Magnificent Mekong

Exclusive Cruise from Siem Reap to Saigon
27 October - 10 November 2017

Trip Scholar: Professor Peter Bellwood

Emeritus Professor of Archaeology, Australian National University
Oxford & Cambridge Alumni

13day tour
Price from £3,890

Due to a sell-out 2016 Magnificent Mekong departure, we are delighted to offer the tour again in 2017, also accompanied by Archaeologist Professor Peter Bellwood.  A specialist in the archaeology of South East Asia, Professor Bellwood will be on hand throughout the tour to give illuminating evening lectures on his subject.

Tour highlights

The tour begins fittingly at the lovely town of Siem Reap, just a few miles from the outskirts of the vast temple complex at Angkor. Explore the site, from romantic Ta Prohm, still half-covered in jungle, to Angkor Wat itself, with its incredible 12th Century bas reliefs. This year we are pleased to offer an additional day in Siem Reap to discover some of the lesser-visited gems such as the temples of the Roulos Group, with a chance to see some of the investigative and restoration work being undertaken by local archaeology teams.

Commencing the scenic journey south along the mighty Mekong, glide along aboard the exclusively chartered 20 passenger Tioum Tiou, with just 10 comfortable ensuite cabins and a charming colonial feel.

With the benefit of the ship’s shallow draft, get up close to the banks to see entire towns on stilts, gleaming paddy fields and spectacular pagodas en route, with stops to discover local life.

Also explore Phnom Penh, the charming ‘Pearl of Asia’ with its tree-lined boulevards and magnificent Royal Palace. Crossing the border into Vietnam, the river fans out into a fertile delta known for its rice production and lush orchards of mangoes and citrus fruit. Here, at the lively floating markets, sampans jostle for trade, laden with mounds of colourful fresh produce.

End in Saigon where there is time to explore its French colonial heritage and reflect on the country’s more recent history at the Cu Chi Tunnels.

Itinerary at a glance

Day 0 Only for those flying from the UK
Day 1 Meet the group in Siem Reap
Day 2 Angkor Wat
Day 3 Siem Reap surrounds
Day 4 Siem Reap and embark our cruise
Day 5 Chnok Tru to Kampong Chhnang
Day 6 Kampong Tralach – Koh Chen – Phnom Penh
Day 7 Phnom Penh
Day 8 Kaam Samnar Border to Chau Doc
Day 9 Chau Doc – Sa Dec – Vinh Long
Day 10 Vinh Long – Cai Be – My Tho
Day 11 To Saigon
Day 12 Saigon
Day 13 Tour ends in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City
Day 14 For those taking Temple World flights only

Itinerary

Expand all
27 October – 10 November 2017 (28 October – 9 November 2017 land only)
Cabin ClassPriceSingle SupplementOptional Flight from LondonAvailability
Upper Deck cabins available for £100 supplement per person.£3,890£1495£560 – £800 per personAvailable

Includes
Share of twin or double bedded room/main deck cabin with private bathroom, full board (except on the arrival day when only dinner is included, and on the departure day when the tour ends after breakfast), all excursions mentioned with local guides including entrance fees, expert leader.

Not included
Flights to and from Cambodia/Vietnam (see optional flights below), drinks, visa charges, travel insurance, tips to crew and guides, items of a personal nature.
Single supplement £1495.

Optional flights
Temple World can arrange flights from London for those who need them, using a number of airlines including BA, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. The price for these will depend on availability at the time of booking however the range is from around £560 – £800 per person including taxes, return. We are happy to arrange transfers on arrival and departure to co-ordinate with the flights that we book and hope that the majority of people will be on the same service so we can arrange a group transfer at a minimal extra cost.

