Along the Mekong with specialist operator Emperor Tours will enable you to discover captivating Vietnam and Cambodia, including a seven-day cruise along the famous Mekong River.
• Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) – visit the Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Vietnamese fighters during war time, as well as the major attractions of this vibrant city including the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and Ban Than Market.
• Hoi An –explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site with its ancient streets, a wonderfully preserved old merchant town with it’s Japanese, Vietnamese and European influences.
• Hue – traveling overland to the former capital of Vietnam passing the breath-taking Pass of Ocean Clouds and scenic Lang Co beach. In Hue discover the Imperial Citadel with its palaces and temples.
• Hanoi – French colonial boulevards and outstanding attractions including memorials to former founder of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh. Learn about the country’s ethnic origins at the Museum of Ethnology and explore the Old Quarter with its labyrinth of ancient streets.
• Halong Bay – change of pace and a day and overnight stay onboard a luxurious junk taking in the beautiful scenery of Vietnam’s most spectacular natural wonder with its 3000 towering limestone islands.
• Siem Reap – immerse yourselves in the ancient ornate temples including the world-famous Angkor Wat, the mystical giant faces at Bayon and the extraordinary Ta Prohm and Angkor Thom, plus many more wonderful and memorable heritage sites showcasing Cambodia’s rich heritage.
• Tonle Sap – the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia – cruise this magnificent expanse of water with dinner and an overnight stay on board.
• Kompang Chhnang – busy rural port and a visit to an authentic floating market.
• Koh Chang – a leisurely walk taking in the pagoda and a visit to the local primary school.
We begin our private adventure today by departing London Heathrow for international economy flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
We can also arrange departures from your local airport at no extra cost.
On arrival at Ho Chi Minh International Airport, our tour guide will be there to greet us and transfer you by private car through the city to your hotel, located in the heart of this amazing city.
After check-in and tour briefing the rest of the day is free at leisure.
After breakfast we embark on a leisurely tour to see the key sights in the very centre of Saigon. Our visit includes the former Presidential Palace, the War Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, City Hall, the Opera House and Ben Thanh Market.
Conclude the day with a cup of the famed Highland coffee, watching the city pass-by in rush hour. This evening we’ll be honoured guests at a Welcome Dinner, an interesting introduction to Vietnam cuisine.
Today we transfer to Saigon airport for a mid-morning flight to Middle Vietnam. Meet up with our new local guide at Danang airport and proceed along the scenic coast to Hoian. En route we’ll visit fascinating Cham Museum and the sacred Marble Mountains.
In the afternoon we’ll be on foot to explore the charming and wonderfully preserved ancient quarter of Hoian. This corner of Hoian still retains Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European influences from its flourishing old days being an international merchant port. We will walk narrow colourful lanes, visit historic architectures, and browse the endless parade of shops for souvenirs.
Today is a free day to relax by the pool or beach. There is also an optional tour of Tra Que Village for the more adventurous as follows:
We take a bike ride through the rural scenery of Hoian to a small vegetable planting village located on the banks of Tra Que lagoon (5km – 15mins cycling from Hoian). Tra Que village has been known for its special aromatic herbs such as mint and basil. Join local people in their daily work of planting and watering vegetables. Learn to cook some local specialties, for example “Tam Huu” – a set of shrimps, pork and aromatic herbs, and then enjoy lunch. Cost £40 per person.
Today we depart Hoian and travel northwards to Hue, climbing over the breathtaking Ocean Clouds Pass and unwinding on the scenic Lang Co Beach.
In the afternoon, we traverse the ruins of the Imperial Citadel including the former royal residence, which is now a World Heritage Site. We also visit Thien Mu, one of the most beautiful and revered pagodas of Hue.
Conclude the day with a dragon boat cruise on the serene and poetic Perfume River and sample Hue cuisine for dinner.
After breakfast we visit the impressive tomb of former Emperor Tu Duc and two villages crafting conical hats and incense. We then call at a beautiful garden house which once belonged to the royalty and revel in its refined atmosphere and learn more about the last dynasty of Vietnam.
Enjoy lunch in Hue and then transfer to the airport for a short flight to Hanoi, the ancient and elegant capital of Vietnam. Meet our local guide upon arrival and transfer to the city centre for overnight.
After breakfast we embark on a full day tour to see the most outstanding attractions of Hanoi. Start with a visit to the complex of Memorials to Ho Chi Minh to understand his amazing life.
Continue to the Single Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature and get acquainted with two of the driving forces in Vietnam culture.
