Venture off the beaten path on a thought-provoking cruise of the Mekong River, one of Asia’s vital waterways. You’ll also enjoy hotel stays in Luang Prabang, Siem Reap, and Ho Chi Minh City.

Starting at: $7,740 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Throwing fishing nets along the river in Vietnam. Credit: Amanda Mack  Monk at Angkor Wat. Credit: Chris Palmer  Skyline of Ho Chi Minh City at dusk  Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City  M41 Walker Bulldog Tank at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City  Woman working with flowers on the Mekong. Credit: Nhiem Hoang  Floating market on the river  Terraced rice fields
  Sunrise over Angkor Wat, Cambodia.  Credit: Florian Christian  Close up of sculpture at Bayon, Angkor Thom  Terrace of the Leper King, Angkor Thom  Elephant Terrace at Angkor Thom  The iconic site of Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat  View of Angkor Wat  View of Angkor Wat

Cruising the Mekong River

Featuring Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam

16 days from $7,740

Venture off the beaten path on a thought-provoking cruise of the Mekong River, one of Asia’s vital waterways. You’ll also enjoy hotel stays in Luang Prabang, Siem Reap, and Ho Chi Minh City.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Activity Level 2: Moderate

Expectations: Land program and also a river cruise that pulls into a pier for disembarkation. Morning, afternoon, or full-day excursions at a moderate pace. Standing and walking for long periods of time during village and museum visits as well as at markets and historic and religious sites. Many sites will have stairs without handrails and no elevator access. City streets can be very crowded and walking can be over difficult terrain meaning dirt paths which can get muddy, wooden piers with uneven boardwalks and cobblestone streets. There will be some longer walks to get to city centers and historic sites where coaches are prohibited.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with longer days of touring (both walking tours and coach time.)

Itinerary

Day 1 – Depart U.S. Home Cities

Depart on your transpacific flight to Luang Prabang, Laos.

Day 2 – In Flight

Cross the International Date Line en route to Luang Prabang.

Day 3 – Luang Prabang

Arrive at Luang Prabang’s International Airport and transfer to the deluxe Satri House Hotel. Enjoy time to relax and get settled. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available for suggestions regarding city sights, restaurants, and independent activities.

This evening, gather with fellow travelers for a welcome reception followed by a short introduction by your Smithsonian Journey Expert. (R)

Day 4 – Luang Prabang

An American-style buffet breakfast will be served each morning during your journey. Start discovering with a visit the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Center, then continue to Wat Xieng Thong, one of the city’s most beautiful temples. Afterward, tour the nearby Vat Mai, with its five-tiered roof. Drive out of the city to the Kuang Sii Waterfalls. The route takes you through the scenic Laotian countryside, with rice paddies and small villages along the way. Lunch will be served en route. After lunch, continue to visit a Mekong riverside garden and learn about traditional Lao weaving. Local refreshments will be served in the garden.

Tonight, experience a traditional Baci ceremony in which villagers tie sacred strings of friendship and good fortune around the wrists of visitors combining Lao beliefs in Buddhism and animism. A welcome dinner follows at L’Elephant Restaurant. (B, L, D)

Day 5 – Luang Prabang / Siem Reap

This morning, start the day very early with one of the most memorable sights in Luang Prabang – Tak Bat. At dawn, hundreds of saffron-robed monks move silently through the streets to collect alms. This ritual is still very much a part of everyday life in Laos. Return to the hotel for breakfast and enjoy time at leisure.

This afternoon, depart for the airport and your flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Upon arrival, check-in at the Sofitel Angkor Phookeethra Hotel and enjoy time at leisure. (B)

Day 6 – Siem Rep

After breakfast, depart on a day of discovery starting at the remarkable Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmers. An expert local guide will bring the site to life with fascinating context and narrative as you explore the Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and the magnificent Bayon Temple. This architectural marvel is positioned in the center of the complex and is an iconic archaeological wonder. Its exterior gallery walls are adorned with intricate bas-relief carvings, but the most profound features are the 200 plus enigmatic, smiling stone faces that adorn the temple towers. Lunch will be at leisure at the hotel.

In mid-afternoon, a tuk-tuk tour of Siem Reap is planned, ending at a dance school where you’ll attend a classical Apsara dance performance. This evening, gather with fellow travelers for dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)

Day 7 – Siem Reap

This morning, depart on an excursion to Angkor Wat, known as the world’s largest temple. Intricate bas-relief carvings surround the Angkor Wat, each telling a tale from the past. After lunch at the hotel, continue to explore the Angkor temple site with a visit to Ta Prohm, a temple that has, for the most part, been left in its natural state since its discovery by French explorers in the late 19th century. Here, the roots and branches of ancient Banyan trees have overwhelmed the stone structures like monstrous tentacles. One of the largest temples at Angkor and a favorite for many people, Ta Prohm was built in the 12th century. Continue to the temple of Thommanon, which has been recently restored and exhibits wonderful mythological Apsara carvings. On the return to the hotel, a stop will be made to see the 12th-century temple of Banteay Kdei. Your evening will be at leisure. (B, L)

Day 8 – Siem Reap / Kampong Cham

Enjoy a leisurely morning. You may opt to join another tuk-tuk tour to visit the nearby Arts and Crafts Center. In the late morning, depart for Kampong Cham with lunch en route. Embark the 5-star Mekong Navigator. Enjoy a refreshing welcome drink during boarding, then get acquainted with the ship and unpack and relax in your stateroom. Tonight, there is a welcome briefing and dinner on board. (B, L, D)

Day 9 – Cruising / Wat Hanchey / Angkor Ban

Following breakfast and a short sail, travelers will depart the ship and set off on foot to visit the hilltop Wat Hanchey. Dating from the 7th century, the temple is set a peaceful spot and provides remarkable views overlooking the Mekong River. After touring the temple complex, travelers will receive a water blessing from one of the Buddhist monks. Attend a talk by a local speaker that will focus on the Geography and Life on the Mekong. After lunch, go ashore and visit Angkor Ban where you’ll learn more about life on the river. Visit a family home and a local private English School where you’ll experience a part of the typical school day. Make a stop at a local monastery then take a short walk back to the ship. This evening, the ship sails for Phnom Penh. Gather with fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for an informal discussion about your experiences so far. (B, L, D)

Day 10 – Phnom Penh

This morning, depart the ship for a cyclo ride through the center of the city. Visit the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. Continue by cyclo to visit the National Museum of Cambodia, a fascinating showcase brimming with cultural and archaeological treasures. The afternoon is free of planned activities so that you can explore on your own. Before dinner, attend an Apsara dance performance on the Sun Deck performed by local children. (B, L, D)

Day 11 – Phnom Penh / Cruising

Set off on a drive to the outskirts of Phnom Penh. There, you’ll visit the Choueng Ek Memorial at the Killing Fields where an expert guide will offer emotional commentary on the atrocities committed by the brutal Pol Pot regime in the late 1970s. Visit the Memorial Stupa and the “S21” Genocide Museum, a former school turned Khmer Rouge detention center. After lunch, attend a talk by a local speaker on Cambodia Today and its Buddhist culture. Afterward, enjoy a cooking demonstration offered by the ship’s chef. Later in the afternoon, the ship will sail for the Vietnam border and anchor for the night. (B, L, D)

Day 12 – Vietnam Border / Cruising / Hong Ngu

This morning, the ship clears Immigration formalities and sails across the Vietnamese border. Join the chef to learn about local varieties of tropical fruit and see how they are carved into decorative centerpieces. Afterward, a local guide will talk about the importance of the local customs and practices of agriculture, rice cultivation, and fish farming in Vietnam. Lunch is served on board. This afternoon, visit the local island village of Hong Ngu, not far from the Cambodian/Vietnamese border. Hong Ngu residents produce the traditional Khmer scarves woven in many homes around the village. You’ll have the opportunity to see the weaving process and the intricate embroidery displayed in and around the homes. Travelers will also visit the local temple dedicated to a unique religion founded in this area of Vietnam known as Hoa Hao. (B, L, D)

Day 13 – Cu Lao Gieng / Sa Dec

Travel by sampan to Gieng Island to visit a local village where you’ll see how sampans are built. Take a sampan ride through a quiet canal and visit the Gieng Cathedral built-in 1879. After lunch, cruise to Sa Dec through bustling canals as people go through their normal daily routines. Visit the private home of Mr. Hyun Thuy Le. The famous French novelist, Marguerite Duras was inspired by Le's life story and wrote the romantic novel L'Amant. During a walk through the town, experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the local market. In early evening, meet with fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner before dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 14 – Vinh Long / Tien Loi Island

Upon arrival at Vinh Long, a sampan takes you to visit a traditional rice factory where workers produce rice paper, rice wine, popped rice, and many varieties of traditional candy. Continue to explore with a visit to the Long Thanh home for its senior citizens. Experience the hustle and bustle of Mekong Delta river life as local traders take their produce to market. Tien Loi island is an untouched island and home to only seven families who have settled peacefully on the river. You’ll see how the local farmers make rooster cages and decorate bonsai trees in their gardens. Next, visit a village where you will be amazed by gardens where dwarfed trees are cultivated. After returning to the ship, enjoy a scenic cruise downstream to My Tho. Later, gather on the Sun Deck for a farewell reception followed by dinner in the Dining Room. (B, L, D)

Day 15 – My Tho / Ho Chi Minh City

Disembark the ship and travel by motorcoach to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. After a mid-morning arrival start exploring Ho Chi Minh City with a tour of the Reunification Palace, former headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American War. After a short walk with your guide, you’ll see Notre Dame Cathedral, the stunning French colonial Post Office and the Hotel de Ville, officially, the City Hall. A visit to the War Remnants Museum reveals past history with fascinating exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War. After a lunch of local specialties, check-in at the Park Hyatt Hotel. Later this afternoon, a shuttle bus will operate from the hotel to the Ben Thanh Market. Dating back to the 1600’s this small market of street vendors has grown into the largest in Ho Chi Minh City. After returning to the hotel, learn about Contemporary Vietnam from a local speaker. Discuss Vietnam’s amazing culture, modern development and its very fast-growing economy. Enjoy a dinner tonight on board the Saigon Princess sailing on the Saigon River. (B, L, D)

Day 16 – Depart Ho Chi Minh City for the U.S.

Depart the hotel for Saigon’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Itinerary Note: Based on international airline schedules and routings, some travelers will arrive in the U.S. the same day; others may arrive the next day. This information is based on preliminary 2021 airline schedules.

Day 17 – Arrive in Home Cities

As noted above, some flights arrive in the U.S. today.

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)