Indochina, land of enchantment and mesmerizing encounters, region that fuses mysterious heritage with the cultures of yesterday. It's a landscape dominated by legends: the temples of Angkor, karsts of Halong Bay, architecture of Luang Prabang. It's also a destination of surprise, filled with riverside villages and untold stories. This signature luxury tour showcases the best of Indochina, encompassing four countries in three weeks of private travel. You'll see a new side to the iconic wonders and experience all manner of culinary and cultural treats.
Intimate and immersive, this luxury tour joins the jigsaw pieces of Indochina. You'll experience a hidden side to world-famous sites, going behind the scenes at the Khmer temples of Angkor and the new seven wonder of Halong Bay. Going off the beaten track you'll meet the tribes and cultures that occupy Indochina's remote lands. Blissful journeys, old walled cities, flamboyant temples, culinary treats...these 20 days showcase the contrasting sides to the region. Along the way, you'll discover the history through exclusive encounters with Indochina's most colorful characters. It's more than just four countries, it's an in-depth journey into everything that makes Indochina so alluring.
Northern Thailand epitomizes the atmosphere of this luxury tour, brimming with sights and sounds while running to a delectably laid-back rhythm. You'll escape into remote Nan Province, land of rare hill tribes and serene mountain landscapes. In Chiang Mai you'll meet with monks and uncover the secrets of a city that was long cut off from the world. Bangkok is your first destination and it also loves to surprise, with expert guides showcasing the charm beneath the neon. These three destinations provide Thailand's inspiring overview; a captivating city holding keys to the past, the unknown region waiting to be discovered, Chiang Mai's cultural heartbeat stitching a country together.
Luang Prabang is easy on the eye and decadent for the soul. Bare-footed monks wandering beneath cute colonial architecture, temples of color and intrigue, riverfront terraces for watching the world unfold. This living World Heritage Site is your first stop in Laos and an indelible connection to the spirituality Indochina is so famous for. From here you cruise upriver, visiting villages unconnected by road and experiencing cultures who love to entertain. Serene and surreal, these four nights in Laos are about opening all your senses to Indochina's essence.
Next the unmissable icon, the mesmerizing temples of Angkor, ode to the ingenuity of the Khmer Empire. A local historian leads the discovery and you won't miss any of the most famous sights; tree roots sprawling around temple walls, nature taking over, grandeur on a baffling scale. Then you’ll unearth the areas lesser-known stories, visiting local shrines and temples off the tourist radar. And like all the days on this tour, the sightseeing is complemented by little treats. Enjoy handpicked dinner reservations that reveal local flavors, settle into Indochina’s most atmospheric boutique hotels, and discuss history with those that lived it.
Vietnam’s four World Heritage Sites fill the last week of this luxury Indochina tour. Cook with a renowned chef in Hoi An, then wander the quaint lanes of this riverside city. Cross jungle and mountain to reach Hue, where regal heritage mixes with war stories and ancestral fables. Fly to Hanoi, where the Old Quarter is just the start of the contrasts as you eat pho with artists and meet a decorated fighter pilot. Halong Bay provides the tranquil finish, two days of cruising through limestone karsts on the area’s most opulent vessel. Hidden coves, poignant caves, lost beaches...these two days provide the natural escapism to complete the cultural exploration.
The Bangkok skyline glitters from your riverfront hotel, the neon of night reflecting gently in the waters below. Sit down. Relax. Absorb the views from the balcony and feel the glow of serenity that comes when you complete a long journey. Through 25 years of experience we handpick Indochina best hotels, so even after a lengthy flight it doesn’t take long to recuperate. You’ll be greeted at the airport and assisted through expedited immigration, before a transfer into the city and the dreamy riverside views.
Oh how Bangkok likes to surprise, the capital city a maze of suburbs and lanes that connect the centuries. At first glance it’s big and bright and bustling. Yet journey beneath the flashing lights and there’s enchantment with every step. The Royal Palace, ode to grandeur, place of serenity. Wat Phra Kaew, symbol of a nation’s heritage. Atmospheric Chinatown, colorful weekend markets, vibrant tones in an Art Village, and then watching the world float by on a Klong canal cruise. This day effortlessly connects the city’s iconic highlights, each step unraveling the nuance of culture.
