transfer to the Siem Reap airport and catch your overnight flight home. (B)
About Private Expeditions
National Geographic Private Expeditions are specially crafted itineraries designed for independent travelers that combine guided excursions, fascinating insights into culture and wildlife, and top accommodations. Simply select a trip and decide whom you'd like to travel with and when you want to travel. We'll take care of the rest.
October - December 2017 January - March 2018 October - December 2018
Prices are per person, double occupancy and are subject to availability. Single traveler prices are available upon request.
Internal flights between Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Siem Reap are an additional $550 (subject to change). International airfare to Ho Chi Minh City and return from Siem Reap is not included in the expedition cost.
A holiday surcharge may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals.
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.