Indochina Odyssey - Flights Included

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Indochina Odyssey - Flights Included

from £1,700
Duration: from 22 days
Countries: Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam
Travel down the coast of Vietnam from top to bottom, across Cambodia (the little country with so much to offer) and ending up in Bangkok! What more could you want?
Summary

Indochina Odyssey - Flights Included

Too much greatness for this tiny space. In short: Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand. Markets, all the street food, beaches, temples, snorkeling, more food, sights, homestays, really, really freaking amazing temples (ie Angkor), fish pedicures, long-tail boat rides, more food… GREATNESS.

Reasons to fall in love with this trip:

  • Balance on a tiny streetside stool in Hanoi's Old Quarter, soaking up the buzzy vibes and the city's best entertainment - the traffic
  • Who'd have thought green seas and giant mossy rocks could be so pretty? Cruising on Halong Bay is bliss
  • A little touch of France here, a little bit of China there - and all in Vietnam! Chill out in the cultural mixed bag of Hoi An. Hit up the local beach, cycle through rice paddies or get some sweet threads tailor-made
  • Is there anything more awesome than Nha Trang? Yep! It's free time in Nha Trang. Whether you fill it with beachside lolling, village hopping or partying is up to you
  • There's nothing quite like staying with a Vietnamese family in a traditional homestay. You'll be feasting and gossiping with the locals down the sunny Mekong Delta in no time
  • After a guided tour of Angkor Wat, we guarantee you’ll be feeling very 'Tomb Raider'

ITINERARY

DAY 1: HANOI
Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. This adventure kicks off with a group meeting at 6 pm. Look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, maybe arrive a day early so you're able to attend. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. At the meeting have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection. Because this trip doesn’t spend much time in Hanoi, why not arrive a day or two early to see the sights? Check out your reflection in beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, wander along shaded boulevards or relax in a public park with some delicious street food (spring rolls inside rice paper rolls, anyone?). Museum-wise, why not visit the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, drop into the serene Temple of Literature or get arty at the city's Fine Arts Museum. Tonight, grab a streetside stool and a fresh Beer Hoi and watch the motorbikes zoom by.

 

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

 

 

DAY 2: HALONG BAY
Travel by private minibus (approximately 4 hours) to the awesome World Heritage site of Halong Bay. This secluded harbour has something like 2,000 little limestone islands. And the water is one pretty green scene. It's one of Vietnam's most 'scenic' places, so get that camera ready. You'll jump on a boat and cruise the bay so you can take it all in. You'll explore some of the awesome caves in the area and fill up with both lunch and dinner onboard. What's on the menu? Seafood of course. Once you settle into junk boat life you won't want to go anywhere – so spend the night rocking away on the waters of Halong Bay (with the waves and maybe a spot of karaoke).

Accommodation

Overnight Boat (1 night)

Included Activities

Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise

Meals Included

Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner

 

Special Information

Pack a smaller overnight bag to take to Halong Bay as it will make it easier for boarding your boat. You can store your main luggage in Hanoi for tonight.

Kayaking, as well as swimming in the bay from the boats is banned by the local authority.

There are restrictions on the number of boats that are permitted to stay in the bay overnight. To ensure all travellers can be accommodated on board available boats, on rare occasions you will stay on a larger boat (with approximately 12 cabins) and share your boat with another group. Or your group may be split across different vessels. If this happens a group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.

 

DAY 3: HANOI - OVERNIGHT TRAIN
Take a bus back to Hanoi (approximately 4 hours). Then take your overnight train bound for Hue (approximately 12 hours).

Accommodation

Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

Meals Included

Breakfast

Special Information

Although conditions are basic, overnight trains are a true Geckos experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Sleeper trains typically have four-berth compartments (occasionally six-berth, depending on seasonal variations and group configuration), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion, passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment, and there will be occasions where you'll be sharing with travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure.

