Southeast Asia Travel Guide: 24 Best Indochina Destinations to Visit in the Region

Traveling to Indochina is an experience that should be on your bucket list. The term Indochina comes from the Indochinese Peninsula, which covers all the countries in mainland Southeast Asia. 

However, when people say Indochina destinations these days, they will most likely refer to the Indochina trail in the three French Indochina countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. 

In collaboration with some other travel bloggers who have traveled far and wide to explore some of the best Indochina destinations in Southeast Asia, I'm compiling the best places to visit in Indochina that you should visit when traveling around the region in this post. 

So, why should you add Indochina travel to your bucket list? Where are the most interesting places in Indochina? How do you travel around the region? Let's dive in! 

Running short on time? Find everything you need for your Indochina trip below!

  • You can find the best deals for flights in Indochina via platforms like Traveloka or Trip.com
  • 12Go is by far the most popular platform to book train or bus tickets online in Indochina. Alternatively, you can also book tickets online via Easybook
  • Agoda is more popular to use for booking accommodations in Indochina, although you can also book hotels or apartments via Booking.com too. 
  • While purchasing local SIM cards in each Indochina country is pretty affordable with some top-notch mobile internet, you can also purchase a regional e-sim via Airalo that covers most countries in the Indochina Peninsula: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. 
  • I got sick the last time I visited Laos, so I highly recommend getting travel insurance when planning a visit to Indochina. You can now get nomad insurance via SafetyWing, with some add-ons like extreme travel and electronic theft insurance.
  • You can book tours and excursions via online travel agencies like Viator or GetYourGuide. However, Klook almost always has the best deal for most tours in Southeast Asia. 
  • For private transport, you can use Grab app for both Vietnam and Cambodia. However, the app is not available in Laos. Instead, you can install Loca, the local ride-hailing app available in big cities like Vientiane or Luang Prabang. 

Why You Should Travel to Indochina

It's no surprise when it comes to vacation; Indochina travel is pretty popular among tourists, accredited TEFL teachers working abroad or even long-term travelers. The region is diverse and it offers various attractions, which makes it an ideal travel destination in Southeast Asia. 

Whether you're the type of traveler seeking adventure or interested in culture, there's something for everyone. Each place is interesting on its own. 

From the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, to the spiritual city like Luang Prabang, these charming places offer plenty to discover and learn about their history and cultural traditions. 

With the region's turbulent history of the past, various destinations in Indochina allow you to learn more about it to understand more about their perspectives when it comes to the Vietnam War or Khmer Rouge

If these still don't convince you to travel to Indochina, you'll be glad to know that compared to other countries in the Indochina Peninsula like Malaysia, Singapore, or Thailand, traveling to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos destinations is much more affordable. 

How to Travel Around Indochina

Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos are pretty well-connected in terms of public transportation, making it easier for tourists to explore the Indochina region. 

The most convenient way to secure your booking for public transport tickets in Indochina is through 12Go website, as the platform enables you to book all types of public transport online. Whether you plan to cross the border overland, by boat, or even by flight, you can book all the tickets there! 

So, here's everything you need to know about crossing the border by public transport in Indochina! 

By Flight

Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam.

It is the fastest and the most convenient way to travel around Indochina, but you'll miss out on the opportunity to see the beautiful scenery across the border in the region. 

If you plan to cross the border by flight in Indochina, the easiest way to do it is to pick the biggest city for your departure and arrival in each Indochina country. 

You can see the following table to find the airports in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia that have international flight routes in Indochina. 

VietnamCambodiaLaos
Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) in HanoiPhnom Penh International Airport (PHN) in Phnom PenhWattay International Airport (VTE) in Vientiane
Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) in Ho Chi Minh CitySiem Reap International Airport (REP) in Siem ReapLuang Prabang International Airport (LPQ) in Luang Prabang
Da Nang International Airport (DAD) in Da NangSihanoukville International Airport (KOS) in SihanoukvillePakse International Airport (PKZ) in Pakse
Attapeu International Airport (AOU) in Attapeu

The respective national carriers in Indochina; Vietnam Airlines, Cambodia Angkor Airlines, and Lao Airlines, cater to several international flight routes in the region. 

Alternatively, budget airlines like AirAsia and VietJet Air also have several routes for popular destinations like Hanoi, Siem Reap, or Luang Prabang. 

By Bus

Traveling in Indochina overland by bus is pretty convenient and it's much more affordable than flying. On top of that, on your way between Indochina destinations, you'll be spoiled by the beautiful scenery too. 

