Highlights of Vietnam & Laos

Highlights of Vietnam & Laos

This tour combines the highlights of Vietnam with the fascinating Luang Prabang of Laos, it is an ideal trip for those traveling to these two of Indochina’s most popular destinations for the first time.

 

Begin in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam’s most dynamic city. Private touring with your personal guide and driver, learn about the city’s history when visiting French colonial-era landmarks, the Reunification Palace and the War Remnants Museum. Stop for a refreshing Vietnamese iced coffee while exploring the busy Cholon neighborhood (Saigon’s Chinatown) and city’s famous pagoda. Take an excursion into the countryside to visit Cu Chi Tunnels.

 

Travel to Hoi An, a peaceful port town and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stay at a luxury beachfront resort, explore the best of this centuries-old town. Private touring the colorful backstreets, the vibrant morning market, well-preserved homes, historic temples and the Japanese Covered Bridge. Visit the nearby Museum of Cham Sculpture, and the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation, which is famous for the gleaming woodcarvings on the beams, walls and the altar.

 

Next, travel to Hanoi, Vietnam's fascinating capital and cultural center. Visit Hanoi’s most important historical attractions, such as Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and the House on Stilts, One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature. Ride on a rickshaw to see the charming Hoan Kiem Lake and leafy boulevards lined with beautiful French colonial-era buildings, many of which are now upscale restaurants. One day, visit the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, enjoy a private street food tour and sample the best Vietnamese food by walking through the narrow streets. Learn about its history and traditional architecture, and see why each street was named after the product it sells. Afterwards, attend a Hanoi's renowned water puppet show.

 

Continue to Halong Bay, the bay of splendid limestone formations and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Board a traditional Vietnamese wooden junk for an overnight cruise, explore the amazing limestone islands and visit serene floating villages as well as gorgeous limestone caves.

 

The tour concludes in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed town along the Mekong River in northern Laos. Experience the best of Luang Prabang and its surrounding region with your personal guide and driver. Visit cultural attractions, including the Royal Palace and Wat Xieng Thong temple. Learn about Buddhism and its central role in Lao culture, take a memorable cruise on the Mekong visiting craft villages and caves filled with Buddha statues.

 

    Places visited:

  • Saigon
  • Hoi An
  • Hanoi
  • Halong Bay
  • Luang Prabang 
Itinerary Idea in Detail:
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  • Day 1: Saigon Arrival, Vietnam

    Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City since 1976, is the most well-known city in Vietnam due to the pivotal role it played during the Vietnam War, it’s also the country’s largest city by population. Ever since the war ended, Saigon is always a whirlwind of historical attractions.

     

    Upon your arrival at the Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN), our fast-track service officers will greet you with a signboard with your name(s) on it, and quickly assist you through the immigration to the baggage claim. Meet your own personal guide and driver for a private transfer to your hotel for two nights.

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  • Day 2: Saigon City Tour and Vespa Scooter Tour After Dark (B, D)

    Follow your guide for a full day city tour, get to know about Saigon by visiting its historic landmark including the former Presidential Palace. The Palace was the head quarter of Saigon government during the Resistance War Against the American, revealing the history of Saigon during its turbulent recent past. Perhaps stop for a refreshing Vietnamese iced coffee, or snack on a typical Vietnamese banh mi (baguette sandwich). Visit the War Remnant Museum for a vivid insight of the war through the eyes of the local people, the Notre Dame Cathedral (it is only possible to visit inside when there is no service being performed), and head to the Centre Post Office, which was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the French architect who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

     

    In the evening sit on the back of a driver on a Vespa scooter, driving around the city like a local to experience the real city night life and sampling some delicious street food on the way.

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  • Day 3: Cu Chi Tunnels – Hoi An (B)

    Cu Chi Tunnels is a complex of immense underground network of connecting tunnels, dug by the local villagers of Cu Chi from 1948 to protect their guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. Those tunnels then served as a hideaway for Vietcong leaders, villagers during their resistance war against the American between 1954 and 1975. Touring the underground compound will provide a better understanding of the hardship of life in the tunnels and the Vietnamese resilience during combat.

     

    From the city center, take a boat excursion on the Saigon River toward Cu Chi tunnels, where you will learn how the people in Cu Chi dug and organized their life underground during the war. You will follow the steps of the former Viet Cong to explore the secret place during the Vietnam war, and watch the original film footage from the war and see first-hand what life was like for the VC soldiers.

