From stunning scenery to enchanting experiences, a trip through Indochina is one of discovery and long lasting memories. A chance to get close to the heartbeat of Indochina, to see local culture amidst some of the Far East’s most outstanding natural environment. Interact with the wildlife, taste the differing cuisine of three different countries and learn of the modern and ancient history each destination has to offer.
Depart the UK with international economy flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. We can also arrange departures from your local airport at no extra cost.
We’ll be greeted upon arrival and transferred to the hotel for check-in and tour briefing. If time permits, we’ll take an orientation tour and a chance to acclimatise ourselves. A welcome dinner awaits us tonight.
Today we’ll be touring the most outstanding attractions of Hanoi. First, we pay a visit to the complex of memorials to Ho Chi Minh to know the amazing life of the founder of modern Vietnam. Continue to the Temple of Literature to gain an understanding of one of the driving forces in Vietnam culture. Our next stop is the Museum of Ethnology which exhibits a large collection of artefacts about the 54 ethnic groups in the country. Enjoy a rickshaw ride through the lively Old Quarter, a series of 36 ancient streets where peddlers still trade the way they have done for centuries. The rickshaw tour ends up at an old house on Ma May Street, an example of dwellings in the 19th century. Enjoy a performance of the water puppetry, the famed traditional art form created by village farmers around the Red River Delta region – unique but widely known.
After an early breakfast we’ll be transferred to Victoria Lounge to take the deluxe Victoria coach for a 5-hour journey to Sapa. The journey affords English-speaking host, individual tablets with headphones, bottled drinking water, free WIFI on board, and beautiful sights of Northern Vietnam’s hilly and mountainous landscapes. Once arrived in Sapa, we settle in to the hotel and relax. Late afternoon, we take a walk around the little town to get acquainted with the different ethnic hill tribes such as the H’mong, Red Zao, Zay, and others.
This morning we enjoy a short drive to Lao Chai where we start a hike through rice terraces on the side of forested mountain ranges to feel the peace and splendour of this canyon. Visit some family homes in Lao Chai and Ta Van villages and learn about the culture and lifestyle of Dzao and Day people. Enjoy lunch then trek from the town down to Cat Cat village of the Black H’mong. Along the way, we will be passing by traditional houses and seeing locals doing their daily work such as weaving, embroidering, logging, herding buffalo or tilling the field… The return to the town will be by vehicle.
Today we’ll be visiting one of the colourful hill tribe markets in the region, where we’ll see people ethnic minority groups gather for not only trading but also drinking local whiskey and socialisation. Later, visit some more villages nearby. Mid-afternoon, we transfer to Lao Cai and tour the gate to China before the night train back to Hanoi.
Back in Hanoi early this morning, we’ll be met and transferred to a hotel for 03-hour use including bed & breakfast. Following a well-earned rest, we journey east through the Red River Delta to Halong Bay, the greatest natural wonder of Vietnam. On arrival, we board a beautiful junk and set sails for a cruise deep into the protected area of Halong. Bask in the tranquillity and beauty of the unique seascape made up by magnificent rock formations out of the emerald waters. We’ll have the opportunity to challenge ourselves with swimming and kayaking and even fishing. Spend the night on our luxurious boat.
Rise early this morning to catch the sublimating sunrise with the backdrop of Halong Bay’s mountainous landscape and partake in a Taichi class. After some morning activities and a wholesome breakfast, the boat takes us back ashore. We’ll drive to Hanoi airport for a flight to Danang in Middle Vietnam. Upon arrival, we’ll be met and escorted to the quaint town of Hoian, just 30 km away, for the night.
This morning we’ll be on foot exploring the ancient quarter of Hoian, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its historic role in international trade, unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. We’ll focus on the famous Japanese Covered Bridge, the Pottery Museum, the 200-year-old Tam Ky House, the Ong Pagoda and the vibrant Central Market. The balance of the day will be for independent exploration. The town has so much to offer: sandy beaches, peaceful countryside, numerous restaurants and bars and massage saloons, souvenir shops, and especially tailors’.
