Stride climate

Trip Type : Private Guided
Hanoi Luang Prabang Vietnam and Laos: Ethnic Villages and Untraveled Roads Trip
Vietnam and Laos: Ethnic Villages and Untraveled Roads tour
Mekong River Vientiane Vietnam and Laos: Ethnic Villages and Untraveled Roads Trip

Vietnam and Laos: Ethnic Villages and Untraveled Roads

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Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
17 days
From: $ 4,995 $ 294 / day
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Overview

Highlights

  • Explore Temple of Literature, Presidential Palace, Cooking Demonstration, History Museum, Opera House and Old Quarter.
  • Enjoy Meeting Puppet Master and Private Puppet Show.
  • Book Trip to Brother Mouse and Khouang Si Falls.
  • Visit Pratuxai and that Luang.
  • Kayaking River and Exploring Another Cave.

Short Description

An adventure for those who want to walk to remote villages, kayak, explore mysterious caves and give back to the people.

Travel across the border between Vietnam and Laos near Hanoi, visiting Muong and that villages along the way. Cross into sam neua province in Laos, famous for its woven fabrics. Then head on to Luang Prabang, where you can visit the town, textile villages and, in the fall, help brother mouse bring books to remote villages.

From Luang prabang, you fly up to the mysterious plain of jars, the Lao answer to Stonehenge and critical part of the country during the Vietnam war. Lastly, your path takes you beyond the capital of Vientiane to remote Kong lor for some exciting caving and kayaking before returning to Vientiane and flying home.

Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Trip Type Private Guided
Spend most of the time outdoors. Common trip themes and activities include cycling, hiking, kayaking, whitewater rafting.
Itinerary Focus Active
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Premium - 4 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Hanoi
End City Vientiane

Trip Includes

  • Accommodations as listed, including all service charges and taxes
  • Transfers and sightseeing in air-conditioned coaches
  • All excursions with expert English-speaking guides
  • Entrance fees to museums, temples, etc.
  • All meals as indicated with B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Hanoi, Cyclo Ride and Welcome Dinner

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel De L opera or Sofitel Legend Metropolis Hanoi

Arriving in Hanoi, you will clear customs and immigration. Leaving the airport, you will be met by your guide, who will take you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free.

Hanoi, located at the confluence of the red and Duong rivers, has come a long way from the stilt houses of the stone and bronze age dwellers of four and five thousand years ago. Myths link Hanoi s origins to the center of the earth, visions of soaring dragons, and fears of invasions or fierce winds from the north. Between Chinese power struggles, peasant rebellions, invasions from warring Mongol hordes, the French occupation, and American bombing attacks, the city has undergone and continues to undergo tremendous growth and change. Today s Hanoi, the city inside a bend of the red river, is a blend of thousand year old temples, tube houses, neo Parisian buildings, and new, modern hotels and office buildings.

In the evening, you will have a welcome dinner with your new friends in Vietnam.

Day 2: Tour Hanoi. Cheo Show

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel De L opera or Sofitel Legend metro pole Hanoi

Today you will begin to tour Hanoi, accompanied by your guide. Your path will take you past the granite and concrete mausoleum where ho chi minh lies in state and the government buildings to the museum of fine arts. Here you will have as your guide one of the country s most famous artists. In front of the museum is the temple of literature, called le pagoda des Cordeaux by the French, because of the huge flocks of crows gathering in the mango trees near the entrance. Built in 1070, the complex consists of five courtyards dedicated to Confucius and the pursuit of Confucian thought and behaviour. It is here that Vietnam s first university was founded. Leaving the museum, you will walk around hoan kiem lake in the middle of the city passing the one pillar pagoda, built in 1049 by emperor ly thanh tong to celebrate the birth of his only son, and ho chi Minh s house, given him by the people of the country in thanks for his leadership.

Perhaps the most interesting area you will visit is the old quarter. Here many tiny streets join to sell a huge diversity of products. In the old days, each street bore the name of the product sold shoe street, noodle street, and the like.

