Drink in the richness of ancient cultures as you travel through vibrant cities, around natural wonders, up cool mountains and amongst steamy tropical jungle.
An unforgettable journey that will inspire you to return to explore your favourite discoveries in greater depth.
Day 1: Depart UK on your overnight flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Day 2: Arrive Phnom Penh for 2 nights. Private transfer to your choice of hotel
Day 3: Private guided City Tour with Killing Field
Day 4: Fly to Siem Reap (Angkor) for 3 nights
Day 5: Private guided Angkor Temples Highlights tour
Day 6: Morning private guided tour to Tonle Sap Lake with boat ride
Day 7: Fly to Luang Prabang, Laos for 3 nights
Day 8: Private guided Alms Procession & City Tour with cruise to Pak Ou Caves
Day 9: Full day Mahout training & Elephant day
Day 10: Fly to Hanoi, Vietnam for 2 nights
Day 11: Hanoi City Highlights tour
Day 12: Overnight cruise to Halong Bay, UNESCO World Heritage site
Day 13: Morning cruise then fly to Hue for 2 nights.
Day 14: Full day tour of the Citadel and Thien Mu Pagoda with short cruise on Perfume River
Day 15: Private transfer down dramatic coast to Hoi An for 2 nights in this atmospheric UNESCO town.
Day 16: Private walking tour of Hoi An's historic streets, with time to watch local artisans at work.
Day 17: Morning free before flying down to Saigon for 3 nights.
Day 18: Private Cu Chi Tunnels and Saigon City Tour.
Day 19: Mekong Delta tour with boat ride
Day 20: Overnight flight home.
Day 21: Arrive home
Day 1: UK Airport / Phnom Penh
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Phnom Penh. As there are no direct flights to Cambodia this is a chance to add on an extra destination such as Bangkok, Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur or just book a through flight.
Day 2: Arrive Phnom Penh
On arrival you’ll be met by your private guide and transferred to the city centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights. The rest of the day is free.
Phnom Penh is a traditional Far East city, full of energy and still tatty around the edges. A great place to start in the early evening is to take a tuk tuk to the riverside promenade. As you walk along the Mekong look across to the French colonial buildings that are interspersed with the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and National Museum. Evening is the time everyone congregates along the wide promenade with impromptu aerobics, football matches and time to catch up with friends. There are plenty of restaurants and bars along the way
Day 3: Phnom Penh - Private City Tour with Killing Field (B / L)
After breakfast your guide will pick you up for a half day city tour of the fascinating Khmer Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. After lunch in a local restaurant you visit the sobering and poignant Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a testament to Cambodia’s bloody past. Then you can explore the colourful stalls of the vast Central Market. The tour ends at the Choeung Ek Killing Fields just outside the city. This is now a Buddhist memorial park that has been constructed around the mass graves of the thousands of victims. Dozens of mass graves are visible above ground, several which have not yet been excavated. The field is marked by a Buddhist stupa that has glass walls and is filled with over 5,000 skulls. You’ll be back at the hotel by the late afternoon.
Day 4: Fly Phnom Penh (B) / Siem Reap
Private transfer to the airport in time for your flight to Siem Reap. On arrival met by your private guide and transferred to the town centre where you check in to your choice of hotel for3 nights. This evening you might like to visit the circus that performs nightly in the centre of town. We can arrange tickets.
Day 5: Siem Reap - Private Angkor Temples Tour (B / L)
This morning your private guide will pick you up for a private guided tour of the iconic Angkor Archaeological Park. Start off at Angkor Thom, the last great capital of the Khmer Empire. Highlights include the magnificent Bayon, one of the most recognisable sites because of the 54 towers adorned with 216 enigmatically smiling stone faces, the Terrace of Elephants, a giant viewing stand for public ceremonies and the Terrace of Leper Kings, whose walls boast beautifully carved nagas, demons and other mythological beings. In the low morning sun the carvings really stand out and as you stand on the Terrace of Elephants you get a great view across a parkland scene interspersed with giant trees protected in the National Park.
