Hidden Indochina

Vietnam | Cambodia | Laos

Culture

Capture the true essence and diversity of Indochina

21 days £3,895 pp This is the per person group tour price, based on 2 sharing. The price is subject to change with exchange rate and flight cost fluctuations.
Dates & Prices

Intro

Experience a different perspective on Indochina through its less visited regions. Attend a blessing ceremony at a remote monastery in Cambodia, wander some colourful tribal markets and stop in at an elephant project. Take a boat to visit remote fishing villages in Laos, and watch local weavers ply their trade. In Vietnam, discover hidden corners of its two great cities - Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) - and meet water puppeteers and calligraphers. Visit the tribes of the Central Highlands and learn about their unique architecture and cemeteries. This is the perfect tour for repeat visitors or anyone who wants to capture the true essence of this magical region.

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

  • Experience a traditional Khmer massage
  • Take part in a Buddhist blessing ceremony
  • Explore tribal markets
  • Take a boat to visit fishing villages
  • Visit calligraphers and water puppeteers
  • Visit tribal villages and hidden pagodas

Places Visited

Phnom Penh - Stung Treng - Ban Lung - Koh Trong - Kratie - Vientiane - Ho Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta - Can Tho - Central Highlands - Buon Ma Thuot - Kontum - Hanoi - Workshops of Dong Ho - Dong Ky Village

What's Included

Airport pick-up and drop-off
Accommodation
Some meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan)
Ground transport
Drivers and guides
Itinerary & Map
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Day 1 : Phnom Penh - arrival

Arrive in Phnom Penh. Transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is free. In the evening, have a traditional Khmer massage. Overnight in Phnom Penh. 
 

Meal plan: n/a

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Day 2 : Phnom Penh

Breakfast at the hotel. Board a ferry to Arrei Ksat to visit a traditional Khmer weaving village. Enjoy lunch with the people on the island and in the afternoon, visit the local monastery to participate in a blessing ceremony. Sit on a mat as monks chant blessings and sprinkle holy water on you to pass on luck from the gods and ensure a safe and pleasurable journey. Return to your hotel. Overnight in Phnom Penh. 
 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city in Cambodia. Founded in 1434, the city is a significant tourist destination and was once considered the “Pearl of Asia”. Phnom Penh’s colonial heritage is evident through the many French-style buildings scattered along the grand boulevards. The city sits on the banks of the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers and is home to over two million people. The city’s main sights include the National Museum, the Royal Palace, Tuol Sleng Genocide museum and the killing fields.

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Day 3 : Stung Treng

Drive to Stung Treng, passing through Kampong Cham and Kratie provinces. Overnight in Stung Treng.

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Stung Treng is located on a high sandy bank overlooking the Mekong River. This region initially was under the influence of the Khmer Empire, then the Lao Kingdom of Lan Xang and later the Lao Kingdom of Champasak. The province was later ceded back to Cambodia during the period of French Indochina in 1904. The population is of mixed Khmer and Lao origins.

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Day 4 : Ban Lung

In the morning drive to Ban Lung and transfer to the hotel. Visit the Stung Treng Woman Development Centre on the way. In the afternoon, drive to Lom Phat to visit an abandoned airfield, Laotian pagoda and surrounding Chari, Laotian and Khmer villages. Afterwards visit the Eisei Patamak Hill for a panoramic view of the area and the statue of a reclining Buddha. Overnight in Ban Lung. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Set in a heavily forested region, Ban Lung is a lively commercial and trade centre in north-eastern Cambodia, home to shy hill tribes, endangered wildlife and numerous natural attractions. Formerly known as Labansiek, Ban Lung attracts people from many neighbouring villages looking to sell their goods. The town, though small, is the capital of Ratanakiri province and is affectionately known as 'Red Earth'.

