Mekong River  
Exploration 

6 – 23 September, 2018  

18 Day Escorted  



SEPTEMBER 2018

Thu 06 Auckland – Bangkok

Depart Auckland on Thai Airways. Arrive Bangkok and transferred to our nearby airport hotel

Fri 07 Bangkok – Luang Prabang

After breakfast transfer back to the airport for our morning flight to Luan Prabang, ‘Sabaidee’, welcome to Laos. We will be met by our guide and transferred to our hotel. The rest of the day is free to unwind from our flight and explore this beautiful ancient city on our own. Overnight in Vang Thong hotel (B)

Sat 08 Luang Prabang
Luang Prabang

For those interested, after an early wake-up call we will travel to see the locals giving food to hundreds of Buddhist monks returning from morning prayers. We will also take a stroll through the morning market before returning to our hotel for breakfast. We start our day by travelling by tuk tuks to a small rural village where we will board local boats to visit Pak Ou Caves. Locally called Tam Ting, these caves are filled with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues and Buddha sculptures. There also hundreds of wooden Buddhist figures which take on many different positions, such as meditation, teaching, peace, rain, and reclining (nirvana). Return to Luang Prabang for lunch. This afternoon is free to stroll around this quaint town or even join some locals for a game of petanque; there is always someone ready to show you how to play! It is great fun and a good way to get to know the Lao people. Overnight in the Vang Thong hotel (B)

Sun 09 Mekong River
Mekong River

Breakfast at our hotel and transfer to the port to take a 2 day boat trip down the Mekong River to Vientiane. The boat departs down stream at 06:30 with lunch on boat. If time permits stop will be made at villages along the banks. But as this is long two day journey we will have to adapt to the river conditions. We stop overnight at a hotel in the Paklia district. Dinner in our hotel. Overnight in Anousone Guest House (B,L)

Mon 10 Mekong River - Vientiane

After breakfast we continue down the Mekong River to Vientiane. On the way we visit local villages to interact with the local people. Lunch on board the boat. Arrive in Vientiane in the afternoon and check into the Family hotel. Tonight we are free to try one of the many local restaurants for dinner. Overnight in Family hotel (B,L)

Tue 11 Vientiane
Vientiane

After breakfast we take a tuk tuk to visit the major sights of the capital including Lao National Museum which was originally built in 1925 as the French governor’s residence The museum show-cases the history of Laos, highlighting the Laotian people’s struggle to free the country from foreign occupiers and imperialist forces. The exhibits there also include dinosaur bones, an intact jar from the mysterious Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuoang, unexploded ordinances from the American War and ponderous displays that tell the story of the Pathet Lao. We continue to the oldest temple in Laos, Wat Sisaket, with thousands of miniature Budda statues. On the way back from the famous and sacred structure of That Luang Stupa, we will stop at the improsing Patuxay Monument, which is well known as Vientaine’s own ‘Arc de Triumph’. This evening we can enjoy a famous sunset setting by the Mekong riverside and stroll around the Night Market. Overnight in the Family hotel (B)

Wed 12 Vientiane – Pakse – Mekong River

This morning transfer to the airport for our flight to Pakse. Upon arrival we will be met and transferred to the pier where we embark on a motorboat for a one and a half hour ride to Champasak. From here we take a tuk tuk to Wat Phoa. Wat Phou is a pre – Angkorlan temple complex occupying a dramatic mountainside site over looking the Mekong valley. The Wat is divided into lower and upper parts and is joined by a steep stairway. We return to Champasak for lunch and continue our boat cruise to Khong Island for our overnight stay. Khong Island is the largest island of 4,000 islands that make Si Phan Don, one of nature’s marvels. Here the Mekong River suddenly fans out, forming an intricate, beautiful network of channels, rocks, and sandbars and islands over 14km wide in parts. Overnight at the Pakse Village Muongkhong hotel (B)

