Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia are three beautiful Southeast Asian countries that offer a unique blend of culture, history, and natural wonders. With their rich cultural heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and delicious cuisine, these countries attract millions of tourists every year.
If you’re planning a trip to this region, though, it can be overwhelming to decide how to fit everything in. That’s why we’ve put together a 14-day Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos itinerary that covers the highlights of these three countries, giving you an unforgettable experience. From exploring the bustling cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, to discovering the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, to relaxing in the serene countryside of Laos, this itinerary will take you on a journey through some of the most fascinating places in Southeast Asia.
So, pack your bags and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime! Be sure to check out our Split Itinerary, too!
Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos Itinerary
Day 1 – Hanoi, Vietnam
On the morning of your first journey across Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, arrive in Hanoi and check into your accommodation. Once all settled in, waste no time in exploring the area. Start with the Hoan Kiem Lake area, also known as the “Lake of the Returned Sword”, which is a picturesque freshwater lake located in the heart of Hanoi, Vietnam.
The lake is surrounded by charming French colonial architecture, traditional Vietnamese temples, and bustling streets filled with shops and restaurants. It’s a great place to take stroll and enjoy the beautiful scenery – you can walk around the lake’s perimeter on a tree-lined path, watching locals practice tai chi or playing traditional games. On your way around the lake, you can also explore the historical and cultural landmarks surrounding it, including the Ngoc Son Temple, which is located on an island in the middle of the lake and is accessible via a charming red bridge.
Once you’ve seen the sites, Hoan Kiem Lake is a great spot to sample some of Hanoi’s famous street food. The streets around the lake are brimming with vendors selling local delicacies such as pho (noodle soup), banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), and egg coffee.
In the afternoon, head to the Temple of Literature, also known as Van Mieu, a historic temple complex in Hanoi. Built in 1070, the temple was originally dedicated to Confucius, and later became Vietnam’s first national university. It is a beautiful and well-preserved example of traditional Vietnamese architecture, featuring several courtyards, gardens, and pavilions, all decorated with intricate carvings and vibrant colours.
The temple is also an important cultural and historical site in Vietnam. It was a center of learning and scholarship for centuries, and its walls are lined with the names of Vietnam’s brightest scholars and doctors. The complex is also home to several statues and altars dedicated to Confucius and his disciples. It also offers a peaceful and serene escape from the busy streets of the city, perfect for if the crowds are are overwhelming you on your first day.
For the remainder of your first day, take the opportunity to explore the Old Quarter of Hanoi, a charming and bustling neighbourhood located in the heart of the city. With its narrow streets, ancient architecture, and vibrant markets, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam.
The neighborhood is made up of 36 streets, each specializing in a different product or trade. You can wander through the streets, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the local life. It is also home to many of Hanoi’s famous attractions. The Hoan Kiem Lake, St. Joseph’s Cathedral, and the Bach Ma Temple are all located within the neighborhood. You can also visit the Dong Xuan Market, a huge indoor market selling everything from clothing to souvenirs to street food.
You’re likely feeling hungry after a jam-packed day, so head to one of Hanoi’s top restaurants: Pho Gia Truyen – known for serving some of the best pho in Hanoi.
After eating, take your evening up a notch with a traditional water puppet show. Traditional water puppetry is a form of folk art that originated in the villages of the Red River Delta in Vietnam over a thousand years ago. It is a unique and fascinating performance that involves wooden puppets that are manipulated on the surface of a water pool, accompanied by traditional music and singing.
Water puppet shows are a great way to learn about Vietnamese culture and history. Many of the performances are based on traditional folk tales, myths, and legends, giving you insight into the country’s rich cultural heritage. It’s a beautiful and mesmerizing art form that showcases the creativity and ingenuity of the Vietnamese people. The puppets are made by skilled craftsmen, and the performers are highly trained in the art of puppetry.
Day 2 – Halong Bay, Vietnam
Wake up bright and early on your second day of travelling from Vietnam to Laos and board a cruise to explore the Halong Bay, a breathtaking natural wonder located in the Gulf of Tonkin, about a 3 hour drive east of Hanoi. It is a UNESCO World Heritage and is known for its stunning emerald-green waters, thousands of towering limestone karsts and islets, and picturesque fishing villages. Visitors to Halong Bay can take a boat tour to explore the area, passing through a maze of limestone cliffs and caves. The tours often include stops at some of the most popular caves, such as Thien Cung, Dau Go, and Sung Sot.
After a relaxing boat trip to Halong Bay, get involved in all the activities available; kayak, explore hidden caves, and take a dip in the ocean. Aside from getting active, there are plenty of local fishing villages to visit. One of the most popular villages is the floating village of Cua Van, where visitors can learn about the traditional fishing culture and way of life of the local people.
Halong Bay is also known for its stunning sunsets and sunrises, making it a popular destination for photographers and nature lovers alike. The best time to visit is from March to May and from September to November, when the weather is dry and sunny.