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Day 5 : Around Ban Lung

Take an early morning excursion to a traditional market. Return to the hotel for breakfast and then drive to a weaving handicraft village in Choeung Phnom. Afterwards, visit Lumkut Lake and a market in Borkeo. Later, visit the gem mining region in the Borkeo District. Visit a Tumpoun village before continuing to Aundong Meas for a cruise along the Se San River and explore some Charai graveyards. After lunch, return to Ban Lung. Overnight in Ban Lung. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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Day 6 : Veon Sai - Popeak - Yeak Lom Lake

Drive to Veon Sai, visiting the Kreung villages of Noang Le and Kala along the way. After arriving in Veon Sai, take a boat to Popeak, passing through a number of villages along the way. After lunch, drive back to Ban Lung and visit Yeak Lom Lake. Overnight in Ban Lung. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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Day 7 : Kratie - Koh Trong

Drive to Kratie, stopping at Kampi Pool to watch the rare Irrawaddy dolphin along the way. After arriving in Kratie, board a ferry to the river island of Koh Trong. In the afternoon, tour the island. Option to plant a tree at the Reforestation Project. Overnight at a homestay in Koh Trong. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

Koh Trong is an island situated in the middle of the Mekong River directly opposite Kratié Town. There is a 9km circuit road around the island’s perimeter which meanders through traditional Khmer villages, fruit orchards and rice fields while observing the rituals and routines of traditional village life.

Kratié, located on the banks of the Mekong River, is dominated by a central marketplace surrounded by French colonial buildings. The town is known for its sandy beached islands and its Irrawaddy dolphins.

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Day 8 : Phnom Penh

Transfer from Kratie to Phnom Penh. Rest of the day free to relax or explore on your own. Overnight in Phnom Penh. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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Day 9 : Vientiane

Fly to Vientiane. Half day tour of the city, visiting the major sights such as Wat Siskat, Wat Prakeo, That Luang Stupa and the Patuxay Monument. Continue on to visit the markets of Talat Sao and Talat Khua Din. Afterwards drive to the Carol Cassidy Textile Centre to learn about traditional Laos weaving. Overnight in Vientiane. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Vientiane is the largest city in Laos. It became the country’s capital in 1593 due to fears of a Siamese invasion. Although it is still a relatively small city, Vientiane contains many temples and monuments including Pha That Luang, Wat Si Muang, a temple built on the remains of a Hindu shrine, and the Patuxai, a memorial monument inspired by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Energetic visitors can climb to the top of the monument and be rewarded with panoramic views of the city.

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Day 10 : Villages around Vientiane

After breakfast, transfer to Nam Ngum, stopping at Ban Keun on the way. Upon arriving at Nam Ngum Lake, board a long tail boat to visit fishing villages. In the afternoon, return to Vientiane. Overnight in Vientiane. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 11 : Ho Chi Minh City

In the morning transfer to the airport to fly to Ho Chi Minh City. After arriving, visit a Buddhist calligrapher and a family of musicians. Transfer to your hotel. In the evening take a Vespa tour of the city and sample some Vietnamese street food. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & dinner

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City has a rich military history. Named after the Communist leader, the French colonial influence is reflected through the Western Style buildings and French Villas. It is home to the Reunification Palace, the archives of the Vietnam War, and the Ben Thanh market. It has become a sprawling, rapidly growing city that is unlike anywhere else in Vietnam. It is also home to the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, which was named after the Pagoda in Bac Giang and is the first pagoda in Vietnam to be built in the traditional Vietnamese architectural style, but in concrete. 

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Day 12 : Mekong Delta

Drive to Cai Be. Board the riverboat Bassac and cruise to Cho Lach. Have lunch on board and then continue, visiting villages before docking at Tra On. Overnight on the riverboat. 

