John Clifford's 16-day Itinerary Around Vietnam and Laos
John Clifford is a member 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 he creates. To work with John, contact him at John@InternationalTravelManagement.com.
Based on a custom itinerary designed for an upscale couple celebrating their 25th anniversary.
Days 1-3: Hanoi and Lào Cai
Arrive in Hoi An and take the Victoria Express luxury train to Lào Cai, where you will stay at a luxe suite at Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa. Activities include market tours, cooking classes, and visits to villages of the region's ethnic minorities, including the Dao, Flower Hmong, and Giay peoples.
Days 4-6: Hội An
Venture to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Hội An, exploring the town and trading port with a private guide. Highlights include historic houses, dragon statues, handicraft shops, art galleries, the Japanese bridge, and the vibrant market.
Your accommodations are none other than the stunning Four Seasons Resort the Nam Hai, which also provides custom touring opportunities for visiting farms and local cottage industries around the rice paddies. We have also arranged a fun vintage Vespa tour through the UNESCO-protected Old Town, followed by a private visit to the Hindu temple complex at My Son Sanctuary.
Days 7-8: Huế and Cần Thơ
Visit Huế, Vietnam's former imperial capital, and tour the old Imperial City and Citadel Fortress. The following day, take a boat tour of the famous Cai Rang floating market in Cần Thơ.
Days 9-12: Luang Prabang
Transfer to Laos via private jet and arrive in Luang Prabang and the stunning Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, located atop the famous Hill of Kites. That evening, enjoy a "Mystery Dining Night" — starting at Belmond's Doc Champa Bar, then heading out by private tuk tuk to 4 of the best hidden-gem bars and restaurant's in town. The second night, you will be treated to a "500 Candles Private Dinner Experience" in an UNESCO-protected garden, featuring a traditional Laotian menu with perfect wine pairings and exquisite desert. To cap off the evening, we have arranged a release of floating lanterns into the sky.
Next, enjoy a day of private touring, starting at the National Museum (located in a former royal palace) and Wat Mai temple. Take a private cruise up the Mekong on Belmond's uber-luxe private boat, culminating with a private sunset visit to the Pak Ou caves.
The following day, we have curated a private cooking class at the Kuang Si waterfalls, including a visit to the morning market for ingredients. Make your own lunch with the guidance of a star chef who will demonstrate traditional Lao techniques. Afterwards, take a cool swim in pools. On the way back to the resort, visit the Asiatic Black Bear Rescue Center for an up-close education about the plight of these endangered animals. We've also arranged an elephant trek along the Nam Khan Rive. Help clean and feed these beautiful beasts before they join the trek in the river as you walk by their side (no riding, no animal abuse — this is a conservation group). Cross the Huay Not stream and enjoy a fresh meal and a visit to the nearby butterfly sanctuary.
Start your final day in Luang Prabang with the old Buddhist tradition of alms-giving, as monks leave their pagodas to take offerings. Next, enjoy a private royal encounter with Prince Nith, visiting his studio and residence. The prince holds a deep passion for Lao folk arts, and is a renowned artist himself. He is also an expert in the traditional gold thread embroidery that adorns the Lao Palace, along with carving, painting, and wood working. His residence has a stunning collection of artifacts from the Old Court of Luang Prabang. End the day by participating in the baci, a ceremony of blessing, good will, and good luck, before dinner surrounded by lotus ponds at Manda de Laos Restaurant.
Days 13-16: Con Dao Islands
For the last days of your adventure, head to Six Senses Con Dao for some rejuvenation in the beautiful Con Dao Islands. Activities include scuba diving, tropical rain forest trekking, and a private yacht excursion around the archipelago. The whole region is a pristine national marine park. On your last night, enjoy a private, romantic beachfront dinner on the shores of Ong Dung Bay.