     

    Afterward, transfer to the airport in time for your flight to Hoi An. Upon arrival in Danang, meet your guide and drive to your hotel for two nights.

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  • Day 4: Hoi An Half-day Walking Tour (B)

    Known as “Faifo” during the 17th and 19th centuries, Hoi An was a prosperous trading port and attracting many Japanese, Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish boats. Today this ancient town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, home of well-preserved homes and historic temples.

                

    Follow your private guide to the vibrant morning market, where fishermen are busy with baskets of fishes. Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, the nearby Museum of Cham Sculpture and walk through the narrow streets boasting local specialties including silk, which can be tailored into fashionable suites within few hours.

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  • Day 5: Hoi An – Hanoi (B)

    This morning, you will be free to relax at the resort or explore the surrounding area at your own. Get picked up in time for a private transfer to the airport for your flight to Hanoi. On arrival in Hanoi, meet your guide then transfer to hotel for three nights.

     

    Along the way, your guide will be able to suggest the best restaurant for dinner. Spend the rest of the day to relax at your hotel, or perhaps you would love to walk around Hoan Kiem Lake on your own and watch people playing tennis and Vietnamese hacky sacks.

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  • Day 6: Hanoi City Tour (B)

    The capital of Vietnam since 1010AD, Hanoi is home of an amazing blend of Indo-Chinese and French colonial influences.  The modern-day Hanoi is a mix of ancient temples and pagodas, parks and lakes, broad tree-lined boulevards and narrow food alleyways.

     

    Today you will tour the city with your own tour guide and driver. Begin with the Ho Chi Minh complex, where the first president of Vietnam lived and his embalmed body is kept in the mausoleum, and the colonial Presidential Palace surrounded the green garden. Drive to the Temple of Literature, a Confucius temple and Vietnam’s first university. Then continue to Hoa Lo Prison (Hanoi Hilton) to learn about the recent history of the country, as well as the use of the site by both the French and North Vietnam during the two Indochina Wars. Enjoy one hour cyclo (rickshaw) ride touring the French and the Old Quarter, get your camera ready for the incredible traffic moments that you will see from your cyclo.

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  • Day 7: Hanoi Street Food Tour (B)

    Hanoi is one of the best foodie destination in the region, eating on the street has been a typical and fun activity in the city. And because the Old Quarter is home of well-known Vietnamese food such as the famous Nom Bo Kho (Dried Beef with Green Papaya Salad), Banh Khuc (Steamed Cake made of glutinous rice mixed with Cubweed, filled with green bean paste, pork, black peppers, and sprinkled with grains of cooked sticky rice), and Bun Cha (Grilled Pork Noodle Soup).

     

    Leave your hotel to visit the Vietnam Museums of Ethnology and learn about the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam, then head back for a leisurely walk in the Old Quarter and its local markets with your tour guide, sample the best local dishes along the way. If you are a coffee person, don’t miss out the Hanoi egg coffee, a local created coffee well-whisked with egg yolk and condensed milk. Other famous dishes include Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwich), Pho (Beef Noodle Soup), or Hanoi’s ice cream. Conclude the day by watching an entertaining Water Puppet show, which was originated in the flooded rice fields of the Red River Delta from 11th century. The hidden puppeteers, standing on the water, to manipulate colorful wooden puppets to depict scenes based on Vietnamese folklore.

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  • Day 8: Hanoi – Halong Bay (B, L, D)

    Halong Bay is Vietnam’s prime tourist attraction, this UNESCO World Heritage listed bay is home to thousands of limestone islands rising out of emerald waters of Tonkin Gulf. The best way to explore the stunning rock formations and the calm waters of Halong is to aboard a luxury Vietnamese junk (traditional wooden boat).

     

    Leave your hotel for 3.5-hour drive on private car to Halong Bay, where you will board a traditional Vietnamese junk for an overnight cruise. On arrival in Halong Bay, settle into your cabin and prepare your appetite for an enjoyable lunch on deck. Take in the magnificent views of the UNESCO Heritage Site of Halong Bay during the afternoon cruise. Visit the mysterious Tien Ong cave where human bones dating back to 8.000BC were found, also visit Cua Van floating village and learn about the living and fishing in the bay. In the late afternoon, participate in a cooking demonstration with the chef or view the sunset on the top deck before dinner.