In the afternoon we visit the Museum of Ethnology which exhibits a large collection of artefacts about the cultures of the 54 ethnic groups in the country, and the little but beautiful temple of Ngoc Son on Hoan Kiem Lake.
Enjoy a rickshaw ride through the lively Old Quarter, a series of 36 ancient streets where peddlers still trade the way they have done for centuries.
We finally conclude the day with the famed water puppet theatre where we will enjoy a performance of the traditional art form created by village farmers around the Red River Delta region – unique but widely known.
After breakfast we depart Hanoi and journey east through the rich farmland of the Red River Delta to Halong Bay – the greatest natural wonder of Vietnam.
Upon arrival we will board our traditional junk (ancient Chinese boat) and explore this extraordinary piece of Vietnam from the comfort of a deluxe overnight cruise. Surreal seascape, interesting sites, ocean-fresh seafood, exciting activities, and so on, make this an unforgettable experience!
Wake up to fresh coffee before visiting a cave, a sandy cove or a lagoon. Early risers can even take part in a Taichi class on the Sun Deck!
Enjoy brunch whilst cruising back to the shore. En route the junk weaves through more strange-shaped rock formations that invite comparisons from fighting cocks to dragons and even further!
We disembark between 11:00 and 12:00 AM and return to Hanoi for a flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Meeting and greeting at the airport on arrival by our local guide, then private transfer to the hotel in the centre of this unique and fascinating city.
Today we start exploring the wonders left by a highly complex civilisation that controlled the greater part of Southeast Asia for four centuries. Enter the Great City of Angkor Thom through the South Gate and traverse to admire the temples of Baphoun and Phimeanakas, the Terraces of Elephant and Leper King, and especially the mysterious smiling Bayon.
After a break we’ll visit the fascinating temples of Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, Takeo, Thommanon, Chau Say Thevoda, and the Royal Bath of Sras Srang.
Late in the day we hike up Phnom Bakheng to behold the magnificent sunset over the land of temples.
In the evening, we enjoy dinner with entertainment from Apsara dancers. Free time afterwards allows an exciting walk to see the lively Pub Street and the lucky Night Market.
This morning we return to the Archeology Park to visit the epic temples of Angkor Wat – a vast rambling complex of diverse temple structures dating from the 9th to the 13th centuries. Many are adorned with exquisite carvings and bas-reliefs; some are so entwined with trees and vines that they almost returned to the jungle. Angkor Wat is the apogee of classical Khmer architecture and has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on the national flag, and stands on par with such other monumental achievements as Machu Picchu and the Great Pyramid.
The rest of the day will be at own leisure.
Enjoy breakfast and then we check out by 8:30. We’ll be transferred to the Apsara Hotel to join other passengers on the journey to the pier at Phnom Krom.
On arrival, the crew welcomes us on board the RV MEKONG PRESTIGE. Settle into the cabin and enjoy lunch.
Early afternoon, the Mekong Prestige starts cruising across the Tonle Lake. This evening enjoy a Welcome Dinner on board.
NOTE: In case of low waters, the transfer to the ship will be made by coach or speed boat.
This morning we arrive at Kampong Chhnang, located approximately 90 km from Phnom Penh. This is a busy rural port town with bustling markets. We move to a local boat to visit the authentic floating village. The life of the entire population is connected to the river with local people using the canal system which criss-crosses this little town. We go ashore to stroll through the scenic market.
Return for lunch on board while sailing towards Kampong Tralach.
We then continue by bus to discover the very charming Vihara of the Wat Kampong Leu Pagoda dating back from the last century, which has retained beautiful wall paintings.
Return by ox-drawn carriage and bus via Oudong, 40 kilometres from Phnom Penh. Between 1618 and 1866, Oudong was the capital city of Cambodia. Erected at a hilltop, this place houses numerous Stupas dating of the last Khmer Kings. We see the Vipassana Dhura Pagoda, a place of meditation for Buddhist Monks.
Arrival in Koh Chong in the morning, where we stop for a walk at leisure and a visit to a workshop in this silk weaving village. We also visit a Pagoda and a primary school where we can have a fun chat with pupils.
Return to the boat for lunch and sail on to Phnom Penh.
This afternoon we’ll visit Wat Phnom after which the city was named.
This evening enjoy dinner with Traditional Khmer Apsara Dancing Show on board!
The capital city of Cambodia still retains its old French colonial architecture in riverside streets. Today we take a morning bus tour to see the Royal Palace & the Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum with outstanding displays of Khmer crafts.
