The Heart of Cambodia & Vietnam with Sapa 2020
22 days with Avalon Waterways Rating: Deluxe
NOTE: The following information is from the 2019 tour season and is subject to change once the 2020 tour season information becomes available.
Day 1 HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM
Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, still known as Saigon to many. Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.
Day 2 HO CHI MINH CITY
Motorbikes, Monuments, and Mouthwatering Cuisine
CLASSIC Take a Walking Tour of Ho Chi Minh City’s historic landmarks, including a stop at the Rex Hotel for a refreshing drink at the rooftop bar where the U.S. Military held the infamous “Five O’Clock Follies” during the war. Then visit the War Remnants Museum and bustling Ben Thanh Market.
DISCOVERY For lunch, participate in a hands-on Vietnamese Cooking Class. Learn to prepare several local dishes and how to recreate them at home. Last, but not least, sample your delicious creations!
Explore the city further during free time this afternoon.
This evening join your traveling companions for a special welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)
Day 3 HO CHI MINH CITY. EXCURSION TO CU CHI TUNNELS
Secret Passageways & Underground Hideouts
CLASSIC Drive out of the city for a Guided Visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels—an extraordinary network of tunnels more than 120 miles in length—used as a hideout and secret village by the Viet Cong.
Enjoy free time this afternoon and evening. Consider stopping for a drink at the famous rooftop bar at the Caravelle Hotel. (B)
Day 4 HO CHI MINH CITY (EMBARKATION)
Your Suite Ship® is Ready for Boarding
Transfer to the port on the Saigon River for embarkation. Get acquainted with the ship and relax before your welcome reception this evening.
AFTERNOON/EVENING CRUISE TO VINH LONG (B,L,D)
Day 5 VINH LONG–CU LAO GIENG
Sweets, Sampans, and Spires
DISCOVERY Board a sampan this morning for a local Workshop Visit in Vinh Long to see how rice paper, rice wine, and traditional candies are made.
DISCOVERY This afternoon, enjoy scenes of daily life with a Guided Excursion along the river near Cu Lao Gieng via sampan. Stop at a local home, where a skilled family hand-crafts sampan boats. Then, ride a motor cart to one of Vietnam’s oldest churches for a special interaction with a catholic priest.
AFTERNOON/EVENING CRUISE TO CHAU DOC (B,L,D)
Day 6 CHAU DOC–LONG KHANH A–BORDER CROSSING, CAMBODIA
Colorful markets, Charming Locals, and Cotton Weavers
DISCOVERY In Chau Doc take a Guided Walk through the local market and absorb the atmosphere as locals are busy buying and selling fish, meat, and produce. Then embark on a River Excursion down the backwaters of the Mekong. Along the way, see traditional floating homes, speedboat merchants, religious sites, a market selling dried goods, and more.
DISCOVERY After lunch, a sampan brings you to the village of Long Khanh A for a Cotton-Weaving Demonstration of a well-preserved artisan’s tradition.
Return to the ship to set sail for the Cambodian border.
EVENING/OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO PHNOM PENH (B,L,D)
Day 7 PHNOM PENH
Bonjour! French Charm Lives in Cambodia’s Capital City
CLASSIC Take a City Tour by private cyclo to visit the Royal Palace with the spectacular Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum featuring an outstanding display of Khmer artifacts.
The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy the city at your leisure. Consider a Guided Optional Tour of a local brewery with free-flowing local beer!
Just before dinner, children from a local orphanage will perform a show featuring local song and dance. (B,L,D)
Day 8 PHNOM PENH
Shining a Light on a Dark History
CLASSIC This morning, a Guided Visit of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and one of the Killing Fields for a glimpse into the atrocities inflicted on the Cambodian people by the Khmer Rouge regime.
After lunch, depart Phnom Penh and enjoy some time at leisure on the ship.
AFTERNOON/EVENING CRUISE TO WAT HANCHEY (B,L,D)
Day 9 WAT HANCHEY–ANGKOR BAN
Water Blessings and Back To School Adventures
DISCOVERY Visit Wat Hanchey, a hilltop temple dating back to the 8th century. Climb or be driven to the top where you will enjoy stunning views of the surrounding area and partake in a traditional water blessing given by local monks.
