Vietnam, Laos & Thailand | Hanoi to Chiang Mai | Adult Only
Immerse yourself in a trifecta of cultural and scenic delight as you explore Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand on foot, bike, and boat.
15 days / 14 nights
Activity Level Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.
Fantastically rich in culture, history, and tantalizing foods, this itinerary is chock full of learning, exploration, and discovery. Street foods and French-inspired delicacies, surprising tribal traditions, local weaving and crafts, boating on exotic rivers, ancient temples and modern museums, agricultural histories, the detritus of wars both colonial and Cold War, jungle wildlife and cloud forests, a mélange of fabulous waterfalls, riotous markets, and surprises quite literally at every turn await you.
This eye-opening, 15-day itinerary is chock full of learning, exploration, and discovery. This journey will awe you with hiking, biking, boating, and adventures within three exotic Asian nations: Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. You’ll explore the fantastically rich culture, history, people and foods, as we take you from street foods to French delicacies, ancient temples to modern museums, the ruins of warfare colonial to Cold War, jungle wildlife to cloud forests, fabulous waterfalls to riotous markets, agricultural legacies to exotic river excursions. You’ll be immersed in diverse cultures within these three nations and their various peoples, including two tribes that actually originated in China and Burma. You’ll absorb many elements of their diverse cultures, including exposure to some surprising tribal traditions, learning how they make local handicrafts, visits to mosques and temples, and – of course – taste fantastic local foods and spirits.
- Meet the ethnic Red Dao women, who wear some of the most colorful and diverse costumes of all Vietnam’s ethnic groups and are famous for herbal bath, local medicine and embroidery
- Explore small side streets, back alleys and temples of the historic and charming World Heritage Town of Luang Prabang
- Learn all the steps of how rice is traditionally grown and produced and take part in the process, including plowing the paddy field with a buffalo
- At a living crafts center, learn about textiles and meet the weavers who help keep these traditions alive
- Visit a village of the long-neck Padaung tribes, who originate from Burma and use many copper rings placed around their women’s throats to give the impression that their necks are elongated
- Hike atop Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest peak, to wander through unspoiled cloud forest
A few more reason why you've gotta go:
Experience water buffalo husbandry and milking.
Learn how local Vietnamese villagers make rice paper, silver jewelry and colorful embroidery.
Enjoy a private cooking lesson in a Laotian family's home with local specialties.
Hanoi, Vietnam HAN
Chiang Mai, Thailand CNX
Upon arrival to Noi Bai Airport, your driver and guide will meet you. Transfer you to your hotel. Check-in and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.
About La Siesta Hotel Trendy
Many of this hotel’s rooms overlook the eclectic and artistic rooftop city skyline. All rooms are equipped with full amenities and comfortable beds, soft linens and double-glazed windows, so you can enjoy an undisturbed night’s sleep oblivious of the city outside. They offer buffet breakfast, free Wi-Fi, a restaurant, bar and spa. Rooms include daily bottled water, AC, flat screen TV’s with cable, safe, refrigerator, minibar, tea and coffee, and a hair dryer.
Hoan Kiem Lake / Old Quarter / B-52 Lake / Bia Hoi
Meet your guide then head to Ngoc Son Temple, located in the midst of Hoan Kiem Lake. Visit a traditional, local coffee place, to try Vietnam’s local iced coffee. Then indulge in the delicious ‘bánh mì’ street food, a baguette sandwich filled with a variety of foods. Get deep into Hanoi’s Old Quarter and witness the French architecture, including a gothic building constructed in 1886. Explore Hoa Lo Prison (AKA ‘The Hanoi Hilton’), where Vietnamese, American and French prisoners of war were kept. Witness ‘B-52 Lake’, where the wreckage of a U.S. B-52 bomber can be seen. Stop at a ‘Bún Chả’ restaurant to try Hanoi’s specialties. Wander through the Temple of Literature, which was built in 1076 to be a university (the nation’s first) for the royalty and members of the elite. Experience the surprisingly photogenic Hanoi railway tracks, which are sometimes located meters away from the front door of homes! Finish with evening beers at the typical and well-known Bia Hoi, where you will taste local draft beer and finish the day like a local.
* Along the tour, you will be trying different street specialties, so we recommend avoiding the hotel’s breakfast this day!
Transfer to Topas Ecolodge. Have lunch and check-in at the Ecolodge. In the afternoon, walk to the Red Dao village of Ban Moi. At the village, visit the local school and a local house to experience the friendly villagers’ daily life.
