Expat Holidays Thailand

Highlights of Indochina

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  • Vietnam: Hanoi. La Pagode Ngoc-son " La pagode de la Montagne de Jade" sur le lac Hoan-Kiem," le lac de l' EpŽe restituŽe". Au petit matin la population s'y rend aussi bien pour prier que pour effectuer des excercices de gymnastiques
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  • VIETNAM NORD BAIE DE HALONG ELLE S'ETEND SUR QUELQUES 1550 KM2 DANS LA PROVINCE DE QUANG NINH ET COMPTE PLUS DE 3000 ILOTS . Y NAVIGUER SUR UNE JONQUE EST UN PRIVILEGE DONT ON NE SE LASSE PAS.
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This 2 week Indochina Highlights tour includes the main highlights of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia: the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, the charming and ancient town of Hoi An, the fascinating Old Quarter in Hanoi, the natural heritage site of Halong Bay, Luang Prabang and finally the famous temples of Angkor.  This itinerary is recommended to first-time visitors to the region, who wish to explore all of Indochina’s highlights in 2 weeks.

Route: Ho Chi Minh City – Mekong Delta – Cai Be – Hoi An – Hanoi – Halong Bay – Luang Prabang – Siem Reap
Holiday highlights
  • Chu Chi Tunnels
  • Ho Chi Minh city tour
  • Cruise through Mekong Delta
  • Cai Be floating market
  • Hoi An ancient town
  • Hanoi city tour
  • Halong Bay overnight cruise
  • Luang Prabang city tour
  • Angkor Wat and ancient ruins in Siem Reap
Brief itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Ho Chi Minh City

Day 2: Chu Chi Tunnels and Ho Chi Minh city tour

Day 3: Cruise through Mekong Delta to Cai Be

Day 4: Visit floating market, fly to Denang and transfer to Hoi An

Day 5: Explore Hoi An

Day 6: Fly to Hanoi and walking city tour

Day 7: Hanoi sightseeing

Day 8: Transfer to Halong Bay and overnight on a cruise

Day 9: Transfer to Hanoi and fly to Luang Prabang

Day 10: Luang Prabang city tour

Day 11: Mekong river cruise and visit Pak Ou caves

Day 12: Fly to Siem Reap

Day 13: Angkor Wat and temples tour

Day 14: Floating village tour and more Angkor ruins

Day 15: Departure

Recommended for

Couples, solo travelers, families.

DAY 1 / HO CHI MINH CITY ARRIVAL

Arrival in Ho Chi Minh City – the former capital of French Indochina, once known as Saigon. Welcome by your local guide and transfer to hotel. The room is at your disposal from 13:30. The balance of day is free at your leisure.

Meals this day: none

DAY 2 / CHU CHI TUNNELS AND HO CHI MINH CITY

In the morning, depart to Cu Chi, where you will visit the amazing tunnel network built by Vietnamese fighters during the Vietnam War with America. Return to Ho Chi Minh City in the afternoon. Afterwards, set out on a city tour of the former capital of French Indochina, once known as Saigon. Historic landmarks include the Old Saigon post office, Notre Dame Cathedral, Opera House and bustling China Town with its famous Thien Hau Pagoda and Cho Lon Market.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 3 / HO CHI MINH CITY – MEKONG DELTA – CAI BE

Today we depart from Ho Chi Minh City to explore Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta (130km – 2.5 – 3 hour driving). Pick up at the Phong Nam brick kiln, where bricks are still painstakingly made by hand. Get on boat and will cruise along the Chet Say river (a branch of the Mekong) and stop off at various local workplaces to give you a picture of how the local economy works, including coconut activated charcoal factory where coconut shell is put into high heat kiln to produce coconut charcoal; a coconut processing workshop, where you can sample fresh coconut and see how every single part of this versatile nut is turned into food and other products. Then the boat will cruise through the small canal, discover the local life. The boat will then stop at a quiet village where you can have a short walk to experience real Delta village life, visit a mat weaving house, where straw mats are woven using a hand loom – you can even have a go at weaving yourself before boarding your xe loi (a kind of motorized rickshaw) or biking into the village where you can see farm, rice field and vegetable plan before stopping at a local house for a delicious and filling lunch, featuring such local specialties as elephant-ear fish and river shrimp, washed down with some cold drinks or beers. It’s time to board a sampan for a relaxing trip along narrow canals. Take boat back to Pier. Back to the main road for a transfer to your lovely resort in Cai Be town. Check in your room and spend the night at leisure.

