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Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia: Treasures of Indochina
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15 days

from $13,183 AUD trip_detail hint icon

($8,995 USD)

Prices are per person, based on twin share occupancy. The AUD prices are based on USD and calculated at today’s rate of exchange. The expedition price will be finalised at time of booking.

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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

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Premium expeditions are led by a National Geographic expert, an expedition team, or top guides, and tap into National Geographic's worldwide resources to allow for in-depth exploration and special access to sites and experts in the field. Itineraries are fully planned, with some free time. Accommodations are high-end or best available. Ground transportation and most meals and activities are included in the trip price.

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Expedition Overview

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EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • Explore Angkor Wat with a local archaeologist, and go behind the scenes at the Angkor Conservation Center to view Khmer artifacts that are off limits to the public.
  • Have lunch with two former Viet Cong soldiers at their home, hearing gripping stories about the Vietnam War and life in the famed Cu Chi Tunnels.
  • Enjoy an overnight cruise aboard a privately chartered traditional-style wooden junk, exploring the pristine beaches and floating villages of Lan Ha Bay, a seldom visited part of Ha Long Bay.
  • Encounter critically endangered species at Save Vietnam’s Wildlife rescue center in Cuc Phoung National Park, and hear from local conservationists about National Geographic-funded research into pangolin trafficking.
EXPERTS ON THIS TRIP

A National Geographic expert will accompany each departure to share insights and a rare behind-the-scenes perspective. Listed here are some of the experts that will be joining departures on this trip.

Itinerary

Delve into the treasures of Indochina, where rural villages, ancient temples, and French colonial cities weave a cultural mosaic that is vibrant and timeless. Contrast Ho Chi Minh City’s neon-lit streets with charming, traditional Hanoi and its intoxicating Old Quarter; then set out into the Vietnamese countryside to discover the spectacular karst landscapes of Ha Long Bay and Ninh Binh. Meet National Geographic grantees working to conserve endangered wildlife in Vietnam and Laos, and join an archaeologist to explore the ancient, crumbling temples at mystical Angkor.

Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and transfer to our hotel.

Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City

Spend the day exploring Ho Chi Minh City on a guided tour. Visit the War Remnants Museum; wander the stately Reunification Palace, once the seat of the South Vietnamese government; and spot the building from which U.S. citizens were evacuated by helicopter as Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese army. Admire the ornate French colonial architecture of the Central Post Office and City Hall, and delve into bustling Ben Thanh market, one of the oldest and largest markets in the country. Navigate stalls selling everything from electronics and handbags to fruits and spices, and replenish yourself with a tumbler of fresh sugarcane juice. Later, gather for a welcome reception and dinner.

Day 3: Cu Chi Tunnels

Descend into the famous Cu Chi tunnels, a 155-mile network of underground passageways used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The tunnels connected schools, residents, and hospitals, creating an intricate subterranean city that played an instrumental role in the eventual victory of the North. After emerging from the bunkers, pay a visit to two Viet Cong veterans at their home, and hear their extraordinary tales of the war.

Day 4: Hanoi

Fly to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. Stroll tree-lined boulevards past serene lakes and charming pagodas, as you acquaint yourself with this atmospheric city. See the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh on a visit to the imposing mausoleum erected in his honor, and soak up the lively Old Quarter, where vendors hawk all manner of trinkets and the sizzle of roadside woks mingles with the beeping of whizzing motorbikes. Finish the afternoon with draft beers at a typical makeshift street bar.