Meal plan: Breakfast, lunch & dinner

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Day 13 : Mekong Delta

In the morning cruise to Can Tho. On arrival, visit the floating market at Cai Rang before disembarking. Drive to Ho Chi Minh in the afternoon, stopping for lunch en route. Rest of the day free. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. 
 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Vietnam’s fourth largest city and the epicentre of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho is a bustling and lively city known for its floating market and picturesque rural canals. The name is a shortened form of ‘Cầm thi giang’, meaning ‘River of poems’. Can Tho is the Mekong Delta’s most important centre for economics, culture, science and technology.

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Day 14 : Central Highlands

In the morning, take a tour of Ho Chi Minh’s alleys, visiting a secret Viet Cong weapons storage facility. After lunch, transfer to the airport and fly to Buon Ma Thuot in the Central Highlands. Transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Buon Ma Thuot. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Buon Ma Thuot is the largest city in the Central Highlands and is known as the region’s ‘capital of coffee’. Every March the city plays host to an annual coffee festival where gallons of it are drunk and elephant races take place. It is home to 44 different ethnic groups that live in the surrounding villages and before the Second World War, it was centre for game hunting, however the animals have all but disappeared. Buon Ma Thuot was a strategic but poorly defended base for the South Vietnamese during the Vietnamese War It fell to the North in a surprise attack in 1975, forcing the South into a retreat that it never recovered from.

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Day 15 : Central Highlands

In the morning, visit Dak Lak Ethnology Museum and Dray Nur Waterfall. Drive to Lak Lake and take an elephant trek through Mnong villages, ride a dugout canoe on the lake and enjoy a traditional ‘gong’ show and dance. Option to visit Trung Nguyen Coffee Farm and its Central Highlands Museum. Drive back to Buon Ma Thuot. Overnight in Buon Ma Thuot. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

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Day 16 : Central Highlands

After breakfast drive to Kontum, stopping to visit the Jarai village of Pleiphun on the way. After a short tour, transfer to the hotel. Overnight in Kontum. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

Kontum was settled in 1851, by French Roman Catholic missionaries, their influence is still evident today, for example in the wooden church that stands discreetly on stilts in the middle of the town. The town makes a good base to explore the surrounding countryside and visit hill tribe villages, each with their own distinct culture. During the Vietnam War, a major battle took place between the South and the North in and around the city in 1972. The area was devastated by US bombings and, in 1975 the South withdrew after Buon Ma Thuot fell to the North. Many civilians joined them in the ‘Convoy of Tears’.
 


The Jarai people are an ethnic tribe of Vietnam, based mainly in the Central Highlands region. They traditionally live in small square villages of between 50 to 500 people. After the Vietnam War, many Jarai who had been allied to the United States left their home country to resettle there with their families.

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Day 17 : Central Highlands

Take a short city tour of Kontum, visiting a seminary and a museum. Afterwards travel to Kon Jri for a gentle rural walk through villages, forests and plantations (approx. 4-5 km). Enjoy a picnic lunch by Dakbla River where you have the opportunity to swim. Take a boat ride to Konktu hamlet and meet the Bahnar people and visit their rong house which is currently being used as an overflow classroom. Overnight in Kontum. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

The Bahnar people of Vietnam live predominantly in the provinces of Gia Lai and Kon Tum. Like many other ethnic groups, music plays a large role in their society. They mostly live in stilt houses, and the communal house is identified by its magnificent high roof.

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Day 18 : Hanoi

Morning free to relax or explore by yourself. Transfer to Pleiku airport for your flight to Hanoi. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight in Hanoi. 

Meal plan: Breakfast

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Day 19 : Hanoi

In the morning, witness the Vietnamese flag Raising Ceremony in Ba Dinh Square. Take a walking tour of the Old Quarter. Drive to Bac Ninh and visit the Do Temple, Dinh Bang village to enjoy the UNESCO recognised Quan Ho folksongs. Return to Hanoi and in the afternoon, watch a traditional water puppet show at the home of the puppeteer. Overnight in Hanoi.

