Andrea Ross and April Cole's 17-day Itinerary Around Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand

View of Ha Long Bay from Sim Soi Island, Vietnam
Photo: Rosanna U/Image Source/Getty Images

Andrea Ross and April Cole are members of Travel + Leisure’s A-List, a collection of the top travel advisors in the world, and can help plan your perfect getaway. Below is an example of the type of itineraries they create. To work with Andrea and April, you can contact them directly at and

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi

Your guide will meet you at Hanoi (Noi Bai) International Airport in the greeting area outside the exit doors of your arrival terminal for your private road transfer to your hotel. After check in, your guide and driver will take you to visit the Women’s Museum, where you'll learn about the role of women in traditional culture, marriage customs, childbirth, family life, and the defense of the nation.

Afterwards, you will visit the Ethnology Museum, which houses informative displays on the country’s 54 ethnic groups. Continue outside to the garden, where you can wander around fascinating life-size examples of minority housing. Following your visit to the museum you will have the opportunity to meet and chat with a Hanoi cultural researcher, where you will learn in more detail about Vietnam’s culture and history.

Stay: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel

Day 2: Hanoi

This morning you will be met by a celebrated chef at your hotel. Today you will experience Hanoi's food culture at the most local of places — a local market. Here you'll learn about and taste ingredients used in local cuisine. Afterwards, relax and enjoy a Vietnamese ca phe (coffee) or tra (tea) with the locals at one of the chef’s favorite sidewalk cafes in the historic French Quarter. The chef will give an overview of the Hanoi food scene and discuss Vietnam's daily life and culture. Lunch will follow at a bun cha establishment to enjoy traditional grilled pork and rice vermicelli noodles with fresh herbs, greens, and crispy spring rolls (nem ran).

After lunch you will begin your half day city tour. Be sure to discuss with your guide what you would like to do and see this afternoon. Some interesting highlights may include the Temple of Literature, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and his house on stilts, One Pillar Pagoda, Quan Thanh Temple, Tran Quoc Pagoda, and the Art museum.

Stay: Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel

Day 3: Halong Bay

Today, you leave bustling Hanoi behind on your private transfer to your cruise connection point. Your cruise will set sail through the magnificent Halong Bay towards Da Chong Islet as lunch is served on board. Look out for a French lighthouse built over 100 years ago, as well as amazing limestone karsts rising out of the water, as you sail by. This area is untouched, as few cruise ships use the route towards Ba Trai Dao. Depending on the weather on arrival at Ba Trai Dao, you will have the afternoon to enjoy the pristine waters and beaches at your leisure.

Back on board your vessel, you will enjoy the magnificent sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin. You may choose to join a traditional Vietnamese cooking class. After your evening meal, take in the landscape of the bay on the top deck, enjoy drinks from the bar, try your hand at night squid fishing, or watch a movie in the restaurant.

Stay: Orchid Cruise

Day 4: Halong Bay

You will enjoy a guided bike tour to visit Viet Hai Village. See an ancient house built of straw, mud, and bamboo where you will get to see the local way of life for the people of this valley. Return to the main boat for lunch with free time in the afternoon. You may choose to visit part of the Bai Tu Long Bay briefly for kayaking and to take a dip in the Ba Ham Lake area.

Stay: Orchid Cruise

Day 5: Halong Bay and Siem Reap

After breakfast, head out in canoes to explore the bay where Sang Toi cave is located. After your morning of activity, you will return to the boat to enjoy brunch as you cruise back to port. You will meet your guide and driver for transfer to Noi Bai airport to connect to your flight to Siem Reap. When you disembark from your flight, make your way outside to meet your Journeys Within guide who will transfer you to your hotel.

Stay: Jaya House River Park

Day 6: Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, and Angkor Thom

Wake up early and head to Angkor Wat for sunrise and a morning tour of the temple before the crowds arrive. Mid-morning head back to your hotel for breakfast.

In the early afternoon head to Angkor Thom, the famous walled city and see the many temples within its borders, including the fascinating Bayon temple with its many magnificent faces smiling out. There are several beautiful spots from which to watch the sunset.

Stay: Jaya House River Park

Day 7: Siem Reap

Today you wll visit smaller temples and a section of the Angkor complex rarely visited by tourists. Despite being inside the Angkor temple complex, this is a quiet escape from the noise and bustle of some of the other temples. Return to your hotel for lunch or have your guide help you find a good place to eat in town.

Cambodia has a deeply spiritual culture which is still actively observed today. Many local people look to the spirits for guidance and today you will gain a brief glimpse into this long-standing and well-respected tradition. To begin your tour, you will visit a local fortune teller. From here you will visit the pagodas of Siem Reap city where you may receive a blessing performed by a monk to cleanse your spirit.

