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

SPECIAL OFFER

Save $250 per person when you book by May 27, 2022!

Overview

Become immersed in the enigmatic cultures, history, and verdant landscapes of Southeast Asia on this new river and land journey to Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Step through the doors of temples, tea houses, and arts centers; experience special religious and cultural traditions; and gain insight from meeting local villagers and learning from resident experts. You’ll also ply the waters of the great Mekong River, which serves as the lifeblood for millions of people and binds the region geographically, historically, and culturally.

Highlights Include

  • Luang Prabang: Explore Laotian culture as you visit graceful temples, gardens, and cultural sites in and around Luang Prabang, a World Heritage site. Rising early, experience Tak Bat, when hundreds of saffron-robed monks move silently through the streets to collect alms at dawn. You’ll also take part in a “Baci” ceremony. Please note: Laos will be included as part of our main program in 2022 and offered as an optional pre-tour extension in 2023.
  • Temples of Angkor: This World Heritage site is one of the world’s largest and most compelling archaeological discoveries. The City of Temples reflects the deities and iconography of different Hindu and Buddhist beliefs of the 12th-century Khmer Empire. Discover the exquisite treasures of the immense Angkor Wat; the mythological Apsara carvings of Thommanon; and the mysterious temples overtaken by ancient Banyan trees at Ta Prohm.
  • Seven-Night Mekong River Cruise: Journey on the mysterious Mekong, one of Asia’s most vital waterways, and learn about the culture, history, markets, and village life along its banks. In Cambodia, tour the temple complex of Wat Hanchey, meet villagers in Angkor Ban, and explore important sites in Phnom Penh ranging from the National Museum and Royal Palace to the somber Choeung Ek Memorial at the Khymer Rouge Killing Fields. In Vietnam, there are sampan rides into river towns such as Sa Dec, Vin Long, and Tien Loi Island. You’ll meet with artisans at traditional workshops and visit monasteries and temples, villages, and a school as people go about their daily routines. Your journey concludes with a day exploring the highlights of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).
  • Mekong Navigator: Your all-suite ship combines elegant French colonial décor with exotic Asian notes. You’ll find upscale amenities in cabins and public areas and savor regional French-Indochine cuisine plus an array of Western dishes.

Limited to only 24 Smithsonian Journeys guests.

2022 Itinerary

Day 1 – Depart U.S. Home Cities

Depart on your transpacific flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Day 2 – In Flight

Cross the International Date Line en route to Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 3 – Ho Chi Minh City

Arrive Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Naht International Airport and transfer to the elegant Park Hyatt Hotel Saigon. The balance of the day and evening is at leisure. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available upon arrival and throughout the program for suggestions regarding city sights, restaurants and independent activities.

Day 4 – Ho Chi Minh City

An American-style breakfast will be served each morning during your journey. After an orientation briefing, begin exploring the 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 lunch, visit 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. Continue to My Tho in mid-afternoon where you’ll board the Mekong Navigator for your seven-night cruise. This evening meet fellow traveling companions at a welcome reception and dinner on board the ship. (B, L, R, D)

Day 5 – Tien Loi / Vinh Long

Visit Tien Loi island an untouched island and home to only seven families who have settled peacefully on the banks of the river. You’ll see how the local farmers make rooster cages and decorate bonsai trees in their gardens. Next, visit a village where prized dwarfed bonzai trees are cultivated. After a  luncheon on board, take an excursion by sampan to Vinh Long to visit a traditional rice factory where workers produce rice paper, rice wine, popped rice, and many varieties of traditional candy. Visit Long Thanh home for its senior citizens. This evening gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner to discuss the day’s explorations before an elegant dinner served onboard. (B, L, D)

Day 6 – Sa Dec / Cu Lao Gieng

Cruise to Sa Dec then board a sampan for a cruise through the areas bustling canals. 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. After lunch, travel by sampan to Gieng Island to visit a local village where you’ll see how sampans are built. Then visit the Gieng Cathedral built in 1879. Return to the ship for cocktails and dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 7 – Long Khanh (Hong Ngu) / Border Crossing / Phnom Penh

Today visit the local island village of Hong Ngu, not far from the Vietnam-Cambodia border. Hong Ngu produces a large number of traditional Khmer scarves woven in many homes throughout the village. Visit with local crafts people and embroidery artists, and step inside their homes to see proud displays of their work. Then visit a local temple dedicated to a unique religion founded in this area of Vietnam.This afternoon cross the border in to Cambodia. Enjoy a cooking demonstration with the ship’s chef and his staff followed by a presentation by a local expert about Vietnamese agriculture and farming practices. Before dinner, gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for an aperitif and an exchange of experiences. (B, L, D)

