Venture off the beaten path during a journey that showcases the wonders of Cambodia and Vietnam. Experience less-travelled towns and hamlets along the Mekong River, one of Asia’s vital waterways. You’ll enjoy stays in in fine hotels in Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). Experience the finest in Asian river cruising aboard the elegant all-suite Mekong Navigator.

Note: The February 2023 date was published incorrectly in our Winter 2022 catalog. The correct date is Feb. 21 - Mar. 6, 2023.

Starting at: $7,940 * 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  Visit the picturesque countryside in Laos including a stop at Kuang Si waterfall  Wat Xieng Thong temple, Luang Prabang, Laos  Experience the rich tradition of Tak Bat while in Laos

Cruising the Mekong River

A Journey Through Southeast Asia

14-16 days from $7,940

Venture off the beaten path during a journey that showcases the wonders of Cambodia and Vietnam. Experience less-travelled towns and hamlets along the Mekong River, one of Asia’s vital waterways. You’ll enjoy stays in in fine hotels in Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). Experience the finest in Asian river cruising aboard the elegant all-suite Mekong Navigator.

Note: The February 2023 date was published incorrectly in our Winter 2022 catalog. The correct date is Feb. 21 - Mar. 6, 2023.

or Call 855-330-1542

Accommodations

* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.

Villa Maly

Luang Prabang, Laos

Villa Maly is one of the most historic and elegant hotels in this ancient city, designed in a style inspired by the colonial era with Art Deco notes. Once a private home, the hotel is set in lush gardens that offer respite from the bustle of the city in a UNESCO protected historic zone. Here you can enjoy quiet time after a day of exploring. Guest rooms are appointed with locally crafted wood furnishings, four-poster beds, mahogany armoires and classic ceiling fans. Room amenities include telephone, cable channels, flat-screen TV, safe, air conditioning, desk, sitting area, ceiling fan, hairdryer, minibar, tea/coffee making facilities and wake-up service. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available in all rooms

Number of nights: 2

Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Just minutes from the temples of Angkor, this resort hotel is designed in a distinctive blend of Khmer and French colonial architecture and is a peaceful place to relax after a day of touring. Indulge yourself with a soothing spa treatment or a cool, refreshing dip in the swimming pool. Admire the beautiful lake and scenic gardens. Dine on Asian, European or French-Khmer fusion cuisine in any of the three excellent restaurants. WiFi is available and is complimentary.

Number of nights: 3

Park Hyatt Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The deluxe Park Hyatt Saigon is an award-winning, deluxe hotel located in the heart of the city. The hotel is ideally located on Lam Son Square near the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Reunification Palace. Experience world-class restaurants serving authentic Vietnamese and European cuisine. Pamper yourself at the full-service spa or work out in the 24-hour fitness center. WiFi is complimentary.

Number of nights: 1

Activity Level

Activity Level 3: Active

Expectations: Land program and also a river cruise that docks at facilities along the river embankment for boarding and disembarkation. Some docking areas are more developed than others and care must be taken on all gangways. 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 or unpaved 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. Travelers must be mindful of heat and humidity and avoid becoming dehydrated.

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

2022 Tour Extension

Hanoi and Ha Long Bay Pre-Program Extension 6 Days, 3 Nights (does not include international air travel days)

Day 1 – Hanoi

Pre-program extension travelers depart home cities for their international gateway and the transpacific flights to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Day 2 – In Flight

Cross the International Dateline and lose a day. Meals appropriate to the time of day will be served in flight.

