There can be no tapestry of river life as fascinating and varied as the River Mekong. Indeed, there can be no more striking a cultural contrast as that between the bustling Vietnam delta and the tranquility of Cambodia. We pass from the vibrant French colonial port of Saigon, through the vast delta so rich in human life and endeavour, to travel along the main channel into the rich countryside of Cambodia. With a full day in charming Phnom Penh we then explore remoter waterways as we progress to the great monuments of Angkor. New and exclusive upgraded itinerary.
Now visiting Kratie and the Mekong dolphins. No other river cruise operators go there!
Day 1 Depart CANADA
Day 2 Siem Reap, CAMBODIA Hotel Overnight
Day 3 Siem Reap, CAMBODIA Hotel Overnight
Day 4 Siem Reap, CAMBODIA Hotel Overnight
Day 5 Kampong Cham, CAMBODIA Embark River Boat
Day 6 Kratie, CAMBODIA Mekong River
Day 7 Prek Kdam, CAMBODIA Mekong River
Day 8 Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA Mekong River
Day 9 Scenic River Cruising Mekong River
Day 10 Chau Doc, CAMBODIA Mekong River
Day 11 Sa Dec, VIETNAM Mekong River
Day 12 My Tho, VIETNAM Disembark River Boat
Ho Chi Minh, VIETNAM Hotel Overnight
Day 13 Ho Chi Minh, VIETNAM Hotel Overnight
Day 14 Depart for CANADA
Day 1 / Wednesday, February 9, 2019 CANADA – SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
Board your overnight flight with Cathay Pacific to Siem Reap, Cambodia via Hong Kong. (In-flight Meals).
Day 2 / Thursday, February 7 ARRIVE IN SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
Upon arrival, you will be met our professional guide at Siem Reap International Airport and transfer to your hotel. Dinner will be at the hotel. Accommodation: VICTORIA ANGKOR RESORT & SPA or similar (3 nights). (D)
Day 3 / Friday, February 8 SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
Breakfast at hotel. This morning, visit the monumental magnificence of Angkor Thom – last capital of the Khmers; we begin our visit at the Terrace of the Leper King and Phimeanakas, whose name means “Heavenly Palace”. This intricately carved platform was the royal crematorium and the statue that was originally thought to be the leper king is now believed to be Yama, the god of death. We continue along the Terrace of Elephants, originally used as a viewing gallery for the king to preside over parades, performances and traditional sports. At the southern end lies the Baphuon, once of the most beautiful temples at Angkor, dating from the reign of Uditayavarman 1 in the 11th century. It has undergone a massive renovation by the French and is now once again open for viewing. Our climax is the enigmatic and enchanting temple of the Bayon. This 12th century masterpiece lies at the very centre of Angkor Thom and is an archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive bas-reliefs but the highlight is the “faces”, more than 200 of them, silent but with the famous half-smile playing on their lips. PJ de Beerski wrote of them; “godliness in the majesty and the size, mystery in the expression.” This afternoon, visit Ta Prohm, the temple that has been left largely in its natural state since its “re-discovery” by French explorers. Surrounded by jungle, its labyrinth of stone hallways is overgrown with the roots and limbs of massive banyan trees, which envelop the stone like tentacles. It is one of the largest temples at Angkor, dedicated in 1186. Historians have noted its mystical charm. This afternoon, visit Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world, with a volume of stone equalling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt. It is unlike all the other Khmer temples in that it faces west, and is inspired by 12th Century Hinduism. Its symmetrical towers are stylized on the modern Cambodian flag. Conceived by Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat took an estimated 30 years to build. It is generally believed to have been a funeral temple for the king. It has been occupied continuously by Buddhist monks and is well preserved. Intricate bas reliefs surround Angkor Wat on four sides. Each tells a story. The most celebrated of these is the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, which is located on the east wing. In it the Naga serpent, is twisted by demons and gods to spurt out the elixir of life… Then, visit to a development project teaching young adults, stone carving, wood carving, lacquer application, Les Artisans d’Angkor is a heart-warming reminder that progress in Cambodia can go hand in hand with traditional crafts. Lunch and dinner will be at local restaurants. (B/L/D)
