Adventures in Indochina
By Kathryn Liston – October 2019 – 2 minute read
Beyond the ancient temples, Indochina offers adventurous pursuits ranging from cycling to rock climbing. Kathryn Liston rounds up the action
Sea & river fun
Who says beach holidays are boring? Vietnam offers everything from kite-surfing in Mui Ne in the south-east to kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding around Lan Ha Bay’s jungled karsts in the north and snorkelling among Phu Quoc island's vibrant corals.
Kayaking at Ba Trai Dao beach and exploring the Van Long Nature Reserve close to Hanoi by bamboo rowboat are included in National Geographic Expeditions’ Treasures of Indochina tour.
Bioluminescent snorkelling tours to see the plankton glow at night are popular on the Cambodian islands of Koh Rong and Samloem, off the coast of Sihanoukville.
There’s also fishing, kayaking and swimming in the archipelago's turquoise waters and, as well as arriving by speedboat, Exsus guests staying at Song Saa private island resort can enjoy diving, paddle-boarding, kayaking and snorkelling excursions.
In landlocked Laos, kayaking tours and tubing (floating down the river in a rubber ring) are popular on the Nam Song River from Vang Vieng. Bamboo Travel offers kayaking tours on the Hin Boun river.
Adrenaline & thrills
In Vietnam, visitors will find steep rock climbs in Da Nang’s Marble Mountains, 300 challenging caves in Phong Nha, off-road biking in Sapa’s mountains, motorbiking over the Hai Van Pass, nocturnal climbing at Tiger Caves and canyoning at Dalat.
Climbing is relatively new to Laos, considering its choice of limestone karsts, but is available in Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang.
Nong Khiaw in Laos is a jumping-off point for mountain treks and biking as well as zip-lining and bamboo rafting on the Nam Ou River.
A zip-line arrival over racing rapids is offered at Shinta Mani Wild luxury camp in Cambodia’s South Cardamom National Park. Bungee jumping, skydiving, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, anti-poaching patrols and wild swimming also ramp up the action.
Pettitts Travel recommends jungle trekking in Tatai and remote Ban Lung, Cambodia.
Cycling is a popular way to explore Indochina. Trailfinders’ 10-day hike, bike and paddle holiday in Vietnam visits Halong Bay and the Mai Chau valley.
Exodus’ two-week Vietnam cycling tour from Saigon to Hanoi takes riders through colourful fishing villages, rolling rice terraces and mountains.
In Cambodia, cycle and electric bikes are popular ways to explore Angkor Wat’s complex of temples. Guests staying at Anantara Angkor Resort, Siem Reap, can run around the temples pre-dawn (followed by a water-carrying tuk-tuk), or hike to sacred Mount Kulen.
Laos' quiet rural roads are perfect for cycling. Guided tours - and bike hire - are available in Luang Namtha, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang.
InsideAsia Tours is seeing demand for off-the-beaten-track trekking in north Vietnam and Laos, where Nam Et-Phou Louey presents challenging terrain.
HF Holidays’ 17-night Laos and Cambodia trip includes daily walks of up to eight miles while a 15-night Vietnam package offers gentler walks with an optional, more challenging trek in the Sapa valley.