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Small Group Tours

Fully Tailored Journeys


Experiences & Inspiration

Get beneath the surface


www.InsideVietnamTours.com

Welcome to Indochina!
The delights of Asias most fascinating
region await in the following pages. Well
guide you to the thronging cities and
secluded beaches of Vietnam; take your
breath away at Cambodias ancient vinefestooned temples and unveil a hidden
world of scenic splendour in Laos.

At InsideVietnam Tours we are experts in


travel across the region. Weve explored
the backstreets, trekked through the hills,
sampled the cuisine, met the locals and
stayed in the hotels, all to make sure your
trip is as good as it possibly can be.

Our get beneath the surface ethos means


we seek out the experiences that make
the difference between simply seeing the
sights and learning to love Indochina and its
people like we do.

C O N T E N T S
A b o u t I n s id eVietn a m To u r s

2-3

I n tr o d u c in g Vietn a m

4-5

I n tr o d u c in g C a m b o d ia / La o s

6-7

C h o o s e y o u r h o lid a y ty p e

8-9

S ma l l Gr o u p To u r s

10 - 21

Fu l l y Ta i l o r e d J o u r n e y s

22 - 45

E xp e r i e n c e s & I n s p i r a t i o n

46 - 63

A c c o mmo d a t i o n

64 - 65

Indochi n a wea th er : fa c ts a n d fig u r es

66 - 67

Flig h ts & Sto p o v er s

68 - 69

Our company is proud to be a member of AITO - The Association of


Independent Tour Operators; the hallmark of superb holidays from
specialist tour operators. Land only arrangements are fully bonded
with ABTOT (5233) while flight-inclusive packages are protected
by our ATOL Licence (9419). Book with confidence knowing your

money is always secure.

Get beneath the surface


Part of InsideAsia Tours Ltd, an award-winning travel company
offering group tours, tailored travel and cultural experiences
across Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Burma.
INTRODUCTION

W W W. I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

B roc hure de si g n by S a l m on C onsul t i ng 0178 9 4 0 0 0 6 4


I

E: I N FO@I N SI DEVI ETNAMTOU R S.COM

TEL: 0117 244 3370

About InsideVietnam Tours


InsideVietnam Tours is a destination specialist travel brand offering unique
small group tours, tailored travel and cultural experiences in Vietnam,
Cambodia and Laos. Our first-hand local knowledge and focus on these three
destinations means we can give you the best insights and advice whatever
your budget or personal interests.
An introduction to InsideVietnam Tours from
founders Alastair and Simon:
Welcome to our InsideVietnam brochure! Within these
pages youll finda collection of inspiring itineraries
and exciting travel ideas drawn from many years
of personal experience; designed to showcase the
wonderful diversity of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos,
a region often known collectively as Indochina. This
region is blessed with spectacular scenery, exciting
modern cities, rich, ancient cultures, fabulous food
and wonderful peoplewe know youll love it as
much as we do!
It was the incredible otherness and the sheer fun of
living of Asia that inspired us to start a travel company.
Our motivation was to share a little of what had so
entranced us whilst keeping an everyday connection
with the region we had come to love. Based on
our own direct experience we set out to offer our
customers those experiences and encounters that we
had enjoyed so much.
Working together with our friend Ayako Koide, who
today is in charge of our Asia head office in Nagoya,
Japan, we designed group tours and tailored trips
that would be fun, affordable and create fabulous
memories for everyone who travelled with us. That
was back in 2000 and it was then that our get
beneath the surface ethos was born.
Although we started the company with a focus on
Japan, we were asked repeatedly by customers who
had travelled with us if we could offer the same style
of travel in other destinations. This is what led us
to bring our ethos to InsideVietnam Tours, a project
built on the same values and ideals that have made
InsideJapan the market leader.
Just as when the company was founded and
everything we put together was informed by our
personal experience, today our customers can
benefit from the deep knowledge of our whole
team, all of whom have lived or travelled extensively
in our destination countries. As the founders of the
company, we still have that passion and enthusiasm
for our destinations and are always seeking out new
experiences to share with our consultants and with
our customers.

INTRODUCTION

Read on to find details of our Small Group Tours and


our Fully Tailored Journey suggestions, as well as
numerous cultural experiences and inspirational ideas
to help you create the perfect holiday.
Whichever style of holiday you choose, let our
brochure take you from rice terraces to dense jungle,
from lost cities and white sand beaches to ancient
trading ports and thronging modern cities.
All this and much more awaits you. Contact us directly
or talk to your local travel agent to take your first steps
towards realising your dream holiday in Indochina.

Alastair Donnelly
Director

Simon King
Director

Award-winning quality
We are committed to providing top-level customer
service both before your departure and throughout
your holiday. The high quality of our service and care
has been recognised with a Best Small Tour Operator
award at the Guardian and Observer travel awards in
2010 and a silver medal in the British Travel Awards
Small Tour Operator of the Year category in 2009.
We are also proud to be a member of AITO (the
Association of Independent Tour Operators). The
Association represents Britains leading independent
tour operators and encourages high standards of
quality and service. InsideVietnam Tours abides by the
Associations Code of Business Practice and adheres
to the AITO Quality Charter which can be viewed on
www.aito.com. Visit the website to find out more about
the Association or call 020 8744 9280.

Your Info-Pack
All of our services include a detailed Info-Pack
containing all the essential information you need to
make the most out of your free time on your holiday.
This will include sightseeing suggestions and maps,
information about language and local customs, and
our favourite restaurant recommendations. The InfoPack is your personalised, printed travel companion
and an essential part of your trip.

Full financial protection & guaranteed prices


All AITO member companies are fully bonded and
governed by an independent dispute settlement
service, which means that in financial terms you are in
safe hands. Land-only arrangements are bonded with
ABTOT, whilst flight-inclusive packages are protected
by our ATOL Licence (9419). In the extremely unlikely
event of our financial failure your money will be
safe and secure. All latest prices are available on our
website or can be obtained by contacting us or your
local travel agent. We do NOT surcharge; prices are
guaranteed once a deposit is paid.

At home and away


Our service to you does not end when you arrive
in Indochina. More than just another agent,
InsideVietnam Tours has offices in the UK, the US
and Japan, and partner offices throughout Southeast
Asia. Our local offices are staffed by English speakers
who are just a phone call away, and our tour leaders
and guides are highly trained and skilled. Well always
ensure that your welfare and enjoyment are never left
to chance.

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

How to book
We have offices in the UK and the US, either of which
may be contacted directly by telephone or e-mail. We
are also happy to take bookings through travel agents
worldwide. We will need to know the full names of the
people travelling, your address, a contact telephone
number and email, your dates of travel and any dietary
requirements that you may have.

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

Vietnam Introduction
Vietnam is a country on the move. The American-Vietnamese War ended almost forty years ago and, whilst not forgotten, it no longer
defines todays Vietnamese, who are young, optimistic and dynamic; ready to welcome the world.
There is a real buzz on the streets of Hanoi and Ho
Chi Minh City, contrasting with and complementing
the more traditional aspects of the country to be
found beyond the urban sprawl. Though now proudly
independent, Vietnams colonial legacy remains
evident in the coffee and baguettes sold on every
street corner and in the grand colonial buildings of the
French era, many of which have now been converted
into glamorous landmark hotels.

Vietnam stretches the length of the Indochina


Peninsula, a total of 1,650km, reaching from the
cultural heartland of the Vietnamese people in
northern Hanoi and the Red River Delta to the
bountiful Mekong Delta in the far south, where floating
markets overflow with the rich produce of the region.
Central Vietnam boasts a number of the countrys
cultural highlights, encompassing ancient Hindu
civilizations, imperial cities, and once-great trading
ports. Meanwhile, the countrys lush and mountainous
hinterland is home to the minority groups that
comprise 14% of the population, many of whom still
proudly wear elaborate headdresses and traditional
dress made from colourful woven cloth.

Whether you are hiking through the rice terraces of the


north, cruising through the magical scenery of
Halong Bay and the Mekong Delta,
relaxing on Phu Quocs palm-lined
beaches or sipping coffee on a
colonial boulevard, you will be
enthralled and enchanted by
the grand diversity of Vietnam
from your first to your
last moment in this
beautiful country.

China
Ha Giang
Sapa
Ba Be
National Park

Burma

Hanoi

Mai Chau

Halong Bay
Haiphong

Chiang Rai

Sapa & the North

Hanoi

Halong Bay

The misty mountains of Sapa and North


Vietnam are home to beautiful ethnic
markets and idyllic hiking trails, offering
a remote and rural side to Vietnam

Vietnams chaotic capital is a fusion of


colonial architecture, delectable cuisine,
colourful markets and a labyrinth of old
world streets

Steeped in legend, the islet-strewn


Halong Bay lives up to its billing as one
of the most beautiful bays in the world

Luang Prabang

Cuc Phuong
National Park

Vientiane

Ninh Binh

Phong Nha
National Park

Dong Hoi

Laos

Hue

Thailand
Hue & Hoi An
Imperial Hue and ancient Hoi An:
contrasting historical towns famed for
their delicious cuisine, picturesque
architecture and idyllic atmosphere

Ho Chi Minh City


Dive into this buzzing city and sample
fabulous street food amongst bright
lights, lively markets and glitzy
shopping malls

Da Nang
Hoi An
My Son

The Mekong Delta


Drift along the endless waterways, cycle
through lush rice paddies and soak up
the beauty of the tropical Mekong Delta

Bangkok

Vietnam

Siem Reap
Tonle Sap Lake

Cambodia
Nam Cat Tien
National Park

Phnom Penh

Central beaches
From secluded, romantic bays to lively
beach towns offering island excursions,
snorkelling and diving trips, Central
Vietnam has a beach break to suit
all tastes

INTRODUCTION

Southern Islands
The idyllic southern islands of Phu
Quoc and Con Dao boast some of
Vietnams finest beaches and most
exclusive resorts

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Central Highlands

Dalat

Ho Chi Minh City

Coffee plantations, colonial hill stations


and remote minority strongholds tempt
visitors to the beautiful mountainous
interior of Vietnams Central Highlands

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

Nha Trang

TEL: 0117 244 3370

Phu Quoc
Island

Mekong
Delta

Con Dao
Island

Cambodia Introduction Laos Introduction


Cambodia is the Southeast Asia of countless postcards: much less
developed than neighbouring Vietnam, this is a land of smiling
people and orange-robed monks, tropical fruit, hidden Khmer
temples, lush rice paddies, tuk tuks and delicious coconut curries
served on banana leaves

Laos, the Land of a Million Elephants, remains one of Asias


least-visited and most underrated destinations and is all the
better for it. The culture and pace of life to be found here are
distinct from those of its more renowned neighbours, but no
less impressive.

Although most renowned for the awe-inspiring jungle-clad temples of Angkor,


Cambodia has so much more to offer the visitor with a little more time to explore.
Teetering stilt villages line the great Tonle Sap Lake; palaces and colonial heritage
combine in the nations reborn capital, Phnom Penh; golden beaches, jungle-treks
and river cruises not to mention fantastic Khmer cuisine and wonderful artisan
craftwork all await the visitor. With all this and more, this is truly a destination
worthy of renewed attention.

In Luang Prabang, a former capital brimming with ornate palaces and temples,
Laos boasts one of Southeast Asias most atmospheric towns. Beyond the cities,
rugged jungle-clad mountains bisected by great rivers cover much of the country,
amongst which vast caves, archaeological mysteries and laid-back riverside
locations lie just waiting to be discovered. Just a short flight from Vietnam and
Cambodia, a visit to Laos makes for an easy addition to any journey through
Indochina, but we whole-heartedly recommend considering it as a destination in
its own right.

China

Burma
Siem Reap
The laid-back, low-rise gateway to one
of the worlds most iconic historical
wonders the jungle-entwined ruins
of Angkor

Phnom Penh
Once known as the Pearl of the Orient,
Cambodias capital is a lively and
engaging city in the process of reviving
its former glory

Luang Prabang
Ringed by mountains, riverside
Luang Prabang is Laos star attraction;
a UNESCO World Heritage town
filled with temples, palaces and an
atmosphere of rare serenity

Hanoi

Nong Khiaw

Vientiane
Laos compact modern capital,
Vientiane, set on the banks of the
Mekong River, has a slow-paced charm
and delightful caf culture

Luang Prabang

Chiang Rai

Phonsavan

Sayaboury

Vang Vieng
Vientiane
Kong Lor

Laos
Battambang
Well-preserved French Colonial
architecture complemented by a
bucolic landscape of rice paddies,
temples and villages

Kep
The quiet fishing town of Kep, famed
for its excellent crab, makes a relaxing
seaside stop and is the gateway to a
number of small, palm-fringed islands

Champasak & 4,000 Islands


In southern Laos the Mekong splits into
countless smaller tributaries, giving rise
to the 4,000 Islands an inland oasis
of relaxation

Thailand

Phonsavan
Remote Phonsavan (Xieng Khouang)
is home to one of the great
archaeological enigmas of Asia: the
thousands of giant stone receptacles
known as the Plain of Jars

Savannakhet

Pakse
4,000 Islands
Bangkok
Battambang

Siem Reap
Tonle Sap Lake

Vietnam
Mekong River

Cambodia

Kratie
An old colonial town on the Mekong
River not far from the Laos border,
Kratie is the place for spotting the
endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin

INTRODUCTION

Tonle Sap
Tonle Sap is Southeast Asias largest
lake, a vast inland sea that plays host
to floating villages, stilt houses and
tremendous birdlife

Vang Vieng
The delightful karst scenery of Vang
Vieng, cut through by meandering
rivers, is the perfect place for caving,
climbing and kayaking

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Phnom Penh

Nong Khiaw
Set on the banks of the Nam Ou River,
Nong Khiaw is the gateway to minority
culture and the dramatic scenery of
Northern Laos

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

Kratie

Sihanoukville

Kep

Ho Chi Minh City

Gulf of Thailand

Choose your holiday


At InsideVietnam Tours we aim to provide the perfect
trip to suit your preferred style of travel. If you enjoy the
support and companionship of an escorted group tour
we offer a selection of excellent options covering the
region, each led by an experienced expat tour leader.
If you prefer a more independent approach to travel our
Fully Tailored Journeys are designed to suit your precise
personal requirements. Read through the following
sections to find the right trip style for you.

Small Group Tours pages 10 - 21


With a relaxed and friendly style, our escorted tours are perfect for anyone who enjoys
travelling in a small group. You will have the benefit of an expert tour leader on hand
throughout your trip to introduce you to the very best sights, sounds, tastes and
experiences that Vietnam and its neighbours have to offer. Our three styles of Small
Group Tour ensure there is an itinerary for every visitor.

