Explore Vietnam – Laos 16 days

You will explore from the chaotic pace of Vietnam to the laid-back lifestyle of Laos, explore the highlights of two culturally rich and diverse countries. Feel the pulse of Ho Chi Minh City, the charm of Hoi An and see the ancient imperial capital of Hue. Meet ethnic minorities in Sapa and swim in the jade green waters of Halong Bay, before flying to the temple city of Luang Prabang, where saffron robed monks walk the streets
Start
Ho Chi Minh - Vietnam
Finish
Luang Prabang
Code
VLI 09
Ages
Not Specified
Group size
Min 2 pax
Price from
From USD 2440

Highlights

  • Feeling the metropolitan pulse of Ho Chi Minh City and experiencing its highlights
  • Experiencing the slow rhythm of life in the Mekong Delta by riverboat
  • Strolling through the lantern-filled streets and riverside promenade of Hoi An Ancient Town
  • Visiting the imperial city of Hue and enjoying a cruise along the Perfume River
  • Trekking through Sapa's mountains and meeting colourful ethnic minority people
  • Cruising on a traditional junk boat through scenic Halong Bay
  • Soaking up the hustle and bustle of Hanoi’s Old Quarter
  • Experiencing the family-friendly vibes of Luang Prabang and visiting its cultural heritage sites
  • Carefully selected accommodation with breakfast
  • Other meals listed in the itinerary
  • Expert English-speaking local guide
  • Tours as mentioned and air-conditioned transfers
  • Sightseeing and permit fees during guided times
  • Boat cruises and rides while on tour
  • Service charges and government VAT tax.

Itinerary

Xin Chao!

Vietland holidays tour guide  will welcome you at  Tan Son Nhat  international airport and  pick you up to Central of Hanoi Capital for the Hotel check-in. We will have a shortly meeting.  We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader.

Transfer to your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City (commonly known as Saigon) is a city in southern Vietnam famous for the pivotal role it played in the Vietnam War. It's also known for its French colonial landmarks, including Notre-Dame Cathedral, made entirely of materials imported from France, and the 19th-century Central Post Office. Food stalls line the city’s streets, especially around bustling Bến Thành Marke to check in.

Over-night in Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Free time in the morning and start the tour in the afternoon. Discover the story of Saigon with a visit to the War Remnants Museum. Here, your guide will tell the story of the city’s darkest and most tragic hours during the Vietnam War. The museum contains displays of military aircraft, weaponry and many photographs - some that are quite graphic in nature. Although many of Vietnam’s 90 million people are now too young to remember the war, its legacy is still felt strongly across Vietnamese society.

Next, visit the Reunification Palace once a symbol of the South Vietnamese Government. It was here on 30 April 1975, that the war ended when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. See the war room, the banquet hall and the presidential office. Then, continue to the Central Post Office, designed and constructed by the renowned architect Gustave Eiffel, and take a moment to send a postcard! Just behind the post office is the Notre Dame Cathedral, an iconic Saigon landmark built by the French between 1863 and 1880. Today it’s a favoured backdrop for Vietnamese wedding photographs.

Next, stroll down follow Dong Khoi Street, which figured prominently in Graham Greene’s famous Vietnam novel, The Quiet American, as Rue Catinat. The walk ends at the Saigon Opera House which has had an interesting history, not only as a theatre but as a bomb shelter! End your day with a speedboat trip along the city’s ancient canals where life carries on unchanged. Return to your hotel as the sun sets on this fascinating city.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

 

Travel by speedboat along the Saigon River, taking in the scenery and river life as you leave the bustling city behind. The Cu Chi Tunnels were an underground city for Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. The cramped tunnels were central to a few of the war’s strategic operations, including the famous 1968 Tet Offensive. The tunnels also have “mantraps” -  large camouflaged holes dug deep into the ground that ensnared enemy soldiers by bamboo spikes. But don’t worry, you won’t step in one!