Legendary food carts dot the corners of the city, known to the locals yet easily missed by tourists. They showcase and celebrate, specializing in iconic dishes and recipes unchanged since their ancestors’ time. A foodies tour picks out these longstanding favorites to provide insight into the basics of Thai food. Then the pace of life changes dramatically, a short flight transferring you to the northeastern province of Nan, where forests and mountains create the laid-back atmosphere.
Nan Province provides a fairytale escapism that’s more commonly associated with Thailand’s beaches. It feels cut off from the world, an enclave of tranquility that’s as green as the imagination can muster. Two nights here introduces the old-world atmosphere of Indochina, an atmosphere that will continue for most of the next two weeks. On the one hand it’s an escape. Yet you don’t escape into nothingness. Nan is home to some of Indochina’s rarest tribes and today’s leisurely tour offers an inspiring introduction to their lifestyle and culture.
It’s a five-hour journey to Chiang Mai by private car. But what a journey! Weaving beneath the forest canopy, winding across remote hills and mountains, passing the beautiful expressions of daily life. As Chiang Mai approaches you bask in its isolation: until the 1920s, the city was only connected by torturous multi-week elephant and boat journeys. It’s this seclusion that gives Chiang Mai its delightful ambiance. Your boutique hotel is nestled inside the old city walls, enveloped by the architecture of Thailand’s ancient cultural heart.
A morning in Chiang Mai, an afternoon and evening in Luang Prabang, two cities of world heritage that encourage you to wander. History is etched into the crumbling walls, serenity floats on the incense smoke, and a local guide tailors the discovery to your interests. Choose to wander alone or allow the guide to show you the corners where heritage is most expertly represented. Amongst the exclusive experiences are a Baci welcome ceremony in a local family home and a unique encounter with a laconic monk.
Luang Prabang is Indochina’s most evocative living World Heritage Site. It’s not merely a snapshot of the past, but the expression of a distant time and ambiance. A procession of bare-footed monks ushers in sunrise, cafe terraces beckon beneath colonial architecture, sublime Buddhist temples dominate the hilltops, and local markets send their colors and shouts into the air. Spend the day exploring with one of the country’s best guides, then spend an evening cruising the Mekong River, dining besides the wonders of the waterfront.
Luang Prabang has soul, something that can’t be expressed in a single monument or moment. It’s a city that encourages you to explore every backstreet, one that asks you to stop and converse with strangers, one that combines quiet charm with the beauty of heritage. The city’s surroundings bring contrast. Hike to a waterfall hidden from the world, gaze down from Mount Phuosi, journey by elephant, and discover the work of NGOs that continue a battle against unexploded ordinances left behind by the Vietnam American war. Like always, the day’s pace is relaxed and the guide will outline other potential options.
Travel northeast from Luang Prabang and there are no roads to take. Everyone must journey by river, passing the sleepy villages that dot the banks. Local life plays out in all its glory as you cruise the Nam Ou River to Muang Ngoi; children bathing and waving, women washing clothes, men fishing, animals and crops balanced precariously on narrowboats. This is rural Indochina in its rawest form, a world that’s resisted the trapping of modernity. You’ll spend time trekking and meeting the locals, before a night in Nong Khiaw, a nearby riverside village that offers more luxurious accommodation.
This luxury Indochina tour is more than just places. It’s also about the people. Over the last 25 years we’ve become friends with some of the region’s most unique characters, people who show you a unique slice of history. This morning you return to Luang Prabang and meet with experienced monks, learning from their seemingly surreal ways. In the afternoon you fly to Siem Reap for dinner with one of Cambodia’s pre-eminent historical guides, enjoying a sublime sunset over the pagoda-dappled landscape.
A sunrise over the plains, temples glowing through reds and oranges as morning arrives. A day amidst the wonder, exploring the baffling array of temples. An evening watching the locals perform, with dance and circus that further enlightens you onAngkor’s tradition. With over 50 large temples and hundreds of smaller shrines, Angkor requires at least two full days. There’s the celebrated and unmissable, like tree roots wrapped around crumbling temple walls, or the enormous grandeur of Angkor Wat itself, the world’s largest religious building.
Angkor Thom, Ta Phrom, Banteay Srei...you won’t miss the iconic sights. But with an historical guide, two days in Angkor are mostly about the secrets and stories, about the drama that unfolded during the Khmer Empire. Our signature tours are focused on these unique details, on showing you sides to famous attractions that aren’t plastered over Google and Instagram. Angkor isn’t just a few temples, it’s the tale of an empire, a narrative that inscribed on all the nature-wrapped pagodas.
