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Itinerary & Activities

Itinerary Map
(click for larger version)
Itinerary map of The Heart of Cambodia & Vietnam with Sapa - Southbound

Day 1 Arrive in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Welcome to Siem Reap, your base during your visit to Angkor, considered by many to be the most spectacular architectural ruins on Earth! Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.

Day 2 Siem Reap.

This morning, start your sightseeing of the TEMPLES OF ANGKOR. Constructed between the 9th and 13th centuries, the temples were built around the Khmer interpretations of Indian religious and political beliefs that ultimately evolved from Hinduism to Buddhism. The complex architectural grandeur of the Angkor temples is arguably unmatched among ancient ruins anywhere in the world. First, visit the best preserved and most famous of all the temples: ANGKOR WAT, honoring the Hindu god Vishnu. Featuring five trademark towers and stunning bas reliefs, it has become a symbol of Cambodia. Then, visit BANTEAY SREI, a unique temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Unlike other temples, it is built on a small scale from red sandstone, which can be carved like wood. This evening, enjoy a PRIVATE APSARA DANCE PERFORMANCE, where the ancient Khmer culture is brought to life by talented dancers, singers, and musicians. (B,L,D)

Day 3 Siem Reap.

Today, continue your sightseeing of the Angkor temples by TUK-TUK. Start at ANGKOR THOM where you will explore BAYON TEMPLE. One of the few Buddhist temples in Angkor, it features some 200 striking faces carved in 54 towers and impressive bas reliefs. Next stop is TA PROHM, which, unlike the other temples, has been left relatively untouched. Tree roots grow over and through the ruin walls, allowing you to experience the temple with the same wonder as the early explorers who discovered it. Lastly, stop at LES ARTISANS D’ANGKOR, a development project teaching young adults traditional handicraft techniques. The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure to explore this charming town. (B)

Day 4 Siem Reap (Embarkation).

This morning, transfer to the port and board your river cruise vessel for your CRUISE down the Mekong through Cambodia and Vietnam. This afternoon, enjoy time on board the ship as you cruise through Tonle Sap (Great Lake). After the rainy season, this massive body of water can cover around 10,000 square miles and provides the perfect breeding ground for fish, which provide food for people living on the lake. This evening, enjoy a welcome reception. (B,L,D) NOTE:During low water conditions, generally mid-December to August, we will not be able to cruise on Tonle Sap. In these cases, we will fly from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh for embarkation. No included sightseeing will be missed. Low water conditions vary from year to year, so this will be evaluated on a cruise-by-cruise basis.

Day 5 Kampong Tralach–Konpong Louang–Phnom Penh.

Today, visit Kampong Tralach for an OX CART RIDE past rice paddy fields and the beautiful Cambodian countryside. Along the way, stop to MEET WITH A LOCAL FARMER and learn more about his daily life. Lastly, visit the SILVERSMITH VILLAGE of Konpong Louang. Here, you will see talented craftsmen use age-old techniques to turn pure silver into works of art. Then sail to the capital city of Phnom Penh. After lunch, your sightseeing tour by private cyclo includes visits to the ROYAL PALACE with the spectacular SILVER PAGODA and the NATIONAL MUSEUM, featuring an outstanding display of Khmer artifacts. (B,L,D)

Day 6 Phnom Penh.

Sightseeing this morning provides a glimpse of the atrocities inflicted on the Cambodian people by the Khmer Rouge regime. Visit the TUOL SLENG GENOCIDE MUSEUM, a former high school that housed over 17,000 prisoners. Of this number, it is believed that less than 15 survived the torture and avoided being sent to the Killing Fields. You will also visit one of the KILLING FIELDS, where over 200,000 people were killed by the Khmer Rouge. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to explore the city. Just before dinner, children from a local orphanage will put on a SHOW featuring local song and dance. (B,L,D)

Day 7 Wat Hanchey–Angkor Ban.