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  • Day 9: Halong Bay – Hanoi – Luang Prabang (B)

    Early risers can greet the new day with a refreshing tai chi on the upper deck. Enjoy your morning coffee while the boat is heading to Titop Island, where you can swim on a natural white sandy beach and climb up the top for a panoramic view of the surrounding. Back to the boat where a brunch is served before we arrive at the jetty at noon, where your guide is waiting for you to drive back to the airport in Hanoi for your flight to Luang Prabang (Laos).

     

    Upon on your arrival in Luang Prabang airport, meet your guide for a private arrival transfer to your hotel where you will stay for three nights.

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  • Day 10: Luang Prabang City Tour (B, D)

    Today you will explore Luang Prabang with your personal guide and driver. Take in the interesting fusion of Lao traditional architecture and colonial-era villas along the drive to Wat Xieng Thong, the most beautiful temple in Luang Prabang. Built in the 16th century, Wat Xieng Thong epitomizes the elegance and grace of Luang Prabang architecture. Then visit the Wat Khili, which is situated opposite Wat Xieng Thong and known as the Temple of the Golden Mountain. The temple is home to the Buddhist Archives, which preserves historic photographs and documents, many of which had been safeguarded by monks in Luang Prabang throughout the turmoil and war of the 20th century.

     

    Continue on to the Royal Palace, which is now a museum. The location of the palace was chosen so that official visitors to Luang Prabang could disembark from their river voyages directly below the palace and be received there. In 1975, the monarchy was overthrown by the communists, and the palace was then converted into a national museum housing precious artefacts that belonged to the Lao Royal Family. In the evening, experience the traditional baci (welcome) ceremony then enjoy a private dinner.

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  • Day 11: Alms Giving Ceremony and Cruise to Buddha Caves (B)

    Leave your hotel at 5h30am for Tak Bat or morning alms ceremony, a well-known Buddhist tradition in Luang Prabang which dates back generations. Witness and participate in the offering alms to a procession of hundreds of saffron-robed monks in the early morning light, a truly spiritual occasion! After the almsgiving, watch the town come to life during a visit to the bustling morning market before returning to your hotel in time for breakfast.

     

    Board a small boat for your private adventure on the meandering Mekong River, an ideal introduction on the river that runs through Laos. Enjoy the idyllic scenes of rural riverside life and spectacular scenery until reaching Pak Ou Caves, which locates amongst the limestone cliffs where the Mekong and Nam Our rivers meet. Pak Ou Caves include Tham Ting and Tham Theung, both filled with thousands of Buddha statues and images for centuries.

     

    Visit Ban Xang Hai village, also known as the “Whiskey Village”, where you can see the process of making “Lao Lao” (Lao whisky). Along with Beerlao, Lao-Lao is a staple drink in Laos. It’s impressive how rudimentary and traditional the method is, the locals are still using an open fire and earthen jars to make their wine. Stroll around the village to browse the stands selling bottles of local whiskey and also textiles before heading back to your hotel.

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  • Day 12: Luang Prabang Departure (B)

    Today you will leave Luang Prabang and end your trip. Your guide and driver will pick you up and drive to the airport to take your onward flight.


Price:  8,090 USD Per Person (double occupancy)

All Incense Travel tours are private and depart daily.

 

Our tour price includes:

  • Private airport transfers
  • Private touring with your own personal guides and drivers, one guide in each city.
  • English speaking guide during the tour
  • Private cabin on a join-boat in Halong Bay
  • Regional flights: Saigon – Danang, Danang – Hanoi, Hanoi – Luang Prabang.
  • All meals mentioned in the detailed itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
  • Sightseeing as mentioned with permission fee and entrance tickets
  • Double occupancy at hotels and cruise as suggested in the detailed itinerary

 

Our tour price DOSE NOT include:

  • International airfares
  • Any meals not specified after each itinerary day, beverages at meals
  • Tips or gratuities to tour guide or staffs
  • Hotel accommodation pre and post the trip
  • Pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any)
  • Travel insurance, visas, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Details at-a-Glance

  • Length: 12 Days - Departs daily on a private basis
  • Price: 8,090 USD per person (double occupancy)
  • Accommodations: Nicest hotels in Vietnam and Laos
  • Travel Style: Leisure Travel
  • Arrival: Saigon, Vietnam
  • Departure: Luang Prabang, Laos

Highlights

  • See the best of Vietnam and Laos.
  • Experience Vietnam and Lao traditions such as baci ceremony in Luang Prabang.
  • Stay at luxurious colonial accommodations.
  • Eat the best local food during the tour.
  • Explore the beautiful limestone formations of Halong Bay on an overnight cruise.

EXPLAIN TRIP LEVELS