From the heights of the Himalayas to the coast of the China Sea, over the course of its almost 2,800-mile journey, the Mekong River passes through much more than just Indochina. Wherever it flows, it fascinates people and shapes their lives. From the Delta and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), a town still filled with souvenirs of the French colonial presence, right to the great lake of Tonlé Sap and Siem Reap, a city at the foot of the Angkor Sites, the Mekong today has to work hard to maintain suitable water levels, with many dams along its course, and subject to more and more extraordinary monsoons.
DAY 1: PARIS - SIEM REAP (with connection)
You'll take a regularly scheduled flight with connection from Paris to Siem Reap. Dinner will be served on the plane.
DAY 2: SIEM REAP - ANGKOR
Once you arrive at the airport in Siem Reap, you’ll be greeted by your guide and transferred to your hotel. Accommodations will be at either a 4-star or 5-star hotel according to the cruise you choose. You’ll have lunch at the hotel, and you’ll be able to check into your room at 2 p.m. This afternoon, we’ll visit the Senteurs d'Angkor: a diverse collection of silk and carvings, as well as a superb range of traditional beauty products and spices, all made locally. We’ll also visit its workshop and see how many of their products are made. We’ll have dinner in the city and spend the night at the hotel.
DAY 3: SIEM REAP - ANGKOR
After breakfast this morning, we’ll leave for an early visit of Banteay Srei, a 1186 Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva—widely praised as the “Jewel of Khmer Art.” Rediscovered among the vines of the forest in 1914, it is the only temple carved in hard pink sandstone in the Angkor region. We’ll then visit the temple of Ta Prohm, built in the late 12th century and still as it was found centuries later with trees growing out of the ruins. We’ll have lunch in the city before exploring Angkor Thom, a vast architectural complex which can be accessed through five gates. At its center is the monumental temple of Bayon—famous for its towers and 172 faces of Avalokitesvara. Stroll through the grounds of the former Royal Palace, where the Phimeanakas Sanctuary is found. Discover the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. We’ll end the day with Phare, the Cambodian circus, before having dinner in a local restaurant in Siem Reap. Afterwards, join us for a stroll through the “Angkor Night Market” and enjoy the night air and local crafts. We’ll spend the night at the hotel.
DAY 4: SIEM REAP - TONLE SAP
Enjoy breakfast before visiting the Angkor Wat temple: the epitome of Khmer architectural art. It is the largest religious monument in the world and an architectural masterpiece. Lunch will be served at the hotel. In the early afternoon, you’ll be transferred from the hotel to the ship. After comfortably settling into your cabins, we’ll introduce our crew at a welcome cocktail and have dinner on board. We’ll spend the night on board.
DAY 5: TONLE SAP - KAMPONG CHHNANG – KAMPONG TRALACH
Enjoy breakfast on board while we cross the lake. We’ll have lunch before arriving in Kampong Chhnang, one of the largest fishing ports on the Tonle Sap. Fish farming is abundant here. The region is best known for its particularly archaic pottery that can be found throughout the country and which also gave the town its name (Kampong Chhnang means "port of pottery" in Khmer). We’ll taste the palm sugar harvested from the Thnot—a sugar palm that is also a national symbol—and visit the floating village on small boats. We’ll return back on board and depart for Kampong Tralach. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board.
DAY 6: KAMPONG TRALACH - KOH CHEN – PHNOM PENH
After breakfast this morning, we’ll visit the beautiful Vihara at the Wat Kampong Tralach Leu pagoda. We access the Vihara by crossing through the village of Kampong Tralach in ox wagons and using a small road running perpendicular to the river, amid the beautifully landscaped paddy fields. The Vihara dates from the beginning of the last century and still retains its magnificent murals—although they are beginning to suffer from the ravages of time. Totally hidden within the rice fields, it is a modest pagoda attracting few visitors, and its isolation makes the site more enticing. We’ll return on board for lunch and cast off once again. Once we arrive in Koh Chen, you can explore this small village where craftspeople specialize in silver and copper work and where ornaments used in traditional ceremonies at the pagoda or for marriages are fashioned. We’ll also pay a visit to the local school before returning back on board and cruising to Phnom Penh until the end of the afternoon. Once in the city, join us for a "tuk-tuk" ride: a motorized three-wheel cycle and traditional means of transportation in Phnom Penh. We’ll return to the ship and enjoy a performance of classical Khmer dancing and music. We’ll have dinner and remain in port overnight.
