The Indochina Experiment

Wedding bells
Explore Buddhist temples in Laos
Bond with your local guide in Thailand
Learn new road rules in Vietnam
  • One of our biggest and best. Log out, switch off and unplug because the only project you’ll be working on for the next few weeks is your tan. (Was Thai Indochina Loop)

     

    Itinerary

    Day 1-2 - Bangkok

    Let your local tour guide show your around their home town. Don’t miss Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho. Rest up on your overnight train journey to Chiang Mai.

    Day 1

    • Arrive in Bangkok and get to grips with this awesome city. There will be a pre departure meeting at 6pm tonight!

    Day 2

    • Visit some of Bangkok’s most famous sights, including the Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha
    • Enjoy the rest of the day to further explore the city
    • Shop for bargains, eat in exotic restaurants and perhaps hit some bars or nightclubs
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Chiang Mai

    You’ll come for the 120 temples but you’ll stay for the Thai massage, cooking class, night bazaar and the trek to the top of Doi Suthep.

    • Spend a free day exploring the northern city of Chiang Mai, with over 120 temples in the centre alone
    • Set off on an excursion to the top of Doi Suthep, with fantastic views over the city
    • Perhaps get a traditional Thai massage or even partake in a cooking class
    • Why not visit the Night Bazaar a great chance to practice those bargaining skills

    Day 4 - Huay Xai

    A bus, bus, then boat takes us to our first stop in Laos. Head to a nearby village for some rice whiskey and a bowl of steamy noodles.

    • Take a small boat across the Mekong River to Huay Xai, the first stop in Laos
    • Enjoy time to wander around this small place and perhaps ascend the Naga stairs to Wat Jom Khao Manilat
    • Perhaps visit a nearby minority village, where they make rice whiskey, noodles and handicrafts

    Day 5 - Mekong River - Pakbeng

    Take it down a notch on a slow boat on the Mekong. Meet some of the colourful Hmong people from a nearby remote hilltribe. Stay the night in a cheap and cheerful hostel.

    • Board a slow boat for a trip down the Mekong River
    • Arrive in the late afternoon at Pakbeng; a colourful village situated at the junction of the Mekong River and the smaller Beng River

    Day 6-8 - Luang Prabang

    Three whole days with no travel means you might start to get feeling back in your bum, Show everyone how good your underwater handstands are when we go for a dip in Kuang Si Falls.

    • Continue on the private slow boat, stopping to stretch your legs and explore the Pak Ou Caves, which contain hundreds of Buddha statues
    • Arrive in Luang Prabang in the evening and wander the streets of ‘the best preserved city in South East Asia’
    • Trek to the beautiful Kuang Si Falls

    Day 9-10 - Vang Vieng

    Set on a bend on the Nam Song River, this chilled out town is popular for its unexplored caves, kayaking and limestone cliffs.

    • Transfer to a local fan cooled bus and head toward the village of Vang Vieng, located on a bend in the Nam Song River
    • Cross the river to explore the huge caves that line the West Bank
    • Enjoy plenty of time to make your own discoveries or partake in an optional kayaking day trip  along the Nam Song

    Day 11-12 - Vientiane

    The Lao capital lies on the banks of the Mekong with some great cafes and bars. Explore by bike or on foot.

    • Continue to the Lao capital, located on the banks of the Mekong River
    • Arrive in Vientiane and explore this small and laid-back capital on bicycle or on foot
    • Set off on a walking orientation tour takes you to the oldest remaining temple in Vientiane, Wat Si Saket
    • During free time, further explore Vientiane’s other historical sites, including Haw Pha Kaew

    Day 13-14 - Lak Sao

    You’re gonna see some pretty remote country today, including Ho Chi Minh’s birthplace. Then we board the Reunification Express for our overnight trip to Hanoi. Don’t get this confused with the luxurious Orient Express!

    Day 13

    • Travel through stunning mountain scenery and a Stone Forest to the town of Lak Sao

    Day 14

    • Cross the border into Vietnam and head for the port city of Vinh, birthplace of Ho Chi Minh
    • Board the Reunification Express sleeper train for the 300-kilometre train journey to Hanoi

    Day 15-17 - Hanoi

    Strap on your walking shoes for a locally-guided tour of the city. During your free time indulge in a local feast at KOTO restaurant, which gets kids off the street and into a career in hospitality. Tell Jimmy we sent you! *image of Jimmy Pham and the kids (with arrow pointing to Jimmy saying ‘this is Jimmy’!)

