This itinerary is a whistle-stop tour of the two beautiful countries of Indochina. It takes in five World Heritage areas, two capital cities and the region’s largest metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City. The bias is towards the cultural aspects of Indochina, but as you’ll be travelling tailor-made, you can modify the programme to suit your personal preferences. Just ask us to make whatever amendments you want, and you’ll have a revised itinerary within 24hrs – our unique tailor-made service is free, however many changes you make.
Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City - My Tho - Cai Be (Lunch, Dinner, Driver pickup)
After breakfast by your own account, you’ll be driven to My Tho, about a two-hour journey. Upon arrival at the port and completing the necessary immigration formalities, you’ll board a replica river boat, set sail around 1pm, and sit down to lunch. In the afternoon, you’ll moor close to the mainland near Cai Be and transfer to a traditional junk to visit the ‘An Kiet House’, once the residence of a prominent mandarin. Descendents of the Kiet family will provide tea. After wandering though the house’s lush vegetation and fruit orchards, you’ll re-embark to head for Dong Hoa Hiep commune. There, you’ll see the skills of local artisans working on boat yards, brick works and traditional roofing. Then it’s back to the boat for dinner, relaxation and sleep.
Don’t be misled by other companies’ descriptions of peaceful islands at these destinations. Neither are islands, and both are busy landing stages for nearly all of the many tour boats plying the Mekong. Nevertheless, they are worth visiting to look at examples of the local culture.
Day 2: Cai Be - Long Xuyen - Chau Doc (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide on board)
If you want to see the authentic Cai Be floating market, you’ll need to get up very early when the locals meet and barter – later in the morning it will be full of tourists. Early birds will also benefit when they leave the junk to visit the French Gothic Cathedral, port area and colonial buildings. The junk will then take you through a maze of channels lined with dense foliage and fruit orchards, eventually disembarking to visit a traditional family-run brick kiln and a wide range of varied cottage industries - a workshop where they construct massive coffins stuffed with kapok (a style unique to Mekong) is particularly interesting. A visit to Vinh Long to visit a Bonsai Garden and fruit farm concludes the day’s activities, save dinner and another night on board.
Day 3: Chau Doc - Border Crossing to Phnom Penh (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide on board)
Today, you’ll leave Vietnam, but not before a cruise down the canals and backwaters by local ferry boat eventually joining the Bassac River at Chau Doc, one of the Mekong’s major branches. Then you’ll transfer to a small boat to visit a floating fish farm and a small Muslim colony, descendants of the ancient Cham people. Later, a trishaw ride around unassuming Chau Doc. There’s not much to see bar a few French-colonial buildings and a bustling market which is worth a visit. After lunch on board, your craft will cast off to head to the Cambodian border and the usual formalities.
The Bassac is an international shipping route, so expect large ships heading to and fro. You’ll cruise steadily upstream up towards Phnom Penh while you watch the river traffic before settling down for dinner and a night’s rest while your boat moors near Cambodia’s capital city.
Day 4: Phnom Penh (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide on board)
After breakfast on board, your day begins with the tour around Phnom Penh. Despite the savagery of the Khmer years, it retains some of its French charm. The city has several impressive Wats, including Wat Ounalom, Wat Phnom and the newly-painted Wat Lang Ka. The Royal Palace complex including the famous Silver Pagoda is worth a visit – fortunately, some of the artefacts and treasures survived within its walls to provide a glimpse of the magnificence of one of the world’s richest empires.
The displays of Khmer history and crafts in the National Museum are interesting. However, perhaps the highlight is building itself - an outstanding example of fusion of Khmer and colonial architecture.
An afternoon excursion to the Khmer Rouge’s grim Tuol Sleng detention centre, and the so-called ‘Killing Fields’ is a grim experience. The prosaic location in the suburbs of the city adds to the horrors that took place within. Unfortunately, dinner conversation is likely to be sombre during your last night on board the RV Mekong.
Despite the city’s harrowing history, Phnom Penh’s population is beginning to recover its light-hearted reputation. A lively night life is beginning to develop and there’s a sense of optimism.