Meal plan: Breakfast

Sitting on the banks of the Red River, Vietnam's capital is the second largest city in the country. Steeped in an intriguing history, many of Hanoi's historical monuments and palaces have been destroyed by both civil war and foreign aggression, although some do still remain - for example the Temple of Literature, which is Vietnam's first university and was built as a tribute to Confucius. It is home to the Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long which was built by the Ly Dynasty in the 11th Century on an old Chinese Fortress. Hanoi is famous for its lakes, in particular Hoan Kiem Lake, also called the 'Lake of the Restored Sword', which is linked to the legend of the magic sword when the Golden Turtle God reclaimed Emperor Le Loi's magic sword, Heaven's Will. 

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Day 20 : Around Hanoi

Day tour visiting the beautiful but little visited Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, Dau Pagoda and But Thap Pagoda. Stop to visit the workshops of Dong Ho where they make wooden printing blocks found in the monasteries of the region. Afterwards, visit Dong Ky and explore the wood craftsmen’s workshops. Overnight in Hanoi. 

Meal plan: Breakfast & lunch

The workshops of Dong Ho in Northern Vietnam are famous for their woodblock printed paintings. They are generally regarded as reflecting the traditional asthetic values of spring and the desire to have a happy, prosperous life. They often depict important animals in someone's life such as cats, dogs, pigs and cows. Common themes for Dong Ho paintings include good luck, folk allegories and even social commentary.

Dong Ky is one of the many craft villages and is known for its wooden furniture making. Their products are beautiful, often carved with scenes of flowers, mountains and people and inlaid with mother of pearl. The most common items made are beds, chairs, tables and cupboards. Legend has it that during the reign of the fourth Hung King, Cuong Cong, an inhabitant of Dong Ky put down a rebellion against the king by recruiting soldiers from his own village. To raise morale, he had a feast for his army and set off firecrackers to encourage them. From that day on he was worshipped by the villagers as a deity and they held a firecracker festival at the beginning of the first lunar month. However, this tradition is no longer part of the festival as setting off firecrackers has been outlawed nationwide in Vietnam.

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Day 21 : Departure

Breakfast. Transfer to the airport for departure. 
 

Meal plan: Breakfast

Accommodation

Accommodation Title

All accommodation subject to availability. Final accommodation choices will be confirmed after booking.

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Anik Boutique Hotel and Spa

The Anik Boutique Hotel and Spa is found at the heart of the capital city of Phnom Penh. The hotel building is modern in design, which is carried through to the spacious and clean interior. The bedrooms are comfortable and equipped with ensuite bathrooms, wifi and satellite television. Guest can also make use of the hotel swimming pool, fitness centre, spa and entertainment lounges. The hotel restaurant offers both a menu and buffet options, which include a variety of local and international dishes. 

Visit hotel's site
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Golden River hotel

Golden River Hotel is located at the heart of the city of Stung Treng, on the banks of the Sekong River. The hotel offers spacious, clean and comfortable bedrooms, which are fitted with basic modern facilities, including a television and air-conditioning. 

Visit hotel's site
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Terres Rouges Lodge

The Terres Rouges Lodge is nestled in the wilderness of the province of Ratanakiri, alongside Banlung lake. The lodge was formerly the residence of the governor of the province and combines traditional Khmer decor with modern comforts, to allow for a relaxing stay. The spacious bedrooms are decorated with Cambodian antiques, also being equipped with air-conditioning and wifi. The hotel reception houses an outdoor pool, spa, restaurant, and a shop - where local handicrafts and traditional clothing are displayed.

Visit hotel's site
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Rajabori Villa Resort

Rajabori Villa Resort is located north of the island of Koh Trong. The 13 traditional wooden Khmer houses can be accessed by boat and tuk tuk, allowing visitors to enjoy their remote natural surroundings. The villas are decorated in a traditionally Cambodian style, whilst they are also furnished with modern amenities to allow for a comfortable stay. The restaurant on site serves mainly local Cambodian cuisine options. Guests can access the resort swimming pool and enjoy views across the lush countryside from their private terrace.