Then move onto the temple of Ta Phrom, jungle covered and pretty much left as originally found by European explorers to create a mystical atmosphere.
Back to Siem Reap (15 minutes away) for lunch and a rest in the hot midday. This afternoon return to explore Angkor Wat, the most famous and best preserved of all the Angkor temples. You’ll have time for a thorough exploration before climbing to the top of Pre Rup temple to watch the sunsetover the jungle. Back to the hotel by early evening.
Extra…The great thing about having your own specialist guide is that the itinerary can be tailored to you and be adapted on the ground to take advantage of local knowledge and keep ahead of the crowds. Angkor represents the universe in miniature and you could spend weeks touring round the thousand or so temples, so on this tour we focus on the highlights, but we can easily extend your stay.
Day 6: Siem Reap (B) - Tonle Sap Lake Stilted Villages Tour
This morning you’ll be collected by your guide and transferred 45 minutes through the Cambodia countryside to Tonle Sap Lake where you board a longtail boat to explore the lake and visit Kompong Phluk, an isolated community of three villages built on stilts. These scenic villages are flooded for around half the year and you will board a local boat, rowed by a villager, to explore the local community. You will also be taken through the flooded mangrove forests that are the main building block of this valuable ecosystem that supports a variety of wildlife. Back in Siem Reap in time for a late lunch.
Day 7: Fly Siem Reap (B) / Luang Prabang
Private airport transfer and flight to Luang Prabang, Laos. On arrival you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel of choice for 3 nights. The rest of the day is free to explore this mystical town. Don’t miss the superb night market that runs through the centre of town.
Day 8: Luang Prabang - Private Guided Almsgiving, City & Pak Ou Caves Tour (B / L)
Today rise early for a dawn (6.00am) start to watch the traditional Lao rite of Almsgiving to the 300+ monks that occurs each morning. Afterwards your private guide will take you back to the hotel via the Morning Market, a feast of local and somewhat unusual (to us) produce. After a leisurely breakfast join your guide for a private guided Walking tour around this beautiful World Heritage town, visiting a number of Wats (temples), the Royal Palace and central market. Luang Prabang is best experienced by foot (we can arrange a car) and is home to a growing number of niche shops and galleries. The morning finishes with a climb up the 328 steps up Phousi Mountain for superb views of the area. Lunch will be in a local restaurant.
This afternoon your guide will take you on a boat ride up the Mekong to the Pak Ou Caves that rest high in the limestone cliffs and house thousands of Buddha statues that were hidden from the looting Chinese Haw. The caves were converted into Buddhist temples in the 15th century and are used as a site for old Buddha images that can no longer be venerated in a temple, either because they are damaged or the temple they were displayed in has been destroyed. Along the way stop at a riverside village to see weavers working on ancient looms before returning to town late afternoon.
Day 9: Luang Prabang - Mahout Training Day (B / L)
This morning you’ll be driven about 10kms to the Elephant Village, a centre with a focus on the protection and rehabilitation of elephants in Laos. On arrival meet the camp manager and hear about the work carried out by a team of dedicated staff and volunteers in caring for the elephants.
Next, climb aboard an elephant for a jungle walk. You can either ride on the howdah, a wooden chair, or for a more authentic experience on the neck of the elephant. Then it’s time to learn some elephant whispering secrets from the mahouts. Their crash course includes tips on how to control these massive animals gently, gracefully and respectfully. The tips will come in handy when you get to bathe with them later!
After enjoying buffet lunch at the restaurant take a wander around the village and see the elephant hospital or join in feeding these gentle giants. Next it’s bath time with your elephant on the banks of the Nam Khan River. This is something you won’t soon forget as you will have loads of fun getting wet and wild with your elephant. After returning your elephant to camp, take a short boat trip down the river for a dip in the exquisite Tad Sae Waterfall.