Enjoy free time till transferring to the airport for a flight to Siem Reap, the land of Angkor temples. Meet up with our local guide at Siem Reap airport and drive to the hotel. Independent exploration of the Pub Street is highly recommended.
Today we start exploring the wonders left by a highly complex civilization that controlled the greater part of Southeast Asia for four centuries. First, visit Angkor Thom – the last capital of the great Khmer Empire, taking in the sprawling Terraces of Elephant and the Leper King and the enchanting Bayon. This 12th century masterpiece lies at the very centre of Angkor Thom and is an archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur. Afternoon, we continue with the fascinating jungle-clad temple of Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei as the Citadel of Chambers, the mountain temple of Takeo, the elegant Hindu temple of Thommanon, the badly ruined temple of Chau Say Thevoda, and the Royal Bath of Sras Srang. This evening, enjoy dinner with entertainment from Apsara dancers.
We break the temple tour with a visit to Kompong Khleang, one of the largest settlements on the Tonle Sap Lake. Over 20,000 people live in high stilt houses which tower up to 10 meters over the water. It is a spectacular place which only gets a small number of visitors. There is a small island at the centre of the village which has a bustling market. We take a boat tour to see life on the waters of the Great Lake of Tonle Sap and get a taste for life ruled by monsoonal rains and water-based agriculture. One of the world’s most productive bodies of fresh water, Tonle Sap was classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1997. We return to the hotel for a noon break. Afternoon, we’ll be exploring Angkor Wat, a vast rambling complex of diverse temple structures dating from the 9th to the 13th centuries. Many are adorned with exquisite carvings and bas-reliefs; some are so entwined with trees and vines that they almost returned to the jungle. Angkor Wat is the apogee of classical Khmer architecture and has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on the national flag, and stands on par with such other monumental achievements as Machu Picchu and the Great Pyramid.
Today we depart Siem Reap for Phnom Penh, a friendly riverside city with loads of Khmer charm and faded French-colonial style. Meet up with our local guide at Phnom Penh airport and pay a visit to the infamous Cheoung Ek Killing Fields en-route to the hotel. At the end of the day, we stroll along the Sisowath Boulevard to see the busy river life and stalls selling local culinary delights including spiders and crickets, and so on.
After breakfast we set out to further explore the capital of Cambodia Kingdom. Wander throughout the serene Royal Palace to admire its beautiful garden and opulent buildings, especially the dazzling Silver Pagoda. Delve deeper into Khmer history at the National Museum. In the afternoon, we confront the tragic history of Cambodia on a visit to the Tuol Sleng Museum. Tour the hilltop temple Wat Phnom then immerse in the vibrant local life at the Central Market housed in a distinctive domed Art Deco building, a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from CDs and DVDs to silks, crafts, jewellery and more.
We leave Phnom Penh for Bangkok, Thailand, on a morning flight. Upon arrival, meet up with our local guide and drive to the hotel. Afternoon, we’ll visit Wat Po – one of the oldest temples in Bangkok and home of the famous 45-meter reclining Buddha as well as the original school of traditional Thai massage, and Wat Trimit, home to the Golden Buddha. Immerse in a world of exotic aromas and colors at the Flower Market of Pak Klong Talad and then explore the Chinatown – one of the most dynamic and vibrant commercial districts of Bangkok.
After breakfast we step back into the Old Kingdom of Siam through the Grand Palace, a sprawling compound of ceremonial halls, gilded spires, and ornate buildings. The ancient city’s defining landmark since 1782, the palace became the centerpiece of a new Thai capital called Krung Thep (city of angels), known outside of Thailand as Bangkok. The focal point of the palace is the Emerald Buddha carved out of jade and adorned with gold. The rest of the day will be free time.
We depart the hotel by 7:30 and drive southwards 110 km (for approximately 02 hours) to Rachaburi. On arrival, get on a boat and weave our way through hundreds of other boats to explore Damnoen Saduak. Being the biggest floating market in Thailand, Damnoen Saduak is great for photographing, local food tasting, and recalling a bygone way of life. Next, we head to Kanchanaburi province. After lunch we try a ride on the Death Railway Train through the lush forest, and visit JEATH War Museum as well as the famous Bridge over River Kwai. At the end of the day, we return to Bangkok for the night.