As night starts to draw in, enjoy a seafood dinner in one of the many restaurants while watching the sunset. Halong Bay is known for its stunning scenery, but it’s also home to some of the best seafood in Vietnam. Here are some of the best restaurants in Halong Bay:
- Green Mango: Located in Tuan Chau Island, Green Mango is a popular restaurant that offers a mix of Vietnamese and Western dishes. The seafood here is especially good, with fresh prawns, crabs, and fish dishes cooked to perfection.
- Quang Ninh Seafood: Located in Bai Chay, this restaurant is known for its delicious and affordable seafood. The restaurant offers a wide variety of dishes, including grilled squid, fried oysters, and shrimp in tamarind sauce.
- Cua Vang Restaurant: This restaurant is located on Cat Ba Island and is known for its stunning views of the bay. The restaurant specializes in seafood, with a variety of dishes such as grilled squid, steamed clams, and stir-fried shrimp.
- Halong Bay Seafood Market: This is a must-visit destination for seafood lovers. Located on the shore of the bay, the market offers a wide variety of fresh seafood, which can be cooked to order by the vendors. Visitors can choose their seafood and then take it to one of the nearby restaurants to have it prepared.
- The Crab Shack: This restaurant is located on the edge of the bay and offers a relaxed atmosphere and stunning views. The menu features a variety of seafood dishes, with the crab being the star of the show. The restaurant also offers a range of cocktails and drinks.
Day 3 – Hanoi, Vietnam
On the morning of your third day in Vietnam, pay a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and the One Pillar Pagoda – two of the most important and iconic landmarks in Hanoi. Both located in the Ba Dinh district, close to each other, these attractions can easily be visited in the same day.
The Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a large, imposing building that houses the preserved body of Ho Chi Minh, the revolutionary leader who played a pivotal role in Vietnam’s struggle for independence. The mausoleum is built of grey granite and features a large, central hall where visitors can view the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh. The mausoleum is surrounded by beautiful gardens and is considered one of the most sacred sites in Vietnam.
The One Pillar Pagoda, located nearby, is a small but striking temple that dates back to the 11th century. The pagoda is built on a single pillar that rises out of a lotus pond, giving it the appearance of a delicate flower blooming in the water. The pagoda is considered one of Vietnam’s most unique architectural structures and is an important symbol of the country’s religious and cultural heritage.
In the afternoon, head to the Museum of Ethnology to learn about the diversity of Vietnamese culture. This is a fascinating destination for those interested in the country’s cultural diversity and history. The museum was established in 1997 and showcases the cultures of Vietnam’s many ethnic groups, including the Hmong, Dao, Tay, Thai, and many others.
The museum features both indoor and outdoor exhibits, with the indoor exhibits housed in two large buildings. The first building showcases the cultural heritage of the country’s 54 ethnic groups, with displays of traditional clothing, crafts, music, and art. Visitors can also view detailed recreations of traditional homes and villages, complete with furnishings, tools, and other objects.
The second building of the museum is dedicated to the history of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities. Here, visitors can learn about the struggles and achievements of these groups throughout history, as well as the challenges they continue to face in modern-day Vietnam.
The outdoor exhibits at the Museum of Ethnology include a beautiful garden with replicas of traditional houses from the different ethnic groups, as well as a water puppet stage and a performance area where traditional music and dance performances take place.
In the evening, pop over to Ta Hien Street in the Old Quarter to enjoy a well-deserved beer. Ta Hien Street, also known as “Beer Street,” is a popular destination in Hanoi, Vietnam. Located in the Old Quarter, the street is lined with bars and restaurants that specialize in serving traditional Vietnamese beer, known as bia hoi.
The atmosphere on Ta Hien Street is lively and convivial, with locals and tourists alike mingling and enjoying the street food and beer. The street is particularly crowded in the evenings, when people come to socialize and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. In addition to the beer and food, Ta Hien Street is also a great place to people-watch and soak up the local culture. Visitors can observe the hustle and bustle of street vendors and musicians, and get a sense of what daily life is like in Hanoi.
Day 4 – Hue, Vietnam
On the fourth morning, fly to Hue and visit the Citadel and the Forbidden Purple City – two of the most iconic landmarks in Hue. Located in the heart of the city, these structures are a testament to Vietnam’s rich history and cultural heritage.
The Citadel was constructed in the early 19th century and was the residence of the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. The citadel is surrounded by a moat and features a number of impressive structures, including the Thai Hoa Palace, the Imperial City, and the Nine Dynastic Urns. Visitors can explore the various buildings and exhibits within the citadel, learning about the history and culture of the Nguyen Dynasty.
The Forbidden Purple City is located within the citadel and was once the private residence of the emperor and his family. The palace was destroyed during the Vietnam War but has since been restored to its former glory. The Forbidden Purple City is a fascinating destination for those interested in Vietnamese history and culture, offering a glimpse into the lives of the country’s royal family.