Today, the streets sometimes sell a variety of items, but often the names are accurate. The old quarter also houses some of the most interesting art galleries. You spend some time visiting several of the most respected galleries. Early in the evening, you can enjoy the famous Hanoi water puppet show.

Day 3: Drive Mai Chau Valley

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Mai Chau Eco lodge

Early in the morning you will drive from Hanoi on highway 6 to the town of hoa binh, where you will visit the huge hydroelectric plant built in collaboration with the Russians. The plant not only provides electricity as far south as ho chi minh city, but the song da (red river) reservoir that forms part of the project is the largest in Vietnam. The project has also been extremely helpful in forestalling the floods that regularly threatened the region.

Continuing on, you will drive to mai chau. Because of its proximity to Hanoi, here in mai chau, you may see several groups of tourists. The government has assisted certain sites in developing tourist facilities, and mai chau is one of them. Nevertheless, like the other villages you have seen, the area is spectacular, and there are many opportunities to wander off on your own. If you were trekking in the spring, the mai chau valley would be covered with pink and purple peach blossoms and pac pien flowers. Also in abundance are the snow white bauhinias or ban, symbols of purity.

The muong tribes of the area are one of the largest ethnic minorities in Vietnam, and about 300,000 muong live in this province. They have no written language, and the children are taught orally. Their economy is based on farming and fish breeding, but they also grow rice, guava, oranges, tangerines and sapodilla plums. Like the Thai, whose homes you also visited, their houses are built on stilts with rounded roofs. Although you, as guests, will enter through the front door, the women always use the back entrance. Often during the day, the women can be found weaving beautiful fabrics, satchels and sashes that are used for ceremonies or given as gifts for special occasions.

In the evening, enjoy a traditional dance show with ruou can, the local wine.

Tonight you will sleep in the mai chau eco lodge.

Day 4: Drive to Lao Border and Cross. Drive to Sam Neua

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Sam Neua Hotel

Leaving Ban Sai around 8AM, you have about a 4 hour drive to the border along the Ma River. You will stop at one of the many Muong Villages you will pass on the way and take some photos of the giant waterwheels used for irrigation.

Your next stop is the Na Meo Border, where you will say goodbye to your Vietnamese guide. Note that you can now obtain your Laos visa upon arrival. After completing immigration and customs formalities, you will meet your Lao guide and drive to Sam Neua.

Sam Neua itself sits in a small picturesque valley laced with rice fields and bordered by the dark green of the mountains. The town, composed of white concrete houses with red roofs, is known for the beauty and originality of the locally woven fabrics, sought after by women all over Laos.

Day 5: Visit Vieng Xai and Villages

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Sam Neua Hotel

After breakfast, you travel to the pathet lao revolutionary headquarters at vieng xai. Set in karst limestone hills that are riddled with caves, this is where the senior communist leadership spent their time directing the war in the 1960s and early 1970s. Long off limits to tourists, they are now an adventurous destination for those with a keen interest in the secret war in Laos.

The caves are stunningly set amid towering cliffs and must have been unassailable by land or air. Visit the most important caves here including tham souphanouvong, which originally housed the mred princem, and tham than kaysone, which was used by the first communist president kaysone phomvihane.

Lunch is at restaurant by the lake. In the afternoon, you can take some easy walks to local Hmong villages and learn about the local way of life in this remote part of northeast laos. You will also visit tat nam neua, a striking 260 foot high waterfall.

Day 6: Drive Nong Khiaw Via Suan Hin and Villages

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Nong Kiau Riverside

After breakfast, you leave sam neua and travel south towards nong khiaw on the steep, winding road to nam noen, passing many Lao Hmong and khamu villages along the way. Nearby is the stone forest of suan hin, a mysterious collection of megaliths, which may be connected with the plain of jars. You explore the Stonehenge of Laos, with lots of freestanding pillars about six feet in height. There are also many large circular disks, which locals say were once table tops for a sky spirit called Jahn Hahn, scattered about the area.

After lunch, you continue through some wild and untamed regions of the country on a stunning national highway 1 to nong khiaw. This road is one of the most spectacular in Laos, snaking through the mountains and passing many traditional blue Hmong villages along the way. You stop in one of the villages to learn something about the traditional way of life.

