Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong River was named “Best Cruise Itinerary for Off-the-Path Explorers” by Yahoo Travel.
Step back in history as you explore Vietnam and Cambodia on this amazing cruise vacation. Enjoy a 7-night cruise along the Mekong River, discover the ancient ruins of Angkor, visit some of Vietnam’s and Cambodia’s historical treasures, behold spectacular scenery, and learn about different cultures. This is a journey like no other!
Cambodia and Vietnam have a long history and on this tour, you’ll see some of the historical sites, including the Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam—a network of tunnels used by the Viet Cong—and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia—a former high school that housed over 17,000 prisoners. Learn about the culture with a hands-on Vietnamese cooking class in Ho Chi Minh City, a lecture on Buddhism in Udong, an opportunity to partake in a traditional water blessing given by local monks in Kampong Cham, a private Apsara dance performance in Siem Reap, and a visit to traditional Khmer houses, a local school, and a Buddhist monastery in Angkor Ban.
A highlight of this tour is a visit to the temples at Angkor in Cambodia. These ancient temples, built between the 9th and 13th centuries, are unmatched among ancient ruins anywhere in the world. See many of the temples, including spectacular Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century and honoring the Hindu god Vishnu. Words and photos simply cannot describe these amazing structures. They must be visited in person!
All of this and more await you on this fabulous cruise vacation. So pack your camera and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!
Day 1 – Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, still known as Saigon to many. Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.
Day 2 – Ho Chi Minh City
This morning, enjoy a WALKING TOUR of the city’s famous and historic landmarks as you stroll through the heart of the city along Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat) past the Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh Square, the Municipal Theatre, the Central Post Office, and Notre Dame Cathedral. Next, visit the REUNIFICATION PALACE (formerly the Presidential Palace) and the WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM. For lunch, participate in a hands-on VIETNAMESE COOKING CLASS. The lesson starts with a walking tour of BEN THANH MARKET with a local chef, where you will learn how different fruits, vegetables, meat, and seafood are used in Vietnamese cuisine. Afterward, head into the classroom to prepare different dishes and learn how to recreate them once you return home. Last but not least, sample your delicious creations! The afternoon is at your leisure to explore this lively city. Tonight, enjoy a special welcome dinner hosted by your Cruise Director. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 3 – Ho Chi Minh City. Cu Chi Tunnels Excursion
This morning, leave the city and drive through vast expanses of rice paddies to visit the CU CHI TUNNELS, an extraordinary network of tunnels more than 120 miles in length that was used by the Viet Cong as a hideout and secret village during the war. Here you will be joined by a Viet Cong veteran and an expert Local Guide to learn about how the tunnels were constructed and for a chance to walk through a section to experience what life would have been like underground. Make a quick stop at a RUBBER PLANTATION to learn more about this industry before returning to Ho Chi Minh City for lunch. The rest of the afternoon and evening are at your leisure. Maybe stop at the famous Rex Hotel for a drink and sweeping views of the city. (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 4 – Ho Chi Minh City (Embarkation)
This morning, transfer to the port on the Saigon River and board your river cruise vessel to start your CRUISE up the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia. Get acquainted with the ship and relax before your welcome reception this evening. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 5 – Cruising: Cai Be–Sa Dec
This morning, board a sampan for a scenic cruise though Cai Be Harbor, passing the city’s beautiful French Gothic cathedral. Once on land, tour AN KIET HOUSE and its surrounding gardens, which feature several types of fruit indigenous to the area. Next, stop at a local establishment to see how rice paper, rice wine, and traditional candy are made. Visit the beautiful CATHEDRAL on the waterfront before returning to the ship for lunch. After lunch, reboard sampans and enjoy scenes of daily life along the river en route to Sa Dec. Stop at a BRICK FACTORY to see workers forming the clay bricks that fill the local landscape. Stop at the adjacent RICE FACTORY for insight into the various types of rice produced in the region and to learn about the importance of the rice husk in fueling the brick kilns. Next, ride through the LOCAL MARKET and absorb the atmosphere as locals are busy buying and selling fish, meat, and produce. Your final stop today is the ancient HOUSE OF MR. HYUNH THUY LE, the lover of French novelist Marguerite Duras and inspiration for the film L’Amant—The Lover, directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 6 – Cruising: Chau Doc, Vietnam–Cambodian Border Crossing