Stay: Jaya House River Park

Day 8: Siem Reap and the Countryside

Ride through the scenic countryside where you'll pass villages, vegetable plantations, markets, cows, and buffalo as you cycle along. You'll visit local homes in the village that each have their own specialty, including palm wine and sugar production, basket weaving, and rice farming. Your driver will meet you at the end of your route to take you back to your hotel.

You will be met at your hotel and taken to Kompheim traditional village, located just outside Siem Reap. Enjoy sunset drinks and dinner at the beautiful Village House.

Stay: Jaya House River Park

Day 9: Luang Prabang

Enjoy the morning at leisure in Siem Reap before private transfer to the airport for your flight to Luang Prabang.

Once in Luang Prabang, you’ll be picked up from the airport and driven to the main part of town for a quick orientation tour. Your guide will give you an introduction to the city before dropping you off at your hotel to check in.

Stay: Avani Luang Prabang Hotel

Day 10: Luang Prabang

Tour the city by bicycle. Follow the Mekong River as it flows past the city, stopping to visit some temples along its banks. Your guide will lead you through town along the main roads and take you off the beaten path through alleys and side-streets. Have lunch at the Ock Pop Tok living arts center located on the Mekong River. Return to your hotel for a rest or a swim.

Enjoy learning the secrets of Lao cuisine in an early evening cooking class at the Tamarind Cooking School. You will have a hands-on opportunity to cook your own Lao feast, including how to make the local staple-Lao sticky rice.

Stay: Avani Luang Prabang Hotel

Day 11: Luang Prabang and Mekong Villages

Today you will explore the villages of the Mekong River on a traditional longtail boat. You will first visit three historic temples: Wat Xieng Mene, Wat Chomphet and Wat Long Khoune. Board the boat and head downstream to the villages of Ban Jan, Ban Chompjua, and Ban Xing. You will learn from local fishermen as they check traps and demonstrate the making of their gigantic fishing nets. Enjoy traditional Lao dishes prepared right on the boat by the boat driver's wife. Finally, at Ban Xing, believed to have been settled since the 16th century, you will join your village hosts for a Lao Baci ceremony. Your guide will explain this traditional blessing ceremony as you receive well wishes from elders in the village.

Stay: Avani Luang Prabang Hotel

Day 12: Luang Prabang and Chiang Mai

Wake up at sunrise to give monks morning alms. You’ll be accompanied by your guide who can demonstrate the proper method of alms giving and explain this daily Buddhist ceremony.

Transfer to Luang Prabang airport for your flight to Chiang Mai. You will be met by your guide at Chiang Mai Airport and transferred to your hotel.

Stay: Anantara Chiang Mai Resort & Spa

Day 13: Chiang Mai

Your guide will meet you to drive to Mae Wang National Park, 90 minutes southwest of Chiang Mai, where you'll explore a local hill tribe village. Trek 20-30 minutes through hills and forests to a picturesque waterfall for a refreshing swim, followed by a picnic lunch. After lunch, continue hiking to the Mae Wang Base Camp. Your driver will meet you here to take you to the Mae Wang River starting point where you will round the day off with bamboo rafting.

Stay: Anantara Chiang Mai Resort & Spa

Day 14: Chiang Mai

Visit the Elephant Nature Park, a wonderful organization dedicated to conserving and promoting the well-being of elephants. You will meet and feed elephants that have been recently rescued, then walk with them through the dense mountain forests witnessing their natural behaviors and sense of freedom. Enjoy an opportunity to help plant trees to increase the reforestation of the area. A mini picnic lunch will be served in the forest. Spend the afternoon relaxing by a waterfall and wading in the river as your new friends play nearby.

Stay: Anantara Chiang Mai Resort & Spa

Day 15: Bangkok

Transfer to Chiang Mai airport for your flight to Bangkok.

This afternoon, explore Bangkok's famous Chinatown. First, you will tour one of Bangkok’s largest 24-hour markets, Pak Klong Market. This famous area of Bangkok is a paradise for those who want to try some of the city’s authentic street food. Here you can spend the next few hours getting lost in this labyrinth of colorful shops, businesses, and markets. Dinner is arranged at one of the area's treasured eateries.

Stay: Riva Surya

Day 16: Bangkok

Ride a river express taxi to the Pak Klong Market. Then hop into a tuk tuk for an exciting ride to Wat Pho to see the celebrated Reclining Buddha. Afterwards, enjoy a relaxing thirty minute massage from the nearby traditional Thai massage school. After lunch you'll visit the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the Emerald Buddha. Afterwards, you will hop into your own private riverboat for a tour of the klongs (canals) that make up the interconnected waterways of the city.

Stay: Riva Surya

Day 17: Depart from Bangkok

Your driver will meet you at your hotel for your private transfer to the airport.

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