After lunch aboard we’ll visit the former High School “S21“, which was converted to a detention centre under the Red Khmer’s rule between 1975 and 1979.
There’ll be time for independent exploration and shopping at the Russian Market before returning to the ship for dinner and overnight.
Our Mekong Prestige departs Phnom Penh towards the border with Vietnam. We cruise past the Mekong’s timeless villages and river life with extensive fishing activities. Cross the border and complete the required formalities (normally lasts 4 hours).
We can then sit back and relax as we cruise along towards Tan Chau, watching everyday life along the Mekong.
This morning we arrive in Tan Chau, a remote small town on the main Mekong River Delta. After breakfast, we take a small boat to visit a fishing farm. We then go ashore to visit a local workshop making woven mats, and take a short walk in the village to a silk workshop.
A rickshaw ride around this fascinating town will take us back to the pier. Spend the remainder of the day relaxing on-board.
The French writer Marguerite Duras spent parts of her childhood in Sa Dec, a sprawling busy town on the Mekong Delta. Both the school where Duras’ mother taught and the small house behind it where the family lived still stand. We’ll see the house of Marguerite’s Chinese Lover, now a small museum of ‘The Lover’ in Sadec.
We also have a chance to visit a Caodai Temple and a stroll through the colourful local market.
After lunch, we cruise past Vinh Long in the middle of the Delta region, between the two tributaries of the Mekong. On arrival at Cai Be, we’ll visit the French Gothic Cathedral. Walk along the river bank and visit a manufacturer of rice paper and coconut sweets.
Tonight enjoy dinner and a traditional Music Show on board.
Today we say goodbye to our cruise, disembark in My Tho after breakfast and transfer by bus to the centre of Saigon, the largest city of Vietnam.
After we are dropped off at Sofitel Plaza, we’ll be met by our private local guide and transferred to our hotel in the city centre.
The remainder of the day is free to either relax or explore on your own.
After breakfast we drive westwards to Cu Chi to explore the intricate system of tunnels created during the war of the 60’s last century and learn how Vietnamese people lived, struggled and won the war. Stretching all the way about 250 km back to Saigon River and known as the “Iron Triangle”, the story of Cu Chi is one of struggle, determination against all odds, and eventual victory. Now the tunnels are a major site of interest for tourists and historians, and those interested in Vietnam’s military history.
We return to Saigon mid-afternoon and have the rest of day free before our private transfer to the airport for departure and the end of a truly wonderful journey!
Arrival back in the UK.
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4* Hoian Trails Resort & spa
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4* Victory Cruise
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4* RV Mekong Prestige II
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Tour Price includes:
Tour Price excludes:
FLIGHT TIMES: 12.35 hours direct from London Heathrow to Saigon (Vietnam Airlines Sat-Mon-Wed only). Other airlines fly indirect every day of the week.
TIME DIFFERENCE: +6 hours in summer time / +7 hours in winter time (BST).
CURRENCY: Vietnamese dong £1 = approx. 31,000 VND / Cambodian riel £1 = approx. 5,480 riels
MONEY: Almost all goods and services are calculated and paid for in US dollars. Credit cards are accepted only at major hotels, restaurants owned by foreigners and souvenir shops. Travellers cheques and currencies other than US Dollars are accepted only by major banks. We recommend changing a small amount into local currency on arrival, for drinks and gifts etc.
TIPPING: If you are happy with the services of the driver and guide in each city then tipping is an accepted way of showing your gratitude. We recommend anything from $10 upwards for each, usually more for the guide. We advise placing any tips in separate envelopes and handing to the guide and driver at the end of their service in a particular city.
VISA: No visa is required for UK passport holders if stay is 15 days or less in Vietnam. A visa is required for Cambodia and can be obtained on arrival at entry airport/port or in advance through the embassy website.
LANGUAGE: The official language spoken in Vietnam is Vietnamese. The official language spoken in Cambodia is Khmer.
BEST TIMES TO VISIT: From October to April are the best times to visit both Vietnam and Cambodia combined. March to April will experience least rainfall and more pleasant temperatures too.
FESTIVALS: Here are the main Vietnamese and Cambodian festivals and what you will expect to see and experience during these festivities…
Vietnamese New Year ‘Tet’ – mid to late February
Vietnamese people gather with their families to exchange best wishes and pray for prosperity over the coming year. In big cities, the streets are adorned with beautiful flower decorations. It’s a great time to see the preparations and immerse in the festive atmosphere before Tet, but travel during the festival is not recommendable.
