Vietnam and Cambodia – Along The Mekong River, Including Angkor and Saigon (15 Days)

Cruise Line: Lindblad Expeditions
Ship: Jahan  |  1 Review
International Dateline (Crossing) to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tour Segment  Cruise Segment
Air travel

Take connecting flights to Siem Reap, Cambodia.

International Dateline (Crossing)

Arrive in Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor. We spend the next three nights at outstanding La Résidence d'Angkor, built along the Siem Reap River in traditional Khmer style, with spacious rooms with teak furniture and bamboo screens. For guests arriving in time, we'll have an afternoon visit to the Angkor National Museum, which gives a fine orientation to the region's history.
This day is en route, partly "lost" to the International Date Line.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

In the morning we venture out for an introduction to the area at the fine small temple of Banteay Srei, known for its exceptional carvings. After lunch, we stop at Les Artisans d'Angkor, where we see how local artisans preserve age-old Khmer arts. Then we visit the evocative temple Ta Prohm. The jungle has been allowed to continue growing here, framing the structures with the twisted roots and branches of ceiba and fig trees, giving you an idea of what archaeologists encountered when they began their work in the area. This evening we gather for welcome drinks and dinner at our hotel. (B,L,D)

Siem Reap, Cambodia
Banteay Srey, Cambodia
Ta Prohm, Cambodia
Siem Reap, Cambodia

We begin early in order to get to Angkor Wat in time for sunrise. This visionary 12th-century temple, the world's largest religious monument, represents the apogee of Khmer art and architecture. Crowned by five towers, with elaborate bas-reliefs and a profusion of statues that dramatically depict complex religious tales, along with some 2,000 carved apsaras (beautiful female spirits), Angkor Wat is enthralling. We return to our hotel for a late breakfast. In the afternoon we take tuk-tuks (motorized taxis) to the great remains of Angkor Thom, seeing the Bayon Temple, known for its dozens of serene stone faces of King Jayavarman VII, and the Terrace of the Elephants. Tonight we have a very special treat: a private dinner, just for us, by candlelight at one of Angkor's temples complete with Cambodian music and dance. The effect of seeing the temple gently illuminated and taking in the age-old performing arts is magical, and is bound to stand out as a highlight of your travels. (B,D)

Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Thom, Cambodia
Siem Reap, Cambodia

This morning we drive eastward, with a box lunch, to the Mekong River. We embark Jahan, our home for the next seven nights, at the town of Kampong Cham. In the late afternoon we begin sailing along the Mekong, with welcome drinks and dinner aboard our ship. (B,L,D)

Siem Reap, Cambodia
Kompong Cham, Cambodia

Wat Hanchey, which we visit in the morning, is a large temple complex atop a hill overlooking an exceptionally pretty stretch of the Mekong, offering outstanding views. There is a lot to see here: an 8th-century temple from the pre-Angkor Chenla period, an Angkor-era temple, some fine contemporary temples, and a school. Or we may visit the Mekong island of Koh Dach, which has a lively and active monastery and also an extensive community of silk weavers, where we may watch artisans at work. In the afternoon we visit the community of Angkor Ban, with many old-style houses that are built on stilts—some of them very tall. There's a chance to walk through town and meet the friendly local residents. There is a fine pagoda along the riverside, and views of the fields across the river that runs into the Mekong. (B,L,D)

Wat Hanchey, Cambodia
Ângkôr Ban, Cambodia

This morning, we visit Kampong Tralach, on the banks of the Tonle Sap River. Kampong Tralach is a small village that relies on subsistence fishing and working the rice paddies. We'll take local oxcarts through the rice paddies, seeing the age-old rhythms of life in the Cambodian countryside. Later we cruise up the fascinating Tonle Sap River. In the afternoon we visit the town of Kampong Chhnang. We drive a short way to a village where pottery is still made for sale to local residents by traditional methods. We'll see how the pots are made and learn about the uses of the palm tree, complete with a taste of palm sugar if you're so inclined. Then local boats will take us along the Tonle Sap for a glimpse into a unique way of life: seeing the floating houses and shops that line the riverbanks here. (B,L,D)

Kampong Tralach, Cambodia
Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia

Today will be a full, rewarding day exploring the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, situated at the confluence of the Mekong, Bassac, and Tonle Sap Rivers. We begin with a cyclo (bicycle taxi) ride to the magnificent Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, home and place of worship to Cambodia's kings. The architecture, displays, and furnishings are remarkable. We continue to the excellent National Museum, which has sculpture and many other artifacts from Khmer temples and other aspects of Cambodia's history. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former prison where exhibits show the determination of Cambodians that this should never happen again. If you're so inclined, venture to the countryside to the Choeung Ek "killing fields", where thousands of Cambodians were murdered and buried in mass graves. Back onboard the ship, an evening Apsara dance performance shows how well the arts have been able to reestablish themselves. (B,L,D)

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

As we sail along the Mekong, there’s a chance to see life along the river, with traditional ships, barges, and freighters plying the waterway. There will be a chance to enjoy Jahan’s many amenities, to hear talks by our staff and for our chefs to show you how to prepare some of Cambodia's and Vietnam’s signature dishes. We cross the border into Vietnam, where we will spend the rest of our journey. (B,L,D)

DAY 10
Mekong River

Friendly Tân Châu has one of Vietnam's most interesting markets, with an astonishing variety of tropical fruits, vegetables, and other goods. We continue to a small floating market on the river and a floating fish farm, where we see fish being fed through trap doors in the floating platforms. Alternatively, we may visit the village of Châu Đốc, also with an outstanding market and fish farms. In the afternoon, we continue sailing the Mekong. (B,L,D)

DAY 11
Tân Châu, Vietnam

From the hamlet of Sa Đéc, we'll take a local boat along a channel off the main river, with much activity to be seen along the way. We'll visit a small community where the villagers grow, process, and fashion water hyacinths into floor mats and rattan baskets—a real slice of life in the Mekong Delta. At the town of Cái Bè, we see the floating market, where people in boats sell their wares. Each boat has an object attached to a pole that shows what is being sold. We then visit a rice "factory", where varieties of rice-based candies are made. Rice husks are reused as fuel for the cooking process, and ash is sold to famers for use as fertilizer. Onboard Jahan, we have a gala farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

DAY 12
Sa Déc, Vietnam
Cái Bè, Vietnam

We disembark Jahan in the morning in Mỹ Tho, and visit the great Vinh Trang Pagoda, originally built in 1850. We then transfer to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam's greatest commercial center, where we'll have panoramic views from a tower in the heart of town. We'll see the grand exteriors of the Opera House completed in 1911, the former city hall dating from 1908, the red-brick Notre Dame Cathedral with twin spires, and visit the General Post Office, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Then check into the outstanding Park Hyatt Saigon, located in the heart of the city. In the late afternoon, we meet with a local expert on Vietnam's modern history. This evening, a special treat: a private catered dinner at the exquisitely restored home where Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. lived when he was U.S. ambassador to Vietnam during the war years. This residence is a small piece of American and Vietnamese history. (B,L,D)

DAY 13
My Tho, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

In the morning, we see some of Saigon's historic landmarks, which include a rich selection of fine colonial buildings. We continue to the Reunification Palace, headquarters of the South Vietnamese Government during the Vietnam War. The breaching of the gates by North Vietnamese tanks symbolically marked the war's end. If you wish, end the tour at the War Remnants Museum, which gives a strong view of the war through the eyes of the Vietnamese. The afternoon is free, or if you wish you can visit, with our compliments, the Cu Chi tunnels, part of a huge network of tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war. You may depart this evening, if you wish, or else depart the following morning. (B)

DAY 14
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Transfer to the airport in the morning for connecting flights home. Cross the International Date Line and arrive in the U.S. the same day. (B)

DAY 15
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Air travel
Vietnam and Cambodia – Along The Mekong River, Including Angkor and Saigon map

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  • All accommodations aboard ships or in hotels per itinerary or similar, all meals and nonalcoholic beverages aboard ship, meals on land as indicated, air transportation where indicated as included, shore excursions, sightseeing and entrance fees, special access permits, transfers to and from group flights, use of snorkeling equipment and wet suits, use of kayaks (where available), gratuities (except to Egyptologists and ship's crew), taxes and service charges, services of a ship physician on most voyages, and services of our expedition staff.

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