Vietnam and Cambodia-Mekong River itinerary:
DAY 1 — Siem Reap, Cambodia
Arrive in Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor, in the evening and spend the next three nights at outstanding La Résidence d’Angkor.
DAY 2 — Angkor / Siem Reap
This morning you'll venture out to the fine temple of Banteay Srei, known for its exceptional carvings. In the afternoon you'll stop at Les Artisans d'Angkor, where local artisans preserve age-old Khmer arts. Continue to Ta Prohm Temple, reclaimed by the jungle, framed by twisted roots and branches of ceiba and fig trees. Gather for dinner this evening. (B,L,D)
DAY 3 — Angkor Wat / Siem Reap
You'll watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat this morning. It's the world's largest religious monument, crowned by five towers and decorated with elaborate bas-reliefs. This afternoon you'll travel by tuk-tuk (motorized rickshaw) to the superlative complex of Angkor Thom and Bayon Temple, known for its serene stone faces. Dinner is in a fine local restaurant. (B,D)
DAY 4 — Kamong Cham/Embark Jahan
Drive toward Kampong Cham and embark Jahan. Then sail along the Mekong River. (B,L,D)
DAY 5 — Wat Hanchey/ Angkor Ban
Wat Hanchey has fine temples, including an eighth-century temple from the pre-Angkor Chenla period. Angkor Ban has many old-style houses. Walk through town and meet the friendly residents. (B,L,D)
DAY 6 — Kampong Chhang/Kampong Tralach
After a visit to a pottery village, take local boats to see the floating houses and shops that line the riverbanks. At Kampong Tralach, local oxcarts take us through the rice paddies to a Buddhist temple. (B,L,D)
DAY 7 — Phnom Penh
Today will be a full, rewarding day exploring the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, situated at the confluence of the Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap Rivers. We begin with a “cyclo” (bicycle taxi) ride to the magnificent Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, home and place of worship to Cambodia’s kings. The architecture, displays and furnishings are remarkable. We continue to the excellent National Museum, which has sculpture and many other artifacts from Khmer temples and other aspects of Cambodia’s history. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit an interesting local market, then venture out of town to the Choeung Ek “killing fields,” where many thousands of Cambodians were murdered by the Khmer Rouge and buried in mass graves. A moving memorial and museum are on the site. Late in the afternoon, we visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where innocent people were imprisoned, tortured, and many sent to their death. Exhibits show the determination of Cambodians that this should never happen again. Back aboard ship, an evening dance performance shows how well the arts have been able to reestablish themselves. (B,L,D)
DAY 8 — Sailing the Mekong
As we sail along the Mekong, there’s a chance to see life along the river, with traditional ships, barges and freighters plying the waterway. There will be a chance to enjoy Jahan’s many amenities, to hear talks by our staff and for our chefs to show you how to prepare some of Cambodia and Vietnam’s signature dishes. We cross the border into Vietnam, where we will spend the rest of our journey. (B,L,D)
DAY 9 — Chau Doc, Vietnam
Friendly Chau Doc has one of Vietnam’s most interesting markets, with an astonishing variety of tropical fruits, vegetables and other goods. We continue to an floating village with fish farms, and see fish being fed through trap doors in the floating platforms. Then we see a village inhabited by people of the Cham ethnic minority, with a chance to visit the attractive mosque and to learn about a unique way of life. (B,L,D)
DAY 10 — Sadec/Cai Be
From the hamlet of Sadec, we’ll take a local boat along a channel off the main river, with much activity to be seen along the way. We’ll visit a small community where the villagers grow, process and fashion water hyacinths into floor mates and rattan baskets — a real slice of life in the Mekong Delta. At the town of Cai Be, we see the floating market, where people in boats sell their wares. Each boat has an object attached to a pole that shows what is being sold. We then visit a rice “factory,” where varieties of rice-based candies are made. Rice husks are reused as fuel for the cooking process, and ash is sold to famers for use as fertilizer. We’ll also visit a Chinese-style house built in 1838, and walk along local lanes to see loganberries being processed by the families who live there. On board Jahan, we have a gala farewell dinner. (B,L,D)
DAY 11 — Ben Tre/My Tho/Saigon
We disembark Jahan in the morning in My Tho, and take a local boat to visit the nearby villages around Ben Tre. We’ll see a village where fish are raised before entering the palm-lined Vam Xep canal. Stroll around the Quoi An fruit orchard, visiting fruit-drying kilns and a workshop for coconut candy and craftware. Then we’ll be poled along a canal before transferring to My Tho for a lunch of Mekong specialties. After a stop at the great Vinh Trang pagoda, we transfer to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam’s greatest commercial center, and check in to the outstanding Park Hyatt, located in the heart of the city. In the late afternoon, we meet with a local expert on Vietnam’s modern history. This evening, we gather at an excellent local restaurant for dinner. (B,L,D)
DAY 12 — Saigon/Depart
In the morning we take a walking tour of Saigon’s historic landmarks, which include a rich selection of fine colonial buildings. We’ll see the grand exteriors of the 1911 Opera House, the former city hall dating from 1908 and the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red-brick edifice with twin spires; and we visit the General Post Office, designed by Gustave Eiffel. We continue to the Presidential Palace, headquarters of the South Vietnamese Government during the Vietnam War. The breaching of the gates by North Vietnamese tanks symbolically marked the war’s end. If you wish, end at the War Remnants Museum, which gives a strong view of the war through the eyes of the Vietnamese. The afternoon is free, with rooms reserved until departure, until our evening transfer to the airport for flights home. (B)
The new Jahan offers by far the finest accommodations on the Mekong River. Nothing else can begin to compare with her for outstanding staterooms, decor, service and food.
Capacity: 48 guests in 24 outside cabins.
Registry: Vietnam. Overall Length: 230 feet.
Public Areas: The ship is fully air-conditioned. Outdoor areas include the Pool Deck, with both covered and open-air spaces, a Jacuzzi and a bar. The Lounge, located on the Upper Deck, has a library, full service bar and facilities for films, slide shows and presentations. Guests are welcome on the “Open Bridge” to meet the Captain and Officers and learn about navigation.
Meals: Served in single seatings with unassigned tables, for an informal atmosphere and easy mingling. The menu is international, with a focus on the outstanding Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisines.
Cabins: All face outside, and all have glass doors and private balconies for enjoying the scenery along the Mekong River and its tributaries. There is a mix of twin-bedded and queen-size bedded cabins. Each has private facilities and hair dryer, individual climate control, music entertainment system and a mini bar. A choice of pillows is provided on request.
Special Features: There is a Spa, offering a choice of massage treatments, and a gymnasium with exercise equipment. The Boutique has a fine selection of local artwork and textiles. Morning Tai Chi classes are offered on the Terrace Deck. DVD and iPod players are available on request.
Spend two days exploring the legendary religious sites of Angkor, in the company of our experts and local guides / Visit communities and learn the ways of life along the river, including subsistence fishing and small industries / Explore Phnom Penh and Saigon, touring sites important to the cities’ 20th-century histories / Travel in extraordinary comfort and see many of the countries’ cultural highpoints.