Fully Tailored Journeys pages 22 - 43


Indochina is a wonderful place to explore independently. In this section we present
some of our tried and tested itineraries which take all the logistical worries from your
shoulders, allowing you to get the most from every minute of your trip. These itineraries
are just suggestions; all can be tailored by our expert consultants to include the right
amount of guided support and pre-arranged experiences to ensure it will be exactly the
trip you are looking for.

Small Group Tours


C O N T E N T S

Experiences & Inspiration pages 44 - 63


Need a little inspiration? Whether youre looking for exciting options to inspire your
kids, seeking out the perfect beach resort for your honeymoon, or just keen to sample
Vietnams delicious and varied cuisine we have the ideal thing for you! In this section
we showcase some of the many experiences on offer across the region that will add
an extra special touch to your perfect trip. Tell us what appeals to you and we will build
these ideas into your trip itinerary.

SMALL GROUP TOURS

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

Hi ghl i ght s of Vi e t na m

14 - 15

Vi e t nam and Cambodi a Uncover ed

16 - 17

Indochi na E ncompas s ed

18 - 19

Magni f i ce nt Vi e t n a m

20 - 21

SMALL GROUP TOURS

Our Tour Concept


Travelling through Indochina as part of a small group is a fantastic way to experience
these varied countries whilst learning about their history and culture, meeting fellow
travellers and indulging in some fantastic cuisine.
Our award-winning Small Group Tours have a
maximum group size of just 14 people and are led by
expert, enthusiastic expat tour leaders. Our tours are
very flexible, enabling you to see and do everything
you want. Each day you can decide to stay with the
tour group or head off and explore independently; the
choice is yours.
From the great value Highlights of Vietnam tour
through to our luxurious Magnificent Vietnam tour,
we have created itineraries to suit every budget and
interest. Whichever tour you choose, breakfast every
day and a number of evening meals are included.
There are no local payments to make; we even include
tips for local guides and drivers.
On tour we travel by a combination of train, plane
and private coach, with the occasional boat or bicycle
thrown in for good measure. This allows you to make
the most of your precious time to get beneath the
surface of these fascinating countries and interact with
the different people you encounter along the way.

Prices & booking


We have many repeat travellers on our tours and
departures sell out fast. Thats why you wont find
prices or departure dates printed in our brochure.
Contact us or your local travel agent or check our
website for the latest information on pricing, departure
dates and availability.
W: www.insidevietnamtours.com

Your tour leader


Your tour leader will accompany the group throughout,
staying in the same accommodation and travelling with
you from destination to destination. Your tour leader
is not a professional guide, but rather someone with
experience of living and working in Indochina, there
to make sure that you get the absolute most out of
your time. All of our tour leaders are passionate about
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and by the end of the
tour were sure you will be too!

Accommodation
On our tours we use a mixture of well-located, fully
en suite Western-style hotels, and stylish, comfortable
boats on Halong Bay and in the Mekong Delta.
All overnight train journeys have access to simple
shared facilities only. Please ask us for full details of
accommodation used on each tour.

Meals

Luggage

One thing were sure youll look forward to in Vietnam


is the local cuisine. All our tours include breakfast
every day as well as at least one evening meal (most
tours have three or more). At InsideVietnam we love
Vietnamese food and strive to give Vietnams amazing
range of culinary styles pride of place on our tours.
Your tour leader will of course give their personal
recommendations for the most delicious pho noodles
or tasty street food.

The luggage allowance on most domestic airlines in


the region is 20kg, so please bear this in mind when
packing for your trip. If an overnight train journey is
included in your trip please also note that luggage
must be stored either under the bottom bunks or
on a ledge above the door, so large, heavy or bulky
suitcases are best avoided.

E: info@insidevietnamtours.com
Tel. UK: 0117 244 3370

For your local AITO Specialist Travel Agent see:


www.aitoagents.com

All of our tours carry a mandatory single supplement,


but we have kept the price as low as we can. This
guarantees a single room on all but overnight train
journeys, where shared four-berth compartments are
the norm. Please see our website for full details.

No local payment


All transport between destinations
An excellent mix of quality Westernstyle hotels, boats, local homestays and
lodges
Airport meet and greet and return
airport transfers

International flights
Single supplements

Included as standard on our tours

Breakfast every day

International flights are not included in our tour prices,


giving you the freedom to source your own flights if
you want to. However, we are more than happy to
arrange flights for UK clients if required. Please let us
know if you would like us to provide a quote.

Extra nights and extensions

At least one evening meal (most tours


have three or more)
Maximum group size of 14
Full-time expert tour leader
Info-Pack full of sightseeing ideas and
cultural tips

We always suggest that an extra night (or even two) at


the start of the tour is a good idea to help you settle
in and get over jet lag before the tour gets underway.
We can also add extra nights after the tour, or even
put together a fully tailored tour extension if you would
like to explore the region further after the tour is over.
A selection of convenient extension ideas is included
with the description of each of our tours. Please let us
know if this interests you.

10

SMALL GROUP TOURS

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

11

SMALL GROUP TOURS

Tour styles
Our Small Group Tours all share a common philosophy of introducing you to the best of the destinations you visit and helping you
to gain an understanding of the people and cultures you encounter. In the style and standard of accommodation, the number of
included excursions, experiences and meals, however, we understand people have different requirements. To cater for these different
needs we have created our three tour styles: Essential, Classic and Superior.

E S S E N T I A L
IVT Essential tours
Offering great value for money, our IVT Essential tours allow you to see and experience Vietnam, Cambodia
and Laos in-depth and with maximum flexibility. Accompanied by one of our highly skilled tour leaders you will
be travelling at a reasonably fast pace in order to see as many sides of the region as possible. Accommodation is
usually in comfortable, well-located three-star hotels, meaning that you will be well placed to begin exploring in your
free time. Breakfast each day and typically one or two evening meals are also included. Your tour leader will give
plenty of recommendations for the other nights. These tours combine a great balance of escorted excursions and
leisure time, allowing you to get your bearings with the group before setting you free to make your own discoveries.
Great for first time visitors to Indochina on a budget.

C L A S S I C
IVT Classic tours
Our IVT Classic tours feature our very favourite destinations in Indochina, with stays at delightful three- or four-star
hotels, breakfast every day and a number of evening meals included. A comprehensive programme of activities
and excursions is incorporated to enable to you to experience as much of the region as possible. Accommodation,
including on overnight boats, is all fully en suite. These tours are moderately paced, allowing you to really soak
up the sights, sounds and atmosphere of our favourite destinations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Your skilled
InsideVietnam tour leader will work together with selected local guides to coordinate logistics and share their
knowledge of the regions fascinating history and culture. These tours are great for first-time visitors looking for
comfortable accommodation and a carefully thought-out selection of included experiences and meals.

SU PER I O R
IVT Superior tours
Our IVT Superior tours are characterised by high quality, characterful accommodation, and
each trip is packed full of experiences. A full range of enlightening excursions are included
as well as a number of hands-on experiences that will really help to bring the destination
to life. In addition to your skilled InsideVietnam tour leader we use the services of
expert local guides at select destinations to provide you with a deeper understanding
of the area. Breakfast is included each morning along with a number of excellent
lunches and evening meals, demonstrating the great culinary range of the region.
These tours are ideal for people looking for more luxurious accommodation and
a relaxed yet in-depth sightseeing and cultural experience.

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SMALL GROUP TOURS

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

13

SMALL GROUP TOURS

SMALL GROUP TOURS

Highlights of Vietnam
11 Nights
ESSENTIAL

Hanoi (2) Halong Bay (1) Overnight train (1)


Phong Nha National Park (1) Hue (2) Hoi An (2)
Ho Chi Minh City (2)

Hanoi

Halong Bay

There are few countries in the world where a short tour can
visit six separate UNESCO World Heritage destinations, but this
is Vietnam, where cultural heritage and scenic wonder combine
to create a unique and remarkable experience.

Tour Highlights
Savour city life and
street food in Hanoi
and Saigon
Cruise through the
spectacular scenery of
Ha Long Bay
Marvel at Phong
Nhas spectacular
caverns
Explore imperial Hue
and atmospheric
Hoi An

Phong Nha
National Park

Inclusions:
Nine nights hotel accommodation

Hue

Our Highlights of Vietnam tour commences in Hanois romantic Old


Quarter and goes on to visit the majestic scenery of Halong Bay and
the remarkable caves of Phong Nha National Park. Head south to the
unparalleled beauty of Hoi An and cycle through history in Hue before
diving right in to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh City to conclude
your trip!

Overnight Halong Bay cruise


Overnight train journey (shared fourberth cabins)

Hoi An

All transport within Vietnam

The pace of the tour needs to be quite fast to enable us to fit in so


many highlights, but with a night spent onboard a lovely Chinese-style
junk on Halong Bay; a full day in Hoi An, one of Asias most laid-back
towns; and a day exploring the quiet backwaters of the Mekong Delta;
theres plenty of time to kick-back and relax if thats your style.

Daily breakfast, four lunches, three


evening meals

Vietnam

We travel by a combination of plane, boat and private coach to get


you from place to place in the most convenient and efficient manner
possible, including an overnight journey on the famous Reunification
Express. For the first-time visitor to Vietnam this is an exciting, active
and superb value journey covering all of the highlights.

Full-time services of your InsideVietnam


tour leader

Have more time to spend


on holiday?

Ho Chi Minh City

Why not
Add a relaxing few days at one of Vietnams
excellent beaches. Nha Trang, Phu Quoc
and Con Dao are all just a short flight from
Ho Chi Minh City

Drift through the


winding waterways of
the Mekong Delta

F ly direct to Siem Reap and spend time


exploring the awe-inspiring temples of
Angkor and relaxing at one of the towns
delightful resorts

Halong Bay by Tyler Palma


Halong Bay is a registered
UNESCO World Heritage Site and
the scenic pinnacle of northern
Vietnam; an undoubted highlight
of any of our tours. I have had the
pleasure of sailing these serene
waters many times whilst leading
our tours, and have yet to find
a client who doesnt find the
experience even more magical
than they had expected. Overnight
cruises are my favourite, sailing out
through the karst towers scattered
throughout the bay, stopping at
floating fishing villages, kayaking
to remote beaches and exploring
spectacular caves.

14

SMALL GROUP TOURS

Local legend has it that the islands


were created long ago when a
celestial dragon and her children
were sent to Earth to fend off
invaders. As the mother dragon
protected the land she breathed
out a thousand beautiful pearls
which turned into a wall of islands
to protect the mainland. As the
baby dragons followed their
mother and ran into the sea, their
thrashing and flailing tails gouged
out valleys in the earth and the
final pinnacles were created.

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

Tara our Tour Leader was very attentive


and made sure that we were well
looked after by the local guides who
were also very good. She was prepared
to be flexible and altered things as we
went along.
Kevin

TEL: 0117 244 3370

15

SMALL GROUP TOURS

SMALL GROUP TOURS

Vietnam and Cambodia Uncovered


13 Nights
CL ASSIC

Hanoi (2) Halong Bay (1) Hoi An (2) Hue (2)


Ho Chi Minh City (2) Siem Reap (3) Phnom Penh (1)

Hanoi

Halong Bay

Throughout the centuries the histories of Vietnam and Cambodia have


intertwined; power and influence ebbing and flowing between the two.
Our 14-day exploration picks out the highlights of these two
contrasting but equally fascinating destinations.

Inclusions:

Tour Highlights
Experience the excitement
and energy of Hanoi and
Ho Chi Minh City
Enjoy a cruise in
glorious Halong Bay
Relax in Hoi Ans Old Town
and see how the Emperors
lived in ancient Hue
Explore the awe-inspiring
vine-entangled temples of
Angkor
Witness colonial elegance
and historic temples in
Phnom Penh

Twelve nights hotel accommodation


Commencing in the great northern capital of Hanoi, from here
we journey south, seeing history unfurl through the imperial
and colonial eras before touching on the dark days of more
recent history. We conclude in the heart of one of historys most
remarkable civilisations at the temple complex of Angkor. For those
who like to understand history in context, this is a tour that will not
disappoint. From the great Imperial Citadel and grand tombs of
the Nguyen Emperors in Hue to the ancient port of Hoi An, once
amongst the largest in Asia, you will explore all aspects of the rich
cultures you encounter along the way.
Modern Vietnamese history bookends the first part of the tour,
commencing in Hanoi at the immense Stalinist mausoleum of
Ho Chi Minh and finishing in the city that was renamed in his
memory at the end of the Vietnam War. Still known as Saigon to
the locals, Ho Chi Minh City was the final place to fall to the North
Vietnamese in 1975, and the many sites of interest in and around
the city provide a fascinating and often unfamiliar perspective on
this infamous period.

Hue

Vietnam

Daily breakfast, two lunches, four


evening meals
Full-time services of your tour leader

Siem Reap

Cambodia
Phnom Penh
Ho Chi Minh City

Much of modern southern Vietnam was once part of the great


Khmer empire, and a short flight will bring you to the heart of what
was, a millennium ago, one of the greatest cities in the world.
We have three days to combine exploration of the remarkable
jungle-clad temples of Angkor with relaxation at our resort
accommodation in laid-back Siem Reap, before a final night in
Cambodias capital Phnom Penh brings the tour to its conclusion.

The vast temple complexes of


Angkor, near the town of Siem
Reap in central Cambodia, are
truly one of the most fantastic
man-made sights on the planet.
Watching the sun rise over the
worlds largest religious building,
Angkor Wat; feeling the gaze of
countless stone faces at Bayon
Temple; clambering around the
vine-entangled ruins of the Tomb
Raider Temple, Ta Prohm; these
are the unforgettable experiences
that make me love travelling so
much.

SMALL GROUP TOURS

All transport within Vietnam and


Cambodia

Hoi An

Have more time to spend


on holiday?
Why not
The extensive local knowledge, an opportunity to try
less touristy things - street food, Hanoi egg tea, local
restaurants, bike rides etc. travelling with a small group

Temples of Angkor by Tom Weston

16

Overnight cruise on Halong Bay

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

of like-minded people made everything fun.

Angkor was once the seat of


the great Khmer Empire, which
flourished between the 9th and
15th centuries. The temples
were built by the Khmer godkings and, blending tenets of
Hinduism and Buddhism to
represent heaven on earth, they
are a monumental expression
of creative vision and spiritual
devotion.