In the afternoon, visit the Thien Mu Pagoda and the Tomb of Tu Duc. The Thien Mu Pagoda is a Buddhist temple located on a hill overlooking the Perfume River. Built in the 17th century, the pagoda features a seven-story tower, which is one of the most recognizable symbols of Hue. Visitors can explore the temple and its beautiful gardens, which offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The pagoda is also home to a number of important relics, including a bronze bell that was cast in 1710.
Meanwhile, the Tomb of Tu Duc is the final resting place of Emperor Tu Duc, who ruled Vietnam from 1847 to 1883. The tomb is located in a beautiful garden setting and features a number of impressive structures, including a palace, a temple, and several pavilions. Visitors can explore the various buildings and exhibits within the tomb complex, learning about the life and reign of the emperor.
Finish off your fourth day of this Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos itinerary by watching the sun go down over the Perfume River. The Perfume River is a significant and picturesque body of water that flows through Hue, Vietnam. The river gets its name from the fragrant flowers that fall from orchards upstream and drift downstream, creating a pleasant scent in the air.
One of the most popular activities for visitors to Hue is to take a boat ride along the Perfume River. The river offers stunning views of the city’s historic landmarks, including the Thien Mu Pagoda, the Tomb of Tu Duc, and the Citadel. The boat ride also provides a chance to experience the daily life of the locals, who use the river for fishing and transportation.
After working up an appetite, head to a nearby restaurant to refuel. Two of the best local restaurants include:
- Les Jardins de La Carambole: This restaurant offers a beautiful setting with outdoor seating overlooking the Perfume River. The menu features a mix of Vietnamese and French cuisine, and the food is expertly prepared using fresh, local ingredients.
- Mandarin Café: This charming restaurant is located just a short walk from the Perfume River and offers a cozy atmosphere with indoor and outdoor seating. The menu features a range of Vietnamese dishes, including vegetarian options, and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable.
Day 5 – Hoi An, Vietnam
On day 5 of your Vietnam to Cambodia itinerary, drive to Hoi An and check into your next hotel. Hoi An is a charming city located on the central coast of Vietnam, about 30 kilometers south of the city of Da Nang. The city is known for its well-preserved Ancient Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the best-preserved examples of a Southeast Asian trading port.
After making it to Hoi An, see the sites by taking a walking tour of Hoi An’s Old Town. Hoi An’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the heart of the city. It is a beautifully preserved trading port that dates back to the 15th century and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vietnam.
The Old Town is characterised by its narrow streets and historic buildings, many of which have been well-preserved for hundreds of years. The architecture of the buildings is a unique blend of Chinese, Japanese, and European styles, reflecting the city’s history as an important trading port.
Next, visit the Japanese Covered Bridge and the Tan Ky House, two of the most popular landmark’s in Hoi An’s Old Town. The Japanese Covered Bridge is a unique and beautiful bridge that was built in the 16th century to connect the Japanese community in Hoi An with the Chinese community. The bridge is notable for its distinctive roof, which is covered in tiles and features intricate carvings of monkeys and dogs. The bridge is also decorated with several statues, including a pair of monkeys at the entrance and a statue of the god of weather at the center. Visitors can cross the bridge and explore the small temple on the other side, which is dedicated to the god of the north.
The Tan Ky House, on the other hand, is a beautifully preserved merchant house that dates back to the 18th century. The house is notable for its unique blend of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese architecture, which reflects the cultural influences that shaped Hoi An’s history as a trading port. The house features a beautiful courtyard with a small garden and a pond, as well as several living spaces and storage areas. The interior of the house is decorated with ornate carvings and beautiful artwork, and visitors can explore several rooms, including a reception hall and a family altar room.
In the evening, attend a cooking class and experience the country’s rich culinary culture for yourself. Vietnamese cuisine is known for its fresh and vibrant flavors, and many cooking classes in Vietnam will take you to local markets where you can source ingredients such as lemongrass, ginger, and fresh herbs. You’ll learn how to select and prepare these ingredients, and discover how they’re used in Vietnamese cooking.
Vietnam has a diverse and delicious cuisine, and taking a cooking class is also a great way to discover new dishes and flavors. You might learn how to make pho, the famous Vietnamese noodle soup, or how to prepare a traditional spring roll. You’ll also learn about lesser-known dishes that are popular in different regions of Vietnam.
Day 6 – Hoi An, Vietnam
On your sixth morning in Vietnam, pay a visit to the nearby My Son Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. located near the city of Hoi An. It is an ancient complex of Hindu temples that were built between the 4th and 14th centuries by the Champa kingdom.
The temples at My Son were constructed using red brick and decorated with intricate carvings and sculptures. The complex is surrounded by lush jungle and is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains. The site was largely destroyed during the Vietnam War, but many of the temples have since been restored. Today, visitors can explore the ruins and admire the intricate architecture and artwork of the ancient Cham people.
