Mekong Odyssey - 11 Nights
2 Nights Saigon, 7 Nights Mekong Cruise and 2 Nights Siem Reap (or in reverse)
Based on the R/V Mekong Prestige II
Day 1 - Saigon
Arrive Saigon and transfer to your hotel. Your evening is free time.
Hotel: Sofitel Plaza
Day 2 – Saigon
Today, experience the very best of Saigon on a full-day city tour.
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as the city is still frequently referred to, is Vietnam’s largest city. It is a fast-paced metropolis full of contrasts, with street vendors selling fruit and vegetables next to glitzy western-style bars and boutiques. Amazingly, the city’s history dates back only 300 years. In 1859 the city was captured by the French and became the capital of Cochin China. From 1956 until April 1975 it was the capital of the US-backed Republic of Vietnam. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is very much the heart of Vietnamese business and entrepreneurial activity. Yet, the city still retains its connections to the past, particularly in Cholon which is the city’s Chinatown. Here dozens of elegant temples and pagodas can be seen. The French also left their mark with some fine colonial-era buildings such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.
In the morning you will visit:
The Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post Office: Built between 1877 and 1883 this is one of the best examples of classical French colonial architecture. Remarkably, every stone used in its creation was shipped from France to Vietnam. Her two forty metre towers, topped with iron spires, still dominate the city’s skyline. The Old Post Office is another example of French colonial architecture and is also the country’s largest post office.
Dong Khoi Street, the Opera House and the Peoples’ Committee Building: built in 1897 by French architect Ferret Eugene, the 800 seat Opera House was used as the home of the Lower House Assembly of Sourth Vietnam after 1956. It was not until 1975 that it was again used for performances. The structure was restored in 1995. The Opera House is located on the historical Dong Khoi Street which is home to many boutiques and fine restaurants. Just around the corner are the iconic Rex hotel and the beautiful Peoples’ Committee Building.
The Reunification Palace: This is one of the most important buildings in the city. Here on April 30th 1975 the ‘American War’ officially ended when tank number 843 of the North Vietnamese Army crashed through the gates of what was, at the time the residence of the President of the Republic of Vietnam.
At approximately 12 pm you will enjoy lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant.
In the afternoon, you will visit:
The War Remnants Museum: Formerly known as the Museum of American War Crimes, this is a poignant display of the futility of war. Some of the black and white photography in the ‘Requiem’ exhibit is particularly touching, dedicated to both foreign and Vietnamese journalists and photographers who perished during the conflict. The courtyard outside contains the spoils of war, namely rusting jets, tanks and cannons captured from the American military machine.
Thien Hau Pagoda: Located in Cholon, the city’s Chinatown, this pagoda is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea. The most impressive features of this structure are the intricately friezes and the carved tableaus towards the front of the pagoda. The impressive incense coils in the interior also make for some great photos.
Cholon Cyclo Tour: This is one of the best ways to observe street life in this vibrant commercial centre. Enjoy a ride through the narrow streets and timeless street scenes as you soak up the atmosphere in comfort.
Binh Tay Market: The name ‘Cho Lon’ can be roughly translated as ‘Big market’. Although the whole district lives up to its name a visit to this market really drives the point home. Selling everything from hats to dried squid, you are sure to enjoy a walk through the maze of stalls in this bustling market.
Soak up the history of Dong Khoi Street on a walking tour, visit the Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum, and the city’s biggest wholesale market in Chinatown. This afternoon, discover the Cu Chi Tunnels on the city’s outskirts.
Hotel: Sofitel Plaza
Day 3 to 10 - Saigon to Siem Reap - Mekong Cruise
Transfer arranged to My Tho, located at 70 kilometres away. Arrival in My Tho and welcome on board your chosen Mekong Cruise and settling into the cabins. Please refer to the itinerary for your preferred cruise.
Day 11 – Siem Reap & Temples of Angkor
This is a one day private classic tour of Angkor Wat and other important temples and ruins surrounding Siem Reap. The day begins at the South Gate of Angkor Thom, where you will begin your exploration of the centrepiece of this ancient city, the Bayon. The Bayon holds 54 towers decorated with more than 200 enigmatically smiling stone faces. The morning tour also visits the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Terrace of Elephants and Terrace of Leper Kings, as well as Ta Prohm Temple, famously featured in the movie, Tomb Raider.
Afterwards, enjoy a relaxed lunch in Siem Reap before heading to the famous Angkor Wat - the best preserved of all the Angkor temples. There is ample time for a thorough exploration of this huge architectural wonder before climbing to the top of ancient Pre Rup temple to watch the sunset over the jungle.
Spend an incredible day touring the ancient and mysterious Temples of Angkor, starting with the most famous, Angkor Wat. Also visit the Bayon, and atmospheric tree-covered Ta Prohm and Preah Kahn.
Hotel: Victoria Angkor Hotel
Day 12 – Siem Reap
Your stay ends with an airport transfer.