 

DAY 4: HUE
Arrive in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. You have today free to explore. You could easily spend a couple of hours exploring Hue’s massive walled citadel and the Forbidden Purple Palace that's enclosed within it. Perhaps jump on board a ‘Dragon Boat’ and enjoy a cruise up the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu pagoda. You could also check out Dong Ba Market, which offers locally made goods, fresh produce and some tasty, tasty street food. This is a good place to try the grub that Emperor Nguyen used to feast on (banh khoai royal rice cake – can you taste the royalty?). If you like being on two wheels then maybe cycle out to one of the Royal tombs such as the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc (one of the most excellent remaining examples of its kind), or set off on an optional motorcycle tour of the sights in Hue and some surrounding villages.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

 

 

DAY 5: HOI AN
Continue along the coast to Hoi An by private bus (approximately 3 hours). Once in Hoi An, your leader will take you on a walking tour of this unique town which has been influenced over the years by Europe, China, Vietnam and Japan. The town was a major trading port from the 17th century onwards, and its old-school flavour is written all over its architecture. For a small town, it's pretty lively in places. In others, it's chilled out. The tour will take you down the streets that are being restored and look a lot like they did 100 years ago or more. You'll check out a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

Hoi An - Ancient town walk and entrance ticket

 

 

DAY 6: HOI AN
Enjoy a free day in Hoi An. Maybe wander to the Central Market and browse the paintings, woodwork, ceramics and lanterns. Hoi An is also famous for its talented tailors, so if you’ve been wearing the same shirt every day and it's starting to smell like coriander, why not hit one of the same-day tailors and get yourself something new? Or, if you're still feeling adventurous, hire a bicycle and tour the surrounding countryside (this is one of the best ways to experience rural Vietnam).

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

 

 

DAY 7: HOI AN - OVERNIGHT TRAIN
Lucky you – it's another free day in paradise. You could take a trip out to the My Son temples (World Heritage-listed beauties that reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation), hop on a cruise along the Thu Bon River and or get beachy with a trip to the nearby Cua Dai Beach. Afterwards, board your next overnight train. This one's to Nha Trang (approximately 8 hours).

Accommodation

Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

 

DAY 8: NHA TRANG
Arrive in Nha Trang at around 7 am and transfer to your hotel. Once referred to as the 'Cannes of the Orient', Nha Trang's sandy palm-lined beach and island-dotted bay still make an idyllic picture, and a (dare we say it) trendy feel prevails in the town itself. Nha Trang is a charming town on Vietnam's southeast coast with pristine beaches, consistently good weather, a vibrant nightlife and excellent diving. You have two full days here to catch some rays, swim, snorkel and feast on freshly caught seafood. Bliss!

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

 

DAY 9: NHA TRANG - OVERNIGHT TRAIN
Don't get so relaxed from your chilled time in Nha Trang (lazing in a deck chair, swimming or perhaps taking a mud bath) that you forget that tonight it's back on the Reunification Express for one last ride (approximately 7 hours).

Accommodation

Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

 

 

DAY 10: HO CHI MINH CITY
Arrive very early (approximately 4 am) and transfer to your hotel. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is whirl of sights and sounds. A blend of old and new, East and West, if you will. You can still see the French influence in the top-notch baguettes and coffee on offer. Compared to the south the food is spicier, sweeter and more varied. Much of city life happens on the streets, which are lined with shops, stalls and vendors whose wares are spread on the footpath – everything from soup to sophisticated electronics. Your leader will take you on a walk through the city to point out the best places and sites. Then you have some free time this afternoon. Well worth the visit are the Reunification Palace, and War Remants Museum. Maybe join your newest and best travel buddies for a celebratory meal and drink tonight on Pham Ngu Lao Street.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

HCMC - Orientation Walk

Special Information

There are shared hotel rooms available this morning if you would like to freshen up before check in time this afternoon.

