- Take an overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay for pinch-me-now views
- Travel through Vietnam's lush countryside on a day trip from Hanoi
- Spend a full day exploring Cambodia's UNESCO-listed Angkor Wat
- Experience the historic palaces and temples in and around Bangkok
|Day 1||Arrive in Hanoi, Explore||Hanoi|
|Day 2||Day Trip to the Countryside & Cooking Class||Hanoi|
|Day 3||Transfer to Ninh Binh, Half-Day Tour||Ninh Binh|
|Day 4||Cycling at Tho Ha Village, Visit the Galaxy Grotto||Ninh Binh|
|Day 5||Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise||Ha Long Bay|
|Day 6||Morning Cruise, Transfer to Ho Chi Minh City||Ho Chi Minh City|
|Day 7||Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, Evening Food Tour||Ho Chi Minh City|
|Day 8||Transfer to Siem Reap (Cambodia), Dinner & Apsara Show||Siem Reap|
|Day 9||Day Trip to Angkor Thom & Angkor Wat||Siem Reap|
|Day 10||Day Trip to Banteay Srei & the Roluos Temples||Siem Reap|
|Day 11||Transfer to Bangkok (Thailand), Evening Food Tour by Tuk-Tuk||Bangkok|
|Day 12||Explore Ayutthaya Historical Park, Longtail Boat Tour||Bangkok|
|Day 13||Morning Bangkok Tour, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi, ExploreWelcome to Vietnam! There's no better place to start your tour of Southeast Asia than this gem of a country. Its settled history dates back to around 3000 BCE. In that time, Vietnam has seen the rise and fall of dynasties, colonization, a communist uprising, devastating wars, and so much more. You can see much of this history right on the streets of its capital, Hanoi, where you'll arrive.
From the airport, your personal driver will take you to your hotel in the city. After checking in, you'll have the rest of the day free to explore at your own pace. Maybe start with a self-guided walk in Hanoi's Old Quarter to browse the street vendors and silk shops on Hang Gai Street. Then take a stroll around the city's central hub, Hoan Kiem Lake, and visit the Temple of the Jade Mountain. This landmark was built in the 18th century to honor Tran Hung Dao, a military commander who famously repelled two Mongol invasions.
Day 2: Day Trip to the Countryside & Cooking ClassAfter breakfast in Hanoi, you’ll head west on a guided eco-tour of the beautiful Ba Vi countryside. Your first stop is the village of Ri, where you'll enjoy welcome drinks and snacks with Mr. Duoc, a Vietnam War veteran and tea plantation owner. Listen to Mr. Duoc's stories about life during the war and visit his workshop and tea plantation, where you'll learn how to pick the best leaves.
Next, take a short drive to another village called Moc, where Mrs. Chin will teach you how to cook Vietnamese dishes that you'll enjoy for lunch in her garden. Afterward, join Mrs. Chin for a walk around the village to visit families and learn how to make tofu, conical hats, and other regional products. Finish with an easy bicycle ride along Vietnam's iconic rice paddies followed by an herbal foot bath. At the end of the day, return to your hotel in Hanoi.
Day 3: Transfer to Ninh Binh, Half-Day TourAfter breakfast, your driver will pick you up for the three-hour drive south from Hanoi to the scenic Ninh Binh province. Located in Vietnam's Red River Valley, this region is famous for its riverine landscapes and karst mountains rising dramatically over vast rice paddies. Upon arrival at your resort in Ninh Binh, embark on a half-day trip.
Take a break for lunch at a local restaurant, then continue the tour at Van Long Nature Reserve, the largest wetland natural reserve in the Red River Delta. Here, you'll hop in a boat for a two-hour ride down the waterways as you enjoy the views of local villages and rice paddies amid limestone karsts and caves. Keep your camera ready as you may encounter rare langurs and exotic waterbirds like kingfishers and herons. At the end of the day, return to your resort.
