Phnom Penh Royal Palace Ho Chi Minh Landscape by night
Multi-Country

Vietnam and Cambodia 12-day breathtaking cruising trip

Duration
12D11N
Tour Code
VIM.13
Tour Style
Cruises, Culture

Overview

location_on Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi – My Tho – Cai Be – Sa Dec – Tan Chau – Phnom Penh – Kampong Cham – Kampong Chhnang – Ton Le Sap Lake – Siem Reap

Vietnam and Cambodia 12-day breathtaking cruising trip – The mighty Mekong is a mysterious body of water flowing through six countries in Asia. Giving love and life to millions, it received its fame from the legendary God-King of ancient Cambodia, King Jayavarman VII, who linked hands with the waters of the Mekong to build the magnificent Angkor civilization.

This classic 7-night Mekong River cruise, named “The Lost Civilization,” combines places rarely visited with fantastic historical heritage sites. It offers a complete fluvial discovery of Vietnam and Cambodia along the Mekong with a combination of experiences one never forgets. Call us and start planning your own vacation.

Trip highlights

  • Visit the historic and cultural Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Be immersed in rural life in the Mekong Delta.
  • Learn about the historical stories behind the famous attractions in the capital, Phnom Penh.
  • Explore the rhythm of life by the largest lake in Southeast Asia.
  • Admire the glorious sunrise over Angkor Wat.
  • See the diverse Angkorian temples.

Use this itinerary to inspire your bespoke journey

Xin chào Việt Nam!

A warm greeting awaits at Tan Son Nhat International airport; your private guide and driver will meet you in the arrivals lounge and transfer you to your downtown hotel. While every effort is made to have your room available upon arrival, check-in time is at 02:00 pm; your room may or may not be ready before this time.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Meals: none.


Ho Chi Minh city landscape

After breakfast, your private tour guide will pick you up and take you to visit the Cu Chi tunnels, an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by the Vietnamese resistance fighters during the long struggle for independence. This vast network of tunnels played a huge part in the Viet Cong’s victory over the Americans, allowing them to control a large rural area surrounding Ho Chi Minh City.

At the Cu Chi tunnels, you will watch a brief introductory video, followed by a walk through the reserve. If you are feeling brave, you can crawl inside the Cu Chi Tunnels to experience how difficult life must have been, and discover the 3 underground levels. There will also be a chilling exhibition of the traps and weapons used against the American GI’s. After the visit to the Cu Chi Tunnels, head back to the city center for a lunch.

At 14:00, let’s start the afternoon tour in the most dynamic city in Vietnam. You start the city tour to explore great architecture in one of our largest cities in Vietnam.

The architecture of Ho Chi Minh City is a splendid mix of Vietnam’s historical heritage, from French colonial villas to modern steel and glass monuments. The top architectural sights for tourists date back to the time when Saigon, the “Pearl of Indochina,” was the capital of French Indochina. More has been added to the cultural heritage since then, and we see interesting times ahead in terms of modern architecture. Our guide would be more than happy to bring you to the Central Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Reunification Palace. If time permits, you also visit the Saigon Opera House, Saigon’s city hall.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.


Ho Chi Minh city landscape view

Breakfast is at the hotel’s restaurant, check-out, and ready for a luxury Mekong cruise trip from Vietnam to Cambodia.

Cruise detailed itinerary:

We greet our guests in the morning at our welcome lounge in Saigon. Kick back with a second coffee as our staff collects your details for the boarding. We bid farewell to the hustle and bustle of Saigon and travel 70 kilometers south over land towards My Tho to embark on our vessel. After checking into your luxurious floating “home” for the next several days, your first inclination may be to step onto your balcony to watch the ship set sail on its fascinating Mekong River voyage.

A lunch buffet is served in the restaurant while the vessel steadily glides upstream. Now it is time to get acquainted with one of the largest streams in Asia, which runs an estimated length of 4,909 km (3,050 mi) and discharges 475 cu kilometers (114 cu miles) of water annually. Millions of people – from China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam – pay tribute to this mighty river, which provides sustenance and protection to its inhabitants.

Let your soul float and your eyes wander while the boat makes its way upstream. It is often stated that “nautical air” makes you hungry, so you are cordially invited to our afternoon tea in the open-air bar as twilight bathes the Mekong Delta in a golden haze. Get to know your fellow travelers while enjoying some tasty treats. The rest of this cruising day is fully yours to relax on your private balcony or be pampered by our therapists at the Apsara Spa.

