Indochina is composed of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and it is a fascinating region to travel and to explore. VIETNAM is a country of natural beauty and charming cultures. It offers a unique blend of the East and West with plenty of sights, sounds and smell. Vietnam cuisine is a gourmet delight with a mixture of Chinese, French and a little Thai and is one of the most sophisticated cuisines in Asia. CAMBODIA is a small, unique kingdom with a rich history and fascinating heritage of Buddhist art and architecture. Common motifs in Khmer sculpture are apsaras (celestial nymphs), which have become a symbol of the Khmer culture. LAOS is a landlocked country, which comprises mostly of mountains and plateaus, thus offering visitors numerous opportunities to explore nature. With a much smaller population and less modernization, Laos is a great destination to feel the “otherworldliness”.
Your exploration starts in Bangkok, Thailand with tours to the national monuments and urban market. Take a hop north by air into Laos. Set between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, Luang Prabang is an enchanting town filled with historic temples and colonial style buildings. The atmosphere here is so tranquil and peaceful that many would contemplate staying on. The entire town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Travel eastward via flight to the modern-day capital of Vietnam. Hanoi still retains the mystery and charm of past centuries. Narrow lanes and traditional shop houses invite exploration by cyclo (pedi cab), while its many beautiful public spaces – lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and monuments – give the city an air of elegance and harmony with nature unique among Asian capitals. Legacies of Chinese and French influence are evident in many parts of the city.
Drive through the Red River Delta and travel from Hanoi to your boat in Halong Bay. A day spent cruising gently between the imposing limestone islets is hard to beat, but an evening spent watching the stars come out over the bay is a truly magical experience. You get both, plus kayaking and swimming in the turquoise water of Halong Bay.
A short flight takes you to Da Nang. Take an day excursion to Hue, the imperial city of Vietnam. The Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century, was modeled after the Forbidden City in Beijing. The original walls stretched for 10 km and were surrounded by a wide moat. Most of the buildings were destroyed due to bombing during the war, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty. Also explore the ancient merchant town of Hoi An and the charming countryside surrounding the city.
A vibrant metropolis, Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the meeting of traditional and modern life. The emerging modern skyline stands cheek by jowl with colonial buildings and traditional temples. Outside on the streets, young professionals zip by on motorcycles, chatting on cell phones; inside the quiet temple courtyards, worshippers pray amidst clouds of incense.
Wing on to Siem Reap, site of the crowning jewel of Khmer art and architecture – ANGKOR WAT. It is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia, or even Southeast Asia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings.
Back to Bangkok by air and from where you will fly home or to your next destination.