The My Son Sanctuary is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia and is a must-see destination for anyone interested in history, architecture, and ancient cultures. It provides a glimpse into Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage and the legacy of the Champa kingdom. An absolute must-see on this Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos itinerary!
In the afternoon, take the opportunity to explore Hoi An’s beaches and take a boat trip on the Thu Bon River.
Hoi An is known for its beautiful beaches, which are some of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam. Here are some of the best beaches to visit in Hoi An:
- An Bang Beach: An Bang Beach is a long stretch of white sand that’s located about 3 miles (5 km) from Hoi An’s Old Town. It’s a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars nearby.
- Cua Dai Beach: Cua Dai Beach is another popular beach in Hoi An that’s located about 4 miles (6 km) from the Old Town. The beach offers beautiful views of the sea and the surrounding mountains, and there are plenty of water sports activities available, including snorkeling and jet skiing.
- Hidden Beach: As its name suggests, Hidden Beach is a secluded and peaceful spot that’s perfect for those looking for a more private beach experience. It’s located about 5 miles (8 km) from Hoi An’s Old Town and is surrounded by lush vegetation and stunning scenery.
- Ha My Beach: Ha My Beach is a relatively undeveloped beach that’s located about 6 miles (10 km) from the Old Town. It’s a great spot for those who want to escape the crowds and enjoy a quiet day at the beach.
- Cham Island Beaches: The Cham Islands are a group of small islands located off the coast of Hoi An. The islands offer some of the best beaches in the region, with crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches. There are also opportunities for snorkeling and diving to explore the coral reefs.
Once you’ve had enough of the sand, take a boat trip on the Thu Bon River – a great way to observe the traditional life of the locals and enjoy the stunning scenery of rice paddies, small villages, and fishing boats that dot the riverbanks. The Thu Bon River is a significant river in central Vietnam that flows through the city of Hoi An. It has played a crucial role in the development of the region, serving as a transportation hub, a source of livelihood for local fishermen, and a vital source of irrigation for agriculture.
The river is approximately 120 kilometers long, with its source in the Ngoc Linh mountain range and flowing into the South China Sea. Along the riverbanks, visitors can see the traditional way of life of the locals who make their living through fishing and farming.
End the day by getting dressed up and heading to a rooftop bar to enjoy a sunset cocktail (or two). Two of the best rooftop bars in Hoi An include:
- Sky Bar at The Rooftop Lounge: Located on the fifth floor of The Rooftop Lounge, Sky Bar offers panoramic views of Hoi An’s ancient town and the Thu Bon River. The menu features a mix of Vietnamese and international cuisine, along with a variety of cocktails and wines.
- Faifo Roof Top Bar: This rooftop bar is located in the heart of Hoi An’s ancient town and offers views of the historic rooftops and streets below. The menu features a mix of Vietnamese and Western dishes, along with a variety of cocktails and beers.
Day 7 – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
On day 7 of your Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos itinerary, fly to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, which is the largest city in Vietnam and one of the most exciting destinations in Southeast Asia. Ho Chi Minh City has a rich history that is closely tied to the Vietnam War. Visitors can explore the Cu Chi Tunnels, which were used by the Viet Cong during the war, as well as the War Remnants Museum, which offers a sobering look at the war’s impact. Additionally, the city has a vibrant cultural scene, with traditional markets, museums, and art galleries.
Ho Chi Minh City is also a paradise for food lovers, with a diverse array of delicious street food and upscale restaurants. You can try local specialties like pho (noodle soup), banh mi (a sandwich made with a baguette), and com tam (broken rice). This city also has a lively nightlife scene, with rooftop bars, clubs, and live music venues. You can enjoy a drink with a view of the city skyline or dance the night away to the latest hits.
After settling into your new destination, spend your afternoon visiting the War Remnants Museum and the Reunification Palace – two important historical sites in Ho Chi Minh City.
The War Remnants Museum, formerly known as the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, is a museum that displays artifacts and exhibits related to the Vietnam War, also known as the American War in Vietnam. The museum showcases photographs, equipment, and documents from the war, as well as stories and personal accounts of the people who were affected by it. The museum is often considered to be one of the most emotional and thought-provoking museums in Vietnam. The exhibits at the museum can be quite graphic and intense, so visitors should be prepared for this before visiting.
The Reunification Palace, also known as the Independence Palace, is a landmark building in Ho Chi Minh City that was the former residence and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The palace played a significant role in the events leading up to the end of the war, as it was the site of the end of the war when North Vietnamese tanks crashed through its gates in 1975. Today, the palace is open to the public as a museum, with exhibits showcasing the building’s history and the events leading up to the end of the war. Visitors can explore the palace’s many rooms, including the president’s office, conference rooms, and living quarters.
Spend the evening wondering around Ben Thanh Market, a famous market in Ho Chi Minh City, located in the city’s bustling downtown district, near many of the city’s major attractions. The market has a long history, having been established in the late 19th century, and has become a must-visit destination for tourists in Ho Chi Minh City.