This morning we take a flight to Chiang Mai, the second largest commercialised city of Thailand. Upon arrival, we will be met by our local guide and transferred to the hotel. In the afternoon we will visit Wat Doi Suthep, which is tucked away in the mountains at an elevation of 1,056m, reachable via a 290 step staircase. The monastery at the top houses relics of the Lord Buddha. After that, drive a little further to see Meo Tribe village at Doi Pui nearby. Free time in the evening provides opportunities to reveal the colours of the night market that Chiang Mai is famous for.
After breakfast we travel to Chiang Rai via Doi Saket, one of the most scenic routes in Northern Thailand. In Chiang Rai, we visit Wat Rong Khun or the White Temple, a unique Buddhist Temple created by Chalermchai Kositpipat. After that, we travel on to Mae Sai on the border with Myanmar (1 hr drive from Chiang Rai town). Visit Mae Sai market to see vibrant local commerce and seek for shopping opportunities. After lunch we head to the Golden Triangle where borders of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos meet. Enjoy the panoramic view over the three countries from a hillside viewpoint and learn about the violent opium trade in the area in the old day. On the way back to Chiang Mai, we’ll visit a Karen village if time permits.
This morning we drive out to Patara Elephant Camp where we will befriend with elephants for a whole day. On arrival we register and get the training outfit and have a class on the farm management, the breeding program, finding elephants in the forest, approaching them safely, reading elephant temperament, and an introduction to the elephants at the farm. Our mahout will teach us how to take care of our elephant and how to communicate with it through different spoken commands. Having mastered the necessary commands, we will walk our elephants to the river for a bath. Next, we set off on an uphill trip through the jungle. Enjoy lunch en route and bathe our elephants one more time in a waterfall. At the end of the day we bid farewell to our giant friends and return to Chiang Mai.
Free time before transferring to the airport for departure on economy international flight to the UK.
Hanoi – 5* Sheraton Hotel (for information click here)
Sapa – 5* Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa (for more information click here)
Train – Chapa Express – private deluxe cabin (for more information click here)
Halong Bay – 5* Alisa Cruise (for more information click here)
Hoian – 5* Sunrise Premium Resort Hoi An (for more information click here)
Siem Reap – 5* Angkor Palace Resort & Spa (for more information click here)
Phnom Penh – 5* Sokha Angkor Hotel (for more information click here)
Bangkok – 5* Amari Watergate (for more information click here)
Chiang Mai – 5* DusitD2 Chiang Mai (for more information click here)
Hanoi – 4* O’Gallery Premier Hotel (for information click here)
Sapa – 4* BB Hotel (for more information click here)
Train – Chapa Express – private deluxe cabin (for more information click here)
Halong Bay – 4* Flamingo Cruise (for more information click here)
Hoian – 4* La Residencia Boutique Hotel & Spa (for more information click here)
Siem Reap – 4* Empress Angkor Resort & Spa (for more information click here)
Phnom Penh – 4* Frangipani Royal Palace Hotel (for more information click here)
Bangkok – 4* Century Park Hotel (for more information click here)
Chiang Mai – 4* Rimping Village (for more information click here)
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We used Emperor for a group trip to India. they were fantastic with their choice of hotels (some truly incredible) their tour guide, the whole programme and their choice of airlines for the trip. We made things quite tough for them with different members of the group travelling for different periods and arriving in and out of different airports. We specifically had some issues with one of the airlines on the return leg of our trip, through no fault of Emperor, but they did their utmost to put things right and made the journey home as pleasant as possible by meeting the cost of a lounge at the airport for us do to the shortcomings of one of the airlines checking in procedures. The pre holiday package of information was very comprehensive and we were presented with very durable luggage tags. We would have no hesitation in recommending Richard and his team in tailoring a package for a trip to India. We had an amazing culturally stimulating trip and will certainly go back to India in the future.