Trip Details

 

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.

Trip Highlights

  • Kayak from pristine beaches to limestone caves and floating villages on Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay.
  • Go biking in Hue, Vietnam, and in the Cambodian countryside; ride an elephant; and trek to a Laotian hill tribe village.
  • Explore four very different UNESCO World Heritage sites in three different countries: Hue, Ha Long Bay, Louangphrabang, and Angkor.
  • Get to know the local people during meals, ceremonies, and visits to schools and homes.

Itinerary - 13 Days

Day 1 — Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

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)

Day 2 — Ho Chi Minh City/Hue

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.
La Résidence Hôtel & Spa (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Hue

Explore the Imperial City and the citadel, and ride a bike past dragon boats and long-tailed canoes on the Perfume River to Thien Mu Pagoda. Continue cycling into 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. Later, visit the tomb of Tu Duc and the Tu Hieu Pagoda, bustling with monks and students. (6-8 miles bicycling, 1-2 hours)
La Résidence Hôtel & Spa (B,L,D)

Days 4 & 5 — Hanoi

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. Later, meet with the director of a unique art gallery to learn about contemporary arts in Vietnam. Discover the city’s restaurants on your own tonight.
InterContinental Westlake Hanoi (B,L,D; B,L)

Days 6 & 7 — Ha Long Bay

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)

Day 8 — Louangphrabang, Laos

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)

Day 9 — Louangphrabang

Glide along the Mekong on a traditional boat to the ancient Pak Ou caves, cluttered with standing wooden Buddha figures. Then head through rice fields for a picnic lunch beneath Kuang Sy waterfall. On our return, stop by villages to watch artisans plying their traditional craft s. Tonight, join a local family for a Buddhist Baci ceremony followed by dinner in their home.
Villa Santi Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Louangphrabang

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)

Day 11 — Louangphrabang/Siem Reap, Cambodia

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)

Days 12 & 13 — Angkor/Siem Reap

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)

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About Adventures

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.

Dates

2014
  • Sep 27 - Oct 09, 2014
  • Oct 18 - 30, 2014 (waitlist only)
  • Oct 25 - Nov 06, 2014
  • Nov 01 - 13, 2014 (waitlist only)
  • Nov 15 - 27, 2014
  • Dec 01 - 13, 2014
2015
  • Jan 10 - 22, 2015
  • Jan 24 - Feb 05, 2015 (waitlist only)
  • Mar 07 - 19, 2015 (waitlist only)
  • Mar 22 - Apr 03, 2015
  • Sep 20 - Oct 02, 2015
  • Oct 04 - 16, 2015
  • Oct 18 - 30, 2015
  • Nov 01 - 13, 2015
  • Nov 15 - 27, 2015
  • Dec 19 - 31, 2015

Trip Cost

2014

$6,195

2015

$6,395

Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $900 in 2014 and $1,100 in 2015. 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: 8–15

See special terms and conditions for this adventure.

Activity Level

Easy to Moderate

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.

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