The market is known for its vibrant atmosphere, with vendors selling a wide variety of goods, including local handicrafts, textiles, souvenirs, and street food. The market is particularly famous for its fresh produce, including fruits, vegetables, and seafood. Visitors can also find a range of clothing, shoes, and accessories at the market, as well as electronics, housewares, and other items.One of the highlights of visiting Ben Thanh Market is the opportunity to bargain with vendors for the best prices. Haggling is expected, so visitors should be prepared to negotiate with vendors to get the best deal.
In addition to shopping, the market is also a popular spot for trying local street food. There are numerous food stalls selling delicious Vietnamese dishes, such as banh mi sandwiches, pho noodle soup, and fresh spring rolls. Visitors can sample a variety of local cuisine while taking in the bustling atmosphere of the market.
Day 8 – Mekong Delta, Vietnam
For your final day in Vietnam before you move onto Cambodia, take a day trip to the Mekong Delta and visit a floating market. The Mekong Delta is a region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River flows into the sea. It is known for its lush green landscape, diverse agriculture, and unique way of life. One of the most popular attractions in the Mekong Delta is the floating market, where vendors sell their goods from boats on the river.
Visiting the floating market in the Mekong Delta is a unique and memorable experience that offers a glimpse into the local way of life. The market is typically busiest in the early morning, when vendors gather to sell their goods. Visitors can hire a boat to explore the market and watch as vendors sell everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to handmade crafts and souvenirs.
In addition to the floating market, there are many other things to see and do in the Mekong Delta. Visitors can take a boat tour of the delta to explore the waterways and see the region’s lush green landscape. They can also visit local villages to see how people live and work in the area, and learn about the region’s unique cuisine, which features a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and seafood.
Spend your final afternoon in Vietnam exploring the delta by boat and visiting a local village. Exploring the Mekong Delta by boat is an ideal way to experience the region’s unique beauty and way of life. It allows you to get up close to nature, including the delta’s lush green forests, waterways, and sprawling rice paddies from a unique perspective. One of the highlights of exploring the Mekong Delta by boat is the opportunity to see the floating markets. These markets are an important part of local life in the delta, and they offer a unique and colorful shopping experience.
There are also many pretty villages in and around the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam that are well worth visiting, each with its own unique culture and attractions. Some of the best villages to visit are:
- Cai Be: This charming village is famous for its floating market, where vendors sell a variety of fresh produce and handicrafts from boats on the river. Visitors can also explore the village’s many fruit orchards and take a boat tour of the surrounding waterways.
- Vinh Long: This bustling town is known for its many temples and pagodas, including the famous Tien Chau Pagoda. Visitors can also take a boat tour of the town’s many canals and waterways, or explore the nearby An Binh Island.
- Can Tho: This lively city is the largest in the Mekong Delta region, and is known for its bustling markets and lively nightlife. Visitors can explore the city’s many temples and museums, or take a boat tour of the nearby floating markets.
- Chau Doc: This historic town is located on the banks of the Mekong River, and is known for its many temples and pagodas. Visitors can take a boat tour of the town’s many canals and waterways, or visit the nearby Tra Su Bird Sanctuary.
- My Tho: This bustling town is located on the northern edge of the Mekong Delta, and is known for its many fruit orchards and floating markets. Visitors can take a boat tour of the nearby canals and waterways, or explore the town’s many historic landmarks and temples.
After a long day of site seeing, return to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy a much-needed Vietnamese coffee at a rooftop bar or one of the many coffee shops around the city. Ho Chi Minh City is known for its vibrant coffee culture, and there are many great places to get a coffee in the city. Here are some of the best places to check out:
- The Workshop Coffee: This popular coffee shop is known for its high-quality beans and artisanal brewing techniques. They offer a range of coffee drinks, including pour-over, espresso, and cold brew.
- Trung Nguyen Coffee: This Vietnamese chain of coffee shops is famous for its high-quality beans and unique blends. They have locations throughout the city, and offer a range of coffee drinks, as well as Vietnamese snacks and desserts.
- L’Usine: This trendy cafe is known for its chic decor and great coffee. They offer a range of coffee drinks, as well as a menu of Vietnamese and international dishes.
- Shin Coffee: This specialty coffee shop is known for its unique brewing methods and high-quality beans. They offer a range of coffee drinks, including pour-over, French press, and cold brew.
- Cafe Apartment: This unique coffee shop is located in a historic apartment building in the heart of the city. It features multiple levels of coffee shops, cafes, and boutiques, with great views of the city from the rooftop.
Day 9 – Siem Reap, Cambodia
On day 9 of your Vietnam to Laos itinerary, fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia, and check into your accommodation. Siem Reap is a popular tourist destination in Cambodia, known for its rich history, culture, and stunning archaeological sites. It is the gateway to the famous Angkor Archaeological Park, which contains the magnificent ruins of the ancient Khmer Empire. The most famous attraction within the park is the iconic Angkor Wat temple complex, but there are dozens of other impressive temples and ruins to explore.
