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Great Indochina Loop

Trip type: 
Cultural
Adventure level: 
2. Gentle
Max group size: 
16
Avg user rating: 
Awaiting reviews
Asia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam | 31 days
Trip code: 
TTSVC
What's included: 

Transport - Overnight sleeper train, Boat, Longboat, Bus, Tuk-Tuk, in country flight

Accommodation - Hotel (19 nts), Guesthouse (7 nts), Overnight sleeper train (2 nts), Overnight boat (1 nt)

Meals - 11 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 2 Dinners

Trip Highlights: 
Discover Angkor Wat
Cruise in Halong Bay
Ride the reunification Express
Mekong River trip
see full itinerary >>

You'll follow an itinerary which has been researched and planned by our experts, saving you all the hassle of organising the trip. The itineraries are designed to minimise the time spent travelling and maximise the variety of experiences.
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Itinerary options
Unpublished
Itinery Map

Great Indochina Loop

(Departures in 2013)
  • Day 1-2 - Bangkok
  • Day 3 - Chiang Mai
  • Day 4 - Huay Xai
  • Day 5 - Mekong River
  • Day 6-8 - Luang Prabang
  • Day 9-10 - Vang Vieng
  • Day 11 - Vientiane
  • Day 12 - Hanoi
  • Day 13 - Halong Bay
  • Day 14-15 - Hanoi
  • Day 16 - Hue
  • Day 17-19 - Hoi An
  • Day 20-21 - Ho Chi Minh City
  • Day 22-23 - Phnom Penh
  • Day 24 - Homestay
  • Day 25-27 - Siem Reap/Angkor Wat
  • Day 28 - Bangkok
  • Day 29 - Tour ends
Extensions and Extras: Extend your holiday and see more of the world. View additional tours for this trip »
Unpublished
Day
1-2
Bangkok

Bangkok

Arrive in Bangkok and make your way toyour hotel, free time to relax or explore until the welcome meeting at 6pm evening. The following day you will travel by longtail boat down the Chao Phraya River, a world away from the chaotic city streets, to explore the famous 'khlongs' or canals of Bangkok (approx 1 hr). Then visit to Wat Pho, and see the country's largest reclining Buddha an impressive 15m high and 43m long, his feet are beautifully inlaid with Mother of Pearl. The temple is also home to a Thai Massage school.This evening you board a comfortable sleeper train to Chiang Mai (approx 14 hrs journey). The trains are clean, with padded berths including sheets, pillow, blanket. Boiling water is available to make drinks or snacks. Most trains have a dining carriage and there are snacks available to buy along the way.  Hotel (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

Day
3
Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

Arrive in northern Thailand at the vibrant city of Chiang Mai where there are many famous temples and an interesting old city area to explore. Often called 'Rose of the North' the city is known for its beauty and the friendliness of it's people.  You drive along a scenic, winding mountain road that ends at an impressive 300-step naga-guarded stairway (approx 45 mins) which you cimb to reach the famous temple complex of Doi Suthep. This is one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand which affords fantastic panoramic views of the city Listen to the hypnotic evening chanting by resident Buddhist monks before returning to your hotel. In the evening wander through the enormous, colourful Night Bazaar and perhaps dine at one of the riverfront restaurants. A local signature dish in the north is kao soy which is yellow wheat noodles in a curry broth, traditionally served with chicken or beef.  Hotel - 1 night

Day
4
Huay Xai

Huay Xai

Today you make the long journey by bus through rural countryside to the Thai-Laos border (approx 7 hrs).

