The Majestic Mekong


Venture through Vietnam's cultural centres, natural wonders and fast-paced cities. Cruise the mighty Mekong with Pandaw River Expeditions. Finish on a high exploring the temples of Angkor.

Places Visited

New Zealand - Hanoi (2N) - Halong Bay (2N) - Hue (2N) - Hoi An (2N) - Saigon (2N) - Mekong Cruise (7N) - Siem Reap (3N) - New Zealand

Day 1: Fly to Hanoi
Fly to Hanoi, Vietnam’s vibrant capital city.
Day 2: Explore Hanoi
Explore the Ho Chi Minh Quarter - see the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh before visiting the revered Temple of Literature. Later, take a walking tour of the Old Quarter before meeting a water puppeteer who will put on a private water puppet show. (B,L,D)
Days 3-4: Halong Bay
Halong Bay is a vision of beauty to which very little compares. Sail on emerald waters amongst karst peaks aboard your luxury cruise ship, spending two nights on the water. Rise early to practice Tai Chi on deck as the sun rises. Explore by kayak, swim off hidden beaches, explore dramatic caves and visit floating villages. (B,L,D)
Day 5: Travel to Hue
Return to the jetty and travel back to Hanoi. From here, fly to Hue. Long considered Vietnam’s seat of culture and learning, Hue is dominated by its immense Imperial Citadel, home to emperors from 1802 to 1945. This evening, dine in the regal surroundings of the Tha Om Garden House, whose owner, Mr Vinh, is descended from royalty. (B,D)
Day 6: Imperial Hue
Start the day with a stroll through the grandiose entrance of the Imperial Citadel to explore the complex within before heading out, along the river, to see Minh Mang’s tomb. Lunch will be vegetarian dishes prepared by the nuns of Lien Hoa Pagoda, before exploring Thanh Tien pagoda. (B,L)
Day 7: Discover Hoi An
Travel from Hue to Hoi An and take a walking tour of this charming town. The streets are a delight to wander – visit the elaborate Japanese Bridge, colourful market and a Chinese temple, finishing at the 'Reaching Out' Tea House, a social enterprise working with local people with disabilities. (B,L)
Day 8: Rural Tra Que
Visit the community farming project in the village of Tra Que. Here you can wander through the farm to see the organic produce, learn traditional farming methods and try your hand at tending the vegetables yourself! Enjoy a short cooking demonstration before dining on a lunch straight out of the gardens. (B,L)
Day 9: A O Show
This morning is free before flying to Saigon. This evening, enjoy the cultural extravaganza that is the ‘A O Show’, staged at the magnificent Saigon Opera House and a delicious dinner. (B,D)
Day 10: Explore Saigon
Travel to the Cu Chi Tunnels, part of an elaborate network of excavations used by the Viet Cong. Returning to the city, visit the beautiful colonial Central Post Office, Reunification Palace, and harrowing War Remnants Museum and end the day at Ben Thanh Markets. (B,L)
Day 11: Board your Mekong Cruise
Transfer from Saigon to the Mekong Delta city of My Tho, where you will board your Pandaw River Expeditions cruise ship. You will be welcomed aboard with refreshing drinks, before sitting down to a briefing and delicious lunch as you cast off into the vast Mekong Delta. This evening, dine on freshly prepared food – your choice of local or European dishes, before retiring to your spacious stateroom. (B,L,D)
Day 12: Mekong Backwaters
Explore the delta’s backwaters and palm-lined canals in sampan boats. Stop at a local market to browse and visit the house of Mr Huyn Thuy Le, said to have been the lover of French novelist Marguerite Duras. (B,L,D)
Day 13: Into Cambodia
This morning you can visit a Cham tribal village and catfish farm, borrow the ship's mountain bikes and do some independent exploration, or simply relax onboard. After lunch is served, cast off in the direction of Cambodia and cross the border. (B,L,D)
Day 14: Explore Phnom Penh
Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh is a charming city of airy boulevards and colonial villas. Discover the city by cyclo, visiting the glittering Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda and the National Museum. This afternoon, there is an excursion to the harrowing Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng that you can join if you wish. (B,L,D)
Day 15: Vibrant local life
Take an exploratory cruise up the Tonle River, making a stop at the silver-making village to see the craftsmen at work, as well as two villages, Kampong Trolach and Chong Koh to immerse yourself in Cambodia’s daily life (if water level as low, these expeditions will be by coach). (B,L,D)
Day 16: Colonial Kratie
Take a morning stroll through a Khmer village, Angkor Ban. Continue upriver, soaking up the delightful scenery, reaching the charming colonial town of Kratie in the evening. (B,L,D)
Day 17: Dolphin spotting
Proceed upriver by local bus to an area the rare Mekong Dolphin calls home, now protected as a National Park. With luck, you may see these elusive creatures – there are around 80 who live in the area. Back on the ship, head downstream with a stop at 'Monkey Temple' shrine before mooring near Kampong Cham. (B,L,D)
Day 18: Arrive in Siem Reap
Disembark your ship, transfer to Siem Reap by coach, stopping en route at Kampong Thom. Arriving in the city, the gateway to the temples of Angkor, in the mid-afternoon. Relax with a spa treatment. (B,L)
Day 19: Angkor conservation masterclass
The day begins with a masterclass that takes you behind the scenes at Angkor with one of its lead stone conservation experts. You’ll learn little-known secrets about these magnificent monuments and get a crash course in conservation techniques. Full of knowledge you’ll now embark on a full-day tour of Angkor. Beginning at the atmospheric Ta Prohm, a tussle of stone and jungle, continue into Angkor Thom, the walled city, to the enigmatic Bayon. The afternoon is dedicated to Angkor Wat before a champagne sunset at Phnom Krom temple. (B,L)
Day 20: Explore Beng Mealea
Embrace your inner explorer to discover the mysterious 12th century Beng Mealea. An atmospheric site that has been left to the whims of the jungle, wandering its walkways feels like an adventure! Tonight, enjoy a farewell meal of Khmer cuisine! (B,L,D)
Days 21-22: Fly Siem Reap to New Zealand
Fly to New Zealand, arriving home the same or following day. (B)