Day 3 – Arrive Hanoi

Upon arrival at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport, clear arrival formalities and transfer to the Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi where accommodations await.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi 

Day 4 – Hanoi

Begin exploring with a visit to the impressive Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh built of marble, granite and exotic woods. Continue to the simple wooden house where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked in a quiet setting overlooking a peaceful lotus pond. Visit the Temple of Literature built in 1070 that later became Vietnam’s first university. Drive through the shady, tree-lined streets of this fascinating city that reflects a blend of French colonial and local architecture. See the recently restored Opera House and pass Hoan Kiem Lake. Early this evening, depart by pedicab for the Thang Long theatre where the ancient and unique art form of Water Puppetry is performed with music and song. The stage is a pool of water in which the puppeteer stands waist-deep to skilfully maneuver puppets on its surface with bamboo poles. Following the performance, transfer to dinner at one of Hanoi's superb restaurants.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi 

Day 5 – Hanoi / Ha Long Bay

After an early breakfast, depart by motor coach for the drive to Ha Long Bay, often called Vietnam’s Eighth Wonder of the World. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the bay and coastline are world-renowned for spectacular limestone formations, cliffs, coves, and arches that create a place of extraordinary natural beauty. Board the newly-built, traditionally-styled MS Paradise Elegance for an overnight cruise through the bay. Sail to Sung Sot Cave, one of the largest caves in the bay. Disembark to explore the chambers and admire the stalactites and stalagmites. Relax with afternoon tea as the ship passes scenic caves on its way to a secluded lagoon at Coconut Tree Island to anchor overnight. This evening, join fellow travelers for a dinner featuring Vietnamese European fusion cuisine. After dinner, sit on deck and ponder the magnificent night sky.

MS Paradise Elegance

Day 6 – Ha Long Bay / Hanoi / Ho Chi Minh City

At day break, try a Tai Chi lesson on deck. Breakfast will be served as the ship weighs anchor for Titop Island, one of the largest and most beautiful islands in the bay where you can swim or take a short trek. Disembark the ship and board a motor coach for the return drive to Hanoi airport for the flight to Ho Chi Minh City. There, join the main Smithsonian Journeys group at the Park Hyatt Hotel.

Park Hyatt Hotel Saigon

Please note: This itinerary may be subject to change due to local operational considerations.

2023 Tour Extensions

Luang Prabang, Laos Pre-Program Extension – 5 Days, 2 Nights (includes international air travel days)

Day 1 –Depart U.S. Gateway City

Board your transpacific flights to Luang Prabang, Laos.

Day 2 – In Flight / Cross International Dateline

You will lose one day and regain it on your return to the U.S.

Day 3 – Luang Prabang, Laos

Arrive Luang Prabang International Airport and after clearing brief immigration and customs formalities you will be met and assosted with transport to the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be on hand to help with questions or any restaurant or sightseeing suggestions. This evening, meet your fellow travelers for a welcome reception at the hotel. 

Villa Maly

Day 4 – Luang Prabang

Enjoy a full breakfast each morning at the hotel. Afterward, visit the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center, then Wat Xieng Thong, one of the largest and most beautiful temples in the city. Continue to nearby Vat Mai, the five-tiered roof of the wooden Sim or chapel epitomizes graceful Lao architecture. Continue your journey out of town to Kuang Si Waterfalls. The route takes you through very scenic Laotian countryside, with rice paddies and small ethnic minority hamlets along the way. Lunch is served en route. Afterwards, visit a Mekong riverside garden in a village on the outskirts of Luang Prabang, where guests can learn about traditional Lao weaving. In late afternoon Lao refreshments and cocktails will be served in a garden on the banks of the Mekong – a wonderful way to relax and watch the sunset. This evening, 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. Gather for a welcome dinner follows at the popular L’Elephant Restaurant.

Villa Maly

Day 5 – Luang Prabang / Siem Reap, Cambodia

This morning, start the day very early with one of the most memorable experiences found in Luang Prabang – Tak Bat. At dawn hundreds of saffron-robed monks move silently through the streets to collect alms. This daily ritual is still very much a part of traditional life in Laos. Return to the hotel in time for a hearty breakfast. Enjoy some time at leisure, then this afternoon, you’ll check-out of the hotel and depart for the airport for your flight from Luang Prabang, Laos to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Flying time is approximately one and a half hours. Upon arrival, you’ll clear Cambodian immigration and custom formalities and be met by your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director who will provide assistance with your transfer to the Sofitel Angkor Phookeethra Golf and Spa Resort where you will meet the main Smithsonian Journeys program.

