- River Boat
- 48 Capacity
- 14 Days
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Summary : A journey through Cambodia and Vietnam makes for a hugely interesting and varied experience. With magnificent Angkor Wat the centerpiece, the Angkor area stands out as a place that absolutely must be experienced. At the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh you’ll bear witness to the devastating effects of the rule of the Khmer Rouge, and also experience the dynamic, positive spirit of these people as they rapidly rebuild their lives and country. You’ll also stay in the great Vietnamese city of Saigon (officially called Ho Chi Minh City), a burgeoning metropolis with an interesting colonial legacy. These beautiful countries with centuries of history and culture provide a fascinating, rich experience.
Itinerary varies for select departures. See end of page for details.
Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking
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$999,999,999 to $0
Take connecting flights to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Arrive in Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor, in the evening and spend the next three nights at outstanding La Résidence d’Angkor (2012) or Raffles Grand Hotel (2013), both perfectly located and offering fine accommodations.
The day's activities 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. Return to your hotel for a late breakfast.
After lunch, 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. This evening, gather for welcome cocktails and dinner at your hotel.
This morning, 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.
In the afternoon, venture out some distance from the central sites to the fine temple of Banteay Srei, known for its exceptional carvings. On your return, stop at Les Artisans d’Angkor, where you see how local artisans preserve age-old Khmer arts. Tonight, have dinner at a fine local restaurant.
You leave early for the drive to the Tonle Sap River, with a stop at the market town of Skon and, just before embarking, you visit a village where silverwork is crafted. Embark Jahan, your home for the next seven nights, at the town of Prek K’dam, and sail along the Tonle Sap through an exceptionally interesting landscape of forest and floating homes, with local residents fishing in small boats. Watch for the sunset in this vast, watery realm. Enjoy welcome cocktails and dinner aboard your ship.
From the town of Kompong Chnang, drive a short way to a village where pottery is still made for sale to local residents by traditional methods. You’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 you along the Tonle Sap for a glimpse into a unique way of life: seeing the floating houses and shops that line the riverbanks here. This afternoon, Jahan sails along the Tonle Sap River.
Wat Hanchey, which you 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.
In the afternoon, you stop at the bustling town of Kompong Cham and visit remarkable Wat Nokor, where a well preserved 11th-century temple forms the heart of a contemporary pagoda that remains in active use. The reliefs on the old temple are exceptional, as are the decorations of the more modern one.
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. You 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. 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 an interesting local market, then venture out of town to the Choeung Ek “killing fields,” where many thousands of Cambodians were murdered by the Khmer Rouge and buried in mass graves. A moving memorial and museum are on the site. Late in the afternoon, visit the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, where innocent people were imprisoned, tortured, and many sent to their death. Exhibits show the determination of Cambodians that this should never happen again. Back aboard ship, an evening dance performance by children from a local orphanage shows how well the arts have been able to re-establish themselves.
As you 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 staff and for chefs to show you how to prepare some of Cambodia and Vietnam’s signature dishes. Cross the border into Vietnam, where you will spend the rest of your journey.
Friendly Chau Doc has one of Vietnam’s most interesting markets, with an astonishing variety of tropical fruits, vegetables and other goods. Continue to an island village with fish farms, and see fish being fed through trap doors in the floating platforms. Then see a village inhabited by people of the Cham ethnic minority, with a chance to visit the attractive mosque and to learn about a unique way of life.
From the hamlet of Sadec, you’ll take a local boat along a channel off the main river, with much activity to be seen along the way. You’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 Cai Be, 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. Then you 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. You’ll also visit a Chinese-style house built in 1838, and walk along local lanes to see loganberries being processed by the families who live there. On board Jahan, enjoy a gala farewell dinner.
Disembark Jahan in the morning in My Tho, and take a local boat to visit the nearby villages around Ben Tre. You’ll see a village where fish are raised before entering the palm-lined Vam Xep canal. Stroll around the Quoi An fruit orchard, visiting fruit-drying kilns and a workshop for coconut candy and craftware. Then you’ll be poled along a canal before transferring to My Tho for a lunch of Mekong specialties.
After a stop at the great Vinh Trang pagoda, transfer to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam’s greatest commercial center, and check in to the outstanding Park Hyatt, located in the heart of the city. In the late afternoon, meet with a local expert on Vietnam’s modern history. This evening, gather at an excellent local restaurant for dinner.
In the morning, take a walking tour of Saigon’s historic landmarks, which include a rich selection of fine colonial buildings. You’ll see the grand exteriors of the 1911 Opera House, the former city hall dating from 1908 and the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red-brick edifice with twin spires; and you visit the General Post Office, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Continue to the Presidential 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 at the War Remnants Museum, which gives a strong view of the war through the eyes of the Vietnamese.
The afternoon is free, with rooms reserved until departure, until your evening transfer to the airport for flights home.
Arrive in the United States.
Reverse Itinerary: 2/27/2013 (Saigon to Siem Riep)
Accommodations ashore and aboard ship; meals indicated; excursions; services of Expedition Leader and expert guides; internet access (in limited areas); all port charges and service taxes.
Air transportation; personal items such as alcoholic beverages, emails, etc.; discretionary tips to ship’s crew.