Day 4: Cycling at Tho Ha Village, Visit the Galaxy Grotto
Wake up early and explore Ninh Binh province on a bicycle tour. Depending on the schedule, you'll ride 3-10 miles (5-16 km), passing sleepy villages and picturesque rural landscapes. Eventually, you'll arrive in the hamlet of Dong Tam and join the locals for regional activities like fishing, crabbing, and gardening. After an hour of fun masquerading as work, you'll return to town. There, a local family will welcome you into their home and teach you to cook the traditional cuisine of the region.
After lunch with your host family, you'll board a traditional rowboat at Nha Le Pier for a trip into Galaxy Grotto, a 2,953-foot (900 m) deep water cavern. This is a uniquely beautiful cave due to its massive stalactites that gleam in different colors, so much so that Galaxy Grotto is known as the "Milky Way of the Mountain." After you leave the cave, return to your resort and enjoy some free time.
Day 5: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Overnight Cruise
In the morning, depart Ninh Binh with your driver for the 3.5-hour scenic ride north to Ha Long Bay. This is where you'll find 1,500 karst islets rising above jade waters that resemble the spine of some mythological creature ("ha long" actually translates to "descending dragon"). The unique beauty of this region is unlike anywhere else and thus has been bestowed with UNESCO World Heritage status.
Upon arrival at the marina, you'll board a multi-level cruise ship for an overnight tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. After settling into your cabin, head up to the deck where a delicious lunch awaits. Then you can spend a few hours relaxing on the sun deck as the ship sails across glassy emerald waters to the most secluded corners of the bay. Later that afternoon, you'll stop at a secret cove for a swim and a kayak trip to explore hidden beaches and grottoes.
Back on board, there will be time to relax before dinner. Once you've dined, you can participate in onboard activities or head out on a small boat for some nighttime fishing with the locals.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 6: Morning Cruise, Transfer to Ho Chi Minh CityRise and shine! Wake up early and head to the deck to watch a once-in-a-lifetime sunrise in Ha Long Bay—and perhaps join a Tai Chi session. Then sit down and enjoy breakfast in the open air as you cruise around towering karst islets. After a leisurely morning spent on the water, you'll return to the port in Ha Long Bay. From there, you'll transfer back to Hanoi and catch a two-hour flight south to Ho Chi Minh City. A driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the city. You'll then have the remainder of the evening free.
Day 7: Explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, Evening Food TourAfter breakfast, you'll head out on a two-hour drive north of the city to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. This immense network of underground passages was constructed in 1948 to protect Viet Cong guerrillas from French attacks. They also served as living quarters, communications hubs, supply routes, and even hospitals. A visit here offers a stark insight into the country's wartime history and the hardships faced by the thousands of soldiers who survived the French and American wars. You can even crawl through a section of the tunnels to experience just how narrow they really are.
Later, discover Ho Chi Minh City in the most excitingly delicious way possible: on a moped food tour. Meet your guide at 6:30 pm at the hotel and hop on a Vespa. Then hit the road on a mouthwatering exploration of Saigon after dark. The first stop is a bakery to try fresh and delicious bread before heading to a vintage coffee shop tucked in a back alley. And that's just the start.
Continue zipping along the city streets to an old apartment complex that comes alive at night with hundreds of food and drink stalls. After sampling a few savory tidbits, you'll visit a 50-year-old dessert shop to try homemade sweet soups. Your guide will then lead you to an off-the-beaten-path restaurant for multiple courses starring the freshest seafood in the city. End the night at a cozy bar in a quiet alley as you sample local beers and craft cocktails while chatting with friendly locals. Feel free to cut loose, as a taxi will be waiting to take you back to your hotel.
Day 8: Transfer to Siem Reap (Cambodia), Dinner & Apsara ShowIn the morning, you'll transfer to the airport in Ho Chi Minh City, where you'll catch a one-hour flight to Siem Reap. This town in northwest Cambodia sits on the shores of Tonlé Sap Lake and is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor. These ruins were once the capital city of the Khmer Kingdom from the 9th-15th centuries. Upon arrival in Siem Reap, transfer to your hotel.
Day 9: Day Trip to Angkor Thom & Angkor Wat
Today you'll visit Angkor Thom (literally "Great City"), which comprises the ruins of what was once the most impressive royal city of Cambodia's Angkor period. During its heyday in the 12th and 13th centuries, it was also a formidable defensive area, protected by 26-foot (8 m) walls and a wide moat.
Looming over Angkor Thom is Bayon Temple. Comprised of 54 Gothic towers, Jayavarman VII commissioned it in the 12th century, whose smiling face and glaring eyes are represented in its 216 stone sculptures. Other structures you'll visit here include the Terrace of the Elephants (featuring sculptures and bas-reliefs of elephants), Phimeanakas (a three-tiered pyramid), and the Terrace of the Leper King, known for its carvings of demons and mythological figures.
After Angkor Thom, you'll tour the most famous temple in Southeast Asia: Angkor Wat. This 12th-century complex covers 200 acres (81 ha) and its five towers are so iconic they're actually emblazoned on the Cambodian flag. On this walking tour, you'll immerse yourself in the ruins as you stroll through its galleries, libraries, pavilions, and courtyards. Cap the experience with a visit to Ta Prohm, a 12th-century Buddhist temple whose crumbling towers have been all but absorbed by the surrounding jungle.
Day 10: Day Trip to Banteay Srei & the Roluos TemplesAfter breakfast, meet your guide for a trip back to the ruins. This time, you'll visit Banteay Srey, a 10th-century Hindu temple made of pink sandstone, almost every inch of which is adorned with intricate designs. The name Banteay Srey translates to "Citadel of Women," and it's indeed likely that women completed the elegant carvings depicting scenes from the Sanskrit epic "Ramayana." Whoever built it, Banteay Srey is regarded as the finest example of Khmer art in the world.
In the afternoon, you'll visit Roluos, an archaeological site once the center of the ancient Khmer capital city of Hariharalaya. Here you'll find three temples dating from the 9th century, which represent the beginning of the Khmer Empire. Begin the tour at Preah Ko, the first temple built in the area on orders from King Indravarman I. Continue to Bakong, a stepped pyramid, and then finish at Lolei, a temple originally built on an island in a reservoir that has since dried up. At the end of the day, return to your hotel.
Day 11: Transfer to Bangkok (Thailand), Evening Food Tour by Tuk-TukIn the morning, your personal driver will take you to the airport in Siem Reap, where you'll catch a one-hour flight to Bangkok. Thailand's dynamic capital is a place where culture, religion, and nightlife exist on almost every corner. Here, you'll find grand palaces, ornate temples, and iconic landmarks like the mighty Chao Phraya River.
Day 12: Explore Ayutthaya Historical Park, Longtail Boat TourAfter breakfast, you'll leave for a half-day tour of Ayutthaya, an ancient city that was once the capital of the Siamese Kingdom (a precursor to Thailand). Located about 50 miles (80 km) north of Bangkok, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was founded in 1350 and quickly became a prosperous international trading port. By the 17th century, it was one of East Asia's biggest and wealthiest cities. Its ruins now form the Ayutthaya Historical Park, an archaeological site that contains palaces, Buddhist temples, monasteries, and statues.
During this tour, you'll visit Ayutthaya's principal sights like Wat Sri Sanphet, a monastery used as a residential palace during the reign of King Ramathibodi I. There's also Wat Phanan Choeng, a temple that predates even the city of Ayutthaya. Its major attraction is the 62-foot (19 m) gilded Buddha statue from 1334 CE. The most interesting structure here might be the 14th-century Wat Mahathat, which features a large Buddha head entwined in the roots of a tree. Also, don't miss the 14th-century Wat Yai Chaimongkol with one of the largest stupas in Ayutthaya.
The tour also includes a trip to Bang-Pa-In, a palace on the Chao Phraya River that the royal court used as a summer retreat in the 17th century. Here, you'll enjoy a tour by long-tail boat with views of the palace and Ayutthaya. Afterward, return to your hotel.