Mekong River Cruise
Stunning colonial-style cruising from Saigon to Cambodia along the mighty Mekong on the beautiful 4* Jayavarman Boat. Bask on its sun-deck, enjoy the spa, bar and dining room before retiring to your luxury stateroom. During your all inclusive cruise all meals, local soft drinks, local beers and spirits, excursions and crew gratuities are all included to give you a worry free journey to relax and enjoy your surroundings.
HO CHI MINH – CU CHI – CAI BE – TAN CHAU – PHNOM PENH – SIEM REAP – ANGKOR TEMPLES
Arrival Ho Chi Minh airport to a warm welcome from your local guide, who will escort you to the awaiting transport and onwards to your hotel. The room is available from 1330 and the afternoon is free at leisure to explore your surroundings.
This morning we will leave the city by private vehicle to visit the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi. This incredible system, covering almost 250km in length was shelter to over 16,000 Vietcong guerrillas during the wars. Initially started in 1948 to provide shelter against the French air and ground sweeps, the network went on to serve as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for Vietnamese fighters throughout the American war. If you are interested (and game) you can even descend into the tunnels to learn more about the harsh conditions faced by Vietcong guerrillas who lived there. Return to the city centre for lunch (not included). In the afternoon set out on a tour of the former capital of French Indochina. Historic landmarks include the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall. After that, visit the Emperor of Jade Pagoda or the Fito Museum – the first private museum in Vietnam, where you will discover many documents and information about traditional Vietnamese medicine. Overnight at the hotel.
Bid farewell to the hustle and bustle of Saigon as you travel 70 kilometres south by land to My Tho to embark onto your boutique ship. You will be served refreshing drinks and light lunch as the boat steadily glides along the Mekong. Bathe in the fading sunset on the balcony followed by a briefing at the lounge. Later, a welcome dinner awaits you. As you approach Cai Be, the boat drops anchor midstream. Light lunch, afternoon tea and dinner are included. Overnight in Cai Be.
Our journey starts with an invigorating Tai Chi lesson on the Sundeck just as the sun begins to rise. Coffee and tea awaits the early bird. The day-tour starts with a visit to Cai Be’s boisterous and colourful floating market on a traditional sampan (a flat bottomed traditional Vietnamese wooden boat). During the ride, discover breathtaking landscapes along the river and observe the rustic life on the Mekong Delta. The cruise will halt intermittently to allow you to observe how rice paste, rice paper, rice cookies, rice pop, rice wine and coconut candies are made, enjoy local life along the canals on the way back to the boat for lunch.
In the afternoon, we cruise to Sa Dec. Upon arrival, we embark a traditional sampan to tour Binh Thanh Island to visit an untouchable village. Here, every villager is involved in the process of making rattan mat and this give us the chance to interact with the local people. We then board the Ship for a tranquil evening cruise towards Tan Chau.
Begin your day with a hearty breakfast in the Dining Hall or your balcony before you head out on a short excursion to Tan Chau, a pleasant town near the Cambodian border with sizeable Chinese, Kinh and Khmer community. The journey takes you to the “evergreen” islands where you will learn about the life of the locals. The inhabitants of these islands live on houses poised on high stilts – a centuries-old tradition in this part of the Mekong Delta. You stop to visit a fish farm located in the Tan Chau canal – this farm consists of floating houses and the villagers make their living by cultivating fish. We then continue by boat to Tan Chau pier, disembark here and stroll around the colourful local market with lots of regional products. We return to the boat after your visit to the market.
You arrive early morning and leave your boat after breakfast to head into Phnom Penh City, capital of Cambodia. Located at the conjunction of four branches of the Mekong River “Chaktomuk”, this is the fascinating capital of Cambodia. In the afternoon you visit the Royal Palace built in 1866 by King Norodom and comprising different structures grouped together in one enclosure. These house a remarkable collection of Khmer art. Here you will find the Silver Pagoda whose key works of art include a golden Buddha encrusted with 9584 diamonds and weighing 90kgs, and a Buddha featuring emeralds and Baccarat crystal dating from the 17th century. Then you can experience a change of pace with a visit to the Russian Markets, known locally as Tuol Tumpoung, where you can stroll among all the stalls and vendors, trying your hand at bargaining. You’ll find here fabrics, jewels, jewellery, crockery, handicrafts… all kinds of goods.
After your breakfast, you discover the south of the city, to learn about the darkest period of Cambodia’s history: the regime of the Khmer Rouge, with a visit to the genocide museum of Tuol Sleng, a former secondary school which was transformed into a detention centre by the Khmer Rouge. The prison gate still bears its original school name, S21. History continues then with a visit to the Killing Fields, Choeng Ek, 15km from Phnom Penh, the burial site for victims of Tuol Sleng. We then transfer to Phnom Penh Airport for your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival in Siem Reap, transfer to your hotel for check-in.
Your day starts with a visit to Angkor Wat, a world heritage site with soaring towers and extraordinary bas reliefs. It is one of the most amazing man-made monuments in the world, erected in the 12th century in honour of Vishnu. At lunch time, we head to the Secret Temple, to enjoy a picnic lunch in the Angkor Complex area. On the way to the temple, you pass rice fields, small villages and smiling children. After the meal you can relax and listen to the birds chirping, or learn more about the temple thanks to our tour guide or enjoy a relaxing foot massage. You then visit the ancient Ta Prohm Monastery where immense branches have taken root in the stones – hence the nickname of the Jungle Temple. You will find some splendid sculptured Devatas and an atmosphere that is unique.
Your morning is free at leisure. In the afternoon, you visit Angkor Thom (the Great City) starting at the south gate and then moving to the famous Bayon Temple of the 12th and 13th centuries, dedicated to Buddhism and composed of 54 gigantic towers featuring 216 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara. Then you visit the Elephant Terrace, which was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall; and the raised Leper King Terrace, built in the 12th century and which features many beautifully sculptured Apsaras. In the late afternoon, you enjoy the stunning sunset in Srah Srang, which means “The Royal Bath” a large water reservoir situated at the East of Banteay Kdei temple; it is a gorgeous spot to end the day in the Angkor complex watching the sun go down. The baray (or reservoir) was originally constructed in the 10th century and two centuries later remodelled by the famous King Jayavarman VII (who also built the famous Bayon).
Free until departure transfer to the airport for your connecting flight to London or on for your beach extension
- International Flights
- Internal flight
- Transfers in Vietnam and Cambodia
- Bed & Breakfast
- Full board on boat
- Picnic lunch at Angkor
- English speaking guide
- Site entrance fees
- ATOL protection
- Flight & hotel taxes
- Flight upgrades
- Regional UK departures
- 5* Hotel upgrades
- Tour extensions
- Additional hotel nights
- Bespoke tour variations
HO CHI MINH
Highbridge House | 581 Bath Road | Longford | UB7 0EW | Company registration 4939093