North Vietnam & Laos
We designs this fascinating tour highlights two of Indochina’s most exceptional countries. Discover Vietnam’s incredible diversity: Walk through the ancient city of Hanoi, enjoy a boat cruise on the picturesque Halong Bay, experience a homestay with the Thai tribe people of Mai Chau, visit the old French battle field in Dien Bien Phu, and marvel at the peaceful countryside of the Red river and Northwest hill tribes. To discover the enchanting land of Laos, cross over from Vietnam via the newly opened border gate of Tay Trang, head to the rugged mountain town of Muang Khua, and then down to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Luang Prabang. Visit the sacred Pak Ou Caves, local villages along the Mekong river, and the beautiful boulevards of the capital city-Vientiane. This breathtaking and inspiring journey through Indochina is sure to astound you at every turn.
This is a private tour and departs daily. We recommend guests to start in Vietnam and end in Laos.
Start City: Hanoi
End City: Vientiane
Duration: 12 days/ 11 nights
Departure: Daily, upon your request.
– Visit: Hanoi, Halong Bay, Mai Chau, Son La, Dien Bien Phu, Tay Trang border gate, Muong Khua, Luang Prabang, Xieng Khoang, Vientiane
Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam’s bustling colonial capital. Our driver and guide of will meet you outside the baggage claim at Noi Bai Airport and take you to your hotel in the city center. In the afternoon, enjoy an orientation walk, visiting some of Hanoi’s main attractions: the opera house, Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son Temple. In the evening, savor a welcome dinner of authentic Vietnamese food at one of Hanoi’s finest restaurants with your travel consultant of Laos Travel ( Hanoi Office).
Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi
Day 2 – Hanoi – Halong Bay Cruise
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel, then set out on a 3 to 4 hour drive to the UNESCO World Heritage site: Halong Bay. Spend 24 hours on a traditional Junk Cruise in the amazing bay: a natural wonderland composed of jutting limestone islands and sparkling turquoise waters. Arrive at the dock around noon and board your private junk. Savor a gourmet lunch of fresh seafood onboard as we sail out into the mystical bay. In the afternoon, cruise around some of Halong’s many islands, including Dinh Huong and Ga Choi. Along the way, visit one of the bay’s 3 largest caves (Thien Cung, Dau Go or Sung Sot). Stop at an island cove with a sheltered white-sand beach and take a dip in the warm waters of the East Sea (Bien Dong). Pass the night on your private junk, lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of calm waters.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Accommodation: Cruise on Halong Bay
Day 3 – Halong Bay – Hanoi city tour
Awake early and participate in Tai Chi on the top deck or simply relax and watch the sunrise over the bay’s towering islands. Enjoy a morning cup of coffee or tea, before setting out to explore the nearby islands by rowboat. Return to the junk for brunch, then take advantage of the sundeck to admire the amazing rock formations of Bai Tu Long Bay as we navigate back to Halong City. Our driver will meet you at the dock and take you back to Hanoi. Enjoy a 3-hour Hanoi City landmark tour.
Accommodation: Hotel in Hanoi.
Day 4 – Hanoi Mai Chau – Trekking
Our driver and guide will meet you at your hotel and take you along highway 6 to Mai Chau: a small town nestled in the midst of a lush valley and surrounded by emerald-green rice fields. Enjoy picturesque views of the scenic landscape, sown with pagodas and rural villages. Stop along the way to visit the Muong tribe and then at Thung Khe Pass for a spectacular view of Mai Chau Valley. Have an authentic lunch with a local family of the White Thai Tribe and enjoy some free time to acquaint yourself with the villagers. In the afternoon, trek through terraced rice paddies and small villages, discovering the natural beauty of the valley and encountering the culture of the ethnic minority Thai people on our visits to the Pom Coong and Na Phon villages. Return to the home stay and help cook the evening meal. This is an opportunity to learn about the local cuisine and culture as you join the family to prepare a traditional dinner. In the evening, enjoy a live dance and music performance. Stay overnight in the Long house.
Meals: Breackfast, Lunch and Dinner
Accommodation: Home stay in Mai Chau
Day 5 – Mai Chau – Dien Bien Phu
Start the day with a simple breakfast with your host family. Then take a short drive through the surrounding countryside, before setting off on a long and nice drive to the tea plantations and plateau of Moc Chau. We then travel from Son La, all the way to Dien Bien Phu on the newly upgraded highway No.6. This gorgeous stretch of road is lined with stunning scenery. We will make frequent photo stops en route and visit the minority villages of the H’mong and Black Thai peoples. Then visiting a tea plantation on Moc Chau plateau—Vietnam’s premier tea-growing region. In the afternoon we continue along winding mountain roads through North Vietnam’s stunning countryside. Drive pass the impressive Pha Din pass—a highlight of the day. Pha Din sits 1,000 meter or 3,280 feet above the sea level. According to local legend, “Pha Din” means the connection between Heaven and Earth. We arrive Dien Bien Phu later in the afternoon.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
Accommodation: Muong Thanh Hotel in Dien Bien Phu (The new one)
Day 6 - Dien Bien Phu- a visit to the historical relics – Cross border to Muang Khua
Nestled in a heart shaped basin near the border with Laos, lies Dien Bien Phu. The famous historical battleground, where the Vietnamese successfully defeated the French, marking the end of French colonial occupation.