This morning, visit WAT HANCHEY, a temple dating back to the 8th century and the Chenla Empire. Located on a hilltop, enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area and partake in a TRADITIONAL WATER BLESSING given by local monks. After lunch, enjoy a WALKING TOUR through the rural village of Angkor Ban. Here, you will see traditional Khmer houses and visit a LOCAL SCHOOL. (B,L,D) NOTE: The climb to Wat Hanchey features a steep incline. If you feel you are unable to make the climb, you will be driven to the top by car.

Day 8 Border Crossing–Chau Doc, Vietnam.

Cross the border this morning into Vietnam and sail to Chau Doc. Upon arrival, walk through the LOCAL MARKET and absorb the atmosphere as locals are busy buying and selling fish, meat, and produce. After lunch, join a sampan excursion down the backwaters of the river to the religious sites at the base of SAM MOUNTAIN. Along the way, see traditional floating homes, speedboat merchants, a market selling dried goods, and more. (B,L,D)

Day 9 Long Khong A–Cu Lao Gieng.

After breakfast, a sampan brings you to the village of LONG KHONG A, where cotton weaving is a well-preserved tradition. Spend time at one house for a COTTON-WEAVING DEMONSTRATION and a chance to talk with the family. In the afternoon, board a sampan and enjoy scenes of daily life along the river. Stop at a LOCAL HOME, where a skilled family works together to hand-craft sampans for a living. Then, ride a specially designed MOTOR CART to one of Vietnam’s oldest churches for a special INTERACTION WITH A CATHOLIC PRIEST. (B,L,D)

Day 10 Ben Tre.

This morning, board a sampan for a scenic cruise to Ben Tre. Visit a LOCAL WORKSHOP to see how rice wine and traditional coconut candy are made. Then, continue on to a LOCAL GARDEN, where several types of fruit indigenous to the area are grown. This afternoon, enjoy time on board the ship as we sail to exciting Ho Chi Minh City. (B,L,D)

Day 11 Ho Chi Minh City (Disembarkation).

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, still known as Saigon to many. This morning, enjoy a WALKING TOUR of the city’s famous and historic landmarks as you stroll through the heart of the city along Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat) past Ho Chi Minh Square, the Municipal Theatre, the Central Post Office, and Notre Dame Cathedral. Stop at the Rex Hotel for a refreshing DRINK at the popular ROOFTOP BAR where the U.S. Military held the infamous “Five O’Clock Follies” during the war. Next, visit the WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM followed by BEN THANH MARKET, the largest and oldest in the city. For lunch, participate in a hands-on VIETNAMESE COOKING CLASS. Head into the classroom and learn how to prepare different local dishes and the techniques necessary to recreate them once you return home. Last but not least, sample your delicious creations! The afternoon is at your leisure to explore this lively city. (B,L)

Day 12 Ho Chi Minh City. Excursion to Cu Chi Tunnels.

This morning, leave the city and drive through vast expanses of rice paddies to visit the CU CHI TUNNELS, an extraordinary network of tunnels more than 120 miles in length that was used by the Viet Cong as a hideout and secret village during the war. Here, you will learn about how the tunnels were constructed and have a chance to walk through a section to experience what life would have been like underground. Return to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy the remainder of the afternoon at your leisure. This evening, join your traveling companions for a special farewell dinner hosted by your Cruise Director. (B,D)

Day 13 Ho Chi Minh City–Hanoi.

Today, transfer to the airport and fly to Hanoi. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for the night. (B)

Day 14 Hanoi.

This morning, take time to look at the life of Ho Chi Minh, the father of modern Vietnam. First, visit the MAUSOLEUM and the humble cottage from which “Uncle Ho” ruled Vietnam until his death in 1969. Next on the agenda: ONE PILLAR PAGODA, the HO CHI MINH MUSEUM, and the Presidential Palace. Stop at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” before continuing to mystical Hoan Kiem Lake, where you will enjoy a brief guided walk. Also visit the ancient TEMPLE OF LITERATURE, over 900 years old and Hanoi’s first university. Lunch is at KOTO, a non-profit restaurant and hospitality program that trains local street children in restaurant skills they can use to find a job and build a stable life. After lunch, enjoy a ELECTRIC CART ride through the fascinating Old Quarter, 36 ancient streets where peddlers trade as they have for centuries. An early dinner this evening is followed by a fascinating performance of Hanoi’s renowned WATER PUPPETS, a traditional art form dating back to the 11th century. (B,L,D)

Day 15 Hanoi–Ha Long Bay.