Day 5: Phnom Penh -Kampong Cham (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide on board)
Early morning departure from Phnom Penh and a stop at the little-known Chong Koh silk weaving village for a morning walk at leisure. We cruise past the Mekong’s timeless villages and river life with extensive fishing activities. The scenery is very lovely here, and in the distance, forested hills rise. On the river above Phnom Penh there is little shipping, just real Cambodian life. In the afternoon we stop at Peam Chi Kang village to visit the wat or monastery and school. Passengers are at leisure to explore this peaceful and friendly community. In the wat the splendid village racing boats are stored. You’ll spend the night on board.
Day 6: Kampong Cham Area (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide on board)
A morning journey upriver will take you to the hilltop pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey. Dating from the 8th century, these ancient brick structures characterise the architecture of the Chenla Empire which predated the glories of Angkor. Sail back downstream over lunch for an exploration of the Kampong Cham Area. We travel by bus to the 12th century Angkorian temple of Wat Nokor. This colourful temple is unique in Cambodia, as a modern wat is set within the ruins of an ancient temple. We continue to the eco village of Cheungkok supported by the French-Cambodian NGO AMICA and the Kampong Cham orphanage, supported by the Pandaw Trust programme. Legends abound about the origins of these hills, and there are many pagodas and shrines on the hilltops.
Day 7: Tonle Sap Lake (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide on board)
The great lake dominates Cambodia and is over 150km in length. Here bird life is profuse, and from the middle of the lake one cannot even see the shores. There is a great stillness and tranquillity as we pass floating fishing villages. We stop to explore a fishing village on the water’s edge. Here bird life is profuse and in the midst of the lake one cannot even see the shores. There is a great stillness and tranquillity on the Tonle Lake. You’ll stay the night on board
Day 8: Siem Reap (Breakfast, Driver pickup)
You’ll have the morning relaxing with the leisurely cruise. After disembarking, you’ll be met and driven to Siem Reap International airport for your departure.
Alternative for post-cruise extension in Siem Reap 3 days:
Day 8: Siem Reap (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
Arriving at Siem Reap, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. This day and the next will be devoted to the Temple complex, of which Angkor Wat is a key element. You’ll begin with a visit to Angkor Thom, starting with the Bayon, a bizarre structure of several architectural changes reflecting a switch from Hinduism (the foundations) to Buddhism (the superstructure). Your next visit will be to the Elephant and Leper Emperor Terraces, followed by the Baphoun Temple, which is now nearing the end of an eight-year multi-million dollar restoration programme. After lunch, your guide will take you to some of the outer sites including Ta Keo, a five-tiered pyramid, Sras Srang Lake and landing terrace and Prasat Kravan (also known as the Cardomom Sanctuary). Your overnight accommodation will be in Siem Reap.
Day 9 Siem Reap (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Guide)
The day’s activities will be devoted to the ‘Grand Circuit’, the outer ring of smaller temples such as Pre Rup and East Mebon, both built in the tenth century, and Ta Som, a temple that has not yet been restored. You’ll visit Ta Prohm, strangled by massive tree roots and typical of the condition of the whole complex when it was discovered in 1860 by French naturalist Henri Mouhot, and Neak Pean, a Himalayan-style lake and sanctuary. In the afternoon, you’ll explore Angkor Wat itself, the largest, and for most people, the most impressive temple in the complex. As dusk draws near, a walk to the summit of Phnom Bakheng Hill will afford a panoramic view of the whole complex lit by the rays of the setting sun, weather permitting of course. Your overnight accommodation will be in Siem Reap.
Day 10: Siem Reap (Breakfast, Driver pickup)
After breakfast, you’ll be free until your driver arrives at your hotel to take you to Siem Reap airport for your departure flight.
- Vietnam Visa On Arrival pre-approved letter.
- Private door-to-door pick-up & drop-off services.
- Travel in an appropriate private air-conditioned vehicle with an experienced safe driver.
- Breakfast and accommodation sharing a twin or double room.
- The services of experienced English-speaking guides as indicated in the itinerary
- Boat cruises as specified in the programme. All boats will be fully licensed and comply with current safety regulations.
- Lunches and dinners (as specified in the itinerary) in the best local restaurants and full board on the boat in The Mekong Delta River
- All sightseeing tickets.
- VAT and other taxes
- 24/7 hotline support guaranteed
- International flight tickets and airport tax.
- Lunches and dinners, except as specified above.
- Drinks, gratuities and personal expenses.
- Travel insurance
- Surcharges for Peak seasons (if any)
- Vietnam visa stamp fee
- Other services not mentioned above.
- Alternative in blue