The allure of Southeast Asia is in the unexpected blend of stunning pagodas and romantic colonial architecture; the colorful cacophony of market streets where silks and silver are sold next to cilantro and roasted fish; the terraced rice fields and timeless villages. Experience Indochina on a unique adventure that adapts our activity to best fit each location. Bike through the garden districts of Hue and among the ancient Khmer temples of Cambodia. Walk the historic streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). Board a traditional-style Chinese junk for a two-night cruise on Vietnam’s magnificent Ha Long Bay, discovering the karst landscape by kayak. Go hiking and explore caves and waterfalls in the jungles surrounding Laos’s beautiful Louangphrabang. Then cap off the adventure among the spectacular temples of Angkor.
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and check into our hotel. After time to relax or explore the city, meet for an orientation and a welcome dinner.
Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon (D)
Set out on a city tour, visiting the old Saigon Post Office, Notre
Dame Cathedral, Reunification Palace, and Chinatown. Then fly to Hue, the capital of the Nguyen dynasty from 1802 until 1945, where our home is a former French colonial governor’s mansion on the banks of the Perfume River.
This morning, ride a bike past dragon boats and long-tailed canoes on the Perfume River to the leafy Phu Mong District. Our path winds among gardens and stately homes to Tha Om, a garden house where a delicious lunch of Hue specialties awaits. Then return to the center of Hue to explore the Imperial City and the citadel. (6-8 miles bicycling, 1-2 hours)
After a free morning, we fly to Hanoi, a beautiful city of colonial architecture and lilting pagodas. Take a walk through the captivating Old Quarter, where merchants preside over everything from silk and sandals to roasted fish. If you wish, attend an evening performance of traditional water puppetry before dinner. The next morning, trace the life of Ho Chi Minh at his mausoleum and his traditional stilt house. Step into One Pillar Pagoda, which dates back to 1049, and visit the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university. Discover the city’s restaurants on your own tonight.
InterContinental Westlake Hanoi (B,L,D; B,L)
Take a morning drive to the World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay, where our private traditional-style wooden junk awaits. Set sail
into waters dotted with tiny islands and fantastic karst formations.
After a kayak lesson the next day, venture out into one of
the most spectacular parts of the bay. Discover “tunnel lakes,”
remote lagoons, and pristine beaches, and pull up on shore to
explore on foot. Kayak to a floating village and get to know the
everyday life and traditions of its people, and season permitting,
visit with the students at a floating school. Take a swim or just
relax on deck this afternoon. (2–6 miles paddling, 2–4 hours)
Syrena Junk (B,L,D daily)
After breakfast, drive back to Hanoi and fly to Louangphrabang. A World Heritage site, Louangphrabang is a breathtaking combination of Buddhist temples and charming colonial buildings nestled in jungle-covered hills at the junction of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers. Check into our hotel, a renovated royal mansion in the historic quarter of town.
Villa Santi Hotel (B,L,D)
Spend the day visitingt some of the city’s many shrines, including Wat Xieng, Wat May, and Wat Visoun. Tonight, join a local family for a Buddhist Baci ceremony followed by dinner in their home.
Villa Santi Hotel (B,L,D)
Set off on an elephant ride through the forests along the Nam Khan River, followed by a boat ride to the Tad Sae waterfalls, weather permitting. This afternoon, trek into the hills to a Khmu village and experience firsthand the culture and everyday life of one of the Laotian hill tribes. (3-4 miles hiking, 1-2 hours)
Villa Santi Hotel (B,L,D)
Rise early to catch an enchanting sight of hundreds of saffron-robed monks walking silently through town to collect offerings. After breakfast, visit Wat Xieng Thong, a temple whose swooping, overlapping roofs shelter a treasure trove of Buddhist and royal artifacts. Fly to Siem Reap and get introduced to the legacy of the Khmer Empire on a cycling excursion to some of the earliest Khmer temples: Bakong, Preah Ko, and Lolei. Ride on into the countryside, stopping at a local home to enjoy home-baked Khmer pastries with the bakers themselves. (4-5 miles bicycling, 1-2 hours)
Victoria Angkor Resort (B,L,D)
Encounter the legendary temple of Angkor Wat, covering nearly 500 acres with its extraordinary sculptures and stupas. Later, examine the 1,000-year-old rose-colored carvings at the Hindu temple of Banteay Srei. Venture into Ta Prohm, whose temples remain engulfed in the coiling roots of the forest. The next day, explore the ancient city of Angkor Thom. See the colossal faces of the Bayon Temple and visit the Terrace of the Leper King and the Baphuon Temple. Later, transfer to the airport in Siem Reap for your flight home.
Victoria Angkor Resort (B,L,D; B)
National Geographic Adventures are unique, active itineraries for intrepid travelers that combine spectacular places, cultural interaction, and physical challenge. You'll explore fascinating, off-the-beaten-path places with top guides, and wherever possible, meet National Geographic experts in the field.
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room add $1,100. International airfare to Ho Chi Minh City and return from Siem Reap and airfare within Southeast Asia is not included in the adventure cost. The group flights within Southeast Asia are $725 (subject to change).
GROUP SIZE: 8–16
See special terms and conditions for this adventure.
On kayaking excursions, we will paddle from 2 to 4 hours per day (2 to 6 miles), combined with time to relax or hike. On bicycling excursions, we will bike from 1 to 2 hours per day (4 to 8 miles). Vehicle support is provided on hikes and while biking. Boat support is provided while kayaking. While there is no sustained hiking on this trip, there is ample walking in cities and over uneven terrain in villages and at temple sites. We will stay 10 nights in comfortable hotels and 2 nights in a traditional wooden junk (sailboat).
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
Call to speak with an Adventure specialist about this trip.