Day 10: Luang Prabang (B) / Hanoi
Most of the day’s free to enjoy the town. Afternoon transfer to the airport and flight over to Hanoi, Vietnam. On arrival met by your private guide and transferred to your city centre hotel of choice for 2 nights. Hanoi offers the chance to enjoy authentic old school Far East. The hotel is in the centre and we’d recommend that you take a walk through the Old Quarter. Don’t be put off by the thousands of motor scooters, just dive in.
Day 11: Hanoi - City Tour (B / L)
After breakfast you’ll be collected for a small group full day city tour. The day kicks off at Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum where you join thousands of Vietnamese as they pay their respects filing past in solemn silence. The complex is also home to his former stilt-house, Presidential Palace and One Pillar Pagoda. From here you walk a short distance to the archaeological site of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long. The Citadel was built in the 11th century by the Ly Viet Dynasty and was the centre of regional political power for almost 13 centuries without interruption. Its history will be explained as you explore the site. After this, break for lunch in a lovely local restaurant.
The afternoon starts at the Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s first university. Originally built as a temple dedicated to Confucius, it became the site of Vietnam’s first university dating back to 1070. Then you’re off to Hanoi’s Old Quarter where you’ll visit Long Bien Bridge that was built between 1899 - 1902, whilst under French occupancy. Your guide will take you across to the other side where you can see how close Hanoi is to countryside life. Back in the Old Quarter enjoy an hour’s exploration aboard a cyclo (Vietnamese cycle rickshaw). Also known as the 36 streets, this bustling warren of narrow streets is home to thousands of small businesses, including galleries, craft shops and restaurants. End your day with a Vietnamese coffee in a local café overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake. Here you can spend some quality time with your guide and ask him questions about all the sights you have seen throughout the day. You will return to your hotel at 4.30pm.
Day 12: Hanoi - Halong Bay Overnight Cruise (B / L / D)
This morning you’ll be transferred by minibus to Halong Bay (3.5/4 hours). Meet the crew and board the traditional wooden junk for 1 night, then relax and enjoy lunch while the boat heads toward the secluded islands. Visit ancient limestone caves and go sea kayaking and swimming (weather permitting). Return to the junk refreshed & invigorated to relax on deck with a drink watching the sunset and enjoy a seafood dinner under the stars.
Day 13: Halong Bay Cruise (B / L) - Hanoi / Hue - Evening Flight
Enjoy breakfast as you continue to cruise through Bai Tu Long and visit the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng to learn more about daily life living on the bay. Cruise back to the dock whilst enjoying a light lunch for return drive to the city and your flight to Hue. On arrival you’ll be met and transferred to Hue where you check in to your choice of hotel for 2 nights.
Extra….Alternatively this afternoon you are transferred to the train station for the overnight train journey (9pm) to Hue aboard the Reunification Express.
Day 14: Hue - Private guided Citadel, Tien Mu Pagoda & Perfume River Tour (B / L)
This morning your private guide will collect you for the tour to the Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Straddling the Perfume River, this was the Nguyen capital, the last dynasty in Vietnam. It dominates Hue and its moated walls protect the forbidden Purple City, the former home of the royal family that’s modelled on the Forbidden City in Beijing. Take your time wandering through the fascinating tombs, temples and museums and past pagodas, lakes and pavilions. As you walk around you’ll also see the scars still visible from the Citadel’s prominent role during the Tet Offensive. You may also have time to visit the Minh Mang tomb, perhaps the most majestic of all Hue’s elaborate Nguyen mausoleums that are scattered around the countryside.
Lunch will be at a local restaurant, then move on to Hue’s best-known religious site, the Thien Mu Pagoda. Built on a hill between the river and pine forest the distinctive seven-tiered octagonal tower is the focal point of the complex and is one of the oldest and most attractive in the country. Continue through the working monastic complex to a beautifully kept garden and cemetery at the base of the Truong Son Mountains. Back at the hotel late afternoon. This evening perhaps take a walk through the small night market that runs through the town.