DAY 7: PHNOM PENH
Enjoy breakfast on board. Founded in 1434, Phnom Penh, after much rehabilitation of part of its architectural heritage, still retains a good deal of its charm from the French colonial period. We’ll visit the Royal Palace, one of the finest examples of Cambodian architecture inspired by the traditional Khmer style. The Silver Pagoda houses many national treasures, including gold and jeweled Buddha statues. Most notable is a small 17th-century crystal Buddha and a life-sized gold Buddha decorated with 9,584 diamonds, the largest of which weighs 25 carats. Onward to visit the National Museum, which houses the Museum of Fine Arts, built in 1917 by the French but using the traditional Khmer style. The museum houses one of the world's largest collections of Khmer art, including sculptures, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects and includes over 14,000 items from prehistoric times to after the Khmer Empire. We’ll have lunch in the city. In the afternoon, tour the Tuol Svay Prey School, a former detention, torture and execution center run by the Khmer Rouge during the civil war. Afterwards, spend some free time at the market. We’ll return on board for dinner and the night.
DAY 8: CHAU DOC - SA DEC
Enjoy breakfast as we cruise to the Vietnamese border. We’ll spend the morning taking care of customs formalities. We’ll have lunch before arriving in Chau Doc at the beginning of the afternoon. Chau Doc, on the edge of the Mekong Delta, is the stepping stone between Vietnam and Cambodia. There are floating farms everywhere, since the now-prosperous area has developed around fish and fish farming. The town is a busy, lively place with few tourists and several charming colonial buildings. The market is in the heart of the city, and it has a color scheme to match its ambience: with bright pastel hues of green, blue and purple adorning many of the newer shop fronts. We’ll set out on small boats to visit a fish farm, and if the weather permits, go up to the top of Nui Sam. We’ll return through Chau Doc and visit the temples of Ba Chua Xu and Tay An. We’ll return on board and continue towards Sa Dec. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board.
DAY 9: SA DEC – VINH LONG - CAI BE
Enjoy breakfast before we pay a visit to the small, sleepy town of Sa Dec. We’ll visit the former house of Huynh Thuy Le, the man who Marguerite Duras based her book The Lover on. In colonial times, Sa Dec was known as the “Garden of Cochin-China” because of its famous floral gardens. We’ll have lunch on board and cruise to Ving Long—located in the middle of the delta, between two distributaries of the Mekong River. Hundreds of small boats abound between houses built on stilts. We’ll take a boat ride through the arroyos and orchards to Cai Be. We’ll discover a brick and pottery factory, a fruit tree nursery in Binh Hoa Phuoc, puffed riced and the rice paper wrappers used to make nems, rice alcohol and coconut candies. Afterwards, we’ll return on board and start to cruise once again. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board.
DAY 10: MY THO – HO CHI MINH CITY
Enjoy breakfast on board. The islands near My Tho are well-known for their abundant orchards and fruit gardens. The climate is warm and pleasant all year round. The surrounding countryside is considered one of the most luxurious in Vietnam and abounds in coconuts, bananas, mangos and longans. On one of the largest islands, Thoi Son, we’ll visit a honey farm and taste their honey tea and exotic fruits. Afterwards, we'll have a ride in a sampan through the canal bordered with nipa palms and observe the daily life of the inhabitants. We’ll have lunch on board, as we begin our magnificent cruise through the very narrow Cho Gao Canal towards Ho Chi Minh City. We’ll have dinner on board and remain in port overnight. The evening is free to do as you please.
DAY 11: HO CHI MINH CITY (formerly Saigon)
Enjoy breakfast before visiting Ho Chi Minh City. Conquered by the French in 1859, a number of classical western-style buildings and French villas in the city still reflect this colonial era. We’ll see the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Saigon Central Post Office. We’ll have lunch on board, and this afternoon we’ll visit a lacquer painting workshop. Afterwards, enjoy some free time in the local souvenir market. Tonight, we'll have a cocktail together followed by our farewell dinner. We’ll remain in port overnight. The evening is free to do as you please.
DAY 12: HO CHI MINH CITY
After enjoying breakfast on board, you’ll disembark and spend the morning visiting Cholon, the Chinese-influenced section of the city. We’ll have lunch in the city, and you’ll have the afternoon free to do as you like. You’ll then be transferred to the airport in Ho Chi Minh City for your overnight flight to Paris (with connection). Dinner will be served on the plane.
DAY 13: PARIS
Arrival in Paris.