Siem Reap is also home to a vibrant and unique culture that is heavily influenced by the country’s ancient Khmer heritage. Visitors can immerse themselves in this culture by exploring the town’s markets, museums, and art galleries. Cambodians are known for their warmth and hospitality, and the people of Siem Reap are no exception. Visitors will find that locals are welcoming and friendly, and are always eager to share their culture and traditions with visitors.
In the afternoon of your first day in Cambodia, visit Angkor Thom and Bayon temple – two of the most popular attractions within the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Here’s why you should consider visiting them:
Angkor Thom is a massive complex that was once the capital city of the Khmer Empire. The complex is surrounded by a 12-kilometer-long wall and features several impressive temples, palaces, and other structures. The most notable features of Angkor Thom are the four massive stone faces that adorn the gates of the complex, which represent the four virtues of Buddha.
Bayon Temple is located within the Angkor Thom complex and is known for its impressive architecture and unique stone carvings. The temple features dozens of towers, each adorned with massive stone faces that are said to represent the bodhisattva of compassion. Visitors can explore the temple’s many galleries and passageways, which are decorated with intricate carvings and bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Khmer mythology and daily life.
In the evening, enjoy a traditional Khmer dinner with an Apsara dance performance. Traditional Khmer cuisine is known for its bold flavors, fresh ingredients, and unique blend of spices and herbs. You can expect Jasmine rice, fish and seafood, spices and herbs, vegetables and salads, and a range of traditional desserts such as sticky rice, coconut milk, and banana and coconut pudding.
Apsara dance is a traditional dance form in Cambodia that has been performed for over a thousand years. This performance is an important part of Cambodia’s cultural heritage, and seeing a performance is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. The intricate hand gestures, elaborate costumes, and graceful movements are a sight to behold. Apsara dance is believed to have originated in the Angkor era, and it has been performed for over a thousand years. The dance was originally performed in the courts of the Khmer kings and was considered a form of religious expression.
Day 10 – Angkor Wat, Cambodia
On your second day in Cambodia, visit the magnificent Angkor Wat temple – one of the most iconic and impressive historical sites in Southeast Asia. As a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. It was originally built as a Hindu temple in the 12th century, but later became a Buddhist temple.
Angkor Wat is one of the largest religious monuments in the world, and its stunning architecture and intricate carvings are a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the Khmer people who built it. The temple is famous for its five towers, which symbolize the peaks of Mount Meru, the mythical home of the Hindu gods. Visiting Angkor Wat is an opportunity to immerse yourself in Cambodia’s rich culture and history. The temple complex is a powerful symbol of the country’s past and its enduring legacy. For many Cambodians, Angkor Wat is not just a historical site, but also a spiritual one. It is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists and Hindus, and many visitors come to the temple to meditate or pray.
In the afternoon, visit some of the Siem Reap’s other famous temples, such as Ta Prohm and Banteay Srei. Both Ta Prohm and Banteay Srei are important historical sites that offer a glimpse into Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage. They are also known for their stunning architecture and intricate carvings, which are a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the Khmer people who built them. Whether you are a history buff or simply appreciate beautiful art and architecture, Ta Prohm and Banteay Srei are two temples that should not be missed on your Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos itinerary.
Ta Prohm is a temple complex that was built in the late 12th century as a Buddhist monastery. It is best known for its stunning combination of nature and architecture, as the temple has been overtaken by the roots of giant trees. This creates a unique and otherworldly atmosphere that has made Ta Prohm a popular site for tourists and photographers alike. The temple was also used as a filming location for the movie “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.”
Banteay Srei is a temple complex that was built in the 10th century and is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It is known for its intricate carvings and red sandstone walls, which are covered in delicate and detailed designs. The temple is considered a masterpiece of Khmer art and is often referred to as the “jewel of Khmer art.” Despite its small size, Banteay Srei is considered one of the most beautiful temples in Cambodia and is a must-see for anyone visiting the region.
In the evening, unwind by watching the sunset over Angkor Wat. The sunset over Angkor Wat creates a spectacular, golden-orange hue in the sky, which makes for a picturesque and unforgettable experience. Watching the sun set behind the iconic temple creates a dramatic backdrop that makes for amazing photo opportunities.
For many Cambodians, watching the sunset over Angkor Wat is a spiritual experience. The temple complex is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists and Hindus, and many visitors come to the temple to meditate or pray. Seeing Angkor Wat during the day and then watching the sunset over it provides two very different perspectives. The temple takes on a different character as the light changes, and the sunset allows visitors to appreciate the temple in a new way.
Day 11 – Phnom Penh, Cambodia
On your third morning in Cambodia, fly to Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, known for its rich history and culture. During your morning here, be sure to visit the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda.
The Royal Palace is a complex of buildings that was built in the 19th century and serves as the residence of the King of Cambodia. The palace is known for its beautiful architecture, which is a blend of Khmer and European styles. Visitors can explore the throne hall, the royal gardens, and the various buildings that make up the palace complex. The palace is also home to a museum that houses a collection of Khmer art and artifacts.
Meanwhile, the Silver Pagoda is located within the Royal Palace complex and is a popular destination for visitors. The pagoda is named for its silver floor, which is covered in over 5,000 silver tiles. The pagoda houses many important treasures, including a life-sized gold Buddha statue and a small emerald Buddha statue. Visitors can also see the pagoda’s collection of royal gifts, including silver bowls and ancient Khmer textiles.
In the afternoon, visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields are two historical sites in Cambodia that serve as reminders of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge regime during the 1970s. Here is some information about each of these sites:
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is located in Phnom Penh and was once a high school before it was transformed into a notorious prison known as S-21 during the Khmer Rouge regime. It is estimated that over 17,000 people were imprisoned at S-21, and only a handful survived. The museum now serves as a memorial to those who suffered and died during this period of Cambodian history. Visitors can see the prison cells, torture chambers, and learn about the stories of those who were imprisoned there.
Meanwhile, the Killing Fields are a series of mass gravesites located outside of Phnom Penh where the Khmer Rouge regime executed and buried an estimated 1.7 million people. Visitors can see the site where prisoners were brought to be executed, as well as the many mass graves that have been uncovered. The site is now a memorial to those who lost their lives during this dark period of Cambodian history.
In the evening, take a sunset cruise on the Mekong River. Taking a sunset cruise on the Mekong River in Cambodia is a beautiful and unique experience that offers a different perspective of the country’s natural beauty and cultural life. The Mekong River is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, and a sunset cruise allows you to see it in a different light. You can take in the stunning views of the river and its surrounding landscapes while enjoying the cool breeze and a relaxed atmosphere.
The Mekong River is not just a natural wonder but also a vital part of Cambodia’s culture and way of life. During the sunset cruise, you can observe local fishermen and farmers going about their daily lives along the riverbanks. You may also see local fishing boats, cargo ships, and traditional wooden boats that have been used for centuries.
Day 12 – Luang Prabang, Laos
Finally, moving onto the Laos section of your Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos itinerary, on day 12, fly to Luang Prabang and check into your hotel. Luang Prabang is a charming city located in northern Laos, situated at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers. It was once the capital of the Lan Xang Kingdom until the 16th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here are some things to know about Luang Prabang and why you should consider visiting:
Luang Prabang is a city steeped in history and culture, with over 33 Buddhist temples and monasteries within its boundaries. The city’s historic district is known for its well-preserved traditional architecture and Buddhist culture, making it a unique destination for cultural travelers. The city is also surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including waterfalls, caves, and mountains. The nearby Kuang Si Waterfalls are a popular attraction, with several levels of cascading turquoise waters that visitors can swim in.
In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Royal Palace Museum and climb Mount Phousi.
The Royal Palace Museum, also known as the Haw Kham, is one of the most popular attractions in Luang Prabang, Laos. It is a former royal residence that was built in 1904 during the French colonial period, and was used by the Lao royal family until the communist takeover in 1975. The palace was converted into a museum in 1995 and is now open to the public.
The Royal Palace Museum is a beautiful example of traditional Lao architecture, with its sweeping rooflines, gilded facades, and intricate carvings. Visitors can explore the various rooms and halls of the palace, which are filled with royal artifacts, religious objects, and other cultural treasures. One of the most striking features of the Royal Palace Museum is its stunning gardens, which are beautifully landscaped with lush foliage, fountains, and traditional Lao sculptures. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.
Next, get your steps in with a climb up Mount Phousi – a small hill located in the centre of the city. Visitors can climb to the top of the hill, which is about 100 meters high, to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area. You can see the entire town of Luang Prabang, the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, and the surrounding mountains and countryside. Mount Phousi is considered a sacred site by the local people, and there are several temples and shrines located along the trail to the top. Visitors can stop and pay their respects at these religious sites, and learn more about the history and culture of Laos.
As day turns to night, finish your site seeing with a visit to Luang Prabang night market. The night market offers a truly unique shopping experience, filled with vendors selling a wide variety of handicrafts, textiles, and other goods. This is a great place to find unique souvenirs and gifts to bring home, and to support local artisans. The night market is also a great place to sample traditional Lao cuisine. There are plenty of food vendors selling delicious dishes like sticky rice, noodle soups, and grilled meats. You can also try some local snacks like fried insects, if you’re feeling adventurous.
The prices at the night market are generally quite reasonable, and bargaining is expected. This is a great opportunity to get some great deals on souvenirs and gifts. Visiting the night market is also a great way to experience the social and cultural life of Luang Prabang. You’ll see families, friends, and tourists all mingling together, enjoying the food, shopping, and entertainment.