Also Available

Tailor Your Tour

If you like most of the itinerary which we have suggested but you'd like to change the route and the accommodation, speak to our specialist Tailormade team, who can build your perfect itinerary based around where you would like to go, what you would like to see and how much you'd like to spend. Just call us on 0800 936 3998 and we'll help plan your dream holiday.

Tour prices are per person, twin share departing Auckland. Regional departures available on request. Additional charges: Tipping is payable on arrival in destination (see Additional Price Information below).

Additional Price Information:


Single Supplement from $5,960
Land Only (Hanoi to Siem Reap) 21 days from $11,990 per person twin share
Additional charges: Tipping - US$90 per person (subject to change) payable on arrival.
Tour availability is updated each Monday. While every effort is made to ensure availability status is current, it is advisable to contact our reservations department on 0800 936 3998. Limited seats denotes 4 seats or less available.

A visa is not required for visitors to Vietnam if your stay is less than 16 days. If your stay is for longer than 16 days then a visa is required by all nationalities and a single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travel.
Unlike many other tour operators, we include your entry visas in the price of our tour. We handle the entire visa process – all you need to do is fill out the form and send your passport to us. We are always on hand to help you with any questions or queries you might have when completing the form. 

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. It’s a good idea to check call costs with hotel staff or your local guide before making calls, as this can be expensive. A service charge may also be involved. To call New Zealand – the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 64, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number.
 
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are quite popular and you will find high quality coverage, with active roaming agreements with most of the service providers. Please make sure you are aware of associated costs and have activated your international roaming prior to departure.
 
Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have Wi-Fi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and Vietnam is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount (in US Dollars) to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size and services used during the trip.
 
For independent passengers, or group passengers with pre/post tour arrangements, you should allow USD5-10 per person per day. We will indicate the tipping amounts in your final documents for guidance.

Shopping can be a fun and entertaining component to any travel adventure.  In keeping with most people’s interests whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities to shop for local goods and souvenirs.
 
We have included visits to establishments that not only provide an opportunity to purchase a locally produced, great-value souvenir; but you’ll witness first-hand how these local products are made, their history and how they support the local economy. We are aware that people like to take home souvenirs, so we endeavour to ensure the shops you visit have a reputation for quality, honesty, and authenticity – we do our best to ensure that you don’t get ripped off. 

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost. Breakfast is a combination of local and western food, usually served buffet style at the hotel you are staying in. Lunches and dinners consist of traditional cuisine and are served at reputable local restaurants. As is traditional in this region, lunch and dinner consists of small dishes of local cuisine which is then placed on the table for everyone to share so you can experience the variety of speciality dishes. The amount served is more than ample for the whole group. We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people and so the food is not too spicy or unusual in taste.
 
Drinks will be at each tour members’ own expense and paid for at the end of each meal. Beer is widely available and cheap. Western style wine is very expensive to import and is not widely available except at upmarket restaurants. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks, and fruit juices are also widely available – remember that you should only have ice or fruit juices from a trusted restaurant, where they will use boiled or bottled water.
 
Due to the French colonial influence in some Southeast Asian countries, black tea (commonly referred to as ‘lip-ton’ by the locals), coffee, and baguettes are available in most places. However, the local style is to have sweet condensed milk with their tea and coffee. Fresh dairy milk is not usually served but many restaurants will provide this if requested. ‘Cafe Sua-da’ (or iced coffee with milk) is a favourite choice amongst the locals.


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