RICHES OF THE MEKONG RIVER CRUISE & TOUR
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Start your journey in Cambodia’s Siem Reap, with three days touring the temples of the UNESCO Site Angkor Archeological Park, before embarking on your Mekong River cruise.
Over a seven-night cruise to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, we will visit Cambodia’s former royal capital Oudong and go on an oxcart ride through a rural village. We’ll also visit the infamous Killing Fields from the reign of the Khmer Rouge and see historic pagodas, floating markets and a Buddhist monastery along the way.
We will also visit silk, rattan mat, candy and rice paper making workshops in Vietnam, before spending two additional days on land exploring buzzing Ho Chi Minh City.
Cambodia: Siem Reap - Angkor Thom - Ta Prohm - Banteay Srei - Angkor Wat - Koh Chen - Phnom Penh - Mekong River - Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City
* Roundtrip airfare
• Plaza Premium airport lounge pass
• Siem Reap: two nights 4-star hotel accommodation with breakfast
• Full-day Angkor Wat tour
• AmaWaterways cruise: seven nights luxury sailing onboard AmaDara with meals (onboard the cruise only) and free-flowing beer & wine at lunch & dinner
• Shore excursions
• Ho Chi Minh City: two nights 5-star hotel accommodation with breakfast
• Half-day city tour and Cu Chi tunnels
• Farewell dinner
• Local English-speaking tour guide
• Merit Travel tour host**
• All transfers, taxes and gratuities***
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DAY 1 | Apr. 17, 2020 | Toronto/Vancouver - Siem Reap
Board your overnight flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
DAY 2 | Apr. 18, 2020 | Siem Reap
Arrive in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the gateway to Angkor Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the former capital of the Khmer Empire. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel and check in to your pool-view room.
Accommodation at Shinta Mani Shack (2 nights)
DAY 3 | Apr. 19, 2020 | Siem Reap (B)
This morning enjoy a visit of Angkor Wat temple, the largest temple in the world, with a volume of stone equaling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt. Its symmetrical towers are stylized on the modern Cambodian flag. Conceived by Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat took an estimated 30 years to build. It is believed to have been a funeral temple for the king and has been occupied continuously by Buddhist monks and is well preserved.
We will also visit the Ta Prohm temple, the temple that has been left largely in its natural state since its “re-discovery” by French explorers.
Surrounded by jungle, its labyrinth of stone hallways is overgrown with the roots and limbs of massive banyan trees, which envelop the stone like tentacles. It is one of the largest temples at Angkor, dedicated in 1186. Historians have noted its mystical charm. In the afternoon, we continue to Banteay Srei; ‘the Woman Citadel’ - a tiny, enchanting temple, which is one of the jewels in this remarkable city. Built of red sandstone in the tenth century and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the carved male and female figures in the niches are exquisitely executed in both style and proportion.
Continue to Banteay Samre, a temple at Angkor. Built under Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II in the early 12th century, it is a Hindu temple in the Angkor Wat style.
DAY 4 | Apr. 20, 2020 | Siem Reap - Prek Kdam (B, L, D)
After breakfast, transfer to the pier in Prek Kdam, a small village on the Tonle river, to board the luxurious AmaDara for your seven-night cruise. Join your fellow guests this evening for a welcome dinner as the ship sails to Kampong Chhnang.
Accommodation onboard the AmaDara (7 nights)
DAY 5 | Apr. 21, 2020 | Kampong Chhnag - Koh Chen (B, L, D)
A local motorboat takes you into the lakeside wetlands that form the mouth of Tonle Sap River. Enjoy the stunning variety of bird life here as well as tranquil floating villages and local markets in the water front. In the afternoon, take a leisurely walk to the small village of Koh Chen, which specializes in silver and copper-smithing.
DAY 6 | Apr. 22, 2020 | Oudong - Kampong Tralach - Phnom Penh (B, L, D)
Situated on a picturesque hillside not far from Phnom Penh, lies Oudong, Cambodia’s former royal capital. Today, Oudong is a place of pilgrimage for Cambodians. While here, be treated to a memorable Buddhist Blessing Ceremony at a monastery. In Kampong Tralach, you’ll have another truly memorable excursion – an oxcart ride through a local village.
DAY 7 | Apr. 23, 2020 | Phnom Penh (B, L, D)
You will have a choice of excursions this morning. Visit Cambodia’s infamous Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge’s grim Tuol Sleng S21 detention centre (Genocide Museum) just outside the city or if you prefer to stay in Phnom Penh, you can visit the bustling yellowcoloured Central Market.
