Meandering Mekong

Meandering Mekong

10 Days / 9 Nights Saigon to Siem Reap or Vice Versa

Price from$2,364

• Ho Chi Minh City • Cu Chi Tunnels • Floating Markets • Phnom Penh • Siem Reap • Temples of Angkor

The Mekong Adventure is extremely popular with travellers. It combines the attractions of Vietnam's capital, Ho Chi Minh City with the enchanting history of the cities and temples in Cambodia. Travel up the Mekong River to Phnom Penh, crossing the border between Vietnam and Cambodia on an exciting speedboat journey. This fascinating tour doesn't end here! Explore the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh and continue to Siem Reap to be awestruck by the enchanting Temples of Angkor.

The Mekong Delta is an extremely fertile area and is responsible for providing the rice that feeds the entire country! The colourful villages and the floating markets of the Mekong give you an insight into the daily life of the Vietnamese and Cambodian people.

Meandering Mekong map

Day 1: Arrive Saigon On arrival in Saigon, you will be met by your English speaking guide and transferred to your hotel by private car. (The regular check-in time for all hotels is 2.00 pm. Early check-in is not included)

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Blue Diamond Hotel - Deluxe Room 4 star: Grand Silver Land Hotel & Spa - Premier Deluxe Room 5 star: Caravelle Hotel - Deluxe Room

Day 2: Saigon (B) Saigon is the country's commercial centre and, with over nine million inhabitants and five million motorbikes, a city that never sleeps. Despite the well-documented hustle and bustle, Saigon retains its connections with the past. A walking tour to admire Saigon's historic landmarks is a must. Transfer to Dong Khoi Street, or Rue Catinat as it was known in the time of the French occupation, to discover some of the beautiful French colonial buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th century. Appreciate the splendidly restored exteriors of the Opera House and the former Hotel de Ville which are still two of the finest buildings in Saigon.

Wander up to the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires based on the original construction from Paris. (It is only possible to visit inside when no service is being performed) Then head across the square to the Central Post Office, designed by the French architect, Gustav Eiffel, before he had risen to fame for the Eiffel Tower. The former Presidential Palace, the headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American war, is a short drive away and reveals the history of Saigon during its turbulent recent past. Head out of the city centre on a short 6km drive to District 5 to visit Thien Hau temple, built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century to honour the Goddess of the Sea. The temple's ornate interior courtyard is always full of life as worshippers from the local Chinese community who come to offer their prayers. Take time to make a wish, write it on a small card and attach it to one of the incense coils in the local custom.

Continue your visit to FITO (closed on Monday), the first museum of traditional medicine in Vietnam, offering an insight into how traditional medicine was used in the past. Return to your hotel.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Blue Diamond Hotel - Deluxe Room 4 star: Grand Silver Land Hotel & Spa - Premier Deluxe Room 5 star: Caravelle Hotel - Deluxe Room

Day 3: Saigon > Cu Chi > Tay Ninh > Saigon (B,L) Start early in the morning with a two hour drive northwest of Saigon to the Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnel complex was initially started in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. The tunnels also served as communication routes, storage facilities for food and weapon caches as well as hospitals and living quarters for guerrilla fighters throughout the American war. A visit to the underground villages will provide a better understanding of the tunnels' history, the hardship of life underground and the Vietnamese resilience during combat. Continue your journey with 1.5 hour drive the Cao Dai Great Temple. Indigenous to Vietnam and founded in the early 20th century, Cao Dai is a fusion of the best from Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism with influences from Christianity and Islam. The elaborate temple's architecture reflects the combination of religions. Visitors are welcomed inside the temple to observe the colorful service at midday. There is a viewing balcony which affords excellent views and photography is permitted. A Vietnamese lunch is served at a simple, local restaurant. Transfer back to Saigon in the late afternoon.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Blue Diamond Hotel - Deluxe Room 4 star: Grand Silver Land Hotel & Spa - Premier Deluxe Room 5 star: Caravelle Hotel - Deluxe Room

Day 4: Saigon > Ben Tre > Can Tho (B,L) Depart for a 1.5 hour drive from Saigon to Ben Tre, one of the country's southern provinces, situated in the Delta of the Mekong River. Take in the lush surroundings of rice paddies and fruit farms alongside the highway as you leave behind the busy city. Arrive at the waterfront pier and embark on an enjoyable motor boat excursion, take a glimpse at the Delta scenery, houses built on stilts and local fish farms along the way.