Meals this day: breakfast, lunch

DAY 4 / FLOATING VILLAGE VISITING – DANANG – HOI AN

After breakfast, start your visit of Cai Be colorful floating market, cruising among local barges full of fruits and vegetables… Cruising further, your sampan will bring you to see some local home factories to discover traditional rice paste making, rice popcorn, coco candies, and longans drying process. Then, back to the hotel to check out and transfer directly to Ho Chi Minh City Airport where you will take a brief flight to Danang. Welcome by local guide on arrival and transfer to your hotel in Hoi An.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 5 / TRA QUE VEGETABLE VILLAGE – HOI AN TOWN

In the morning, take a leisurely cycle journey (transfer by cyclo or by private vehicle are also the options) through the rural scenery of Hoi An to a small vegetable planting village located on the banks of Tra Que Lagoon (3 miles or 15 minutes cycling from Hoi An). Tra Que Village is known for its special aromatic herbs. Join in with local people in their daily work of planting and watering vegetables. Then learn to cook some local dishes before dining on them for lunch. Return to Hoi An to visit Hoi An town, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. Set out to explore the quaint cobblestone streets of the town with more than two-century-old Chinese houses. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung Hung Chinese-style trading house.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 6 / HOI AN – HANOI

Spend the morning free at leisure until you are transferred to the airport for the flight to Hanoi. Room in Hoi An is at disposal until noon only. On arrival at Hanoi airport, welcome by your local guide and drive to your hotel for check in. After a short rest, take a walking tour of the city’s traditional 36 streets in the Old Quarter and the Hoan Kiem Lake vicinity with ancient Ngoc Son Temple.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 7 / HANOI

Full day tour of Vietnam’s capital city, including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (closed on Monday and Friday), the traditional stilt house and the One-Pillar Pagoda. After that, tour to Vietnam’s first university – the thousand-year-old Temple of literature. In the afternoon, visit the Ethnology Museum (closed on Monday) and one of the most typical pagoda of Hanoi. In the evening, enjoy the traditional water puppet show.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 8 / HANOI – HALONG BAY

In the morning, leave for Halong Bay passing through large rice fields in the Red River Delta and at noon arrive at Halong Bay. Board a beautiful boat for an overnight cruise on Halong Bay with fresh seafood meals.

Meals this day: breakfast, lunch, dinner

DAY 9  / HA LONG – HANOI – LUANG PRABANG

You are advised to set the alarm clock to enjoy a spectacular dawn over the bay. After breakfast on board, return to the pier at noon and travel back to Hanoi Airport for the flight to Luang Prabang – an UNESCO Heritage City. Welcome on arrival and transfer to your hotel for check in. Spend the rest of evening free at leisure.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 10 / LUANG PRABANG

Option: Tak Bat – the morning ritual of the Luang Prabang local In the early morning from around 5.30 to 6.30am, you will be taken by your guide to Vat Nong temple to witness the Tak Bat ceremony (procession of monks). During the ceremony, devoted locals stand on the sidewalk bearing food in their arms which they offer to the monks as they walk by in a procession of orange robes. Be drawn deep into the culturally significant moments as they take place in a peaceful and respectful ambiance with no words exchanged between the monks and the locals making the offerings. As a guest witnessing the rituals, you are recommended not to wear revealing clothing and you should take photos from a distance to show your respect.

