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The Ultimate Invitation: The Mekong Delta, Saigon to Angkor

with Nick and Iris Van Gruisen
The Ultimate Invitation: The Mekong Delta, Saigon to Angkor The Ultimate Invitation: The Mekong Delta, Saigon to Angkor

Nick and Iris Van Gruisen take a cruise along the mighty Mekong River from the dynamic Vietnamese capital of Saigon to Cambodia’s Phnom Penh with an additional overland trip to the magical temples of Angkor.

Travel on board the brand new, all-suite river boat, the Mekong Princess, chartered exclusively for a 7-night cruise. Our party will be a maximum of 24 travellers in 12 exquisite suites. We will travel on this unique adventure through the Mekong Delta in luxury from our start in Saigon at the newly renovated Park Hyatt, to the culmination at the stylish Belmond La Residence d’Angkor, the undisputed best hotel in Siem Reap.

Highlights of the tour include the dynamic bustling life and colonial past of Saigon, taking a sampan through the floating markets of Can Tho and visiting the eccentric Cao Dai Temple. We will watch the sunrise over the famed Angkor Wat temple, see Ta Prohm, engulfed by tree roots as explorers found it, and ponder the enigmatic expression on the carved faces of Bayon temple.

View detailed itinerary here >>

DaysLocationDetail
day 1

London / Bangkok

Depart London Heathrow on a …

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London / Bangkok

Depart London Heathrow on a Thai Airways overnight flight to Bangkok.

day 2

Bangkok / Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

On …

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Bangkok / Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

On arrival in Bangkok connect to an onward Thai Airways flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. On arrival in Saigon transfer to the newly refurbished Park Hyatt hotel for a one night stay. Situated on Lam Son Square, the hotel is in an unbeatable location from which to explore the main attractions of the city.

Following lunch under own arrangements at the hotel, visit China Town, the Binh Tay Market and see Thien Hau, the 150 year old Chinese Temple or alternatively there will be a visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This network of tunnels, which stretched for over 200km, became legendary during the 1960s. The Cu Chi tunnels played a vital part in the Vietnam War in that they allowed the Viet Cong to control a large rural area only 30 to 40 km from Saigon. Welcome drinks and dinner at the hotel.

day 3

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) / Embarkation

This …

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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) / Embarkation

This morning explore the city’s colonial past with its boulevards and mid-19th century buildings as well as the ornate Hotel de Ville, the Unification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the historic Central Post Office.

Transfer to the Mekong Princess in time for lunch on board. During lunch begin to sail upstream of Saigon. Afternoon at leisure on board. Evening reception and dinner on board.

day 4

Ben Tre / Tam Binh

This morning take …

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Ben Tre / Tam Binh

This morning take a sampan along a channel of the river lined with mangroves. Visit a local coconut sweet producer, explore the family’s farm on horse cart, before a boat trip in small local boats through the narrow creeks lined with Nipah palm.

day 5

Can Tho / Thot Not

Before breakfast board …

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Can Tho / Thot Not

Before breakfast board the sampans for an early morning visit to the fascinating Cai Rang floating market near Can Tho. Visit the various boats selling produce, and see locals going about their daily lives. Continue to a local noodle factory to see production, followed by a visit to a fruit orchard to see the native fruits of Vietnam being grown. Return to the boat for breakfast and the rest of the morning at leisure.

Lunch on board. Late afternoon board the sampans to visit the village of Thot Not. Ride Vietnamese xe loi (motorised trishaw) to explore the village. En route visit a bird sanctuary with a spectacular viewing platform over the treetops to view the nesting area of a variety of protected birds. Return to the ship for dinner on board.

day 6

Gieng Island / Hong Ngu

This morning take …

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Gieng Island / Hong Ngu

This morning take sampans to Gieng Island. After a short walk around a local sampan village, where hundreds of sampans are produced daily by local families, continue to an untouched are of the island with duck farms, monkey bridges, and tropical orchards alongside the river. Take a xe loi through this island to visit a Catholic Church, which was built in the 1870s.

Return to the boat for lunch on board, followed by an afternoon at leisure.Dinner on board.

day 7

Hong Ngu / Border Crossing

Visit the local …

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Hong Ngu / Border Crossing

Visit the local island village of Hong Ngu, not far from the Vietnam-Cambodian boarder. The village is famous for the production of the Khmer scarves which they export to Cambodia. See the weaving process and embroidery artists. Continue to the local temple dedicated to the unique religion of the area, Hòa Hóa.

Return to the boat for lunch on board. Cross the boarder into Cambodia and continue up the Mekong to the area near Phnom Penh. Dinner on board.

day 8

Tonle Sap / Kampong Chhnang

This morning sail …

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Tonle Sap / Kampong Chhnang

This morning sail for Angkor Ban.
Lunch on board. On arrival visit a Cambodian family home and hear about daily life. Continue to the local school for a visit followed by a visit to the local monastery. Return to the boat and sail back towards Phnom Penh. Dinner on board.

day 9

Phnom Penh

This morning take a cyclo …

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Phnom Penh

This morning take a cyclo tour of Phnom Penh. Visit the Royal Palace to see the Throne Hall and Moonlight Pavilion, followed by the famous Silver Pagoda. Continue to the National Museum, which houses the largest collection of pre-Angkorian and Angkorian artefacts in Cambodia. Time to visit the markets and shops.

