First-time travelers to Indochina can feel like they’re being presented with a sumptuous buffet of travel experiences. With a myriad of choices, it’s very easy to slip into overwhelm and have no idea where to start when it comes to planning your ideal Indochina tour.
If you’re not familiar with Indochina, a good analogy is to think of the region as being similar to Europe, in that it’s easier to cross borders to new territories in a very short space of time.
Technically encompassing Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand, narrowing down your tour options can be a challenge. The thing is that while Indochina geographically covers a relatively small area, each country that falls under the umbrella has a distinct, culture, history, cuisine and people, cultures. It would be very shortsighted to think “I’ve seen Vietnam, so I don’t need to visit Cambodia.”
On the contrary, this kind of thinking will mean you miss out on opportunities for travel experiences that turn into beautiful travel memories.
Want to make the most of your first Indochina tour? Then check out these Indochina travel tips that will show you how to maximize your time on tour, when you’re not sure where to start.
The taster v. the deep immersion experience
Traveling to new destinations is exciting, and if you’re traveling to Indochina from the West, there’s a good chance you’ve covered some serious miles to get there. In short, it’s not a quick trip, so while you’re there, it’s wise to make the best use of time and resources. The big question is: do you opt for the taster tour or deep immersion experience?
While both tour types have their benefits, for your first Indochina travel experience, you might want to consider the taster.
To be clear, we’re not talking about visiting a different destination every day and tour itineraries that leave you utterly exhausted (and needing another holiday to recover after the tour).
No, the kind of taster tour is one where you have the opportunity for a real experience of each destination and country, without you feeling overwhelmed. The ideal balance on the taster tour is having enough time to absorb and appreciate the well-known sights, culture and history, while also gaining a deeper insight into local life.
Think of the taster tour as degustation for travel. Kind of like having just enough of each place to leave you contemplating what else you might try next time.
In many ways, this is the ideal way to experience Indochina on a first visit. With so much to experience in each country, a well-planned tour, designed by people who understand the logistics on the ground, you can be confident you’ll create beautiful travel memories this way. It’s also the perfect way to inform Indochina travel via a deep immersion experience. By seeing a little of each place, you can decide where you’d like to return to and see, do, and experience more.
The deep immersion Indochina tour
The great thing about Indochina is that the diversity of each country, you can easily spend extended time in each. Hello the deep immersion Indochina tour!
This kind of tour is ideal if you’ve already made your way around Indochina, or even one or two countries in the region, and decide you want to learn more and experience more. Instead of just one day in a location, you can opt for three or four, or longer. It can work especially well if you’re after a personal experience of connecting with locals.
Here are just some great ideas for tours that allow travelers to escape to another country:
12 days in Cambodia and you’ll almost be a local! Taken in Phnom Penh and see how Cambodia is evolving beyond its historical challenges. Explore the many spiritual sites of Siem Reap, including the world-renowned Angkor Wat. Mix with locals at the iconic Kompong Khleang Floating Village and dive into Battambang’s history, enjoying a thrilling bamboo train ride. Round out the tour with relaxing days on Koh Rong, Cambodia’s most beautiful beach.
How about 10 days in Laos? A largely undiscovered gem in Indochina, 10 days in Laos offers the travel adventurer the opportunity to truly escape. Enjoy the unique and diverse traditions of Luang Prabang, Xieng Khouang, Vang Vieng and Vientiane and journey through the very best of Laos. With a more rustic feel than even other countries in Indochina, you’ll be enchanted by the scenic beauty, wildlife and village lifestyle, where you can engage with locals, enjoying the food, hospitality and markets.
Experience the real Vietnam over 14 days. Work your way up from the south to north starting in Ho Chi Minh City, visiting key destinations on the way: Can Tho in the Mekong Delta, beautiful Hoi An, Da Nang, Hue, and bustling Hanoi; mountainous Mai Chau, Pu Luong with its traditional villages, and wrap up your deep immersion experience with a cruise around the idyllic Halong Bay.