Huay Xai is a pleasant border town on the banks of the Mekong River, it has for centuries been an important stopping point for travellers and traders between China and Siam. The river is always busy with passenger ferries and speed boats transporting people and goods around. Guesthouse - 1 night

Day
5
Mekong River

Mekong River

Today you travel by boat along the Mekong River it's a great way to witness village life and great scenery. The boat is basic but has a toilet, covered roof and open sides. Seats are upfront, whilst an open area at the back is a great place to relax. You will purchase food and drink supplies for the journey before boarding. NB during Nov to Feb is can be quite cold on board so bring warmclothing. After approx 6 hours cruising you will dock at the town of Pak Beng. You overnight here in a simple guesthouse. (During February to April part of the journey may occasionally need to be made by land due to low river levels).  Guesthouse - 1 night

Day
6-8
Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang

Today you cruise onwards to the revered Pak Ou Caves which house thousands of Buddha images which have been left here by visiting pilgrims over hundreds of years. Finally your cruise comes to an end as you arrive in Luang Prabang (approx 8 hours journey) nestled in the hills of northern Laos. The city is studded with ornate temples and French colonial architecture. Visit the beautiful Kuang Si Falls, where pale turquoise waters cascade over limestone formations - a perfect sport for a refreshing afternoon dip in the large base pool. During you days here, make a guided tour around the Traditional Art & Ethnology centre which is a non-profit museum dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of its traditional arts and lifestyles. There is free time in which you can undertake optional activites. Perhaps climb to the top of Mt Phousi for fantastic views over the town and its surrounds or visit Dara Market a great spot to browse and find almost anything you might need to buy. For a taste of local culture, consider taking a long boat across the river to visit a traditional Laotian village.  Guesthouse - 3 nights

Day
9-10

Vang Vieng

Today you will drive from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng (approx 6-7 hrs). Vang Vieng siting on the Nam Song River, offers limestone karst scenery, local markets and riverside walks. There is plenty to do here, the area is renowned for its many caves, many of which are easily accessible from the town. The most famous is the cave of Tham Chang, a beautiful cavern fed by a natural spring making it a perfect spot for a refreshing swim. You might also wish to hire bicycles to explore further afield, or take a tour of an Organic Mulberry Farm.  Hotel - 2 nights

Day
11
Vientiane

Vientiane

Today you make a short public bus journey to Vientiane (approx 4 hrs). Vientiane is a very relaxed city which has retained a traditional feel and has a wealth of cultural delights to discover either on foot perhaps by jumbo (tuk tuk). Dusty tracks along the river pass through villages full of friendly children, dogs and chickens. Vientiane's market is open all day and well worth a visit. A spectacular sunset over the Mekong is a perfect way to end your day.You will visit COPE, an Intrepid Foundation-sponsored organisation dedicated to assistaning those who have been injured by the multitude of unexploded ordinance across the country.This evening you take dinner at the Makphet restaurant (meaning chili in Lao) - an organisation that is run in conjunction with the Peuan Mit Street Children Project which assists disadvantaged children to return to school, society and train to gain employment in the hospitality industry. A worthwhile meal indeed. Hotel - 1 night

Day
12
Hanoi

Hanoi

Today you will take a short flight to Hanoi (approx 1 hour), the capital of Vietnam. The charming city of Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards and verdant public parks. There is a thriving old town centre, with blocks of ochre buildings which retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town. The beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects back the contrasting images of old and new with modern office buildings beside ancient Buddhist temples.  Hotel - 1 night

Day
13
Halong Bay

Halong Bay

Travel by private minibus today to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay (approx 4 hrs). 2,000 limestone islands rise from the emerald waters of Bac Bo Gulf to make this one of Vietnam's most scenic regions. An area of about 1,500 sq km is dotted with innumerable beaches and natural grottos.You will take a private boat cruise overnight exploring the dramatic limestone peaks. During your cruise you can swim in the famed South China Sea and explore caves filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. You sleep on board in twin bed cabins that have air-conditioning and private facilities. There's also a dining room and bar where you enjoy a sumptuous lunch and dinner. Overnight Boat - 1 night

Day
14-15
Hanoi

Hanoi

Return by private minibus to Hanoi (approx. 4 hrs). During your stay in Hanoi you can take in a performance of the famous Hanoi water puppets. Also visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum complex, which includes the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Museum. Later in the evening you board the famed Reunification Express to make an overnight train journey to Hue.  Hotel 1 nt, Overnight sleeper train - 1 night

