Inside Insider Journeys' Top 10 Tours

8 June 2015

When it comes to carefully curated journeys and genuine experiences in Asia, Insider Journeys are some of the best in the business. The ability to whisk travellers away into the heart of Asia, weaving through must-see sights and unearthing hidden secrets, whilst allowing for flexibility for independent exploration, is a craft they've perfected over the last 22 years. Find out why these 10 tours are Insider Journeys' top sellers.

VIETNAM

 

 

 

 

Highlights of Vietnam, 10 Days

Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta, Hue, Hoi An, Halong Bay, Hanoi

From animated cities to calm seas, this whirlwind 10-day tour covers all the lustrous jewels of Vietnam. The hustle and bustle of everyday life is unveiled with city stays in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi, while a scenic drive through provincial Vietnam from Hue, Vietnam's former imperial capital, reveals lush countryside and sweeping coastlines. A visit to the canals of the Mekong Delta will charm, as will the antiquated streets and aromatic flavours for which Hoi An is renowned. As for the piece de resistance; soak up the spectacular scenery of aqua waters and limestone islands on an overnight Halong Bay cruise.

Vietnam Insight, 11 Days

Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City

Much like Highlights of Vietnam, the Vietnam Insight tour is a sensory journey into this compelling country. Spend three nights in Hanoi wandering the charming boulevards and visiting 'Hanoi Hilton' and other sites of interest; then cruise amid limestone spires in beautiful Halong Bay. You'll delve into historical Hue and the secrets of its Citadel, and there are plenty of opportunities to get lost amid the traditional houses and temples of Hoi An. Master the art of Vietnamese cuisine with a cooking class before ending your journey in Ho Chi Minh City. Make the most of your three final nights exploring, learning and eating your way through this fascinating, cosmopolitan city.

Vietnam Discovery, 14 Days

Ho Chi Minh City, Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Delta, Dalat, Nha Trang, Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay, Hanoi

Do it all and then some with the Vietnam Discovery tour. Every aspect from the Vietnam Insight tour is included and combined with a stay in the French-influenced hill station of Dalat as well as a stunning coastal escape in Nha Trang. Smiling street vendors, colonial streets and an eclectic street-side food scene will captivate your attention (and appetite), as will the incredible history of Vietnam's evolution. From rustic villages and delightful historic quarters to energetic cities and vibrant beach towns, savour it all with this in-depth experience.

Sapa Explorer, 6 Days

Hanoi, Sapa

Those looking to inject a bit of seclusion into their Vietnam sojourn can do so on the Sapa Explorer, a six-day getaway that reaches high into the mountains. Begin with a stroll along the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi before boarding an overnight train to Sapa. Wake up in northern Vietnam amid a breathtaking landscape of cascading rice terraces. From here, it's a journey through the fascinating lives of the H'mong villagers, with market visits and walks through Hau Thao and Sasengand. You'll spend one night at Topas Ecolodge enjoying the 360-degree views of the surrounding valleys before returning to Hanoi.

CAMBODIA

 

 

 

 

Temples of Angkor, 5 Days

Phnom Penh, Temples of Angkor, Siem Reap

The crimson hues of the sun rising over the majestic temples of Angkor at dawn are truly a sight to behold. The five-day Temples of Angkor tour begins in bustling Phnom Penh, a city bursting with an array of adventures. Alongside palace tours and market visits, you'll have an opportunity to reflect on the country's confronting past at the Killing Fields, a sombre reminder of the Khmer Rouge regime. Discover Siem Reap however you please and further afield, the ruins of magical, vine-covered Ta Prohm and Bayon await.

Highlights of Cambodia, 7 Days

Phnom Penh, Kampong Thom, Sambor Prei Kuk, Tonle Sap Lake, Temples of Angkor, Siem Reap

In just seven days, you'll understand why Cambodia is a favourite of many travellers. Amongst a jam-packed itinerary, you'll witness the gorgeous landscape of Kampong Thom strewn with glassy lakes and lush rice fields. Swap buzzing Phnom Penh for the tranquillity of Siem Reap. Venture to the temples of Angkor under the cloak of darkness, witnessing the magic of the sun's rays as it rises above Angkor Wat. A boat ride on Tonle Sap Lake and a water blessing from a Buddhist monk at Tep Pranam Pagoda complete the experience. For extra bragging rights, try the local delicacy of deep-fried spiders!

LAOS

 

 

 

 

Highlights of Laos, 6 Days

Vientiane, Luang Prabang

Pint-sized Laos is no less captivating than its neighbours, Vietnam and Cambodia. On the Highlights of Laos tour, you'll enjoy six days of explorations through this land of smiles, impressive temples, pristine natural wonders and mouth-watering fare. Meander through atmospheric temples and riverside restaurants in Vientiane and soak up Luang Prabang's rainbow of elaborately decorated monasteries and vivid markets. Added spoils come from local home visits, a visit to Kuang Si Falls and the sight of hundreds of crimson-robed monks collecting their morning alms.

Laos Experience, 8 Days

Mekong River Cruise, Pak Ou Caves, Luang Prabang, Kuang Si Falls, Vientiane

Your journey begins in northern Thailand’s Chiang Rai, in the heart of the mystical Golden Triangle, on this eight-day tour. Cross the border to Laos for a tranquil boat journey down the Mekong in the 'Land of a Million Elephants' where a scene of ramshackle villages and rural surroundings unfolds before you. Stay overnight in a riverside lodge in Pakbeng, visit the Buddha effigies placed within the Pak Ou Caves and explore the famous sights of Luang Prabang on foot. This includes the Royal Palace and Wat Mai. Your journey ends in the capital, Vientiane, where crumbling French-colonial facades collide with 16th century Buddhist architecture. Spend time strolling lush, tree-lined streets and farewell your time in Laos with a Lao Baci ceremony at a local home.

BURMA (MYANMAR)

 Local women grind sandalwood into a paste to use as sun protection (image: Insider Journeys)

 

Burma Revealed, 13 Days

Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Pindaya Caves, Kalaw Hill Station, Inle Lake, Yangon

Join other like-minded adventurers to unearth the fabled landscapes, ancient treasures and charming people of the once isolated nation of Burma (Myanmar). The notion of hidden gems is an understatement when it comes to the white-washed pagodas of Sagaing and lunch at a local nunnery. Marvel at the elaborate, gilded Sule Pagoda and British-colonial architecture in Yangon and surrender your senses to the heady, perfumed Indian Quarter and local markets. From boat tours and floating gardens to hill tribes and sunset vistas, endearing Burma is simply full of surprises.

JAPAN

 A traditional Japanese tea ceremony (image: Insider Journeys)

 

Highlights of Japan, 10 Days

Tokyo, Hakone, Takayama, Kyoto, Hiroshima

From the dazzling neon lights of Tokyo to the tranquil teahouses in Kyoto, the many faces of Japan are revealed on this fascinating 10-day tour. Discover the sartorial side of Tokyo in vibrant Harajuku in contrast to the early morning (organised) chaos of the Tsukiji Fish Market. The speedy Shinkansen will whisk you to a traditional inn in Hakone with views of Mount Fuji, before heading towards Takayama. Your final four nights are spent in Kyoto, a historic town and thriving hub of the geisha culture brimming with shrines, temples and teahouses.

Anna Howard

Give me street food over Michelin stars, cellar doors over wine bars and small towns and wide open spaces over big cities any day. Travel for me means ticking off the 'to eat and drink' list one regional flavour and wine bottle at a time.