Are you dreaming of traveling to Asia and craving to explore the best that these exotic lands can offer? When you travel Asia, there are arrays of deep and rich cultural, natural, and historical traditions you will want to include in your itinerary. Here is a look at the highlights of the journey in Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia for 3 weeks, with details on what makes each site so extraordinary.
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There are many options plan for 3 weeks discover 3 countries Vietnam Cambodia Thailand in South East Asia depend on your preferred travel style, destination, and hotel class. Let's recommend you the most popular Thailand Cambodia Vietnam itinerary for first-time travelers below.
Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam Itinerary 3 weeks
On your first day in Vietnam, you can spend your time at leisure, wander around the narrow alleys and well-preserved colonial architecture buildings in the Old Quarters. As there are plenty of things to do and see, consider booking these activity tours or experience them at your own pace. One of Hanoi’s attractions is puppet shows on the water – an unforgettable experience that will please audiences of all ages. A cultural show is unique to the North of Vietnam, performances with Vietnamese orchestra playing traditional musical instruments telling Vietnamese folk tales that are being acted out by the puppets - famous and performed all over the world.
Hanoi capital of VIetnam
Otherwise, it would be great unfortunate if you don’t try Vietnamese Cuisine, especially in Hanoi. Indulge the flavors of famous “Bun Cha Obama” or have a unique cup of “Egg Coffee” and enjoy people watching from an old house’s balcony, have a joyful time take part in a cooking class, and get to know Vietnam through some popular dishes you are about to make.
Move on to your second day in Asia, follow your tour guide tracing the city’s thousand years old origin, visit the Hanoi Temple of Literature – one of the city’s most famous historical sights. This landmark is known as the first university of Vietnam dedicated to the education of Confucius and stands as a splendid example of traditional-style Vietnamese architecture. Then visit One Pillar Pagoda which was built by Emperor Ly Thai Tong in the 11th Century, is one of the iconic temples and located in the complex of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is the final resting place of Ho Chi Minh, who is the first president and beloved leader, known to Vietnamese people as “Uncle Ho”. He remains a major figure in modern contemporary history and his body is now preserved in a glass case at the mausoleum. As it is not a regular attraction, it is a part of unique history so visitors should pay respect by dressing conservatively (no shorts, no sleeveless, and miniskirts). Also, everyone has to deposit their bags and cameras before walking in as the security is tight.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Hanoi
Last stop for the day, visit Tran Quoc Pagoda which is the oldest of its kind in Hanoi, built in the 6th century and surrounded by abundant trees in a small islet of West Lake. After visiting the places, you can stop to have lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant and enjoy authentic meals before going back to your hotel. Have your afternoon exploring the city at your own pace or just relax and prepare for your next days.
On your third day, have a hearty breakfast before leaving for Halong Bay. Only 170km away from Hanoi, Halong Bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Typically in the form of jagged limestone karsts rearing out of the water, several caves, and grottoes, all of which blend to produce an exotic as well as a charming seascape. According to Vietnamese legend, the hundreds of submerged islets are precious stone
The ideal way to explore this natural site is to board a Halong overnight cruise, admire the breathtaking scenery while cruising through the emerald water and thousands of limestone pillars jutting out from the sea. Besides, there are varieties of activities to help you experience all that the bay has to offer such as squid fishing or tai chi exercise at sunrise. For those who like to discover, pay a visit to Surprise Cave or take a kayak trip to get close-up views of the lush plant that grows on the wall and observe Halong Bay’s marine ecosystem. On a nice weather day, enjoy a spectacular sunset on the deck while sailing among islands, it would be one of the unforgettable moments of your trip
Halong Bay Overnight Cruise
The next stop is Hoi an – a sleepy backwater town with so much culture and a lot of excellent food. It is a little mix between a quaint little city and a beautiful beach town. Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge which was built by prominent Japanese residents in the 17th century. It is the most iconic attraction in Hoi An and has a multicultural history between Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese.
