INDOCHINA Travel Company

1283 Twelth Avenue San Francisco, California
Phone: (888) 681-0808
Ninh Binh

Welcome to Indochina Travel

Thank you for visiting us. We've been organizing trips in Indochina since 1993— the first North American company to do so in a newly-opened Vietnam, venturing into almost every unexplored corner of the country (read Escape Magazine's 1994 article on us). It was certainly a far more adventurous time with neighboring Patrick MorrisCambodia under United Nations authority and Laos still largely off limits due to rebel activity. I lead many of our trips at that time, logging tens of thousands of miles researching and leading our trips.

Of course, much has changed since then. Travel has become far more comfortable in the region, and is now one of the safest for travelers. Yet, as Kurt Vonnegut once said, "peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God" and these places still excite travelers like no other. I still lead trips regularly (our Iron Chef tour of Vietnam with culinary Impresario Neal Fraser is a favorite) and after two decades in Vietnam, the country and especially the people remain a delight as do certain other places in the region, such as Inle Lake and Luang Prabang.

What's new? Quite a bit, we've been in Myanmar for over a decade now, organizing early adventure bicycle tours and festival trips, photography tours with Mark Tuschman, and a focus on the arts as artists emerge from decades in the shadows into what will certainly evolve into a vigorous scene similar to what is now found in Hanoi. Southeast Asia is no longer a challenging place to travel through, and our luxury tours feature world-class properties and dining we still plan trips with a careful eye to authentic experiences away from the ever increasing crowds.

Men's Journal CoverAs my own children have grown up along with the region, we have in recent years begun to focus on family travl hosting families with children of all ages (read about our Vietnam family tours including my 11 year-old's trip diary). I'm also thrilled about our family tours in Myanmar—the welcoming Burmese are gracious, warm, and delighted to see children visiting their country.

What's important to know about us besides our long and enduring experience in the region? Many years ago we decided to "keep it real" to respect the place and the people of the region and remain a smaller boutique operator, organizing immersive and completely authentic trips for only a few hundred discerning travelers each season. It's about the right amount that we've found we can still keep remember everyone's first name and provide all the attention and meticulous planning required to make sure every trip is not only perfect but thrilling and unforgettable. Let us plan an immersive, authentic, entirely unique trip, leveraging our local knowledge, from low-to-the-ground adventures to "ultra-luxe" journeys (without the ultra cost).

—Patrick Morris, Lead Guide

A Place Like No Other

Like many before me for generations, travel and then moving to Southeast Asia was borne from the most fascinating and thrilling experiences of my life. Years later, I still find the region to be no less exciting and even more so with the pleasant changes that are taking place.

Our private trips are marked by the highest attention to detail possible, including diet preferences, for example, to exclusive activities, such as entering the temple at Angkor before other tourists are permitted, to arranging the most unique activities any offers, such as learning the secrets of lacquer hands-on with Indochina's most renowned artist or enjoying dinner with the former Cambodia Ambassador to the United States.

One of my passions is the regional cuisine which differs far more than travelers realize and I look forward to working with you on exploring this magnificent facet of travel in the region. Aside from dining plans, I monitor each and every one of our trips personally and am available 24 hours a day for any of our travelers.


—Patrick Chase, Managing Director Asia


A New Dawn

Min in Yangon

Dallas, Texas was was my adopted home for a decade where I worked as an engineer. A few years ago, I made the decision to return to sleepy Yangon (where things have forever moved along at a snail's pace), to experience this truly momentous era in my homeland.

President Obama's visit was a stark example of how much Myanmar has changed and I stood in awe watching his motorcade pass, a signaling of the transformative changes that have arrived and to come.

During your visit you'll hear from shortly after arrival and I will carefully monitor your trip throughout with the same meticulous focus on details I had when I was an engineer.

Myanmar is a wonderful place with very friendly and warm people. For those who prefer a simpler and older life style, it is ideal. Not to mention the scenic beauty, cultural richness and the country's wonderful travel destinations of Mandalay, Bagan and, Inle Lake.

—Min Lwin Win ("Min"), Yangon, Myanmar

A Dragon in the Land of Nine Dragons

Diep in HanoiNo, I am not a dragon as in a "Dragon Lady" of the Western stereotype, but I share the Vietnamese traits ascribed to our mythological dragons, who bear the greatest importance in my country. After all, it was a battle between dragons that created my homeland. In Vietnam, the dragon also represents life, existence... and growth.

My family originated in a small village near Hanoi ("To" or noodle-making village) and I was raised in the city I still love more than any other, Hanoi. Here is life is extraordinary, existence for a millennium, and a vibrant place that allowed me to rise from a tour guide, to seeing the world, and co-founding this wonderful business, one of Asia's foremost luxury tour companies, Indochina Travel.