Completing your Cambodian experience is a final evocative sunrise, a morning exploring Angkor Wat, and a lunch at a Siem Reap restaurant that fuses French flair with indigenous ingredients. A direct flight takes you to Vietnam, where you’re welcoming by the delightful atmosphere of Hoi An, a riverside town that’s perfect for discovering at leisure. Take your time on the narrow lanes, unearthing antiques stalls and cute boutiques, wine bars and freshly barbecued fish. Hoi An is a first impression that lives long in the memory, an insight that has you eagerly wanting for more.
Some mornings on this luxury Indochina tour are about early starts and maximizing the beauty of sunrise. Others mornings, like today, are about lounging on quaint cafe terraces, savoring the scent of bean-to-cup coffee fumes. Following the fragrances you join Tring Diem Vy for an interactive cooking class, learning culinary secrets from the chef that put Hoi An on the gastronomic map. The afternoon is leisurely, with options for downtime at the beach and opportunities to unravel the subtle depths of the Hoi An World Heritage Site. Round it all off with a sunset cruise, watching the fishermen bringing back the day’s catch.
Every journey across Vietnam brings pleasure. Views from mountain passes, winding roads beneath thick jungle canopies, coastal paths overlooking untouched beaches. The one from Hoi An to Hue is probably Vietnam’s most spectacular, a juxtaposition of the landscapes and colors in the heart of the country. Like always, it’s a private luxury transfer. But unlike others, a closed mountain pass will be opened just for your journey. Arrive to sunset cocktails at the Emperor Hotel then dine with Boi Tran, a regal artist that shares an undocumented piece of Vietnamese history.
Vietnamese history is effortlessly expressed in Hue, a series of attractions that have very contrasting tales. Folk stories at Thien Mu Pagoda, imperial legacy at the War Tombs, ancient architectural beauty in the remains of a citadel that played a crucial role in the Vietnam American War. Each comes from a different century and each has a complexity that goes beyond Vietnam’s preconceptions. Later in the day you land in Hanoi, where your luxury hotel is tucked amongst the labyrinthine lanes of the Old Quarter. Like in Hoi An, there’s so much reward when you explore at leisure.
Hanoi impresses the senses from every angle. A sunrise stroll on Hoan Kiem Lake, perhaps joining the locals performing tai chi. Swirling smells and euphonic sounds in the Old Quarter market, home of the capital’s local indulgences. A bomb shelter and a mausoleum, poignant and peaceful remainders of the city’s history. Then a bowl of traditional pho with artist Dao Anh Khanh, discussing the dilemma of cultural innovation in a communist state. Round off the day with another exclusive dinner reservation; throughout this luxury Indochina tour, we’ve handpicked restaurants that celebrate the best of each destination’s local food, from fine dining to concealed local haunts.
Your luxury boat glides effortlessly through the karsts, propelled by the wind towards hidden coves, lost beaches, strange caves and green pinnacles. Silence reigns, elevating the dreamy aesthetics. You’re deep within a mysterious world, cruising through the recently celebrated new seven wonder of the world. To spend a day here is to witness the extravagance of nature. To spend two nights is to experience the grandeur of nature in all its glory. Mist fluttering amongst the karsts, a rainbow of green reflecting in the water, unique scents and echoes that accompany each of the caves.
Travel to Halong Bay on day 18, stopping to visit a local village on route. Walk aboard the bay’s most opulent vessel and watch the karsts arrive from the sun deck. Over this afternoon and the next day there are various excursions, including some idyllic kayaking. You’ll venture out to the distant reaches of this World Heritage Site, exploring landscapes where other vessels are conspicuously absent. And when morning arrives and the mist starts to clear, you’re enveloped by the mystery that nature has created.
A final morning in Vietnam and it’s one to savor, the karsts slowing casting their shadow over the bay. It’s a three-hour luxury transfer back to Hanoi, where there’s time to explore more of the city’s intricacies. Completing the tour is another unique encounter, being invited into the home of Vietnam’s most decorated fighter pilot. It’s another chance to hear a story that hasn’t left Indochina, one that compels and confounds in equal measure. Depart Indochina from Hanoi and spend most of the flight recounting the contrasts and comparisons between these four unique countries.