Depending on the distance, you may need to transfer and change vehicles, like when I crossed the border between Vietnam and Cambodia via Ha Tien

Although a lot of inter-city buses in Indochina are sleeper buses, most bus companies that offer border service typically use semi-sleeper or couch buses for their international routes in the region. Nonetheless, it's still pretty comfortable, especially if budget is your concern. 

While the border service isn't as seamless as other destinations in the Indochina Peninsula (e.g. crossing border from Thailand to Malaysia or Malaysia to Singapore), traveling overland by bus in Indochina is quite reliable since at least the bus company will ensure that they will wait for all the passengers to finish their immigration service at the border. So, in the event you have some issues with immigration, they will wait for you. 

Some of the most popular bus services in Indochina that offer border services include: 

By Boat

As the intersection of the Mekong River, one of the most popular (but the longest) way to explore Indochina is by boat.

If you plan to cross the border by boat in Indochina, be very well prepared since it's not the most straightforward way to explore the region. The journey could take up to 2-4 days, and along the way you may need to do some transfer for vehicles in between. 

The fastest boat that provides border service in Indochina is the ferry service from Chau Doc in An Giang Province, Vietnam, which goes directly to Phnom Penh in Cambodia

By Train

Up until now, there is no train line available that offers border services between Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos. 

However, both Vietnam and Laos have international train lines that connect both countries with China, which will make it pretty convenient if you plan to continue your journey up north after your Indochina tour.

From Vientiane in Laos, you can also easily go to the Thai border, where you can take the direct train from Nong Khai to Bangkok. 

24 Best Indochina Destinations You Should Visit in Southeast Asia

Now that you know how to travel around Indochina, it's time to dig deeper into some of the must-visit places in each Indochina country: Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. 

Vietnam

Vietnam is probably the most popular destination in Indochina. On top of that, Vietnam is also the most affordable destination to travel in this region!

Compared to other Indochina countries, Vietnam probably has the best tourism infrastructure with so many destinations worth visiting in the country, whether you're into nature or history. 

From cruising through Ha Long Bay, exploring the former Vietnamese Demilitarization Zone from Hue to enjoy the city view from above at Bitexco Saigon Skydeck, you won't run out of ideas on what to do in Vietnam! 

So, looking for the best Vietnam destinations in Indochina? Here we go!

1. Hanoi

Street food in Hanoi | Recommended by Madison of Madison's Footsteps

Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, is undeniably one of the best destinations to explore in Indochina. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and mouthwatering street food scene, Hanoi offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers.

One of the highlights of visiting Hanoi is its bustling street food scene. From steaming bowls of Anthony Bourdain's favorite pho, to delectable banh mis, and flavorful bun cha, Hanoi's street food is among the best in Indochina (and the world). Don't miss out on trying Hanoi's famous egg coffee! 

However, Hanoi has more to offer than just food. This city offers plenty of cultural and historical attractions like the Temple of Literature, the charms of the Old Quarter, and the serenity of Hoan Kiem Lake with its famous red bridge. History buffs might enjoy a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum or the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. 

Hanoi also happens to be the perfect hub for adventurers looking to tackle the picturesque (but often perilous) Hà Giang Loop or tourists looking to spend a night or two in Vietnam's iconic Ha Long Bay

Check the price for Old Quarter Food Tour in Hanoi here!

2. Ha Giang Loop

Ha Giang Loop
Ha Giang Loop | Recommended by Sean of Extended Getaway

The Ha Giang Loop is a four-day motorbike journey in Northern Vietnam through some of the most staggering landscapes you'll ever see. 

From mind-blowing canyons to some seriously impressive mountain passes, you'll find it impossible not to be amazed every step of the way. It's arguably the most scenic place in all of Vietnam, and perhaps all of Indochina!

Most people complete the loop with a tour company – Jasmine Hostel and Mama's Hostel being the two most popular places people go with. 

Whether you've got motorbike experience or not, worry not – anyone has the chance to do this. You can choose to ride yourself or get an ‘EasyRider; a local who drives you around for the entire trip. 

While the stops along the way vary between tours, generally they stop in the same places. You get to see all of the best landscapes on the loop and in between, you get to see traditional villages and connect with the friendliest locals in the country. 

A lot of people say it's the best thing they've done traveling, which makes it one of the best Indochina destinations to visit on your next trip!

Book a motorbike rental for Ha Giang Loop here!

3. Sa Pa

Ta Van Village in Sa Pa, Vietnam
Ta Van Village in Sa Pa, Vietnam | Recommended by Emily of Wander-Lush

Located 300 kilometers northwest of Vietnam's capital city, the former French colonial hill station of Sapa (Sa Pa) is a highlight of Vietnam and a must-see when touring the Indochina region.

Sapa is nestled in the Hoàng Liên Son Mountains, which makes the town a popular base for trekking. 

Routes range from easy treks through the Muong Hoa Valley – famed for its picturesque terraced rice fields – to the more challenging Phan Xi Pang peak summit.

As well as unreal natural beauty, Sapa offers many opportunities for cultural immersion. There are family guesthouses run by families from the Hmong, Tay, and Dao ethnic groups, and lively bazaars such as the Bac Ha Market where different hilltribes converge to trade and socialize.

There are several options for traveling to Sapa from Hanoi, ranging from VIP minivan to a budget-friendly overnight train. For a more off-the-beaten-path experience in this popular destination, stay in the lush Ta Van Village outside the town.

Book a 3D2N Sa Pa tour from Hanoi here!

4. Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam
Ha Long Bay in Vietnam | Recommended by Guillem of Feast of Travel

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam has long been leading many travel bucket lists, and it is easy to see why. 

This beautiful bay consists of almost 2000 limestone islands and islets that, with the sea and the sky, make one of the most dramatically beautiful landscapes on Earth. In fact, it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and named one of the seven natural wonders of the world! 

There is no better way to visit Halong Bay than taking a cruise through its beautiful islands. There are boats for all budgets and routes for all kinds of travelers. 

From luxury boutique cruises to party cruises as well as boats with activities for the most adventurous, so it is important to choose the best Halong Bay cruise for you

In fact, Halong Bay is part of a larger area that includes Bai Tu Long Bay and Cat Ba island. If you want a postcard picture or have little time, then Halong Bay is the best for you. 

If you prefer a more secluded and less crowded experience, Bai Tu Long Bay will be your choice. However, I suggest you choose Cat Ba island instead if you're on a budget or would prefer to enjoy some beach time. 

Join the 3D2N Halong Bay Cruise and Cat Ba Island from Hanoi here!

5. Lan Ha Bay

Lan Ha Bay in Vietnam
Lan Ha Bay in Vietnam | Recommended by Sophie of Delightful Travel Notes

Lan Ha Bay in Vietnam is an exceptional destination in Indochina for its blend of natural beauty and diverse outdoor experiences. This picturesque bay features over 400 limestone karst islands covered in lush greenery and surrounded by emerald waters.

Compared to its more famous neighbor, Ha Long Bay, Lan Ha Bay is less crowded. As a result, visitors may have a more serene experience when touring the bay. 

The bay's calm waters are perfect for kayaking, boat tours, and overnight cruises. Depending on the itinerary of each tour or cruise, you can explore its lagoons and secluded beaches or visit local villages on Cat Ba Island for a glimpse into the traditional way of life in the region.

With its beautiful landscape and diverse activities, Lan Ha Bay is an attractive destination for many travelers, from nature lovers and adventure seekers to families. 

There are tours and cruises departing for the bay from Tuan Chau Port in Quang Ninh or Cat Ba Island in Hai Phong. Both places are quite easily accessible from Hanoi.

Secure a booking for a bundle of Halong Bay and Lan Ha Bay tours from Hanoi here!

6. Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh in Vietnam
Ninh Binh in Vietnam | Recommended by Karla and Simon of Colorful Journeys

Ninh Binh is known as one of Vietnam's most beautiful places to visit, and is often hailed as the “Halong Bay on Land.” 

The region boasts a breathtaking landscape of karst mountains, vast rice fields, and intricate pagodas.

One of the best things to do is to take the Tam Coc boat tour, which will take you through the winding waterways surrounded by limestone karsts and rice paddies. Additionally, you can hop on a small wooden boat through limestone caves, temples, and towering cliffs at the UNESCO-listed Trang An landscape complex.

For the best panoramic views of Ninh Binh's landscape, tackle the rewarding climb to Hang Mua Viewpoint. 

Ninh Binh is also dotted with ancient pagodas throughout the countryside, each with its own unique charm. Among them, the Bai Dinh Pagoda stands out as the largest Buddhist complex in Southeast Asia, showcasing impressive statues and intricate architecture.

With its rich array of experiences and spectacular scenery, Ninh Binh stands out as a must-see destination for anyone visiting Vietnam.

Join the Ninh Binh day tour from Hanoi here!

7. Van Long Nature Reserve

Van Long Nature Reserve in Vietnam
Van Long Nature Reserve in Vietnam | Recommended by Simon of Backpack Moments

Van Long Nature Reserve in North Vietnam is easily the place of your dreams!

Situated near Ninh Binh, this is the largest wetland reserve in the Red River Delta! What makes it unique is how it's surrounded by high cliffs creating a dramatic scenery.

The lowland marshes are also very biodiverse, and you'll be delighted if you like nature. Tens of endangered birds, plants, fishes, and even a monkey species – the critically endangered Delacour's Langur – call the reserve home. You just need a little luck to see them.