Cruise down the backwaters of the Mekong in a sampan to Chau Doc. Along the way you will see traditional Vietnamese floating markets and villages. Upon arrival, learn about some of the different species of fish living in the Mekong at a LOCAL FISH FARM. Then, enjoy a WALKING TOUR of the bustling outdoor market. Last stop is at the religious sites at the base of SAM MOUNTAIN. Return to the ship for lunch and head for the Cambodian border. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 7 – Cruising: Phnom Penh
The capital city of Phnom Penh retains its French charm to this day. Sightseeing this morning provides a glimpse of the atrocities inflicted on the Cambodian people by the Khmer Rouge regime. Visit the TUOL SLENG GENOCIDE MUSEUM, a former high school that housed over 17,000 prisoners. Of this number, it is believed that less than 15 survived the torture and avoided being sent to the Killing Fields. You will also visit one of the KILLING FIELDS, where over 200,000 people were killed by the Khmer Rouge. After lunch on the ship, enjoy a sightseeing tour by private cyclo with visits to the ROYAL PALACE with the spectacular SILVER PAGODA and the NATIONAL MUSEUM, featuring an outstanding display of Khmer artifacts. This evening you may want to enjoy some of Phnom Penh’s lively nightlife. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 8 – Cruising: Prek Bang Kong–Angkor Ban
Today, start with a visit to the village of PREK BANG KONG, where silk weaving is a well-preserved tradition. Spend time exploring the many houses in the village to see the weaving and to learn more about how silk is produced. After lunch, enjoy a WALKING TOUR through the rural village of Angkor Ban. Here you will visit TRADITIONAL KHMER HOUSES, a LOCAL SCHOOL, and a BUDDHIST MONASTERY, where you will meet with the local monks. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 9 – Cruising: Kampong Cham–Wat Hanchey
This morning, travel by motorcoach to see the twin holy mountains of PHNOM PROS and PHNOM SREY (man and woman hill), where you will see the beautiful stupa as well as two huge Buddha statues, both measuring over 30 feet long or tall. You will also stop at NOKORBACHEY, an Angkorian temple complex featuring several original statues of Buddha. After lunch, visit WAT HANCHEY, a temple dating back to the 8th century and the Chenla Empire. Located on a hilltop, enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area and partake in a TRADITIONAL WATER BLESSING given by local monks (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) NOTE: The climb to Wat Hanchey features a steep incline. If you feel you are unable to make the climb you will be driven to the top by car.
Day 10 – Cruising: Prek Dam–Udong–Kampong Tralach
Today, dock at Prek Dam, then transfer by motorcoach to the village of Udong, former capital of Cambodia. Upon arrival, visit a MONASTERY for an in-depth LECTURE ON BUDDHISM. Continue on to Kampong Tralach for an OX CART RIDE past rice paddy fields and the beautiful Cambodian countryside. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure to relax on board. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 11 – Cruising: Siem Reap (Disembarkation)
This morning, enjoy time on board the ship as you cruise through Tonle Sap (Great Lake). After the rainy season, this massive body of water can cover around 10,000 square miles and provides the perfect breeding ground for fish, which play a vital role in providing food for people living on the lake. Just before Noon, arrive in Siem Reap, your base during your visit to Angkor and considered by many to be the most spectacular architectural ruins on Earth! This afternoon, start your sightseeing of the TEMPLES OF ANGKOR. Constructed between the 9th and 13th centuries, the temples were built around the Khmer interpretations of Indian religious and political beliefs that, ultimately, evolved from Hinduism to Buddhism. The complex architectural grandeur of the Angkor temples is arguably unmatched among ancient ruins anywhere in the world. First, visit ANGKOR THOM to see the BAYON TEMPLE. One of the few Buddhist temples in Angkor, it features some 200 striking faces carved in 54 towers and impressive bas reliefs. Next stop is the best preserved and most famous of all the temples: ANGKOR WAT, honoring the Hindu god Vishnu. Featuring five trademark towers and stunning bas reliefs, it has become a symbol of Cambodia. Here you will be joined by an ARCHAEOLOGIST from the APSARA Authority, which was created to protect Angkor, for a special guided tour of the ruins. This evening is at leisure to explore charming Siem Reap—or stay to witness sunset at Angkor Wat! (Breakfast, Lunch)
Day 12 – Siem Reap
Today, continue your sightseeing of the Angkor temples. Unlike the other temples, TA PROHM has been left relatively untouched. Tree roots grow over and through the ruin walls, allowing you to experience the temple with the same wonder as the early explorers who discovered it. Then, visit BANTEAY SREI, a unique temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Unlike other temples, it is built on a small scale from red sandstone, which can be carved like wood. Then, stop at LES ARTISANS D’ANGKOR, a development project teaching young adults traditional handicraft techniques. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure. This evening, enjoy a PRIVATE APSARA DANCE PERFORMANCE, where the ancient Khmer culture is brought to life by talented dancers, singers, and musicians. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 13 – Siem Reap–Bangkok, Thailand
Enjoy the morning at leisure in Siem Reap before flying to Bangkok. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. (Breakfast)
Day 14 – Bangkok
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)