Make your way through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, experiencing legendary cities and rural life on a journey that features a Mekong River cruise and the World Heritage sites of Angkor Wat, Hoi An, and Luang Prabang.

Starting at: $8,697 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Woman working with flowers on the Mekong. Credit: Nhiem Hoang
Woman working with flowers on the Mekong. Credit: Nhiem Hoang
 The ethereal Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
The ethereal Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
 Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
 Temple of Literature, Hanoi
Temple of Literature, Hanoi
 Street market in Hanoi. Credit: Patrick McGregor
Street market in Hanoi. Credit: Patrick McGregor
 The village of Hoi An, a World Heritage site
The village of Hoi An, a World Heritage site
 The canals of Hoi An
The canals of Hoi An
 Rice paddies in rural Vietnam
Rice paddies in rural Vietnam
 Rice fields in Vietnam
Rice fields in Vietnam
 Monks at Angkor Wat
Monks at Angkor Wat
 Sculpture at Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat
Sculpture at Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat
 Close up of sculpture at Bayon, Angkor Thom
Close up of sculpture at Bayon, Angkor Thom
 Elephant Terrace at Angkor Thom
Elephant Terrace at Angkor Thom
 Terrace of the Leper King, Angkor Thom
Terrace of the Leper King, Angkor Thom
 Monk at Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat
Monk at Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat
 Monk in doorway at Angkor Wat
Monk in doorway at Angkor Wat
 Temple at the Royal Palace, Luang Prabang
Temple at the Royal Palace, Luang Prabang
 Temple at Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang
Temple at Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang
 Mahout with elephant at Elephant Village, Laos
Mahout with elephant at Elephant Village, Laos
 Wat Rong Kun, Chiang Rai
Wat Rong Kun, Chiang Rai
 Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok
Wat Pho Temple, Bangkok
 Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok
Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok
 Statue at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok
Statue at the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok
 One of the Chedi within the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok
One of the Chedi within the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok
 Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok
Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok

Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos

19 days from $8,697

Make your way through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, experiencing legendary cities and rural life on a journey that features a Mekong River cruise and the World Heritage sites of Angkor Wat, Hoi An, and Luang Prabang.

or Call 855-330-1542

SPECIAL OFFER

This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.

Overview

Venture to the lush landscapes of Southeast Asia, where the majestic relics of the past set the stage for the vibrant bustle of modern-day life. On a journey to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, experience a sensory feast in cities such as Hanoi and Bangkok, touring revered temples as well as exuberant local markets and storied old towns. Trace history from ancient kingdoms of the Khmer and the Cham to the tumultuous 20th century, exploring the World Heritage sites from the multi-cultural port town of Hoi An to the temples of Angkor Wat. Meet monks in Luang Prabang and artisans in Siem Reap, and immerse yourself in nature’s splendor on Ha Long Bay and along the Mekong River, where you’ll cruise to remote villages to get a taste of rural life.

Highlights Include:

  • Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, and Hoi An, Vietnam:  Discover the historic sites of Hanoi—from the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature to the wartime “Hanoi Hilton”—and cruise among the limestone cliffs and caves of fabled Ha Long Bay on a full-day excursion. Immerse yourself in the ancient port of Hoi An, visit a farming village in the surrounding rice fields, and concoct Vietnamese favorites during a cooking class.
  • Angkor, Cambodia: Spend two full days exploring the Khmer capital of Angkor with guided visits to the walled city of Angkor Thom and the extraordinary temples of Angkor Wat, as well as smaller temples at Ta Phrom and Banteay Srei. Meet with traditional artisans and watch a Cambodian dance performance.  
  • Luang Prabang, Laos: Witness the morning alms-giving ritual in this World Heritage-listed city and tour its royal palace and important temples. Spend time with rescued elephants and their mahouts, learning how elephants are cared for and trained, and get a taste of everyday life (and traditional rice whiskey) at a nearby village.
  • Mekong River Cruise: Glide through lush, wild landscapes along the Mekong during two days of cruising. Visit the Pak Ou Buddha Caves and stop in remote villages to meet residents and learn about rural life.
  • Chiang Rai and Bangkok, Thailand: Explore temples old and new on a tour of the cultural hub of Chiang Rai. Take part in a Thai culinary experience and delve into the enchanting night market for a taste of the city’s famous street food. Visit the Doi Tung Royal Villa and its stunning gardens. Then cap off your experience in Bangkok with visits to the Emerald Buddha and the Jim Thompson House and free time to explore on your own.

Itinerary

Days 1 and 2 - Depart U.S. for Hanoi, Vietnam

Depart on an overnight flight to Hanoi and arrive the following evening. Transfer to your hotel near Hanoi’s Old Quarter.  