Day 8 – Phnom Penh

This morning take a a cyclo ride through the city center of Phnom Penh. Arrive at the Royal Palace for a walking tour of the grounds. See the Throne Hall and Moonlight Pavilion and visit the Silver Pagoda, that showcases the Emerald Buddha and the Maitreya Buddha, encrusted with more than 9,000 diamonds. Continue via cyclo to the National Museum for a comprehensive tour of Cambodia’s national treasures. This afternoon, follow your own path and explore on your own. A shuttle bus will operate between the ship and the Central Market. In early evening, gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner then enjoy a traditional Aspara dance performance. The ship will overnight in Phnom Penh. (B, L, D)

Day 9 – Phnom Penh

Travel by motor coach beyond Phnom Penh to the Choueng Ek Memorial at the Killing Fields. Local guides comment on the atrocities committed here. While walking through the fields you’ll have the opportunity to visit the memorial stupa or monument. Then travel to the city center to visit the “S21” Genocide Museum a former school turned detention center during the Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot. After returning to the ship learn about present day Cambodia, it’s Buddhist culture, development and future in Southeast Asia. Afterwards, join the ship’s chef for a demonstration of decorative fruit carving. Continue learning at a presentation on the Mekong’s journey through different countries and its impact on the life and culture along its banks.  (B, L, D)

Day 10 – Angkor Ban / Wat Hanchey

Visit Angkor Ban known for its still surviving century-old wooden houses, then visit a local private English School where you’ll experience a part of the typical school day. Make a stop at a local monastery before returning to the ship for lunch. This afternoon visit the hilltop Wat Hanchey, dating from the 7th century, the temple has remarkable views overlooking the Mekong River. Receive a water blessing from the Buddhist monks and then return to the ship. This evening join fellow travelers on the Sun Deck for a farewell reception followed by dinner. (B, L, R, D)

Day 11 – Siem Reap

Disembark the Mekong Navigator in Kampong Cham and take a motorcoach to Siem Reap. On the way stop for a picnic lunch. This afternoon check-in at the deluxe Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Resort. After settling in depart by tuk-tuk  for a visit to a dance and art school. Witness the famous Cambodian traditional dance called Apsara and explore the city more by tuk-tuk. Dinner is served at the hotel this evening. (B, L, D)

Day 12 – 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. Return to the hotel in the late morning for lunch. The afternoon is free of planned activities. In early evening, gather in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner for an engaging presentation. This evening and dinner is independently.  (B, L)

Day 13 – Siem Reap

After breakfast depart for Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmers. In the company of an expert local guide 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 archaeological wonder. The 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. Continue exploring the Angkor temple site with a visit to Ta Prohm, a temple that has 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 ancient stone complex. One of the largest temples at Angkor, Ta Prohm was dedicated in 1186. Continue to the temple of Thommanon, which has been recently restored and exhibits wonderful mythological Apsara carvings. See the 12th century temples of Banteay Kdei. Return to the hotel for lunch and the remainder of the afternoon independently. This evening, gather with fellow travelers for dinner at a popular local restaurant. (B, D)

Day 14 – Siem Reap / Luang Prabang, Laos

Depart for Siem Reap Airport and your group flight to Luang Prabang, Laos. After arrival, visit the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre and Wat Xieng Thong, said to be one of the most beautiful temples in Laos. Continue to nearby Vat Mai, with its five-tiered roof that epitomizes the grace of Luang Prabang. Continue with a short journey out of town to Kuang Si Waterfalls. Travel through scenic Laotian countryside with picturesque rice paddies and quaint villages found along the way. Lunch is served en route. Check-in at the landmark Hotel Villa Maly. This evening, experience a traditional Baci ceremony in which villagers tie sacred strings of friendship and good fortune around the wrists of visitors. (B, L)

Day 15 – Luang Prabang

Early this morning, depart the hotel to witness one of the most memorable Laotian traditions known as Tak Bat. At dawn, hundreds of saffron-robed monks move silently through the streets of the city to collect alms. This ritual is very much a part of everyday life in Laos. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Enjoy the remainder of the morning and lunch at leisure. Later, visit a Mekong riverside garden in a village on the outskirts of Luang Prabang and learn about traditional Lao weaving. Local refreshments will be served in the garden while taking in views of the Mekong. This evening, gather for a farewell dinner at L’Elephant restaurant. (B, D)

Day 16 – Depart for the U.S.