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

Lesley

C
 ontinue your exploration of Cambodia
and visit colonial Battambang in the west or
Kratie on the Mekong River
H
 ead south to Kep to enjoy the famous
fresh crab and a wonderful beachfront stay
on Cambodias beautiful and undeveloped
coast

17

SMALL GROUP TOURS

SMALL GROUP TOURS

Indochina Encompassed
15 Nights
CL ASSIC

Phnom Penh (1) Siem Reap (3) Luang Prabang (3)


Nong Khiaw (1) Hanoi (2) Halong Bay (1)
Hoi An (3) Ho Chi Minh City (1)

Hanoi
Nong Khiaw

Experience the glorious and contrasting cultural


and scenic highlights of Indochina on our two-week
journey through Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Halong Bay

Luang Prabang

Laos
Inclusions:

Tour Highlights
Discover your inner
Indiana Jones at
incredible Angkor
Soak up the atmosphere
of enchanting Luang
Prabang
Feel the excitement
and energy of Hanoi
and Ho Chi Minh City
Sail through the
glorious scenery of
Halong Bay
Indulge in Vietnams
unparalleled culinary
excellence in Hoi An

Fourteen nights hotel accommodation


One of the great pleasures of a tour that combines all three of
the Indochina nations is the remarkably diverse array of culture,
cuisine, scenery and atmosphere that unfolds as your journey
progresses. The histories of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos have
intertwined over many centuries, yet despite this shared history
each nation retains a distinct character and identity. It is this
combination of neighbourly similarity and cultural difference that
makes Indochina Encompassed such an unforgettable tour.

Overnight cruise on Halong Bay

Daily breakfast, two lunches, four


evening meals
Full-time services of your tour leader

Vietnam

Siem Reap

We commence our journey in the Pearl of the Orient, Phnom


Penh, travelling clockwise through the region as we explore the
awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site at Angkor before
flying on to Luang Prabang in Laos. After experiencing the
unique atmosphere of the town and discovering some of the
minority cultures and beautiful scenery of northern Laos, we
continue to Vietnams capital Hanoi, an exciting and energising
contrast to the laid-back pace of life in Laos and Cambodia.

All transport in Cambodia, Laos and


Vietnam

Hoi An

Cambodia
Phnom Penh
Ho Chi Minh City

After Hanoi, an overnight cruise on the celebrated waters of


Halong Bay will feel a world away from the bustle of the city
streets. From here we move on to the ancient port of Hoi
An, which once welcomed traders and absorbed influences
from across the globe. Our final destination is the economic
powerhouse of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City. Still known
as Saigon to the locals, the city retains a wealth of colonial
charm and brims with energy and optimism; the perfect
conclusion to your journey through Indochina.

Have more time to spend


on holiday?
Why not
E
 xplore the winding waterways of the
Mekong Delta, choose to stay in a riverside
hotel or on a traditional Mekong riverboat

Luang Prabang by Elisa Ferroni


Laos former royal capital is an
enchanting destination and
perhaps my favourite spot in the
whole of Indochina. The entire old
town is registered as a UNESCO
World Heritage site, festooned with
temples and shrines, with a photo
opportunity around every corner.
There are fabulous restaurants
and eateries to choose from, night
markets and shops to browse,
and amazing landscapes and
small traditional villages to explore
nearby.

H
 ead to one of Vietnams finest islands for
a bit of beachside relaxation in Phu Quoc or
Con Dao

Luang Prabang is set on a


great bend in the Mekong River,
surrounded by mountains. Nearby
there are countless walking
opportunities, from gentle strolls
through local villages to multiday jungle treks. Whether you
are swimming under cascading
waterfalls, enjoying a traditional
Laos massage or watching the
orange-robed monks go past from
a street-side cafe, a visit to Luang
Prabang will undoubtedly be a
highlight of any visit to Indochina.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in


Indochina. The group was great. We
had a lot of fun. The cruise down
the Delta with Mango Cruises was
very special and relaxing. The whole
experience exceeded all expectations
Sandra

18

SMALL GROUP TOURS

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

19

SMALL GROUP TOURS

SMALL GROUP TOURS

Magnificent Vietnam
12 Nights
SUPERIOR

Ho Chi Minh City (2) Mekong Delta (1) Hoi An (2) Hue (2)
Hanoi (2) Halong Bay (2) Hanoi (1)

Hanoi

Halong Bay

Magnificent Vietnam is a grand two-week journey that explores


Vietnams finest destinations in comfort and style. This tour adheres to
the InsideVietnam Tours philosophy of going local and getting beneath
the surface whilst featuring some of the countrys most iconic hotels
and exclusive cruising experiences.

Tour Highlights
Enjoy culinary
adventures in Saigon,
Hue and Hanoi
Cruise in style in
the Mekong Delta
and Halong Bay
Experience relaxation in
ancient Hoi An
Excellent atmospheric
accommodation
throughout the tour

Inclusions:
Nine nights hotel accommodation

Hue

Our journey commences in the modern, energetic hub of southern


Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, before journeying north to a grand conclusion
in the nations capital, Hanoi. Along the way we explore the countrys
finest cultural and scenic highlights including the imperial capital of Hue
and the ancient trading port of Hoi An, one of Asias most relaxed and
characterful destinations. We confront more recent history at the Cu Chi
Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City, and pay a visit to the revered leaders
mausoleum in Hanoi, where locals still mass to pay their respects.

Hoi An


All transport between destinations in
Vietnam

Breakfast every day, six lunches, eight
evening meals

Vietnam

For those as yet unfamiliar with the variety of cuisine on offer in Vietnam
theres certainly a treat in store! Our tour provides plenty of opportunity
to sample the many local varieties, from simple but delicious street food
in Ho Chi Minh City to the elegant and complex imperial cuisine of Hue,
where we try our hands at creating (and, of course, eating!) some of the
traditional dishes at the wonderful Tha Om Garden House.
Vietnam is also a land of water, from the remarkable bounty of the
Mekong Delta in the south to the sweeping coastline stretching more
than a thousand miles to Halong Bay in the north, making exploration by
boat a wonderful way to better understand the country and its people.
As part of our tour we overnight onboard a couple of our favourite boats:
the beautiful converted rice barge, the Bassac, deep in the Mekong Delta;
and the refined Au Co, which sails a unique and blessedly quiet two-night
route through the towering peaks of Halong Bay.


Three nights aboard the Mekong
Bassac and Au Co Halong Cruise

Full-time services of your tour leader


The pace of the tour suited me very
well ... interesting/fun things to do
& personal time. The balance was
just right.
John

Mekong
Delta

Ho Chi Minh City

Have more time to spend


on holiday?
Why not
H
 ead into the mountains of the north for
spectacular scenery and colourful minority
villages in Sapa or Mai Chau

Colonial accommodation by Tara Engelen


One of the highlights of the Magnificent
Vietnam tour is the fabulous and historic
accommodation that we stay at as we travel
through the country. The days of colonial
French Indochina may be long gone, but
the elegant remnants of the era have been
converted into stylish period accommodation
that provide a great base from which out to
explore the length and breadth of this diverse
and fascinating country. In Hanoi the iconic
Metropole, located in the French Quarter close
to Hoan Kiem Lake, ranks amongst Vietnams
finest and most distinguished colonial hotels.
Dating back to 1901, the hotel is a historic
landmark in its own right, having played host
to visiting dignitaries and celebrities for more
than a century.

20

SMALL GROUP TOURS

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

The elegant, art deco La Residence is widely


considered the finest accommodation in the
historic city of Hue. Originally constructed in
1930 as the official residence of the French
regional governor, the property has been
thoughtfully extended in recent years and
transformed into a sophisticated but relaxed
luxury hotel on the banks of the Perfume
River.

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

T ake the opportunity to go and stay with


a local family just outside of Hanoi at the
wonderful Moon Garden Homestay

21

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

Fully Tailored Journeys


The itineraries that we propose in the following pages combine our favourite destinations and
experiences from across Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos into a range of plans for those in search
of an inspiring, independent travel experience. They are all suggestions based on our personal
experience of Indochina; a selection of fantastic journeys demonstrating the tremendous range
of possible destinations, trip lengths and activities.
If these ideas fit the bill they can be arranged exactly as outlined in the pages of this brochure, but we expect youll be
keen to pick out the destinations and experiences that appeal and to combine them to suit your
own interests and preferences. Itineraries can be booked at any time of year, for single travellers,
couples, families or groups; and can be amended to suit a range of budgets.

How it Works
1. 
Use the following itineraries and experiences as a springboard. Anything
goes, so choose the destinations and activities that most inspire you
from amongst these pages and add your own ideas if you like
2. 
Get in touch with one of our specialist travel consultants, who will
have plenty more suggestions and will help you tailor a fascinating and
enriching holiday that exactly suits your needs and budget
3. 
Once youre happy that your itinerary is perfect just pay your deposit, sit
back, and look forward to the holiday of a lifetime!

Fully Tailored
Journeys
C O N T E N T S

22

F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

Bes t o f Vietn a m

26 - 27

G o ld en Vietn a m

28 - 29

Vietn a m D is c o v er y

30 - 31

H o n ey m o o n Vietn a m

32 - 33

C la s s ic Vietn a m & C a m b o d ia

34 - 35

Wo r ld H er ita g e I n d o c h in a

36 - 37

G r a n d C a m b o d ia

38 - 39

La o s & C a m b o d ia C o m b in ed

40 - 41

La o s O v er la n d : A lo n g th e M ek o n g

42 - 43

N o r th er n La o s Exp lo r er

44 - 45

23

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

Our Tailored Journeys Concept


At InsideVietnam we know that no two people are the same, which is why every trip is different. Your trip can start on any day of the
year giving you complete flexibility over itinerary, duration and budget. Well use our years of travel experience in Indochina to put
together a bespoke journey exactly to suit your interests and wishes.

P Tailor-made itineraries
P Travel independently (not in a group or with a tour leader)
P Start on any day of the year and travel wherever you like in Indochina
P Expert planning & on the ground support
P Detailed, personalised travel instructions
P Options for all tastes & budgets

Support
We pride ourselves on the exceptional level of
customer support that we offer from your first contact
with our office through to your return from your
holiday. Our local offices will be on hand should any
problems arise during your trip, and your personalised
InsideVietnam Info-Pack will include full details on
every aspect of your itinerary - from suggestions for
your free time to recommendations on our favourite
restaurants, cafes and nightspots.

Accommodation

Meals
All of our itineraries include breakfast each morning.
Where we feel that it will add to your experience, we
typically include a number of lunches and evening
meals too. Where meals are not included your
personalised InsideVietnam Tours Info-Pack will be
packed full of personal recommendations from our
staff.

Indochina boasts a tremendous diversity of


accommodation, from riverboats to grand colonial
hotels; rural homestays to glorious beach resorts. We
will discuss your preferences with you to make sure
that your itinerary includes the ideal range of quality
accommodation no matter what your budget.

Insightful guides
Transport
We will arrange all the necessary transport for the
duration of your trip, making use of a range of options
from domestic flights to trains, private cars, bikes,
cyclos and even elephant rides. This wide variety of
possibilities will allow you to make the best use of
your limited time and to experience Indochina from a
variety of perspectives.

24

F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

One of the best ways to gain a true insight into a


country is through the services of a local guide. Theyre
not just there to list historical dates and make sure
you get to the plane on time we work with guides
who will provide you with a window into the local
culture, and act as a bridge to the people you meet.
We believe it is this depth that makes the difference
between a good holiday and a truly unforgettable one.

Prices & booking

Exclusive Tours

W: www.insidevietnamtours.com

If you would like to add something extra-special to


your itinerary, we can arrange private entry to many
sites of interest with specialist expert guides, unique
experiences tailored to your personal interests, private
helicopter or balloon rides, and much more.
Please ask us for details.

E: info@insidevietnamtours.com

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

Because your holiday is one of the most important


events of the year, we prefer to discuss your travel
plans with you in depth. Then we can provide the
most up-to-date information and the keenest prices
for your particular itinerary. Thats why you wont find
any prices printed in our brochure. Contact us or your
local travel agent or check our website for the latest
information on pricing, accommodation and options.

Tel. UK: 0117 244 3370

For your local AITO Specialist Travel Agent see:


www.aitoagents.com

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

25

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

Best of Vietnam
8 Nights
Hanoi (2) Halong Bay (1) Hoi An (3) Ho Chi Minh City (2)

Hanoi

Halong Bay

This north-to-south itinerary showcases the best of Vietnam in a


compact eight day itinerary. Bookended by Vietnams largest cities,
ancient Hanoi and frenetic Ho Chi Minh City, youll also drop in to
the historic merchant port of Hoi An and cruise through spectacular
Halong Bay for a night aboard a traditional junk boat.

Trip Highlights
Relax aboard an overnight
junk boat cruise in
Halong Bay
Explore ancient Hoi
An, Vietnams most
picturesque town
Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels
in Ho Chi Minh City
Enjoy a traditional
water puppet show
in Hanoi

Have more time to spend


on holiday?

Your journey begins in the capital Hanoi, a city of lakes and distinct
districts that reflect the diverse influences that have shaped the city over
the centuries. At first glance the never-ending flow of motorbike traffic
feels intense, but youll soon realise that happy-go-lucky Hanoians are
not in a rush, so grab an iced coffee from a street-side stall and watch
Vietnamese life unfold around you.

Why not

Hoi An

From Hanoi head out to Halong Bay where countless limestone islands
thrust dramatically from the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The best way to
view this UNESCO World Heritage site is to get out onto the water, and
tonight youll stay in style aboard a Chinese-style junk boat. Next stop is
Hoi An, where buildings reflecting a multitude of foreign influences line
the riverfront of this once-great trading port whilst vibrant blue fishing
boats bob in the harbour. This is the perfect place to potter about on
foot or explore by bicycle. Visit a tailor to order a made-to-measure silk
dress, try the fresh seafood or shop for souvenirs at dusk among the
lantern-lit streets.

Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City

One of the things we most loved


in Vietnam is you can turn up
at a roadside eatery, point
to something and eat some of
the most delicious food youve
ever tasted. An incredible meal
including beers for two will cost

S
 tay with a local family just outside of
Hanoi at the wonderful Moon Garden
Homestay, learning traditional cooking and
farming skills
A
 dd a trip to the Mekong Delta from Ho
Chi Minh City - its only a few hours away
and can be visited as a day trip or on a
lovely overnight cruise

like $2!
Margi

Your final destination is Ho Chi Minh City, still colloquially known as


Saigon. This is Vietnams biggest city and its economic powerhouse;
a dynamic destination that combines an elegant colonial heritage with a
modern, energetic atmosphere. Head out to the Cu Chi Tunnels to gain
an understanding of Vietnams turbulent modern history.

Hanoi by Simon King


Vietnams historic and chaotic
capital is a frenzied fusion of
French colonial architecture,
delectable cuisine, colourful
markets and a labyrinth of old
world streets all jostling for space
and attention. Hanoi is one of the
best places in the world to get
merrily lost: wander past the faded
glory of the architecture and wide
boulevards of the French Quarter,
or meander around the street
stalls, cafes, markets, trinket shops
and art galleries of the 36 Streets,
the warren of lanes in Hanois Old
Quarter.