Thu 13 Mekong River
Mekong River

Today is very exciting as we explore many of the islands by boat. We start with a 3 hour cruise to Done Khone Island. A lunch stop is made on this island. We will visit the old railway and Sompamit Waterfall. Proceed to the southern tip of the island for a boat cruise to try and see the famous Irrawady River dolphins. Si Phan Don is home to them, where they are often spotted, as well as two impressive waterfalls. In the afternoon, we walk the beautiful rice fields to Tad Khone Pasoi, a smaller, harder to reach set of falls accessed via the east coast of Don Khon. The falls are created as one branch of the Mekong is funnelled between a small isle and the larger Don Chom. We spend the night at Sala Done Khone Hotel (B)

Fri 14 Mekong River

After breakfast, board a long boat and cruise upstream to the mainland of Ban Nakasang where we continue by coach to Khone Phapheng Waterfall. This is Southeast Asia’s biggest waterfall and is known as the ‘Niagara of the East’. After a short transfer we arrive at the border around mid morning. We say goodbye to our Lao guide and driver before we are welcomed by our Cambodian guide at Dong Kalor – Veunkham, the land border between Lao & Cambodia. We then take a coach to Kompong Cham province. and continue towards the village Sambo for a visit to Wat Sorsor Mouy Roy, also known as the ‘100 Pillars Pagoda. After the visit we enjoy lunch at Local restaurant and depart for Kampong Cham, a former French trading post on the Mekong. After a tour of the town centre we check into our hotel and relax before dinner. The Kampong Cham stretch of the river is particularly famed for its striking Mekong sunsets. Enjoy one of the sunsets with a cold drink in the evening from our hotel or local restaurants. Overnight in Kampong Cham (B)

Sat 15 Mekong River – Siem Reap

After breakfast, we drive to the rarely visited Sambor Prei Kuk, one of the most important pre-Angkorian sites in the country. Built between the 6th and 7th century, the site has over 100 well-preserved temples scattered in the forest. Enjoy a beautiful walk through the jungle with breathtaking views. (Visits here support a community-based tourism project). The villages around the temple complex still practice the ancient art of craft making, using materials such as bamboo and rattan. We will stop at a village to observe local production. The community runs the Isanborei Craft Hut next to the temples and sell their products as part of the community-based tourism project. The local community will also prepare a simple but tasty lunch near the temple. Next a short stop to visit a Kampong Kdei village before to we continue to the ancient Dragon Bridge built during the Angkorlan period. Continue on to Siem Reap where check in to our hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.. This evening we enjoy a special treat with a performance from PHARE, an NGO Cambodian Street Circus. This circus has long been famous for their performances and teaching streetkids to become circus artists at international circus worldwide. Enjoy their interpretations of modern life and issues in Cambodian society. Overnight in Siem Reap at the Casa Angkor hotel (B)

Sun 16 Siem Reap
Siem Reap

After breakfast, we visit the famous complex of Angkor Wat. This was the last capital and indeed a “Great City” as its name implies. It served as the religious and administrative centre of the vast and powerful Khmer Empire. Angkor Wat ruins. Angkor Wat is visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking. It is a massive three - tired pyramid crowned by five lotus like towers rising 65 meters from the ground level. We continue on to Ta Prohm Temple. Unlike most other Angkor temples, Ta Prohm has been left just it was when rediscovered; a photogenic and atmospheric maze of trees growing out of temple ruins amidst jungle surroundings, making it one of Angkor's most popular temples with visitors. Return to Siem Reap for lunch. This afternoon is at leisure to relax, shop or explore on your own. Tonight we have a wonderful buffet dinner at a local restaurant together with a traditional Apsara dance show. Overnight in Siem Reap. (B,D)

Mon 17 Siem Reap – Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh

This morning we head overland to Phnom Penh (duration 5-6 hours) – it was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient. Despite its recent turbulent history, it still retains much of its former colonial charm. The city is a bustling place, sitting strategically at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap Rivers. Wide tree-lined boulevards and a range of colonial-era buildings reflect the capital’s glory days, adding to the allure of the city. En route, stop in the town of Skuon (Skun village) to see their most famous speciality for sale; deep-fried tarantulas! Being a favourite snack of Cambodians, many buses and pick-ups stop at the market to buy a bag of the “ch’ngain” (tasty) eight-legged creatures. The spiders are caught in the soft ground of the surrounding countryside and dug out of their burrows. After a short stop continue to Phnom Penh. Lunch will be served at local restaurant in Phnom Penh (not tarantulas!). This afternoon, you will start our city tour exploring the famous Royal Palace, built in 1866 under the French protectorate and King Norodom. Wander around the National Museum, a treasure chest of Angkorian and pre-Angkorian artefacts. After the museum, scale the steps up a small hill to see Wat Phnom Temple, the birthplace of Phnom Penh.Optional tour: We then board a cruise and travel along the Tonle Sap River towards the Mekong. Relax onboard and enjoy drinks while watching the sunset over Phnom Penh city. Overnight in Phnom Penh. (B)

Note: To see the royal palace, visitors are required to wear appropriate clothes. No shorts above the knee or sleeveless tops.

