DAY 1: Arrive Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Welcome to Siem Reap, the starting point of our spiritual journey through Cambodia and Vietnam. Our first luxurious experience begins with relaxing massages, then a day to unwind and enjoy this intriguing city. (B)
DAY 2: Siem Reap.
Today is free to enjoy the local street food and learn first-hand about the Khmer culture, or relax at our beautiful hotel in the city centre.
DAY 3: Siem Reap.
This morning, we start our sightseeing of the TEMPLES OF ANGKOR. Constructed between the 9th and 13th centuries, the temples were built around the Khmer interpretations of Indian religious and political beliefs that ultimately evolved from Hinduism to Buddhism. The complex architectural grandeur of the Angkor temples is arguably unmatched among ancient ruins anywhere in the world. First, visit ANGKOR THOM to see the BAYON TEMPLE. One of the few Buddhist temples in Angkor, it features some 200 striking faces carved in 54 towers and impressive bas reliefs. Next stop is the best preserved and most famous of all the temples: ANGKOR WAT, honoring the Hindu god Vishnu. Featuring five trademark towers and stunning bas reliefs, it has become a symbol of Cambodia. This evening, we enjoy a PRIVATE APSARA DANCE PERFORMANCE AND LESSON where the ancient Khmer culture is brought to life by talented dancers, singers, and musicians. (B,L,D)
DAY 4: Siem Reap.
Today, we continue our sightseeing of the Angkor temples. Unlike the other temples, TA PROHM has been left relatively untouched. Tree roots grow over and through the ruin walls, allowing us to experience the temple with the same wonder as the early explorers who discovered it. Then, we visit BANTEAY SREI, a unique temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Unlike other temples, it is built on a small scale from red sandstone, which can be carved like wood. Next, we stop at LES ARTISANS D’ANGKOR, a development project teaching young adults traditional handicraft techniques. This afternoon, we EXPERIENCE A TRADITIONAL KHMER MASSAGE at one of the stunning spas in Siem Reap. This evening, why not try one of the amazing local restaurants and explore the sights and sounds of the Night Market. (B)
DAY 5: Siem Reap (Embarkation).
This morning, we transfer to the port and board our river cruise vessel for our CRUISE down the Mekong through Cambodia and Vietnam. This afternoon, enjoy time on board the ship as we cruise through Tonle Sap (Great Lake). After the rainy season, this massive body of water can cover around 10,000 square miles and provides the perfect breeding ground for fish, which provide food for people living on the lake. This evening, we enjoy a welcome reception. (B,L,D)
NOTE: During low water conditions, generally late December to June, we will not be able to cruise on Tonle Sap. In these cases, we will fly from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh for embarkation. No included sightseeing will be missed. Low water conditions vary from year to year, so this will be evaluated on a cruise-by-cruise basis.
DAY 6: Cruising: Kampong Tralach–Konpong Louang–Prek Bang Kong.
Today, we visit Kampong Tralach for an OX CART RIDE past rice paddy fields and the beautiful Cambodian countryside. Along the way, we stop to MEET WITH A LOCAL FARMER and learn more about his daily life. Lastly, we visit the SILVERMITH VILLAGE of Konpong Louang. Here we will see talented craftsmen use age-old techniques to turn pure silver into works of art. After lunch, we visit the village of PREK BANG KONG, where silk weaving is a well-preserved tradition. We will spend time at one house for a SILKWEAVING DEMONSTRATION and to learn more about how silk is produced. (B,L,D)
DAY 7: Cruising: Wat Hanchey–Angkor Ban.
This morning, we visit WAT HANCHEY, a temple dating back to the 8th century and the Chenla Empire. Located on a hilltop, we enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area and partake in a TRADITIONAL WATER BLESSING given by local monks. After lunch, we enjoy a WALKING TOUR through the rural village of Angkor Ban. Here we will see traditional Khmer houses and visit a LOCAL SCHOOL. (B,L,D)
DAY 8: Cruising: Phnom Penh.