Travel from Hanoi through the fertile countryside to Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the Gulf of Tonkin, the bay is dotted with more than 3,000 limestone islands carved into fanciful shapes by the action of the water. Board the luxurious Paradise Elegance for a TWO-NIGHT CRUISE on the bay. After lunch, visit the CUA VAN FLOATING VILLAGE, home to more than 700 people. You can visit by bamboo raft with the locals or in a kayak under your own power. Enjoy scenic sailing for the remainder of the day before anchoring for the night. (B,L,D)

Day 16 Ha Long Bay.

Continue exploring the bay. Visit TITOP ISLAND, where you have the chance to swim or climb 400 steps to the top for stunning views. You will also visit LUON CAVE by your choice of boat or kayak. At DARK AND BRIGHT CAVE, you can explore by bamboo raft with the locals or by kayak. After a day of exploring, consider a spa treatment or simply relax for happy hour prior to dinner! (B,L,D)

Day 17 Ha Long Bay–Hanoi.

This morning, relax onboard or visit SUNG SOT CAVE, considered one of the most beautiful in the area with its magnificent formations. Afterwards, return to Hanoi and check in to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. (B)

Day 18 Hanoi–Sapa.

Today, transfer to the hill-station town of Sapa known for its mountain scenery, rice fields, and colorful ethnic minorities. This afternoon, join a walking tour of this small town and visit the LOCAL MARKET. (B)

Day 19 Sapa.

Your day starts with a visit to TA VAN and LAO CHAI villages, to see the traditional way of life of the Zay and Black Hmong ethnic groups. These ethnic groups live together here under the watch of Fansipan Mountain. The Zay live a sedentary lifestyle and choose land near the valley’s bottom for growing wet rice. The Hmong have historically preferred higher elevations for corn farming but recently they’ve started gradually moving to lower land and learning from others like the Zay. After lunch, visit the beautiful SILVER WATERFALL and ascend the highest road in Vietnam to HEAVEN GATE for stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valley. (B,L)

Day 20 Sapa.

This morning, visit one of the famous WEEKLY MARKETS. Here, the local ethnic minority groups wear their most beautiful costumes as they sell and trade their homemade products. The Flower Hmong group is most recognizable with their colorful dress. After a quick photo stop at the China border, visit Taphin village, home of the RED DAO people who migrated from China starting in the 12th century. The Dao women are recognizable by the bright red turban they wear and, in some cases, shaved eyebrows. Tonight, consider exploring Sapa and stop at the famous “Love Market,” where local Hmong and Dao come from their villages for the chance to see one another and perhaps go on a date! (B,L)

Day 21 Sapa–Hanoi.

Today, transfer back to Hanoi and check in to your hotel for the evening. (B)

Day 22 Hanoi.

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)


Things to Know

Preparing For Your Trip
  • Make Sure to Bring All of Your Important Documents: Passport, Foreign visa (if applicable), Itinerary, Trip confirmation, Airline ticket, Drivers license, Credit cards, Travel documents.

  • Vaccinations Are Required for Entry to Some Countries. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) can provide you their recommendations for vaccinations and other travel health precautions for your trip abroad.

  • Are You Taking Any Prescriptions or Other Medications? Pack enough to last your entire trip, including some extra in case you are unexpectedly delayed.

  • Insurance: Purchase travel insurance to cover yourself against unexpected situations. You never know when something might happen, so always be prepared.
While Traveling
  • Keep an eye on your belongings. Do not leave your belongings unattended in public spaces

  • Always have local cash. Not every place takes credit cards.
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