Making your own way there
Clients wishing to use airmiles to buy or upgrade flights, or who wish to fly from a city other than London are advised to book their own flights. The start point for the tour is SIEM REAP in Cambodia and the end point is SAIGON/HO CHI MINH CITY in Vietnam. You can arrive at any time of day on 28 October but check-in at the hotel is not normally until 2pm unless you have paid for early check in (we can arrange this but the hotel may charge a full extra night). There are no activities on the first day until dinner, which is likely to be at around 8pm, with pre-dinner drinks for those who wish to meet up first. On the last day in Vietnam (09 November) there are no activities after breakfast and you are free to leave whenever you want. Check out time at the hotel is 12pm but we can arrange late checkout (fee applies) for those who wish to stay longer. Bags can be stored after checkout during the day if needed. We can arrange private airport transfers to co-ordinate with any flight time – please ask for a quote.

Very Important! Clients should not make any binding or non-refundable arrangements until their place has been confirmed on the tour and Temple World has confirmed that it is a guaranteed departure.

Fitness Guideline
We have graded the fitness level required for participation in this tour as Easy/Moderate. Sightseeing at Angkor Wat involves a lot of steps and handrails are not always available. In the major cities the streets are very busy with all kinds of people and traffic so it is vital to stay together as a group.

The pace on board the cruise is very leisurely but we will be making frequent excursions ashore and these could involve a fair of walking and standing in hot and possibly humid weather. Participants must be able to keep up with the group in order to see everything in the time allocated – it is not fair to hold the rest of the group back as they will miss the sights they have come so far to see. In some places there may be nowhere shady to stand and nowhere to sit down for some time. On board the ship the cabins are reached via stairways and no lift facilities are available. For the reasons we have given above, this tour is unsuitable for the frail or for anyone who uses a cane or frame to help with walking at home. We regret that the ship is not wheelchair accessible. If unsure, please check with us.

We know that age is not always a reliable indicator of fitness, but prospective participants over the age of 80 will be given a letter to be signed by their GP to say they are fit enough to undertake this tour.

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Immunisations
NHS Fit for Travel advises travellers to Vietnam and Cambodia are usually recommended to immunise against: Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid. There is a risk of Malaria during part of the cruise so you will need prophylaxis to cover a few days of your trip. A Yellow Fever certificate is required if entering from an area with a risk of yellow fever transmission. Please seek professional medical advice at least 8 week before departure. NHS Fit For Travel Website

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Visas
UK passport holders require a visa for entry to Cambodia. A Cambodian visa can be obtained either on arrival (you need to bring passport photos etc) or here in the UK using a new evisa system which you can use to apply and pay online. The official website for the evisa facility can be found here. As of 01 July 2015, Vietnamese visas are currently not necessary for UK passport holders however this is an initial exemption system which is only valid for travel until 30 June 2016. If this is not extended, then a visa must be obtained prior to travel and information on how to apply can be found here. Be very wary of agencies offering to arrange a visa on arrival; many are not legitimate so we do not recommend this method.

Will my phone work:
Cambodia and Vietnam both use 900 and 1800 MHz bandwidths as per the UK so almost all UK phones will work there as long as your provider has authorised its use abroad.

Trip Scholar

Professor Peter Bellwood (King’s College, Cambridge 1966) is Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the Australian National University in Canberra and a Fellow of the British Academy.  He specialises in the prehistory of Southeast Asia from archaeological, linguistic and biological perspectives. He is currently involved in archaeological fieldwork near the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and is co-author of the book ‘Southeast Asia: from prehistory to history’ published by Routledge. He knows the site of Angkor Wat well having recently organised an archaeology conference in Siem Reap.

Lectures during our tours
All our tours are accompanied by an academic ‘trip scholar’ as well as local guides. The local guide or guides provide the day-to-day guiding on our tours, whilst the trip lecturer will give regular lectures on his/her specialist subject throughout to provide an academic overview. Lectures/talks usually last 30-40 minutes including questions and answers (if applicable). These are generally held in the evenings before dinner and attendance is optional. We don’t usually specify before travel which days the lectures will be given (for operational reasons) but guests can expect them roughly every other day as a minimum, with some lecturers giving some kind of talk or presentation more frequently.

