EXPO CRUISES AND TOURS
Duration: January 30, 2018 - February 14, 2018

VIETNAM, CAMBODIA & THE RICHES OF THE MEKONG
LUXURY RIVER/CRUISE TOUR ABOARD RV MEKONG PANDAW
16-DAYS FROM JANUARY 30 TO FEBRUARY 14, 2018

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.

map-vietnam-mekong-2018

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               Siem Reap, CAMBODIA                      Embark River Boat
Day 6               Kampong Cham, CAMBODIA              Mekong River
Day 7               Tonle Lake, 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             Hanoi, VIETNAM                                Hotel Overnight
Day 14             Ha Long Bay, VIETNAM                      Overnight Cruise
Day 15             Hanoi, VIETNAM                                Hotel Overnight
Day 16             Depart for CANADA

DOUBLE Occupancy Fares In CA$:  OUTSIDE – Upper Deck          $7,995
SINGLE Occupancy Fares In CA$:    OUTSIDE – Upper Deck          $11,995

Deposit requirement is $1,250 CA per person – Final balance is due by OCTOBER 20, 2017

 

All prices are in Canadian dollars and include:
Return airfare from TORONTO (other cities available upon request).
7-Nights deluxe river cruise aboard RV MEKONG PANDAW
3-Nights first class hotel stay in Siam Reap, CAMBODIA with breakfast.
2-Nights first class hotel stay in Hanoi, VIETNAM with breakfast.
1-Night first class hotel stay in Ho Chi Minh City, VIETNAM with breakfast.
1-Night deluxe overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay, VIETNAM with breakfast.
Fully guided tours and shore excursions as per our itinerary.
All meals as listed in our day-by-day itinerary.
All gratuities for local guides, drivers and ship’s staff.
Fully hosted by Expo Cruises & Tours.
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Day 1 / Thursday, January 30, 2018                          CANADA – SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
Board your overnight flight with Cathay Pacific to Siem Reap, Cambodia via Hong Kong.  (In-flight Meals).

Day 2 / Friday, January 31, 2018                               ARRIVE IN SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
Upon arrival, you will be met our professional guide at Siem Reap International Airport and transferred to have a lunch at a local restaurant then check-in hotel for freshen up. Afternoon is at leisure. Dinner at the hotel.  Accommodation: VICTORIA ANGKOR RESORT & SPA or similar (3 nights).   (L,D)

Day 3 / Saturday, February 1, 2018                          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 / Sunday, February 2, 2018                             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 / Monday, February 3, 2018                            SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA – EMBARKATION
This morning, registration for your cruise starts at 11:30am, 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 MEKONG PANDAW (7 nights).  (B,L,DFor complete details about your river boat please see below for all the details.

Day 6 / Tuesday, February 4, 2018                            KAMPONG CHAM, CAMBODIA
You will visit the hilltop temple of Wat Hanchey in the morning. In the afternoon, travel by bus to visit the Twin Holy mountains of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srey (Man and Woman Hill). Continuation to the ecotourism village of Choeungkok supported by the French-Cambodian NGO Amica.  (B,L,D)

Day 7 / Wednesday, February 5, 2018                      TONLE RIVER, CAMBODIA
Excursion up the Tonle River to Kampong Chhnang, by either coach or the ship depending on water levels. Beyond Kampong Chhnang travel by the Pandaw Explorer to discover the vast wetlands around the mouth of the river. Here many fish traps may be seen.  (B,L,D)

Day 8 / Thursday, February 6, 2018                          PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
Today you will visit Phnom Penh and 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. In the afternoon, optional excursion (by coach) to the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge’s grim Tuol Sleng or S21 detention centre. This tour is included in the cost of your cruise but must be requested at the time of booking in the comments box.  (B,L,D)

Day 9 / Friday, February 7, 2018                               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 / Saturday, February 8, 2018                         CHAU DOC, VIETNAM
Visit a Cham tribal village and a cat fish farm in Chau Doc.  (B,L,D)

Day 11 / Sunday, February 9, 2018                           SA DEC, VIETNAM
In the morning you will take an exciting Sampan boat excursion to Sa Dec via Vinh Long along canals and backwaters. Passengers will visit Sa Dec and see the local market and the ancient house of Mr, Huyn Thuy Le, the ‘lover’ of Marguerite Duras, a famous French novelist.  At Cai Be, we will cruise through its colourful floating market which takes place daily in front of the Catholic Church.  (B,L,D)

Day 12 / Monday, February 10, 2018                       MY THO – DISEMBARKATION – HO CHI MINH CITY
Early morning sail from Cai Be for My Tho. Arrival in My Tho in the early morning. After breakfast, you will be picked up at My Tho pier at 9AM and transfer to Saigon. 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 restaurantAccommodation: SOFITEL PLAZA SAIGON HOTEL or similar (2 nights).  (B,L,D)