Tue 18 Phnom Penh – Chau Doc
Chau Doc

Spend the rest of the day shopping at the Central Market, where you can get a taste of the bustling daily life of local people. Try some of Cambodia’s local specialties, while appreciating Phnom Penh's mixture of Khmer and colonial architecture styles. After our lunch, transfer to Phnom Penh International Port for our speed boat transfer to Chau Doc. On arrival we visit Sam Mountain with the colourful Tay An Pagoda and the holy Lady Chua Xu Temple. We remain here to enjoy the sunset over the Vietnamese – Cambodia border and paddy fields from the summit. Overnight in Chau Pho hotel (B)

Wed 19 Chau Doc – Can Tho

This morning we take a boat trip to visit a floating fish farm and floating village. We also visit the local Cham minority people and their traditional weaving village. After lunch we continue to Can Tho with a visit to the village of Long Xuyen plus a stop at the bird sanctuary in Thot Not. We also visit a village that makes incense sticks. We arrive in Can Tho mid afternoon leaving plenty of free time to explore this lovely city on our own. Overnight in Can Tho (B)

Thu 20 Can Tho – Saigon
Saigon

After breakfast we first take a boat trip to explore the picturesque tributaries of the Lower Mekong River. Later we take another boat trip to the bustling Cai Rang floating market, which is the biggest of the region. Here we will have chance to try the famous Vietnamese “ vermicelli soup”. We will have plenty of free time here to roam around and interact with the local people. Binh Thuy Ancient House is a well-preserved, characteristic Mekong Delta house where we will see both French and Vietnamese design features, and a lush garden including orchids and cactus. We continue on to Saigon with a stop over at the town of My Tho town to visit Vinh Trang Pagoda. Overnight in Hoang Phu Gia. (B)

Fri 21 Saigon
Saigon

This morning we transfer to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels which are an incredible underground network of tunnels constructed by Vietnamese fighters during the long struggle for independence. During the Vietnam War these tunnels contained hospitals , accommodation and schools and were later used as a military base for Vietcong. We return to Saigon and after lunch we continue drive by the site of the wartime American Embassy en route to the Reunification Palace which was the former residence of the President of south Vietnam until end of April 1975. We will view some wonderful French colonial structures including the Notre Dame Cathedral. A stop will also be made at the Old Saigon Post Office. After seeing the War Remnant Museum and the Jade Emperor Pagoda, we continue our trip on to the bustling Ben Thanh market where almost anything is for sale. Overnight in Saigon. (B)

Sat 22 Saigon – Bangkok - Auckland

After breakfast, we transfer to Saigon airport for our Thai Airways flight to Bangkok and connection to our overnight flight to Auckland.


TOUR PRICE PER PERSON:

$4,899.00 share twin/double, $5,500.00 single

Above prices are ex-Auckland
TOUR PRICE INCLUDES
  • Return economy class airfares ex Auckland
  • All airline and airport taxes
  • All accommodation, transport & sightseeing as per the itinerary
  • English speaking guides throughout
  • Meals as indicated (B – breakfast, L – lunch, D – Dinner)
  • PHARE Cambodian Circus show
  • Aspara dinner and cultural show
  • 2 x bottles of mineral water per person per day
  • Services of a tour escort from New Zealand
TOUR PRICE EXCLUDES
  • Visas for Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam, allow USD50.00 for each country
    Visas for Laos and Cambodia are obtained on arrival, Vietnam must be arranged in advance
  • Meals and beverages other than specified
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, toll charges, mini bar etc
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Tips – USD8.00 per person per day, collected in advance by the tour escort
Mekong Map

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