26

F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

The Thang Long Theatre in Hanoi


is also the best place in Vietnam
to experience the traditional art
of roi nuoc or water puppetry.
Originating more than a thousand
years ago in the rivers and rice
paddies of the Red River Delta,
water puppetry recounts the
tales of traditional Vietnamese
culture and folklore in unique
style. Standing in waist deep
water and hidden behind a
curtain, puppeteers manoeuvre
wooden puppets representing
peasants, mandarins and animals,
accompanied by live singers and
musicians. A fascinating insight
into folk culture.

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

27

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

Golden Vietnam
13 Nights
Hanoi (1) overnight train (1) Sapa (1) overnight train (1)
Halong Bay (1) Hue (2) Hoi An (2) Ho Chi Minh City (2)
Mekong Delta (1) Ho Chi Minh City (1)

Sapa
Hanoi
Halong Bay

The high-paced Golden Vietnam itinerary introduces you to the full


sweep of Vietnams dramatic and varied landscapes, journeying south
from the towering rice terraces of mountainous Sapa, home to colourful
minority groups, to the winding waterways of the verdant Mekong Delta.

Trip Highlights
Hike through the rice
terraces to minority villages
at Sapa
Absorb the history, culture
and indulge in great
cuisine in Hue and Hoi An
Experience city life in
thronging Hanoi and
Ho Chi Minh City
Soak up the glorious
scenery at Halong Bay and
the Mekong Delta

Have more time to spend


on holiday?

Hue

Golden Vietnam starts in Hanoi, where daily life plays out on the street:
cafs and market stalls spill on to the pavements while ladies balancing
bamboo baskets weave amongst outdoor hair salons. An overnight train
from Hanoi transports you to the spectacular mountains of Sapa, cut into
steep tiers of lush green rice paddies. Many minority groups live around
Sapa, dressed in colourful woven skirts and elaborate headdresses. On
market days Hmong and Red Dzao people gather to socialise as they
hawk their water buffalo, fruit and vegetables.

Why not

Hoi An

V
 isit Ninh Binh en route from Hanoi to
Halong Bay for spectacular karst scenery,
Vietnams ancient capital and Cuc Phong
National Park

Vietnam

In Vietnam youre never far from the water and this itinerary includes
two nights aboard two very different boats. Cruise on a luxury junk boat
past floating villages among the craggy islands of Halong Bay, while in
the Mekong Delta youll board a converted rice barge, stopping to cycle
through paddy fields and fruit orchards.
Hues draw is its historical sights, including the 19th century citadel
that Vietnams emperors once called home, while in nearby Hoi An
every evening feels like a festival, as hundreds of coloured silk lanterns
hung from trees bounce in the breeze. The streets bustle with tourists
and locals strolling between craft shops, art galleries and restaurants to
indulge in Vietnams finest cuisine. The journey concludes amongst the
excitement of modern Ho Chi Minh City, where sleek skyscrapers tower
above French colonial architecture.

B
 reak the journey with a few nights at
one of central Vietnams beautiful beaches
at Hoi An or Nha Trang for a spot of
relaxation and excellent snorkelling and
diving

Mekong
Delta

Ho Chi Minh City

Minority Culture by Tyler Palma


Vietnam has the richest ethnic
diversity in South-East Asia. While
86% of the population belong
to Viet, the largest group; there
are also 53 minority groups living
predominantly in the mountains of
the central and northern highlands.
Some of these ethnic minorities
number as few as 100 people. I
love walking through the terraced
rice paddies of Northern Vietnam,
staying in local homestays and
getting to know people from these
different cultures.

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F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

Sapa is a great place to meet


members of the Hmong minority,
who originate from southern
China. Their relative geographical
isolation makes the Hmong one of
the most distinct minority cultures,
best known for their rainbow
skirts, elaborate headdresses and
chunky silver jewellery. Tourism
has brought some income to the
Hmong and today many Hmong
women sell woven handicrafts in
the markets around Sapa. Other
distinct ethnic groups in the Sapa
region include the Red Dzao, the
Tay and the Pho Lu, all readily
distinguishable by their distinctive
traditional dress.

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

We found the service excellent.


We enjoyed our holiday so much
that we will definitely visit Vietnam
again and would love to see
Cambodia and Laos too. As we
had such a good experience we
would trust InsideVietnam tours to
book another holiday for us
Mark H

29

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

Vietnam Discovery
18 Nights
Hanoi (2) Mai Chau (2) Ninh Binh (1) Halong Bay (1)
Phong Nha (1) Hue (2) Hoi An (2) Dalat (1) Nam Cat Tien (2)
Ho Chi Minh City (2) Mekong (1) - Ho Chi Minh City (1)

Mai Chau

Hanoi
Halong Bay

For those with a passion for exploration and the time to get beneath
the surface of the country, our Vietnam Discovery itinerary is the
perfect trip. Combining Vietnams most iconic destinations with
beautiful, off-the-beaten track highlights, this all-encompassing tour
unveils Vietnams many and varied faces.

Trip Highlights
Witness minority culture
and glorious scenery at
Mai Chau and Ninh Binh
Cruise through UNESCOlisted Halong Bay and the
lush Mekong Delta
Visit dramatic National
Parks at Phong Nha and
Nam Cat Tien
Experience cool colonial
hill station life at Dalat

Ninh Binh

Phong Nha
National Park

Your adventure commences in Vietnams ancient capital, Hanoi,


where the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Town provide a dizzying
introduction to the country. In rural Mai Chau, set in an idyllic valley just
three hours drive from Hanoi, the traditional Thai-minority villages feel a
world away from the bustle of the city. Driving southwest the limestone
pinnacles of Ninh Binh provide a tantalising taster of the highlight to
come at UNESCO World Heritage listed Halong Bay, where you will have
the chance to relax and savour the magnificent scenery onboard an
overnight cruise.
An atmospheric journey south by train brings you to the lush jungle of
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. This mountainous region is home
to Vietnams most spectacular cave systems, including the recently
discovered Paradise Cave. Ancient Hue, seat of the Nguyen Emperors,
and laid-back Hoi An provide a well-earned breather midway through
your trip, before you head into the cool highlands of Dalat, summer
retreat of the colonial French.
Drive through the coffee and tea plantations of the Central Highlands on
the road to Nam Cat Tien National Park, a jungle refuge for Vietnams
native large mammals, with small populations of elephants, leopards and
even tigers believed to remain in the parks interior. The final leg of your
journey brings you to Ho Chi Minh City, the most modern and exciting of
Vietnams cities and gateway to the Mekong Delta. Learn about Vietnams
war history at Cu Chi and the citys fine museums before a final night of
gentle boat exploration of the delta brings your trip to its conclusion.

Have more time to spend


on holiday?

Hue

Why not

Hoi An

Vietnam
Dalat
Nam Cat Tien

We picked insideVietnam after using


insideJapan last year. We have
travelled independently for years
despite being time poor, and have
come to realise how much more
relaxing an active holiday can be if
a good tour company works on the

E
 xtend your time in Mai Chau and
take a longer multi-day trek between
minority villages staying in local homestay
accommdation

Fly over to Siem Reap in Cambodia and
continue your adventure amongst the
spectacular temples of Angkor

details. It is also often better value.

Mekong
Delta

Ho Chi Minh City

Pauline

Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park by Harry Sargant


Deep in the misty, jungle-clad
mountains along Vietnams border
with Laos lies Phong Nha-Ke Bang
National Park, one of the countrys
most beautiful and unspoilt
regions. Designated a UNESCO
World Heritage Site in 2003 for
its biodiversity and geological
significance, the park is most
celebrated for the enormous cave
complexes that riddle its towering
peaks, including Son Doong,
reputedly the largest cave in the
world.

30

F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

There are a number of great


caves open to the public in the
National Park, but the one I
found most spectacular was only
opened in 2010. Paradise Cave
was discovered by a team of
British experts in 2005 and has
been developed very thoughtfully
to ensure tourism doesnt cause
damage. Only a small proportion
of the caves 31km length is
accessible, but the pristine
sculpted stalactite and stalagmite
formations and cathedral-like halls
are awe-inspiring in their scale.

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

31

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

Honeymoon Vietnam
13 Nights
Hanoi (2) Halong (2) Hue (2) Hoi An (2) Phu Quoc (4)
Ho Chi Minh City (1)

Hanoi

Halong Bay

Wonderful beaches, romantic cruises, great food, fascinating history,


friendly people: Vietnam combines all the necessary elements for
an unforgettable honeymoon. Explore the finest destinations in
Vietnam before kicking back on a paradise island on our Honeymoon
Vietnam itinerary.

Trip Highlights
Enjoy secluded luxury
aboard a private two-night
Halong Bay cruise
Experience exciting city
life and dancing water
puppets in Hanoi
Visit Imperial Hue and
ancient Hoi An, Vietnams
most picturesque town
Forget the world on
Phu Quoc Islands
pristine beaches

Your next stop will take you to the historical town of Hue in Central
Vietnam, where you can begin you exploration of the temples, pagodas,
and tombs of this former imperial capital with the lush and secluded
Pilgrimage Village Resort as your base. You will also have the chance to
cruise down the evocative Perfume River and indulge in some of the
fabulous cuisine for which this city is famed. From Hue you will take
a scenic drive on to the charming town of Hoi An. With streets lit by
beautifully crafted silk lanterns, this quintessentially Vietnamese town is
the ideal place to relax and enjoy a couple of leisurely days. Also known
for its fine cuisine, you will have the chance to take a cookery class and
learn first-hand how to create some of Vietnams most delicious dishes.

Have more time to spend


on holiday?

Hue

Your honeymoon commences in Hanoi, Vietnams ancient capital, where


lively markets, bustling streets, and tranquil lakes create a wonderful
blend of energy and tradition. After exploring the highlights of the city,
travel onwards to the enchanting waters of Halong Bay, where you will
board your private Chinese-style junk boat and set sail across the water.
Here you have two days to unwind and savour the scenery in spectacular
seclusion.

Why not

Hoi An

T ake advantage of the direct flight from Phu


Quoc to Siem Reap and conclude your
journey amongst the awe-inspiring temples
of Angkor

Vietnam
We felt very confident that we were
being looked after all the way from
the initial consultation through to
travelling. InsideVietnam really
went the extra mile to make our
honeymoon special including a few

Ho Chi Minh City

Phu Quoc

R
 eturn to Ho Chi Minh City via the Mekong
Delta, taking a romantic overnight cruise
through the winding waterways of the Delta
on a converted rice barge

surprise extras!
Mark & Rie

From Central Vietnam you will fly south to the secluded bays of Phu
Quoc Island. Here you will find a wonderful, intimate retreat in which to
spend a few days of well-earned relaxation. Swim in the crystal waters,
sunbathe by the pool, or head out to sample the excellent seafood and
enjoy island life. After this rejuvenating escape youll fly back to modern
Ho Chi Minh City for a last, exciting night in Vietnam.

Honeymoon beaches by Jocelyn Knightly Brown


Vietnam is a land blessed with
a spectacular coastline and
the most remarkable array of
beach options. If you are keen
to include a few days of idyllic
beach-side relaxation as part of
your perfect Vietnam Honeymoon
then choosing the best option to
suit your needs is key. Vietnam
boasts a terrific range of beach
destinations and resort styles,
from secluded resorts accessible
only by boat to lively hotels in
popular beachside towns; whether
you want to go diving, get active
or simply lounge by the pool,
there are plenty of wonderful
options available.
32

F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

We will talk to you about the best


choices for the time of year you
wish to honeymoon, well discuss
your preferred resort style and
your budget and will recommend
the perfect romantic location for
you. For more information please
give us a call or refer to the
Beaches and Relaxation pages in
the Experiences and Inspiration
section of this brochure.

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

33

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

Classic Vietnam & Cambodia


11 Nights
Hanoi (2) Halong Bay (1) Hoi An (3) Ho Chi Minh City (2)
Siem Reap (3)

Hanoi
Halong Bay

Our Classic Vietnam and Cambodia tour is the ultimate two-week


introduction to this fascinating region. Combining the cultural and
scenic highlights of these contrasting and often conflicting neighbours
your journey will unveil the wonders of ancient and modern Indochina.

Trip Highlights
Combine the contrasting
delights of Vietnam and
Cambodia
Sample street food at the
markets of Hanoi and Ho
Chi Minh City
Enjoy a glorious Halong
Bay cruise and experience
life in the Mekong Delta
Get your dose of history,
culture and great cuisine in
ancient Hoi An
Explore the remarkable
temples of Angkor in
Cambodia

Have more time to spend


on holiday?

Starting in the northern capital of Hanoi, the heartland of the


Vietnamese people, you will journey southwards through Vietnam,
seeing history unfurl from the majesty of the imperial and colonial
eras into the dark days of more recent history. Along the way youll
cruise through the pinnacle-studded splendour of Halong Bay and
drift along the palm-lined waterways of the tropical Mekong Delta.
The ancient port of Hoi An in Central Vietnam was once amongst
the largest in Asia, welcoming traders and absorbing influences
from across the globe. Today it is amongst Asias most welcoming
and atmospheric destinations. Heading further south youll reach
Ho Chi Minh City, the economic capital of modern Vietnam and a
metropolis brimming with energy and fascinating colonial and postcolonial history.

Hoi An

Siem Reap

Vietnam

Cambodia

A short flight will bring you to your final destination - Siem Reap,
in neighbouring Cambodia. This laid-back town is the gateway to
one of the worlds most iconic sights, the jungle-clad temples of
Angkor. At the zenith of the Khmer Empire, when the great temples
of Angkor were constructed, Cambodian influence extended across
much of southern Vietnam. Conclude your journey by indulging
your inner Indiana Jones as you explore the vine-entangled
remnants of this once-great empire.

Ho Chi Minh City

Why not

Your attention to detail was second


to none - always in communication
before we travelled plus the full
documented itinerary of travel, hotels
and tours plus contact details was
superb. The guides were there to
meet and greet at every destination
as promised and drivers and cars

J ump on the night train and head south


to Phong Nha National Park, home to
spectacular mountainous jungle concealing
vast cave systems
Include a visit to Cambodias capital, Phnom
Penh, the Pearl of the Orient, on the great
Mekong River

were first class.


Carol

Hoi An by James Mundy


Im not alone in ranking Hoi An as my
favourite place in Vietnam it features
regularly in top destination lists in the travel
press, and thoroughly deserves it! For
centuries Hoi An was one of Asias greatest
trading ports, attracting merchants from across
the world and drawing influences that are
reflected in the architecture and character of
the town to this day. The beautiful old town
was mercifully largely undamaged during
decades of war and political turbulence, and
was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site
in 1999. Today Hoi Ans pedestrianised streets
are home to a fabulous array of excellent
and innovative restaurants, relaxed riverside
cafes, art galleries and tailor shops, once again
attracting visitors from afar.

