Vietnam & Laos with Angkor Temples Express

14 Days, from AU $3,576

Ta Prohm, Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Presidential Palace, Saigon, Vietnam

Notre-Dame Basilica, Saigon

Wat Xieng Thong Temple, Luang Prabang, Laos

Kuang Si Waterfalls, Luang Prabang

Jetset through Vietnam and Laos visiting the must-see attractions of Saigon, the Mekong Delta, Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Luang Prabang, after exploring the temples of Angkor in Cambodia! If you’ve only got two weeks and want to be whisked around without any fuss, then this is the Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia itinerary for you. Our guides and support staff will do all the hard work to ensure that you get the most out of this fast paced trip.

Start in Siem Reap, Cambodia, home to the fabled city of Angkor, eighth wonder of the world and spectacular ancient capital of the powerful Khmer Dynasty. Discover temples including Angkor Thom the ancient royal city of the Khmer Empire and Ta Prohm, buried in the jungle, its towers and walls covered in vast tree roots. Marvel at the morphing scene of Angkor Wat as the setting sun washes this mysterious monument in haunting red hues, and finally explore Banteay Srei, the jewel of Khmer art, with its red sandstone walls decorated with elaborate carvings.

Then explore Vietnam, starting in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the south, a sprawling metropolis with its Vietnam-American war history including the Cu Chi tunnels, and a day trip to the bustling Mekong Delta. Fly to the capital city, Hanoi, with its French colonial architecture and bustling old quarter. Spend two days on breathtaking Halong Bay where thousands of limestone rock sculptures jut dramatically from the sea.

Fly to Laos and the enchanting World Heritage town and former royal capital, Luang Prabang. A captivating city with stunning colonial architecture, ornate monasteries and colourful markets. Rise early to witness the ancient dawn ritual of saffron robed monks collecting alms, discover the hundreds of Buddha sculptures in Pak Ou Caves, see the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall and climb Phou Si hill to watch the sun sink slowly behind the Mekong River.

Our Express itineraries cover the must-see attractions with a priority on enjoyment and convenience. All itineraries can be customised to suit your personal tastes. Discuss itinerary options and extensions with our Asia Travel Experts.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Siem Reap

Meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Siem Reap, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the day.

Siem Reap, situated in the north west of the country, is an enchanting town with Chinese-style shop houses, French colonial architecture and tree lined boulevards. It is the gateway to the World Heritage ancient temple ruins of Angkor, eighth wonder of the world and spectacular ancient capital of the powerful Khmer Dynasty. As well as the myriad of awe-inspiring temples and Khmer relics to explore, Siem Reap and its rural outskirts offers craft villages, silk farms, Khmer cuisine cooking classes, traditional Cambodian “apsara” dance performances and the floating villages on the tranquil waters of Tonle Sap Lake.

Siem Reap has many restaurants and bars. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Itinerary Option: If you’re arriving to Siem Reap in the morning, discuss additional day 1 activities with our staff.

Day 2: Siem Reap

Explore temples of the World Heritage Angkor complex with your guide. Start with a visit to the picturesque and atmospheric Ta Prohm, built in 1186. This fascinating jungle-clad temple is one of Angkor’s most impressive and most beautiful structures. Over centuries the fig tree roots have engulfed the temple’s huge stone blocks, crumbling towers and walls. The living jungle is reclaiming this Buddhist temple, shrouding the courtyards and corridors in dappled sunlight, and creating a haunting and exotic atmosphere.

In the afternoon, visit one of the world's most impressive archaeological sites, the iconic temple of Angkor Wat. The largest and most breathtaking of Angkor’s monuments, this vast temple was constructed between the 9th and 13th centuries and is the largest Hindu structure in the world. Angkor Wat is orientated towards the west, symbolically the direction of death. It is home to hundreds of beautiful carvings of Apsara and Hindu mythology and boasts some of the most well preserved carvings in the region. As you stroll the massive hallways you discover small shrines still in use today by the local people. Return to one of the grass terraces in front of the five massive towers of Angkor Wat to watch the sun setting over the temple complex. Afterwards, return to your hotel in Siem Reap.

Day 3: Siem Reap

Depart this morning with your guide to visit temples of the World Heritage Angkor complex. Visit Angkor Thom, the ancient royal city and former capital of the Khmer Empire. The fortified city of Angkor Thom consists of several temples including the Bayon, Baphuon, Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King. Enter the city through the impressive South Gate and drive towards the centre piece, the Bayon Temple.

At first glance the temple appears as a shapeless mass of stone, but further scrutiny reveals the enigmatic faces of former King Jayavarman VII looking in every direction. There are over 200 huge carved faces that stare down from fifty four towers. Continue your exploration with a visit to the Terrace of the Elephants, which served as a platform from where the King viewed the victorious return of his army. Then visit the Terrace of the Leper King with detailed carvings winding along a narrow passage that leads to the Baphuon.

After time for lunch in Siem Reap, set off again to explore Banteay Srei temple, the jewel of Khmer art, built in the 10th century and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. This red sandstone temple is one of Angkor’s most significant structures. The temple walls are covered in elaborate and well preserved carvings that provide an insight into the Angkor people and their beliefs. In the late afternoon, return to your hotel in Siem Reap.

Day 4: Saigon

This morning fly from Siem Reap to Saigon. Meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Saigon, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the day.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in southern Vietnam is a sprawling metropolis of ten million people. Formally renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam-American war, locals still refer to Saigon. With thousands of motorbikes zipping past luxury cars, French colonial buildings dwarfed by modern skyscrapers and traditionally dressed school girls riding bicycles past trendy city workers, Saigon is an exciting city of contrasts.

Saigon is a city that never sleeps and offers a plethora of great restaurants and bars catering to all tastes, from street food vendors to the rooftop bar at the Rex Hotel, where international correspondents covered the Vietnam War and where the U.S. military attaché’s press briefing was held daily and dubbed the “Five O’clock Follies”. Whatever your interests, be sure to ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 5: Saigon

The Cu Chi Tunnels are an immense network of interconnected tunnels near Saigon that are part of a much larger network lying below much of the country. A guided visit to these tunnels provides a better understanding of their history, the hardship of life underground and the resilience of the Vietnamese during combat.

The tunnels were built and used initially by the Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots to protect them from the French air and ground sweeps. They later served as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for the guerrilla fighters throughout the Vietnam-American war.

You're invited to enter a section of the tunnels to witness the secrets of the tunnels firsthand. Your guide will also show you various mantraps employed from this period, the remains of an American tank and numerous B52 bomb craters. There is also the opportunity to fire an M60, M16 or AK47 rifle at the range next to the tunnel complex.

After returning to Saigon, learn about the city’s historic landmarks as you tour the city with your guide. Visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick building with twin spires based on the original construction from Paris, then head across the square to the Central Post Office designed by the French architect Gustav Eiffel. Next stop is the former Presidential Palace, headquarters to the Saigon Government during the Vietnam-American war. You may also like to visit the War Remnants Museum for a vivid insight into the Vietnam-American war from a Vietnamese perspective.

Day 6: Saigon

Skyscrapers are replaced by rice paddies and fruit farms as you travel by road into the Mekong Delta, the rice bowl of Vietnam. Witness daily life in the stilt houses and fish farms that you pass as your driver navigates the maze of canals in the traditional wooden motorboat.

Experience the vibrant energy of the floating markets where vendors trade their produce between the floating boats in a uniquely Mekong Delta fashion. Sample freshly picked exotic fruits from a small island orchard as the farmer before lunch served in a traditional Mandarin house where four generations of one family live. Walk back or be rowed in a sampan to your motorboat to return to the pier before travelling by road back to Saigon.

Day 7: Hanoi

This morning fly from Saigon to Hanoi. Meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Hanoi, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the day.

Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital city and home to seven million people. Traditional and refined, with French colonial architecture, tree-lined boulevards, scenic lakes and a bustling Old Quarter, Hanoi has a sophisticated charm. Observe elderly people practicing Tai Chi by the lake, with barbers and food vendors plying their sidewalk trade.

Hanoi has many great restaurants with French, Vietnamese and international cuisines available. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 8: Hanoi

Accompanied by your guide, the day starts with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite, where the preserved body of “Uncle Ho” resides. See the lotus shaped One Pillar Pagoda which rests on a single stone pillar emerging from the water, and then explore the Temple of Literature, the first University for the sons of mandarins, to gain an overview of Hanoi culture and ancient Vietnamese architecture.

In the afternoon, visit the Museum of Ethnology offering a fascinating insight into Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups. Enjoy a walking tour through the bustling Old Quarter before ending the day with a show at the water puppet theatre – a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes of rural life and episodes of national history.

Itinerary Option: Your Guided tour can include alternate attractions like the Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) and/or the Fine Arts Museum. Our staff can provide advice based upon your interests.

Day 9: Hanoi to Halong Bay

Travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay and board your deluxe junk for your overnight cruise. Marvel at the dramatic vista and relax onboard, as you sail amongst the thousands of limestone islands that rise from the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Rock sculptures jut dramatically from the sea and the numerous caves and grottoes have created an enchanting, timeless world.

Set sail through Bai Tu Long Bay whilst a seafood lunch is served, then sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery as you cruise past various islands en route to Cua Van fishing village. Explore the floating village by bamboo rowing boat. Visit Tien Ong Cave before returning to the junk for sunset cocktails and canapés, followed by dinner served on the deck or in the restaurant.

Day 10: Halong Bay to Hanoi

Why not begin the day with a Tai Chi class on the top deck? Or just admire the beautiful scenery as the sun rises over the azure waters. Choose between an excursion to a secluded island with a sandy beach for a morning swim, or join the chef for a cooking demonstration to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine. Enjoy a buffet brunch as your junk cruises Halong Bay, passing islets and caves as you make your way back to the dock.

You have the option to visit a pottery workshop on the trip back to Hanoi.

Day 11: Luang Prabang

This morning fly from Hanoi to Luang Prabang. Meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Luang Prabang, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the day.

Nestled in a mountain valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers is the enchanting World Heritage town and former royal capital of Luang Prabang. It's a magical and captivating place with stunning colonial architecture, ornate monasteries and colourful markets. Rise early to witness the ancient dawn ritual of saffron robed monks collecting alms, discover the hundreds of Buddha sculptures in Pak Ou Caves, see the spectacular Kuang Si Waterfall and climb Phou Si hill to watch the sun sink slowly behind the Mekong River.

Luang Prabang has many great cafes and restaurants and also night food stalls which emerge at dusk. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 12: Luang Prabang

Wake before dawn to witness the offering of alms to the hundreds of saffron robed monks who walk barefoot through the streets of Luang Prabang carrying their begging bowls. This early morning ritual of monks leaving their monasteries to accept alms from the Buddhist devotees dates back generations. The ceremony enables the monks to demonstrate their vows of poverty and humility, and for the Lao people to gain spiritual merit by their charity. It is an inspiring sight that you are unlikely to forget. Watch the town as it comes to life before returning to your hotel for breakfast.

You have the opportunity to participate by offering sticky rice balls to the monks. Please let your guide know so that they can organise the offering the day before.

After breakfast accompanied by your guide to the Royal Palace, now the National Museum. The former Royal Palace was built in 1904 and framed by an avenue of Palmyra palms, blending traditional Lao with French styles. The museum houses precious exhibits that used to be possessions of the Laos royal family. The royal family’s former residential quarters have been preserved as they were when the king departed in 1975. The royal palace car collection is displayed in a separate outbuilding.

Then explore the main Buddhist temples of Luang Prabang including Wat Visoun, the most historically important temple, built in the 16th century and serving as a small museum for religious artefacts. Visit Wat That Luang, traditionally the cremation site for Lao royalty and housing the ashes of King Sisavang Vong and his brother, interred inside the large stupa erected in 1910. Wat Xieng Thong is a 16th century temple that epitomises the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang architecture and showcases classic Lao style roofs. This temple was one of only two temples that were spared by the Black Flag army in 1887, and it was then used as the leader’s headquarters during the invasion. Wat Mai, beside the Royal Palace, is Luang Prabang’s oldest Pagoda, and one of the city’s most sumptuous monasteries.