DISCOVERY After lunch, enjoy a Walking Tour through the rural village of Angkor Ban. Here, you will visit a traditional Khmer house and interact with children at a local school.
EVENING/OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO KONPONG LOUANG (B,L,D)
Day 10 KONPONG LOUANG–KAMPONG TRALACH
Calm in the Cambodian Countryside
DISCOVERY Start your Guided Sightseeing at the silversmith village in Konpong Louang. Here, see talented craftsmen use age-old techniques to turn pure silver into works of art. In Kampong Tralach board an ox cart for a ride through the beautiful Cambodian countryside. Along the way, stop to meet a local farmer and learn about his daily life.
This afternoon, enjoy scenic cruising on the Tonle River.
EVENING CRUISE TO PHNOM PENH (B,L,D)
Day 11 PHNOM PENH (DISEMBARKATION)–SIEM REAP
A Pilgrimage of Inspirational Beauty
Fly to Siem Reap, home to the Temples of Angkor, considered by many to be the most spectacular architectural ruins on Earth!
CLASSIC After lunch, begin your Sightseeing Tour by tuk-tuk to explore the temples. Start at the best preserved and most famous of all the temples: Angkor Wat. Featuring five trademark towers, it is the symbol of Cambodia. Then, visit Angkor Thom, where you will explore Bayon Temple with its 200 striking faces carved in 54 towers and impressive bas-relief sculptures, or:
ACTIVE Visit Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Bayon Temple by bike.
The evening is yours to explore charming Siem Reap, stay to witness the sunset at Angkor Wat, or consider a Guided Optional Excursion to the Cambodian circus (B,L)
Day 12 SIEM REAP
Roots Carved in Stone and Celebrated in Dance
CLASSIC Continue your Guided Sightseeing of the Angkor Temples at Ta Prohm. Tree roots cover the ruin walls, allowing you to experience the temple with the same wonder as early explorers. Then visit Banteay Srei, a unique temple built on a small scale from red sandstone, which can be carved like wood. En route stop at a local village famous for making Khmer noodles by hand.
Spend the afternoon at your leisure. You may choose a Guided Optional Excursion to further explore Siem Reap or the temple complex by tuk-tuk.
DISCOVERY This evening, a private Apsara Dance Performance brings ancient Khmer culture to life through music, song, and dance. (B,D)
Day 13 SIEM REAP–HANOI
Today, transfer to the airport and fly to Hanoi. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for the night. (B)
Day 14 HANOI
Historic Hanoi and Water Puppets
CLASSIC First, join a Guided Visit of the mausoleum and the humble cottage from which “Uncle Ho” ruled Vietnam until his death in 1969. Next, see iconic sites, including One Pillar Pagoda, the Presidential Palace, and the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.” Lastly, visit the 900-year-old Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s first university.
Enjoy lunch at Koto, a non-profit restaurant and hospitality program that trains local street children in restaurant skills they can use to become employed for a more stable life.
CLASSIC After lunch, enjoy an Electric Cart Ride through the fascinating Old Quarter—with its 36 ancient streets where peddlers trade as they have for centuries.
DISCOVERY An early dinner this evening is followed by a fascinating Live Performance of Hanoi’s renowned water puppets, a traditional 11th-century artform. (B,L,D)
Day 15 HANOI–HA LONG BAY
Island Shapes and a Floating Village
Travel from Hanoi through the fertile countryside to Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The bay is dotted with more than 3,000 limestone islands carved into fanciful shapes. Board the luxurious Paradise Elegance for a Two-Night Cruise on the bay.
DISCOVERY Visit the Cua Van Floating Village, home to more than 700 people, by bamboo raft, OR:
ACTIVE Take a Kayak Ride to visit Cua Van Village.
Enjoy scenic sailing for the remainder of the day before anchoring for the night. (B,L,D)
Day 16 HA LONG BAY
Caves, Kayaks, and Scenic Climbs
DISCOVERY Visit Titop Island, for a Guided Excursion for a swim, or climb 400 steps to the top of the island for stunning views. You can also visit Luon Cave by boat, and explore Dark & Bright Cave by bamboo raft, OR:
ACTIVE Explore Luon Cave and Dark & Bright Cave by Kayak Ride.
