These two countries share an uneasy history, made up of kingdoms, empires, invasions and fratricidal wars, as well as 50 years of simultaneous subjugation to the French Indochina. Nevertheless, and even though still sharing a prosperous and overwhelming nature so typical from Southeast Asia, Vietnam and Laos are nowadays two countries with striking differences, each living at its very own pace and displaying distinctly unique cultures and traditions.
Your journey starts in Vietnam, introduced through its capital, Hanoi, which thousands motorcycles will teach you that a street can fit way more than just two directions. Here, coffee shops travel in the back of their owners, because business can’t stop simply because Mohammed won’t come to the mountain. And one’s hair is cut in the streets, as apparently the streets are in a constant pursuit for yet a little more agitation.
To follow, a bay filled with islands spit by dragons, a place that will mock your sense of distance and where all life seems to happen suspended over the water. Heading south, rice fields where the mist covers the striking limestone outcrops in the background, capitals of old Empires, cities visited by Europeans for over 5 centuries and tropical beaches. Where you will relax and recharge batteries before closing the journey returning to the very same pace that kicked it all off in Ho Chi Minh, the former Saigon.
In between, you will explore the south of Laos. Evading the country’s more touristic and uncharacteristic North, be enchanted by places where time does not run, but just calmly walks. Where the water remains as the prime element, caves seem endless, treasures hide in the most unexpected sites and the warm welcoming of the people is reflected in the humble and frequent food offerings. But above all, places still dominated by the purest green and Mother Nature as it is… as it always was. As this is the Laos where nothing is created, nothing is lost, but apparently nothing changes.
January 21 to February 5, 2017
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type. Nature /Adventure / Cultural
visa. bought online
Hanoi, all the frenzy of an Asian metropolis, a city where the coffee shops find us carried on the backs of their owners, the hammocks replace the park benches and daily life seems to go without a roof;
Ha Long Bay, where mother dragon was sent by the Gods to fight alongside man and spit the 1600 gems turned into islands that create this unique UNESCO World Heritage site;
Ninh Binh / Tam Coc, meander through the imposing limestone hills that emerge from the dense rice fields in a boat paddled with the feet, hidden by the ever present mist that makes this an even more mystical place;
Endure the 500 steps of the Hang Mua Temple, only to lose your breath with the amazing view as soon as you get to its top;
Thakhek, lose yourself in the endless Kong Lor’s cave, vast enough to swallow you all day long;
Pakse, a small countryside village hidden inside the ruins of Wat Phu, a magnificent temple complex dating from the Khmer Empire (a UNESCO World Heritage site);
4000 islands, where the houses rise up from the water, the buffalos help out in the daily agricultural chores and the borderline between land and water seems at times impossible to tell apart;
Hue, an ancient Imperial capital that maintains its magnificent temples and pagodas, as well as a beautifully preserved citadel;
Hoi An, because no one can say to have been in Vietnam without visiting this charming colonial city, with its thousand silk lanterns and some of the most genuine Vietnamese food;
Nha Trang, a paradise of palm trees and wide beaches, where the serene going by of the days is only challenged by its lively nightlife;
Ho Chi Minh, the chaotic and frenetic Saigon, Mekong’s river delta and Cu Chi’s tunnels, historical sites where much of the fate of the Vietnam War was settled.
number of participants
airport Pick up and drop off
full day aboard a traditional boat in Ha Long Bay
accommodation in Guesthouse and B&B, breakfast included (9 nights)
accommodation in boat (1 night), train (1 night) and bungalow (1 night)
transportation between all destinations and activities included in the program
outlines leader in charge of the organisation and escorting the group
meals not mentioned in the program
other activities and places not mentioned in the program
flight to and from Hanoi (about 700€)
flight between Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi (about €40)
trekking, kayaking and cave exploration activities
visits to temples, museums and monuments throughout the trip
motor bicycle / bicycle rental
boat ride (Perfume River)
photo coverage of the entire trip
population. 90 million / 6,8 million
capital. Hanói / Vientiane
area. 332,694km2 / 236,800km2
language. Vietnamese / Lao
electricity. 220v / 230v
currency. Dong / Kip