Wander around the fascinating Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre and learn more about the people of Laos. On display you will find valuable artefacts, traditional clothing and implements from each of the twenty ethnic minority groups that inhabit the Luang Prabang area.

The day ends with a climb to the top of Mount Phousi. The 100 metre (328 feet) hill is crowned by a gilded stupa, That Chomsi, which dominates the old city centre. Enjoy the wonderful views of the town, across the Mekong and Khan rivers, as well as the surrounding mountains. Watch the sun sink slowly behind the Mekong River before strolling back to your hotel.

Day 13: Luang Prabang

This morning set off with your guide to one of Luang Prabang’s most impressive and picturesque waterfalls, Tat Kuang Si. On the way stop off at Phosy market where you can observe locals trading in fresh produce. Across the street is Ock Pop Tock weaving centre which produces its own naturally dyed Lao silk and cotton textiles.

Kuang Si is a multi-tiered waterfall, the falls beginning in shallow pools on top of a steep hillside, with the various cascades falling into clear turquoise pools. Walk through the National Park to the waterfalls and if you're feeling energetic, climb to their source and go for a swim. After a picnic lunch in the tranquil surroundings of the park, return to Luang Prabang.

After lunch, with your guide, embark on a two hour Mekong River cruise to visit the mysterious and sacred Pak Ou Caves. As you journey by long-tail boat, typical Laotian villages are barely visible behind thick foliage. Wooden canoes attached to bamboo poles bob by the shore while floats mark the location of fishing nets.

The Pak Ou Caves are dramatically located in a limestone rock formation opposite the mouth of the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers. The sanctuaries of Pak Ou consist of two large caves cut into the limestone cliff, revealing hundreds of Buddha effigies of various sizes and styles, from the tiny to the colossal and spanning many centuries.

From the caves continue to Ban Muang Keo village where you can see local weavers and whisky distillers honouring their ancient traditional crafts. Return to Luang Prabang by river.

Day 14: Luang Prabang

On your last day enjoy free time until your departure transfer.

Personalise Your Trip

Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.

Ideas to upgrade or extend your itinerary:

  • Siem Reap: Angkor includes a large number temples to visit, some well know and others off the beaten track. Some customers also like to spend an extra day wandering the temples on their own. Discuss options with our staff.
  • Siem Reap: Other options include horse riding and quad bike tours, local handicraft visits, a silk farm visit, temple bike tours, and cruises on Tonle Sap Lake.
  • Saigon: Add a cooking class to spice up your itinerary, either at the renowned Saigon Culinary Arts Centre, or an exclusive class at an historic villa.
  • Cu Chi Tunnels: Learn about life in the tunnels from a Viet Cong war veteran who lived here during the war.
  • Saigon: Squeeze in a Vespa motor scooter tour. Options include street food tours, a wartime landmarks tour, an art and architecture tour, and a locals insider tour.
  • Saigon: War history tours, including itineraries that focus on Vung Tau and Nui Dat for Australian war veterans.
  • Mekong Delta: Consider adding a night in the Mekong Delta to spend more time getting to know this fascinating area of Vietnam.
  • Mekong Delta: Add a full day cycling tour through the Mekong Delta passing local houses and family farms, crossing single lane bridges, and exchanging “xin chao” with waving locals.
  • Hanoi: Tour the countryside with options to visit ancient villages, local artisans and/or Mai Chau hill tribes.
  • Hanoi: Other options include cycling tours, Van Long nature reserve including a boat trip (recommended), Perfume Pagoda and grotto tour, wildlife tours, cooking classes, culinary tour and art tours.
  • Halong Bay: Why not spend two nights on your traditional junk boat? Refer below for details on the different boats.
  • Luang Prabang: Extend your trip to Pak Ou caves with an overnight stay at Pakbeng and on to Houeixai, and then transfer to Chiang Rai in Thailand.
  • Luang Prabang: Visit a museum to learn about the dangers still facing the people of Laos.
  • Luang Prabang: Other options include hill tribe visits, cooking classes, farm visit with traditional agriculture demonstrations, elephant rides and bamboo raft trips, elephant mahout experience, cycling and kayaking trips.

