Take in the best of Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand on this Southeast Asia holiday. Begin in Bangkok where you’ll tuck into the street food markets before heading to Sukhothai, where ancient ruins and temples await. Enjoy views over twinkling Chiang Mai from Doi Suthep before flying to Laos. Soak up the colonial architecture of Luang Prabang and head to Hanoi, the cultural capital of Vietnam. Sail across Halong Bay, indulge in noodles in Hoi An and learn about the region’s history in Ho Chi Minh City. Finish your Southeast Asia holiday in Siem Reap, where you can watch the sun set over the magical temples of Angkor Wat.
This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements; please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport.
On arrival in Bangkok, you’ll be met at the airport and drive to your hotel. Spend the rest of your day at leisure – you could head out into the city for dinner and have a drink at the SkyBar, with panoramic views over the city.
After an early start you’ll head to Bangkok’s most famous temple, Wat Pho, for a half day tour. In the mornings the monks begin their ritual of chanting, an uplifting and private experience within the temple grounds before marvelling at the 45-metre-long Reclining Buddha, with intricate mother of pearl feet and stunning golden skin.
Next, you’ll explore the Grand Palace, where the majestic buildings are encrusted with golden tiles and ruby mosaics, with spiky roofs pointing into the sky. Here you’ll enter the holy sanctuary of the Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in the country, where many local people come every day to worship.
This afternoon, you’ll take a stroll through Chinatown where you visit interesting shops, tea shop, markets and temples to get a first-hand feel for old Bangkok. Continue to The Bangkok Folk Museum, a seventy-year-old Thai house converted into a small but fascinating museum. Then hop on a long tail boat for a ride along the bustling Chao Phraya River and the quiet klongs of Thonburi where you see how Thai people have lived next to the water for centuries. Last stop is the magnificent Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn.
This evening why not head into the city and enjoy a traditional Thai meal of garlic rice, som tam and the famous Thai green curry.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Sukhothai. On arrival you’ll be met by your guide at the airport and transferred for a tour of Sukhothai Historical Park.
Sukhothai, which means ‘dawn of happiness’, was founded in the 13th century and became the kingdom's first capital. This period was known as the golden age of Thai history. The park contains almost 200 ruined chedis in remarkable condition – we’d recommend you spend the whole afternoon exploring the site, wandering between the ruins and learning about their fascinating history.
After breakfast, you’ll set off north to Si Satchanalai Historical Park on the bank of the Yom River. 134 ruined monuments have been discovered within the park. Spend the morning discovering these fascinating ancient ruins before driving to Lampang. Here you’ll stop to visit Wat Phra That Lampang Luang and arrive in Chiang Mai in the late afternoon.
Spend the evening at your leisure – we’d recommend visiting the Chiang Mai night market for dinner. Why not try a bowlful of khao soi, a northern speciality made of crunchy noodles, lean beef and delicious Thai spices and herbs.
Head north out of Chiang Mai to board a long tail boat along the rural Mae Ping River. Along the riverbank, you’ll see traditional wooden houses and modern residences. You’ll arrive at a boat landing and make your way to a fresh food market, where you can taste some local delicacies. From here, you’ll take a trishaw ride along Tapae Road, past the city walls and on to Wat Phra Singh.
Spend the afternoon exploring ancient Chiang Mai, including its old city walls, gates and moat. Head up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the temple on a high mountain overlooking the city. Your guide will tell you all about the story of the temple, the white elephant and the impressive chedi. By dusk most of the tourists have left, and the temple grounds have a much more special atmosphere. After a private blessing ceremony, witness the magical evening chanting of the monks. End with the spectacularly romantic evening view over Chiang Mai with its millions of glittering lights.
After breakfast, you will be taken to the airport in time for you to catch your flight to Laos. On arrival in Luang Prabang, you will be met and driven to your hotel, where you will check in for 3 nights. The rest of your afternoon is at your leisure to relax or explore.