Upon arrival at Turtle Island, visit a local house and be introduced to the owner, sample freshly picked fruit and coconut milk while relaxing in the natural surroundings of fruit orchards. Chat with your host and stroll through the garden to get an insight into daily farming life. Take some time to enjoy a leisurely walk through the village observing tropical gardens along the way. You will have the chance to see a family run-business where they make coconut candy directly in front of the pier. Continue on your journey by sampan; be paddled by a personalized rower while you take the time to discover the maze of small canals. Bid farewell to your friendly boat rower; take a short stroll under through a shaded area of coconut gardens before reaching a rest-stop to enjoy a cup of honey tea and a traditional folk song performance. Lunch will be served at My Tho, taste some local delicacies before continuing on a two hour drive to Can Tho.

Arrive in Can Tho at your hotel where you will be free at leisure this evening.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Kim Tho Hotel - Superior Room 4 star: Victoria Can Tho Resort - Superior Room 5 star: Victoria Can Tho Resort - Superior Room

Day 5: Can Tho > Chau Do > Tra Su Nature Reserve (B,L) This morning, rise early and get a unique taste of life in the Mekong. Board a local boat and explore the colorful Cai Rang floating market, where many boats laden with fruits, vegetables and fish jostle for trade. Sellers advertise their wares by crying out across the waters or tie their goods to a tall pole attached to their boat so that buyers can see from a distance what is being sold. This memorable experience makes for many excellent photo opportunities.

Back on shore drive north-west for 3 hours towards Chau Doc. Situated on the Vietnam and Cambodia border, Chau Doc is where Vietnamese, Champa and Khmer ethnic groups live in harmony. Upon arrival in Chau Doc, transfer to the hotel for check-in and lunch.

Around 3:00 pm, enjoy a 45-minute drive to The Tra Su Nature Reserve which is an ecological heaven. It is the habitat of many unique water birds and colonies of bats. Tra Su flooded indigo forest covers about 845 hectares and is best visited from July to February as the bird colonies gather in the reserve to breed. You can explore the area by motor boat and rowing sampan on the carpet of water-fern. On the way to Tra Su Forest, stop by a Khmer village and familiarize with the local technique of palm sugar producing. Palm trees are very important to the Cambodian minority in the southern province of An Giang, as they provide various production opportunities through the usage of the stem, leaf, trunk and flowers creating the palm juice and sugar. Return to your hotel in the early evening.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Chau Pho Hotel - Deluxe Room 4 star: Victoria Chau Doc Hotel - Superior Room 5 star: Victoria Chau Doc Hotel - Superior Room

Day 6: Chau Doc > Phnom Penh (B) After an early breakfast, transfer to the pier to take the speed boat to Phnom Penh. On arrival, you will be met at the pier and transferred to your hotel.

The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are two of the most striking buildings in the capital and considered as some of the finest examples of Khmer architecture. They were initially constructed in 1866 by the French. The Royal Palace is home to the current King Sihamoni. The neighbouring Silver Pagoda stands out in its own distinctive way. The floor consists of 5,329 solid silver tiles to which the building owes its name. The building houses many gold and jeweled Buddha statues including the highly prized 17th century baccarat crystal Buddha. Other important buildings that can be found within the compound include Wat Preah Keo Morokat, where Royal ceremonies are performed, and stupas such as King Ang Doung Stupa - the burial site of former King Norodom. (Open from 8.00am to 10:30am and 2.00pm to 5.00pm. Women should cover their shoulders and both men and women should cover their knees).

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: White Mansion Hotel - Deluxe Room 4 star: Amanjaya Hotel - Junior Suite (Double Bed only) 5 star: Raffles Hotel Le Royal - State Room

Day 7: Phnom Penh > Siem Reap (B) Transfer to the airport for your morning flight to Siem Reap. On arrival, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. (The regular check-in time for all hotels is 2.00 pm. Early check-in is not included).

Start exploring the stunning temples by tuk-tuk. Start with a visit to one of the wonders of the modern world, the intricately carved Khmer ruins at Angkor Wat. The temple still displays hundreds of fine carvings of Apsara and Hindu mythology in its bas-relief. Stroll around the massive hallways and discover small shrines still in use today by the local people. You will led by a Cambodian scholar who will help you to get a better understanding of Khmer history, culture, archaeology and civilization. To end this eye-opening first visit to the complex of Angkor we rise 200 metres by a tethered helium balloon (if weather permits) from the plains to witness sunset over the temple and jungle.