Day 13 – Kuang Si Falls, Laos
On day 13 of your Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos itinerary, venture a little further out, taking a tuk-tuk to the Kuang Si Falls – a stunning three-tiered waterfall located about 29 kilometers south of Luang Prabang. The Kuang Si Falls are known for their beautiful, turquoise-colored water and picturesque setting. The falls are surrounded by lush jungle and the water cascades over limestone rocks, creating a series of pools and cascades.
Visitors are allowed to swim in the pools at the base of the falls. The water is cool and refreshing, making it a great place to cool off on a hot day. After swimming, you can head over to the bear rescue centre at the falls, where visitors can see Asiatic black bears that have been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade and learn about the importance of conservation and the protection of wildlife.
Aside from the turquoise pools, there are also several hiking trails around the falls, which offer great views of the waterfall and the surrounding jungle. The trails range from easy to moderate difficulty, so there’s something for everyone. Some of the most popular hikes include:
- Kuang Si Butterfly Park Trail: This short trail is about 300 meters long and takes visitors through a butterfly park that is home to several species of butterflies and moths. It’s a great place to see these beautiful insects up close.
- Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center Trail: This trail is about 1.2 kilometers long and takes visitors through the bear rescue center, where they can see Asiatic black bears that have been rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. Along the way, visitors can also learn about the importance of conservation and the protection of wildlife.
- Kuang Si Falls Trail: This trail is about 3 kilometers long and takes visitors from the main entrance of the falls to the top of the waterfall. Along the way, visitors can enjoy beautiful views of the falls and the surrounding jungle. The trail is moderately difficult, with some steep sections and stairs, but it’s worth it for the views at the top.
- Tat Kuang Si Nature Reserve Trail: This longer trail is about 14 kilometers long and takes visitors through the Tat Kuang Si Nature Reserve, which is home to several species of wildlife, including gibbons, macaques, and several species of birds. The trail is more challenging than the other trails, but it’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of the area.
In the evening, enjoy a traditional Lao dinner. Laos is known for its delicious traditional cuisine, and there are several great restaurants in the country that serve authentic Lao food. Here are some of the best traditional restaurants to eat at in Laos:
- Tamarind: Located in Luang Prabang, Tamarind is a popular restaurant that offers traditional Lao cuisine. The restaurant serves a variety of dishes, including sticky rice, lemongrass stuffed with chicken, and steamed fish with herbs.
- Khaiphaen: Also located in Luang Prabang, Khaiphaen is a social enterprise restaurant that supports disadvantaged youth. The restaurant serves traditional Lao dishes, including laap (a meat salad), mok pa (steamed fish in banana leaf), and tam mak hoong (spicy green papaya salad).
- Lao Kitchen: Located in Vientiane, Lao Kitchen is a popular restaurant that serves authentic Lao food. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes, including mok pa (steamed fish in banana leaf), or lam (a spicy stew made with meat and vegetables), and khao soi (a soup made with noodles and chicken).
- Tamnak Lao: Located in Vientiane, Tamnak Lao is a popular restaurant that serves traditional Lao cuisine. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes, including larb (a spicy meat salad), grilled chicken with lemongrass, and green papaya salad.
- Lao Lao Garden: Located in Vang Vieng, Lao Lao Garden is a popular restaurant that serves traditional Lao food. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes, including laap (a meat salad), tom kha gai (coconut milk soup with chicken), and fried river weed.
Day 14 – Departure
Congratulations! You have reached the end of this Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos itinerary! On day 14 of your travels across Southeast Asia, you’ll wave goodbye to Laos and depart.
Ultimately, a14 day itinerary through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos is a perfect way to experience the unique cultures, histories, and landscapes of these Southeast Asian countries. During this trip, you’ll have the opportunity to explore bustling cities, breathtaking natural wonders, ancient temples, and charming villages.
Starting in Vietnam, you can explore the vibrant city of Ho Chi Minh, with its rich history and delicious cuisine, before heading to the stunning Halong Bay to admire the breathtaking scenery. Next, visit the ancient capital of Hue, with its historic landmarks and tranquil countryside, before heading to the charming Hoi An, where you can soak up the local culture and stroll through the colorful streets.
From Vietnam, travel to Cambodia to experience the awe-inspiring temples of Angkor Wat and immerse yourself in the country’s rich history and culture. Take a stroll around the capital city of Phnom Penh to learn about Cambodia’s past and present, and enjoy the stunning scenery of the countryside.
Finally, head to Laos to discover the tranquil beauty of this hidden gem in Southeast Asia. Explore the charming city of Luang Prabang, visit the ancient temples of Vientiane, and take a relaxing boat ride along the Mekong River.
Overall, this 14 day itinerary through Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos offers a perfect balance of cultural experiences, natural beauty, and adventure, making it an unforgettable journey through Southeast Asia.
Be sure to check out our guide to the best stops between Split and Dubrovnik, too!