DAY 11: HO CHI MINH CITY
Today you may be required to move to a different hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, for the next section of your trip. Your leader will let you know if this is the case, and will help with the transfer to the next hotel. Today is a free day. You can shop for tiny ceramic tea sets at Ben Thanh Market while snacking on chao tom (barbecued shrimp paste on sticks of sugar cane). The Cu Chi Tunnels or Mekong Delta are an interesting day trip nearby - ask your leader to book you an Urban Adventure to visit. The composition of your group might change today. Meet your new leader and group at the meeting at approx. 6pm tonight.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

 

 

DAY 12: PHNOM PENH
Travel to Phnom Penh by public bus today (approximately 6–7 hours). If you're looking for a tasty beverage on arrival, hit the Foreign Correspondents Club for a mojito on the rooftop. Or you can explore the city on a cyclo tour – generally these go to the central market, US Embassy, Wat Phnom, Mekong river front, independence monument and Royal Palace. Phew! Maybe it's time for a traditional Khmer massage. Look no further than Seeing Hands, a great cause supporting visually impaired masseurs.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

 

 

DAY 13: CHAMBOK HOMESTAY
Travel by private bus into rural Cambodia (approximately 3 hours) to the region of Kampong Speu and the village of Chambok. It's right next to the beautiful Kirirom National Park, so you can imagine how serene it is here. A homestay tonight is your chance to really immerse yourself in everyday life. Not to mention feast on a traditional Khmer dinner, prepared by your lovely hosts. Weather permitting, you might be able to trek to the awesome 40-metre waterfall nearby today too (this is optional).

Accommodation

Homestay (1 night)

Included Activities

Chambok - Traditional Dancing

 

Meals Included

Dinner

DAY 14: SIHANOUKVILLE
Take a private bus to Sihanoukville (approximately 4 hours). Whether you like your beaches lively or chillaxed, Sihanoukville has something for you. You might get a clue as to why this place was named after royalty when you see the natural splendour that surrounds it. And the people are super nice and welcoming.

Accommodation

Guesthouse (1 night)

Meals Included

Breakfast

DAY 15: SIHANOUKVILLE
You might take the option of scooting out to the nearby islands on a boat tour (barbeque lunch anyone?). Another excellent choice is to go on a tropical safari in Ream National Park, a wonderland of birds and wildlife. Coooowee!

Accommodation

Guesthouse (1 night)

 

 

DAY 16: PHNOM PENH
Shake the sand off your feet and jump on a bus back to the capital (approximately 4 hours). Here there's the option of visiting Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or Choeung Ek (Killing Fields) – both pretty sobering but important and informative. The very different Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are also well worth visiting, offering brighter aspects of the past. You might also head for the National Museum or Wat Phnom (more like 'Wat Phenomenal'). If your Riels are burning a hole in your pocket, look no further than the Central or Russian markets, both choice places interact with the locals.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

 

DAY 17: KAMPONG CHAM
Kampong Cham in nutshell: frontier charm, French-colonial character. Take a private bus there (approximately 3 hours) and soak it all up. Koh Paen Island is a good option while you're here, and you can hire a bike and get there with no fuss (you'll just have to take a ferry over the water if you visit during wet season). The 11th-century Wat Nokor is also worth a look. A little further away are the twin 'mountain temples' of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei which, as well as being fascinating sites of religious, historic and spiritual significance, are more than Instagram-worthy.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

 

 

DAY 18: SIEM REAP
Take a public bus to Siem Reap (approximately 5 hours). Your leader will take you on an orientation walk to get you acquainted with the town. Afterwards you might want to hit the markets for some cheap and tasty street food, then get some rest and relaxation before tomorrow's visit to… (drumroll please!)... Angkor Wat!