Hoi An Ancient house
You then visit Fujian Assembly Hall of Chinese, a temple dedicated to the deity called Thiên Hậu, known as the goddess of the sea, who guards sailors against the stormy seas. The Hall has been renovated much time, it became more brilliant, spacious and contributed to Hoi An ancient architecture. Hoi An has many more ancient monuments like these in its old town. Each ancient house tells a distinctive story of the past and is worth a visit. When the night falls, all the lanterns lit up and turn this place into a magical town.,
On your second day in Hoi An, spend it at leisure. Depending on your preferences, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of this historical destination, walk around the old town, enjoy a cup of coffee at any ancient house, or chill along Thu Bon River. One of the delightful things to do when visiting Hoi An is that it’s possible to do most things on foot or by bicycle. The old town is closed to motorcycles for most of the day, which makes it easier to do. Also, the surrounding village is absolutely picturesque and relatively safe for cycling.
On the other hand, you can choose some of these recommendations as follows. You can easily get to Cam Thanh Village, which is located just 3km to the north of the ancient town, get your hands dirty and experience farm life for one day, participate in a cooking class, and enjoy delicious meals served with fresh herbs from the garden.
Not too far from the city center, stands the My Son Holy Land. This landmark is the most important Hindu temple complex, which is the religious capital of Champa Kingdom from the 4th to 13th century and it’s honorably recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1999. If you decide to come here, having an accompanying guide is highly recommended.
My Son Holly Land Hoi An
If you prefer to experience Hoi An differently, consider taking our “Vespa Tour”, we will give you an authentic insight into local life and you will have a chance to learn the art of mat weaving from a local family, traditional farming techniques, or how to make the perfect rice crackers. There are plenty of chances to stop and take photos of the rustic scenery then fuel up on local drip coffee and learn how they roast the coffee beans. Finally, arrive at Cua Dai Bridge, which offers stunning panoramic views of Hoi An and healthy meals before drop-off at your hotel.
Ho Chi Minh City – a melting pot of cultures, has a variety of buildings that represent its local and colonial heritage. As you stroll through the city, discover a fascinating mix of history and cultures. Spend your day relaxing at the hotel or wandering around the walking streets, try irresistible street food, and meet friendly local people.
On your next day, explore the city’s buildings that represent its local and colonial heritage as well as being witnesses of time. Depart from your hotel and our guide will take you to the first stop: Reunification Palace. This is one of the iconic landmarks of Ho Chi Minh City, this building marked the end of the Vietnam War. The place occupies the site of the former Norodom Palace, a colonial mansion erected in 1871 to the house of governor-general of Indochina.
Ho Chi Minh City
Last stop, you will visit a local market in the center of the city, feel the local spirit coming up strong, and see how lively it is. The market is irreplaceable in Vietnam’s culture as it has been a means to make ends meet for Vietnamese people for a long period. As time progresses, the markets have become tourist attractions, especially for travelers who are looking to experience the daily life of local people.
After spending time in vibrant cities, enjoy sightseeing on both sides of the road with green rice paddy and orchard garden. Explore the lush green and countless canals in the Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of nine distributaries. Travel to the heart of the Mekong Delta today and let yourself fall in love with the peaceful countryside. Experience the mighty waterways and enjoy some exotic tropical fruit. Fill yourself up with the tasty food of this region and have a good night’s sleep.
Wake up early the next morning, embark on a sampan and visit the most famous and largest floating market of the Mekong Delta: Cai Rang Floating Market. The river becomes a maze of hundreds of boats packed with mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even goods. To spice things up with a new experience, you can have breakfast served on boats with plastic chairs available, sipping the best coffee that you might ever have before.
Even though a typical breakfast in the market will consist mainly of rice noodles and soups, continue sailing around and explore further you will have to protect yourself from the temptation of buying local traditional snacks (such as coconut candy, coconut-leaf-cake, banana cake…)
Then move closer to the border of Cambodia, you then stay in Chau Doc, a homeland of mainly Cham and Khmer communities. Therefore, Chau Doc has a diversity of cultures so visitors can visit mosques, temples, and churches. Or you can visit the brooding Sam Mountain with its beautiful pagodas, it’s good fun to go up the summit.