You can easily reach Van Long Nature Reserve from Ninh Binh or Tam Coc. The latter is a popular tourist hotspot with its own boat ride, but I'd argue the one at Van Long is better. If you have time, you can comfortably do both of them in a day and decide for yourself.

Once you reach the banks of Van Long (around 20 km northwest of Ninh Binh), you will see the local rowers waiting for customers. Buy a ticket, get one of those Vietnamese hats to protect from the sun, sit back and enjoy the views! 

Look out for the monkeys on the rocks. They are shy and far, but the rowers spot them and will make sure to share with you. And if you visit just before sunset, the colors are spectacular!

Book your transport from Hanoi to Van Long Nature Reserve here!

8. Da Nang

Da Nang in Vietnam
Da Nang in Vietnam | Recommended by Toti and Ale of Passport and Stamps

Definitely, Da Nang, Vietnam, isn't on every traveler's bucket list while exploring Southeast Asia. That's a mistake. 

Exploring the seaside city of Da Nang you will soon understand why it is the perfect destination to spend a few days relaxing on the beach (My An beach is perfect!), unwinding, or getting on exciting activities.

One of the most popular landmarks of Da Nang is the Chùa Linh Ung Buddhist Temple. Located on the Mui Da Nang Peninsula, it's the best viewpoint of Da Nang, perfect for day exploration but also for viewing the city at night.

Away from the main sights, Da Nang is at the center of fantastic day trips. South of the city, driving for about 45 minutes there is Hoi An, one of the most picturesque villages in Vietnam. Driving north instead, there is Hue where you can easily join the DMZ tour to see the border between South and North Vietnam during the war.

9. Ba Na Hills

Golden Bridge at Ba Na Hills in Vietnam
Golden Bridge at Ba Na Hills in Vietnam | Recommended by Hanit of Gotta Love New York

Sun World Ba Na Hills is a mountain resort located less than an hour's drive away from the coastal city of Da Nang. 

Located at the top of a mountain, it is accessible by the longest non-stop single-track cable car in the world, which starts and ends any visit to Ba Na Hills off with breathtaking views.

Once at the top, there are many activities for visitors of all ages set among European-inspired architecture, including a large French Village that includes a church, square, and village.

Ba Na Hills resort is home to the spectacular pedestrian Golden Bridge, which appears to be held up by a pair of hands. 

The Fantasy Park, which is a games arcade is great for children, with theaters that have 4D and 5D experiences. The resort offers multiple options for food.

A visit to Ba Na Hills resort involves a lot of walking, and possibly standing in line for various attractions and cable cars. It is recommended to buy tickets before you visit, start early to avoid the crowds, and check the weather to ensure it is not raining before visiting.

Join the day trip from Da Nang to Ba Na Hills here!

10. Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc in Vietnam
Phu Quoc in Vietnam | Robyn of Two Empty Passports

Phu Quoc is a beautiful tropical island in southwest Vietnam with a laid-back vibe. 

Known for its pristine white sand beaches and crystal waters, this island paradise is home to delicious seafood, beautiful landscapes, friendly locals, and picture-perfect sunsets over the Gulf of Thailand.

Surprisingly, Phu Quoc is home to the longest sea-crossing cable car in the world. So hop in and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the island from above! 

Then, rent a motorbike to tour the island, or join a Kayaking Tour of Starfish Beach. If you're interested in swimming among the colorful coral reefs and diverse marine life, consider joining a Snorkeling and Island Hopping Tour

Phu Quoc serves as a base for exploring the nearby island in the An Thoi Archipelago.

For Vietnamese culture, start your day at the beautiful Dinh Cau Temple. Then, visit a pepper farm to learn about the cultivation process before joining a local cooking class. Or head to one of the night markets to experience traditional Vietnamese dishes.

You will want to visit Phu Quoc between October and November to save money on your trip as accommodation prices are lower and there are fewer crowds.

Book a 4-Island Hopping Day Tour with Aquatopia Water Park Experience in Phu Quoc here!

Cambodia

Shaped by its turbulent history and the people's spirit, Cambodia has a vibrant and resilient modern culture combined with its natural beauty and diversity. 

Home to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, the temple is named the largest religious structure in the world according to the Guinness World Records. 

With the country's dark history, you can also learn more about the Cambodian genocide in some historic sites like Tuol Sleng Museum and the Killing Field in Phnom Penh

You can also find some of the best Cambodia destinations to discover the country's natural beauty, whether you're into beaches or mountains.

Are you planning to include Cambodia as a part of your Indochina tour? Check out some of the best destinations in Cambodia below! 

