International Expeditions Launches New Laos and Vietnam Tour for 2010

New tour showcases both countries’ natural beauty and rich history


By: By Naomi Kahlon

Clients who want to explore less traveled Asian destinations and give back to their local communities would do well to book a new 15-day Laos & Vietnam tour with International Expeditions.

The tour begins in Luang Prabang, Laos, an UNESCO World Heritage Site that is widely regarded as one of the most authentic and peaceful cities in Southeast Asia. In Laos, clients will participate in a tour of Phu Si Hill and the Royal Palace Museum, and take part in a traditional Lao Baci welcome ceremony.

While in Laos, opportunities to interact with the country’s diverse cultures and to give back to the local community are also easily accessible. Tour participants are invited to help distribute school supplies to a local ethnic minority village, part of International Expeditions’ partnership with Big Brother Mouse, an organization that promotes reading among young children.

An early morning tak bat ceremony lets clients develop insight into the daily lives of practicing monks as they observe the silent, sacred practice of giving rice to thousands of orange-robed monks.

From Luang Prabang, clients fly to Wat Phou Champasak, an UNESCO World Heritage Site designed to reflect the Hindu vision of humanity’s relationship with nature. The next day, an elephant ride to the ancient temple ruins of Pho Asa Mountain and the remote village of Khiet Ngong is provided, followed by an afternoon hike.

In the Laos capital of Vientiane, clients visit Wat Sisaket, the city’s oldest monastery, Patousay, the city’s victory gate, and That Luang Stupa.

After touring through Laos, clients arrive in Hanoi, Vietnam, and begin their tour of the country with a visit to the notorious “Hanoi Hilton” (Hoa Lo Prison) where American prisoners of war were held captive during the Vietnam War. Other stops include the Ho Chi Mingh Mausoleum, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature.

In Halong Bay, Vietnam, clients embark on a junk boat for an overnight cruise throughout the region’s 1,600 limestone islands. The cruise includes a stop at the Cave of Surprises and swimming time.

On the 13th day of the trip, the group flies to Ho Chi Minh City to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Presidential Palace. The final day of the tour includes a drive through the Mekong Delta and a cruise around the Mekong Islands.

The tour is available on Jan. 17, Jan. 31, Feb. 14 and Feb. 28, 2010, and spaces are limited — International Expeditions only allows groups of up to 12 per journey. Rates per person start at $3,898, based on double occupancy; they include all accommodations, most meals, local transportation guides and group transfers. Airfare is not included in the package although flights can be arranged through International Expeditions.

Clients who have more time and wish to see more of Southeast Asia can book a three-day extension tour to Siem Reap, Cambodia, with rates starting at $798 per person, based on double occupancy.