The view from the top is spectacular, with green paddy fields scored by hundreds of waterways, stretching wide and far away. If time is abundant for you, taking a boat trip to the Cham communities across the river or Tra Su Cajuput Forest is another memorable part. Settling in Chau Doc for one night before crossing borders to Cambodia.
In the morning, relish a hearty breakfast at the hotel and have a relaxing time before starting a new journey. Embark on the speedboat and on the way to discover new land. Say goodbye to Vietnam and say hello to Cambodia. A country of saffron-robed monks, age-worn temples in the jungle, home to what was once of the world’s most advanced civilizations.
Cambodia’s astounding arrays of historical offerings proudly convey the extent of its former glory towns and jungles that remain ripe for discovery. Despite a turbulent recent past, Khmer people’s resilience and hospitality make Cambodia a wonderful country for travelers. When arriving in Phnom Penh, get rest at the hotel or fill you up with Cambodian cuisine, free time to explore the surrounding area at your own pace.
Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia with a rough history; the city’s shine was tarnished by the impact of war and revolution. But the city has since risen from the ashes to take its place among the hip capitals of the region, with a tempting café culture, lively bar, and exceptional food scene.
You will spend half of your day learning about the history and the cultures of this charming country. Visit the Independence Monument – a majestic structure that dominates Phom Penh's city center. This historic landmark was built in 1958 to mark the freedom of the country from France, which dominated Cambodia for almost ten years, from 1953 to 1963. Not only a liberation monument, but it also serves as a memorial to commemorate people who fought in the war and lost their lives for the welfare of the country.
Independent Monument Phnom Penh at night
Then visit the Phnom Penh Royal Palace which is considered one of the most well-known royal palaces in the world for its stunning architecture. It was built in Khmer style in 1866. Its purpose is to serve the royal family. It also hosted foreign dignitaries and served as a venue for royal court ceremonies and rituals.
On the same ground, lies the Silver Pagoda, which was first built in 1892, but then it was expensively rebuilt in 1962 with a significant amount of gold, silver, and diamonds. The floor was made with 5000 silver tiles and weighed over 5 tons. The next stop is the National Museum of Cambodia and Wat Phom Pagoda.
The National Museum of Cambodia is home to the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculptures. It was built in 1917 and completed in 1920 with beautiful design of a graceful terracotta structure and an inviting courtyard garden
Royal Palace Phnom Penh
Wat Phnom is one of the city's defining landmarks. Legend has it that sometime in the 14th century, a woman named Penh found sacred Buddhist objects in the nearby river and placed them here on the small hill that later became a temple. The rest is history. Phnom means, "hill," so the name of the city translates to "Penh's Hill.
Cambodia is the kingdom of temples and history-lovers will find countless enjoyment on a holiday in Siem Reap especially. Marvel at ancient Angkor Wat, a vast temple complex unmatched in size and splendor. The main activity here is fairly obvious, but fascinating. Have breakfast at the hotel and spend a full day exploring the wondrous ancient ruins. Visit Ta Prohm – the famous ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ used in the Angelia Jolie movie and there are enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers that embrace themselves in the stone foundations of the structure, giving the impression of the man’s creation being reclaimed by the powerful force of nature.
Then move to the South Gate of Angkor Thom, which is famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone, and Bayon Temple which is built from the 12th century to the early 13th century by King Jayavarman VII consists of 54 towers and famous smiling face of the Phimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King. The iconic photo to take here is ‘nose touching’ with one of the statues behind.
What a way to remember! Refill yourself with an authentic Cambodian lunch then continue exploring the largest and the most complete temple of Angkor Wat. This architectural masterpiece was constructed in the 12th century and covers an area of about 210 hectares. You will stroll around this massive edifice, seeing the many galleries with columns, libraries, pavilions, courtyards, and ponds full of water reflecting the towering temples.
Finally, it’s a blessing to watch the sunset go down on Angkor Wat from uphill. In the evening, enjoy a cultural show while having a buffet dinner, immerse yourself in the history and tradition of Cambodia as musical dance is an important part of the religious rituals in royal temples.