After lunch back onboard, you’ll set off to explore the highlights of the city, followed by the Royal Palace, the spectacular Silver Pagoda and the National Museum, which has an outstanding collection of Khmer crafts.
DAY 8 | Apr. 24, 2020 | Phnom Penh - Tan Chau (B, L, D)
Spend the day cruising the Mekong River as your ship crosses the border into Vietnam.
DAY 9 | Apr. 25, 2020 | Tan Chau - Sa Dec (B, L, D)
Enjoy a visit to Tan Chau, a small Mekong River town unspoiled by tourism. Take a boat ride through the narrow channels of the Mekong River to several scenic locations, including a small village known as “Evergreen Island.” Return to Tan Chau, where you will visit a workshop that makes rattan mats. You may opt to take a traditional “xe-loi” (trishaw) ride around the town, with stops at artisans’ workshops, such as a silk-making workshop.
DAY 10 | Apr. 26, 2020 | Sa Dec - Xeo Quyt - Cai Be (B, L, D)
Once ashore in Sa Dec, tour the town where French writer Marguerite Duras spent many years in her youth. Visit a colourful local market and the 19th century house of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le, Duras’ Chinese paramour.
Later, board a motor coach for Xeo Quyt, once used as a base during the French and U.S. wars and now an important ecological site.
You will have an opportunity to visit candy and rice paper-making workshops. Or alternatively, visit the historic Kiet Old House. Cap the day off with a festive farewell dinner onboard.
DAY 11 | Apr. 27, 2020 | Cai Be - Ho Chi Minh City (B)
Your cruise comes to an end as the ship docks at My Tho Port.
Transfer to your hotel, in a Premium Deluxe room.
This afternoon enjoy a half-day city tour. We start our city tour with a visit to the Reunification Palace, formerly named the Presidential Palace, an important city landmark that was assured its place in history on April 30, 1975. On this day, the first North Vietnamese tanks rumbled past, signalling the Fall of Saigon and ultimately the end of the Vietnam War.
It is now a museum complete with period meeting areas, war rooms and a basement communication centre. After your visit, walk the short distance to Notre Dame Cathedral. This romantic church dates back to the late 19th century and is a popular backdrop for wedding photographs. Across the street from the cathedral is the city’s striking French colonial-era post office, whilst Hotel de Ville de Saigon, officially Ho Chi Minh City Hall, is another of the city’s more prominent buildings.
Continue to the Museum of War Remnants housed in the former U.S. Information Service building. Many of the atrocities documented in the museum were well publicized in the West. This visit is likely to jolt the senses; many of the photographs are grisly and shocking.
Atrocities illustrated are from U.S. sources and include a picture of a suspected Viet Cong being pushed from a helicopter because he refused to "cooperate". In the yard of the museum, U.S. armored vehicles, artillery pieces, bombs and infantry weapons are displayed. After visiting the museum, we will visit some public statues.
The final stop today is the impressive Jade Emperor Pagoda. With the pungent smell of incense hanging heavy in the air and an interior packed full of ornate carvings and fierce-looking statues, this Taoist temple is one of the most atmospheric places of worship in the city. Transfer back to your hotel after your visit or alternatively be dropped off at Ben Thanh market for personal exploration and a spot of souvenir shopping.
The rest of your day is at leisure.
Accommodation at the Grand Saigon Hotel (2 nights)
DAY 12 | Apr. 28, 2020 | Ho Chi Minh City (B, D)
After breakfast enjoy a half-day tour to see the Cu Chi Tunnels.
This evening enjoy a farewell dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant.
DAY 13 | Apr. 29, 2020 | Ho Chi Minh City - Toronto/Vancouver (B)
After breakfast transfer to the airport for your journey home.
*CDN$ p.p. dbl. occ. Taxes included. Based on a balcony stateroom cat. C. Upgrade to a balcony stateroom cat. B or similar: $720. Upgrade to a balcony stateroom cat. A: $1,060. Upgrade to a suite stateroom with balcony cat. S: $1,650. Upgrade to a luxury suite stateroom with balcony cat. L: $3,185. Airfare available from most Canadian airports, please enquire. **Minimum 16 passengers required for a Merit Travel tour host. ***Gratuities are included onboard the cruise. Not included: Vietnam visa fee ($150) and Cambodia visa fee done on arrival (USD$30). Final payment is due 120 days prior to departure. Full terms and conditions are available.
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