Halong Bay Cruise Ships

Note that the schedule above refers to the Jasmine and Ginger luxury sailing Junks. The schedule on the Halong Bay Sails junk used on the budget price standard differs, although it is similar.

Jasmine / Ginger

The Jasmine and Ginger are luxury sailing junks with polished woodwork, French Indochina design, refined Asian decor and golden sails. The sundecks are complete with lounge chairs giving you the opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery of Halong Bay. Relax at the bar and enjoy meals in the restaurant where lavish international brunches, casual Vietnamese lunches and formal dinners are served.

The cabins offer panoramic windows or private balconies, with individually controlled air conditioning and glass standing showers. Various optional activities are offered including kayaking to explore the bay’s uninhabited islands and caverns, tai chi, cooking classes and wine tasting.

GetAboutAsia recommend these Heritage Line junks for our Halong Bay one and two night stays due to the fantastic feedback received from our customers and from our own experience on these amazing boats. With our good relationship with Heritage Lines, we also believe these boats represent good value for this once in a lifetime experience.

Heritage Line Ginger and Jasmine photos.
Jasmine / Ginger Junk Photos

Halong Bay Sails

The Halong Bay Sails is a traditional wooden junk with modern facilities and amenities. Cabins are decorated simply but comfortably, with large windows, en-suite showers and air conditioning. The restaurant serves fresh seafood caught locally, and the bar serves coffee and cocktails. There is a large sundeck complete with sun lounges enabling you to relax and enjoy the beauty of Halong Bay.

Excursions are similar to those on the Jasmine / Ginger junks, and include trips to floating villages or exploring rock formations by boat or kayak.

The Halong Bay Sails is used on the budget itinerary option.

Travel Styles

All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.

Standard:from AU $3,576
Superior:from AU $4,515
Deluxe:from AU $5,923

All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!

Important Information

Accommodation:

Hotels or Halong Bay Junk each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.

Inclusions:
  • All breakfasts at your hotel each morning.
  • All airport transfers.
  • All internal airfares and transport on tour.
  • All itinerary attractions including fees or permits.
  • Professional tour guides for all airport pickups, day tours and activities.
  • Lunch and dinner as indicated on trip notes. We do not include lunch or dinner where it is practical for you to make your own choices, as we find that GetAboutAsia customers prefer the freedom of eating what they want, which is one the of joys of travelling.
Notes:

This trip package includes 3 internal flights (Siam Reap-Saigon, Saigon-Hanoi, Hanoi-Luang Prabang) which retail at about 200 AUD per flight.

This trip package includes 4 internal flights (Saigon-Danang, Hue to Hanoi, Hanoi to Vientiane and Vientiane to Luang Prabang) which retail at about 200 AUD per flight.

Visa for Vietnam
When obtaining your visa you should allow 2-3 weeks for processing, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Check with your embassy or consulate for further details. The Vietnamese Embassy in Edgecliff, Sydney has been known to issue a visa in 4 working days if all the correct documents are submitted at the time of application.

Visas for Laos
You can get your visa in advance, but a visa can easily be obtained on arrival at most airports from around 35-50USD (dependant on nationality). You will need 2 passport photos. Please check with the consulate in your country for more details before you travel.

If you’re on a trip where it crosses the Lao the border, we ask all our travellers to obtain their Laos visas at the border, and NOT in their home country. Your tour guide will assist you in obtaining a Laos visa, generally at the border, depending on the current state of affairs, as it can vary.

Please ensure that you have at least 2 passport photos and up to US$60 cash (this may vary too) to fulfil the requirements.

Price Dependent:

Availability of accommodation and season.

Trip Information

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