We have arranged a post tour extension from Saigon to Hanoi for those who would like to see more of Vietnam after the main tour.  This seven night guided tour north from Saigon takes in the imperial citadel at Hue and the charming coastal town of Hoi An and includes night aboard a junk to see the limestone karst scenery at Halong Bay before ending in vibrant Hanoi.  The tour is led by a local guide throughout.

Itinerary

9 November (DAY 1) HO CHI MINH CITY – DANANG – HOI AN
After breakfast, leave the main group and transfer to Saigon’s airport for the short flight to the central port city of Danang. On arrival transfer to charming Hoi An, a beguiling riverside town with historic merchant houses, picturesque temples and atmospheric tea warehouses. Retaining much of its old world feel, the town charms all who visit it. A few kilometres away, Cua Dai beach has a seemingly endless stretch of fine white sand and is a perfect spot to relax. Check in to our hotel, the Anantara Hoi An with time to freshen up, then take an orientation walk around the town with our guide to see the former merchants’ homes, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colourful market. Hoi An is known for its excellent tailors so this evening those who wish to have some clothes made can visit a tailor shop to pick out patterns and fabrics. Dinner and overnight Hoi An.

10 November (DAY 2) MY SON
This morning we shall travel 40km southwest of Hoi An to My Son, the capital of the former Champa kingdom. Situated in a lush green valley, the picturesque remains of dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th centuries are what is left of this unique culture which owed its origins to Indian Hinduism. On the way back to Hoi An visit Tra Kieu, formerly known as Simhapura or the Lion Citadel, the capital of Champa between the 4th and 8th centuries. Some of the finest sculptures in Danang’s Cham Museum (which we shall visit tomorrow) originated from here. Return to Hoi An for lunch and an afternoon at leisure to enjoy the lovely town or beach. Dinner and overnight Hoi An.

11 November (Day 3) HOI AN – HUE
Regretfully we shall leave Hoi An for Danang but we shall revive our spirits with a visit to the excellent Cham Museum. Continue north along the Pass of Ocean Clouds, a singularly scenic ocean road, dropping down to the wonderfully photogenic fishing village of Lang Co, with lunch en route. Arrive in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam and check in to our hotel, the Saigon Morin. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure to relax after our journey. Dinner and overnight Hue.

12 November (Day 4) HUE
We shall spend a full day exploring Hue. Established as the capital of unified Viet Nam in 1802, Hué was not only the political but also the cultural and religious centre under the Nguyen dynasty until 1945. The Perfume River winds its way through the Capital City, the Imperial City, the Forbidden Purple City and the Inner City, giving this unique feudal capital a setting of great natural beauty. The mesmerizing tombs and mausoleums of the last emperors of Vietnam reveal fascinating insights into the lives of the imperial families and their subjects. The ancient citadel reflects the pomp and ceremony of the dynastic rulers as well as the scars of many years of turmoil, both ancient and modern (the Royal Citadel was badly damaged in the latter stages of the war) but retains a sense of grace and majesty even today. Visit Thien Mu Pagoda overlooking the Perfume River and see the Austin car made famous in 1963 when a resident monk drove the vehicle to Saigon to protest against the southern regime. The photo of his self-immolation was one of the most resonant images of the war. We shall also visit the tomb of the former emperor Minh Mang in a tranquil setting of gardens and ponds, and Khai Dinh’s Tomb which is a mixture of Vietnamese and European, making it unique from the other tombs in Hue. If there is time we shall stroll around Dong Ba Market where the stalls are teeming with colour – this is a great place to catch a glimpse of everyday life. Dinner and overnight in Hue.

13 November (DAY 5) HUE – HANOI
Morning at leisure then we shall be transferred to Hue airport for a one hour flight to Hanoi mid-afternoon. On arrival we shall be transferred to our hotel, the Silk Path, located on the edge of the Old Quarter. Hanoi is a delightful, dynamic metropolis, quintessentially Asian yet with Parisian flair. Skyscrapers rub shoulders with colonial mansions and medieval shophouses, bakeries offering enticing croissants and excellent coffee scent the air and communist era loudspeakers still broadcast government messages to the populace twice daily. This evening we shall take in a traditional water puppet show which is a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant then return to our hotel for overnight.