After a day of exploring, consider a spa treatment or simply relax for happy hour prior to dinner! (B,L,D)
Day 17 HA LONG BAY—HANOI
Surprising and Amazing Beauty
This morning, relax onboard your ship, or visit Sung Sot Cave, considered one of the most beautiful in the area with its magnificent formations. Afterwards, return to Hanoi and check in to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours to spend at your leisure. (B)
Day 18 HANOI—SAPA
Today, transfer to the hill-station town of Sapa known for its mountain scenery, rice fields, and colorful ethnic minorities. This afternoon, join a Walking Tour of this small town and visit the local market. (B)
Day 19 SAPA
Your Guided Sightseeing starts with a visit to Ta Van and Lao Chai villages, to see the traditional way of life of the Zay and Black Hmong ethnic groups. These ethnic groups live together here under the watch of Fansipan Mountain. The Zay live a sedentary lifestyle and choose land near the valley’s bottom for growing wet rice. The Hmong have historically preferred higher elevations for corn farming but recently they’ve started gradually moving to lower land and learning from others like the Zay. After lunch, visit the beautiful Silver Waterfall and ascend the highest road in Vietnam to Heaven Gate for stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valley. (B,L)
Day 20 SAPA
This morning, your Guided Tour includes one of the famous Weekly Markets. Here, the local ethnic minority groups wear their most beautiful costumes as they sell and trade their homemade products. The Flower Hmong group is most recognizable with their colorful dress. After a quick photo stop at the China border, visit Taphin village, home of the Red Dao people who migrated from China starting in the 12th century. The Dao women are recognizable by the bright red turban they wear and, in some cases, shaved eyebrows. Tonight, consider exploring Sapa and stop at the famous “Love Market,” where local Hmong and Dao come from their villages for the chance to see one another and perhaps go on a date! (B,L)
Day 21 SAPA—HANOI
Today, transfer back to Hanoi and check in to your hotel for the evening. (B)
Day 22 HANOI
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
River Cruise Highlights
Ho Chi Minh City: Walking tour; visit the famous Rex Hotel for a drink, War Remnants Museum, and Ben Thanh Market; cooking class
Ho Chi Minh City: Cu Chi Tunnels excursion
Ho Chi Minh City (Embarkation): Onboard welcome reception
Vinh Long—Cu Lao Gieng: Visit a local workshop to see how rice paper, rice wine, and traditional candy are made in Vinh Long; visit a sampan-making family and interact with a Catholic priest in Cu Lao Gieng
Chau Doc—Long Khanh A—Cambodian Border Crossing: Visit a local market and the religious sites at Sam Mountain in Chau Doc; walking tour of Long Khanh A with cotton-weaving demonstration
Phnom Penh: Sightseeing by private cyclo, including the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum; afternoon at leisure; show by children from a local orphanage
Phnom Penh: Visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and visit one of the Cambodian Killing Fields
Wat Hanchey—Angkor Ban: Visit Wat Hanchey and partake in a traditional water blessing by local monks; walking tour in Angkor Ban with school visit
Konpong Louang—Kampong Tralach: Visit the silversmith village of Konpong Louang; ox cart ride through the countryside, and visit a local farmer’s home in Kampong Tralach
Phnom Penh (Disembarkation)—Siem Reap: Fly to Siem Reap; visit Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Bayon Temple
Siem Reap: Visit Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei, and a noodle-making village; Apsara dance performance
Siem Reap—Hanoi: fly to Hanoi
Hanoi: Visit Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, One Pillar Pagoda, and Temple of Literature; lunch at Koto; electric cart ride through the Old Quarter; water puppets performance
Hanoi—Ha Long Bay (Embarkation): Drive to Ha Long Bay; visit Cua Van floating village
Ha Long Bay: Cruise the bay; visit Ti Top Island, Luon Cave, and Dark and Bright Cave; opportunity to explore by kayak
Ha Long Bay (Disembarkation)—Hanoi: Visit Sung Sot Cave; drive to Hanoi
Hanoi—Sapa: Drive to Sapa; visit a local market
Sapa: Visit Ta Van village, Lao Chai village, Silver Waterfall, and Heaven Gate
Sapa: Visit a weekly market and a Red Dao village
Sapa—Hanoi: Drive to Hanoi
All This Included
This magical river cruise along the Mekong River will take you through Vietnam and Cambodia, showing you the culture and local traditions of each country and the must-see sites along the way.