The next day, spend your time at leisure and explore the town on foot, you can either visit the National Angkor Museum, which houses the rich history of the Khmer Kingdom, or stroll around the local market. Immerse in the tranquillity and green nature of this town by renting an e-bike The complex of Angkor Wat is not only magnificent to see but also a wonderful place to chill.
Welcome to Thailand – the country of smiles. Starting your day in Chiang Mai, the largest and most important cultural center in northern Thailand, this place offers you a lot of unique things to do and see. On your first arrival to Chiang Mai, you will be transferred to the hotel and have the rest of the day on your own. Strolling around the old streets of ancient Lana Kingdom or finding yourself at pristine waterfalls and peaceful villages or elephant sanctuaries.
On the second day, follow your tour guide and visit hill tribe villages near Chiang Mai. Proceed along a rough dusty road to the village of Akha Huay Pong, Lisu Ban Don Loong, and Ban Pha Nok Kok where you can observe hill-tribe traditional activities and customs such as silverware, embroidering, and organic gardening still used in these mountainous villages.
Karen Hill Tribe Village in Chiang Mai
Taking a flight from Northern Thailand to the bustling capital – Bangkok, if you arrive early, this city offers a lot of things to do and see for everyone. Bangkok is a famous place for its tuk-tuk and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food. You can take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded street, wander down the tourist hub Khao San Road, or indulge in their mouth-watering cuisine.
Today you will visit the national landmark – Royal Grand Palace, a collection of spectacular buildings and sacred sites. There is a beautiful Reception Hall, the Temple of Emerald Buddha, known as “Wat Phra Kew”. You can easily visualize the splendor of the past. The place is one of the most beautiful examples of ancient Thai court and the former residence of Thai Kings.
Later, you will proceed to Wat Pho which is considered to be public education place and the first university in Thailand. Taking a break with a 30-minute Thai Massage before heading for the afternoon tour. In the afternoon, you will travel the charming Chao Phraya River, known as the “River of the Kings”, and through the klongs (canals) of Thonburi on the west side of the river from Bangkok.
There will be a chance for people-watching and photographing the serene temples along the riverside, which gave the city the nickname of “Venice of the East”. Then visit the Temple of Dawn, locally called “ Wat Arun”, which is a major iconic riverside landmark.
On the next day, escape the current capital and visit the ancient one: Ayutthaya. The historical city is about 70km from Bangkok, giving you a deep look into the history. This UNESCO Heritage site was once Asia’s finest city with towering palaces, protected by a 12 km–long and 6km-high wall.
The rows of the headless Buddhas at Wat Phra Maharthat, sacked by the Burmese in the 18th century are very atmospheric and a Buddha head surrounded by Banyan tree roots is perhaps one of the most photographed sites in all Ayutthaya. You will see the remains and the reminders of its golden it on this day’s guided tour.
Bangkok is the shopping center of South East Asia with everything from a night market to a glamorous shopping mall. After 2 days of exploring the history and culture, you can find yourself strolling around Siam Discovery Center or Central World. These are some of the biggest shopping malls in Bangkok and have an interesting combination of luxury goods or local handicraft products, so expect variety, both in prices and in-store experiences.
Spend a day enjoying the air conditioning and window shopping or practice bargaining skills and get fluent with calculator skills in some of the local markets to get the best shopping experiences you ever have. Fill up your bag with a local souvenir then get your footrest at the hotel.
Relish a healthy breakfast and you are free to depart your accommodation at any time as long as you comply with check-out time. The Thailand Vietnam Cambodia tour has finally come to an end, have a safe flight back home, and hope you had unforgettable memories in Asia.
Want to enjoy all the amazing and authentic experiences that Thailand-Vietnam-Cambodia has to offer in 3 weeks check out our itinerary. If you would like to spend more time in Southeast Asia, visit our Indochina Tours page on BestPrice Travel or contact our travel expert to customize as you preferred. And feel free to share in the comments your own experiences and vision of a perfect vacation in SEA.
(Image source: Internet)