Start the day early with a visit to the local market where you will meet charming Thai tribes in their traditional costume purchasing their farm products.
The next is military base and historical site of the First Indochina War. We drive 30 minutes out of city to the base of The Command of Dien Bien Phu Campaign (Muong Phang) – Located in a primitive forest in Muong Phang commune to the commanding bunker of General Commander-in-chief Vo Nguyen Giap and Hoang Van Thai.
Get back to town and visit Dien Bien Phu Museum – Built at 1984 on the occasion of the year 30th after Dien Bien Phu Victory before visiting A1 Hill - The most important camp of the French and Bunker of the French General De Castries .
After the lunch we continue on our journey, driving along the peaceful Muong Thanh Valley to the Tay Trang border gate to Laos where our Laos guide and driver are await for you .
Crossing the border, we continue through one of Laos’ most remote regions all the way to Muang Khua, a one-horse border town located on the banks of the Nam Ou River. Arrive in Muang Khua in the late afternoon and check in at the hotel. Enjoy some free time to relax, then take a brief walking tour around the town to visit the local market and nearby pagoda.
Accommodation: Hotel in Muang Khua
Note: At Tay Trang border gate, the immigration normally closes during lunch break 12.00 - 13.30.
Day 7 – Muang Khua – Luang Prabang
You don’t want to miss the early morning Binthabat ceremony. Hundreds of monks will leave their pagodas and make a slow procession through town, starting at 5:45AM and lasting for about an hour. You can easily find them in front of your hotel.
Return to the hotel for breakfast and then start a nice journey passing picturesque scenery along the Nam Ou River—Laos’s longest inland river. Enjoy the beautiful mountainous setting on a 6 hour drive heading to Luang Prabang. Stop for a lunch on your own (of simple local cuisine at Muang Ngoy) and in the afternoon we take the boat cruise to Luang Prabang before the sunset with a stop at the confluence of the Nam Ou and Mekong rivers to visit the Pak Ou caves—a pantheon of gold Buddha statues tucked into the nooks of the limestone cliffs. It is then only a short distance from the caves to the village of Ban Xang Hai. Stop here to learn about LauLao (Lao whisky) and LauHai (Lao wine), before continuing down the Mekong to Luang Prabang. Check in at the hotel then take an evening stroll through the quaint streets and enjoy the sunset over the river and surrounding lush countryside. The evening highlight includes a visit to the local night market in the city center, where ethnic minority people come together to buy and sell their wares.
Accommodation: Hotel in Luang Prabang
Day 8 - Luang Prabang City Tour
Luang Prabang- the former capital of Laos and a UNESCO World Heritage site. With its lantern lit streets, lined with a mix of faded colonial mansions and sparkling mosaic temples; this city is known to enchant its visitors. Have breakfast at the hotel then enjoy a half-day tour through Luang Prabang. We begin with a visit to the Royal Palace Museum, then head to the magnificent Wat Xiengthong—representative of classic Laotian architecture, before seeing the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun and the shrines of Wat Aham and Wat Mai. Spend the rest of the day at your leisure, relaxing in one of the city’s many quirky cafés or strolling along the beautiful riverbank.
Accommodation: Hotel in Luang Prabang
Day 9 – Luang Prabang – Phonsavan
Today we drive from Luang Prabang to Xieng Khuang, passing through Laos’ pristine countryside. This is over 7 hours drive with spectacular views of Laos’ rain forests and mountain ranges. Along the way we will stop for photo opportunities and visit various hill tribe villages. On arrival, check-in at your hotel and relax.
Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
Accommodation: Hotel in Phonsavan
Day 10: Xieng Khuang - Plain of Jars and Muang Khoun
Start the day with a trip to Phonsavan’s bustling central market. Visit the MAG (de-mining organization) exhibition before heading out to see the great stone wonders of Xieng Khuang, the Plain of Jars. First we will explore Site 1 where hundreds of large stone jars lie scattered about the enchanting plateau. Next, is the forested area of site 2 and a short scenic trek to Site 3, passing through the Thai Dam and Laos Leum village. Enjoy an afternoon tour of the old capital Muang Khoun and nearby villages of the H’mong and Thai Dam peoples.
Accommodation: Hotel in Phonsavan
Day 11: Xieng Khuang—Vientiane
Today we take a short in-country flight from Phonsavan to Vientiane. Our driver and guide will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel in the city center. After a short rest, set out on a sightseeing tour of Laos’ eccentric capital, visiting all the city’s key attractions. Start the tour with a stop at Vientiane’s oldest temple, Wat Si Saket, filled with over 2,000 ceramic, gold, and silver Buddha images. Next we visit Haw Pha Kaew—the royal temple that once housed the famous Emerald Buddha—, before continuing on to Laos’ most significant national monument: Pha That Luang. We conclude our tour at Patuxai, known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph.
Accommodation: Hotel in Vientiane
Day 12: Vientiane departure
Have breakfast at the hotel and then enjoy a free morning at your leisure before driving to the airport to catch your departure flight home.