DAY 1: Depart U.S.
Take connecting flights to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
DAY 2: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Arrive in Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor, in the evening. We spend the next three nights at outstanding La Residence d, Angkor, built along the Siem Reap River in traditional Khmer style, with spacious rooms with teak furniture and bamboo screens.
DAY 3: Angkor / Siem Reap
In the morning we venture out for an introduction to the area at the fine small temple of Banteay Srei, known for its exceptional carvings. After lunch, we stop at Les Artisans d Angkor, where we see how local artisans preserve age-old Khmer arts. Then we visit the evocative temple Ta Prohm. The jungle has been allowed to continue growing here, framing the structures with the twisted roots and branches of ceiba and fig trees, giving you an idea of what archaeologists encountered when they began their work in the area. This evening we gather for welcome drinks and dinner at our hotel. (B,L,D)
DAY 4: Angkor / Siem Reap
We begin early in order to get to Angkor Wat in time for sunrise. This visionary 12th-century temple, the world’s largest religious monument, represents the apogee of Khmer art and architecture. Crowned by five towers, with elaborate bas-reliefs and a profusion of statues that dramatically depict complex religious tales, along with some 2,000 carved apsaras (beautiful female spirits), Angkor Wat is enthralling. We return to our hotel for a late breakfast. In the afternoon we take tuk-tuks (motorized taxis) to the great remains of Angkor Thom, seeing the Bayon Temple, known for its dozens of serene stone faces of King Jayavarman VII, and the Terrace of the Elephants. Tonight we have dinner at a fine local restaurant. (B,D)
DAY 5: Kampong Cham/Embark Jahan
This morning we drive eastward, with a picnic lunch, to the Mekong River. We embark Jahan, our home for the next seven nights, at the town of Kampong Cham. In the late afternoon we begin sailing along the Mekong, with welcome drinks and dinner aboard our ship. (B,L,D)
DAY 6: Wat Hanchey/ Angkor Ban
Wat Hanchey, which we visit in the morning, is a large temple complex atop a hill overlooking an exceptionally pretty stretch of the Mekong, offering outstanding views. There is a lot to see here: an 8th-century temple from the pre-Angkor Chenla period, an Angkor-era temple, some fine contemporary temples, and a school. In the afternoon we visit the community of Angkor Ban, with many old-style houses that are built on stilts some of them very tall. There’s a chance to walk through town and meet the friendly local residents. There is a fine pagoda along the riverside, and views of the fields across the river that runs into the Mekong. (B,L,D)
DAY 7: Kampong Chhnang/Kampong Tralach
From the town of Kampong Chhnang, we drive a short way to a village where pottery is still made for sale to local residents by traditional methods. We’ll see how the pots are made and learn about the uses of the palm tree, complete with a taste of palm sugar if you’re so inclined. Then local boats will take us along the Tonle Sap for a glimpse into a unique way of life: seeing the floating houses and shops that line the riverbanks here. This afternoon, we visit Kampong Tralach, on the banks of the Tonle Sap River, a small village that relies on subsistence fishing and working the rice paddies. We’ll take local oxcarts through the rice paddies, seeing the age-old rhythms of life in the Cambodian countryside. (B,L,D)
DAY 8: Phnom Penh
Today will be a full, rewarding day exploring the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, situated at the confluence of the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap Rivers. We begin with a cyclo (bicycle taxi) ride to the magnificent Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, home and place of worship to Cambodia’s kings. The architecture, displays and furnishings are remarkable. We continue to the excellent National Museum, which has sculpture and many other artifacts from Khmer temples and other aspects of Cambodia’s history. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former prison where exhibits show the determination of Cambodians that this should never happen again. If you’re so inclined, venture to the countryside to the Choeung Ek killing fields,, where thousands of Cambodians were murdered and buried in mass graves. Back aboard ship, an evening Apsara, dance performance shows how well the arts have been able to reestablish themselves. (B,L,D)
DAY 9: Sailing the Mekong
As we sail along the Mekong, there’s a chance to see life along the river, with traditional ships, barges and freighters plying the waterway. There will be a chance to enjoy Jahan’s many amenities, to hear talks by our staff and for our chefs to show you how to prepare some of Cambodia and Vietnam’s signature dishes. We cross the border into Vietnam, where we will spend the rest of our journey. (B,L,D)
DAY 10: Chau Doc, Vietnam
Friendly Chau Doc has one of Vietnam’s most interesting markets, with an astonishing variety of tropical fruits, vegetables and other goods. We continue to a small floating market on the river and a floating fish farm, where we see fish being fed through trap doors in the floating platforms. In the afternoon, we continue sailing the Mekong. (B,L,D) DAY 11: Sadec/Cai Be
From the hamlet of Sadec, we’ll take a local boat along a channel off the main river, with much activity to be seen along the way. We’ll visit a small community where the villagers grow, process and fashion water hyacinths into floor mats and rattan baskets a real slice of life in the Mekong Delta. At the town of Cai Be, we see the floating market, where people in boats sell their wares. Each boat has an object attached to a pole that shows what is being sold. We then visit a rice factory,, where varieties of rice-based candies are made. Rice husks are reused as fuel for the cooking process, and ash is sold to famers for use as fertilizer. On board Jahan, we have a gala farewell dinner. (B,L,D)
DAY 12: My Tho/Saigon
We disembark Jahan in the morning in My Tho, and visit the great Vinh Trang pagoda, originally built in 1850. We then transfer to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam’s greatest commercial center, where we’ll have panoramic views from a tower in the heart of town. We’ll see the grand exteriors of the 1911 Opera House, the former city hall dating from 1908 and the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red-brick edifice with twin spires; and visit the General Post Office, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Then check in to the outstanding Park Hyatt or InterContinental Asiana Saigon, located in the heart of the city. In the late afternoon, we meet with a local expert on Vietnam’s modern history. This evening, we gather at an excellent local restaurant for dinner. (B,L,D)
DAY 13: Saigon/Depart
In the morning we see some of Saigon’s historic landmarks, which include a rich selection of fine colonial buildings. We continue to the Reunification Palace, headquarters of the South Vietnamese Government during the Vietnam War. The breaching of the gates by North Vietnamese tanks symbolically marked the war’s end. If you wish, end at the War Remnants Museum, which gives a strong view of the war through the eyes of the Vietnamese. The afternoon is free, or if you wish you can visit, with our compliments, the Cu Chi tunnels, part of a huge network of tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war. Rooms are reserved until departure, and in the evening we transfer to the airport for flights home. (B)
DAY 14: Arrive U.S.
Arrive in the U.S.
1 – 10 11 – 14
Please note: All day-by-day breakdowns are a sampling of the places we intend to visit, conditions permitting.
Hoi An, Hue, Hanoi and Halong Bay
Experience the flavors and customs of Vietnam on an eight-day extension to explore the imperial capital of Hue, the ancient town of Hoi An, and spend a night sailing among Halong Bay’s