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

 

DAY 19: SIEM REAP / ANGKOR WAT
Get your camera ready, strap on your walkin' boots and get excited: Angkor is one of Southeast Asia's number one highlights, possibly THE highlight. The obvious banger is Angkor Wat, which is every bit as amazing as everyone says it is, especially at sunset). But you'll also spend plenty of time visiting the other gems of this sprawling complex, like the giant carved faces of Bayon and the crazy jungle-juxtaposition of Ta Prohm (a temple that looks like it's being swallowed by the vice-like grip of Mother Nature's tentacles). And yeah, Tomb Raider.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

Siem Reap - 1 day Angkor Pass
Siem Reap - Angkor Temples Guided Tour
 

 

DAY 20: SIEM REAP
Kick back in Siem Reap and wander around town, visiting its market, shops and restaurants. You may be a little templed out, so take this opportunity to explore your options and do something different. Depending on the season, you might be able to visit Tonle Sap, the big freshwater lake, for a glimpse of local life. Adventure-seekers and adrenaline-junkies can take the Angkor zip-line course that will have you soaring like an eagle over the lush rainforest. For even more bragging material, you can learn the tricks of the trade in a Khmer cooking class. And if you just can't not go back to Angkor, longer passes than the standard 1-day ones are available, just ask your leader.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

 

DAY 21: BANGKOK
Drive from Siem Reap to Bangkok in a private mini van (approximately 8–9 hours, including border crossing and lunch). Again, your leader will assist with the border-crossing formalities. If you expect a soothing and charming backwater, think again – it's go, go, go in Thailand's frenetic capital. If you don't go home exhausted from here, you didn't do it properly! Still, the khlongs (canals) are a great escape from it all – maybe take a boat to the highly recommended Chinatown for a delicious street food dinner. A Thai massage may also be a good option at this point. Those staying on can perhaps visit the Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or the very cool Jim Thompson museum.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 night)

 

DAY 22: BANGKOK
Your adventure comes to an end today, with no more activities planned. You're free to depart the accommodation at any time. If you are staying longer in Bangkok check out some of our Urban Adventure tours, a great way to see the sights with a local guide.

Meals Included

Breakfast


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Details

Further Details

More information about this gap year opportunity...

Price details:

from £1,700

Phone:

Call 0333 333 9923 to enquire or book

INCLUSIONS

MEALS
4 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners

TRANSPORT
Boat, Mini-van, Public bus, Sleeper train

ACCOMMODATION
Guesthouse (2 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (14 nights), Overnight boat (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (3 nights)

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES
Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
Hoi An - Ancient town walk and entrance ticket
HCMC - Orientation Walk
Chambok - Traditional Dancing
Siem Reap - 1 day Angkor Pass
Siem Reap - Angkor Temples Guided Tour

IS THIS TRIP RIGHT FOR YOU?

This trip includes three overnight train journeys, each one taking up to 12 hours. You’ll be sharing a cabin with three to five other people and amenities with the rest of the carriage. Although the rides are long and the conditions basic, this is an awesome way to see Vietnam and travel alongside the locals.
The trip also involves a few long days of travelling on public transport, which may not be the most comfortable or luxurious option, but definitely the most adventurous.
You’ll spend one night in a homestay with basic accommodation, sharing with several others in a dorm-style arrangement. Amenities are also shared, and there is cold water only. The accommodation may be simple, but chilling with the locals and feasting on home-cooked food sure as chips makes up for it.
Vietnamese roads can be hectic and intimidating to cross. Never fear - your leader will show you how to do it like a local in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
This trip is for travellers who appreciate a bit of independence. You’ll get plenty of free time in each location to make your own choices and do your own activities. Your leader is always there to give you tips and suggestions.

About StudentUniverse

StudentUniverse has been supplying the best flight, hotel and tours deals to students around the world for years now and we’re delighted to be the preferred travel partner of gapyear.com and to make your travel experience even more amazing.

We have a great team of travel gurus that understand what a gap year is all about just waiting to help you, and since we are part of the Flight Centre Travel Group we are able to offer the best flights, gap year packages, hostels, tours, volunteer placements and insurance - the works. This is not your average travel agency, it’s the ultimate backpacker travel agency.

If you’d like to get in touch to chat about your travels, even if you’re in the preliminary stages and you’d just like some advice, give us a call on 0333 333 9923 or submit an enquiry to StudentUniverse – we’d love to hear from you.

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