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Sabaidee@Lao Hotel

The Sabaidee@Lao Hotel is located centrally in Vientiane. Its decor is simple yet modern and spacious. The bedrooms are fitted with modern fixtures, including air conditioning, satellite television and wifi. The on site restaurant, Pik Thai, serves a variety of cuisine options - including Thai, Chinese and Western dishes. Guests can also access the alfresco bar, where they can enjoy a relaxed evening in the hotel courtyard. 

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Lavender Boutique Hotel

The Lavender Boutique Hotel is located nearby Ben Thanh Market in the city of Ho Chi Minh. Each bedroom within the modern hotel is equipped with amenities to provide a comfortable stay, including a satellite television and ensuite. The hotel restaurant offers both buffet and a la carte options to guests throughout the day, serving many international and local dishes.

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Bassac Cruise

The traditional wooden boat of the Bassac Cruise transports it guests along the Mekong River - providing a unique way in which to explore the region. The cabins have a rustic feel, although they are fitted with modern comforts, including air-conditioning and a private bathroom. The terraces and restaurant on board provide guests with a tranquil spot to enjoy the panoramic views across the river.

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Dakruco Hotel

Dakruco Hotel is located in the city of Buon Ma Thuot. Its interior is designed with a contemporary yet simple decor. The bedrooms are spacious and comfortable, providing guests with access to wifi, an en-suite bathroom and a satellite television. The hotel facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and a spa. 

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Indochine Hotel

Indochine Hotel is situated on the banks of the Dakbla River, at the heart of the city of Komtum. The bedrooms are spacious and fitted with modern amenities, including wifi, international television and in room refreshments. The on site restaurant serves a variety of cuisine options to its guests. The Indochine cafe provides an interesting alternative, where visitors can sit beneath the shade of a large bamboo roof and look out across the lakes in the hotel garden.

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Medallion Hotel

The Medallion Hotel is situated at the heart of Hanoi's old quarter. The spacious hotel has a modern decor and fittings for guests, which include wifi access and air-conditioned rooms. Medallion's restaurant serves a mixture of Western and Asian cuisine, along with a buffet style breakfast. 

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Hidden Indochina (21 days)

Capture the true essence and diversity of Indochina

Classic Indochina (19 days)

Lively cities, majestic coastlines and welcoming people

Hidden Vietnam (15 days)

Historic cities, beautiful landscapes and pagodas

Flavours of Vietnam (14 days)

Discover Vietnam's wonderful food culture

Essential Vietnam (14 days)

Discover Vietnam's charms and its people

Reviews

A well-planned itinerary that crammed an impressive amount into 16 days, without ever feeling rushed. Cambodia and Vietnam are both fantastic destinations, offering stunning natural scenery and beautifully preserved historical sites, together with truly delightful and welcoming people. Our guides made our trip extraordinary, weaving their personal histories in to the many insights they gave us of two countries that have experienced such difficult pasts.

Mark Pettengel & Jo Martin , Tailormade Vietnam & Cambodia

Our trip with Travel The Unknown was one of our best trips ever. All went as planned, wonderful guides, perfect hotels - best of all: excellent scheduling of activities and time to rest - balance was just what we needed!! Thank you to all staff involved!

Greg & Jan Sheffer , Classical Indochina, Indochina

Our holiday to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with Travel the Unknown was a huge success. We had a fascinating itinerary, well-informed and friendly guides who really looked after us, and lovely accommodation. Every time there was a change of vehicle or guide, the next one was always there and waiting. All stages of the planning and booking process were efficiently done, so all we had to do was enjoy it!

Erika & Robert Hollingdale , Tailormade Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam

TTU created a first class tailor made tour for my sister and I. We couldn't have had better service, from the tour guides, the hotel, the cruise and even the transport between places.

Ciorsdan Taylor , Tailormade Vietnam
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