11. Phnom Penh

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh, Cambodia | Recommended by me

The capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, offers a unique blend of its tragic past and vibrant present. 

You can explore the glorious past of the Khmer Empire and visit some of the most iconic temples in the country, such as the Royal Palace or the Silver Pagoda. You can also visit Oudong, the former capital of the post-Angkorian period, as a day trip from Phnom Penh. 

Phnom Penh is also one of the best destinations in Indochina, especially if you want to learn more about the dark history of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. 

The infamous Killing Fields of Choeung Ek is only around an hour from Phnom Penh city center, where you can learn about the city's history while paying respect to the lives that have been lost under the dictatorship of the Khmer Rouge. 

Visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former school building that served as a prison during the oppression. 

Apart from the morbid building with some documentation of the victims, you can also get a chance to meet the survivors to understand more about the impact and challenges of the Cambodian genocide on the country's modern society. 

Sign up for the Historical Tour in Phnom Penh here!

12. Siem Reap

Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap.
Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia | Recommended by me

It's hard not to include Siem Reap on the list of the best Indochina destinations. 

The city was the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire, and it serves as the gateway to the wonders of Angkor so that you can explore the magnificent temples of Angkor Wat and its surroundings. 

You can opt for a 1 or 3-day pass to the Angkor Archaeological Park, as the UNESCO World Heritage Site covers over 400 square kilometers of area that you can plan to explore for a few days if you have time. 

If you have a short time to explore Siem Reap, I would recommend getting a one-day pass to Angkor Archaeological Park like I did so you can visit some of the most notable temples around the complex. 

Siem Reap also offers a vibrant nightlife, with Pub Street being the best place for an entertainment center in the city. You can find hundreds of shops to buy souvenirs or even pamper yourself with some affordable Khmer massage around the street. 

Situated in the heart of Siem Reap, as the name suggests, Pub Street is also the best area to go if you want to indulge in the delicious Cambodian cuisine or just have a drink or two to enjoy the city's nightlife. 

Book a private tuk-tuk to explore Angkor Archaeological Park for 3 days here!

13. Tonle Sap Lake

Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia

Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia | Recommended by Victoria of Guide Your Travel

Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia is one of Southeast Asia's most mesmerizing natural wonders, captivating travelers with its unique ecosystem and vibrant local life. 

This expansive freshwater lake serves as the beating heart of Cambodia, supporting a diverse array of flora and fauna while offering visitors an immersive cultural experience.

What sets Tonle Sap apart is its ever-changing landscape. During the dry season, the lake's water levels recede, revealing vast expanses of fertile land where floating villages emerge. 

These stilted communities, home to thousands of families, provide an insight into the daily lives of locals, showcasing their resilience and resourcefulness.

A visit to Tonle Sap promises an enriching adventure. Travelers can take boat tours to witness the lake's distinct biodiversity, spot rare bird species, and see traditional fishing techniques. 

Exploring the floating villages unveils a vibrant tapestry of local markets, schools, and temples, fostering a deeper understanding of Cambodian culture.

For those seeking day trips from Tonle Sap, nearby Siem Reap offers a gateway to the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Additionally, excursions to nearby archaeological sites like the Preah Khan Kompong Svay temple or venturing into the bustling city of Phnom Penh provide further insight into Cambodia's rich history and heritage.

Tonle Sap Lake stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of nature and culture, beckoning travelers with its picturesque landscapes and immersive experiences, making it an essential stop for anyone exploring the wonders of Cambodia.

Join the Tonle Sap Lake Floating Village Sunset Boat Tour here!

14. Battambang

Battambang old bamboo train in Cambodia
Battambang old bamboo train in Cambodia | Recommended by Tanya of Can Travel Will Travel

Battambang in the west of Cambodia is a more off-the-beaten-track city and is a highly recommended visit after exploring the temples of Angkor Wat.

It's the second biggest city in Cambodia, but despite its size, it has a sort of small-town charm that offers a welcome contrast with the bustle of touristy Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. 

It has some of the best-preserved French colonial architecture in Cambodia and despite its size, Battambang has plenty of things to do both in the city and the surrounding region.

Battambang city is split in two by the Sanker River and exploring by foot, especially late afternoon into early evening when it's cooler is a nice way to spend a few hours.

Once you've explored the city, hands-down the best thing to do in Battambang is to hire a driver and tuk-tuk for the day and explore the lush, green countryside.

The highlights of a countryside tour should include a ride on the ‘Old' Bamboo Train (not the modern one), learning about the cottage industries of the villages, and watching the natural phenomenon at dusk of bats flying out of the bat cave in Phnom Sampeau. 