Day 7: drive luang prabang via pak ou caves

Meals: breakfast and lunch

Accommodation: hotel kidara or mekong riverview

This morning you continue your leisurely trip, driving on to luang prabang and enjoying the lush green forests and landscape. Along the way you stop by the nam ou river and take a ferry boar across to visit the mysterious caves of pak ou, two linked caves crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes left by devoted pilgrims.

Continuing your trip, you arrive at the UNESCO world heritage city of luang prabang. This former royal capital with its gleaming temple roofs, fading colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop retains a unique charm rarely found in modern Asia. By evening, you will arrive at your hotel.

If you are up for it, you can walk the 328 steps up to the top of Mr. Phousi and enjoy wonderful views across the town.

Day 8: Explore Luang Prabang

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Kidara or Mekong Riverside

Today you can begin to explore Luang Prabang, the old sovereign capital of Laos, and one of the gems of Indochina.  If you rise early enough, you can watch the saffron robed monks walking the streets with their begging bowls to get their daily ration of rice from the townspeople and give alms to the monks. In Laos, many young men opt to become monks at some period in their lives, often to get a good education. The monks are supposed to walk straight, without looking at those who feed them, and will not eat after midday.

About 1000 feet above sea level at the confluence of the upper Mekong and the Nam Khan rivers, Luang Prabang was described in Harry Franck s book, East of Siam, as in many ways, what idealists picture the cities of utopia to be. The name refers to the holy Pra Bang, the most sacred Laotian Buddha image given to Fa Ngoum, the first monarch of Lane Xang, or the Land of a Million Elephants, in the 14th century. The town is small and peaceful and has various quarters, which specialize in traditional crafts silver carving, silk weaving, and sausage making. The pagoda spires and gold trim on the wats and temples sparkle in the morning light, as orange robed monks wander the narrow streets with their begging bowls, seeking rice from the local inhabitants. The various names of the city reflect its history. Originally, legend has it that two resident hermits, who called it Xieng Thong, or Copper Tree City, selected the site. Later, its name was changed to Chawa, a Laotian version of Java. Luang Prabang was the capital of the Lane Xang Empire from the 14th to the 16th centuries, before King Setthathirat moved his headquarters to Vientiane in 1563. Although its importance was diminished, Luang Prabang was an important royal center until the communist takeover of 1975 and the demise of the monarchy.

Then, A good place to start your city tour is the Royal Palace Museum, constructed in 1904 for King Sisavang Vong. He died in 1959, and his son, Sisavang Vatthana was exiled to Northern Laos with his wife, dying in a cave after the 1975 Laotian Revolution. The Palace was later converted into the museum it is today. Built by the French for the Lao King, the palace is Khymer in style, mounted on a four tiered platform and cruciform in plan.

Leaving the palace, you can follow the river to Wat Xieng Thong – one of Luang Prabang s most important temples – then circle around past Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, with its gilded terrace, and Wat Paa Hu, a very old temple with extraordinary murals. Heading back toward the center of town, it is an easy walk to Wat Wisunalat, one of the oldest temples in the city with its nearby Watermelon Stupa – That Makmo.

Your next stop is Ok Pop Tok, co founded by Veomanee and Joanne in April 2000. Veomanee s mother is from Laosm primary silk weaving region, Sam Nua, and the family was renowned for its weaving.  Veo learned to weave at an early age and became proficient in weaving as well as silk dying with natural dyes. At 16, Veo left high school to work in the hospitality industry and, while conversing with foreigners; she picked up her excellent English. Veo and Joanne met in 1999 at an evening school in Luang Prabang where Joanne was teaching. Veo then taught Joanne to weave in her village, Ban Xieng Leck. In April 2000 Veo and Joanne approached Deng, Goy and Noy with the idea of weaving specifically for a gallery, and, after the production of around 60 pieces, the gallery opened in.

In the afternoon, you tour the excellent Arts and Ethnology Center, with the TAEC Director. The center exhibits unique clothing, household objects, religious artefacts and handicrafts from various ethnic groups in Laos. Here you can get a sense of the different religions, lifestyles, beliefs and traditions of the people.