34

F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

Just a short drive from town is the splendid


Cua Dai beach, a stretch of delightful coastline
with a range of first class resorts looking out
toward the nearby Cham Islands, a great spot
for diving and snorkelling. Whether you choose
to stay in town or by the beach, Hoi An is a
wonderful spot to relax mid-way through your
journey and an undisputed highlight of any
visit to Vietnam.

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

35

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

World Heritage Indochina


14 Nights
Saigon (2) Hue (2) Hoi An (2) Hanoi (1)
Halong Bay (1) Luang Prabang (3) Siem Reap (3)

Hanoi

Our World Heritage Indochina itinerary explores the


cultural and scenic highlights of Vietnam, Laos and
Cambodia. With so many beautiful UNESCO World
Heritage Sites to see and explore, this route has it all.
Take your time to discover this enchanting region and
see how these ancient worlds meet the 21st century.

Tour Highlights
Experience the contrasting
delights of Vietnam, Laos
and Cambodia
See how Emperors lived in
ancient Hue, and relax in
Hoi Ans Old Town
Cruise through glorious
Halong Bay
Meander through the
beautiful streets of Luang
Prabang in Laos
Marvel at the temples
of Angkor in Cambodia

Halong Bay

Luang Prabang

Laos

Commence your journey in Vietnams dazzling metropolis, Ho


Chi Minh City, where thronging streets, traditional markets and
street food vendors await. Continue north to Hue, capital of
the Nguyen Emperors and celebrated UNESCO World Heritage
Site on the banks of the Perfume River. In Vietnams most
picturesque city, Hoi An, try your hand at a cookery class, see
how colourful silk lanterns are made, head out to the ruins at My
Son or just watch the world go by.

Why not

Hoi An

Vietnam

Siem Reap

The serene delights of Halong Bay await as you continue


your journey northward. Here you will have a couple of days
to unwind and relax as you cruise through the calm waters
of Vietnams iconic limestone pinnacle-studded bay. As you
arrive in Vietnams ancient capital, swap the tranquil bay for the
bustling streets of Hanoi. Visit one of the excellent museums or
Ho Chi Minhs Mausoleum, take in a traditional water puppet
show and explore the vibrant streets of the Old Quarter.

Have more time to spend


on holiday?

Hue

Cambodia

Ho Chi Minh City

We had a wonderful holiday which


very successfully combined the
chance to spend time with our son
who lives in Vietnam as well as
having some time to travel on our
own. Laos was a definite highlight
- we loved Luang Prabang and the
Maison Souvannaphoum and the

Include a visit to Laos sleepy capital


Vientiane, or the Pearl of the Orient,
Phnom Penh in Cambodia
H
 ead upriver from Luang Prabang to Nong
Khiaw, try a jungle hike, visit far flung
communities, or kayak on the beautiful
Nam Ou River

excursions that had been organised.


Susan

Bid farewell to Vietnam and fly on to the Land of a Million


Elephants: Laos. Nestled in the mountains, Luang Prabang
is a beautiful UNESCO World heritage town; crammed with
golden temples, markets and saffron-robed monks this is an
unforgettable introduction to one of Asias most underrated
countries. From here a short flight will bring you to Siem Reap,
where your trip culminates at the great temples of Angkor,
without doubt one of the most impressive archaeological sites
in the world.

Hue by Alastair Donnelly


If youre a history buff like me theres nowhere
more fascinating in Vietnam than Hue. Before
1802 there wasnt much here of note, then
the small riverside settlement in central
Vietnam was selected by Emperor Gia Long
to be the seat of the Nguyen Dynasty. A vast
Imperial Citadel was constructed modelled
on Beijings Forbidden City and a short and
glorious period of peace and unity followed.
The arrival of the colonial French weakened
the dynasty, and in 1885 the Citadel was
attacked and much of value pillaged. The
Nguyen Emperors were permitted to remain
as puppet rulers under the French authorities
until 1945, when a brief Japanese occupation
finally brought the dynasty to a final end.

36

F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

During the infamous Tet Offensive in the


Vietnam War the Citadel was heavily damaged
and work is still ongoing to restore it to its
former glory. The tombs of the Emperors,
scattered throughout the wooded hills
surrounding the town, are unique in design
and provide a fascinating insight into the
character of the individual emperors. The city
is also famed its delectable royal cuisine and
signature local dishes; a fantastic complement
to its tombs, mausoleums and fascinating
historical sites.

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

37

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

Grand Cambodia
14 Nights
Phnom Penh (2) Kratie (2) Kampong Thom (1)
Siem Reap (4) Battambang (2) Kep (3)
Beyond the awe-inspiring temples of Angkor
lies a beautiful and little-explored country
with welcoming people, delightful countryside
and a rich and varied cultural heritage. Escape
the crowds and head out in search of the real
Cambodia.

Tour Highlights
Discover Cambodias
colonial heritage in Battambang and Phnom Penh
Explore the remarkable
temples of Angkor and the
floating villages of Tonle Sap
Track the elusive
Irrawaddy dolphin on
the Mekong River
Relax by the sea in
laid-back Kep

Siem Reap
Battambang

Cambodia
Kampong Thom
Kratie

Phnom Penh

At its peak during the 12th century, the Khmer empire


was amongst the greatest and most sophisticated
in the world. With Angkor as its capital, the empire
stretched across much of modern Thailand, Vietnam
and Laos, and remnants of these halcyon days can still
be found scattered throughout modern Indochina.
Our Grand Cambodia tour explores many of the
familiar Angkorian temples, but also visits the lesserknown and arguably more atmospheric relics of the
great Khmer era at Koh Ker, Beng Mealea and Sambor
Preh Kuk. More recent historical influence can be
seen in the architecture and ambience of colonial
Battambang and Phnom Penh, destinations which also
bear the scars of the Khmer Rouge era.

Have more time to spend


on holiday?
Why not

Kep

S
 pend a few nights at the unique 4 Rivers
Lodge in the remote Cardamom Mountains

At Skuon you can try deep-fried tarantula, a crunchy


local delicacy, before heading to the vast lake of
Tonle Sap with its teetering, wooden-stilted villages.
Conclude your journey with a few days of relaxation at
coastal Kep the perfect base for exploring the areas
idyllic offshore islands.

C
 ontinue on to Thailand to finish your
journey amongst the bright lights and
excitement of Bangkok

The natural and rural delights of the country also


feature highly on this itinerary. At Kratie in the north,
the Mekong River has created a fertile landscape of
palm-lined islands and rice paddies where you can
seek out the rare Irrawaddy River dolphin.

Cambodian Coast by Enfys Maloney


Having explored all corners of Southeast Asias
famous coastline, Im convinced that the
beaches, islands and retreats of Cambodia,
squeezed between the more celebrated
coastlines of neighbouring Thailand and
Vietnam, have yet to gain the attention they
deserve.
Cambodias most popular seaside destination
is Sihanoukville, a bustling port town with
lovely beaches and easy access to a number
of delightful, unspoilt islands that offer great
opportunities for day trips, snorkelling and
diving. A little further southeast is the fishing
port of Kep, once a favourite retreat for the
colonial French elite.

38

F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

Although it may lack the golden sands of


Sihanoukville, Kep has a delightfully relaxed
atmosphere and nearby Rabbit Island provides
a pristine beach experience should it be
required.
Accommodation along Cambodias coast
ranges from basic beach bungalows to worldclass, luxurious resorts. If you are looking for a
truly unique experience, the 4 Rivers Floating
Lodge provides a wonderful and unusual
alternative.

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

Enfys was very friendly, very helpful,


and very knowledgeable. She made
the process of deciding where we
were going, when and how very
simple and clear.
Robert

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

39

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

Laos & Cambodia Combined


13 Nights
Luang Prabang (4) 4,000 Islands (3) Siem Reap (4) Phnom Penh (2)

Scenic splendour, dramatic remnants of ancient empires


and thriving modern cultures await on our exploration of
the highlights of Laos and Cambodia. Get away from the
tourist trail and explore Indochinas pristine delights before
the masses catch on!

Tour Highlights
Stroll the streets of Luang
Prabang and cruise the
Mekong River
Seek river dolphins, explore
Angkorian ruins and relax
in the 4,000 Islands
Discover the remarkable
temples of Angkor
Visit the Pearl of the
Orient, Cambodias
capital Phnom Penh

Luang Prabang

Laos
Have more time to spend
on holiday?

If Vietnam is the colourful and attention-seeking member of the


Indochina triumvirate, Laos and Cambodia are content to take a back
seat, confident in their more subtle appeals. Though culturally distinct,
the people of both countries share a more relaxed approach to life,
and the laid-back pace of existence will imbue your travels here with a
warmth and serenity to be felt in few other places.

Why not

This itinerary moves at an unhurried pace, combining our favourite


destinations whilst ensuring that you have enough time to appreciate
the scenic attractions and unique atmosphere that make travelling in
Cambodia and Laos so special. We start in Luang Prabang, an entire
town designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here the golden
pagodas, ornate palaces, robed monks and jungle setting provide an
exotic flavour that continues as you move on to Champasak in the
south of the country. Here the mighty Mekong fragments into a myriad
tributaries, forming the 4,000 Islands that give the region its name.
In this region you can explore the Angkorian ruins at Wat Phou, go in
search of the elusive Irrawaddy River dolphin and smell the coffee in
the plantations of the Bolaven Plateau.

Siem Reap

D
 itch the flight and take the adventurous
overland crossing between southern Laos
and Cambodia, stopping in Kratie along the
way

4,000 Islands

S
 tart your journey in style with a two-day
cruise along the mighty Mekong River
through northern Laos to Luang Prabang

Cambodia
Phnom Penh

From the 4,000 Islands youll fly on to Siem Reap, gateway to one of
the worlds truly awe-inspiring sights: the jungle-clad temples of Angkor.
Indulge your Indiana Jones fantasies as you explore the crumbling
remains of this once-powerful empire before taking a final short flight
to Cambodias capital, Phnom Penh. Once known as the Pearl of the
Orient, this is a city regaining its former lustre after many years of
turmoil and tragedy; providing both a poignant and uplifting conclusion
to a fantastic journey.

Champasak and 4,000 Islands by Ruth Hubbard


Although Laos is entirely landlocked, there are
some delightful resort-style options available
across the country to add a relaxing break to
your cultural adventure. One of my favourite
parts of Laos is the Si Phan Don, or the 4,000
Islands: the very last outpost of Laos before
you reach Cambodia. Here the Mekong River
splits into hundreds of tributaries as it washes
around thousands of islands and sandbars.
This area offers a fascinating glimpse into
rural village life supported by the river. The
inhabited islands, each with its own distinct
atmosphere, are largely self-sustaining their
inhabitants surviving by growing rice, sugar
cane and coconuts, catching fish and weaving
fabrics and bamboo.

40

F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

Don Khong Island offers upmarket


accommodation options and is quieter than
the more popular Don Det. Don Khone Island
is a nice blend of the two, with a good choice
of restaurants and a scattering of colourful,
colonial villas. From here you can visit Tad
Somphamit or Lippi Falls, beneath which live a
small and increasingly rare group of Irrawaddy
dolphins, sometimes visible from boats. With
beautiful accommodation, bucolic scenery and
dramatic sunsets who needs the sea?

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

Really have to compliment you


on how well things have been
organised. Weve loved the hotels,
the excursions and the guides/
drivers. Learning loads and adoring
the food! The recommendations in
the guide booklet have been spot
on too.
Clare

TEL: 0117 244 3370

41

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

Laos Overland: Along the Mekong


14 Nights
Luang Prabang (4) Kamu Lodge (1) Vang Vieng (2)
Vientiane (2) Kong Lor (1) Savannahket (1)
4,000 Islands (3)
Follow the mighty Mekong on a dramatic overland
journey through Laos glorious landscapes from
magical Luang Prabang to the beautiful 4,000 Islands
in the far south, exploring vast caverns, Angkorian
ruins and colonial outposts along the way.

Luang Prabang

Laos

Vang Vieng

Tour Highlights
Absorb the magical
atmosphere of Luang
Prabang
Savour spectacular scenery
at Vang Vieng and vast
caverns at Kong Lor
Sip coffee surrounded
by colonial heritage in
Vientiane
Seek out river dolphins,
explore Angkorian ruins
and relax in the 4,000
Islands

In Luang Prabang, an entire town designated as a UNESCO


World Heritage site, Laos boasts one of Southeast Asias
most magical and exotic destinations. Beyond these
golden pagodas, however, Laos is little-known and often
overlooked. This makes now the ideal time to visit whilst
the countrys many attractions still lack the crowds that more
familiar Asian destinations attract!

Have more time to spend


on holiday?

Kong Lor

Vientiane

Why not
T ake a detour en route to Vang Vieng to the
enigmatic Plain of Jars at Phonsavan, one of
Asias great archaeological mysteries

Savannahket

Following the course of the Mekong River from the ancient


capital Luang Prabang, your overland journey will lead you
through Vientiane, the nations laid-back modern capital,
to the southern region of Champasak where the river
fragments into a myriad tributaries to create the 4,000
Islands.

4,000 Islands

Along the route youll have the chance to delve deep into
the jungle to Kong Lor, one of the worlds largest caves,
navigable by underground river; explore the Angkorian
ruins at Wat Phou; go in search of the elusive Irrawaddy
River dolphin, and absorb the magnificence of Laos natural
scenery at Vang Vieng. This land of saffron-clad monks,
elephants and mighty rivers captivates all who take the time
to visit - we look forward to introducing it to you!

This was our second trip with the


Inside team (first was self-guided
in Japan) and we were again very
impressed with all the organisation,
the value for money and the real
attempt to show us a bit of the food,

K
 eep heading south and follow the Mekong
to the sea. From Phnom Penh join a cruise
over the border into Vietnams bountiful
Mekong Delta

culture and customs of the region.


Ian

Vang Vieng by Matt Spiller


As the Nam Song River winds its
way south through the small town
of Vang Vieng huge limestone
mountains emerge from the
mists, towering above the fertile
valleys of Vientiane Province. For
many years the regions natural
beauty was accompanied by the
sounds of raucous backpacker
bars and all-night boat parties, but
after a much-needed cleanup, the
town has reinvented itself as Laos
premier eco-tourism and activity
destination.

42

F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

The region offers fantastic


opportunities for hiking, mountain
biking, canoeing or exploring
the labyrinth of caves hidden in
the karst mountains. If youre
in search of less energetic
experiences the opening of some
lovely hotels overlooking the river
provides the opportunity to soak
up the natural splendour of Vang
Vieng in a more relaxed setting.
The rebirth of this idyllic corner
of Laos is fantastic news best
celebrated by paying it a visit!