Day 13 / Tuesday, February 11, 2018                        HO CHI MINH CITY – HANOI, VIETNAM
Breakfast at your hotel and this morning 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.  Check out your hotel at noon and transfer to a local restaurant for lunch before heading to Saigon Airport for your flight to Hanoi.  Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport you will be met and transferred to have a city tour.  An afternoon sightseeing tour will take you to Hanoi’s most famous historical and cultural sites: Ho Chi Minh Complex (note that the Masoleum is closed in every afternoon), Ba Dinh Square, One Pillar Pagoda (Buddhist Temple) and the Temple of Literature (Confucius Temple).   This evening transfer to the theatre where the ancient and unique art form of water puppetry is enacted.  Then enjoy a traditional water puppet show. The ‘stage’ is a pool of water in which the hidden puppeteer must stand (waist deep!) to skilfully manoeuvre dancing puppets attached to bamboo poles on its surface.  Each short skit in the performance relates to the daily life of the people, and featured are scenes such as ‘Returning from School after Graduation’ and ‘Rearing Ducks and Chasing Foxes’.  Dinner at local restaurant.  Accommodation: SOFITEL PLAZA HANOI HOTEL or similar (1 night).  (B,L,D)

Day 14 / Wednesday, February 12, 2018                              HANOI – HALONG BAY, VIETNAM
This morning you will be picked up and depart by road to Halong Bay, north of Hanoi (approx. 3.5 hours), which is considered Vietnam’s eighth wonder of the world – and on arrival it is easy to see why. Three thousand spectacular chalk and limestone outcroppings, cliffs, arches, and coves form a dragon’s tail across the bay.  Arrive at Ha Long Bay at around midday and board the Paradise Junk Boat. On board a traditional-style sailing junk we meander through the area whose name translates as ‘Where the Dragon Descends into the Sea’, stop off at an islet and climb through a series of breath-taking caves and grottoes, marvelling at some of the most impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations anywhere in the world.  A lunch of local seafood specialties is served on-board. If the weather is fine you may be able to swim in the bay and sunbathe on the deck. Dinner is served on board.  Accommodation: onboard PARADISE JUNK BOAT (1 night).  (B,L,D)

Day 15 / Thursday, February 13, 2018                                  HALONG BAY – HANOI, VIETNAM
For early risers, tea and coffee are served on the sundeck followed by a Tai Chi class. As you return to Halong City, enjoy a wholesome breakfast as your boat weaves through strange-shaped limestone rock formations.  Disembark the Halong cruise at 11am and return to Hanoi (the journey takes approx. 3.5 hours). Lunch at local restaurant.  This afternoon enjoy an orientation of the tree-lined streets of Hanoi, resplendent with French colonial architecture, including the recently restored Opera House. Then take to the streets on foot for a walking tour of the Ancient Quarter or 36 Streets District.  This densely populated corner of the city was once a centre of commerce where goods were sold under the street name of a particular guild.  Still a thriving community of sellers today, you will see street names such as Sugar Street, Tin Street and Paper Street.  Ancient homes and temples are interspersed with stores in this souvenir hunter’s paradise!  This evening transfer to local restaurant for our special farewell dinner.   Accommodation: SOFITEL PLAZA HANOI HOTEL or similar (1 night).   (B,L,D)

Day 16 / Friday, February 14, 2018                                       HANOI, VIETNAM – CANADA
Today you’ll be met by our guide and a driver for your transfer to the airport for your return onward flight.  (B,In-flight Meals)

ONBOARD RV MEKONG PANDAW (CRUISE PORTION):
Stateroom Amenities (applicable to all categories):
Panoramic French window, leading to personal deck space
New bathrooms with natural stone shower and branded quality fittings
Kimonos, slippers, and spa-branded amenities
Unlimited mineral water
Electric mini safe
Central AC with individual control
Premium mattresses with imported quality linens with duvet and two kind of pillows
Welcome flower arrangement and welcome gift
Multi-configuration plugs
Generous closet space and under-bed storage
Hair dryer
Daily nightly turndown service
Complimentary evening canapés
Dining & Entertainment:
Local master chef heading an experienced international culinary team
Semi-buffet breakfast, semi-buffet lunch, and seated theme dinners
Daily lean & light menu options
Complimentary coffee, water, tea, soft drinks, local beer, local spirits, juices
Extensive wine list with premium wines
Series of cultural performances, educational talks, cooking classes, and ship tour
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

LAND PORTION:
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

Complimentary on excursions:
Admissions

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