The capital city of Phnom Penh retains its French charm to this day. This morning, our sightseeing tour by private cyclo includes visits to the ROYAL PALACE with the spectacular SILVER PAGODA and the NATIONAL MUSEUM, featuring an outstanding display of Khmer artifacts. This afternoon, we visit a LOCAL CHARITY organization. Just before dinner, children from a local orphanage will put on a SHOW featuring local song and dance. (B,L,D)
Day 9: Cruising: Phnom Penh.
Sightseeing this morning provides a glimpse of the atrocities inflicted on the Cambodian people by the Khmer Rouge regime. We visit the TUOL SLENG GENOCIDE MUSEUM, a former high school that housed over 17,000 prisoners. Of this number, it is believed that less than 15 survived the torture and avoided being sent to the Killing Fields. We will also visit one of the KILLING FIELDS, where over 200,000 people were killed by the Khmer Rouge. This afternoon, we enjoy an on-board COOKING DEMONSTRATION to learn how to make some traditional Cambodian dishes including Amok. Enjoy time on board the ship as we sail for the border, where we will anchor for the night. (B,L,D)
DAY 10: Cruising: Border Crossing–Chau Doc, Vietnam.
Enjoy the morning at leisure as we cross the border into Vietnam. Join your fellow travellers for YOGA in the lounge as you sail along the Mekong. After lunch, we board a sampan for sightseeing around Chau Doc. Along the way we will see scenes of local life, including traditional Vietnamese floating markets and villages. We learn about some of the different species of fish living in the Mekong at a LOCAL FISH FARM. Then, we continue down the backwaters of the river to the religious sites at the base of SAM MOUNTAIN. We will also stop to see a LOCAL MARKET, where shop owners are selling dried goods. (B,L,D)
Day 11: Cruising: Sa Dec–Cai Be.
This morning, we board a sampan and enjoy scenes of daily life along the river around Sa Dec. We stop at a BRICK FACTORY to see workers forming the clay bricks that fill the local landscape. Here we will also learn about the importance of the rice husk in fueling the brick kilns. Next, we visit the ancient HOUSE OF MR. HUYNH THUY LE, the lover of French novelist Marguerite Duras and inspiration for the film L’Amant (The Lover), directed by Jean- Jacques Annaud. Afterward, we take a walk through the LOCAL MARKET and absorb the atmosphere as locals are busy buying and selling fish, meat, and produce. After lunch, we board a sampan for a scenic cruise though Cai Be Harbor, passing the city’s beautiful French Gothic cathedral. First stop is a local establishment to see how rice paper, rice wine, and traditional candies are made. Lastly, we take a walk through town to visit the beautiful CATHEDRAL. (B,L,D)
DAY 12: Ho Chi Minh City (Disembarkation).
Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, still known as Saigon to many. This morning, enjoy a WALKING TOUR of the city’s famous and historic landmarks as we stroll through the heart of the city along Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat) past the Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh Square, the Municipal Theatre, the Central Post Office, and Notre Dame Cathedral. Next, enjoy a guided tour of CHO LON MARKET. Cho Lon, which literally translates to ‘big market’, is an area of Ho Chi Minh City that has a very Chinese influence, and will definitely be a feast to all the senses. Our next stop is BEN THANH MARKET, the largest and oldest in the city. For lunch, participate in a hands-on VIETNAMESE COOKING CLASS. Head into the classroom and learn how to prepare different local dishes and the techniques necessary to recreate them once we return home. Last but not least, sample your delicious creations! The afternoon, enjoy a traditional VIETNAMESE MASSAGE. (B,L)
DAY 13: Ho Chi Minh City. Excursion To Cu Chi Tunnels.
This morning, we leave the city and drive through vast expanses of rice paddies to visit the CU CHI TUNNELS, an extraordinary network of tunnels more than 120 miles in length that was used by the Viet Cong as a hideout and secret village during the war. Here we will learn about how the tunnels were constructed and have a chance to walk through a section to experience what life would have been like underground. We then return to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore this vibrant city. This evening, join your travelling companions for a special farewell dinner hosted by your Cruise Director. (B,D)
DAY 14: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Hong Kong, China.
Our journey ends with breakfast this morning. (B)