This morning, you’ll explore Luang Prabang and learn about the history of the city. Take in the former Royal Palace, now the National Museum, as well as Wat Mai, a golden temple. Next, you’ll head to the beautiful Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most important temples in Laos.
After lunch we’ve included a cycling tour. The first stop of this afternoon’s bike ride is the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre, a museum dedicated to exploring the rich diversity of Laos’ ethnic minorities. Traditional costumes, tools and artifacts are on display alongside in-depth descriptions and written histories. Continue cycling to the Phousi Market and support vendors by buying fresh products or fruits. Your guide will be here to suggest some exotic fruits to try and help identify new items not found in the grocery store back home.
As dinner time arrives, we’ve booked you a cooking class to learn a little more about the Laotian cuisine. Your cooking class at Tamarind Restaurant starts with an introduction to the main ingredients and how they are used in Lao cuisine. Then you will start preparing and cooking an assortment of dishes with the help of a cheerful chef who will teach all the traditional techniques, as well as information about Lao culture.
After breakfast, you’ll start this morning with a visit to Wat Xieng Thong, a beautiful temple. Afterwards, you’ll board a traditional wooden boat for a relaxing cruise along the Mekong. Enjoy the peaceful scenery passing by before arriving at the Pak Ou Caves.
Sitting where the Mekong and the Nam Ou Rivers meet, these twin caves are carved into the limestone cliffs. They are filled with hundreds of ancient Buddha images and statues. After visiting the caves, we’ll moor near the cliff to enjoy a delicious local lunch, with a range of traditional Laotian dishes.
Finish the day by taking part in a traditional Baci ceremony. Deeply rooted in Lao culture, these ceremonies are used to celebrate a special occasion, whether a wedding, a festival, or a welcome. During the Baci, special flower trays and food treats are prepared which are then touch by the participants while a Buddhist mantra is chanted. After the chanting is completed, cotton threads are tied around the participants’ wrist whilst they receive an individual blessing.
After breakfast, you’ll be taken to the airport for the short flight to Hanoi. On arrival, you’ll be taken to your hotel and check in. The afternoon is at your leisure, so why not visit the Opera House before heading out for dinner to enjoy a steaming bowl of pho.
After breakfast, you’ll leave Hanoi and be driven to Halong Bay, one of Vietnam’s most famous areas. On boarding your boat you’ll enjoy lunch and spend the afternoon relaxing on board, taking in the magical landscape as you sail through the green waters past the towering karst peaks.
In the evening you’ll have dinner on board under the stars before spending the night on the boat.
The sun rising over Halong Bay is a beautiful sight to behold and this morning you can enjoy it while eating your breakfast as the boat cruises through the magnificent formations back towards the port.
Back in Hanoi, you’ll enjoy a half day tour of the city, beginning with a visit to the famous Temple of Literature. Wandering around this 1,000-year-old compound, you’ll get a glimpse into the past when it served as a university and temple. After this you’ll embark on a walking tour through the Old Quarter, where the narrow streets are alive with traditional Vietnamese life. Continue through Hang Be Market and around Hoan Kiem Lake, snapping photos and chatting with locals as you go.
After breakfast, you’ll be taken to the airport for your flight to Hue.
On arrival, your bags will be dropped off at your hotel and your guided tour of Hue will begin, starting at the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. You’ll take a cyclo journey travelling through Dai Noi “Old City” to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax. Surrounded by local coffee shops and covered by lotus flowers in the summer, the lake is a popular area for both locals and tourists alike.
Next, you’ll stop at Thien Mu (Celestial Lady) Pagoda which overlooks the Perfume River. Within the grounds of the pagoda you will find the Austin car made famous in 1963, when a resident monk drove it to Saigon to protest against the southern regime. A photo of this was captured and is one of the most well-known images of the war.
This afternoon, head to the tomb of the former emperor Minh Mang which is located in a tranquil setting of gardens and ponds. You will then journey onto Khai Dinh’s tomb which is a traditional Vietnamese design with a European touch, making it unique from other tombs in Hue.