If you are up for it, you can walk the 328 steps up to the top of Mr. Phousi and enjoy wonderful views across the town.

You end the day driving about 20 minutes to the home of a local family. Here, you will begin your visit with a traditional Baci Ceremony. Ancient Lao legend dictates that a human is composed of 32 organs watched over by the Kwan or spirits. When all the Kwan are safe inside the body, there is no illness or disequilibrium. One of the goals of a Baci ceremony is to summon any Kwan that may be roaming outside to return to the body to maintain health and balance.

During the ceremony a white silk or cotton thread, symbolic of peace, harmony good fortune, good health and human warmth and community, is tied around the right wrist of the individual or individuals who are being blessed. But, there is another charming legend about the white thread and marriage that forms another part of the Lao mythology. To quote:

There is also a legend that links the cotton threadms significance to a successful and happy married life. In Laos, where a traditional way of life is of trust on beliefs and superstitions, a marriage ceremony has a special link to an ancient legend and to the thread tying ceremony of the Baci celebration. According to their legend, marriages are predetermined in heaven by what is termed as nene or oLove Karmao (destiny). In the heavenly garden, each individual has a tree with branches cuddling to the soul of his or her life partner. Eventually such pre-destined intertwined trees move to earth as human beings with their wrists tied together by a cotton thread. In the process of their coming to the earth, the cotton thread binding them is severed by wind of scissors and they are born on earth as separate individuals. Once born on the earth, they search for their soul mates and when they find them they marry, and by performing the Baci ceremony they are rejoined by tying the symbolic cotton thread. If the cotton thread so tied remains intact for three days then the marriage is considered fortunate and lucky for the couple.

From Marriage and the Baci Ceremony, muangla.com

After the Baci Ceremony, you can enjoy a Lao dinner.

Day 9: Brother Mouse, Khouangcsi Falls, Villages and Market

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Kidara or Mekong Riverside

You begin your day with a visit the excellent Arts and Ethnology Center. The center exhibits unique clothing, household objects, religious artefacts and handicrafts from various ethnic groups in Laos. Here you can take part in a workshop and learn how to do Hmong embroidery, Katu backstrap weaving, or Khmu basketry, and take home their special creation. The workshops are taught by local Hmong, Katu and Khmu artists, with a TAEC guide to translate and provide background on the crafts and people. Lunch will be in the TAEC Café.

In the afternoon, you head to the Khouang-Si Waterfalls, a spectacularly beautiful area on a tributary of the Mekong. Here blue-green waters tumble over cliffs into turquoise pools surrounded by lush jungle vegetation and large red poinsettias. Multi-colored butterflies fly in and out among the flowers and children bathe in the water. You can enjoy the falls and take a dip in the water to cool off.

In the evening, you can wander the local night market.

Day 10: Drive Phonesavan

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Vasana Xiengkhoung Hotel

You start early this morning, around 8am for the drive to Xiengkhuang, famous for the Plain of Jars . The road follows a twisty mountain route, and you make the first stop at Houi Hei, offering great views of the surrounding mountains.

Continuing on, you come to Ban Kiu Kam Pone, a Khmu village, and can wander around, before driving on to Phou Khoun for lunch.

After lunch, you continue on to Xiengkhuang province, reaching the highest altitude of the day 4900 feet above sea level, just after Phou Khoun and then stop at Ban Son Boom, a Hmong village.

Our final visits of the day are a reminder that this region played a major parts during the Vietnam War a hidden Buddha Cave, that served as an army hospital during the war, and a stop to visit an old Russian tank.

Day 11: Visit Plain Of Jars and Villages

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Vasana Xiengkhoung Hotel

In the morning, you begin by visiting the local markets in and around Phonesavan. Then you head to the Hmong Village of Ban Tajok, where everything from herbs to animal troughs have been made from shell casings,helmets and other objects left over from the Vietnam War.