Day 4 / Saturday, February 9 SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
Breakfast at hotel. This morning, depart for a (private) Khmer Cooking class at a local restaurant. Welcoming and Introduction with coffee & tea with our Executive Chef and discuss about the program. The Participants will take tour to Siem Reap morning market (old market). Our chef will advise the participants and guide in discovering the Cambodian fruits, vegetables, fishes without forgetting the multi-color spices and herbs. Arrival back at Restaurant where refreshing drinks and cold towels are waiting for you. Let’s move on to the kitchen to start the class with theory. A full three courses Khmer menu will be prepared by you, all under professional guidance by our skilled Khmer chefs. Your self-made lunch will be served in our restaurant. This afternoon, you will be transferred to visit Banteay Srei; ‘the Womans Citadel’ – a tiny, enchanting temple, which is one of the jewels in this remarkable city. Built of red sandstone in the tenth century and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the carved male and female figures in the niches are exquisitely executed in both style and proportion. This is the most Indian of all the temples in Angkor and in the words of H.W. Ponder, is “a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest.” NOTE: During the visit of Banteay Srei temple, visitors are required to wear a proper attire, covering shoulders and knees as this temple is still considered as a sacred site (no short, miniskirt or short trousers). Continue to Banteay Samre, built under Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II in the early 12th century, it is a Hindu temple in the Angkor Wat style. Named after the Samré, an ancient people of Indochina, the temple uses the same materials as Banteay Srei. Dinner at local restaurant. (B/L/D)
Day 5 / Sunday, February 10 SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA – EMBARKATION
This morning, registration for your cruise starts at 11:00 am, at your hotel lobby. Then transfer by coach by the cruise company from the Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa hotel to Kampong Cham. A packed lunch will be provided on the coach and we will stop at Kampong Thom along the way. Accommodation: onboard RV TONLE PANDAW (7 nights). (B/L/D)
Day 6 / Monday, February 11 KRATIE AND DOLPHIN GROUNDS, CAMBODIA
Sail through the morning to reach Kratie, a charming French colonial river port, and after lunch visit the dolphin grounds travelling further upstream by local bus. Kratié is the capital of Kratié Province in eastern Cambodia. The small town has a population of about 13,000 and lies on the banks of the Mekong River. The city is dominated by a central marketplace surrounded by old, French colonial buildings. (B/L/D)
Day 7 / Tuesday, February 12 PREK KDAM, CAMBODIA
Sailing down river we stop at the very curious Monkey Temple, Wat Hanchey and Angkor Ban. (B/L/D)
Day 8 / Wednesday, February 13 PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
Sailing into Phnom Penh past the Royal Palace and bustling corniche is highlight to any Mekong voyage. We moor right in the city centre and you can walk virtually anywhere. Whilst in Phnom Penh you will be provided with their own private cyclo. The Cyclo Centre Phnom Penh which provides the cyclos is a charity that provides basic welfare and medical services to cyclo drivers. You will visit the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and National Museum. In the afternoon, optional excursion (by coach) to the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge’s grim Tuol Sleng or S21 detention centre. (B/L/D)
Day 9 / Thursday, February 14 TONLE RIVER CRUISING
We spend the day cruising in the main Mekong channel, an international shipping route for the Vietnamese border for the formalities. (B/L/D)
Day 10 / Friday, February 15 CHAU DOC, VIETNAM
Sail for the border formalities and continue Tan Chau for the evening. (B/L/D)
Day 11 / Saturday, February 16 CHAU DOC, VIETNAM
Morning either visit a Moslem Cham tribal village and a cat fish farm in Chau Doc with our guide or do your own thing and take one of our mountain bikes and explore the local market and the Catholic Church. Afternoon excursion to Sa Dec via Vinh Long to see the local market and the ancient house of Mr, Huyn Thuy Le, the ‘lover’ of Marguerite Duras, a famous French novelist whose book was immortalised in the film L’Indochine. We continue along canals and backwaters to Cai Be for the floating market and overnight. (B/L/D)
Day 12 / Sunday, February 17 MY THO – DISEMBARKATION – HO CHI MINH CITY
