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 Hûe’ and among the ancient Khmer temples of Cambodia. Walk the historic streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. 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’ beautiful Luang Prabang. Then cap off the adventure among the spectacular temples of Angkor.
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) 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)
Go on a walking tour past the city's famous sites, including the old Saigon Post Office, Reunification Palace, and Chinatown. Then fly to Hue—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 Residence Hotel & Spa Hue (B,L,D)
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)
La Residence Hotel & Spa Hue (B,L)
After breakfast, we fly to Hanoi, a beautiful city of colonial architecture and lilting pagodas. Explore the captivating Old Quarter by rickshaw, 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. Visit the Temple of Literature—Vietnam’s first university—and 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 into one of
the most spectacular parts of the bay. Discover “tunnel lakes,”
remote lagoons, and sandy beaches, and pull up on shore to
explore on foot. Kayak to the remains of a floating village and then take a swim or
relax on deck this afternoon. (2–6 miles paddling, 2–4 hours)
Indochina Sails Junk (B,L,D daily)
After breakfast, drive back to Hanoi and fly to Luang Prabang. A World Heritage site, the city 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 secluded resort, located just outside the bustle of town.
Kiridara Hotel (B,L,D)
Spend the day visiting 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.
Kiridara Hotel (B,L,D)
After breakfast, we travel by private mini-van to the village of Ban Nong Heo. On arrival, take time to discover this charming Khmu village, with its traditional houses, water buffalo and ducks walking around, and the farmers and master blacksmiths dealing with their daily tasks. Your local guide will take you for an easy hike in the countryside, passing through hill forests and plantations, with nice viewpoints along the way. Continue to Ban Thapene, a village lying at a butterfly park where we'll stop for a lunch and an interesting tour by the owner to hear more about Lao’s fauna and flora, as well as nature conservation and education projects in the surrounding communities. Take a rest or have a stroll around handicraft village Ban Thapene before returning to Luang Prabang. (2–4 miles hiking, 2-3 hours)
Kiridara Hotel (B,L)
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 transfer to the hotel. There will be time to relax or swim at the pool before dinner at the hotel.
Shinta Mani Shack resort (B,L,D)
This morning, explore one of the most ancient temple sites in the region: the Roluos Group. Bike around the impressive Bakong—a 9th-century temple—followed by Preah Ko and Lolei, which today houses a small monastery. Continue cycling in the countryside and make a stop at local house to enjoy snacks and meet the locals. Later on, visit the ancient Ta Prohm Monastery, where immense branches have taken root in the stones—hence the “Jungle Temple” nickname. In the afternoon, we visit the Great City of Angkor Thom, and its famous Bayon temple, Elephant Terrace, and Leper King of the 12th and 13th centuries. The following day, rise early to enjoy a sunrise over the incredible temple of Angkor Wat, a world heritage site with that was erected in the 12th century in honor of Vishnu. We then explore Preah Khan Temple. Later, transfer to the airport in Siem Reap for your flight home. (Day 12: 4-5 miles bicycling, 1-2 hours)
Shinta Mani Resort (B,L,D; B,L)
National Geographic Active Expeditions 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.
Prices are per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,200 in 2018 and $1,300 in 2019. Airfare to Ho Chi Minh City and return from Siem Reap, and airfare within Southeast Asia are not included in the expedition cost. The group flights within Southeast Asia are $725 (subject to change).
GROUP SIZE: 8–16
See special terms and conditions for this expedition.
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. In Ha Long Bay, we will paddle 2–4 hours per day (2–6 miles). On cycling excursions, we will bike 1–2 hours per day (4–8 miles).
Click here for a description of all activity levels.
We will stay ten nights in comfortable hotels and two nights in a traditional wooden junk (sailboat).
Call to speak with an adventure specialist about this trip.