Next you explore the Plain of Jars. One of archaeology s unsolved mysteries, 300 or so carved stone jars are scattered over a 625-square mile undulating plateau. The stone from which the jars were carved is not native to the area, and has provoked much discussion about its origins. One legend relates that the jars held
Lao-Lao, the local brew for a victory party celebrated by King KoonChuong and his South China troops. More likely is the theory that they are 2000-year-old funeral urns. You can walk between the different Jar sites, enjoying not only the archaeological remains, but also the views of the countryside.

The Plain of Jars also bears scars from the Vietnam era. Home to many of Vang Pao s Hmong tribe s people and a very strategic royalist bastion, the Plain was the doorway to the capital of Laos. Despite massive bombing by the U.S. and its allies and major battles involving royalist and Hmong forces, the Plain fell to the Pathet Lao. All in all, well over half a million tons of bombs had been dropped on the Plain of Jars by the end of the war. Today, bomb craters dot the terrain, fences constructed of bombshells surround local houses, and children are taught to fear unexploded mines, grenades, and bombs that still lie in fields and forests.

During the rest of the day, you have an opportunity to visit the area. The focus will be on the different ethnic villages – H mong and Thai Dam settlements.

Day 12: Fly Vientiane and Tour

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Settha Palace

This morning you continue to see some more of the Plain of Jars, visiting sites 2 and 3. Local legend tells that King Khun Chuang had them constructed in order to store wine for the celebration of his conquest of the province in the 6th century.

Before returning to Phonesavan, you stop at Ban Na Pia (War Spoon Village)

Mid-afternoon, you transfer to the airport for the flight to Vientiane on QV 402 (1600/1630). The name, Vientiane means either Sandalwood City or Moon City. A quiet town of less than half a million people, Vientiane is located on a bend of the Mekong, in the middle of a very fertile alluvial plain.

Day 13: Am in Vientiane. Pm Drive Khounkham Via Pakkading

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Sainamhai Hotel

In the morning, you see a bit of Vientiane, beginning That Luang, the stupa that is the heart of the city and stop at Patuxai, a large monument, reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Here there is a stairway you can climb to get a good view of the city.

Your path leads to Wat Sisaket, built in 1818 by King Chao Anou and the oldest temple in Vientiane; Wat Simuang, containing the town s guardian spirit; and Wat Phra Keo, the former temple of the Lao monarchy, former home of the Emerald Buddha and now a museum focusing on the daily life of the Lao Buddhists down the years.

Next, you head south along route 13 to the central Lao province of Khammoune. En route, you stop at Prabaht Ponsan, a stupa dating back to the 15th Century and home to the Buddha s footprint, discovered in 1933, and now an important religious site in Laos.

You have time to explore the interesting Ban Ton Na Mae Hmong Market, before heading onwards into the mountains and to take a break at a viewpoint near Khounkham, offering a breath taking view over the surrounding area.

The last stop of the day is Ban Thabuk, the bomb boat village , where they use old bomb casings from the Vietnam War as boats. Eventually, you arrive at Khounkham, where you have the rest of the day at leisure.

Day 14: Visit Kong Lor Cave and Villages

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Inthira Thakhek Hotel

After breakfast, you drive to Kong Lor village, situated amidst ricefields and the limestone karst mountains. Here you board a small local boat that will take you into the famous Kong Lor Cave. The cave itself is over 4 ½ miles long, and includes a spectacular cavern over 328 feet high, as well as a breath taking stalagmite gallery that can be explored on foot.

On the other side of the cave, you take a short walk past some tobacco drying huts to Ban Pon Ngam, a remote village, where you have a picnic lunch.

After lunch, you head on to Thakhek for the night.

Day 15: Cave and Kayak Around Thakhek and Return to Vientiane

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Settha Palace

Leaving the rafting office at 7:00 am you drive for around 45 minutes along a paved road before turning onto a dirt track. Twenty minutes later, you come to the starting point for your adventure at the village of Ban That Khonkeo, an ethnic Lao Loum village. Here you have time to explore the village and meet some of the locals.

Before setting off down the river, you receive a safety briefing and a short introduction to kayaking. Putting in, you kayak downriver for around one and a half hours before stopping to visit a nearby cave. After exploring the cave, you return to the riverbank, enjoy a picnic lunch and take some time to relax and swim in the crystal clears\ stream.