Transfer to the airport and transfer to your transpacific flight to the U.S. Cross the International Dateline and arrive home the same day. (B)

Itinerary Note: Based on international airline schedules and routings, some travelers arrive back home the same day; others may arrive home the next day. This information is based on preliminary 2022 airline schedules.

Day 17 – Arrive in Home Cities

As noted above, some flights arrive home today.

Itinerary Note: Please note that this itinerary may be subject to change due to local operational considerations.

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

2023 Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 – Depart U.S. Home Cities for Siem Reap, Cambodia

Cross the International Date Line and lose a day enroute.

Day 3 – Siem Reap

Arrive at Siem Reap International Airport and after clearing brief Immigration and customs formalities, you’ll be met and assisted with transfer to the deluxe Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort. Once at the hotel, each traveler will receive a welcome package with maps and general information about Siem Reap and the Angkor archaeological complex. There is free time time to refresh, relax and settle in. The balance of the day is free of planned activities. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available upon arrival and throughout the program for suggestions regarding city sights, restaurants and independent activities. This evening, meet fellow travelers at a welcome reception at the hotel. (R)

Day 4 – Siem Reap / Angkor Thom

Start the day exploring Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmers. In the company of an expert local guide, 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 World Heritage Center complex and is a wonder of ancient engineering. The 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. Return to the hotel for an independent lunch at leisure. This afternoon, depart by motorized open-air tuk tuk to visit a dance and art school. Attend a performance of the Cambodian traditional dance from the 6th century called Apsara. In Hindu and Buddist mythology, Apsaras were beautiful female spirits who descended from the clouds to entertain the Gods and the King. Afterwards, see the city sights by tuk tuk. This evening, join fellow travelers and enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 5 – Siem Reap / Angkor Wat

This morning, continue to discover the wonders of Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world, with a volume of stone equaling that of the Cheops Pyramid in Egypt. A local guide will bring the temple complex to life with vivid narration about the intricate bas reliefs that surround Angkor Wat on four sides; each telling its unique story. Afterward, return to the hotel for lunch with fellow travelers. This afternoon, you will continue your exploration of the Angkor Temple at Ta Prohm, the temple that has been left largely in its natural state since its re-discovery by French explorers in the early 20th century. Surrounded by tropical forest, over the centuries its stone structures have become entangeled by the vines and limbs of massive banyan trees which have entangled it like mighty tentacles. It is one of the largest temples at Angkor, dedicated in 1186.  Historians have noted its mystical charm. Continue with a visit to the Hindu temple of Thommanon. Recently restored, this small temple showcases beautiful Apsara carvings as well as the peaceful and quiet 12th century temple of Banteay Kdei. After returning to the hotel, the balance of the day is at leisure. Later, join fellow travelers in the Smithsoniam Journeys Travelers Corner. (B,L)

Day 6 – Siem Reap / Kampong Cham

This morning, enjoy time on your own, then depart for Kampong Cham with lunch en route and embark the 5-star Mekong Navigator. Enjoy a cold welcome drink as you board the ship. Afterward, acquaint yourself with the ship and your stateroom before joining a welcome briefing and dinner on the ship. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – River Cruising / Wat Hanchey / Angkor Ban

This morning, after a short sail, travelers will set-out on foot to the hill-top location of Wat Hanchey. Dating from the 7th century, you’ll enjoy the peaceful environment and remarkable vistas of the Mekong River. Tour the temple complex and receive a traditional Buddhist water blessing from one of the monks. After returning to the ship, lunch will be served. A local speaker will give a talk on the Mekong’s long journey through different countries and the importance of the river to life and culture along its banks. This afternoon, you’ll depart the ship and walk through a rural village and visit a family home to learn more about their life along the river. Continue to the local private “English” school, where you will join the children and experience a part of their typical day. Make a brief stop at Angkor Ban the local monastery complex then walk back to the ship. In late evening, Mekong Navigator will arrive at Phnom Penh and anchor overnight. (B,L,D)

Day 8 – Phnom Penh

Your day begins with a cyclo ride through the city center of Phnom Penh to the Royal Palace for a leisurely walk through the grounds. After touring the Throne Hall and Moonlight Pavilion, visit the famous Silver Pagoda, home of Cambodia’s Emerald Buddha and the awesome Maitreya Buddha, which is encrusted with more than 9,000 diamonds. We will then continue via cyclo to the National Museum for a comprehensive tour accompanied by a local guide. The afternoon is free of planned activities so you can follow your own path and explore on your own. A shuttle bus is available from the ship to the Central Market. This evening, before dinner, attend a cultural performance, on the Sun Deck, by a local dance troupe that includes Cambodia’s national dance, as well as other traditional folk dances. The ship overnights in Phnom Penh. (B,L,D)