Mid Autumn Festival (Vietnam) – 15th day of the 8th lunar month in the Chinese lunar calendar
Marked with fanciful lanterns, the festival is a favourite with children, as the occasion calls for more toys, candies, fruit, and entertainment than any other time of the year. Mid-Autumn parties serve cakes, traditional and modified. Lion dances are commonly performed by travelling troupers who go from house to house to perform for tipping.
Reunification Day (Vietnam) – 30th April yearly
Also known as Victory Day or Liberation Day, this national holiday marks the fall of the Saigon government on 30 April 1975. The communist troops captured Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) and brought the Vietnam war to an end. This began the process of reuniting the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the north and the Republic of Vietnam in the south
National Independence Day (Vietnam) – 2nd September yearly
This day commemorates Vietnam’s declaration of independence from France in 1945. On that day, President Ho Chi Minh, read out the Declaration of Independence. Nowadays, national red flags are raised high everywhere. People are entitled to one day off. Public and official celebrations can be found in all cities.
Ooc Om Bok (The Moon Festival) – 15th day – the Full Moon Day – of the 10th lunar month
Ooc Om Bok is a tradition of the Khmer minority group. The festival is held in honor of the moon deity and people pray for good luck, happiness and good weather. At the Khmer pagodas in the country, people release paper lanterns into the sky or into the rivers as a way of letting go of bad luck or sadness.
Victory Day (Cambodia) – 7th January yearly
This day marks the end of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. During the four years of the regime, it is estimated that two million Cambodians died (almost a quarter of the population). Remembrance services are carried out to honor those who lost their lives.
Meak Bochea Day (Cambodia) – coinciding with the full moon of the 3rd month of the lunar calendar
This day commemorates the final sermon of Buddha, in which he summarised the three fundamental principles of Buddhism: avoid evil, perform good deeds and achieve purity of the mind. Buddhists celebrate Meak Bochea by joining candlelit processions within temples in their vicinity.
Chaul Chnam Thmey (Khmer New Year – Cambodia) – 13th to 15th April yearly
It marks the end of the harvest before the beginning of the rainy season. Cambodia grinds to a halt during New Year, drawing families together from all across the country into a celebration that turns wet and wild on the third day.
On the first day, people give thanks to Buddha by lighting candles and incense sticks. The second day is for charity where people donate or offer help to the poor and needy. On the third day, people wash statues of Buddha with scented water, which is symbolic of washing away sins of the past.
Pchum Ben (Ancestors’ Day – Cambodia) – celebrated on the 15th day of the 10th month of the Khmer lunar calendar
It is actually the culmination of a fifteen-day observance called Dak Ben, throughout which Khmers are encouraged to visit at least seven pagodas to make offerings to dead ancestors and light candles to guide the spirits of the dead to these offerings.
Observant Khmers will also throw a rice-sesame seed mixture onto temple grounds. This observance helps feed the spirits of the ancestors who roam the world on Pchum Ben and are consequently hungry from not having eaten all year.
National Independence Day (Cambodia) – 9th November yearly
This day marks the anniversary of Cambodia’s independence from France in 1953. The celebrations are centered around the Independence Monument at the center of Phnom Penh, where the King lights a victory fire in the presence of the country’s politicians, generals, and diplomats.
The celebrations also include cultural activities, parades down Norodom Boulevard, and fireworks in the evening.
FOOD & DRINK: Light, subtle in flavour and astonishing in their variety, Vietnamese dishes are boiled or steamed rather than stir-fried, and a huge emphasis is placed on herbs and seasoning. In the south, Indian and Thai influences add curries and spices to the menu, while other regions have evolved their own array of specialities.
Buddhism introduced a vegetarian tradition to Vietnam, while much later the French brought with them bread, dairy products, pastries and the whole café culture. The quality and variety of food is generally better in the main towns than off the beaten track, where restaurants of any sort are few and far between.
Freshwater fish is the most commonly used meat in the Cambodian diet, with pork and chicken also being popular.
SOCIAL ETIQUETTE: People throughout Indochina are very kind and easy going. People are very relaxed with foreigners and their different habits.
Showing anger is seen as a weakness.
Respect and care should be shown when visiting temples and shoes should always be removed before entering.
HEALTH ADVICE: Although no vaccinations are officially required for entry to Indochina, they are highly encouraged. Visitors are advised to check with their GP or travel immunisation clinic regarding protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A & B. Any essential medications should be brought with you as there is no guarantee they will be available in the areas you will be visiting.
If travelling in Summer months, please bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent etc.
It is not safe to drink tap water in Vietnam and Cambodia – please drink boiled water or bottled water only.