Day
16
Hue

Hue

Hue was once the capital of Vietnam and holds the treasures of it's royal past. You will discover here a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Visit the Imperial Citadel which was almost destroyed during the American War, and see the Forbidden Purple City. Later if not in festival time enjoy a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River, before visiting Thien Mu Pagoda. Which is an active Buddhist monastery dating back to 1601. Visit one of the royal tombs either that of Emperor Tu Duc with a central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees - or Minh Mang which many call the most majestic of the tombs.  Hotel - 1 night

Day
17-19
Hoi An

Hoi An

Today you will drive to Hoi An (approx 4 hrs). Enroute you will visit the fishing villiage of Lang Co, see rural landscapes and ascend Hai Van Pass. Since it was designated a World Heritage Site, Hoi An has begun being beautifully restored and preserved. It was one of South-East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. It's also a shopping mecca - with much to browse and buy including original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery and lanterns. Hoi An is also a great place for tailoring - if you bring your favourite piece of clothing or even just a picture, you'll be able to have it copied exactly to your design.  Hotel - 3 nights

Day
20-21
Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

Today you travel to  Ho Chi Minh City (approx 75 mins) taking a short flight from Danang. Formerly known as Saigon this is a large and busy city in which the French influence is still evident with baguettes and coffee on offer. The streets are busy with stalls spreading onto the footpaths selling everything from homemade soup to modern electronic items. Joining in with the preferred means of transport here you will explore the city by minibus including a visit to the War Remnants Museum.  Hotel - 2 nights

Day
22-23
Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh

A public bus takes you from through rural Vietnam into Cambodia. After approx 6-7 hours you arrive in the capital city of Phnom Penh. Sitting at a major junction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, the city boasts some fine examples of French-inspired architecture. You take a guided tour of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former school which served as a Khmer Rouge torture centre. It's estimated that more than 20,000 people were held and tortured here, it is quite a shocking visit. Then 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. Once an execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng it now feels rather peaceful and its hard to imagine that to date nearly 9000 corpses have been exhumed from the area. Take a visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda for an insight into a lighter period of history. Take a pleasant stroll along the famous Sisowath Quay and enjoy a drink at one of the many cafes while observing the busy river traffic.  Hotel - 2 nights

Day
24
Homestay

Homestay

Today a public bus will take you to the rural town of Kampong Thom (approx 3 hrs). Here we visit our homestay just outside the township, please expect that facilities will be basic here, and make the most of your chance to experience the everyday life of rural Cambodians. In the evening, enjoy a traditional dinner with your host family as you have this amazing opportunity to discover a bit more about their life here.  Homestay - 1 night

Day
25-27
Siem Reap/Angkor Wat

Siem Reap/Angkor Wat

Travel by bus to Siem Reap (approx 3 hrs) The small but expanding town of Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor. It's markets are a great place to shop and to try some cheap, delicious street food. Your three day entry pass allows you time to fully explore the amazing Angkor complex. A local guide is included on the first day to explain the history to you in detail. These temples were built between the 9th and 13th centuries during the Khmer empire. In representation of the cosmic world the temples were built in perfect balance, symmetry and composition. The intricately carved bas-reliefs and architectural designs are mind-blowing.  Rise early to photograph a sunrise or staying late for sunset is a must to capture that special image. Scattered over an area of some 160 sq km, but luckily the main cluster of temples is close to Siem Reap so you can fully appreciate the greatest archaeological sites of Angkor Wat; the Bayon and the jungle-covered Ta Prohm.  Hotel - 3 nights

Day
28
Bangkok

Bangkok

Today you make the long drive from Siem Reap back to Bangkok (approx 8-9 hrs including border crossing and lunch stop). On arrival check in to your hotel. Hotel - 1 night

Day
29

Tour ends

Your tour ends today in Bangkok.