About Topas Ecolodge
Topas Ecolodge is a small lodge situated on a beautiful hilltop deep in the mountains of Hoang Lien National Park. The lodge is based on sustainable principles to ensure minimum impact on the surrounding environment. They employ people from nearby villages and use local products and goods to bring further economic benefit to the community. They also have their own wastewater facility to prevent polluting the area. Their 33 mountain bungalows are built as rustic chalet-style single bedroom houses from local white granite. Each bungalow comes with a private balcony where you can enjoy the magnificent view of the towering peaks and endless valleys dotted with ethnic minority villages. There is a restaurant, lounge, pool and spa. Rooms have AC, mosquito netting, rain shower, minibar, tea and coffee, and a hair dryer.
Hoang Lien National Park / Nam Nhiu / Nam Cang
Transfer into Hoang Lien National Park to the trek starting point near Sin Chai village. The trails will soon lead you to the Red Dao village of Nam Nhiu, where you will meet the villagers, enjoy a cup of green tea in their house, and learn about their daily farming lives. After passing rice terraces, you will walk on a quiet road to arrive at the charming Nam Cang village. Your lunch is served at Nam Cang Riverside Lodge, with the jungle just behind and connected with the village by its own suspension bridge. You will explore the village and learn how the local villagers make writing paper by rice, silver jewelry and colorful embroidery. You may also want to take a swim in the river, before meeting your vehicle for the journey back.
Transfer back to Noi Bai Airport for your flight to Luang Prabang. Welcome to Laos! Proceed into the arrival area and meet your private guide and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free at leisure.
About Satri House
Set in the ancient city of Luang Prabang, your hotel is designed in a style inspired by Lao culture.
The 28 rooms and 3 suites are furnished with crafted wood furniture, oversized balconies, spacious bath rooms with rain shower and separate toilet room, and bath tubs in the suites. Facilities include a restaurant, garden bar, library, outdoor swimming pools and spa. Rooms include personal safe, WIFI internet, hair dryer, individual air conditioning and ceiling fan, and flat screen TV available on request.
At dawn, monastery bells toll and lines of golden-robed monks emerge to receive their morning alms from the townspeople – and from you (your guide will provide a prepared food basket to offer the monks). See various meats, vegetables and spices the locals use at the Morning Market. Return to your hotel for breakfast. Transfer to the most popular of temples – Wat Xieng Thong, a 500-year-old temple that is the best example of the classic Luang Prabang style. Visit the National Museum, the former Royal Palace, to see relics from Laos’ royalist past. Phousi Mountain overlooks the museum, so we will climb the 328 steps to the top and be rewarded with remarkable views. Transfer to the Kuang Si Waterfall, where crystal water cascades into idyllic turquoise pools (bring a bathing suit if you would like to swim!). Visit the nearby Sunbear Refuge to learn more about the poaching of these endangered creatures.
Wat Xieng Thong / National Museum / Phousi Mountain
Visit a local fresh market, to meet today’s chef and teacher, Mrs. Noy. After learning about local produce, board a boat to cross the Mekong River and meet the Noy family. Enjoy a simple private cooking lesson in the family’s home with local specialties. Continue by boat downstream to visit villages where famous river weed snacks, rice crackers and other delicacies are produced. At the end of the day, while floating gently down the water, enjoy a Lao rice whiskey tasting while approaching Luang Prabang.
Luang Prabang / Mekong River
You will be picked up by a local tuk-tuk and head out to learn how rice is traditionally grown and produced. All the rice-growing steps are explained and demonstrated by local employees and you will take part in them, including plowing the paddy field with a buffalo! Conclude your tour with a tasting of rice accompanied by a traditional dipping sauce, rice crackers and other local products made from the grain. After lunch, transfer to the Laos Buffalo Dairy to learn about milking, buffalo feeding (including bottle feeding calves), how the farm works with the local community, and more. Return to Luang Prabang.
Luang Prabang / Rice Tour / Buffalo Dairy
Transfer to the pier for your two-day cruise on the Mekong River. Visit the Pak Ou caves where thousands of buddha images are found. The second stop is at Ban, a Baw village where we will observe the process of making traditional rice alcohol. The boat arrives at Luang Say Lodge before sunset for a dinner served on the terrace overlooking the Mekong River.