Day 5: Hanoi

Take a meditative walk around Ngoc Son Temple, set in the middle of an emerald-green lake. Sip on a Vietnamese iced coffee, and sample a mouthwatering banh mi—a spicy sandwich served in a split baguette. Continue your exploration of the eclectic Old Quarter, moving from the Gothic St. Joseph’s Cathedral to a colonial-era prison, known by American POWs as the Hanoi Hilton. Stop at the 11th-century Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university; and visit the sprawling Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, historic seat of the Vietnamese monarchy and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 6: Ninh Binh

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Venture south from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, a rustic region in the Red River Delta nicknamed “Ha Long Bay on land.” Here we'll be joined by National Geographic grantee Le Khac Quyet, a leading Vietnamese wildlife biologist and avid photographer who will share updates on his latest research. Hop aboard a sampan, a flat-bottomed Chinese boat, paddling past lush rice fields and towering limestone cliffs. Tread over a stone bridge to reach the incense-infused Bich Dong pagoda, perched on three rocky outcrops. Later, explore the Van Long Nature Reserve by bamboo rowboat. Spot scores of bird species as you drift along the peaceful, grassy wetland, and search for the endangered Delacour’s langur in one the primate’s last wild refuges.

Day 7: Cuc Phuong National Park

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Spend the day in the misty, lush Cuc Phuong National Park, the oldest and largest natural reserve in Vietnam. Meet the director of the Endangered Primate Rescue Center for a behind-the-scenes tour. Visit the Save Vietnam’s Wildlife rescue center, where orphaned and injured pangolins, civets, mongooses, and other small carnivores are rehabilitated before being released back into the wild. Learn about a project to reduce the demand for pangolins, the world's most trafficked animal, spearheaded by the center's founder: National Geographic grantee, Nguyen Van Thai.

Day 8: Ha Long Bay

Head north to Ha Long Bay and explore this mystical World Heritage Site on an intimate, traditional-style wooden junk chartered just for our group. Cruise serene, turquoise waters scattered with tiny forested islands and fantastic karst formations, and go off the beaten path at secluded Lan Ha Bay. Enjoy a quiet swim or kayak ride at the pristine Ba Trao Dao beach before returning to our ship to watch a spectacular sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin. At dinnertime, learn to cook up local specialties with the ship’s chef, and stargaze from the deck before turning in to your deluxe cabin.

Day 9: Ha Long Bay/Luang Prabang, Laos

Rise early for a relaxing tai chi session on deck while the sun lights up the bay and the neighboring floating villages stir to life. Discover the magical Toi and Sang (Dark and Bright) caves by canoe, inhaling the heavy perfume of rock-strung orchids and keeping an eye out for scampering monkeys. After a hearty brunch back on the ship, transfer to Hanoi airport to catch a flight to Luang Prabang.

Day 10: Luang Prabang

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Experience stunning Luang Prabang, nestled into jungle-covered hills at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers. Visit the area’s most revered Buddhist temple, and stop by the National Museum—formerly the Royal Palace—to see the golden Prabang Buddha statue for which the town is said to be named. Later, immerse yourself in a graceful baci ceremony at the home of a village chief. In this uniquely Laotian ritual, cotton cords are tied around the participants’ wrists to wish them good fortune, health, and prosperity.

Day 11: Luang Prabang

Venture south of Luang Prabang for a glimpse of rural Laos. Visit the dewy mountain villages of the Hmong and Khmu ethnic groups, and chat with the village chiefs. Hike to the ethereal Kuang Si Waterfall, its milky blue water gushing into tiered limestone pools. Enjoy a cookout lunch, prepared by locals with fresh ingredients. Later, see endangered Asiatic black bears at the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Centre, and hear from a conservationist about National Geographic-funded research assessing the threats faced by these gentle animals.

Day 12: Luang Prabang/Siem Reap, Cambodia

Rise at dawn to witness the age-old Laotian tradition of Tak Bat, the daily almsgiving to Buddhist monks. Watch as hundreds of saffron-robed monks walk quietly through the streets collecting offerings of rice, fruit, and flowers from the smiling locals. Spend the rest of the day at leisure before flying to Siem Reap.