Hanoi and Ha Long Bay Post-Program Extension — 4 Days, 3 Nights (does not include international air travel days)

Day 1 – Hanoi

Depart Ho Chi Minh City on an economy-class scheduled flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. Approximate nonstop flying time is two hours. Upon arrival, visit the Ho Chi Minh Compound. TheTomb is monumental, built of marble, granite and fine wood. Behind the Mausoleum is Ho Chi Minh's Home. The simple house where he lived and worked is made of wood and enjoys a tranquil setting, with a view of a lotus pond. Some of his belongings are on display and visitors can walk up the steps of his house to see his bedroom. Continue to the Temple of Literature, built in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, it is a serene retreat from the busy streets outside. It later became Vietnam's first university. Next, you’ll enjoy an orientation of the tree-lined streets of Hanoi, resplendent with French colonial architecture, including the recently restored Opera House. Pass Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Lake of the Restored Sword from a legend that surrounds it.

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi 

Day 2 – Hanoi / Ha Long Bay

After an early breakfast at the hotel, check-out and depart Hanoi by road for Ha Long Bay (four-hour transfer time). A rest stop will be made en route. Ha Long Bay is often called Vietnam’s eighth wonder of the world and once visited, it is hard to dispute that claim. The 3,000 spectacular limestone outcroppings, cliffs, arches and coves compete for space in a coastal area that boasts the most outstanding natural beauty in the country. Upon arrival at Ha Long Bay, board the overnight cruise vessel. While the ship is passing through the many islets, rocks, caves, floating villages and beaches, lunch will be served. After lunch, cruise to Sung Sot Cave, one of the largest and most beautiful in the bay. Explore a series of breathtaking chambers and grottoes. Marvel at some of the most impressive stalactite and stalagmite formations anywhere in the world. Afternoon tea is served on the ship. Later, cruise to Coconut Tree Island to anchor overnight. An a la carte dinner with wine is served on board.

Paradise Elegance

Day 3 – Ha Long Bay / Hanoi

At dawn, a Tai Chi lesson is held on deck. Enjoy a light breakfast on board in the still of the morning. Then, visit Titop Island for trekking or swimming. Afterwards, enjoy a full breakfast and later in the morning disembark and motor back to Hanoi. Drive time is approximately four hours with a rest stop enroute. Upon arrival, check-in at the centrally located Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoihotel. Early this evening, depart by pedicab for the Thang Long theater where the ancient and unique art form of Water Puppetry is performed with music and song. The stage is a pool of water in which the puppeteer stands waist-deep to skilfully maneuver puppets on its surface with bamboo poles. Following the performance, transfer to dinner at one of Hanoi's superb restaurants. 

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi 

Day 4 – Depart Hanoi for the U.S.

In accordance with flight departure times, you’ll check-out and transfer to Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport for return flights to the U.S. 

Please note: This itinerary may be subject to change due to local operational considerations.

Special Air Rates/Services

FlexAir is designed to provide you with the flexibility and choice you need to personalize your air travel experience. Explore a wide range of flight options in consultation with our experienced travel professionals to select the flights, routing, class of service, and dates of travel that most fit your needs. Our partner tour operator has negotiated contracts with a wide variety of carriers that allow them to hold flight reservations and then issue your ticket close to departure without additional fees. This protects you from the need to purchase published-fare tickets, which must be ticketed within 24 hours of purchase. FlexAir reservations provide the flexibility to adjust reservations without penalty and to accommodate extensions and upgrades right up until ticketing time, usually around 60 days before departure. We look forward to providing you with more choice and the best possible itinerary for your air travel plans.