This evening, enjoy a simple home-cooked dinner with a typical Khmer family - enjoy the well-known Khmer hospitality and interact with family members.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Tara Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 4 star: Victoria Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 5 star: Raffles Grand Angkor Hotel - State Room

Day 8: Siem Reap (B) Head to the ancient Royal city of Angkor Thom with its centre piece, the Bayon temple. At first glance, it may seem like a shapeless mass of stone, but further scrutiny reveals towers with enigmatic faces of former King Jayavarman VII looking into every direction. Continue your exploration with a visit to the Terrace of the Elephants, which served as a platform from where the King could welcome back his victorious army. Attached is the Terrace of the Leper King which holds detailed carvings winding along a narrow passage way that leads to the Baphuon complex.

Head back to Siem Reap to rest and to enjoy lunch on your own before continuing to Ta Prohm. This beautiful temple is overgrown with fig trees, giving a haunting yet exotic atmosphere. The magnificent roots of the trees have merged over the centuries with the temple's huge stone blocks, emphasizing a 'forgotten city' feeling. In the late afternoon, visit Artisans d'Angkor, an organization focusing on training unschooled rural youth in traditional handicraft skills. Ancient techniques are still practiced here such as wood and stone carving, lacquering, gilding and silk painting. Bid farewell to the artisans and return to your hotel.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Tara Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 4 star: Victoria Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 5 star: Raffles Grand Angkor Hotel - State Room

Day 9: Siem Reap > Kampong Khleang > Beng Melea > Siem Reap (B,L) Located 50km away from downtown Siem Reap, Kampong Khleang is one of the most impressive settlement on the Tonle Sap Lake. Around 20 000 people still live there as generations before them did. During two hours, on a local boat, discover how the lake's ecosystem sustains people's way of life. Enjoy the amazing views and colors of the floating houses and the flooded forest (during high water season).

Enjoy lunch in a traditional wooden house located on the shores of the lake. Served in a picnic basket, enjoy some of the tastiest delicacies from Downtown Siem Reap in an atypical atmosphere.

After this rich and busy morning, head to Beng Mealea temple, located 1-hour drive up north of Kampong Khleang. The ruins of Beng Mealea (Khmer for Lotus Pond), a 900-year-old temple is spread over several acres of jungle, completely abandoned to the forces of nature, be ready to explore it by climbing piles of stone or trying to find a path through the vegetation.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Tara Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 4 star: Victoria Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 5 star: Raffles Grand Angkor Hotel - State Room

Day 10: Depart Siem Reap (B) Free time at leisure until your transfer back to airport for your departure flight. (The regular check-out time for all hotels is 12.00 pm. Late check-out is not included).

Reverse Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Siem Reap On arrival in Siem Reap, you will be met by your English speaking guide and transferred to your hotel by private car. (The regular check-in time for all hotels is 2.00 pm. Early check-in is not included)

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Tara Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 4 star: Victoria Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 5 star: Raffles Grand Angkor Hotel - State Room

Day 2: Siem Reap (B) Head to the ancient Royal city of Angkor Thom with its centre piece, the Bayon temple. At first glance, it may seem like a shapeless mass of stone, but further scrutiny reveals towers with enigmatic faces of former King Jayavarman VII looking into every direction. Continue your exploration with a visit to the Terrace of the Elephants, which served as a platform from where the King could welcome back his victorious army. Attached is the Terrace of the Leper King which holds detailed carvings winding along a narrow passage way that leads to the Baphuon complex.

Head back to Siem Reap to rest and to enjoy lunch on your own before continuing to Ta Prohm. This beautiful temple is overgrown with fig trees, giving a haunting yet exotic atmosphere. The magnificent roots of the trees have merged over the centuries with the temple's huge stone blocks, emphasizing a 'forgotten city' feeling. In the late afternoon, visit Artisans d'Angkor, an organization focusing on training unschooled rural youth in traditional handicraft skills. Ancient techniques are still practiced here such as wood and stone carving, lacquering, gilding and silk painting. Bid farewell to the artisans and return to your hotel.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Tara Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 4 star: Victoria Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 5 star: Raffles Grand Angkor Hotel - State Room

Day 3: Siem Reap > Kampong Khleang > Beng Melea > Siem Reap (B,L) Located 50km away from downtown Siem Reap, Kampong Khleang is one of the most impressive settlement on the Tonle Sap Lake. Around 20 000 people still live there as generations before them did. During two hours, on a local boat, discover how the lake's ecosystem sustains people's way of life. Enjoy the amazing views and colors of the floating houses and the flooded forest (during high water season).

Enjoy lunch in a traditional wooden house located on the shores of the lake. Served in a picnic basket, enjoy some of the tastiest delicacies from Downtown Siem Reap in an atypical atmosphere.