After our lunch, you board your kayak once more and continue down the river. A bit farther on, you encounter several sections of rapids, which vary in intensity depending on the river level, but always provide some great fun! After tackling the rapids you continue on through a calmer section of water through some stunning rock formations, one of which looks just like the head of an eagle! Eventually you arrive at Nam Pakan Bridge, the ending point of your trip. So here everyone packs everything up and boards the awaiting transport back to Tha Khaek.

Once you get to Thakhek, you meet your car and drive back to Vientiane, perhaps napping along the way.

Day 16: Tour Vientiane and Visit Galleries

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Settha Palace

For your last day, you can spend a bit more time touring the city and visit some of the wonderful textile galleries.

You begin at the morning Talat Sao market. Next you visit some of the Textile Galleries. Some of the more interesting ones include the private textile gallery of Mme. Taykeo. Here the art of traditional Lao weaving is being revived, natural dyes are made, and Madame Taykeo is teaching young girls the ancient weaving techniques. To understand the complex pattern designs is a way of learning about the mythology of the Lao people.

There is also a textile museum, being set up by an equally special independent Lao woman, and Antique Lao Textiles, run by Mrs. Chanthone Thatanakham. Mme Sandra Yuck, whose shop you may have seen in Luang Prabang, also has another Caruso Lao Shop in Vientiane.

More well known is Carol Cassidy s textile shop. Where Mme. Taykeo s workshop (a place you will see later in Vientiane) will focus on more traditional designs, use vegetable dyes, and really offer the visitor the chance to see the whole weaving process, Carol Cassidy s place, although more well known in the western world, is more of a store aimed at the tourist trade.

You end the day with an introduction to Lao cuisine and a trip to Ban Thaphalansay Village, where the experienced Head Chef, Chandra, will welcome you into her home and begin your cooking class. Over the next few hours you ll learn how to create three local dishes using traditional ingredients and techniques. No need for note-taking - you ll be given your own recipe book to take home, so you can recreate your favorites and remember your time spent in Laos for years to come.

Afterwards, relax and enjoy the feast you ve created together. Local desserts will also be on offer, although the savory dishes tend to be most popular to prepare. Tea, coffee and local herbal non-alcoholic cocktails are also included with the meal.

Say farewell to Chandra and spend the rest of the evening at leisure. You might want to take a stroll along the banks of the Mekong River through Chao Anou Park and the Night Market, observing locals and taking in the views. If you are an adventurous foodie, you can sample a wide range of local snacks along the way. Cap off the night enjoying a bottle of the Beerlao, a tasty local beer brewed from the best local rice and high-quality malt. If you wish, we will be happy to provide a guide and vehicle

Day 17: Depart for Home

Meals: Breakfast

Transfer to the airport for your fight out.

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Vietnam and Laos: Ethnic Villages and Untraveled Roads

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Great!

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You created a very flexible itinerary which is just what we wanted. We used it as a broad framework for our trip and it all worked out quite well. Hotels were chosen well, well worth the costs and good locations. Our guide Cuong was excellent in every way. Highly recommend him for returning veterans. Great stories and understanding of what it was like because he was there.
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More than excellent! There was plenty of activity and just the right amount of down-time. We added the Cu Chi tunnels and Ho Chi Minh’s body, and we were glad to see both. Our guide suggested a rickshaw ride through the old quarter in Hanoi, and that was a great way to see it. (about $15 for three of us) The hotels were superb, especially the hotels in Hoi An and Hanoi. Please tell future travelers about the chocolate bar in the Metropole in the late afternoon!!

Vietnam is a difficult country to explore. There is no public transportation, and driving a car, scooter, or riding a bike is not safe for foreigners. There are hardly any traffic lights, and everyone just goes! We saw people on the side of the road after crashes. Therefore, having a car and a driver is the way to go. Our drivers were always there when we needed them, and always supplied us with cold bottled water when we got in the car. We were totally spoiled!

