Multi country tours in Southeast Asia

There wasn't a day that didn't excite. The differences between the four countries were fascinating, the language, food customs and culture ensured that there were always new things to experience. The insight into the history of Southeast Asia was sad but enlightening.
– Peter Heath, one of our travellers on an Indochina tour

Why take a multi country tour in Southeast Asia?

One reason to consider a multi country trip through Indochina or the wider Southeast Asia region is simply that of practicality: here you have several (spectacular) countries all grouped closely together, and it’s very easy to travel between them. If your financial situation and free time allow it, then it makes perfect sense to explore as many of them as you can at the same time.

Another good argument for this kind of tour is that when you group several countries together in one itinerary the differences between each are brought into much sharper relief. Compare the futuristic high-rises and 24-hour buzz of Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur with the laidback charm of Vientiane in Laos; the glittering, gilded wats of Chiang Mai with the faded majesty of Angkor Wat in Cambodia; the hill tribes of northern Thailand with the island communities of Si Phan Don; and the mysterious waterways of the Mekong Delta with the riverside markets and rice paddies alongside the Chao Phraya in Thailand.

How long do I need?

Realistically you want to spend at least a week in each country, and ideally 10 days or more, so that you can get more than just a brief overview and see as many of the key destinations as possible. Visiting Laos without a couple of days in Luang Prabang is practically unthinkable, as is Thailand without the chance to compare the street food of Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Cambodia without Angkor Wat, or Vietnam without an enthralling tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels. A typical trip around Indochina covering, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, lasts four weeks, while you can also travel for six weeks and add on other parts of Southeast Asia including Malaysia and Singapore. These are whistlestop tours: you’ll see and learn a huge amount, but you can expect to be on the move pretty much every day, so don’t expect too much of an in depth feel for each place.

Travel logistics

Our multi country trips around Southeast Asia and Indochina are a mix of small group tours and tailor made itineraries. Each comes with its own distinct advantages. On a small group tour, for instance, you will travel with around 16 other people, and you will have a professional tour leader accompanying you throughout, there to ensure that all travel connections are met, that local guides are ready at key locations, and generally to see that your holiday runs smoothly. Tailor made trips follow quite similar routes but give you a greater degree of flexibility in your travel dates, activities on each day, and crucially they also allow you to add in an extra day here or there whenever you want to explore a destination in greater depth.

Just as there are many routes around the region, so there are many different ways to travel them. A typical itinerary might see you crossing land borders by private minivan, as well as flying between capitals, taking a boat cruise through the Mekong Delta, journeying to a remote temple by public bus, and hopping into a tuk-tuk for a fun city tour. Overnight trains, such as those between Hanoi and Hue in Vietnam, or Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand, are also hugely enjoyable ways to travel and a regular feature of overland itineraries.

There is likely to be just as much variety in your accommodations on a multi country tour. In cities and large towns you can expect to be based in centrally-located hotels. If you’re moving through the countryside, then homestays in rural villages are common, during which you’ll need to cope with pretty basic conditions. What’s most important is the ability to travel light, as you will be packing and unpacking constantly.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Laos or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Typical routes

Since the countries of Indochina are so closely bunched together – Laos directly above Cambodia, and each sharing a border with both Vietnam and Thailand – getting around between them is very easy, and there are any number of routes to take. If you have the time you can potentially do all four countries overland – we recommend this wherever possible – but most of our tours will involve internal flights at points to quickly transfer you between cities and make the most of your time.

One popular route that you’ll find on our website consists of a broad circuit from Bangkok that takes you to Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat, among many other locations. Then there is the long, zig-zagging journey south from Hanoi all the way down to Singapore that also includes time in the Mekong Delta, and Malaysia’s Penang and Cameron Highlands. To really escape the beaten tourist trail, follow the Mekong as it curves through Cambodia and Laos, past remote communities, pristine natural landscapes and the region’s largest waterfalls where you might encounter freshwater dolphins. Does it feel like your passport is burning a hole in your desk drawer right now?
“Laos is beautiful and the people are gentle and kind. Vietnam is crazy, hectic with stunning beaches and Halong Bay, Wow. Cambodia Khmer temples are deservedly among the wonders of the world and the people at the homestay were so welcoming. Thailand has everything going for it and I only saw a tiny bit.” – Anne Honeyball in a review of her Indochina tour

“I felt quite smug, knowing that lots of tourists were staying in large impersonal hotels and travelling around in large coaches, while we were getting to see the real people & their lives.” – Joan Day on a Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam holiday
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: McKay Savage] [Intro: istolethetv] [How long do I need?: xiquinhosilva] [Typical routes: Jakub Halun]