Visit this city found on the left bank of the Mekong River. Previously a religious capital, Luang Prabang showcases more than 100 temples, considered amongst the most beautiful in Laos. In particular, you will discover: Vat Xieng Thong or Temple of the Royal City – a vast collection of sacred buildings and the most beautiful temple in the city. Vat May – built at the end of the 18th century, a capped sanctuary featuring a five sided roof surmounted by three parasols. Vat Visoun – the oldest temple in the city with its wooden windows inspired by the Khmer Temple of Vat Phou. The Royal Palace, which is today the National Museum. At the end of the afternoon, climb Mount Phousi Mount to admire the sunset and then discover the H’mong Night Market on your way back to your hotel.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 11 / LUANG PRABANG

In the morning, go to the pier and embark on a cruise along the Mekong River. Visit the sacred caves of Pak Ou, which shelter hundreds of Buddha statuettes. After the caves enjoy home-cooked lunch at nearby village. Return to Luang Prabang and transfer to Khuang Sy Waterfall on a road bordered by villages and rice fields. Time is allocated to swim in the waterfalls (weather permitting) before travelling back to Luang Prabang . Return to your hotel in Luang Prabang in the afternoon.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 12 / LUANG PRABANG – SIEM REAP

Free time at leisure until you are transferred to airport for onward flight to Siem Reap. You will be welcomed at the airport and taken to the hotel for check in with remainder of day is free at your leisure.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 13 / ANGKOR WAT AND TEMPLES TOUR

Today you will discover the incredible temple of Angkor Wat, a world heritage site with soaring towers and extraordinary bas reliefs. It is one of the most amazing man made monuments in the world, erected in the 12th century (1112-1152) in honour of Vishnu. In the afternoon, leave for Banteay Srei where a most impressive jewel of Khmer art exists. Erected in the 10th century, this small pink sandstone temple known as the Citadel of Women maintains some remarkable sculptured lintels in very good condition. On the way back, visit the ancient Ta Prohm Monastery (also nicknamed the Jungle Temple) where immense branches have taken root in the stones. Beyond this impressive vegetation you will find some splendid sculptured Devatas.

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 14 / FLOATING VILLAGE AND TEMPLES

In the morning, leave for Kompong Khleang, a village as yet bypassed by mass tourism. All the houses are on stilts offering an exceptional natural environment offering breathtaking views of floodplains, rice fields and water as far as the eye can see. Afterwards, travel by boat through the canals to a large lake where Vietnamese people live when they are displaced from their homes because of the seasons. Return to the village and have a picnic lunch in a villager’s home. In the afternoon, return to Siem Reap and visit Angkor Thom (the Great City) beginning by the south gate and the famous Bayon of the 12th and 13th centuries which is dedicated to Buddhism and composed of 54 gigantic towers featuring 216 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara. Then, visit the Elephant Terrace and the raised Leper King Terrace, built in the 12th century

Meals this day: breakfast

DAY 15 / DEPARTURE

Free time at leisure until you are transferred to the airport for your flight. The room is at your disposal until noon time only. Meals on your own. End of the service.

Meals this day: breakfast

Best time to go

Southern Vietnam

The best time to visit the South of the country is normally from November to April: nice weather, sunshine, temperatures between 30°C and 34°C.

However, even though, the rainy season is normally from May to October, it is not always the case in all Southern provinces. For example, Nha Trang has a rainy season that starts in September and ends in January. The best time to go there is from February to August whereas in Con Dao, the rainy season is from May to October. During the rainy season, the weather is unstable with often brutally heavy rain.

Cambodia

Cambodia is influenced by a tropical climate with 2 seasons: the rainy season and the dry season.

The dry season begins in December and ends in April while the rainy season starts in May and ends in November.  The first seasons is almost completely without rain (with a temperature of between 25 and 30°C); the second season is extremely hot (up to 35 °C) and most of all, very humid with heavy rain for short periods of time at the end of the day resulting in many floods. April and May are the 2 months most people find particularly suffocating.

You can travel to Cambodia throughout the year. Even summer is favorable for visiting if the clients do not mind the very hot weather. The landscapes are much greener due to a lot of rains. The main problem is the impracticability of some roads and trails during the summer in mountainous areas. Tracks may suffer from erosion or landslides in the mountainous regions or in the earthen/clay areas.