Program Includes:

  • Guaranteed transfers featuring assistance and luggage handling between your destination airport and your overseas accommodations upon arrival and departure (in most cases). We will provide you with all of the details you need to guarantee your transfer.
  • Air schedule change and delay assistance. Book FlexAir to ensure assistance should schedule changes or delays impact your air travel plans.
  • Flight insurance worth up to $250,000, subject to policy terms, is automatically included.
  • Confirmed airline seat assignments at the time of booking based on availability and airline policy.
River Cruising

Guidance on water levels and itinerary modifications

Your ship is designed with state-of-the-art flexibility in navigating rivers. On rare occasions, river cruising is subject to challenges due to unannounced river lock maintenance and/or weather-related increases or decreases in river depth. Extreme conditions may render a portion of a river itinerary unnavigable.

Should your river cruise be affected:

  • You will receive a revised schedule outlining any changes prior to your departure either by regular mail or email.
  • Any additional transportation, hotel accommodations, meals or special events, as a result, changes to the published itinerary will not increase the price of your trip.
  • All ports of call and trip highlights contained in your original itinerary will be included in your revised schedule. Under these extreme circumstances, additional motor coach travel, ship changes and/or hotel nights may be required to ensure participants experience the trip safely and as advertised.
Ship

Mekong Navigator

This extraordinary all-suite ship is specially designed for cruising the rivers of Southeast Asia. Cabins have twin beds convertible into a queen. Some suites have one king-sized bed. Decorated in a traditional manner, evocative of the French colonial period, the ship combines elegant décor with exotic Asian notes. Suites are air-conditioned, with all the modern amenities including minibar, satellite television, universal docking station and an ample closet. Some suites have private verandas or balconies. Wi-Fi is available and complimentary. Grande and Prestige suites feature king size beds only and cannot be converted to two twins. Signature, Vista, and Superior suites feature queen beds that can be converted to two twins. No triple accommodations nor connecting cabins are available.

Cabin Category Descriptions

GRANDE SUITE 

Located on the Orchid Deck (Upper Deck), Grande Suites provide guests with 584 square feet (54 square meters) of living space, including private large panoramic veranda with patio furniture and floor-to-ceiling French doors, where guests may relax while enjoying the passing scenery. Grande Suites also offer the opportunity to enjoy daily continental breakfast on their veranda. Grande Suites are outfitted with king-size bed and marble spa quality bath with tub and separate rainfall shower.

PRESTIGE SUITE 

Located on the Orchid Deck (Upper Deck), Prestige Suites provide guests with 387 square feet (36 square meters) of living space, including spacious private balcony with large panoramic floor-to-ceiling French doors, where guests may relax while enjoying the passing scenery. Prestige Suites are outfitted with king-size bed and marble spa quality bath with tub and separate rainfall shower.

SIGNATURE SUITE 

Located on the Orchid Deck (Upper Deck), Signature Suites provide guests with 291 square feet (27 square meters) of living space, including private balcony, where guests may relax while enjoying the passing scenery. Signature Suites are outfitted with two twin-size beds or one queen-size bed, as requested. 

VISTA SUITE 

Located on the Lotus Deck (Main Deck) Vista Suites provide guests with 276 square feet (26 square meters) of living space, with French balcony, and a spacious seating area in which to enjoy the dramatic sunsets along the Mekong River. Vista Suites are outfitted with two twin-size beds or one queen-size bed, as requested. 

SUPERIOR SUITE 

Located on the Jasmine Deck (Lower Deck), Superior Suites provide guests with 256 square feet (24 square meters) of living space, with two oversized porthole-style windows, which provide a quiet sanctuary with plenty of room to relax. Superior Suites are outfitted with two twin-size beds or one queen-size bed, as requested. 

Mekong Navigator

This extraordinary all-suite ship is specially designed for cruising the rivers of Southeast Asia. Cabins have twin beds convertible into a queen. Some suites have one king-sized bed. Decorated in a traditional manner, evocative of the French colonial period, the ship combines elegant décor with exotic Asian notes. Suites are air-conditioned, with all the modern amenities including minibar, satellite television, universal docking station and an ample closet. Some suites have private verandas or balconies. Wi-Fi is available and complimentary. Grande and Prestige suites feature king size beds only and cannot be converted to two twins. Signature, Vista, and Superior suites feature queen beds that can be converted to two twins. No triple accommodations nor connecting cabins are available.

Cabin Category Descriptions

GRANDE SUITE 

Located on the Orchid Deck (Upper Deck), Grande Suites provide guests with 584 square feet (54 square meters) of living space, including private large panoramic veranda with patio furniture and floor-to-ceiling French doors, where guests may relax while enjoying the passing scenery. Grande Suites also offer the opportunity to enjoy daily continental breakfast on their veranda. Grande Suites are outfitted with king-size bed and marble spa quality bath with tub and separate rainfall shower.

PRESTIGE SUITE 

Located on the Orchid Deck (Upper Deck), Prestige Suites provide guests with 387 square feet (36 square meters) of living space, including spacious private balcony with large panoramic floor-to-ceiling French doors, where guests may relax while enjoying the passing scenery. Prestige Suites are outfitted with king-size bed and marble spa quality bath with tub and separate rainfall shower.

SIGNATURE SUITE 

Located on the Orchid Deck (Upper Deck), Signature Suites provide guests with 291 square feet (27 square meters) of living space, including private balcony, where guests may relax while enjoying the passing scenery. Signature Suites are outfitted with two twin-size beds or one queen-size bed, as requested. 

VISTA SUITE 

Located on the Lotus Deck (Main Deck) Vista Suites provide guests with 276 square feet (26 square meters) of living space, with French balcony, and a spacious seating area in which to enjoy the dramatic sunsets along the Mekong River. Vista Suites are outfitted with two twin-size beds or one queen-size bed, as requested. 

SUPERIOR SUITE 

Located on the Jasmine Deck (Lower Deck), Superior Suites provide guests with 256 square feet (24 square meters) of living space, with two oversized porthole-style windows, which provide a quiet sanctuary with plenty of room to relax. Superior Suites are outfitted with two twin-size beds or one queen-size bed, as requested. 

Reading List

Highly Recommended

The River's Tale: A Year on the Mekong
By: Gargan, Edward
DK Eyewitness Vietnam: 2019 (Travel Guide)
By: DK Eyewitness
A Dragon Apparent: Travels in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam
By: Lewis, Norman
The Rough Guide to Cambodia (Travel Guide) (Rough Guides)
By: Rough Guides

Also Recommended

Lonely Planet Vietnamese Phrasebook & Dictionary
By: Lonely Planet, Handicott, Ben
Eating Viet Nam: Dispatches from a Blue Plastic Table
By: Holliday, Graham
Cambodia's Curse: The Modern History of a Troubled Land
By: Brinkley, Joel
Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam
By: FitzGerald, Frances
The Mekong: Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future
By: Osborne, Milton
The Tragedy of Cambodian History
By: Chandler, .
What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada
By: Walpola Rahula
Art & Architecture of Cambodia (World of Art)
By: Helen Ibbitson Jessup
Textiles of Southeast Asia: Tradition, Trade and Transformation
By: Maxwell, Robyn
Dispatches
By: Herr, Michael
The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars
By: Pham, Andrew X.
The Gods Drink Whiskey: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha
By: Asma, Stephen T.
Vietnam: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Traveler's Literary Companions)
By: Balaban, John, Nguyen Qui Duc
Southeast Asia Wildlife: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Animals (Wildlife and Nature Identification)
By: Kavanagh, James, Waterford Press
24x36 World Wall Map by Smithsonian Journeys - Tan Oceans Special Edition (24x36 Laminated)
Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Travel Guard provides an on-tour Insurance Plan. On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only). It also includes up to $25,000 medical and up to $500 dental expense coverage, and 24-hour worldwide travel and medical assistance. Please click here to view complete coverage details.

Please visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1-800-208-6142 to learn about additional (optional) coverage.