Early morning sail from Cai Be for My Tho, where passengers disembark in the early morning for a coach transfer to the InterContinental Asiana Saigon Hotel, arriving around 10:30am. Upon arrival at the hotel, meet your local guide and depart for lunch at local restaurant. After lunch, visit the former Presidential Palace, which is now preserved as a museum, including the underground communications bunkers, headquarters for the Saigon Government during the American War. Continue to the History Museum, which houses an excellent display tracing the origins of the indigenous Vietnamese. A water puppet performance is housed in the grounds. See Notre Dame, an impressive neo-Romanesque cathedral in the centre of city, the ‘wedding cake’ styled hotel d’ville and the former US Embassy. Spend time at the War Remnants Museum, which offers a different perspective on the “American War”. If time permitted, visit to Ben Thanh market a large marketplace in the downtown area of Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam in District 1. The market is one of the earliest surviving structures in Saigon and one of symbols of Hồ Chí Minh City, popular with tourists seeking local handicrafts, textiles, áo dài, and souvenirs, as well as local cuisine. Dinner at local restaurant. Accommodation: SOFITEL PLAZA SAIGON HOTEL or similar (2 nights). (B/L/D)
Day 13 / Monday, February 18 HO CHI MINH CITY – HANOI, VIETNAM
Breakfast at your hotel. Tour to Cu Chi in the morning. Never discovered by American forces, the CU CHI TUNNELS were an important Vietcong base during the American War. Stretching over 200 km, this incredible underground network, dug by hand out of hard laterite, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapon factories. Today, you can walk through the area and learn about the day-to-day life of the VC, see the cleverly disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps, and even venture inside the tunnels, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists. Lunch at Ben Nay restaurant. This afternoon you will enjoy a half day China Town and Temples. China Town – Cholon, which literally translates to ‘big market’, is the focus of the Chinese community in Saigon. You will also see Cha Tam Church where President Diem sought refuge shortly before his assassination in 1963. Visit the impressive Thien Hau Temple dedicated to the goddess of the seas, who is said to protect fishermen and sailors. Here huge coils of incense hang from the ornate ceiling, and can burn for up to three months at a time. Visit Binh Tay market and the surrounding area, which bustles with trading activity. En-route your return journey, stop at a tiny Cao Dai temple, where one small sect of this eclectic religion worship daily. Dinner at a local restaurant. (B/L/D)
Day 14 / Tuesday, February 19, 2019 HO CI MINH CITY – CANADA
Breakfast at your hotel. Transfer to the airport for your return onward flight. (B/In-flight Meals)
Welcome cocktail on arrival, and Farewell reception
Sundeck bar, 24hrs hospitality bar, and spacious air-conditioned saloon bar with nightly entertainment
Onboard bakery with daily freshly baked breads and rolls
Complimentary on excursions:
Bottled drinking water
Refreshing drink, shoe cleaning, and cold towel service after excursions
Maximum 24 guests per guide on all excursions
Comfortable “Pandaw Explorer” excursion boat
Tours and transfers as specified including entry fees, on a private basis in air-conditioned vehicles
Accommodation as per above itinerary in twin share/double rooms
Service of English speaking local guides
Meals as specified in itinerary
Water from jar and coffee/tea with all dinners and lunches
Pass to temples and entrance fees (3 days Angkor Pass)
Bottle water and cool towel provided in vehicle during sightseeing
Vietnam and Cambodia Government tax and services charge
ALL PRICES ARE IN CANADIAN DOLLARS AND INCLUDE:
Return airfare from TORONTO (other cities available upon request).
7-Nights deluxe river cruise aboard RV TONLE PANDAW
3-Night first class hotel stay in Siam Reap, CAMBODIA with most meals.
2-Night first class hotel stay in Ho Chi Minh City, VIETNAM with most meals.
Fully guided tours and shore excursions as per our itinerary.
All meals as listed in our day-by-day itinerary.
All gratuities for ship’s staff.
Fully hosted by Expo Cruises & Tours*.
Please Note: Cambodia and Vietnam visa fees are not included.
DOUBLE Occupancy Fares: SINGLE Occupancy Fares:
OUTSIDE – Main Deck $6,995 OUTSIDE – Main Deck $10,095
OUTSIDE – Upper Deck $7,595 OUTSDIE – Upper Deck $10,995
Final balance is due by OCTOBER 4, 2018.