Laos

Laos is tropical and influenced by the monsoons and there are distinct 2 seasons:
– Dry season runs from November to April. November to February are cooler while March and April are blisteringly hot. Dec and Jan are coolest months and April is the hottest month. March and April are smoky in mountain areas due to the farmer burn their farm to prepare the next season crop in rainy season.
– Wet season runs from May to October, though it may start a little early in a couple of Laos’ Northern provinces. August is the wettest month.
Generally, the high season corresponds with the dry season. The weather will surely work for your advantage but this nice weather comes with a price and service availability especially guide, hotel… This also means that popular sightseeing destinations will have more tourists and you could find hardly the quiet place

Visa information

We can help you arrange Vietnam visa on arrival for a cost of $75 per person (including the immigration stamping fee) or you may arrange the visa at your local embassy.  Please note that your passport needs to be at least 6 months valid at the time of your arrival in Vietnam.

For Cambodia you can get online visa here https://www.evisa.gov.kh/  and you can also receive visa upon arrival.

For Laos, visa can be received upon arrival.  Please bring 2 passport size photos and cash in US Dollars for the visa fee.

Extension options

Add some beach relaxation time with a short flight from Siem Reap to one of the beaches in Thailand.  For an adventure option, head up to Sapa Mountains in Vietnam after Halong Bay cruise, before flying to Luang Prabang.  Trek or bike through the rice terraces and visit local villages.

Tailor – made

All of our suggested itineraries are based on holidays that have been very popular with our clients.  However we strongly believe that each holiday should be unique to the traveler.  Absolutely anything in our itineraries can be tailored to suit your requirements, travel style and budget.  Simply contact us and let us design your custom holiday!

Private

We never mix groups during holidays.  All the holidays are arranged for your group only so you can travel at your own pace.

Independent travel

The most consistent feedback from our clients is how amazing our guides are!  We strongly believe that having a guide can add some much value to your travel experience.  With that said, we totally understand that some travelers prefer to explore independently.  If this is your travel style – we can still help you!  We can arrange your holiday without guides, suggest activities that you will enjoy, advise the best way to get around, how much to pay for things, etc.  We simply help you plan a logical itinerary, book accommodation and necessary transfers along the way.

Planning process

We work together with you until you are 100% satisfied with your itinerary.

  • Initial contact by phone or email to ask you some questions to help us fully understand your travel style, requirements, budget etc.
  • We send you a detailed itinerary proposal with prices
  • You review, and if needed, reply with requested changes.
  • We send you updated proposal.
  • Continue this process until you are 100% happy with and accept the proposal.

Prices often vary due to travel period, best accommodation rates during that period, number of persons traveling, etc.  Please send us your holiday requirements and and approximate budget (if you have one in mind) and we will get back to you with a detailed quotation right away.

Free planning. No booking fees.

Our philosophy is simple: our tours will not cost clients more than if they arrange the same tour themselves.  We do not charge any ‘fees’ whatsoever.  How do we make profit?  Our profit comes from suppliers we use – hotels, transport, tour companies, etc.  Rates we get as a travel agency are much lower than direct booking (or booking website) rates.  This allows us to offer tours to our clients at lower prices, or at worst the same, as they would be if booking all the services directly.  To simplify – you save money, time and receive our expert advice for free.

Please provide as much information as possible.  We respond to most requests right away during work hours and always within 12 hours.

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Hotel options for this holiday

These are popular hotels that we have used for this holiday.  If you have other hotels in mind, or would like more options let us know.

Location Economy hotels (room type) Premium hotels (room type) Luxury hotels (room type)
Ho Chi Minh Nhat Ha 3  (Superior) Grand (Premium Deluxe (Luxury Wing)) Rex Hotel  (Premium)
Cai Be Mekong Riverside Resort & Spa  (Lake View) Mekong Riverside Resort & Spa  (Lake View) Mekong Riverside Resort & Spa  (Lake View)
Hoi An Vinh Hung Emerald Resort Hoi An  (Deluxe pool view) Boutique Hoi An Resort  (Superior Room) Palm Garden Resort  (Superior Garden View)
Hanoi Quoc Hoa Hotel  (Deluxe) Sunway Ha Noi  (Superior) Intercontinental Hanoi  (Superior)
Ha Long Bay Aphrodite Cruises;Aphrodite Cruise;2D1N  (Luxury) Indochina Sails;2D1N  (Superior) Indochina Sails;2D1N  (Deluxe)
Luang Prabang Villa Chitdara (Superior Room) Kiridara Hotel (Deluxe) Luangsay Residence (Pioneer suite)
Siem Reap Siddharta Boutique Hotel (Deluxe) Tara Angkor (Superior) Heritage Suites (Bungalow Suite)