Next, it’s a short drive through the countryside to visit a cricket farm. Some Vietnamese consider crickets a delicacy, and local lore says that hungry soldiers ate them to beef up their nutrient-poor diets. At the farm you’ll see crickets in various stages of growth. You’ll also have a chance to sample crickets wrapped up in tasty spring rolls. Make sure you snap a photograph so that your friends will believe your unusual tale! Stop for a traditional Vietnamese lunch - it won’t include cricket - en route to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving mid afternoon.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

 

This morning depart from your hotel and drive approximately two hours to Ben Tre, and a gateway to the delta. Here, you will board a small boat to start your sightseeing around the waterways of Mekong Delta. Known also as the rice bowl of Vietnam because of its large rice production, the area has also diversified into activities related to aquaculture, rearing of animals, cash crops and fruit trees.

Visit brick factory and board a small boat and meander through the canals and waterways and stop at a small homemade coconut processing plant to see how coconuts have been turned into oil, candy and woven mats that are later sold in the market. After the boat trip you will have a short walk to a local village to see mat weavers at work, before jumping on the deltas version of a tuk tuk and travelling down the country roads to the pier. Here you will board the beautiful teak boat Le Jarai to continue your cruise along the river. While onboard join in the demonstration of Vietnamese cooking before sitting down to a sumptuous three-course lunch of Mekong specialties. After lunch relax on the top deck and take in the scenery back to Ben Tre, where on arrival you will transfer to Can Tho in late in the afternoon.

Overnight in Can Tho.

 

Rise early and travel by boat to the township of Cai Rang to see the hustle and bustle of a floating market. Watch as vendors hawk their wares from boats teeming with produce and buy a coffee from one of the floating cafes. Then, drive approximately three hours to the township of Chau Doc, a colourful and sleepy town near the Vietnam-Cambodia border.

This afternoon drive approximately 20kms from Chau Doc to Tra Su Forest and travel by sampan through endless waterways flanked by mangroves and lush greenery. This eco reserve spans 850 hectares and is an ecological haven for fauna and flora, with more than 100 species of water birds and colonies of bats. The best time to visit Tra Su is from September to November when the water is high, although it is accessible all year round. On the way to the forest you will visit a small village of ethnic Khmer, where you will learn about the importance of Buddhism in the community and have the opportunity to chat with monks at the local monastery.

Overnight in Chau Doc.

 

The Mekong Delta is a land of winding waterways, lush paddy fields and floating markets where life is governed by the ebb and flow of Vietnam’s most iconic river. Today wake early and cruise aboard a small boat to Chau Doc’s famous floating market. Drawing traders and farmers from the surrounding countryside watch as fruits, vegetables and fish are bought and sold en mass. Continue past the floating fish farms on your way to a local Cham Village, where you will hear the story of one of Vietnam’s most fascinating peoples. After return to your boat and continue cruising towards the iconic Sam Mountain, passing along the fascinating Vinh Te Canal built from 1819 to 1823 by Emperors Gia Long and Minh Mang from the Nguyen Dynasty. Arrive at the banks of Sam Mountain and visit two of the iconic temples that draw pilgrims from miles around. Finish with lunch at the beautiful Nui Sam Lodge, with spectacular panoramic views of the countryside below.

The lush green paddy fields of Chau Doc are the perfect place to escape modern life and discover the authentic Mekong Delta at its very best. Cycle out along quiet dirt tracks, through villages where life has changed little over the decades and through fields busy with busy farmers and water buffalo. Stop for a picnic breakfast and recharge over a glass of traditional ice tea or coffee before getting back on the saddle and continuing your journey. Stop along the way for a chat with locals and some of the best views Southern Vietnam has to offer. Return to your hotel and a well earned break!

Overnight in Chau Doc.

 

Travel time to Can Tho around more than two hours. Then take flight to Hanoi. Upon arrival, a guide is waiting to transfer guests to the hotel. Rest of the day is at leisure.

Overnight in Hanoi.

 

Begin your Story of Hanoi with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Here, you will hear about the man who led Vietnam’s campaign for independence from French colonial rule. Next, visit the imperial citadel, the apex of regional political power for more than a millennium where research and excavation is still underway. After a Vietnamese lunch, head to another 11th century relic, the Temple of Literature, which was built as an homage to the Chinese scholar Confucius. You will then see the iconic Long Bien Bridge. Constructed across Red River between 1899 and 1902, when Vietnam was still ruled by the French, it is now jammed with whizzing motorbikes and an occasional passenger train chugging into nearby Long Bien Station.