All these years later, I am proud of what we have accomplished and the very wonderful and famous people we have had the honor to host in my homeland. If you are traveling to Vietnam, you will hear from and even meet me in Hanoi, and I will certainly play a part in your dining experiences—I love introducing our travelers to the authentic version of one of the finest cuisines in the world and interesting chefs, such as Didi Corlou of Verticale, or "le chef," as we call him, who has even educated me about some rare spices used in Vietnamese cuisine.

What's new? The arts have been growing incredibly in Hanoi for several years now and although many of my artist friends have become very famous, they still host our travelers in their homes and galleries (visit VX Art Gallery which I co-founded several years ago to see the work of some local artists). We love families! I'm so very delighted to have more and more families and children visiting us as I can claim for everyone else in my country. As Patrick likes to say, we are "kid-crazy," and love to arrange fun activities for kids of all ages and share their excitement that is always a thrilling part of travel in Vietnam.

—Diep Le To, Managing Director, Vietnam

Unexpected Good Fortune


My story is like others in Laos, growing up in one of the poorest countries in the world. My father, an educated man, lost everything after the revolution and as a young child I worked on the steep hillsides in "dry rice" fields with my family. But my father never stopped educating me and saved enough money for me to attend school.

Learning English was a fortunate thing for me, and allowed me to work as a tour guide when travelers began to come. As a guide I made many good friends from around the world and was surprised to discover I loved traveling myself. After twenty years of greeting new friends I still enjoy sharing my hometown, Luang Prabang, and the beautiful countryside along the Mekong river. I'm proud to say that when many of our travelers leave, they tell me they did not know much about my country before but that after visiting, Luang Prabang was their favorite place of all.

Yes, I still do enjoy bicycling and if you are visiting with us in Laos, please ask me to take you for a fun ride, it's the best way to enjoy my hometown and the scenic countryside. Of course, you must also join me in my home for a welcome dinner, it is a traditional custom in Laos.

—Chitthavone ("Chit Chit") Philavanh, Managing Director, Laos

A Sense of Culture

Tree TamAs a Chinese American growing up San Francisco, it wasn't until I read Richard Rodriguez' Hunger for Memory that I understood the sense of being neither this or that, that certain feeling of absence was a longing for culture, at least the strongly felt association that comes from more homogeneous societies. I later attended Rhode Island School of Design studying design. John Maeda, the President of RISD recently wrote "What people want now goes beyond sleekly designed objects and experiences. We're all hungry for authenticity—in the form of the human hand, mind and heart..."

This want of authentic culture provoked decades of travel with a passion for textiles and gemstones that lead me to Turkey, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and other places where the craft is practiced as an art. In these places I not only witnessed textiles and jewelry being designed and produced, but experienced societies with deep cultural ties and fascinating expressions of their cultures. Experiencing these cultures in unique, meaningful, and authentic ways provides the color to any journey.

—Tree Tam, Managing Director, San Francisco

Hanoi Office Ladies

Yes, it's true... All of these lovely ladies work in our Hanoi office (with Diep, Hien, Nhung, Hien, Thuy, Thuy, and Lam). Come by and visit near the Metropole!

Yangon office with Ma Ma, Zarni, Yu, Tin Tin, Myat, Patrick, Phyo, Win Le, Regina, and Swe. Located downtown near Bogyoke Aung San (Scott's) Market.

Indochina Travel in the press

There are many wonderful NGOs and charities focused on human assistance and development the region, including one of our favorites, Room to Read. Sadly, native wildlife has been decimated in recent decades with little attention. A handful of projects have appeared, including Orangutan and Asian elephant programs in Borneo, Sumatra, Laos, and Thailand. In the spirit of bringing attention to this plight, we've adopted Chocolate as our mascot and provide support to the Orangutan Project that provides funding and expertise for his well being at the Batu Mbelin Quarantine Centre located in Borneo. Camp Leaky is another such projects focusing on Orangs.

"Born in June, 2010, Chocolate was confiscated from villagers in Southwest Aceh. He was very thin, with dry skin and dull, wiry hair. By chance, his confiscation coincided with the presence of a film crew from NBC in the USA, and Paul Hilton, a well known photographer based in Hong Kong, so the whole process was well documented. Both were in the area covering a spate of recent fires in the nearby Tripa peat swamp forests, from where Chocolate without doubt originates. He was named Chocolate, as someone stopped at a roadside store to buy some chocolate, and was then informed during discussions with locals about an orangutan for sale, hence the name… Chocolate has now been introduced to another young infant male orangutan, named ‘Pandu’, from Kutacane in South East Aceh. At first Chocolate seemed not so interested in ‘Pandu’, and ‘Pandu’ seemed a little afraid of his new room-mate. But after a month they were much happier and were often seen playing together." Read more about Chocolate and the Orangutan Project.

Read more about us: Why Indochina Travel

Ready to get started on your private custom trip to Asia? Submit a contact form below, or call us:

San Francisco at (415) 731-4377, or in Hanoi contact us at (84-4) 3562-6665