Holiday includes

  • Accommodation in the category chosen or similar (subject to availability).
  • Meals as mentioned in the program. B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner.
  • All local boat rentals and cycling as mentioned in the program. Cruise on non-private junk in Ha Long bay.
  • Transfer from and to the airports by private vehicle with A/C. Transportation by private vehicle with A/C.
  • All entrance fees and sightseeing as mentioned in the program.
  • Local English speaking guides in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia

Holiday does not include

  • Meals and drinks are not mentioned in the program.
  • International flight tickets and airport taxes. All internal and regional flight tickets in economy class (Saigon - Danang - Hanoi - Luang Prabang; Luang Prabang - Siem Reap can be quoted separately).
  • Vietnam visa authorization. Visa fee upon arrival in Vietnam. Lao visa fee. Visa fee upon arrival in Cambodia.
  • Tips & personal expenses. Personal insurance. Any service not clearly mentioned in the program.

Map

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Testimonials

  • My husband and I have been living in SE Asia for 3.5 years and have used Lenny’s services on many occasions! From a night in Bangkok, to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, to arranging everything for a trip for my in-laws, he’s been able to manage it all quickly and efficiently! He is very thorough and provides clear details that ensure you have a magnificent experience. I tell everyone I know about Lenny and his services! I highly recommend getting in touch with him to plan your next SE Asia trip!

    Laurie Ranz, expats based in Bangladesh
  • Thank you Lenny and team for making our trip to Thailand so memorable! All the transfers and tours were exactly as described and we felt at ease the whole trip knowing your team were working away making sure we enjoyed it. Thanks for all the recommendations and especially the elephant tour, definite highlight! We’ve already passed your details to others because we know our friends and family will be in good hands when booking their trips through you. Thank you again for taking such good care of us!

    Reena Mandora from UK – Bangkok and North Thailand tour
  • Lenny, I just wanted to pass along some words of thanks. You have done a fantastic job assisting us with our retirement vacation that you tailored to our needs. 6 weeks in Asia was was ambitious but was made stress free through your help. Our hotels were gems, in great locations, with a staff that were more than helpful. Transfers to and from the airport were perfect. It was nice to see a smiling face there for us in each new location that we visited. I would highly recommend this service to anyone looking to book. Your communication to us was amazing (I couldn’t imagine how it could be any better). We always knew what was happening in the next few days. It was nice to have the safety net of being able to get in touch with the owner of Expat Holidays knowing that we would have a response to our inquiry in a short period of time. Our guides were knowledgeable and were easily able to communicate with us. Special thanks to our guide, Mr. Sophy, from Siem Reap. He went above and beyond. Finally, even though we made a few last minute changes, they always went off without a hitch from your end.
    We will be recommending Expat to our friends and family (our daughter is already talking about coming back to this part of the world) when we get home.

    Rob Kruse from Canada – Thailand & Indochina tour in 2016
  • We were a group of 8 touring from South Africa. We contacted Lenny and from day 1 everything he advised us on turned out perfectly. He accommodated our every need and structured our trip according to what we wanted. Lenny even made the effort to meet us at our hotel in Bangkok, for a meet and greet. It is always good meeting the person behind all the arrangements. Everything was well arranged and on time, from our day trips to our transfers to either hotel, airport or train station. The accommodation was also top class. I would highly recommend Lenny and Expat Holidays Thailand, to anyone considering traveling to this beautiful country and its very friendly people. We certainly will be back in the future and will make use of Lenny’s services again. Thank you Lenny, for a great experience.

    Ingrid Bailey from South Africa – Thailand family tour in 2016
  • This company is absolutely amazing. Our tour was organized perfectly from the first minute to the last. The itinerary, the varieties of sightseeing, the service deserve the top prize. Our guide Peter and our driver were very attentive. Peter is knowledgeable, with a sense of humor, and very cheerful. Our accommodation was excellent. I am dreaming now about going back to Thailand and explore more with Expat Holidays Thailand. They are the best!

    Elena Yzgur from USA – 2 day tour of Bangkok and Ayutthaya from a cruise ship