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Vietnam, Cambodia & Mekong River Cruise

Tour departs: 30 May 2017
Tour length: 23 Days

Overview

Tour Departs: 30 May 2017.

Tour Length: 23 Days.

This tour follows the same format as our 2016 tour which was yet again a real “hit” with the group that travelled. It includes many of the highlights of both Vietnam and Cambodia, and while each country has its own distinct history and culture, they complement each other with their diverse landscape, scenery, magnificent sites and of course friendly people. Add to this, a wonderful 7 night luxury cruise down the Mekong River and you have a very special tour.

Highlights Include

Vietnam

A land of natural beauty and stunning landscapes, of bustling energy and wonderful culinary delights, and especially a land of warm and welcoming people.

  • Hanoi, the nation’s capital, a mixture of colonial charm and city hustle and bustle.
  • Cruise magical Halong Bay for 2 nights – simply stunning.
  • Hoi An, river port and shoppers paradise.
  • Saigon, the commercial heart reflecting its French heritage.

Cambodia

  • A land of contrasts with a history that is spiritually uplifting and thought provoking. Peace now reigns in this magical kingdom and the welcoming smiles of the Khmer people add to the majesty of the spectacular sites.
  • Siem Reap and its riverside setting – discover the world of Cambodian cuisine at Shinta Mani Cooking School.
  • The Temples of Angkor Wat, a spectacular blend of symbolism and symmetry where earth reaches for the heavens.
  • Phnom Penh, the chaotic yet inspirational capital, the political and economic hub of the country.
  • Learn about the infamous Khmer Rouge.

7 Night Mekong River Cruise “The Jahan”

  • First boutique-style river cruise ship for the Mekong (built in 2011).
  • Distinctive British Colonial design throughout the ship.
  • Spacious cabins with en-suite private balcony and the finest amenities.
  • Excellent on-board facilities including pool and spa.
  • Finest cuisine and entertainment afloat on the Mekong.
  • Private shore excursions included along with outstanding service.

Itinerary

Tuesday 30 May

Home – Singapore

Time this morning for connecting flights before an early afternoon departure for Singapore. Arrival time is early evening and overnight hotel accommodation has been reserved at the airport.


Wednesday 31 May

Singapore – Hanoi (D)

This morning, we join the flight to Hanoi. On arrival we are met by our local hosts and transferred to our hotel for a 3 night stay. The remainder of the day is at leisure until we go to dinner at KOTO restaurant, specially set up to train the under-privileged youth of Hanoi in restaurant skills.


Thursday 01 June

Hanoi (B L)

Our sightseeing of Hanoi city includes visits to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and his cottage house, One Pillar Pagoda situated in the middle of a pond of lotus, and the Temple of Literature, the 1st University of Vietnam. After lunch at Wild Rice Restaurant, visit the Museum of Ethnology and learn about the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. We then take a cyclo ride in the Old Quarter of “36 streets and 36 wares” dating back from the 11th century to see the historic quarter.


Friday 02 June

Hanoi (B D)

This morning we drive to the ancient village of Duong Lam, a typical agricultural village in the north of the Red River Delta – home to around 300 houses built three to four centuries ago. We Wander along Duong Lam’s narrow alleyways to explore rural life and Vietnam’s ancient architecture. We finish the tour at an ancient house owned by a couple where you can interact with the friendly owners and share their life experiences over a cup of tea.

This afternoon, we visit Hoa Lo Prison later known to American prisoners of war as the “Hanoi Hilton”. The prison was used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners and later by North Vietnam for prisoners of war during the Vietnam War. End your afternoon sightseeing with a visit to the Lake of Restored Sword and the Ngoc Son temple.

Tonight, we enjoy a traditional and unique Vietnamese water puppet show before dinner at a local restaurant which serves fusion cuisine.