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

43

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

FULLY TAILORED JOURNEYS

Northern Laos Explorer


15 Nights
Chiang Rai (1) Pakbeng (1) Luang Prabang (3) Nong Khiaw (1)
Nam Nern (1) Sam Neua (2) Phonsavan (2)
Vang Vieng (2) Vientiane (2)
Nong Khiaw

River cruises, night safaris, temples and


encounters with modern and ancient history
await on our adventurous overland journey
through remote and beautiful northern Laos

Chiang Rai
(Thailand)

Sam Neua

Nam Nern
Pakbeng
Luang Prabang
Phonsavan
Vang Vieng

Tour Highlights
Cruise downstream on
a spectacular two-day
Mekong River journey
Experience Laos
spiritual centre,
Luang Prabang
Go in search of Laos elusive
wildlife on a night safari at
Nam Nern
Witness modern history
at the Viengxay caves and
ancient history at the Plain
of Jars

The lush and dramatic landscapes of


Northern Laos form the backdrop to an
itinerary of adventurous overland exploration,
encompassing many of the countrys most
beautiful and fascinating destinations. Your
journey will take in two of Laos most important
historical sites: the Viengxay caves that
sheltered the Laos Communists during the
Vietnam War, and the mysterious Plain of Jars
a remarkable 2,000-year-old archaeological
enigma.
Commencing in northern Thailand, a delightful
two-day cruise down the mighty Mekong
River will bring you to Laos former capital and
spiritual heart: Luang Prabang. Soak up the
unique atmosphere of this World Heritage Site
before embarking on an overland adventure
into some of the countrys most remote and
rarely-visited regions. From Nong Khiaw, a short
distance up the scenic Nam Ou River, your
journey will lead you northeast to the edge of
the Nam Et Phou Louey National Protected
Area, where the excellent Nam Nern Ecolodge
project offers night safaris in search of rare and
elusive wildlife in partnership with the local
community.

Vientiane

Have more time to spend


on holiday?

Laos

Why not
S
 pend a couple of delightful days helping
out at the excellent Sayaboury Elephant
Conservation Centre a few hours south of
Luang Prabang
F ly south to Champasak and spend a few
relaxing days overlooking the Mekong River
in the 4,000 Islands

Sam Neua is the gateway to the famous cave


complex at Viengxay and a stopping point on
the route onward to Xieng Khouang, also known
as Phonsavan home to the Plain of Jars. Here
thousands of huge stone jars dating from the
Iron Age scatter the landscape; a phenomenon
that continues to defy archaeological explanation.
Returning westward the road leads to Vang
Vieng, a riverside town surrounded by dramatic
karst landscapes and the ideal spot to relax after
the long journey. Your adventure concludes in
Vientiane, the nations laid-back modern capital.

Laos River Cruises by Mark Johnson


The infrastructure in Laos is
slowly improving, but much of
the country remains remote and
largely inaccessible by vehicle.
A fantastic alternative to bumpy
overland journeys is to make
use of the natural channels
cut through this mountainous
and forested land. A splendid
selection of river cruising options
across the country allow the
visitor to experience Laos from
the water enabling access to
remote regions that are otherwise
inaccessible by vehicle and
providing a different perspective
from which to appreciate these
dramatic landscapes.
44

F ULLY TAILORED JOURNE YS

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

Two-day Mekong River cruises


connect Luang Prabang and the
Thai border, whilst the dramatic
Nam Ou River provides access
to the remote minority regions
of northern Laos, using the small
settlement of Nong Khiaw as a
base. To the south a three-day
cruise sails through the Lower
Mekong, exploring the delightful
4,000 Islands. The cruises can be
combined with any tour of Laos
or the wider region just ask us
for details.

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

I very much liked the approach


& flexibility right from the outset.
Dealing with agents who actually
knew the areas is a huge competitive
bonus as is the ability to tweak
& bespoke the trip. The boutique
hotels were perfect & in great
locations.
Nicola

TEL: 0117 244 3370

45

EXPERIENCES & INSPIRATION

Experiences & Inspiration

Experiences &
Inspiration

The beautiful and varied countries of Indochina are


brimming with experiences to excite and inspire any
open-minded traveller, whatever their age, interests
or budget. In the following pages we have picked out
some of our favourite experiences and destinations and
collected them into themes.

46

C O N T E N T S
Fa m ily Tr a v el

48 - 49

H o n ey m o o n s

50 - 51

C o o k er y & C u is in e

52 - 53

Whether you want to arrange the ultimate family holiday; plan the
perfect honeymoon; trek through dense jungle in search of elusive
wildlife or find your dream river cruise, we hope the ideas described
here will encourage you to contact us to find out more.

Bea c h es & R ela xa tio n

54 - 55

A c tiv e H o lid a y s

56 - 57

Any combination of these suggestions can be incorporated into a


tailored itinerary designed just for you let us know what takes your
fancy and well work with you to create your perfect holiday.

C r u is es in I n d o c h in a

58 - 59

N a tio n a l Pa r k s & Wild life

60 - 61

Su s ta in a b le Tr a v el

62 - 63

EXPERIENCES & INSPIR ATION

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

47

EXPERIENCES & INSPIRATION

Family Travel
From mind-opening cultural experiences to beach relaxation, Indochina
provides a kaleidoscope of experiences perfect for those travelling with
children of any age. Whether you kayak through Halong Bay, clamber
around the vine-entangled ruins at Angkor or sip fresh coconut water on
Phu Quoc Island, this is guaranteed to be a holiday that the kids will be
telling their friends about for months to come!

Hands-on Experiences
Theres no better way for kids to learn about the different cultures they encounter than getting
stuck in and trying their hands at something new. Throw a pot at the Bat Trang Pottery Village
near Hanoi, or learn to make a kite or decorate a traditional lantern in Hoi An. At the Moon
Garden Homestay your hosts will teach you to cook Vietnamese food and let you help out on
their farm, planting or harvesting rice depending on the season. In central Vietnam our friends
at Hoi An Eco Tours will take the family out in a traditional coracle and teach you how the local
fisherman make a living, whilst at the Living Land in Luang Prabang you can learn how to plough
Laos-style with a friendly water buffalo named Janice.

Your individually tailored trip is designed to take away all the hassle of planning a family
holiday. From the moment you arrive, youll have your own private guides and vehicles on
hand to make your journey as relaxing as possible, allowing you to enjoy the experience
without having to worry about the logistics. Safe and reliable domestic flights will transport
you quickly and efficiently between destinations, minimising stress and maximising your
opportunity to get to know the unique cultures of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Action and Adventure

Accommodation in Indochina offers excellent value, with child-friendly facilities such as


swimming pools and interconnecting rooms widely available, even in mid-range properties.
We know which hotels are particularly well-suited for families, whether for their facilities,
location or warmth of welcome, and well be delighted to discuss these with you as part of
the planning process.

Angkor is a place where childrens imaginations can truly run wild, and we guarantee youll
be as awe-struck by the jungle-entwined ruins as your little Indiana or Lara. Just jump on your
bikes and head out in search of your own lost world. In Vietnams Phong Nha National Park
you can discover world record-breaking caves and trek through lush jungle to swim in secret
hot springs, whilst at Halong Bay you can climb in a kayak and explore hidden bays in the lee
of towering limestone cliffs. Get to grips with Vietnam War history as you crawl through the vast
underground labyrinth of the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels from where the Viet Cong conducted their
guerrilla warfare. For adrenaline junkies, the Flight of the Gibbons zip wire experience will send
you flying through the canopy above the Angkor temples in Siem Reap. Finally, animal lovers
have the opportunity to pass their elephant driving licence in Sayaboury in Laos.

Above all, Indochina offers a safe and welcoming environment in which children of all ages
can have fun and learn about the fascinating cultures of the region.

Entertainment
The traditional performing arts are alive and well in Indochina and add an entertaining insight
into local culture for kids and adults alike. The Hanoi Water Puppets are must for any family
visit to Vietnams capital, whilst for those exploring Mai Chau a traditional dance performance
is a great introduction to the local minority cultures. In Siem Reap the excellent Phare Circus
provides a modern, energetic show, whilst the Apsara dancers offer a more traditional
Cambodian style. Older kids love the Saigon Vespa Tours exploring Vietnams crazy street food
culture on the back of a vintage vespa.

A bit of down time


Great family holidays find the right balance of adventure and relaxation, and in Indochina youre
never far from a fantastic beach or a resort with a great pool for a few days of down time. See
our Beaches & Relaxation section for a few more ideas, but if you want a hotel with a Kids Club
or baby-sitting service we know just where to suggest. Many hotels in the popular
destinations across Indochina have swimming pools and leisure facilities,
so after a mornings exploration theres somewhere to retreat for
a bit of chill out time.

Feeling inspired?

48

The ideas described here are just a selection


of the experiences and destinations available,
all of which can be included in your tour to
Indochina.

Talk to one of our enthusiastic Indochina


Specialists for more information and advice
about creating the perfect itinerary to suit you,
your budget and interests.

EXPERIENCES & INSPIR ATION

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

49

EXPERIENCES & INSPIRATION

Honeymoons
There are few better honeymoon destinations than Indochina, combining
as it does fabulous tropical beaches, world-famous cultural sites, actionpacked sightseeing and mouth-watering cuisine. Whatever combination of
excitement, adventure and romantic relaxation you desire; we have all the
elements in place to create your perfect, once-in-a-lifetime holiday.

Amazing Places
What Indochina does better than anywhere we know is combine relaxation and cultural interest
in one place. Across the region many of our favourite destinations have both fascinating historic
sites to stimulate the mind and beautiful, relaxing resort-style accommodation to soothe the
senses. In Vietnam we know youll love ancient Hoi An and its neighbour Hue; head over to
Cambodia to combine temple discovery with relaxation at Siem Reap or visit Luang Prabang, the
spiritual heart of Laos.

The key to any honeymoon is stress-free travel and relaxation so that you and your
partner can concentrate on having the very best time together. Our packages ensure that
all the complicated matters are taken care of, leaving you to enjoy your precious holiday
time without having to worry about the logistics. Some of our staff have taken their own
honeymoons in Indochina, so we can really offer a personal approach to honeymoon
planning!

Romantic accommodation
Whether your style is grand colonial, chic boutique or romantic retreat Indochina is blessed
with a fabulous selection of excellent value accommodation. We will pick out the perfect mix
of hotels and resorts to match the location and your preferences. Vietnams excellent beaches
provide every style of accommodation, from the barefoot luxury of private bays and secluded
spa resorts in Con Dao and Phu Quoc to fun hotels in the heart of the action in Nha Trang
and Danang. If you dont need the beach, there are some fabulous and relaxing resorts inland,
set amongst the rice paddies and palm trees of Siem Reap, the 4,000 Islands and in Luang
Prabang.

Private cruises
We love the serene beauty of Halong Bay in northern Vietnam and the Mekong Delta in the far
south, but if youre looking for an extra-special way to experience these areas we recommend
considering a private (and surprisingly affordable) overnight cruise. With your own crew to
attend to your every wish, you are free to determine the schedule, explore the quiet corners that
bigger boats cant reach, and relax whilst soaking up some of Vietnams most glorious scenery.

Special experiences
That extra touch is what takes a great honeymoon to the next level, and we can offer some truly
unforgettable romantic experiences that promise to do just that. See Angkor from a whole new
perspective on a microlight or helicopter ride. Take a sunset champagne cruise on the great
moat of Angkor Thom. Try a private Imperial cuisine cooking class at one of Hues traditional
Garden Houses, or whizz through the streets of Saigon on a classic Vespa
for a guided tour of the citys best street stalls, bars and cafes.
Ask us about more unforgettable experiences.

Feeling inspired?

50

The ideas described here are just a selection


of the experiences and destinations available,
all of which can be included in your tour to
Indochina.

Talk to one of our enthusiastic Indochina


Specialists for more information and advice
about creating the perfect itinerary to suit you,
your budget and interests.

EXPERIENCES & INSPIR ATION

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

51

EXPERIENCES & INSPIRATION

Cookery & Cuisine


Immerse yourself in the local culture and take a phenomenal gastronomic
journey around Indochina, exploring the markets, sampling the street
food and learning about the delectable cuisines on offer throughout the
region. Vietnam may grab the culinary headlines with its internationally
recognised array of delights, but the light coconut amok curries and
Khmer barbecues of Cambodia, and the lovely Lao salads and noodles
will more than satisfy the travelling foodie! Well let you make your own
mind up about the deep fried tarantulas.

Vietnam
Northern Vietnam is synonymous with pho, a light, delicious rice noodle soup. This aromatic
dish is traditionally served for breakfast, but is equally likely to be eaten for any other meal of
the day. Central Vietnam, meanwhile, is often regarded as the birthplace of modern Vietnamese
cuisine. The old capital of Hue is renowned for its delicious Imperial fare: bite-sized morsels
of delicate rice cakes, succulent dumplings and a variety of intricate and imaginative dishes.
Hoi An, too, is famed for its gastronomic delights, and the town boasts enough excellent
restaurants to keep you in foodie heaven for weeks! The south boasts slightly spicier fare and
an abundance of exotic fruits and fresh seafood.

Freshly cooked, fantastic food is an inseparable part of daily life in this part of the world;
on every street corner something is cooking from the recognisably tasty pho noodles or
crunchy baguettes to the more rarefied delights of sea snails and scorpions. Whatever you
stumble across we urge you to get stuck in and give it a try youll soon discover new
friends as well new tastes. Just pull up a plastic stool, point at something your neighbour is
tucking in to and give a big grin. Youll not be disappointed!

Cambodia & Laos


Though perhaps not as celebrated as the cuisines of their larger neighbours, Cambodia and
Laos still have plenty to tempt the palate. Amok is perhaps the most well-known Cambodian
dishes, made of fish or chicken with fresh coconut milk and kroeung, a Khmer curry paste made
from lemongrass, turmeric, garlic, shallots, galangal and ginger. Head to the coast for fantastic
grilled fish and crab fresh from the sea, spiced with the famous Kampot pepper. In Laos be sure
to try tam som, a spicy salad made from shredded unripe papaya, often accompanied by tasty
pin gai grilled marinated chicken.

Foodie experiences
Markets in Vietnam are a real highlight, selling everything from exotic fruits to basins of flapping
fish. Explore the markets and sample your way around the backstreet food stalls with a local
expert in Hanoi or speed around our favourite spots in Ho Chi Minh City on the back of a
vintage Vespa, trying the local specialities as you go. Either way youre in for an unbeatable night
out! For a more serene dining experience how about a romantic dinner cruise on the Mekong
River in Luang Prabang, or a private dinner in one of Hues historic Garden Houses.