Lunch on board. This afternoon there will be the option to visit Choeung Ek, the killing fields, the center of the darkest days of Cambodian history. On the return to Phnom Penh visit Tuol Sleng (infamously known as S-21) which was converted by the Khmer Rouge from a school to prison. Return to the ship. This evening there will be an Apsara dance performance, the national dance, before dinner on board.

day 10

Phnom Penh / Siem Reap

Following breakfast disembark …

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Phnom Penh / Siem Reap

Following breakfast disembark the Mekong Princess. Transfer to Phnom Penh for a morning domestic flight to Siem Reap. On arrival in Siem Reap as an introduction to Angkor’s history, visit a private area of the Angkor Conservation Museum. In a conservation depot are safely stored a vast collection of irreplaceable carvings from the temples you will visit over the following days. Only a fraction of statues are on display at the National Museums in Phnom Pehn and Siem Reap and during this private visit you will see where the majority of the collection is held and artefacts undergoing restoration work.

Transfer to the Belmond La Residence D’Angkor Hotel where three nights are spent. An intimate luxury hotel near Angkor Wat, set within a leafy walled garden. From here you are ideally placed to explore Siem Reap and visit the temples of Angkor Wat, one of the man-made wonders of the world.

Lunch at the hotel on arrival. Following lunch, check into your room. This afternoon start exploring Asia’s most magnificent archaeological ruins, the Khmer Temples of Angkor. Built between the 7th and 11th centuries, some 70 ruins cover an area of 200 sq. km, starting with the magnificent Banteay Srei. This small complex was built in the 10th century by the spiritual mentor of King Jayavarman V and is dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. It was the birthplace of Khmer classical style architecture and the bas-relief work is the best remaining example of Khmer classical art. Uniquely Banteay Srei is built of rare pink sandstone with a series of striking and beautiful sculptures, lintels, pediments and friezes featuring exquisite ornamental carvings of gods, demons, coiling serpents and floral garlands.

Continue to the Landmine Museum. Return to the hotel. Evening Lecture by Dr Damien Evans, Director of the University of Sydney, who has worked closely with the various conservation and research authorities at Angkor. He is an expert in the collapse of Angkor, the urban and social context of its temples and remote sensing and archaeological exploration. Dinner at the hotel.

day 11

Siem Reap

This morning visit Ta Prohm, …

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Siem Reap

This morning visit Ta Prohm, built by King Jayavarman VII in 1186 as a shrine for his Queen Mother. The temple complex is overgrown with gigantic fig trees and is considered the best example of how Angkor may have looked when it was discovered by the modern world. Continue to Sala Kdei a traditional Cambodian house for refreshments before visiting Banteay Kdei, or ‘citadel of the cells’, which was used as a Buddhist monastic complex until the mid-20th century.

Return to the hotel for lunch under own arrangements. Afternoon at leisure. Early buffet dinner at the hotel before a performance at the Phare Circus.

day 12

Siem Reap

This morning leave the hotel …

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Siem Reap

This morning leave the hotel to watch sunrise at Angkor Wat. Continue to the fortified Royal city of Angkor Thom. The city has five monumental decorated gates, with the Bayon located in the middle of the former Khmer capital. Other important sights within the complex are the pyramidal Baphuon, the Terrace of the Leper Kings and the Terrace of Elephants. Supported by sculpted stone elephants, the terrace served as a giant viewing platform for royal ceremonies. Return to the hotel for breakfast, the rest of the morning at leisure.

This afternoon return to Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. The god-king Suryavarman II ordered the construction in the 12th century and dedicated the temple to the Hindu deity with which he identified – Vishnu. In the outer galleries are some of the finest and best-preserved bas-reliefs of the Khmer Art. Private drinks reception at the home-atelier of the Cambodian artist and designer Lim Muy Theam. Spend time in the tropical garden admiring a unique private art collection alongside works conceived and created on site. Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

day 13

Siem Reap / Bangkok

Breakfast at the hotel. …

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Siem Reap / Bangkok

Breakfast at the hotel. This morning there will be an optional visit to nearby Tonle Sap Lake to visit one of its floating villages.
Lunch under own arrangements. Opportunity to visit the Artisan d’Angkor and the markets. Remainder of the day at leisure.

Lunch under own arrangements. Following late check out of the hotel, transfer to the airport to take a Thai Airways evening flight to Bangkok. Dinner under own arrangements at the airport.

day 14

Bangkok / London

Just after midnight take a …

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Bangkok / London

Just after midnight take a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok to London Heathrow arriving early this morning.

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  • Rob was fab - super knowledgeable and really helpful. Will definitely use his services again.

    -
    J and CR, Malaysia, 2016