The tour continues with a 30-minute cyclo tour through Hanoi’s bustling Old Quarter, a place where Hanoians buy everything from noodles to light fixtures to Buddha statues. The quarter’s 36 streets were named for the products that were sold from their shops. Today, vendors on Tin and Bamboo Streets still sell the same wares. After exploring the old quarter’s shady alleyways, sip a strong Vietnamese coffee in a café overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake - an important symbol in Vietnamese folklore. Snap a photograph of the downtown skyline before returning to your hotel at around 4.30pm.

Tonight board your train for Sapa.

 

 

 

Upon arrival, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel in Sapa.

You will take a short way north of Sapa town to the quiet valleys and gorges surrounding the village of O Quy Ho. The shallow winding valley sits in the shadow of Indochina’s highest peak, Fangxipan Mountain, and on clear days you can enjoy superb views of the range. Away from the major tourist routes, this trek is the perfect escape. Pass by oolong tea farms before joining a local footpath that clings to the contours of the rice terraces and takes you gently down the valley past grazing buffalo and working farmers. Walk along ancient stone paths and hear the story of the Black H’Mong migration to these mountains centuries before. Learn about the distinct cultures, languages and lifestyles that make northwestern Vietnam so fascinating, and visit an authentic Black H’Mong house, home to a local family. Transfer back to Sapa town in the early afternoon.

Overnight in Sapa.

 

This morning, meet your guide at your hotel and walk south of Sapa towards the busy village of Cat Cat. The valleys that surround the village of Y Linh Ho are some of the most picturesque in the region, and this route allows you to explore one of Sapa’s less-traversed areas. Make your way along a gentle incline, through emerald paddy fields above a deep river gorge, before arriving on the river bank. Take a rest, dip your toes in the cool mountain waters and watch local children fishing with nets, before continuing deeper through the villages and terraces of the Black H’mong. Walk at your own pace and take in some of the best panoramas Vietnam has to offer. Enjoy lunch with a view at a local village restaurant before continuing through the valley towards the village of Lao Chai.

Take a well-earned rest and enjoy a soothing cup of tea before learning the art of Batik painting. The beautiful textiles of the Black H’mong are famous around the world and Batik is a traditional part of H’mong culture. Under threat from modernization, Batik is now only practiced by a handful of villagers. Join a hands-on master class led by a local expert and take your creation home! You will be supporting a sustainable tourism project that supports local women and ensures this amazing art form is handed down to the next generation.

Afterwards, head to Ta Van village where you will be picked up and transferred back to your hotel in Sapa.

 

Relax and enjoy the cool mountain air as you have a free day to do as much or as little as you like!  Shop for handicrafts in the market, climb to the top of Ham Rong Mountain for impressive views over Sapa or get a well-earned foot massage!  This evening return to Lao Cai and board the overnight train to Hanoi.

Overnight in Hanoi.

 

 

 

Leave the noise of the city behind as you travel about four hours to Halong Bay by shuttle bus. Hop aboard a small tender boat to arrive at L’Azalee, a beautifully restored traditional wooden junk and explore the jade green waters of Halong Bay over lunch. This afternoon the tender will take you to a secluded part of the bay where the water is perfect for swimming and kayaking around the limestone karsts. You’ll return back to L’Azalee just in time to watch the sunset from the top deck before enjoying the bay’s freshest seafood dinner.

Overnight on board.

 

Wake up and have an early morning dip before breakfast. Then head off to visit the Cave of Surprises. This is the biggest cave in Halong Bay and here you can see stalagmites and stalactites as you walk along the lit paths. After your visit to the cave start your cruise back to the main harbour where you will be taken to Hanoi airport to take flight to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.

Overnight in Hanoi.

 

Enjoy a tour around the atmospheric town of Luang Prabang. Visit Wat Xieng Thong, the finest example of Luang Prabang architecture, as well as the gilded carved façade of Wat Mai. Also visit the National Museum, the former Royal Palace, where relics from Laos’ royalist past remain.

Travel south of town to the Kuang Si Waterfall. Stop along the way to visit the Living Crafts Centre, a place where you can meet weavers and learn about textiles, while helping keep these traditions alive. At the falls, crystal water cascades into idyllic turquoise pools. Bring a bathing suit if you would like to swim! Also take time to visit the nearby Sunbear Refuge to learn more about the poaching of these endangered creatures. Return back to Luang Prabang in the early afternoon. The rest of your day  is at your leisure.

Overnight in Luang Prabang.

 

If you wish, get an early start (6:00am or so) and go watch or participate in the traditional Lao rite of Almsgiving to the monks. In the city, some 300+ monks file through silently collecting alms. This is an amazing sight and your guide will be on hand to demonstrate and explain this important ritual. Afterwards, visit the Morning Market and see an array of meats, vegetables and spices the locals use in their cooking. Return to your hotel for breakfast before cruise to Pak Ou Buddha Caves.

Cruise up the Mekong River to the mouth of the Ou River. Visit the sacred Pak Ou Buddha Caves, long considered a holy spot for the Lao people. Locals make pilgrimages to this site to place Buddha images inside the caves to make merit. On the way, stop to visit Ban Xang Khong, where the weaving of Lao textiles still takes place on ancient wooden looms. Enjoy lunch before your return cruise back to the town early afternoon. The rest of your day is at leisure.

In the late afternoon enjoy a one hour walking tour of Luang Prabang’s atmospheric night market.  Here you’ll find perhaps the most extensive collection of traditional and ethnic handicrafts for sale in Laos, the stalls overflowing with colourful textiles, sumptuous quilts, carvings, basketry, ceramics, clothing, handmade paper goods and even Beer Lao T-shirts.  This beguiling market is open daily from dusk until about 10pm.

 

This morning drive about thirty minutes outside of Luang Prabang to the Elephant Village. You'll be welcomed by the staff who will give you a short introduction to the village and learn how they care for the elephants.  Then meet your elephant and enjoy a one hour ride through countryside before stopping off for a quick coffee or green tea along the Nam Khan River.  Arrive into Luang Prabang early in the afternoon and transfer to the airport for your onward flight. 

See you next time!

 

Inclusions

  • Carefully selected accommodation with breakfast
  • Other meals listed in the itinerary
  • Expert English-speaking local guide
  • Tours as mentioned and air-conditioned transfers
  • Sightseeing and permit fees during guided times
  • Boat cruises and rides while on tour
  • Service charges and gernment VAT tax.

Exclusions

  • International air fares/ airport taxes
  • Visa arrangement to Vietnam
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expense
  • Other meals and drink
  • Early check-in and late check-out
  • Tipping for local tour guides and drivers
  • Other services not mentioned in the itinerary.

Important Notes

  • Price and accommodation for tour group. Price is applied for one Pax and this may be lower or higher due to finalization of booking. A single supplement to have your own room is available on this trip.Rooms are booked on a basis of 3 star hotels, upgrading depends on your requests.
  • Passport. (i) Your passport must have six months validity from the date of the end of your travel; (ii) Your passport must have at least 2 clear pages for each country you visit; (iii) Your passport cannot be water stained or have the stitching coming apart; (iv) Your full name exactly appeared in the passport must be sent us for booking.
  • Visa and insurance. Checking your visas (if required) and travel authorisations. Be sure to have relevant travel insurance by checking your insurance coverage carefully. Taking out extra insurance for expensive equipments if possible.
  • Lugguages. It is advised that your luggages are attached the Vietland Holidays luggage labels and its main details to your cases. Domestic flights in Vietnam allow passengers to carry liquid or gel (over 100ml) in hand lugguage.
  • Cash and credit cards. (i) Consult with your bank to find the best currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work; (ii) Most major types of credit cards are accepted in the region, particularly Vietnam; (iii) ATMs are the easiest way to access your money. You can use a debit card to obtain local cash from ATMs in Vietnam.
  • Mobile telephones. If not roaming, Vietland Holidays will lend you a SIM with a small amount of money topped up.
  • Internet. Free wifi access is everywhere in major cities, hotels, cafe in Vietnam.
  • Travel adaptors and chargers. We will lend you suitable chargers and adapters during your trip if required.

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