Cookery courses
With its fine culinary heritage and selection of fabulous eateries, Hoi An is an ideal place to take
a half-day cookery class. Learn how to cook traditional Vietnamese dishes in the atmospheric
Old Quarter, in historical merchant houses, or at one of the excellent cookery schools run by
local restaurants. The cookery course will begin with a tour of a local market
accompanied by your chef, before returning to class to learn to create
some beautiful Vietnamese food. Cookery classes are also available
in Siem Reap and Luang Prabang for those determined to
impress your friends with the ultimate Indochinese dinner
party when you get home!

Feeling inspired?

52

The ideas described here are just a selection


of the experiences and destinations available,
all of which can be included in your tour to
Indochina.

Talk to one of our enthusiastic Indochina


Specialists for more information and advice
about creating the perfect itinerary to suit you,
your budget and interests.

EXPERIENCES & INSPIR ATION

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

53

EXPERIENCES & INSPIRATION

Beaches & Relaxation


Vietnam boasts over two thousand miles of coastline, liberally blessed
with sheer cliffs and hidden coves, sandy peninsulas and mangrove-clad
deltas. This meandering ribbon of coast offers a huge range of captivating
beaches and island retreats from the north right down to the borders of
Cambodia in the far south. The wide geographical range also means that
we can recommend a great coastal destination no matter what time of
year you choose to travel.

Coastal Vietnam
The great sweep of China Beach in Danang, stretching down to Cua Dai Beach near Hoi An, is
home to a selection of excellent beach resorts perfect for honeymooners, families and anyone
simply in search of some relaxing beach time. Taking a beach break in this region comes with
the added benefit of some fascinating historical highlights, allowing you to combine beach
time with cultural exploration. A short flight south is Nha Trang, Vietnams liveliest beach town,
which boasts a great beach right on its doorstep and islands perfect for diving and snorkelling
within easy reach. For those seeking a little more seclusion, nestled in the private bays across
the water from Nha Trang are some of Vietnams most exclusive resorts. Further south arethe
resorts of Mui Ne and Phan Thiet, popular beachside destinations for those wanting to escape
the bustle of Saigon.

Cambodias up-and-coming beach scene has yet to make international waves, but the idyllic
islands and delightful resorts are well worth discovering for yourself. Landlocked Laos may
lack the sea, but whether relaxing in the 4,000 Islands or lovely Luang Prabang you will find
few places in the world as restful.

Vietnams island escapes


For those in search of the palm-fringed island paradise of imagination look no further than
idyllicPhu Quoc andthe remoteCon Dao Islands. Just a short flight from Ho Chi Minh City
these islands make for the perfect getaway. Phu Quoc is mountainous and densely forested,
offering secluded bays, amazing seafood, magnificently clear waters and excellent diving and
snorkelling opportunities. Con Dao is a group of 16 islands, with Con Son the largest in the
chain. Now predominantly protected by the Con Dao National Park, Con Son is the nesting
ground for Vietnams most important sea turtles (nesting season May-November). This is a
beautiful island and the perfect place to get away from it all.

Cambodia
Sihanoukvilles three palm-lined beaches are blessed with white sand and lined with popular
bars and restaurants. If a fun and lively beach break is your style, then Sihanoukville is the place
for you! Kep, meanwhile, is a coastal town famed for its delicious crab a great secluded spot
for a relaxing seaside break, with day trips to nearby islands offering the chance to find your own
private stretch of beach. Siem Reap may be tucked away in the heart of Cambodia, but amongst
the temples, rice paddies and palm trees are delightful resorts.

Laos
Sitting, cocktail in hand, watching the sun set slowly over the mighty Mekong River is a match
for any seaside. There are delightful resorts tucked away on the larger islands in this great inland
delta, from classic colonial heritage at La Folie to beautiful modern style at the River Resort.
Further north in Luang Prabang a selection of beautiful riverside resorts will
persuade you to linger for an extra couple of days.

Feeling inspired?

54

The ideas described here are just a selection


of the experiences and destinations available,
all of which can be included in your tour to
Indochina.

Talk to one of our enthusiastic Indochina


Specialists for more information and advice
about creating the perfect itinerary to suit you,
your budget and interests.

EXPERIENCES & INSPIR ATION

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

55

EXPERIENCES & INSPIRATION

Active Holidays
In a region blessed with such a fabulous diversity of landscape and
topography, from sculpted rice terraces to pristine jungle, underground
rivers to aquamarine seas, it is unsurprising that such a fabulous range
of outdoor activities should be on offer. Whether you like to explore on
foot, by bike or on horseback, many of our favourite destinations can be
explored in a more active fashion if an energetic approach to a classic
journey is your preference. If you are in search of real adventure we
can recommend some fabulous longer expeditions into the remote and
beautiful corners of Indochina.

Trekking
If donning your walking boots and heading out on foot is your passion, there are plenty of
glorious options across Indochina from half-day jungle treks in Nam Cat Tien National Park to
multi-day expeditions through the beautiful mountains of northern Vietnam. Stay in homestays
with the local Hmong or Thai people as you explore the spectacular terraced mountains of
Sapa, Ha Giang, and Ba Be, or visit Mai Chau, just three hours drive from Hanoi for an inspiring
combination of stunning scenery and fascinating local culture. The pristine mountains north of
Luang Prabang in Laos offer some of the finest jungle trekking available, travelling on foot and
by boat to remote communities far from the beaten track.

All our active options are properly equipped and well-researched to ensure you have
appropriate support and equipment for the degree of challenge and risk expected. From
a gentle cycle ride through the rice paddies around Hoi An to grand expeditions into
the mountainous jungles of northern Laos; from a gentle kayak around Halong Bay to
swimming in the vast, unlit caverns of Phong Nha National Park there are wonderful outdoor
experiences to add adventure and excitement to any journey.

Biking
Whether you like your cycling on- or off-road there are fantastic options to jump on your bike
across the region. In many of the most popular destinations, including Hoi An, Luang Prabang
and around the temples of Angkor, we think a bike is the best way to escape the crowds and
discover the hidden corners that most visitors never see. The rice paddies and fruit orchards of
the Mekong Delta are also beautiful cycling country; flat, traffic-free and wonderfully scenic. For
the more energetic there are some great mountain-biking options around the Central Highlands,
Mai Chau and Sapa that can be arranged to suit your itinerary from as little as a few hours
cycling to adventurous week-long tours.

Caving & kayaking


Phong Nha National Park in Central Vietnam is home to the countrys most spectacular cave
systems vast caverns filled with great underground lakes and sculpted stalagmite and stalactite
formations. Many are accessible with little effort, but the magnificent jungle-clad mountains also
hide some more rarely-visited caves where you can explore with head-torches and helmets, and
swim in the warm waters of dark lakes. For those who prefer to paddle, most Halong Bay cruise
boats offer kayaking excursions, whilst the beautiful Nam Ou River in northern Laos provides a
spectacular backdrop for the dedicated canoeist.

Snorkelling & diving


With such an incredibly long and beautiful coastline its hardly surprising that Vietnam offers
some fantastic snorkelling and diving possibilities. The time of year has a major influence on the
quality and clarity of the experience, but no matter when you travel there are always great diving
destinations to be found if this is your passion. Nha Trang has long been
considered the diving and snorkelling heartland of Vietnam, with nearby
Whale Island also providing a wonderful underwater experience.
The Cham Islands near Hoi An and the southern island of
Phu Quoc are pleasant, if not world-class, options but for
unbeatable conditions the Con Dao Islands are a real
divers paradise.

Feeling inspired?

56

The ideas described here are just a selection


of the experiences and destinations available,
all of which can be included in your tour to
Indochina.

Talk to one of our enthusiastic Indochina


Specialists for more information and advice
about creating the perfect itinerary to suit you,
your budget and interests.

EXPERIENCES & INSPIR ATION

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

57

EXPERIENCES & INSPIRATION

Cruises in Indochina
With a spectacular coastline and some of Southeast Asias greatest rivers,
its little surprise that cruising options in Indochina are so popular. From
a few hours of gentle water-borne exploration in the Mekong Delta to
luxurious week-long river cruises connecting Vietnam and Cambodia; the
region boasts a fantastically varied and endlessly fascinating selection
of cruising options. In this section we describe some of our favourite
locations, where exploration by boat can give you access to the most
beautiful landscapes in Indochina.

Halong Bay Cruises


UNESCO World Heritage-designated Halong Bay, scenic highlight of northern Vietnam, is the
perfect place to take to the water. Sail serenely between the karst towers scattered throughout
the bay, stopping at floating fishing villages, kayaking to remote beaches or exploring spectacular
caves. Most popular is an overnight cruise on one of the many traditional junks that ply the
bay, but day-boats or extended two-night options are also possible. These provide a wonderful
opportunity to escape the crowds that are inevitable in such a world-renowned destination.
Cruise options range from the Chinese-style junk boats to luxurious modern vessels, and private
boats can also be arranged for those seeking a more intimate experience.

The island-strewn waters of Halong Bay may rightly have the greatest international
reputation, but we urge you to explore further. In northern Laos the Mekong demarcates the
border with neighbouring Thailand, and having journeyed for more than an a thousand miles
from the Tibetan Plateau the scale is already dramatic. Much of the subsequent thousand
miles downstream to the sea are navigable, passing through the dramatic landscapes of
Laos, the bucolic rural scenery of Cambodia and into the bountiful Mekong Delta. We hope
these ideas inspire you to jump aboard!

Mekong Delta Cruises


The Mekong River, the worlds twelfth longest, flows south for more than 2,000 miles from the
Tibetan Plateau to Southwest Vietnam, where it splits into great tributaries that spread out to
form the vast and fertile Mekong Delta. This is Vietnams rice bowl, where the combination of
tropical temperatures, plentiful water and fertile land enable up to four rice harvests annually
and an abundance of exotic fruit. Day trips from Ho Chi Minh City provide a great taster of
this region, but staying overnight on a converted rice barge such as the Bassac provides our
favourite vantage point from which to explore the deltas winding waterways and floating
markets. Choose a one- or two-night cruise to take you deep into the delta for an experience of
life in Vietnams serene and verdant south.

Mekong River Cruises - Vietnam & Cambodia


For those with a little longer to spare and a yen for kicking back and watching the world go by,
there can be few more exotic and relaxing options than an extended cruise on the Mekong
River, taking you from the delta in Vietnam to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in neighbouring
Cambodia. Plying this route youll find an array of ships catering to all budgets, with cross-border
itineraries ranging from three to eight days on board. Our favourites include the traditionally
styled Pandaw boats and the sumptuous RV Jayarvarman. Most cruises offer a full schedule of
shore excursions, enabling you to stretch your legs and witness the transformation as you travel
from the bustling delta to the quiet Cambodian backwaters.

Mekong River Cruises - Laos


Further upstream the Mekong passes through the dramatic jungle-covered landscapes of Laos.
In the south of the country the Vat Phou cruise journeys through the idyllic 4,000 Islands, whilst
further north the Luang Say cruise travels from the magical town of Luang Prabang to the Thai
border a two-day journey sweeping you past lush wooded hills
and minority villages. Shorter day cruises up the remote
Nam Ou River provide access to a fascinating and rarely
visited region of Laos.

Feeling inspired?

58

The ideas described here are just a selection


of the experiences and destinations available,
all of which can be included in your tour to
Indochina.

Talk to one of our enthusiastic Indochina


Specialists for more information and advice
about creating the perfect itinerary to suit you,
your budget and interests.

EXPERIENCES & INSPIR ATION

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

59

EXPERIENCES & INSPIRATION

National Parks & Wildlife


The mountainous forests and dense jungles of Indochina are home to
a dazzling array of wildlife, but as in many of the worlds developing
countries many animals are in decline due to the effects of war,
deforestation and pollution. Poaching is also an issue; theres a huge
demand across Asia from people who want to eat or wear endangered
animals. Fortunately great efforts are underway across the region to
protect both the animals and the crucial habitats in which they will thrive
in the future.

Cuc Phuong National Park


A couple of hours south of Hanoi is the beautiful jungle of Cuc Phuong, Vietnams first national
park, established in 1962. The Endangered Primate Rescue Centre is home to 150 rescued
monkeys, and is well worth a visit. A freshwater turtle Conservation Centre which raises and
releases 60 turtles back into the wild each year is also located in the park. A visit to the park can
be easily combined with a visit to the delightful karst scenery of Ninh Binh.

Supporting the places and projects that utilise sensitive tourism and community engagement
in order to fund and promote conservation is a great way to experience some of Indochinas
most remarkable destinations whilst contributing to their long-term survival.

Nam Cat Tien National Park


One hundred miles to the northeast of Saigon lies one of Vietnams most important national
parks, Nam Cat Tien. The 72,000 hectares of dense lowland rainforest and grassland is home to
an enormous variety of flora and fauna, and is one of the final remaining refuges for wild native
populations of elephant, leopard and reputedly even tiger. Siamese crocodiles were once extinct
in the wild but have been successfully reintroduced to Nam Cat Tien and are now thriving.
Across the river is Monkey Island, a small densely-vegetated island that is home to the Dao Tien
Endangered Primate Species Centre which rehabilitates and releases gibbons, langurs and loris
that have been confiscated from traffickers.

Cambodia
An unlikely wildlife highlight of Cambodia is to be found in Kratie, close to the Laos border. Here
a small population of the endangered Irrawaddy River Dolphin remains in the murky waters of
the Mekong take a boat out in the early morning for the best chance of catching glimpse. A
short way south of Phnom Penh is the excellent Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre, where
you can spend the day learning about the more than 100 sun bears that have been rescued
from captivity and relocated here. For the adventurous Cambodias far eastern provinces offer
best chance of seeing large wildlife in its natural home. Try gibbon trekking in Ratanikiri or visit
the renowned Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri.

Laos
The old name for Laos, Lan Xang, means land of a million elephants but sadly there are
only around 1,600 elephants left in Laos today. Of these, roughly a thousand are wild, while
the others are domesticated elephants that work in the logging trade. A visit to the Sayaboury
Elephant Conservation Centre (ECC), a few hours south of Luang Prabang, is a
fantastic opportunity to get up close to the elephants and to support Laos
declining elephant population. In the far north the Nam Nern
Night Safari is a community based conservation project offering
visitors the chance to seek out Laos elusive wildlife
with expert local help.

Feeling inspired?

60

The ideas described here are just a selection


of the experiences and destinations available,
all of which can be included in your tour to
Indochina.

Talk to one of our enthusiastic Indochina


Specialists for more information and advice
about creating the perfect itinerary to suit you,
your budget and interests.

