Beginning in the energetic city of Saigon with its history, markets and cultural opportunities you’ll cruise in five star luxury, along the backwaters and major sights of the mighty Mekong River, eventually winding your way to Cambodia. Here you can experience the sensational temples of Angkor, some of them still in the grip of the jungle, others standing apart from the forest.
You’ll visit remote fishing villages floating on vast freshwater lakes and join local communities to visit rural homes and witness traditional dances. And finally, you’ll unwind on a picture postcard beach at a desert island resort.
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Arrive in Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, you’ll be met and taken to your central hotel. You’ll be ideally placed to take in the sights, sounds and tastes of this bustling, youthful city when you take a private city tour that includes the ancient landmarks like the Old Saigon Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, Reunification Place and – time permitting – the Chinese district of Cholon and Thien Hau Temple.
Stay: Two nights in a Park Room in the Park Hyatt Hotel.
Saigon – My Tho and the Aqua Mekong After a leisurely breakfast you move off to My Tho Dock. Here you’ll board your luxurious river cruiser – the Aqua Mekong, with all the trappings of a five star hotel. Stay: Four nights in a Design Suite aboard the Aqua Mekong.
Binh Thanh/Sa Dec – My An Hung
Your cruise really begins when you call in at the rural mat-weaving village of Binh Thanh. You can also take a tour to the vibrant market of Sa Dec and visit the house of Huynh Thuy Le – lover of Marguerite Duras. The rural village theme continues in the afternoon with a visit to My An Hung, where the locals will offer you local fruits, show you their homes and perform the Unicorn Dance, accompanied by folk songs.
Chau Doc – Ka’om Samnor Border
A skiff takes you along the Bassac Canal to the photogenic floating market of Chau Doc. From there you travel overland to Long Son Pagoda on the top of Sam Mountain. You can choose to take a long bike ride through scenic countryside to Long Khanh Island or a rickshaw to Tan Chau Market, in the company of a local chef. Especially appealing if you’re interested in learning about Mekong cuisine. Today your tour takes you across the border.
Koh Oknha Tey – Preah Prosop
This morning you’ll watch skilful Khmer artisans dye and weave kroma, before venturing along the banks of the Mekong to see Buddhist temples and traditional thatched houses standing on stilts high above the water. After lunch, skiffs will take you to Preah Prosop, a remote, unchanged village surrounded by fragrant tamarind trees.
A tuk-tuk is the best way of taking in the sights of Cambodia’s capital, including the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, the Khmer art of the National Museum, the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide, the Killing Fields and the Russian Market. In the afternoon you leave the Aqua Mekong and transfer to Phnom Pen Airport for your flight to Siem Reap.
Stay: Three nights in a terrace villa at Phum Baitang.
This is surely the highlight of any visit to Cambodia, and one of the greatest ancient spectacles the world has to offer. The temples of Angkor are the cultural home of the Khmer people and rise from the jungle like a fantasy city of a long forgotten empire. Angkor Wat is a massive fortified temple with soaring, stepped towers, intricate spires and massive walls accessed by a giant stone causeway over a huge moat. In all, an eight metre wall with 20 metre high gateways encircles a centuries old city of 10 sq km – truly a wonder of the East. You’ll also visit Angkor Thom, the Bayon, the Terrace of Elephants and the Terrace of the leper King.
On your second day you’ll tour one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world – Tonle Sap – to see floating fishing villages and semi-submerged forests, plus wonderful birdlife. In the afternoon you can browse around temples like the pyramid of Takeo, and Ta Prohm, where enormous fig trees and giant creepers almost engulf the ruins.
In the early afternoon transfer to Siem Reap Airport for your flight to Sihanoukville where you’ll be met and taken to a nearby pier for your boat trip to the private island of Song Saa. After the intense excitement of Angkor it’s time to chill out and laze on an impeccable beach.
Stay: Four nights in a Jungle Villa at Song Saa Private Island Resort.
Your resort spans the heavenly islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong in the Koh Rong Archipelago and offers you a choice of overwater villas, standing on stilts with their feet in the ocean. The cuisine is world class, the sunshine almost unfailing and the water welcoming. You can also dive on the islands’ coral reefs or explore the natural landscapes and unspoiled rainforest.
Song Saa – London
Your trip home begins with a midnight boat ride and a transfer to Phnom Penn airport for your flight to Bangkok and onwards home.