    • Begin by visiting the One Pillar Pagoda near the Soviet-inspired mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh
    • Walk to the Temple of Literature - Vietnam’s first educational institute
    • Visit the Hoa Lo Prison, probably better known to most as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’
    • Enjoy a free afternoon to wander around town and check out the lifestyles of Hanoi’s people
    • Perhaps stop by the city’s Old Quarter, situated to the north of the lake
    • Board the Reunification Express in the evening for the trip to Hue
    Breakfast

    Day 18 - Hue

    Back in the saddle as we cruise the streets on local ‘shopping’ bikes (as they’re known). Check out the Forbidden Purple Palace and some royal tombs.

    • Mount local ‘shopping’ bikes, as they’re known here, and cycle down to the riverside
    • Place the bikes on board a ‘Dragon Boat’, and enjoy a cruise up the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu pagoda
    • Choose to either cycle back into town from here, approximately 8km, or staying on the boat to head back down river to the Citadel
    • Spend a couple of hours exploring Hue’s massive walled citadel and the Forbidden Purple Palace enclosed within
    • Perhaps cycle out to one of the Royal tombs such as the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, one of the best remaining examples of its kind
    • Alternatively, set off on an optional motorcycle tour of the sights in Hue and some surrounding villages

    Day 19-21 - Hoi An

    It’ll be love at first sight in this Frenchy chic port town. Hit the beach, the shops or the pavement. Handy tip: scour the fashion mags before you arrive and come armed with ideas for the local tailors to whip you up something new.

    • Enjoy a free morning to explore Hue under your own steam
    • Take an enjoyable four-hour drive to Hoi An in the afternoon, through a region of rural and coastal Vietnam
    • Pass through Lang Co Beach, and join Highway One  through Hai Van Pass or, ‘Pass of the Ocean Clouds’
    • Drive through the busy streets of Danang and pass by the massive former US airbase that was, in 1968, the busiest airport in the world
    • Take a walking tour of Hoi An
    • Enjoy free time - there’s such a broad choice of things to see and do, and they can all be experienced without difficulty
    • Perhaps rent bicycles and set off to explore the surrounding countryside, take a boat trip on the river, relax on the nearby beach, enjoy the cuisine on offer at some of the town’s numerous cheap cafes or have some clothes made up
    • Why not venture further afield to Vietnam’s world famous ‘China Beach’ and the adjacent Marble Mountains
    • An optional visit to the Kingdom of Champa, the ancient ruins at My Son, can be completed in half a day
    • Leave Hoi An and take the day train to Nha Trang.
    Breakfast

    Day 22-23 - Nha Trang

    Break out the factor 40 because we’re hitting the South China Sea. The crew will catch you a fresh seafood lunch and there's plenty of time to swim and snorkel. Then it’s another night on the train to Ho Chi Minh City.

    • Enjoy plenty of time to worship the sun during two full days in Nha Trang
    • Head out onto the water for a day to cruise around the islands
    • Spend stacks of time swimming and snorkelling
    • Indulge in a lunchtime feast of freshly caught seafood and other delights for non-fish eaters
    • Board the Reunification Express for the final time and make our overnight journey to Ho Chi Minh
    Lunch

    Day 24-25 - Ho Chi Minh City

    What’s not to love about Ho Chi Minh City? Pho on every corner, Ben Thanh Market bargains and the friendliest locals you’re likely to find. Who’s game to try squeezing down into the Cu Chi Tunnels?

    Day 24

    • Arrive in Ho Chi Minh and explore this fascinating city
    • Spend free time visiting all the city’s restaurants, bars, nightclubs and most interesting sights
    • Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum, Ben Thanh Market, Notre Dame Cathedral and the adjacent Gustav Eiffel designed Central Post Office are all within walking distance of each other
    • Consider hiring a ‘cyclo’ (bicycle rickshaw) for touring the city sights

    Day 25

    • Crawl through a section of the Cu Chi Tunnels
    • Learn how the brave men and women of Cu Chi built underground hospitals, kitchens and meeting rooms during their struggle
    • Spend the last afternoon in Vietnam shopping in the city’s main business district, or take a cyclo ride through the busy city streets to Saigon’s Chinatown district, Cholon

    Day 26-27 - Phnom Penh

    It ain’t the prettiest town but all is forgiven when you tuck into your first bowl of amok – Cambodia’s national dish. Take a stroll on the palm-fringed riverfront and a sobering visit to the killing fields at Choeung Ek.