Saturday 03 June

Hanoi – Halong Bay – Cruise (B L D)
After breakfast, we depart by coach for Halong Bay for one of our tour highlights. Halong Bay is referred to as the “Jewel in the Crown” of Vietnam with some of the most stunning scenery in Vietnam and we join a traditional Vietnamese junk for two nights cruising Halong Bay, also a World Heritage site. Accommodation on board is in superior cabins.

Enjoy the Vietnamese buffet lunch and the sumptuous dinner as we cruise the bay passing fishing villages and small towns. Lots of activities available for the more active – cooking demonstrations, pristine beaches for swimming, fishing, kayaking – or just sit back and enjoy the wonderful setting as the world passes by.


Sunday 04 June

Halong Bay Cruising (B L D)
Another fabulous day cruising to some of Halong Bay’s more secluded and untouched locations. Enjoy a leisurely day of sightseeing, swimming and relaxing as we take in the magnificent scenery.


Monday 05 June

Halong Bay – Hanoi – Da Nang – Hoi An (B)

The cruise continues this morning passing many islands, inlets, caves, bizarre rock sculptures. Don’t forget to watch the magnificent sunrise from the sundeck, maybe even join the crew for Tai Chi exercises.

Sadly, after a late breakfast, it’s time to disembark as we re-join our coach for the return journey to Hanoi and the airport where we join our flight to Da Nang and then by coach to Hoi Ann for a 2 night stay.


Tuesday 06 June

Hoi An (B L)

A chance to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of this heritage town, one of the most popular destinations in Vietnam. This morning, join in a cooking class with Hoi An’s Red Bridge Cooking School in the old town. Meander through Hoi An’s central market with the chef to select the fresh produce before embarking on a 20 minute boat trip to the school for a private hands-on cooking class.

This afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of the ancient town centre providing an insight into the city’s history and architecture. The remainder of the day is free for shopping (a great place to buy silk) or just relaxing.


Wednesday 07 June

Hoi An – Da Nang – Siem Reap (B L)

The morning is free for last minute shopping and we enjoy lunch at our hotel before returning to Da Nang airport where we join the flight to Siem Reap. On arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a 3 night stay.


Thursday 08 June

Siem Reap (B,L)

This morning we commence our full day tour of Angkor starting with an early morning visit to Angkor Wat – a breath-taking sight. We then continue our exploration with a visit to the picturesque Ta Prohm, a temple that had nearly disappeared into the jungle and remains overgrown before visiting a local restaurant for lunch.

This afternoon, enjoy a tuk tuk ride to visit Angkor Thom (Big Angkor) – a walled and moated royal city and the last capital of the Angkorian Empire. We will also visit the surroundings of the complex including the Baphou, Elephant Terraces and Leper King Terrace before returning to our hotel in the early evening.


Friday 09 June

Siem Reap (B, L, D)

This morning we visit the Conservation D’Angkor, which houses more than 6,000 pieces of priceless Khmer art before continuing on to the Angkor National Museum which is a profound cultural landmark in Siem Reap. The lifestyle landmark provides facilities and recreation services for both tourists and the local community. We will then dine at a local restaurant for lunch. This afternoon is at leisure. This evening enjoy dinner at a fine dining restaurant.


Saturday 10 June

Commence 7 Night Mekong River Cruise Siem Reap – Kampong Chhnang (B,L,D)

This morning, we transfer to Kampong Cham on the Mekong River. We stop briefly at Skon, known as Spiderville for its fried spiders, a delicacy in this country. Early this afternoon, we embark at Kampong Cham on our boutique river cruise ship “The Jahan” where we are greeted by the crew with a welcome drink. Later this evening, we get together with our fellow passengers at a briefing in the lounge followed by a welcome dinner.


Sunday 11 June

Kampong Cham – Wat Hanchey “Monks & Hilltops” (B,L,D)
This morning, we enjoy an excursion to the pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey. You can choose to either take a motor-taxi or climb the 291 steps to the top. Located at the top of a hill overlooking the river, it offers one of the most breath-taking views in Cambodia. Built in the 8th century, this ancient structure, together with a bigger and newer addition underscores the superb architecture of the Chenla Empire which predates the mighty Angkor temple complex.

We return to the ship to witness a blessing ceremony performed by orange-clad local monks. Water levels permitting, we enjoy a surprise sojourn in our zodiacs (inflatable boats) to the nearby bank to swim in the tea-coloured Mekong River, an experience that will, no doubt, dominate dinner conversations in the weeks to come. On the way back to the ship, we visit an orphanage. Overnight, we cruise to Kampong Chhnang


Monday 12 June

Kampong Chhnang (B,L,D)

Kampong Chhnang is a busy rural port town with bustling markets and excited children who wave and greet us as we arrive by ship. We take a short bus trip to see the Khmer-styled pottery at the Aundaung Russey village followed by a rugged motor boat excursion into the wetlands that form the mouth of the river. Of considerable interest are the great fish traps, some half a kilometre long, which net a gargantuan amount of fish after each monsoon rain as the trawl migrate from the falling lake to the Tonle Sap.

The afternoon cruise continues with a leisurely meander along the Tonle Sap, which narrows through leafy swaths of the Southeast Asian jungle. Here, the river is very narrow and we are greeted by children waving enthusiastically at us from the banks.

We then return to the ship for lunch whilst cruising the narrow and meandering Tonle Sap. We cruise toward Prek K’dam where we will take a walk through the silversmith village of Koh Chen where the entire community of villagers are involved in making various silver items for sale. Dinner awaits us on board while the ship cruises to Phnom Penh.


Tuesday 13 June

Phnom Penh “Pearl Of The East” (B,L,D)

Phnom Penh was once the Paris of the East. Despite its rapid development, it has retained a lot of its rustic charm and elegance. After breakfast, we enjoy a comprehensive lecture on Cambodia’s modern history. This is followed by a city tour of this dynamic, historical capital city of Cambodia which has managed to preserve huge slices of its French colonial allure.

Sightseeing in the morning includes the dazzling white and gold Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, as well as a visit to the National Museum. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit the Genocide museum, a stark reminder of the horrors that transpired during Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime.

We then return to the ship with time to relax on our cabin balcony or in the lounge before the evening programme commences with a variety of cocktails served on the sun deck. Take a seat and enjoy the Apsara dance performance showcasing the brilliance and richness of this culture and the soothing sounds of traditional music with the calming scent of incense sticks. This is followed by a barbeque on the sundeck with the stars and the moon as our companions.


Wednesday 14 June

Phnom Penh – Border Crossing (B,L,D)

Today enjoy a lazy day of cruising along the main Mekong Channel where we witness large commercial ships plying this route. Later, in the afternoon, we reach the Vietnamese border for the requisite cross border paperwork which can take some time.

Meanwhile, we can enjoy the afternoon sun on the Sun Deck, pamper ourselves at the Spa, or sharpen our culinary skills with the Heritage Line’s Cambodian and Vietnamese cuisine cooking class. The ship moors midstream overnight.


Thursday 15 June

Chau Doc – Sa Dec “Circus of Fish” (B,L,D)

Welcome to the fish sanctuary of Vietnam. After breakfast, we take a short excursion into Chau Doc, a pleasant town near the Cambodian border with sizeable Chinese, Kinh and Khmer communities. We also visit the colourful local market near an ancient temple. This is followed by a trip to the quay to visit the floating markets and rustic catfish farms. Then, it is back to the ship for a lunch.

In the mid-afternoon, we set off for My An Hung Village. Passengers walk to the family house through the vegetable garden to see the boat building yard and canals. We will cross a monkey bridge and see chilli, corn and beetle nut plantations amongst other vegetable fields. Then gather at the family’s house to taste tea with honey with local delicacies and fruits before we return to the ship and set sail for Sa Dec.