Book a half-day biking tour to explore the local livelihood in Battambang now!

15. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem

Saracen Bay in Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia
Saracen Bay in Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia | Recommended by Tasha of Backpackers Wanderlust

A short journey from mainland Cambodia, you will find yourself on the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem.

There are plenty of ferry companies that offer transfers to and from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, from as little as $20 USD. It may seem like a lot if you are backpacking on a budget, however it's worth it to experience this paradise!

Both islands offer incredible beaches with soft sand and clear blue waters, making the ultimate activity to do here is simply to relax. 

There nothing better than spending your days chilling in the sun on some of the most beautiful beaches you will ever experience.

Some of my favorite beaches include Long Set Beach on Koh Rong, and Saracen Beach on Kong Rong Samloem. 

For epic snorkeling, I highly recommend the cross-island trek on Koh Rong Samloem to Sunset Beach.

No matter which island you choose to visit, or even if you have the opportunity to explore both, you will no doubt have an epic time in this Cambodian paradise!

Join the private snorkeling tour in Koh Rong to witness the amazing marine life on the island here!

16. Koh Ta Kiev

Koh Ta Kiev in Cambodia
Koh Ta Kiev in Cambodia | Recommended by Carina of Bucket List 2 Life

Koh Ta Kiev in Cambodia is still a true hidden gem in Indochina. It's a small island off the coast of Cambodia. While it's close to the famous Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloen, it's significantly less busy.

You can have a real Robinson Crusoe feeling here. There are not many too many accommodations and there are also not a ton of things to do. 

The main thing to do on this paradise island is relaxing on an empty beach. 

If you're feeling more active, you can also go on jungle hikes, boat tours, snorkelling or cliff jumping. 

Bonus point if you visit around the time of the new moon, as you can even observe bioluminescent plankton! 

17. Kampot

Salt fields in Kampot, Cambodia.
Salt fields in Kampot, Cambodia | Recommended by me

A charming and laidback city on the banks of the Praek Tuek Chhu River, Kampot is one of the best places to visit in Indochina if you're looking for a place to unwind away from the hustling and bustling of the big cities. 

Kampot is best known for its pepper, salt, and seafood, which you can enjoy while traveling to the city. 

One of the best Kampot tours you can book is the trip to the salt field and pepper plantation at La Plantation. As a part of the tour, you can see how salt is being processed when extracted from the seawater and dried under the sun. 

It's also home to Bokor National Park, where you can explore the former King Sihanouk's favorite vacation house, as well as the infamous Le Bokor Palace. 

If joining the tour isn't your cup of tea, you can also explore the city center on your own. While you can do a DIY walking tour around the city, I highly recommend renting a bicycle to admire the colorful and quaint facades with the riverside views in Kampot. 

Rent a bike and explore the backroads of Kampot here!

Laos

Compared to its neighboring countries in Indochina, Laos is probably the most off-the-beaten-path destination in the region. 

Known for its laidback lifestyle and responsible tourism, Laos is the only landlocked country in Indochina so you can't expect beach destinations in Laos. 

However, the country is committed to developing its tourism industry sustainably and ethically. Not only can you expect stunning natural scenery from waterfalls, mountains, and forests, but you can also easily find eco-lodges like Dream Resort Farm Pakse to support the country's effort in sustainable tourism. 

Compared to the neighboring country Thailand, Lao food is often overlooked. But trust me when I say that Lao food is delicious. Try some local specialties, like laap (minced meat salad) and khao jee (something similar to banh mi in Vietnam or num pang pate in Cambodia). 

The only downside is that Laos heavily relies on imports for general trading in the country, so you can expect slightly higher costs when traveling in Laos compared to Cambodia and Vietnam. 

18. Don Det

Don Det in Champasak Province, Laos
Don Det in Champasak Province, Laos | Recommended by me, photo by Linda of Insieme Piemonte

As a part of the Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands) archipelago in South Laos, Don Det is a river island that you should visit when traveling to Indochina. 

Situated in the southern part of Laos in Champasak province, you can find some border services pretty easily from big cities in Cambodia like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. There are also some border services from Vietnam that include big cities like Da Nang.

It was the home to the first and only railway in Laos that connects Don Det to Don Khon. Built in the late 19th century by the French colonialists at the time, you can still see the remnants of the railway bridge and the old station on the island. 

Don Det is also one of the most diverse and vibrant places to visit in Laos, as you can find various ethnic groups as the residents of the island. From Lao, Khmer, and Vietnamese, it's a great place to explore Laos and celebrate the diversity of its people! 

On top of that, Don Det is also blessed with a stunning natural landscape with the mighty Mekong River in its surroundings combined with the lush tropical forests and the greenery through the rice fields; it's an awesome place if you're into nature and outdoor activities!