    • Take a cyclo sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh to include the Royal Palace and the infamous Tuol Sleng Prison
    • Join a bus to visit another reminder of the Khmer Rouge atrocities, the Choeung Ek killing fields
    • Visit the Central Market, located in an old French colonial building - a good place to look for clothing or sarongs
    • Enjoy the rest of the day exploring Phnom Penh city
    • Perhaps stop by the Silver Pagoda, the temple of Wat Phnom, the National Museum and the French Quarter
    Breakfast

    Day 28-30 - Siem Reap - Angkor

    Angkor Wat is the obvious highlight but you’ll get a real kick out of counting the faces of Bayon and the jungle of Ta Prohm. There’s a bit of temple overload here, so take some free time to haggle for souvenirs at the market or get a pedicure from thousands of tiny fish.

    Day 28

    • Leave Phnom Penh on a private bus and head towards Siem Reap
    • Follow the Tônlé Sap River and pass through fishing villages
    • Drive out to the Angkor temple complex to watch the sunset from one of the structures; Phnom Bakheng, Pre Rup temple, Sras Srong, Phnom Krom or Phnom Bok

    Day 29

    • Take an informative day-long tour of the Angkor complex, visiting the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon, Elephant Terrace, Baphoun, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Leper King, Ta Prohm and, of course, Angkor Wat

    Day 30

    • Free time to do some exploring of your own
    • Optional visit to the rose-coloured Banteay Srei Temple
    • Perhaps visit Banteay Srei, located about 30 kilometres north of Siem Reap - considered to be the best preserved of all of Cambodia’s temples
    • Optional trip with into the countryside to discover facets of rural life with a local site guide
    • Kick back in Siem Reap and just wander around the town, visiting its market, shops and restaurants
    Breakfast

    Day 31 - Siem Reap - Bangkok

    Travel day. Yawn. 

    • Set off for the hustle and bustle of Bangkok
    Breakfast

    Day 32-33 - Bangkok

    Finish things off with a bang in Bangers. Catch a Ladyboy show and the view from Sky Bar at Lebua (as seen in The Hangover). It will be hard to say goodbye to your new friends but hey, that’s what Facebook is for.

    • Jump into local mini-vans for an adventurous journey to the Cambodian/Thai border town of Poipet
    • Stop for lunch in the Thai border town of Aranya Prathet
    • Continue on by local bus to Bangkok
    • Perhaps visit Bangkok’s famous clothing markets, grab a traditional Thai Massage or wander down Khao San Road and catch up on the news of the world
    • You can leave at any time on the last day of your trip!
  • What's Included

    • • Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guides throughout the tour, and local site guides at some sites.

      • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Bangkok; Vientiane; Hanoi; Vinh - the birthplace of Ho Chi Minh; Hoi An’s 'Old Town'; and the Cu Chi Tunnels.

      • Slow boat trip down the Mekong River with a night in a hostel in Pakbeng and a visit to the Buddha statues at Pak Ou Caves.

      • Trek to Kuang Si Falls and exploration of Vang Vieng caves.

      • Bike ride around Hue and boat cruise up the Perfume River.

      • Day cruise on the South China Sea in Nha Trang, with a freshly-caught seafood lunch included (non-seafood options available).

      • Cyclo sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh including the Royal Palace and Tuol Sleng Prison. Visit to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and the Russian Market.

      • Day tour of the Angkor complex including the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon, Elephant Terrace, Baphoun, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Leper King, Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat.

      • Free time to explore Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Huay Xai, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Hanoi, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Saigon, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

      • Reunification Express sleeper train from Vinh to Hanoi, Hanoi to Hue and Nha Trang to Saigon.

      • Trains from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Danang to Nha Trang.

    Not Included

    • International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
  • Map Itinerary

  • Trip Dates and Prices

    Start Date – End Date Trip Status Price
  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    The Indochina Experiment

    Paige - Canada, 30 Mar, 2013
    5
    Overall Rating

    Overall the trip was amazing! Hit all of the places I wanted to see, had an amazing tour leader, great people to travel with, and incredible food.

    The Indochina Experiment

    Ian - United Kingdom, 23 Feb, 2013
    5
    Overall Rating

    A continuous tour, never in one place very long so in many ways is a taster for where to go back to. You live out of a suitcase - pack light - many hotels do not have lifts. Hotel quality is better than the itinerary implies. Guides were good but it pays to read up before you go to maximise time. Train travel in Vietnam is OK but beds can be grubby so suggest buying a "silk" sleeping bag liner in Hanoi before you start $5 - they are sold everywhere. Spending guidance - tours, food and beer under £800

 
33 days
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Nuts+Bolts

#GTIL
- 16
Aircon bus, Bicycle, Boat, Local bus, Mekong slow boat, Mini-van, Private vehicle, Sleeper train, Songthaew, Train, Tuk-tuk
9 nights Guesthouse, 23 nights Hotel
Bangkok
Bangkok

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