21 January 2017
This river cruise is a glorious way to experience the beautiful and fascinating countries of Vietnam and Cambodia. From lively Saigon, you'll head out along the Mekong River, watching the scenes of rural life which unfold before you as you go. You'll visit floating farms, see spectacular temples and pagodas, including Angkor Wat, tour Phnom Penh and have plenty of opportunities to get an authentic understanding of the everyday lives of local people.
Today you'll arrive in Saigon, to be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. In the evening you'll meet your local guide for a tour briefing and dinner at one of Saigon's best restaurants.
This morning you'll explore Vietnam's lively commercial capital with a walking tour through the heart of the city, taking in the Rex Hotel, Ho Chi Minh Square, Municipal Theatre and Notre Dame Cathedral. You'll then take a tour of the Reunification Palace (formerly the Presidential Palace) and War Remnants Museum. After a lunch of pho, Vietnamese noodle soup, you'll travel to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This amazing network of tunnels extends over 155 miles, and was developed as a means of waging guerrilla war against French and American forces. You'll return to Saigon by late afternoon and enjoy some free time to explore by yourself or just relax in the hotel before heading out to dinner.
Today you'll transfer to the port of My Tho to board your boat for the journey along the Mekong River. You can watch the sun set from the balcony before a briefing about your journey and a cruise welcome dinner.
This morning, and every morning, you're welcome to join an invigorating Tai Chi lesson on the sun deck, before a visit to Cai Be's vibrant floating market. Afterwards, sit back and enjoy the breathtaking landscapes as you cruise on, stopping occasionally to watch the small local industries producing rice and coconut products. After lunch, you'll cruise to Sa Dec, where you'll board a traditional sampan to tour Binh Thanh Island and its man-made canals, and to watch the villagers at work growing and processing water hyacinths into floor mats and rattan baskets. You'll then rejoin your ship for a tranquil evening cruise towards Tan Chau, where you'll moor midstream overnight.
This morning's itinerary depends on the time of year that you visit. If you're here between January and June, after breakfast this morning you'll head off for a short excursion to the town of Chau Doc, where the sizeable Chinese, Kinh and Khmer populations make for a fascinating mix of local cultures. If you're here between July and December, when the water is higher in the Mekong Delta, this morning you will instead board a local sampan to visit the border town of Tan Chau and meet the local people who live on houses poised on high stilts. Afterwards, you'll visit a colourful local market before a boat trip to a floating catfish farm, where you'll have the chance to hand-feed the fish before returning to the ship for lunch. This afternoon, as you cruise on into Cambodia, you can relax on board, and perhaps join a cookery classes.
After breakfast this morning, you'll enjoy a talk on Cambodia's recent history before a tour of Phnom Penh, once known as the Paris of the East, which has retained its old-world charm and elegance despite rapid development. Your tour will include sobering visits to the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum, as well as beautiful sights such as the dazzling white and gold Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. You'll also learn about Khmer art at the National Museum. From here you will transfer by traditional xich lo back to the ship for cocktails and an Apsara dance performance.
Today you'll cruise along the Tonle Sap River, taking in the beautiful scenery and scenes of local life. You'll have the chance to ride on an ox cart and visit the Linblad National Geographic library project, before returning to the ship for lunch. Later, you'll take a bus trip along the paddy fields to see the Khmer-styled pottery at Aundaung Russey village, before an excursion to the wetlands, floating houses and fish farms of the area. Finally, you'll sail back towards Phnom Penh to moor overnight midstream.
This morning you'll depart before dawn, stopping at a silk-weaving village before returning to the ship to continue on your cruise. You'll tour the rural Angkor Ban village, where you'll feel as though you have been transported back in time to an era untouched by modern civilisation. You'll meet the friendly local people and have the chance to join in their everyday activities before heading back to the ship to cruise towards Kampong Cham.
You'll rise before sunrise today and travel to the pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey. Located on a hilltop overlooking the river, it offers one of Cambodia's most breathtaking views. You'll have the chance to chat with some local monks before returning to the boat to watch them perform a blessing ceremony. After lunch, if the tide allows, you'll visit the nearby beach to swim in the tea-coloured Mekong River before cruising towards Kampong Cham. Along the way you'll visit Wat Nokor and manoeuvre along a rickety bamboo bridge.
After breakfast you'll board a coach for Siem Reap, where you'll visit Artisans D’Angkor, a training centre which teaches young people traditional Khmer craft skills including stone and wood carving, lacquering, gilding and silk processing. Tonight you'll enjoy dinner at one of the town’s best restaurants.
You'll spend the whole of today exploring Angkor's many awe-inspiring temples, including the 12th-century Angkor Wat, the world's largest sacred building. You will also visit the southern gate of Angkor Thom, flanked by a row of 54 stone figures on each side – gods to the left and demons to the right – and the fortified city of Angkor Thom. After lunch you'll set out for the recently restored Preah Khan temple, and then on to the atmospheric Ta Prohm, once home to 2,740 monks, but now an atmospheric crumbling ruin, enveloped by the jungle. This evening you'll enjoy dinner at one of Siem Reap's best restaurants.
Your tour comes to an end today as you transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
Superior Cabin fr £3473pp
Deluxe Cabin fr £4025pp
Signature Cabin fr £4311pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated