From its source high up in the Tibetan Plateau the powerful Mekong River courses for over 3,000 miles through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, providing a lifeline for millions of people.This week we are going on an adventure on the Mekong River visiting Thailand,
Cambodia, and Vietnam. This cruise is quite different from our previous cruises, but equally beautiful and full of culture and history. We will be visiting many cities and towns along the Mekong Delta. Ancient ruins, historic sites, and an opportunity to learn about new cultures, activities, and religions – this cruise vacation has it all!. *On a personal note, I was in high school during the Vietnam war but remember it well. I have talked to many veterans who would like to go back. For them, it will be a trip down memory lane-not a happy memory-but one they would like to take to see what changes the war made for Vietnam and it’s people. I hope they can join me on this memorable journey.
Fly to Hanoi, former capital of French Indochina, then transfer to our hotel for a 2-night stay, where we can relax or take a walk around Hanoi to start getting acquainted with the city.
After breakfast, we take a tour of this unique, thousand-year-old Asian capital where old and new combine in a lush setting of parks and lakes. Visit the Museum of Ethnology which includes a number of fascinating exhibits that bring Vietnam’s history and astonishingly diverse culture to life. Then tour the notorious “Hanoi Hilton,” a facility where American POWs were held captive during the Vietnam War.
In the afternoon, visit Hanoi’s Temple of Literature. Founded in 1070 as Vietnam’s first university, this mazelike compound features inviting courtyards, gateways, pavilions, walkways, lakes and a museum. Continue on to the One Pillar Pagoda, an 11th-century monument that was rebuilt after being destroyed by the French in 1954. En route, pass some colonial landmarks such as the magnificent Opera House and St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Relax this afternoon before dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 3:HANOI & SIEM REAP
In the morning, we take a leisurely ride through Hanoi’s Old Quarter by “green” electric car. Enjoy some free time before our short afternoon flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia. Check in to our hotel for a 3-night stay; tonight’s dinner is accompanied by a traditional Apsara dance show. (B, D)
DAY 4:ANGKOR WAT & SIEM REAP
Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important archeological sites in the world. We begin our day with a visit to one of Angkor’s largest Khmer temples, Angkor Wat, built for King Suryavarman II in the 12th century A.D. With its beautiful proportions and extensive, intricate bas-relief stone carvings, it is one of the most spectacular sights in Southeast Asia. Spend some time exploring the fortified city of Angkor Thom, which houses several of Angkor’s most popular sights such as the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings with their dramatic bas reliefs.
Today we also visit the mysterious Bayon Temple, known for its giant, stone carved faces with their enigmatic smiles. Dine at a local restaurant and relax this evening. (B, D)
DAY 5:ANGKOR & SIEM REAP
Today, ride to the spectacular 10th-century Hindu temple Banteay Srey (“Citadel of Women”) to see magnificent carvings of Shiva and Vishnu. Then, journey to Ta Prohm, one of the most popular of the temples of Angkor. Unlike many other buildings, it has been largely left intact as it was when discovered, with trees and large shrubs growing over the ruins.
Return to Siem Reap this afternoon and learn how local crafts are alive and well in the modern-day city. Visit a vocational center that trains 650 young apprentices every year in the traditional crafts of stone sculpture, wood carving and painting; then mingle with the locals at some of Siem Reap’s open air markets or just relax before our final dinner in Siem Reap. (B, D)
DAY 6:KAMPONG THOM & KAMPONG CHAM
After breakfast, visit a local village supported by Viking River Cruises and spend time with children at one of the village schools. Check out of our Siem Reap hotel and begin our coach tour through the Cambodian countryside which brings us to our ship in Kampong Cham, via the provincial capital of Kampong Thom. Due to its central location, this area is rapidly becoming an important hub for fishing and agriculture; it also has a rich archeological heritage, to which the 200 temples—some of which predate the Khmer empire—attest. This afternoon, board our ship; after we get settled in, meet the ship’s officers over a welcome cocktail. (B, L, D)
DAY 7:KAMPONG CHAM
This morning visit the twin holy mountains of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srey with their many temples and pagodas, still used during traditional Khmer festivals. After visit an orphanage in Kampong Cham, whose students create beautiful paintings that are available to purchase. This afternoon the ship will set sail towards a silk weaving village. Take a walk through the village and admire the rich silk fabrics. (B, L, D)
DAY 8:UDON MONASTERY & PHNOM PENH
This morning’s excursion takes us through a Cambodian village. After, take a short ride to Udon Monastery for a tour and to receive a blessing by the monks. Then continue to the next village, famous for its silversmiths. Rejoin our ship and have lunch as we cruise into Phnom Penh.
Our afternoon is free to explore Phnom Penh’s historic riverfront area, with its restaurants, art galleries and silk shops, or perhaps visit the distinctive Central Market or the “Russian Market” where you can buy jewelry, curios, clothes and souvenirs. You might prefer to visit more of the city’s wats—Wat Langka, Wat Botum, Wat Koh or Wat Ounalom—each with its own special character and purpose. Late this afternoon there will be a presentation aboard on recent Cambodian history by a local expert. Dinner is served on board. (B, L, D)
DAY 9:PHNOM PENH
After breakfast, disembark in Cambodia’s lovely waterfront capital and explore the city in style, in a cyclo. This mode of transportation provides many Cambodians with a source of income and visitors with a speedy and enjoyable way to move around. See the magnificent Royal Palace with its spectacular Silver Pagoda, built in the 19th century by the French but inspired by the centuries-old architecture of the Khmer. Then take a tour of the National Museum of Cambodia, which houses treasures of Khmer art and craftsmanship and also displays art that predates the mighty empire.
After lunch, join an excursion to the sobering memorial in the Tuol Sleng detention center, a former high school in which thousands of victims of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime died, and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, or explore the city’s maze of small alleys, markets and busy streets on your own if you prefer. Tonight’s dinner is accompanied by a folkloric performance. (B, L, D)
DAY 10:MEKONG RIVER SCENIC CRUISING
Sail down the Mekong, one of the world’s great rivers, toward the Vietnamese border. The Mekong is truly the Mother River of Southeast Asia, sustaining civilizations through the centuries. Pass by some of the Mekong rice fields—the Khmer empire was founded on a rice surplus and rice is still the main staple of Vietnamese cuisine. (B, L, D)
DAY 11:TÂN CHÂU & VINH HOA
Today we will have a rare glimpse of rural life as it has been lived for ages. Begin our morning with a ride on a traditional rickshaw in Tân Châu. Afterward, visit the floating fish farm by wooden sampan, then take a boat ride to Vinh Hoa, known as “Evergreen Island.” Here we take a short walk to see various methods of traditional Vietnamese farming and the crafts and other daily activities of local people firsthand.
Set sail in the afternoon, observing daily life along the river along the way. This evening, enjoy a screening of the filml’Amant (The Lover) which will prepare us for tomorrow’s visit to Sa Dec. (B, L, D)
DAY 12:SA DEC & CÁI BÈ
This morning, board a sampan boat to explore the backwaters and canals of the Delta. Small factories line the river channels here; get a glimpse of industry in the region with a visit to a brick factory. Stop in Sa Dec and you will see the house of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le, the protagonist in Marguerite Duras’s beloved autobiographical novel,l’Amant (The Lover). Duras, who grew up in what was then French Indochina, is one of France’s best-selling authors. After lunch, visit the colorful floating market of Cái Bè; see local workers producing rice noodles, coconut candy and a host of other handmade products. This evening, attend an onboard screening of the 2002 film The Quiet American, based on Graham Greene’s novel set in 1952 Saigon. (B, L, D)
DAY 13:MY THO & HO CHI MINH CITY
Bid farewell to our ship this morning as our cruise through Cambodia and Vietnam comes to an end. Disembark in My Tho, a busy river port not far from the capital of Southern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. Upon arrival, we take a tour of Reunification Palace—the site of South Vietnam’s defeat. See the Central Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. After our tour, we check in to our hotel for a 2-night stay, then spend the rest of the day at leisure, getting acquainted with this lively city at your own pace—see some of the historic French colonial architecture and soak up some of the city’s youthful energy. Tonight’s dinner is in a local restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 14:HO CHI MINH CITY
After breakfast, begin another tour of this bustling metropolis with a visit to its historic center. Take a stroll along Dong Khoi Street, the main shopping boulevard in the old colonial heart. See the grand city hall, the old opera house with its soaring arched entryway, the Chinatown area and a Lacquer Factory. Complete the morning tour at Ben Thành Market.
The rest of our afternoon is free for exploring the city’s neighborhoods or doing a bit of last-minute shopping at the local markets before this evening’s festive final dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
DAY 15:HO CHI MINH CITY
After breakfast, check out of our hotel and proceed to the airport for our return flight.* Or, continue your Southeast Asia adventure with a 3-night stay in Bangkok, Thailand’s astounding capital. (B)
Added Bonus on this River Cruise:
2 for 1 cruise/land tour
2 for 1 airfare
Limited time offer – This Mekong is currently on sale!!Please call 919.708.8217 for pricing and more details.