About Luang Say Lodge
Luang Say Lodge is a luxury teak and rosewood bungalow perched along the Mekong and backed by mountainous jungle. It features 20 bungalows, each elegantly furnished in dark-toned wood and white fabrics and offering panoramic Mekong views on three sides. A central riverbank restaurant is reached by wooden walkways and offers organic food. The buffet dinners of traditional Lao food and continental breakfasts are served here. Most of their vegetables are grown organically in their own garden or the local villages, with no artificial fertilizers or insecticides. You can either eat together or at your own separate table. The Lodge has a fully-equipped bar serving soft drinks, Lao beer, and spirits for purchase. On days with guests exceeding 20 people, they include an ethnic minority dance performance by lodge staff, local villagers and school children. Rooms are equipped with mosquito nets, electric fans, and a large private bathroom with hot shower and western style toilet.
Mekong River Cruise / Pak Ou Caves / Ban
After a continental breakfast, the boat takes you to Houei Xay to observe a rural life along the Mekong River at a Kamu village. On your arrival at Houay Xay, meet your driver for a transfer to the Thai border. Upon arrival in Thailand, our guide will be waiting for you to transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free at your leisure.
About The Legend Boutique River Resort & Spa
Resting on the banks of the Mae Kok River, the Legend provides an authentic atmosphere with a blend of northern Thai architectural details, local artwork and hand-plastered white walls. Offering 78 studios and villas, the rooms offer generous-sized beds, teakwood furnishings and spacious open-air seating areas. The infinity pool is perfect for panoramic views. The restaurants serve Thai and international cuisine with creative touches. There is a pool, gym, reading room, internet computers, souvenir shop, beauty salon, available babysitting services, as well as two bottles of drinking water, and hotel-branded bathroom amenities in your room.
Houei Xay / Houay Xay / Thailand
After a short safety briefing and bicycle fitting, cycle through small villages and rice fields, following the Lao River downstream. Visit the amazing white temple (Wat Rong Khun) and then lunch at a local restaurant. Finish cycling at Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park where you can enjoy playing in the Khun Kon waterfall, the highest and most scenic waterfall in Chiang Rai, 70 meters high.
Lao River / Namtock Khun Kon Forest Park
Start your day with a scenic drive to the top of Doi Mae Salong, a mountainous area inhabited by several hilltribes, such as the Yao and Akha. Learn about the village of Mae Salong, which was originally a settlement of Chinese who fled the Chinese Revolution. Visit one of the villages of the Padaung tribes, who originate from Burma and whose women are ornamented by copper rings placed around their throats to push down their shoulders and give the impression that their necks are elongated. Continue your drive to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival check in to your room with reminder of the day at your leisure.
About Tamarind Village
Tamarind Village is a boutique property nestled in the heart of historic Chiang Mai. Surrounded by ancient temples and shopping streets, it takes its name from the magnificent 200-year-old tamarind tree that shelters the hotel. Set around a series of garden courtyards, the 41 guest rooms and five suites reflect the rich ethnic diversity of northern Thailand by using fabrics and patterns drawn from various tribes of the region. Hotel facilities include a spa and all-day dining at their restaurant which features a variety of northern Thai, classic Thai and international dishes. Guests can also dine poolside or enjoy in-room dining service. There is a gift shop, babysitting services, DVD player and DVD’s upon request, free Wi-Fi, and laundry services. All rooms feature modern, fully equipped bathrooms, safes, and tea-making facilities.
Doi Mae Salong / Chiang Mai
Reconvene with your guide for a walking tour of Chiang Mai. Visit a Christian church, built in 1968, then pass many beautiful old shop-houses as you follow Charoenrat Road. At Wat Ket, visit the fascinating temple museum. Cross the Ping River and enter Warorot Market with its colorful flowers, pungent spices and friendly, bustling crowds. Visit a Chinese shrine in the Chinatown of Chiang Mai. Continue your walk to the Chinese Muslim area of Ban Haw to visit the mosque and perhaps enjoy a bowl of traditional khao soi in one of our favorite restaurants. You will then return to your hotel with the reminder of the day at your leisure.
Chiang Mai / Wat Ket / Ping River / Ban Haw
Pick up from the hotel for your excursion to Doi Inthanon National Park, which boasts the greatest diversity of forest types and bird species found in any single park in the country. Experience the Mae Ya and Vatchirathan waterfalls and enjoy a picnic lunch. Visit the Royal Project of Baan Khun Glaang and stop at two chedis erected in the honor of the King and Queen. Proceed to the top of Doi Inthanon, which is the highest mountain of Thailand (2776M) and covered with evergreen forest, to walk for a couple of hours through unspoiled cloud forest. Return to Chiang Mai in the late afternoon.
Doi Inthanon National Park / Doi Inthanon
Following another delicious breakfast, bid farewell to Thailand. Transfer to Chiang Mai International Airport for your onward flights.
