Immerse yourself in the fascinating life and culture of the people who live and work on the Mekong River. Visit the many towns and villages who co-exist with the river and experience the beautiful and majestic natural surroundings which encapsulate this famous river and Asia’s largest lake.
Depart the UK with international economy flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. We can also arrange departures from your local airport at no extra cost.
Arrival at Ho Chi Minh International Airport, our tour guide will greet and transfer you by private car through the city to your hotel. Check in your hotel and free at your leisure.
This morning we will leave the city by private vehicle to visit the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi. This incredible system, covering almost 250 km in length was shelter to over 16,000 Vietcong guerrillas during the wars. Initially started in 1948 to provide shelter against the French air and ground sweeps, the network went on to serve as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for Vietnamese fighters throughout the American war. If you are interested (and game) you can even descend into the tunnels to learn more about the harsh conditions faced by Vietcong guerrillas who lived there. Return to the city centre for lunch at a local restaurant (own expense).
In the afternoon set out on a tour of the former capital of French Indochina. Historic landmarks include the Old Saigon post office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House. Continue your tour by visiting the Reunification Palace which was used as the headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American war in the 60’s. Afterwards visit the ethnic Chinese district of Cholon with Binh Tay market.
Transfer from the Inter Continental Asiana Saigon Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City to the port of My Tho by coach to embark cruise.
In the morning passengers will visit Cai Be and its colourful floating market. In the afternoon take an exciting Sampan boat excursion to Sa Dec via Vinh Long, along canals and backwaters and see the local market and the ancient house of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le, the “lover” of Marguerite Duras, a famous French novelist.
Visit a Cham tribal village, a cat fish farm, and enjoy a trishaw ride round Chau Doc. Return to the ship by boat for lunch and cast off for the Cambodian border for the usual formalities.
Arrive in the early morning and disembark at the pier and transfer to your hotel to check in. Rest of day free at leisure.
Discover Phnom Penh City, capital of Cambodia located at the conjunction of four branches of the Mekong River ‘Chaktomuk’, historical capital more than 600 years after Angkor. Visit Wat Phnom, an ancient pagoda stand up on the hill, built by a wealthy Khmer woman named Penh 1372 to house the sacred relics. Continue to the Royal Palace built in 1866 and Silver Pagoda located within the Royal Palace compound, the majority of treasures on display have been supplied by the King of Cambodia such as gift from various other countries. Among the treasures are a solid gold Buddha encrusted with 9,584 diamonds and weighing 90 kilos and a small 17th century emerald and baccarat crystal Buddha. In the afternoon, visit Toul Sleng, an ancient school which was used as a prison under the Khmer Rouges time and walk around the Russian market built into 1937 of a splendid architecture of colonial style.
Today we transfer without guide to Phnom Penh Airport for the flight to Siem Reap. Arrival in Siem Reap and transfer to the hotel to check in.
Meet your guide this morning to head off to the marvellous temple of Angkor Wat, a world heritage site featuring the most extraordinary towers and bas-reliefs. This is one of the most astonishing monuments ever conceived by mankind, and was erected in the 12th century (1112-1152) in honour of Vishnu. From the temple, be transferred by private vehicle (or possibly by cow carts!) to a secret place where a surprise picnic lunch is set up and waiting for you. After a delicious lunch, relax under the trees with a soothing foot massage before starting your afternoon activities. In the afternoon, visit the ancient Ta Prohm monastery where immense branches have taken root in the stones. Here you will find splendid sculptured devatas (guardian angels) and experience an atmosphere entirely suited to this temple and all those built under the reign of Jayavarman VII generally.
After breakfast, leave for Banteay Srei where one of the most impressive jewels of Khmer art exists. Erected in the 10th century, this small pink sandstone temple is known as the Citadel of Women. Continue your exploration of Angkor by heading further south to visit the two very beautiful temples – Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda – dating from the 12th century and built during the reign of Suryavarman II. They stand out because of their very beautiful sculptured images honouring Shiva and Vishnu. In the afternoon, visit Angkor Thom (the Great City) beginning by the south gate and the famous Bayon of the 12th and 13th centuries, dedicated to Buddhism and composed of 54 gigantic towers featuring 216 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara. Then, visit the Elephant Terrace, which was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall; and the raised Leper King Terrace, built in the 12th century and which features many beautifully sculptured Apsaras. Late afternoon, round off your day by enjoying watching sunset on a Gondola boat at the South Gate of Angkor Thom with a cold fresh drink.
Today transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
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We used Emperor for a group trip to India. they were fantastic with their choice of hotels (some truly incredible) their tour guide, the whole programme and their choice of airlines for the trip. We made things quite tough for them with different members of the group travelling for different periods and arriving in and out of different airports. We specifically had some issues with one of the airlines on the return leg of our trip, through no fault of Emperor, but they did their utmost to put things right and made the journey home as pleasant as possible by meeting the cost of a lounge at the airport for us do to the shortcomings of one of the airlines checking in procedures. The pre holiday package of information was very comprehensive and we were presented with very durable luggage tags. We would have no hesitation in recommending Richard and his team in tailoring a package for a trip to India. We had an amazing culturally stimulating trip and will certainly go back to India in the future.