EXPERIENCES & INSPIR ATION

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

61

EXPERIENCES & INSPIRATION

Sustainable Travel
At InsideVietnam we try not to think of sustainable travel as an extra to
add to our trips, rather it forms part of our company philosophy and
so runs through all we do. We believe this is the right approach not
just because we care about the environment and the communities we
support, but because a sensitivity to the impact of our travels results in a
better experience for everyone. The most memorable travel experiences
come from human interaction, and these relationships can only be built
when the communities are supportive and welcoming of their guests.

Community projects
Indochina is no exception to the global rule that young people are leaving rural areas to
find work in the big cities. Yet people still need to eat and its vital that fishing and farming
techniques are not abandoned. There are a number of great projects across the region that
introduce the visitor to the traditional rural skills of farming and fishing in time-honoured style.
In Hoi An try your hand at gardening, weaving palm leaves, casting fishing nets or rowing a tub
boat; in Laos the excellent Living Land provides a fun introduction to the art of rice growing and
harvesting. Soksabike is a social enterprise set up to provide scenic and informative bike rides
through the local countryside of Battambang in central Cambodia.

To this end we employ local guides who are not only fantastic ambassadors for their home
regions, but can act as a bridge to the local people you meet along the way creating
the opportunity to engage in meaningful exchange and turning random encounters into
memorable experiences. In addition we encourage visits beyond the usual tourist hot spots
and provide cultural tips and recommendations for local restaurants and ethical shops in the
Info-Pack. In this way you can be sure your holiday has a positive impact and contributes to
the local communities you encounter in a sustainable manner.

Homestays
A homestay gives you the chance to get to know local people in their own environment.
Overnight at the delightful Topas Ecolodge or Namcang Riverside Lodge in the villages around
Sapa and Mai Chau in northern Vietnam, or stay in a beautiful Chinese merchant house deep in
the Mekong Delta. Bai Huong Village on Cham Island, a short boat ride from ever-popular Hoi
An, provides a wonderful contrast to the tourist throng across the water. The islands coast is
protected so you can enjoy an afternoons snorkelling, kayaking or swimming in pristine waters.
At the Kamu Lodge close to Luang Prabang and the excellent Moon Garden Homestay near
Hanoi, the owners also offer a range of fun activities linked to the local culture.

Were proud to support these sustainable tourism projects. Please dont hesitate to ask your
travel consultant if youd like to weave one into your itinerary.

Traditional art & crafts


Vietnam has a long history of art and crafts, and the merchant port of Hoi An is a great place
to experience this first hand. We can arrange a lesson in traditional painting techniques at the
home of Mr Sinh Trong, a local artist, followed by the chance to make the traditional silk lantern
for which Hoi An is famous. The craft lessons are arranged through the Lifestart Foundation who
teach skills to disadvantaged Vietnamese people, including Mr Trong, to help them earn
an income and become self-sufficient.

Supporting local causes


The popular destinations of both Vietnam and Cambodia boast a number of excellent
restaurants that combine first class cuisine with a strong social mission, allowing you to
contribute in a meaningful and mutually beneficial manner. With restaurants in both Hanoi and
Saigon dine for a cause at KOTO. Know One Teach One is supported by Street
Voices, a NGO dedicated to offering a brighter future to street and
disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. Other favourites with a similar
philosophy are Romdeng in Phnom Penh, and Haven in
Siem Reap. All our clients are given a detailed list of
recommendations when they travel so you can make
your own positive choices.

Feeling inspired?

62

The ideas described here are just a selection


of the experiences and destinations available,
all of which can be included in your tour to
Indochina.

Talk to one of our enthusiastic Indochina


Specialists for more information and advice
about creating the perfect itinerary to suit you,
your budget and interests.

EXPERIENCES & INSPIR ATION

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

63

ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation
At InsideVietnam we pride ourselves on our ability to find the
perfect accommodation to suit you whether you prefer a cosy
boutique property in the heart of the city, a glamorous hotel dating
back to the French colonial era or a rural homestay where you can
learn about the local way of life first hand, we will recommend
somewhere we know youre going to love. Indochina is blessed
with a tremendous range of accommodation options catering to
all budgets and styles, often offering exceptionally good value for
money, but with such a bewildering selection on offer it is vital
to get advice from experts who have visited these properties
themselves.

64

In this section we have selected a few of our personal favourite


accommodation options to give you a taste of the great diversity of
style and standard available across the region. These properties can
be included in any of our tailored journeys, but dont worry if they
dont appeal or dont feature in your destination list - let us know
what you like and well suggest another great option that will make
your holiday even more enjoyable.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel, Hanoi

Moon Garden Homestay, Ky Son

The iconic Metropole, located in the centre of Hanoi


close to the Opera House and Hoan Kiem Lake, ranks
amongst Vietnams finest and most distinguished
colonial hotels. The hotel is a historic landmark in its
own right, having played host to visiting dignitaries and
celebrities for more than a century. The original wing of
the building dates back to 1901, with glamorous, high
ceilinged rooms decorated in dark woods and subtle
Vietnamese touches. The hotel has an attractive central
pool and bar, and a range of excellent restaurants.

Moon Garden offers a unique proposition: a rural


homestay one hour west of Hanoi city, providing
visitors an opportunity to engage in local Vietnamese
activities. The property sits on a low hillside
overlooking an attractive landscape of ponds and rice
paddies, and is situated within easy cycling distance of
Duong Lam ancient village, one of the finest preserved
traditional Viet villages in the country. Accommodation
is unique, comfortable and tastefully designed from
reconstructed traditional homes, complete with
antique furniture and decoration from around the
region.

ACCOMMODATION

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

Forest Floor Lodge, Nam Cat Tien


National Park
Forest Floor Lodge is a thoughtfully designed ecolodge in the heart of Nam Cat Tien National Park
overlooking the Ben Cu rapids and Monkey Island,
a small densely vegetated island that is home to
the Dao Tien Endangered Primate Species Centre.
Accommodation is spread out into the surrounding
jungle in African safari-lodge style, with some wooden
cabins and a small number of luxury safari tents on
stilts overlooking the river. A range of excursions into
the National Park are offered by the lodge, working in
conjunction with the park office located nearby.

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

Ancient House Resort, Hoi An

Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa, Siem Reap

My Dream Resort, Luang Prabang

This Oriental-style boutique hotel is situated just


outside Hoi Ans Old Town, approximately five
minutes drive from the town centre. Originally the
home of a local noodle-making family, the excellentvalue resort has just 52 rooms, set within lush, tropical
grounds; shady banana and palm trees creating a truly
Vietnamese atmosphere. There is a fabulous pool
in the centre of the resort, a perfect place to relax
after exploring the town. The dcor used throughout
is Oriental in theme; rooms are light with dark wood
furnishings.

The delightful colonial-style Victoria Angkor Resort


& Spa sits in one of Siem Reaps finest locations,
overlooking the Royal Gardens and just a short walk
from the markets, restaurants and cafes in the centre
of town. The property is constructed around a large,
attractive pool, with two spacious restaurants serving
both French and Cambodian cuisine opening out
onto the leafy central courtyard. Rooms are spacious
and attractively furnished, many with small private
balconies overlooking the pool. For its combination
of style, service and location the Victoria is one of our
favourite hotels in Siem Reap.

My Dream Resort is a leafy sanctuary situated a quick


fifteen-minute cycle from the old town in Luang
Prabang. This wonderful retreat is set in a lush green
garden with lovely views across the Khan River. The
hotel offers a number of bicycles guests can borrow
free of charge and during the winter months, between
November and May, there is a bamboo bridge to walk
across taking you from the hotel to Luang Prabangs
old town. There is a lovely onsite swimming pool and
an al fresco restaurant offering a selection of western
and authentic Lao dishes.

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Indochina climate

North Vietnam

Travel to Indochina is a pleasure at any time of year. Deciding when to travel will depend on your own personal tolerance of heat and
rainfall, and the activities you wish to include.
Vietnams length and varied topography combine to make it a challenging country to describe climatically. As most journeys cover the
entire length of the country, however, it is highly likely that you will encounter rain at some point along the way; where this is most likely
to fall and the impact it may have on your trip will depend on the time of year. In most cases rainfall is tropical in nature, meaning short
intense storms that clear the air, rather than extended periods of rain.

Hanoi and the surrounding region are sufficiently far north to have a distinct summer and
winter season. Winter is relatively short, from December through to February; during this period
Hanoi can be cool (daytime maximum 15C) and it is often misty and damp though with little
significant rainfall. Further north, in the mountainous regions of Sapa and Ha Giang, snow is not
uncommon and we would recommend against extensive trekking or outdoor activity at this time
of year.
Things start to heat up during spring, with the hottest and wettest months of the year falling over
the summer months from June through to August. In general the months of spring and autumn
are considered the best time for this part of Vietnam.

Central Vietnam

North Vietnam
(Hanoi)

Central Vietnam, including Hue and Hoi An, remains pleasantly warm throughout the winter
months, and it is generally dry and hot during the summer when the rest of the country is
encountering tropical downpours. The autumn months from September through to December
tend to be wet in this part of the country, with its location making it prone to potentially
disruptive typhoons.

Central Vietnam
(Danang)
South Vietnam
(Ho Chi Minh City)
Cambodia
(Siem Reap)
Laos
(Luang Prabang)
Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Southern Vietnam

Dec

The tropical south, including Ho Chi Minh City, sees less variation in temperatures throughout
the year, with winter offering balmy temperatures and little rainfall. During autumn you are most
likely to encounter downpours in this region, though these are rarely prolonged or disruptive,
and typhoons are uncommon.

Key:
Excellent conditions for travel
Generally good conditions but some inclement weather likely
Travel is possible but conditions may not be ideal
Conditions are poor making travel inadvisable
Hanoi
Halong Bay
Luang Prabang

Laos

Danang

Siem Reap

Vietnam

Cambodia
Ho Chi Minh City

66

IND
T ROOC DH UI N
C AT I C
O LNI M A T E

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

Cambodia and Laos Climate


Like most of Southeast Asia, Cambodia is warm to hot year round and the climate is dominated
by the annual monsoon cycle with alternating wet and dry seasons. The monsoon cycle is
driven by cyclic air pressure changes; as the pressure drops during the summer months (June
through October) moist air is drawn in, bringing the monsoon rains to Cambodia. In the winter
months (November to May), the air pressure over central Asia rises, driving cool, dry air back
across Southeast Asia and introducing a largely dry season to Cambodia. Temperatures begin
to rise from March, reaching a peak of up to 40C in April and May. During this period river
and lake levels are at their lowest and travel by boat can be problematic. Travel is possible year
round, although the period from November through to February is generally considered the best
time for visiting both the interior and coastal regions of the country. Each season brings its own
benefits, however, with rainfall rarely lasting more than a couple hours and the countryside is at
its most lush and verdant during the rainy season.
These dominant seasonal patterns are mirrored in
neighbouring Laos, though the greater range of topography
and latitude creates some notable differences. The
mountainous northern and north-eastern provinces are
noticeably cooler, particularly when the rest of the country
swelters in April/May. These northerly regions also receive
some rainfall during this period, similar to northern Vietnam
just over the border.

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Flights & Stopovers


Southeast Asia is served by an array of quality airlines, providing good value routes that suit the
multi-country nature of many of our itineraries.
For our UK clients we are happy to include all international flights as part of a comprehensive
travel package that offers the maximum financial security and logistical certainty, as well as
excellent value. We are able to arrange flights in all travel classes with the great majority of
carriers, but below we list some of the most convenient options.
Vietnam Airlines

Bangkok

The only airline to fly direct from the UK to Vietnam,


the state-owned Vietnam Airlines operates good
value flights from Gatwick to both Hanoi and Ho Chi
minh City three times a week, and also has the most
comprehensive network of flights connecting Vietnam,
Cambodia and Laos for multi-country trips.

Bangkok, or Krung Thep as its known to the locals,


is an enormous and enthralling city, crammed with
places of interest both ancient and modern. For more
than two centuries Bangkok has been the Thai capital,
and has acquired cultural treasures of spectacular
beauty over the decades, from towering pagodas to
immense Buddhas and glittering palaces. Economic
growth has bestowed modern Bangkok with a skyline
of skyscrapers befitting its status of one of the regions
most dynamic and open cities. However you look at
it, whether cruising down the Chao Phraya River on a
longtail boat or riding the Skytrain, Bangkok is one of
Asias greatest and most exciting destinations.

Cathay Pacific
Hong Kong is less than an hours flight from Hanoi,
and the excellent standards provided by Cathay Pacific
make this a popular choice for discerning travellers to
Indochina. With multiple daily flights from Heathrow
to Hong Kong, and great connections to Siem Reap,
Phnom Penh, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City, Cathay
Pacific is a convenient, high quality option. Stopovers
can also be made in Hong Kong at no additional cost.

Thai Airways
With the ever-popular Bangkok as its hub, Thai Airways
has a tremendous network across Southeast Asia,
linking Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Flights from Heathrow to Bangkok depart several times
per day, and Bangkok stopovers can be arranged
without further charge.

Other airlines
The Middle-Eastern carriers, Emirates and Qatar
provide convenient services from the UKs regional
airports. Other options include top quality Asian carriers
Singapore and Malaysian Airways. Please speak to your
consultant about the best choice for your route and
requirements.

68

IF NL IT GR H
O TDSU &
C TSI TOONP O V E R S

Two or three nights in Bangkok give you the chance


to get to grips with this energising city, and we
will be delighted to arrange all elements of your
stopover, including transfers, accommodation and
guided excursions. Bangkok has an array of excellent
accommodation from cosy boutique hotels to grand
international properties, let us know your preference
and well recommend the right place for you.

Hong Kong
The former British colony of Hong Kong has been
the dynamic hub of trade and travel in Asia for many
decades, and it has continued to thrive in the years
since its return to Chinese control in 1997.
The dramatic cityscape and spectacular setting of Hong
Kong Island has made this one of the most iconic
cities in the world, and though other mainland Chinese
cities may now rival it for architectural prowess, none
can quite match the energy and atmosphere driven by
Hong Kongs unique cultural and historic mix.
The island side is the centre of commerce and
entertainment, while Kowloon, a short ferry-ride across
Victoria Harbour, is home to the neon lights and throng
of Nathan Roads restaurants and night markets. The
forest of skyscapers that constitute the Central district
of Hong Kong Island are illuminated daily by the
Symphony of Light - head over to the Avenue of
Stars as dusk falls for a sparkling start to your evening!
We hope we can tempt you to break your journey with
a couple of nights in one of the worlds great cities.

W W W. I N S I D E V I E T N A M TO U R S . C O M

E : I N F O @ I N S I D E V I ET N A M TO U R S . CO M

TEL: 0117 244 3370

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