Day 3 - Hanoi

Delve into Vietnam’s intriguing capital city, discovering historic monuments and French colonial architecture amid the lively bustle of modern life. Stroll through Ba Dinh Square, where Communist Party leader Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnam’s independence on September 2, 1945.  Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, and see the French colonial Presidential Palace and the 1,000-year-old One Pillar Pagoda—built on a single stone pillar to resemble a lotus blossom. After lunch on your own, learn the legends of Hoan Kiem Lake and admire the traditional Vietnamese architecture of the Temple of Literature, founded in 1070 and still an active place of worship for students and scholars today.  Step into Hoa Lo Prison, known as “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War, then take a walk in the Old Quarter, where merchants sell goods of all sorts amid historic houses and temples. Enjoy a festive welcome dinner in one of the excellent restaurants of the Old Quarter. (B,D)

Day 4 - Hanoi and Ha Long Bay

Depart early on a full-day excursion to mystical Ha Long Bay, a waterway set in a dramatic karst landscape of towering limestone formations, expansive grottos, and some 2,000 islands. Explore this World Heritage site by boat, learning about the ancient cultures that existed here as you discover hidden islands and caves. Enjoy a lunch of  local seafood specialties on board.  Return to Hanoi for an evening at leisure. (B, L)

Day 5 - Hanoi/Da Nang/Hoi An

The morning is yours to relax at the hotel or explore Hanoi on your own. Board an afternoon flight to Da Nang and continue overland to Hoi An, an ancient trading hub that was the commercial capital of the Champa kingdom for more than 1,500 years. Over the centuries, Dutch, Chinese, Portuguese, and Japanese traders left their mark on this important port town, and the remarkable architecture of the old town reflects this cultural diversity. Settle into this World Heritage site, where only pedestrians and bicyclists are allowed, and gather for dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 6 - Hoi An

Set sail on the Thu Bon River, gliding to Hoi An’s vibrant central market for a taste of its sights and sounds. On a walking tour, meander through narrow streets flanked by picturesque houses and see the famous Japanese covered bridge. Enjoy free time to discover Hoi An at your own pace this afternoon. Then gather for a cooking class with a local chef. Try your hand at making favorites such as dumplings, banh mi, and rice noodles, and dine on the fruits of your labor tonight. (B,D)

Day 7 - Hoi An/Da Nang/Siem Reap, Cambodia

Head into the countryside, taking in quintessential scenes of farmers at work in the paddies and water buffaloes plowing the fields. Pay a visit to a typical farming community and gain insight into rural life on a walk through the village.  After lunch in a nearby restaurant, drive to Da Nang, situated at the mouth of the Han River. At the acclaimed Museum of Cham Sculpture, view the world’s largest collection of Cham artifacts, dating from the 5th to the 15th centuries. In the early evening, transfer to the airport for a short flight to Siem Reap. Check in to your hotel and enjoy an evening on your own. (B,L)

Day 8 - Angkor and Siem Reap

Experience the extraordinary Khmer city of Angkor during a full-day excursion. Ride traditional tuk-tuks to Angkor Thom, the walled capital of the mighty Khmer Empire, which dominated much of Southeast Asia between the 9th and 13th centuries. Explore the highlights of this World Heritage-listed archaeological site, including the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King; the Baphuon temple; and the stunning Bayon Temple, known for the serene faces chiseled into its pillars.  Venture to the 12th-century temple of Ta Prohm, where the stone ruins of some 100 temples are evocatively tangled in massive tree roots.  After lunch, encounter the world’s largest religious monument: the temple complex of Angkor Wat. On a guided tour, explore its magnificent carved temples and statuary, crafted by more than 500,000 artisans, workers, and slaves over a period of 37 years. Examine the intricate detail of the bas reliefs and artwork depicting mythological battles and scenes of everyday life during the Khmer era.  (B,L,D)

Day 9 - Siem Reap

Begin the day with a tour of tiny Banteay Srei, an exquisitely carved Hindu temple built for the god Shiva in the 10th century. Continue to the 12th-century Banteay Samre, a beautifully restored temple to the Hindu god Vishnu.  Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, then visit the ruins of Preah Khan, a complex of halls and pavilions, causeways and moats built by King Jayavarman VII in memory of his father.  Gather this evening for dinner and a traditional Cambodian dance performance. (B, L, D)

Day 10 - Siem Reap/Luang Prabang, Laos

This morning, visit Les Artisans d’Angkor, an organization that teaches young adults traditional Cambodian crafts such as stone carving, woodworking, and lacquer painting.  Later, fly to the royal city of Luang Prabang, situated at the confluence of the Mekong and Khan Rivers. Check in to your hotel and enjoy dinner together. (B,D)