On the boat, on Ha Long Bay, there were about 5 staff people for the two of us. A guide, a kayak person, a chef, a captain, and I think one other person, and they all expected tips at the end. It was overkill. Of course, Ha Long Bay was the most beautiful part of the country, and we loved kayaking there.

Our guide, Le Van Cuong, was outstanding, as promised. He spoke English perfectly, explained everything with his broad knowledge, and even sang to us. He took us to his family alter and showed us generation after generation on his family tree. On the last night he invited us to his home in Hanoi, and we found ourselves drinking 30-year-old Scotch with he and his Viet Cong war buddies while his wife served us dish after dish of home-cooked food. We never would have guessed we would find ourselves there!!

We had trouble with the amount of pollution in the air and water. Everyone says Vietnam is beautiful, and we weren’t expecting that. The MeKong, where food is grown for 65 million people, is brown. The air and water were so dirty in Ho Chi Minh City that we couldn’t get our hair clean. The boat in Ha Long had a balcony outside our rooms, but the exhaust in the back of the boat smelled lethal so we didn’t use it. We’ve both lived in NYC - I don’t think we’re that picky. It was just so polluted.

Thank you Myths & Mountains for all of the work you put into organizing our trip. You really did a fantastic job. We never could have seen this country on our own — this was definitely the way to go!
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Everyone I dealt with at Myths & Mountains put my mind at ease and was extremely helpful

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Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Everyone I dealt with at Myths & Mountains put my mind at ease and was extremely helpful from start to finish. I had never used a tour operator before, and was concerned that I would get a cookie-cutter experience. The opposite was true. Everything was personalized so well that I felt like I was getting a totally unique travel experience. In Bhutan, our guide and our driver were wonderful and made us feel immediately like part of their families. They were warm, open, engaging and would have given us the shirts off their backs. We now feel as if we have friends for life, and we will forever look back warmly upon our time in Bhutan. In fact, we can't wait to go back, and when we do we will absolutely go with Myths and Mountains to set it up.
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We have many great memories

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
We have many great memories from our trip to Bhutan. Toni designed an ideal itinerary for us. Toni and Jen were exceptionally responsive - every email was responded to right away. Taking the helicopter to Mt. Everest (which we added on while on the trip) was also a life changing experience. Very memorable. Very special. Hiking to the Tiger's Nest Monastery was a once in a life experience."
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Everything was planned as I thought it would be

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Everything was planned as I thought it would be - first class and top of the line. The hotel employees were great. Kumar, my guide in the mountains, and Kanchan, my guide in Kathmandu, knew the areas they took me to thoroughly. It was a great trip and I am glad I booked it through Myths and Mountains.
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All experiences that stand out in my mind.

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The mandala making experience (Bhutan), Buddha Park (Bhutan), the entire stay in Punakha and Dhumra Farm (Bhutan); sunrise at Swayambunath (Kathmandu) and the Back Street Food tasting tour (Kathmandu); and the village hike in Pokhara (as well as the Fishtail Lodge) are all experiences that stand out in my mind.
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Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Estimated Internal Airfare (Xkh/Vte): $97/Pp

Supplement for Hotel De L’opera in Hanoi: $88/Room/Night

Supplement for Legend Sofitel Metro pole in Hanoi: $288/Room/Night

Supplement for Belmond Phou Vao in Luang Prabang: $465/Room/Night

Group Size:

Private - your group only

Trip ID#:

VeiLaoMyt

Trip Excludes

  • International Airfare
  • Comprehensive Insurance Coverage, Including Medical, Evacuation, Baggage Loss/Delay, Cancellation Ins., Etc.
  • Any Hotels Transiting Between Your Destination And The United States. We will Be Happy to Book the Bangkok Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, Which is Not Included in Your Cost.
  • Laos and Vietnam Visa Fees
  • Meals where not Indicated with A B,L,D
  • Tips/Gratuity (Porters, Drivers, Local Guides, Etc.)
  • International Airport Taxes
  • Other Items of a Personal Nature Including Laundry, Alcoholic Beverages, Etc.
  • Additional Expenses Resulting from the Delay or Extension of the Trip Due to Causes Beyond our Reasonable Control

Meals Included:

16 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches and 4 Dinners

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