Your adventure begins in bustling Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where you’ll get a taste of the culture first-hand with a Vietnamese cooking class and go on a fascinating excursion to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an extraordinary network of tunnels used extensively during the war. Immerse yourself in the everyday life of locals with a visit to a family’s home for a cotton-weaving demonstration and a local workshop to see how rice wine and traditional candies are made. In Cambodia, visit the famous sites, such as the temple of Wat Hanchey, providing spectacular views, and take part in a traditional water blessing with local monks. Enjoy an ox cart ride around the Cambodian countryside and meet a local farmer to learn about his daily life. Siem Reap offers the magnificent Temples of Angkor. These ancient ruins are a display of architectural complexity and grandeur unlike anything else in the world. See the most famous temples here, such as Angkor Wat and the Bayon temple, which features some 200 mysterious faces carved in its many towers. Enjoy an inspiring Aspara dance performance and other treasures of the city.
Fly to Hanoi and explore the famous sites, such as the Old Quarter, where peddlers have traded goods for centuries on its 36 ancient streets. Next, a remarkable 2-night cruise along Ha Long Bay will show you its beautiful Limestone Islands. You’ll visit the Cua Van Floating Village and spectacular caves. Fly to Sapa, located in northwest Vietnam, with its lush green hillsides, surrounded by mountains in every direction. Here, you’ll visit the villages of the Zay and Black Hmong ethnic groups to learn about their way of life. And to really appreciate the serene landscape, visit the stunning Silver Waterfall and enjoy the epic views from atop the highest road in Vietnam at a point called Heaven Gate. The perfect ending to an unforgettable river cruise vacation!
Ship Amenities - Avalon Saigon:
Air-conditioned Panorama Lounge
Open-air observation lounge with shade system & premium lounge chairs
Spacious, open-seating dining room
Bar serving premium spirits, wine & complimentary coffee, tea, soft drinks, and local beer/spirits throughout the day
Complimentary Wi-Fi access in the lounges (where signal is available)
Spa treatment room
Library and games
Non-smoking interior and staterooms
Ship Dining - Avalon Saigon:
Spacious, open-seating dining room
Delectable regional & Western cuisine with all onboard meals
Seasonal recipes featuring the freshest local ingredients
Vegetarian options available with all meals
Complimentary coffee, tea, soft drinks, local beer/spirits with all onboard meals
Daily early-riser coffee & tea
Full breakfast buffet with live cooking station
Complimentary juices with breakfast
Lunch buffet with live cooking station showcasing local specialties served by our Head Chef
Four-course à la carte dinners with choice of salads, soups, entrées, dessert or cheese
Complimentary wine with all onboard lunches & dinners
Accommodations on this Tour
Ho Chi Minh City: The Reverie Saigon
Cruising: Cabin onboard Avalon Siem Reap or Avalon Saigon
Siem Reap: Park Hyatt Siem Reap
Hanoi: InterContinental Westlake
Ha Long Bay: Paradise Elegance
Sapa: Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa
Pre and Post Add-ons
Extra Nights per person in Ho Chi Minh City:
in single room $268; in twin room $139
Extra Nights per person in Hanoi:
in single room $247; in twin room $129
Participation in this vacation requires purchase of the following flights from Avalon Waterways, not included in pricing: (1) roundtrip air from your U.S. gateway and intra-vacation air segments; or (2) intra-vacation air segments only, starting at $364. Required intra-vacation air segments: Phnom Penh/Siem Reap; Siem Reap/Hanoi. Air prices were effective on February 7, 2018 and their availability is limited. At the time you purchase your tour, air prices may be higher.
Gratuities for Local Guides & drivers are included (excludes extensions which are to be paid locally).
Price is per person, based on double room occupancy.
Avalon offers the opportunity for solo travelers to sail with no single supplement (subject to availability). Please call for single accommodation details and prices. Triples not available.
Prices shown include cruise in Category B in an Avalon Suite on Mekong Deck.
To upgrade to a Category A on the Tonle Deck, add $400 per person in double occupancy or $800 in single occupancy.
2020 prices and itineraries are subject to change.
Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.
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