Before heading back to your hotel, there’s time for you to take a stroll around Dong Ba Market with your guide. The market really is a must see area of Hue as the stalls are teeming with colour and a fantastic place to catch a glimpse of everyday life.
Leave Hue behind and drive south towards Hoi An, a major Asian trading port in the 18th centuries whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years. The scenic route passes through the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co before climbing over the Pass of Ocean Clouds.
Drive through Danang and visit the Cham Museum, which contains the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world. In the afternoon, you’ll enjoy a walking tour of the ancient town centre to visit the former merchants’ homes, the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colourful market.
Today is a free day for you to enjoy the pretty town of Hoi An. Why not stroll past the colourful lantern stalls or rent a bike and cycle into the countryside, where you can see rural life in action? However you spend the day you’ll want to finish with a dish of cao dao - fat noodles, soft pork, crispy crackling and a handful of fresh herbs like lemon basil and coriander – delicious.
This morning you’ll take a short drive to Danang Airport, to catch a flight down to dynamic Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by the locals. On arrival you’ll be taken to your hotel, before heading out on a tour of the city.
Visit Reunification Hall, formerly known as the Presidential Palace. It was this building that North Vietnamese tanks seized on the morning of 30th April 1975, as Saigon fell. This fascinating building is filled with history still fresh in the minds of many.
From here it’s a short stroll to the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City: the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), the Opera House and City Hall. Finish your tour at the War Remnants Museum where exhibition halls display imagery of both the French and ‘American’ wars.
This morning is yours for any last-minute shopping before being driven to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap. On arrival in Cambodia, you’ll be taken to your hotel, ready to explore the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire.
This afternoon, you’ll visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom. You’ll enter through the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with Elephants and four giant faces. From here, you’ll continue on to Bayon Temple in the exact centre of the city. This 12th century wonder is well-known for its 54 towers with enigmatic faces representing the 54 provinces of the Great Khmer Empire. The Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King are also highlights.
After breakfast, you’ll take a boat trip on the Tonlé Sap Lake and learn about life on the lake. Tonlé Sap is South East Asia’s largest freshwater lake. Its size varies greatly depending on the season, swelling to about four times it’s normal volume during the wet season. Board a local boat and visit Kampong Phluck, a village where the houses are on stilts, keeping them above the water during the monsoon.
Take a break by disembarking for a tasty picnic packed lunch served in a floating house and enjoy the views as the locals go about their daily lives. Head back to your hotel to relax during the hottest part of the day.
In the early evening, hop on a local ramork (similar to the Thai tuktuk), which will take you to the famous Angkor Wat. Built during the early 12th century, Angkor Wat was constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing Mount Meru, the home of the gods. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with stone carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and the wars King Suryavarman II fought during his reign.
Angkor Wat is well known for the more than 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Arrive at sunset when Angkor Wat is less visited and the Apsaras will shine in the most beautiful light.
Your Southeast Asia holiday has come to an end – today you will be driven to the airport in Siem Reap and catch your flight home.
Monsoon season in Thailand goes from May to July and lasts into November. This is then followed by a dry period from November to May which provides lower temperatures until mid-Feb followed by much higher temperatures until May. August and September are the rainiest months with chances of flooding.
The climate in Vietnam varies dramatically depending on the region you are visiting and is incredibly diverse with weather ranging from snow and frost in the northern hills to tropical conditions in the south. There are two monsoons in Vietnam; the winter monsoon arrives between October and March and brings cold and wet winters to the north and dry and warm conditions in the south. From April to October the summer monsoon brings humid weather to the whole country apart from those regions sheltered by mountains. For the best balance we recommend visiting in either April, May or October.
Cambodia is a year-round destination, however the best months to visit are December and January when humidity levels are low, rainfall in minimal and a cool breeze gives relief. From early February temperatures begin to rise until April when temperatures can hit 40 degrees. The wet season goes from May to October and brings rain and high humidity.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests, and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.