Friday 16 June

Sa Dec – Cai Be – My Tho (B,L,D)

This morning we join a traditional sampan to tour Binh Thanh Island and its man-made canals. Here, every villager is involved in the process of growing and processing water hyacinths into natural fibre floor mats and rattan baskets. After lunch onboard, the ship arrives in Cai Be in time for a visit to the boisterous and colourful floating market where traders gather in a cacophonous congregation.

Continuing our cruise, we discover breath-taking landscapes along the river and see the rustic life on the Mekong Delta unfold. The cruise halts intermittently to allow us to observe how rice paste, rice cookies and coconut candies are made, along with the Longan fruit drying process. After touring the canals, we head to an ancient house surrounded by fruit orchards before returning to the ship for the tranquil evening cruise towards My Tho. A wonderful farewell party awaits us on board.


Saturday 17 June

My Tho – Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) (B,L)

Our cruise sadly comes to an end as the ship winds its way to My Tho, approximately 70km south of Saigon. We disembark after breakfast and leave the rural tranquillity behind us as we transfer to the bustling city of Saigon for a 3 night stay. Lunch is at a local restaurant and the remainder of the day is at leisure.


Sunday 18 June

Ho Chi Minh City (B.L)

Today is a full day of sightseeing. After breakfast travel out of the city to the Cu Chi Tunnels. This vast network of tunnels, stretching for over 150 kilometres was built by the Viet Cong in the battles for the South. The tunnels are a sobering insight into the dedication of the Viet Cong who virtually lived in the narrow and claustrophobic tunnels whilst the war raged. Nearby, a chilling demonstration of the traps and weapons that were used against the Americans is given and we then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

This afternoon, we see Saigon’s historic landmarks including the 1880’s General Post Office and the former Presidential Palace which was once headquarters for the Saigon Government during the “American War”. We visit the late 19th century Notre Dame cathedral, located in a peaceful part of the city, and the War Remnants Museum.


Monday19 June

Ho Chi Minh City (B,D)

A free day today – time for last minutes shopping, sightseeing, or just relaxing by the pool in preparation for the journey home. This evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner cruise together.


Tuesday 20 June

Ho Chi Minh City – Singapore – Home (B)

A leisurely day until our lunchtime transfer to the airport where we join the flight to Singapore connecting with the overnight flight home.

NB: Those who wish may break their journey at Singapore for a stopover and return independently at a later date.


Wednesday 21 June

Arrive home mid-morning.

Map

Maher Tours Tour Programme_Asian Adventure MAP

Accommodation

While the itinerary is full of daily highlights, just as important is your comfort on tour which is why we have selected an excellent range of First Class hotels, as good as you will find anywhere. To complement the accommodation, a large number of meals (at least 2 each day) have been included. Many of these will be enjoyed at local restaurants to allow you to enjoy not just the fine cuisine but also the local surroundings.

Prices

Tour Costs

Per Person Sharing Twin or Double Room/Cabin: $ 12,950
Per Person Supplement for Single Room/Cabin: $ 3,250

Cost Include
  • Economy class air travel from the tours international departure point
  • Upgrade to Business Class available at additional cost.
  • Prepaid government and airport taxes, security and fuel surcharges (as at 01/09/2016).
  • First Class accommodation throughout.
  • Superior Cabins on Main Deck aboard river cruise ship “Jahan”.
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary.
  • Air-conditioned coach transportation for all touring.
  • Sightseeing and entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary.
  • English speaking local hosts and guides in each country.
  • Baggage handling of one suitcase per person.
  • Tips to local guides and coach drivers.
  • Fully escorted by a Maher Tours Leader.

Costs Exclude
  • Any meals and sightseeing not specifically mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Travel insurance – advice and assistance offered.
  • Visa fees – advice and assistance offered.
  • Items of a personal nature such as room service, laundry, drinks, telephone charges etc.
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Need Assistance?

By Phone: 0800 500 518 | By Email: info@mahertours.co.nz