Day 13: Angkor

Delve into the magnificent World Heritage Site of Angkor with an archaeologist as your guide. Built in the first half of the 12th century in the depths of the Cambodian jungle, the mysterious capital of the Khmer Empire is replete with massive towers, carved murals, and enchanting crumbled courtyards. At the walled city of Angkor Thom, wander the Bayon temple and the Terrace of the Elephants, or explore the haunting Ta Prohm, tangled in thick banyan roots. Tour the Angkor Conservation Center and go behind the scenes with the center’s director to view thousands of priceless statues recovered from the archaeological site. Take in the sunset as it dips behind the spires of the mesmerizing Angkor Wat temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.

Day 14: Banteay Srei/Kampong Khleang

Set out for Banteay Srei, an exquisite 10th-century Hindu temple north of Angkor Wat. On the way, stop at the Golden Silk Pheach Preservation Center, a Cambodian NGO working to preserve ancient Khmer silk production techniques. Later, drive to Kampong Khleang village and drift down in a wooden boat to the great Tonle Sap lake, discovering a boisterous floating city complete with markets, clinics, schools, and even basketball courts and karaoke bars. Gather for our farewell reception, and take in a traditional Cambodian dance and music performance over dinner.

Day 15: Siem Reap

Transfer to the airport for your return flight home.

What to Expect

This trip has an activity rating of light\/moderate; travelers should be in good health, comfortable walking or standing for extended periods, and prepared for multiple hours of activity on some days. Excursions may include navigating uneven terrain, climbing stairs without handrails, and walking on paths with steep ascents\/descents, with options for more physical activities such as hiking. Please note that there are some long travel days.

Accommodations
Throughout the trip, we stay in ideally located, high-end hotels with many amenities.

Expedition Team
A National Geographic expert and an expedition leader will accompany this trip, and local guides join us along the way.

PRICES & DATES

  • date Oct 19-Nov 2, 2019
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $13,183 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $16,701 AUD Per Person
  • extensions yes

  • date Dec 28, 2019 - Jan 11, 2020
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $13,183 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $16,701 AUD Per Person
  • extensions yes

  • date Jan 18-Feb 1, 2020
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $13,183 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $16,701 AUD Per Person
  • extensions yes

  • date Feb 22-Mar 7, 2020
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $13,183 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $16,701 AUD Per Person
  • extensions yes

  • date Nov 7-21, 2020
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $13,183 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $16,701 AUD Per Person
  • extensions yes

  • date Dec 27, 2020 - Jan 10, 2021
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $13,183 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $16,701 AUD Per Person
  • extensions yes

  • date Jan 16-30, 2021
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $13,183 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $16,701 AUD Per Person
  • extensions yes

  • date Feb 20-Mar 6, 2021
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $13,183 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $16,701 AUD Per Person
  • extensions yes

  • date Mar 7-21, 2021
  • double occupancy
    (from)
    $13,183 AUD Per Person
  • single occupancy
    (from)
    $16,701 AUD Per Person
  • extensions yes

Prices are per person based on double or single occupancy (unless otherwise noted) and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. Internal flights are $685 per person in 2019 and 2020. The AUD prices are based on USD and calculated at today’s rate of exchange and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.

  • Transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
  • All gratuities

What's Not Included

  • Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Alcoholic beverages
Paula Swart
Art Historian
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Art historian Paula Swart has been a museum curator for more than 20 years. Born in The Hague in the Netherlands, she studied at the Universities of Leiden and Amsterdam and holds degrees in art history, history, archaeology, and Chinese studies. Paula speaks five languages, including Dutch and Mandarin, and has published several books and numerous articles on art and architecture. She has researched Dutch trade and exploration, and has a special interest in 17th-century Dutch still life paintings. Paula studied and helped curate an exhibition of artifacts from the shipwreck of the Dutch East India company ship Witte Leeuw (White Lion), which was found off the island of St. Helena and documented in the October 1978 issue of National Geographic magazine.

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  • Oct 19-Nov 2, 2019
  • Dec 28, 2019 - Jan 11, 2020
  • Jan 18-Feb 1, 2020