Experience Indochina (ITKRNC)

Bangkok to Hanoi 26 days.

 
  • Trip Type: Basic, Discovery
  • Route: Bangkok to Hanoi
  • Length: 26 days
  • Transport: Boat, Bus, Ferry, Overnight sleeper train, Private minibus, Van
  • Accommodation: Homestay, Hotel, Overnight sleeper train
  • Meals: 4 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 1 dinner

daily-itin

Day 1: Bangkok

Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.

You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Bangkok has so much to offer those with time to explore - why not take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage?

Explore the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.

Optional Activities

  • Bangkok - Grand Palace - THB500
  • Bangkok - Wat Pho temple - THB100

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day 2 to 4: Siem Reap/Angkor Wat

It's a long drive from Bangkok to Siem Reap (approx. 8-9 hours including border crossing and lunch)

The small but expanding town of Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor. It's markets are a great place to shop or to try some cheap, delicious street food.

Visit the world-famous Angkor complex. These temples were built between the 9th and 13th centuries when the Khmer empire was the pre-eminent influence in South-East Asia. The temples were believed to represent the cosmic world and were set in perfect balance, symmetry and composition. The intricately carved bas-reliefs and architectural designs are mind-blowing and there are spectacular photographic opportunities at any time of day - watching a sunrise or sunset is a must. The ruins are scattered over an area of some 160 sq km, but the main cluster of temples is close to Siem Reap so you'll have plenty of time to fully appreciate the great archaeological sites of Angkor Wat, the Bayon and the jungle-covered Ta Prohm.

Depending on the season there may be a chance to visit Tonle Sap Lake for a look at local life.

Optional Activities

  • Siem Reap - 1 day Angkor Pass - USD20
  • Siem Reap - 3 day Angkor pass - USD40
  • Siem Reap - Remork transport to Angkor complex - USD15
  • Siem Reap - Landmine Museum - USD3
  • Siem Reap - Remork transport to Tonle Sap Lake - USD10
  • Siem Reap - Tonle Sap boat trip - USD15

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nts)

Day 5: Kompong Cham

Travel by public bus to Kompong Cham (approx 4 hrs).

This peaceful town was once an important trading hub and is now a great opportunity to experience life in small-town Cambodia.

Explore the serene 11th-century Wat Nokor.

Hire a bike to explore the rural island of Koh Paen, linked to Kompong Cham by an elaborate bamboo bridge (passable only in the dry season, take a ferry in the wet). The locals here make their living fishing, growing tobacco and sesame so it's a good place to go for a closer look at Cambodia's cottage industry.

A little further afield are the twin 'mountain temples' of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei.

Optional Activities

  • Kompong Cham - Wat Nokor - USD1
  • Kompong Cham - Bicycle hire - USD2
  • Kompong Cham - Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei - USD10

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day 6: Phnom Penh

Catch a public bus to the capital city of Phnom Penh (approx 3 hrs).

Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, is set on a major junction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers and boasts some fine examples of French-inspired architecture.

Head out to the Choeung Ek Memorial, where a stupa made up of some 8,000 human skulls marks the site of the infamous Killing Fields. This was the execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng and standing in this peaceful setting it's almost unthinkable to imagine that to date nearly 9000 corpses have been exhumed from the area.

Learn about a brighter period in Cambodian history with a visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.

Explore Wat Phnom, a peaceful temple situated on a hill for which the city is named. According to legend, a 14th-century woman named Penh found sacred Buddhist objects in the nearby river and placed them here on the small hill.

Check out the National Museum. Housed in a beautiful traditional building, it contains many outstanding examples of Khmer craftsmanship.

Take in the sites by cyclo! Tours generally take in the following: central market, US Embassy, Wat Phnom, Mekong river front, independence monument, finishing at the Royal Palace.

If you're in the mood for shopping, stop in at the art deco-designed Psar Thmei (Central Market) which is a great place for browsing, or travel out to Psar Tuol Tom Pong (the Russian Market) for the best range of local souvenirs.

Optional Activities

  • Phnom Penh - Killing Fields of Choueng Ek - USD3
  • Phnom Penh - Transport to Choeung Ek - USD10
  • Phnom Penh - Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda - USD7
  • Phnom Penh - Wat Phnom - USD2
  • Phnom Penh - National Museum - USD5
  • Cyclo tour - Phnom Penh - USD3
  • Phnom Penh - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - USD2

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day 7: Homestay

Travel by private bus into rural Cambodia (approx 3 hrs).

Our homestay is a wonderful opportunity to witness everyday Cambodian life and in the evening we enjoy a traditional-style dinner. Facilities are basic and multishare with mattresses, bedding and mosquito nets all provided.

Accommodation

Homestay (1 nt)

Day 8 to 9: Sihanoukville

A private bus takes us to Sihanoukville (approx 3 hrs).

Named for the Cambodian royal family, Sihanoukville has miles of beaches and warm, welcoming people.

Take a boat to one of the nearby islands, where you're free to enjoy a barbecue lunch and relax among swaying palms, white sands and blue waters.

Make a trip out to the Ream National Park - 21 hectares of coastal mangrove forest, which hosts a great variety of animal and bird species.

Optional Activities

  • Sihanoukville - Ream National Park entry fee - USD5

  • Sihanoukville - Island boat trip - USD15

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day 10: Phnom Penh

Take a local bus to Phnom Penh (approx 4 hrs).

Why not indulge in a traditional massage at the Seeing Hands Massage parlours - they are some of the best in the city and your patronage supports the visually impaired masseurs, whose years of training are sure to work wonders on muscle aches and pains.