19. Pakse

Wat Luang and Sacred Heart Cathedral in Pakse, Laos | Recommended by me

The capital city of Champasak Province, Pakse is known as the gateway to many attractions and activities in Southern Laos. I took the bus from Siem Reap to Pakse, but you can also find some international flights that fly directly to Pakse from other cities in Indochina. 

Compared to other popular destinations in Laos like Vientiane or Luang Prabang, Pakse stands out for its unspoiled natural attractions that provide a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. 

It's also one of the best Indochina adventure travel destinations, as it's a perfect gateway to the Bolaven Plateau, where you can visit the waterfall and spend the day doing some outdoor activities. From trekking to swimming, you can also enjoy the natural landscape in its surroundings. 

The region is also known for its coffee plantation, so don't miss out the opportunity to taste the authentic Pakse coffee when traveling to the city!

Join a 2D1N Pakse Adventure Trail and explore the Bolaven Plateau here!

20. Vientiane

Wat Xieng Khouane Luang in Vientiane, Laos

Wat Xieng Khouane Luang in Vientiane, Laos | Recommended by Kevin and Kate of Happy Irish Wanderers

Many people don't spend much time in the capital of Laos, which is a shame as one of the best yet unknown attractions in Indochina is here.

Buddha Park (Wat Xieng Khouane Luang) is one of the largest and best collections of all sorts of Buddha statues in the world.

There are over 200 large statues to discover, such as the nearly 400-foot-long reclining Buddha. 

However, our favorite is the large afterlife statue where you can climb inside and witness the different levels of the afterlife: hell, heaven, and purgatory. 

Located 45 minutes from the city center, it is easily reached by bus 14 at a cost of less around 0.50 cent. Entrancee fee is 40.000 Laos kip, which is less than $2 USD.

Book a Vientiane City Tour here!

21. Vang Vieng

Vang Vieng in Laos
Nam Xay Viewpoint in Vang Vieng, Laos | Recommended by Kevin and Kate of Happy Irish Wanderers

Nam Xay Viewpoint is one of the best scenery in Southeast Asia, and for good reasons. 

Located 10 kilometers from Vang Vieng, it is easily reached by hiring a motorbike or by using a taxi driver.

Entry is 20,000 Laos kip, which is less than 2 USD.

Make sure to bring at least 1 liter of water per person. The climb up is quite hard, even for the fittest of people.

Once you reach the top though, you will be rewarded with 360-degree views of unspoiled classic Indochina landscape.

Of course, make sure to get a photo of the 2 motorcycles that some tough people dragged to the top!

Join the Vang Vieng Tour to Nam Xay Viewpoint and Blue Lagoon here!

22. Plain of Jars

Plain of Jars
Plain of Jars | Recommended by me, photo by Sharon of I Travel Peru

It's one of the off-the-trail destinations in Laos, and definitely one of the best Indochina places to visit if you're into archaeology. 

Just like Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, Plain of Jars is also listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Indochina. 

Situated not too far from the Phonsavan, the capital city of Xiangkhouang Province in the northeastern part of Laos, you can see some of the most pre-historic sites in the region. 

It is unclear who made the jars or what they were for, but apart from visiting the ruins of jars you can also see the beautiful views of the rolling hills and the green valleys around the Xiangkhouang plateau. 

While the easiest to go to the Plain of Jars sites is by booking a tour from Phonsavan in advance, you can also rent a car or hire a taxi driver for a full-day adventure to wander around the historical sites. 

Book a tour to Plain of Jars with a local English-speaking tour guide here!

23. Luang Prabang

The bamboo bridge in Luang Prabang, Laos.
The bamboo bridge in Luang Prabang, Laos | Recommended by me, photo by Flo of Yoga, Wine & Travel

Compared to other Laos destinations in Indochina, Luang Prabang is probably the most popular one among international tourists. 

This charming small town was once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lane Xang up until the 16th century. 

Luang Prabang also served as the royal and religious capital of Laos until 1975. It offers a unique experience that combines colonial heritage sites, along with endless cultural attractions that make it worth visiting when traveling to Indochina. 

If you plan to travel from Thailand to Laos or the other way around, the most popular way to travel is by a slow boat that connects Luang Prabang to Chiang Khong in North Thailand. The journey takes around 2 days in total, but it's highly recommended if you have enough time to absorb the experience! 

Luang Prabang has so much more to offer. Whether you want to visit the ethical elephant sanctuary or just visit the night market to buy some of the best souvenirs from Laos, there are so many things to do in Luang Prabang!