14 November (DAY 6) HANOI
After breakfast, begin a morning of Hanoi exploration with our guide. Take a walking tour through the ’36 streets’ of the old quarter. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. Visit the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university which was established in 1076 to educate Vietnam’s royalty, mandarins and members of the elite. The university functioned for an incredible 700 years and its gardens and well-preserved architecture offer a fascinating glimpse into Vietnam’s past. Visit The One Pillar Pagoda, one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples. Close by is the mausoleum of the historic father figure of modern Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh. Continue to picturesque West Lake and the sixth century Tran Quoc Buddhist Pagoda. From here transfer (or stroll along the lakeside) 700 meters to the nearby Taoist temple of Quan Thanh dedicated to Tran Vu, one of the principal deities in Taoism. Return to the hotel for lunch. The afternoon is at leisure to explore independently. Hanoi is known for its superb shopping, with silks, laquerware, antiques and beautiful furniture easy to find on foot amongst its well-laid out shopping streets. You might also like to visit the fascinating Ethnology Museum or the highly acclaimed Vietnam Women’s Museum. Dinner and overnight Hanoi.

15 November (DAY 7) HANOI – HALONG BAY
After breakfast we shall make the 3 hour road journey to Halong Bay where we shall board a traditional Vietnamese junk, the Jasmine, for a cruise amongst the atmospheric karst formations. Here, over 2000 limestone islands rise from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin in scenes not dissimilar to Guilin in China. Lunch will be served on board whilst cruising towards the bay, and the afternoon is spent either relaxing, swimming or making visits to interesting caves or bays. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner and overnight on board.

16 November (DAY 8) HALONG – HANOI DEPARTURE
On your return to Halong City enjoy brunch as your boat wends through the limestone rock formations back to Halong City. Upon disembarkation we shall make the road journey back to Hanoi, where the tour extension ends. Those who are booked on Temple World’s recommended flights will have some free time for last-minute shopping before being transferred to the airport for an early evening flight back to London, with a change of planes in Singapore/Hong Kong/Kuala Lumpur. Note: Those making their own flight arrangements should ensure flights depart Hanoi no earlier than 16.00 today.

17 November (DAY 9) – THOSE WITH TW FLIGHTS TO LONDON ONLY
Arrive in London today.

PRICE: £TBA per person, based on a minimum of 4 participants. Private versions of the tour available for a supplement. Single supplement £TBA

INCLUDES: Domestic flights as per itinerary, guided excursions including entrance fees, transfers (except final airport departure transfer), share of twin/double room, full board.

EXCLUDES: Drinks, tips, optional excursions, transfer to Hanoi airport at the end of the tour, items of a personal nature.

PRIVATE EXTENSIONS
We thoroughly recommend stopping over for a few nights in Singapore, Hong Kong or Bangkok on the way out, as this is a busy tour from the start and stopping off beforehand means jetlag can be conquered before joining the group. Do ask us for a quote. Private extensions after the tour can also be arranged in the region, either within Vietnam or to its neighbours, including Laos and Thailand. For those who would like to end their tour with a relaxing beach stay we can arrange a few nights in Phu Quoc, an island off the southern tip of the country, which enjoys some of the country’s best weather in November.

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OUR ALUMNI TOURS

Congenial Companions

Our small group tours are exclusively available to alumni of Oxford and Cambridge universities and their friends and family, making for a wonderful atmosphere amongst like-minded individuals.

Expert Lecturer

All our small group alumni tours are accompanied by a university lecturer as well as local guides, with illuminating lectures given throughout the tour to enrich understanding of the destination.

To reserve a place on one of our small group alumni tours, contact us for availability then send us a signed booking form and deposit.

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