A 2-week temple-hopping itinerary in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam
With jungle-tangled ruins and historic cities dotted with temples, it’s no surprise Mainland Southeast Asia tops many must-visit lists. Our Travel Advisors are on hand to help you discover these countries for yourself, with a time-travelling itinerary of fascinating cultural sites and luxury hotels in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
AT A GLANCE
• A 2-week independent itinerary exploring historic highlights of Mainland Southeast Asia, starting in Luang Prabang, Laos and ending in Da Nang, Vietnam
• Spend days discovering UNESCO sites including ancient temples, historic towns and natural wonders, all from specially selected SLH boutique hotels
• Highlights include visiting Buddhist shrines in Laos, watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat and exploring imperial cities in Vietnam
TURNING BACK TIME: LAOS
Golden stupas glinting in the sunlight. Elegant French villas turned fine-dining restaurants and luxury boutique hotels. Lush green mountains on every horizon. Luang Prabang is your instantly beguiling gateway to your Southeast Asia adventure.
The ancient former capital of Laos, this sleepy city has claimed its place on the UNESCO list for its seamless fusion of traditional and French colonial architecture. Set at the sacred confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, Luang Prabang has long been a centre of Buddhist learning. Today, the town’s 33 jewel-bright temples are living, breathing places of worship that are home to thousands of saffron-robed monks.
To complement its traditional charm, Luang Prabang also has a thriving contemporary dining scene. Drawing on its French colonial heritage, many restaurants pair classic Gallic cooking with Laotian spice. Take a cooking class to delve deeper into this unique culinary culture.
SACRED SPACES: CAMBODIA
Even Luang Prabang’s grandest temples are dwarfed by the next historic highlight of your trip: the monumental Angkor temple complex in Cambodia. Although you’ll be far from the only person here, with some planning it’s possible to find pockets of peace and quiet to soak up the wonder of this incredible place.
For starters, remember that Angkor Wat, with its towering ‘sacred mountain’ design and lily-pond moat, is just one star in a galaxy of temples that make up the Angkor Archaeological Park. Angkor Wat itself and other top sites such as Ta Prohm (known as the ‘Tomb Raider temple’ for its use in the Angelina Jolie film), fill up from the morning. So if you can bear it, start off in the (very) early hours. Then, after ticking off sunrise at Angkor Wat, head straight off to further-away sites such as the incredibly well-preserved Banteay Srei, before later-rising visitors catch up.
Top tip: Get a multi-day ticket and come back throughout the week – mixing up the pace with tuk-tuk tours, walking and cycling. Or you could even sign up for the annual half-marathon...
HISTORY BY THE BEACH: VIETNAM
Swap mountains and jungle for blissful white sands in Vietnam. From your luxury hotel on Da Nang bay, you can mix relaxing days at the beach with excursions to some of the Vietnam’s top UNESCO-listed cultural attractions.
If you’ve room for another temple, make for My Son Sanctuary. This ruined Hindu complex is a photographer’s dream, with intricately carved, rust-coloured shrines and chapels being reclaimed by the surrounding forest. Or walk in the footsteps of emperors at Hue Imperial City. An enchanting view seems to await around every corner here, from brightly-painted pagodas and statues to tranquil water gardens.
For a view of day-to-day life in times gone by, explore Hôi An’s canals, covered bridges and historic wooden houses. With a reputation as Vietnam’s culinary capital, there’s also nowhere better to savour traditional dishes.
Finish your adventure in style at Naman Retreat, a modernist hotel steps from the sand. Highlights include morning tai chi sessions and a fine dining restaurant serving specialities of nearby Hôi An.
Frequent flights make ticking off three countries in one trip fairly simple. Flying from Luang Prabang to Krong Siem Reap, then on to Da Nang, adds up to the shortest amount of time in the air. As always, ask our Voice Reservation Team for details about transfers or transport provided by individual hotels.
BOOK YOUR BOUTIQUE HOTELS
To book the hotels on this independent itinerary, get in touch with our Voice Reservation Team on 0800 0482 314 (UK) & 1-877-234-7033 (US). You can find a full list of our dedicated toll-free numbers here. We’re ready and waiting to plan luxury adventures 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So whenever inspiration strikes, just get in touch.