After this rich and busy morning, head to Beng Mealea temple, located 1-hour drive up north of Kampong Khleang. The ruins of Beng Mealea (Khmer for Lotus Pond), a 900-year-old temple is spread over several acres of jungle, completely abandoned to the forces of nature, be ready to explore it by climbing piles of stone or trying to find a path through the vegetation.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Tara Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 4 star: Victoria Angkor Hotel - Superior Room 5 star: Raffles Grand Angkor Hotel - State Room

Day 4: Siem Reap > Phnom Penh (B) This morning start exploring the stunning temples by tuk-tuk. Start with a visit to one of the wonders of the modern world, the intricately carved Khmer ruins at Angkor Wat. The temple still displays hundreds of fine carvings of Apsara and Hindu mythology in its bas-relief. Stroll around the massive hallways and discover small shrines still in use today by the local people. You will led by a Cambodian scholar who will help you to get a better understanding of Khmer history, culture, archaeology and civilization. To end this eye-opening first visit to the complex of Angkor we rise 200 metres by a tethered helium balloon (if weather permits) from the plains to witness sunset over the temple and jungle.

At the end of the tour, transfer to the airport for your flight to Phnom Penh. On arrival, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: White Mansion Hotel - Deluxe Room 4 star: Amanjaya Hotel - Junior Suite (Double Bed only) 5 star: Raffles Hotel Le Royal - State Room

Day 5: Phnom Penh > Chau Doc (B, L) This morning start exploring the capital by cyclo. The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are two of the most striking buildings in the capital and considered as some of the finest examples of Khmer architecture. They were initially constructed in 1866 by the French. The Royal Palace is home to the current King Sihamoni. The neighboring Silver Pagoda stands out in its own distinctive way. The floor consists of 5,329 solid silver tiles to which the building owes its name. The building houses many gold and jeweled Buddha statues including the highly prized 17th century baccarat crystal Buddha. Other important buildings that can be found within the compound include Wat Preah Keo Morokat, where Royal ceremonies are performed, and stupas such as King Ang Doung Stupa - the burial site of former King Norodom. (Open from 8.00am to 10:30am. Women should cover their shoulders and both men and women should cover their knees).

At the end of the tour, transfer to the pier for your speed boat transfer.

Depart Phnom Penh 12:00 pm Arrive Chau Doc at 5:00 pm

Upon arrival at Chau Doc Pier, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Chau Pho Hotel - Deluxe Room 4 star: Victoria Chau Doc Hotel - Superior Room 5 star: Victoria Chau Doc Hotel - Superior Room

Day 6: Chau Doc > Tra Su Nature Reserve> Can Tho (B,L) This morning, enjoy a 45-minute drive to The Tra Su Nature Reserve which is an ecological heaven. It is the habitat of many unique water birds and colonies of bats. Tra Su flooded indigo forest covers about 845 hectares and is best visited from July to February as the bird colonies gather in the reserve to breed. You can explore the area by motor boat and rowing sampan on the carpet of water-fern. On the way to Tra Su Forest, stop by a Khmer village and familiarize with the local technique of palm sugar producing. Palm trees are very important to the Cambodian minority in the southern province of An Giang, as they provide various production opportunities through the usage of the stem, leaf, trunk and flowers creating the palm juice and sugar.

This afternoon continue your 3 hour drive to Can Tho.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Kim Tho Hotel - Superior Room 4 star: Victoria Can Tho Resort - Superior Room 5 star: Victoria Can Tho Resort - Superior Room

Day 7: Can Tho > Saigon (B,L) This morning, rise early to get a unique taste of life in the Mekong. Board a local boat and explore the colorful floating market, where many boats laden with fruits, vegetables and fish jostle for trade. Sellers advertise their wares by crying out across the waters or tie their goods to a tall pole attached to their boat so that buyers can see from a distance what is being sold. This memorable experience makes for many excellent photo opportunities.

Back on shore continue your 5 hour drive to Saigon.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Blue Diamond Hotel - Deluxe Room 4 star: Grand Silver Land Hotel & Spa - Premier Deluxe Room 5 star: Caravelle Hotel - Deluxe Room

Day 8: Saigon (B) Saigon is the country's commercial centre and, with over nine million inhabitants and five million motorbikes, a city that never sleeps. Despite the well-documented hustle and bustle, Saigon retains its connections with the past. A walking tour to admire Saigon's historic landmarks is a must. Transfer to Dong Khoi Street, or Rue Catinat as it was known in the time of the French occupation, to discover some of the beautiful French colonial buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th century. Appreciate the splendidly restored exteriors of the Opera House and the former Hotel de Ville which are still two of the finest buildings in Saigon.