Day 15: Hue (B) to Hoi An by car
This morning your guide will pick you up for the private car transfer to Hoi An via the dramatic Hai Van Pass, with plenty of time to stop and take some pictures looking down along the dramatic coastline. On arrival check in to your choice of hotel for2 nights.
Extra….Hoi An is also blessed with superb beaches and so you can choose to stay on the beach and in the town, depending on where you'd like to spend most of your time If you’re here from Match to September the weather should be perfect to enjoy the beach, why not extend for a few days?
Day 16: Hoi An (B) - Private Guided Walking Tour of Old Town
This morning your private guide will collect you for a private walking tour of Hoi An’s Old Town. Beautifully preserved and car free, you can leisurely explore the historic streets, watching local artisans at work with silk, ceramics, paint and wood. Hoi An is famous for its tailoring heritage and is a popular place to have a little something run up.
Historical highlights include the Chua Ong Pagoda dating back to 1653, the Jinshang Temple that is dedicated to the goddess of the sea and the protector of sailors, Tam Ky House a 200 year old ancestral house and the 17th century covered bridge built by Japanese craftsmen and is a major landmark of Hoi An. The historic streets also house some beautifully atmospheric restaurants and this evening we recommend that you come back for dinner, when the town is lit by lantern light.
Day 17: Fly Hoi An (B) / Saigon
Private airport transfer and short flight south to Saigon. On arrival you will be met and transferred into the city centre where you check-in to your choice of hotel for 3 nights. The rest of the day is yours to get your first taste of this vibrant city.
Day 18: Saigon - Private guided Cu Chi Tunnels & Saigon City Tour (B / L)
Early departure to escape city traffic and get ahead of the crowds on a half day tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels, legendary remnants of the Vietnam War that offer an evocative insight into the horrors that were faced by those involved. During the guided tour it’s possible to descend into the layers of tunnels, that although widened, still create a feeling of creeping claustrophobia. Few other places encapsulate the sheer will-power that the American military was up against - and the lengths that the Viet Cong were prepared to go to in order to evict them.
Back to the city for lunch in a local restaurant and then rejoin your private guide for an afternoon city tour Highlights include the colonial Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post Office & Opera House, Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Back at the hotel late afternoon. Your guide would be happy to make dinner arrangements.
Day 19: Saigon - Mekong Delta Tour (B / L)
This morning you’ll be picked up by your private guide for the drive south to the Mekong Delta. Stop en route to visit the Cai Be floating market and some of the varied traditional cottage industries that dot this region. Then board a small boat to explore some of the small canals that spider web the delta and enjoy a delicious lunch in an orchard restaurant. After lunch enjoy a short walk along the banks of one of the canals and then transfer back to Saigon for a final night.
Day 20: Saigon (B) / UK Airport
Day free until privat eairport transfer and flight home. Arrive back in UK the following morning
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas International airport departure taxes if payable locally
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels in Phnom Penh
Authentic and cultured, Phnom Pehn is filled with amazing sights
Hotels in Siem Reap
As the main gateway to the temples of Angkor, Siem Reap offers a great range of hotel accomodation.
Hotels in Luang Prabang
This UNESCO World Heritage city is very special and you'll be amazed how at home you'll feel there
Hotels in Hanoi
This dynamic and exciting city is full of places to explore and the perfect starting point for a tour of what Vietnam has to offer
Hotels in Hue
The ancient citadel of Hue if filled with fascination tombs, temples and museums
Hotels in Hoi An
This bustling port town is full if eclectic architecture and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Choose to stay in town or by the shore!
Hotels in Saigon
A vibrant beating heart of the country and a great mix of traditional and modern. Plenty of great accomodation to choose from.
Hotels in Phu Quoc
Relax on the pristine beaches of Phu Quoc Island. Perfect for lazing as well as pampering and watersports.