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; and the terraced rice fields and timeless villages. Experience Indochina on a unique adventure that adapts our activity to best fi t 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 three-night cruise on Vietnam’s magnificent Ha Long Bay, exploring 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. Aft er 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.
La Résidence Hôtel & Spa (B,L,D)
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)
A morning flight brings us to Hanoi, a beautiful city of colonial architecture and lilting pagodas. Step into the stilt home of Ho Chi Minh and visit One Pillar Pagoda, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s oldest university. Take a walk through the captivating Old Quarter, where merchants preside over everything from silk and sandals to roasted fish. This evening, attend a performance of traditional water puppetry.
InterContinental Westlake Hanoi (B,L,D)
After a morning to explore Hanoi further, drive to the World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay. Settle into your cabin aboard our private, traditional-style wooden junk and set sail beneath jagged karst formations.
Spend two days paddling in one of the most spectacular parts of the bay, dotted with thousands of tiny islands and fantastic limestone formations. Discover caves, remote lagoons, and pristine beaches sheltered by karst towers, and pull up on shore to explore on foot. Kayak to a floating village and get to know the everyday life and traditions of a timeless fishing community. We may have the chance to join in a ceremony at the temple or pay a visit to a floating school. Return to the junk in the late afternoons, and relax on deck amid magnificent views. Enjoy a cooking demonstration on board or gather for a memorable dinner in a limestone cave. (2-6 miles paddling daily, 2-4 hours)
After breakfast, disembark 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)
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)
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)
Borei Angkor Resort & Spa (B,L)
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 facesof 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.
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 $1,025 in 2013 and $900 in 2014. Airfare is not included. Airfare between Los Angeles and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and return from Siem Reap, Cambodia, is estimated at $1,700. Internal group airfare within Southeast Asia is estimated at $675 in 2013 and $725 in 2014.
GROUP SIZE: 8–15
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Trips rated as EASY to MODERATE are designed for travelers seeking both EASY and MODERATE trip activity levels. Trips rated EASY to MODERATE typically have easier rated walks/hikes/paddling with options for more moderate activity levels on some days.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.