Wander up to the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires based on the original construction from Paris. (It is only possible to visit inside when no service is being performed) Then head across the square to the Central Post Office, designed by the French architect, Gustav Eiffel, before he had risen to fame for the Eiffel Tower. The former Presidential Palace, the headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American war, is a short drive away and reveals the history of Saigon during its turbulent recent past. Head out of the city centre on a short 6km drive to District 5 to visit Thien Hau temple, built by the Cantonese congregation in the early 19th century to honour the Goddess of the Sea. The temple's ornate interior courtyard is always full of life as worshipers from the local Chinese community who come to offer their prayers. Take time to make a wish, write it on a small card and attach it to one of the incense coils in the local custom.

Continue your visit to FITO (closed on Monday), the first museum of traditional medicine in Vietnam, offering an insight into how traditional medicine was used in the past. Return to your hotel.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Blue Diamond Hotel - Deluxe Room 4 star: Grand Silver Land Hotel & Spa - Premier Deluxe Room 5 star: Caravelle Hotel - Deluxe Room

Day 9: Saigon > Cu Chi > Tay Ninh > Saigon (B,L) Start early in the morning with a two hour drive northwest of Saigon to the Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnel complex was initially started in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. The tunnels also served as communication routes, storage facilities for food and weapon caches as well as hospitals and living quarters for guerrilla fighters throughout the American war. A visit to the underground villages will provide a better understanding of the tunnels' history, the hardship of life underground and the Vietnamese resilience during combat. Continue your journey with 1.5 hour drive the Cao Dai Great Temple. Indigenous to Vietnam and founded in the early 20th century, Cao Dai is a fusion of the best from Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism with influences from Christianity and Islam. The elaborate temple's architecture reflects the combination of religions. Visitors are welcomed inside the temple to observe the colorful service at midday. There is a viewing balcony which affords excellent views and photography is permitted. A Vietnamese lunch is served at a simple, local restaurant. Transfer back to Saigon in the late afternoon.

Overnight at: 3 1/2 star: Blue Diamond Hotel - Deluxe Room 4 star: Grand Silver Land Hotel & Spa - Premier Deluxe Room 5 star: Caravelle Hotel - Deluxe Room

Day 10: Depart Siem Reap (B) Free time at leisure until your transfer back to airport for your departure flight. (The regular check-out time for all hotels is 12.00 pm. Late check-out is not included).

• Tailor-made journey with local English speaking guides • 9 nights' in your selected category of accommodation • Economy class flight Phnom Penh > Siem Reap, including airport tax • Transfers and transport • Sightseeing and entrance fees • Speedboat Chau Doc > Phnom Penh • 9 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 1 Dinner (departures from Saigon) • 9 breakfasts, 5 lunches (departures from Siem Reap)

Pricing (per person) $AUD

Type TWIN SINGLE

2017

3 1/2 star

1 Jan - 31 Mar

1 Apr - 30 Sep

4 star

1 Jan - 31 Mar

1 Apr - 30 Sep

5 star

1 Jan - 31 Mar

1 Apr - 30 Sep

-

-

$2,414

$2,364

-

$3,038

$2,843

-

$4,199

$3,828

-

-

$4,036

$3,936

-

$5,291

$4,903

-

$7,618

$6,875

Departs

2016 Daily 2017 Daily

Booking conditions

• Surcharges apply during TET Vietnamese New Year 27 Jan - 1 Feb 2017 • Surcharges apply during the Cambodian New Year Chaul Chnam Thmey 13 Apr - 16 Apr 2017 • Surcharges apply 1 Nov - 30 Nov; 19 Dec - 31 Dec 2016; 1 - 4, 26 -31 Jan 2017 • Compulsory Gala Dinner 24, 31 Dec 2016

VIETNAM: During Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. Travelers who are visiting larger cities like Saigon or Hanoi during the holidays may encounter empty streets and deserted parks as Vietnamese people return to their home town to celebrate the New Year with their families. Most businesses are closed.

CAMBODIA: During Chaul Chnam Thmey, the Cambodian New Year - In Cambodia, many shops, restaurants & businesses are closed during this period or may operate on a limited schedule. Departing Phnom Penh or Siem Reap by road may be difficult during this period since many locals will travel over the holiday as well. Flying between cities should be fine, although please allow for some delays and more traffic than usual. Local attractions in the countryside and around Phnom Penh will be crowded with domestic visitors, who usually travel with their entire family. It is recommended that during the Khmer New Year period, smaller local attractions like streams, waterfalls and parks are avoided as they will be very overcrowded with locals on holiday.

Please refer to World Journeys terms & conditions.

Not included

Vietnam and Cambodian visas