Day 9 – Phnom Penh

Today, we will travel by motor coach approximately 45 minutes to the outskirts of Phnom Penh to the Choueng Ek Memorial at the Killing Fields. Travellers will receive commentary from their local guides about the atrocities committed here by the communist Pol Pot régime. You’ll have the opportunity to visit the memorial to those lost during the political genocide of 1975-1979. Afterwards, return to the city center to visit the S21 Genocide Museum where you will visit a former school, turned detention center, during the bloody Khmer Rouge era. After returning to the ship, a local speaker will offer a presentation about current events in Cambodia, its Buddhist culture and it’s development and future in southeast Asia. Later, enjoy a spring roll-making demonstration on board the ship offered by the chef and his staff. This afternoon, the ship sails to the Cambodian border with Vietnam to prepare for tomorrows early morning crossing. (B,L,D)

Day 10 – Cambodia-Vietnam Frontier Crossing / Long Khanh (Hong Ngu)

This morning, the ship will clear Immigration and Customs formalities. After breakfast, the chef will give a talk on the tropical fruit that is indigenous to this region. Afterward, a local speaker will explain the importance of rice cultivation and farm fishing in Vietnam. Lunch will be served aboard ship. Not far from the Cambodian border, you’ll find the island village of Hong Ngu. This hamlet is known for weaving scarves and its fine embroidery. Travelers will continue to the local temple to learn about a unique religion founded in this area of Vietnam. After returning to the ship, there’s leisure time before dinner. Get together in the Travelers Corner this evening and exchange travel experiences. (B,L,D)

Day 11 – Cu Lao Gieng / Sa Dec

Board a sampam for a cruise to Gieng Island and a visit to a local village where hundreds of sampans and row boats are built. Continue the cruise to a quitet canal and for a visit of the Gieng Cathedral built in 1879. You may have a chance to interact with a local priest at the cathedral. After lunch, depart the ship for a 45-minute sampan excursion through bustling canals as local people go about their daily lives. Your destination is Sa Dec. It’s here that you’ll 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 town, experience the kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and smells of the local market. Return to the ship in time for dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 12 – Vinh Long / Tien Loi Island

Upon arrival, don your lifejackets before joining an excursion by sampan to Vinh Long to visit a traditional rice processing factory where workers produce rice paper, rice wine, popped rice, and many varieties of traditional candy. Visit the Long Thanh home for its senior citizens. This afternoon, experience the hustle and bustle of life in the Mekong River Delta. lt’s here that local traders sell their products to wider Asian markets. Explore the narrow canals and backwaters of the area. Tien Loi island is an untouched island with only seven families settled peacefully on the river. You will experience how villagers build rooster cages and others practice the fascinating art of tree dwarfing or bonsai. This evening, gather on deck for an al fresco farewell reception with dinner following in the dining room. (B,L,R,D)

Day 13 – My Tho / Ho Chi Minh City

Today after breakfast, you’ll disembark the ship at My Tho and travel to the former Saigon and the deluxe Park Hyatt Hotel. Approximate drive time is 90 minutes. After arrival, set-out to explore the city. Begin at the Reunification Palace, now preserved as a museum but was formerly an underground communications bunker and headquarters for the Saigon Government during the American War. After your visit, walk the short distance to Notre Dame Cathedral. This romantic cathedral dates from the late 19th century. Across the street from the cathedral is the city’s striking French colonial Post Office. See the Hotel de Ville de Saigon, officially Ho Chi Minh City Hall. Next, take a guided tour of the War Remnants Museum which primarily contains exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War. Lunch will be served at a typical restaurant that serves tasty Vietnamese specialties. After lunch, check-in at the upscale Park Hyatt Saigon. A shuttle service will operate between the hotel and Ben Than Market. Dating back to the 17th century when it was just a small gathering of street vendors, this market is now the largest area of commerce in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. Gather to discuss Vietnam’s heritage and modern development. Afterward, board the Saigon Princess for a farewell dinner-cruise on the Saigon River. (B,L,D)

Day 14 – Depart for the U.S.

At the appropriate hour, transfer to the Tan Son Nhat International Airport for your transpacific flight to the U.S. Cross the International Dateline. Most flights to the U.S. arrive home the same day. (B)

Please note: Based on international airline schedules and routings, most travelers arrive back home the same day; others may arrive home the next day. This information is based on preliminary 2023 airline schedules.

Day 15 – Arrive in Home Cities

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

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

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