*Trip itineraries are subject to change without notice due to road, weather and other factors outside of our control, for the safety and enjoyment of our guests, as deemed necessary and appropriate by Austin Adventures.
Arrival & Departure
Please plan on arriving early on the day of your trip departure (or, to be safe, at least one day prior to your trip departure). Day one of your itinerary starts at Noi Bai International Airport, depending on your arrival time, or from your Hanoi (Vietnam) hotel. Your trip ends with a drop-off at either the Noi Bai Airport or your Chiang Mai (Thailand) hotel.
Hiking: Easy to moderate hiking, the longest being just over 7km and taking 3-3.5 hours.
Biking: Easy to moderate riding on Day 11 in Chiang Rai; total distance 43-56 km; terrain is some unsealed roads and gently rolling hills.
Options at La Siesta Hotel Trendy: Through local partners, the hotel offers a variety of day tours and cruises. Inquire at the hotel or search their website for more information.
Options at Topas Ecologe: Topas Ecolodge abounds with opportunities for walking and mountain biking. Options range from a few hours of relaxed walking or biking to a full day of more strenuous activities. Treks and rides take in visits to the villages inhabited by some of the unique ethnic minority groups who live in the area.
Options at Satri House: Satri House offers a variety of overnight, half-day, and daylong cruise excursions on their own boat. Inquire at the hotel or search their website for more information.
Options at The Legend Boutique River Resort & Spa: A wide range of tours have been created to explore Chiang Rai including trekking and mountain climbing. Kindly inquire at the tour desk in the lobby.
Options at Tamarind Village: The hotel offers a complimentary daily walking tour of the area’s historic sites and the opportunity to join in the offering of alms to the Buddhist monks of a neighboring temple. In addition, other cultural activities are available on a daily basis for guests to join. Some of these include umbrella painting, flower garland weaving, and a hill tribe weaving demonstration. The hotel’s travel desk is located next to its Guest Services at the reception area. Half and full day tours to some of the area’s most interesting sites can be arranged on a private or join-in basis.
Go to remote Vietnam to meet the ethnic Red Dao women, who wear some of the most colorful and diverse costumes of all Vietnam’s ethnic groups and are famous for herbal bath, local medicine and embroidery. Explore small side streets, back alleys and temples of the historic and charming World Heritage Town of Luang Prabang. Learn all the steps of how rice is traditionally grown and produced and take part in the process, including plowing the paddy field with a buffalo! At a living crafts center, learn about textiles and meet the weavers who help keep these traditions alive. Experience water buffalo husbandry and milking. Meet local farmers and enjoy a cup of green tea in their homes. Visit a village of the long-neck Padaung tribes, who originate from Burma and use many copper rings placed around their women’s throats to give the impression that their necks are elongated. Hike atop Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest peak, to wander through unspoiled cloud forest. Learn how local Vietnamese villagers make rice paper, silver jewelry and colorful embroidery. Enjoy a private cooking lesson in a Laotian family’s home with local specialties.
The hallmark of an Austin Adventures vacation is our exceptional dining. All meals: breakfasts, lunches, snacks, dinners, refreshments and receptions are included as indicated by itinerary. (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner). Alcoholic beverages and related gratuities are not included in the trip price.
Included in the Trip Price
- Double occupancy rooms with private baths.
- All meals as listed in detailed daily itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
- Fully trained, English-speaking professional guides and knowledgeable local partners.
- Bikes, helmets and other necessary equipment – all safe and well maintained.
- Vehicle support and land transportation during the trip.
- Austin Adventures T-shirt, luggage tags and luggage service.
- Pre-departure and packing information.
- All entrance fees.
Not Included in the Trip Price
- All drinks.
- Meals not designated in daily itinerary.
- Visa fees and/or visa authorization.
- All internal flights.
- Pre-and post-trip accommodations and associated expenses.
- Air and land transportation to/from host cities.
- All types of personal insurance.
- Personal expenses.
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.1 Easy (1)
Activity levels are subjective depending on your general level of fitness and your experience; however, all of our trips are self-paced.2 Moderately Easy (2)
Southeast Asia Expert
Want to know how to fully experience the depth of beauty and culture in a place? Ask Carol Austin. A Montana native who treasures the land and people in her own backyard—be it Yellowstone, the Beartooths, or the family around her dinner table—Carol knows how to embrace any destination she explores, a feat at 40+ countries and counting. And with more than 20 years in the travel industry, she’s really good at helping guests plan—and fully enjoy—their adventure vacation, too. She co-founded Austin Adventures with her husband, Dan Austin.