If you happen to visit Luang Prabang during the dry season, make your way to visit the bamboo bridge that's only there during this time of the year. 

Get a glimpse of the local lives in Luang Prabang while enjoying the scenic trek in the North Laos mountains here!

24. Kuang Si Waterfall

Kuang Si Waterfalls in Laos

Kuang Si Waterfalls in Laos | Recommended by me, photo by Flo of Yoga, Wine, & Travel

One of the most popular waterfalls in Laos, Kuang Si is a must-visit when traveling to the northern part of the country. Located an hour drive from Luang Prabang, you can arrange a day trip to Kuang Si Waterfall to make the best of your time there. 

Kuang Si Waterfalls is heaven for adventure seekers. Apart from swimming in the pool, you can also go hiking through the wooden bridge to see the fantastic views over Laos countryside. 

To make the best of your visit, you can also pack a picnic and enjoy it while admiring this beautiful landscape! 

The area is where the Tat Kuang Si Bear Rescue Center is located. 

Home to around 20 Asian black bears, you can see them play around hammocks from afar. To support the foundation, you can also donate by purchasing merchandise at this rescue center. 

Join the day tour to Kuang Si Waterfalls and the surroundings from Luang Prabang here!

FAQ

As always, I'm going to list some of the most frequently asked questions about Indochina travel in this section. So, here we go!

1. What are Indochina countries?

The answer to this question may differ depending on the context. The term Indochina itself refers to the region in Southeast Asia that's located between India and China. 

Some people consider all the countries in the mainland Indochina Peninsula to be Indochina countries. In which case, these include countries like Myanmar, Thailand, and Malaysia, all the way to Singapore in the northwest of the peninsula. 

However, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia are more popular as Indochina destinations due to their similarity in terms of history, culture, and geographical features. 

These countries were part of the former French Indochina colonies, and the presence of the Mekong River makes them a popular region to explore with what's known as the Banana Pancake Trail in Southeast Asia. 

2. When is the best time to travel to Indochina?

The majority of the places in Indochina generally have two main seasons: the wet season from May to October, and the dry season from December to April. 

Some places in the northern part of Indochina, such as Sa Pa and Luang Prabang, can be super cold and even get snow during the northern hemisphere winter season from December to February. 

Visiting Indochina during the shoulder season from November to January is probably the best time to travel to the region, since the region is relatively less crowded. 

If you're lucky, you can even experience some festivals and celebrations like Lunar New Year, which is one of the biggest public holidays in this part of the world. 

Guan Yu Temple in Chau Doc, Vietnam.
Guan Yu Temple in Chau Doc, Vietnam.

3. What is the best route for Indochina travel? 

The answer may vary depending on your preference, but I did my Indochina starting from Vietnam before Cambodia and Laos. 

You can start in North Vietnam via Hanoi and go all the way down to Ho Chi Minh City. From Ho Chi Minh City, you can either take a direct bus to Phnom Penh using Giant Ibis, one of the best Cambodian bus companies. 

Alternatively, you can also visit An Giang Province, where you can take a ferry boat to Phnom Penh from Chau Doc. If you want to go to Kampot in Cambodia, you can also take a bus to Ha Tien before booking a bus from Ha Tien to Kampot

You can go to Laos from Cambodia by bus, whether you depart from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Some travel companies like Asia Van Transfer offer border services from Cambodia to Laos, with destinations in South Laos like Don Det or Pakse. 

From there, you can go all the way to the northern part of the country. Whether you choose to travel by sleeper bus in Laos or fly between destinations, traveling inter-city in Laos shouldn't be too difficult! 

Conclusion

There are so many great destinations you can visit in Indochina, as the region has something for everyone. 

If you prefer cultural travel, you can visit places like Luang Prabang in Laos or Sa Pa in Vietnam. Angkor Wat is also something you should add to your itinerary, especially if you enjoy history while traveling in Southeast Asia. 

For those who prefer the modern way to travel, places like Phu Quoc or Da Nang in Vietnam can be a great choice as well. Siem Reap also offers so much more than just Angkor Archaeological Park. 

However, if you prefer an off-the-beaten-path destination, Plain of Jars or visiting Bokor National Park in Kampot can be great experiences when traveling around Indochina. 

So, do you have your personal favorite destination in Southeast Asia? Share in the comment below, and cheerio!

marya the beautraveler author profile
Marya The BeauTraveler

I am the founder and main editor at The BeauTraveler. I spent 4 years working in the aviation industry but ironically got to travel more right after quitting the industry in 2015. Born and raised in Indonesia, I started working remotely in 2017, and while I stay at home most of the time, I also regularly spend 2-3 months living a semi-digital nomad life elsewhere every year.


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