Day 11 - Luang Prabang

Awaken early to witness the tak-bat, a time-honored tradition where hundreds of saffron-robed monks collect alms at dawn. Soak up the sights and sounds of the colorful morning market before returning to the hotel for breakfast.  Then set out on a walking tour of the World Heritage-listed Old City, including the 16th-century Wat Xieng Thong temple and the National Museum, which showcases the personal collection of the last Laotian royal family and is housed in their former palace. The afternoon is yours to discover more of this delightful town. (B,D)

Day 12 - Luang Prabang

Come face-to-face with one of Asia’s most storied creatures on a visit to the Elephant Village. Located in the scenic Nam Khan valley, this community-based eco-project offers refuge and rehabilitation to elephants that have lost their habitats to logging and other threats.  Meet with the mahouts that work with these majestic animals, learn to feed and give commands to the elephants, and spend time with them as they bathe in the river. Continue through the countryside to a rice farm for an inside look at farming life and a lunch of Laotian specialties. Learn about traditional trades such as bamboo weaving, blacksmithing, sugarcane processing, and growing rice; and try your hand at rice farming techniques. Return to Luang Prabang for an evening at leisure. (B,L)

Day 13 - Mekong River Cruise/Pakbeng

Visit Ban Sang Ha, known as the “Laos Whiskey Village,” to observe how famous Laotian rice whiskey is made. Then board a private, traditional-style riverboat and cruise the Mekong along a remote stretch of the river.  Take in views of the lush countryside, and go ashore at villages for a glimpse of daily life on the river. Venture into the Pak Ou Buddha Caves, declared holy by King Setthathirath in the 16th century and filled with many thousands of Buddha statues and images. Enjoy lunch on board before visiting a weaving and fishing village and meeting with its residents.  Stop in Pakbeng, where you’ll check in to your riverfront hotel in time for dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 14 - Mekong River Cruise/Chiang Rai, Thailand

Back on board your riverboat this morning, cruise through wild and diverse scenery, with mountain views framing the Mekong. Enjoy a leisurely lunch on board, and go ashore in a remote village to spend time with the residents and get acquainted with riverside life.  Disembark to cross the border into Thailand’s mountainous northernmost province, and continue overland to the city of Chiang Rai. (B,L,D)

Day 15 - Chiang Rai

Begin the day with a Thai culinary experience, learning about organic, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs as you shop for ingredients, and then preparing classic Thai recipes for lunch.  In the afternoon, visit the fascinating Wat Rong Khun, a temple that is being transformed by a contemporary local artist into a gleaming, intricately carved shrine to Buddha. Inside, the images on the walls and ceilings combine traditional Buddhist and Hindu symbols with modern-day pop culture icons that the artist believes further Buddha’s message. End the day with a visit to the enchanting Chiang Rai night market and choose from stalls selling Thai street food for dinner on your own. (B, L)

Day 16 - Bangkok

Take a scenic morning drive along mountain roads to the Doi Tung Royal Villa, the former home of the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s mother, who led efforts against deforestation and the heroin trade in Northern Thailand. Doi Tung now hosts families from the surrounding hill villages to stay and receive vocational, agricultural, and social training. Tour the home and the expansive gardens before lunch at a local restaurant.  Late in the afternoon, transfer to the airport for a short flight to Bangkok.  Settle into your centrally located hotel and enjoy dinner together. (B,L,D)

Day 17 - Bangkok

Delve into the colorful, tumultuous splendor of Bangkok, the heart and soul of Thailand.  Your explorations begin at the Bangkok Flower Market, a riot of blooms located in the Old City. Ride traditional tuk-tuks to Wat Pho Temple, home of the Reclining Buddha.  Covered in gold leaf, the icon measures some 49 feet tall by 151 feet long.  Next, visit the Grand Palace, an immense complex of ornate buildings, halls, and gardens spreading along the bank of Thailand’s main river, the Chao Phraya.  Here, encounter one of the city’s most important sites, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, home to a venerated, 31-inch-high Buddha figure carved from a single piece of jade. Your evening is at leisure. (B,L)

Day 18 - Bangkok

Start the day with a visit to the renowned Jim Thompson House. Hidden away on a quiet street in Bangkok’s city center, the house is an excellent example of traditional Thai residential architecture. Learn the intriguing story and legacy of Jim Thompson, the American intelligence agent who revived the faltering Thai silk industry after World War II, and view his prized collection of Asian art.  Enjoy a final afternoon at leisure before gather for a festive farewell dinner. (B, D)

Day 19 - Bangkok/Depart for U.S.

Transfer to the airport in time for your flight home. Those with evening flights will have hotel rooms reserved for late check-out and will arrive home the following day. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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