Optional Activities

  • Phnom Penh - Traditional Khmer massage - USD5

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day 11 to 12: Ho Chi Minh City

It's a long journey by local bus to Ho Chi Minh City (approx 6-7 hrs)

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds, and is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives in Vietnam's largest city gives it a dynamic atmosphere and the French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. Much of city life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors, who have their wares spread out on the footpath and sell everything from soup to sophisticated electronics.

If you have extra time in Ho Chi Minh City ensure you make a visit to the Reunification Palace - formerly known as the Presidential Palace, it was the site of South Vietnam's surrender in April 1975, and the War Remnants Museum - originally opened in September 1975, it displays old military equipment and other related items from the Vietnam War. In the courtyard you'll find some larger exhibits including a F5A fighter and a UH1-Huey helicopter

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.

Optional Activities

  • HCMC - Reunification Palace - VND30000
  • HCMC - War Remnants Museum - VND15000
  • HCMC - Cu Chi Tunnels - VND90000

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)

Day 13 to 14: Mekong Delta

Head down to the Mekong Delta and visit unexplored Ben Tre where coconut is everything and anything. The fertile delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits and flowers as well as boating along the canals. On arrival, we board our private boat and cruise along the maze of waterways to visit some local cottage industries. Then head to our overnight homestay along the water. We'll be sleeping on simple camp beds in dorm-style rooms. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic.Rising early to the sounds of the delta coming alive, we enjoy a simple breakfast before boarding our boat, and catching a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City.

Board an overnight train to Nha Trang. Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Intrepid experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Sleeper trains typically have four berth compartments (occasionally six berth depending on seasonal variations), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure.

Included Activities

  • Mekong Delta - Boat cruise and homestay

Accommodation

Homestay (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)

Day 15 to 16: Nha Trang

Once referred to as the 'Cannes of the Orient', Nha Trang's sandy palm-lined beach and island-dotted bay still make an idyllic picture, and a cosmopolitan feel prevails in the town itself.

Spend your days here soaking up the sun on a lovely beach, exploring the local markets or checking out the ancient Cham Towers nearby. Make sure you try some of the excellent seafood restaurants.

Board an overnight train bound for Danang.

Optional Activities

  • Nha Trang - Boat trip - VND1273000
  • Nha Trang - Mud baths - VND280000
  • Nha Trang - Boa Dai Villa - VND120000

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)

Day 17 to 19: Hoi An

Arrive in Danang and travel by minibus to Hoi An (approx 1 hr).

Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is being beautifully restored and preserved. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South-East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago and it retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it.It's also a shopping mecca – with much to browse and buy. Choose from original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and more. Hoi An has also become famous for its tailoring, with a great variety of fabrics and tailors to choose from. Bring your favourite piece of clothing or even just a picture, and you'll be able to have it copied.

There's no better way to explore the peaceful countryside of Hoi An than by bike. Your leader will take you to places few tourists get the chance to see, past green rice paddies and small creeks, this is a true insight into country living in Vietnam.

Included Activities

  • Hoi An - Ancient town
  • Hoi An - Bike tour

Optional Activities

  • Hoi An - My Son Cham day trip - VND800000
  • Hoi An - Thu Bon river boat trip - VND100000

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nts)

Day 20 to 22: Hue

Departing Hoi An, we can stop at China Beach before crossing the dramatic Hai Van Pass to the picturesque fishing village of Lang Co. After a quick stop, continue on to Hue (approx 5 hrs including stops).

As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings.

You have a free day to explore. The Dong Ba market, which sells everything imaginable, is a great place to spend some time.

Visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war.

Enjoy a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River, and a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue. It's an active Buddhist monastery with its origins dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who, in 1963, drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. We also visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees, and we may visit what many believe to be the most majestic of all the royal tombs, Minh Mang.

Board an overnight train bound for Hanoi.

Optional Activities

  • Hue - Imperial citadel - VND105000
  • Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda - VND210000
  • Hue - Royal tomb - VND80000

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)

 

Day 23: Hanoi

The capital of Vietnam is a charming city with a population of over six million. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and its thriving Old Quarter, which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South-East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface.

Take a walking tour of the Old Quarter. You'll visit the Dong Xuan market, the biggest wholesale market in northern Vietnam, stroll through the ancient '36 streets' where you can discover an amazing selection of shops selling everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, beautifully embroidered tablecloths. Your leader will point out some of the unique architecture around Hoan Kiem Lake and the myths and legends of the lake.

Included Activities

  • Hanoi - Walking tour

Optional Activities

  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and Museum - VND50000
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Army Museum - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Women's Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison - VND20000
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND25000

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

 

Day 24: Halong Bay

Drive through the Red River Delta to Halong Bay (approx 4 hrs), stopping en route for refreshments at a handicraft village run by disabled people.

Halong Bay is a breathtaking secluded harbour with 2,000 limestone islands rising from the emerald waters of Bac Bo Gulf. One of Vietnam's most scenic regions, this area of about 1,500 sq km is dotted with innumerable beaches and grottos, created over thousands of years by waves and wind.

Board our boat and cruise the breathtaking bay with its limestone karsts rising from the clear emerald waters. We enjoy a sumptuous seafood lunch on board, explore some of the limestone caves in the area and go swimming during the warmer months.

Stay on the beautiful and relaxing Cat Ba Island. The lovely foreshore is a great place to sip an evening beer and watch the sunset.

Included Activities

  • Halong Bay - Boat cruise

Optional Activities

  • Cat Ba National Park (entrance & transport) - VND120000

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Day 25 to 26: Hanoi

Travel by ferry to Haiphong.

Drive back to Hanoi (approx 3 hrs).

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

 

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