While you savor your delightful dinner, the ship reaches Cai Be. This historic town was established in the 19th century by Vietnam’s last ruling family, the Nguyen dynasty, on the Mekong River where three provinces meet: Tien Giang, Vinh Long, and Ben Tre. Cai Be would later become the surrounding region’s predominant water-based trading hub, as we will see in tomorrow’s visit to the floating market. We anchor mid-stream near Cai Be and moor there overnight. If you are in the mood for some evening entertainment, there is a cinema in the lounge showcasing classic movies and interesting documentaries on a nightly basis.

Overnight on board (Heritage Line Cruises).

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.


Mekong Delta My Tho tourist port

Wake up early to witness the spectacular scenery at the break of dawn. To make the experience complete, join our daily morning Tai Chi class. Afterward, a rich breakfast buffet awaits, or if you prefer, we can serve breakfast directly to your room.

We arrive at Cai Be, a charming market town that is famous for its Catholic French church and the manufacturing of traditional crafts and food products. The once enormous floating market of Cai Be gets smaller year by year since trading on the water is continually shifting towards modern markets. However, you can still see boat-to-boat trading of local goods, such as fruits and agricultural products, and imagine what this must have looked like on a larger scale. We learn from our guide about the long-lasting trading culture and how each boat has a special marker to let buyers know what goods they are selling.

By local boat, we sail along with the green canal network and watch the farmers working in the fields. A visit ashore to a workshop shows us the manufacturing of rice paste, rice paper, rice cookies, and rice wine. Cai Be’s surrounding areas are covered by palm trees, which is why the region is also famous for the production of coconut candy. While the vessel continues sailing upstream, you can enjoy time to yourself or head to the bar and enjoy a true Vietnamese coffee as you watch the life on the riverbanks floating by.

In the afternoon, the vessel reaches the area of Sa Dec and arrives at one of the larger islands in the vast stream of the Mekong, Binh Thanh Island. Several communities have settled here and made their living by growing water hyacinths. We exclusively visit one of these untouched areas. By wandering through the village, we get a deep understanding of native life. One of the local artisans, for example, demonstrates the entire process of traditional mat-making. You can try weaving yourself. We also meet a local elderly couple who share their story of living on this island. They are always happy to chit-chat with our guests.

Back on board, you may take a dip in the pool on the sun deck. In the evening, our expert guide offers a presentation on life on the Mekong Delta as the ship continues sailing to Tan Chau, a pleasant, slow-paced border town near the Cambodian border with a sizeable Chinese, Kinh, and Khmer community. We moor near the city with views of the riverbanks.

Overnight on board (Heritage Line Cruises).

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.


Ben Tre boat trip in palm trees village

Welcome to the fish sanctuary of Vietnam.

Once on shore, we see Tan Chau’s vibrant town life as we hop on “xe loi”, which are local vehicles still used as taxis in this area. Your personal xe loi driver slowly navigates through the streets to observe all the workshops, houses, and shops while feeling the laid-back vibe of this place. We stop at the colorful, local market near one of the town’s temples. This is a great opportunity to interact with the vendors of this friendly town and try your hand at bargaining with them.

To see what Tan Chau is famous for, we board local boats and head to a floating fish farm. You are about to get an exclusive look into the world’s largest inland aquaculture industry. Each of the floating structures has netting hanging down into the water to enclose the fish, which are raised and fed on a daily basis. The region’s specialties are tilapia and the Basa catfish, or Pangasius, which is unique to the Mekong River basin and are rapidly gaining popularity in the international seafood market.

Back on board our “home”, we sail towards the Vietnamese-Cambodian border. Get ready for a fascinating and leisurely cruise through the deep Cambodian countryside toward Phnom Penh.

The whole afternoon is at your disposal. From here, even the last passenger turns on their cruise mode and hopefully experiences the relaxing influence that this mighty river emanates. The afternoon is perfect for massages, relaxation on a terrace deck sunbed, or private balcony kickbacks. Conjure up a spell to merge with the river and float into a state of mild bliss.

You also may like to visit the bridge, as the captain always has a little story to share about “his” river. Or, if you are curious to learn more about Khmer gastronomy, join a culinary workshop to sharpen your knowledge about local cuisine.

After some additional cruising time back aboard, the boat arrives and docks at the pier of Phnom Penh. Feel free to go out and explore by yourself after dinner. Stroll along the river promenade and watch the locals chit-chatting, selling odds and ends or have a drink in one of the numerous bars.

Overnight on board (Heritage Line Cruises).

meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.


Mekong Delta floating fish farm

Welcome to Phnom Penh – the city once named Paris of the East. Despite its rapid development, it has retained a lot of its rustic charm and elegance. It is an amazing town with centuries of incredible history and culture which can still be felt on many street corners.

We start with a full sightseeing tour right after breakfast. By bus, we visit the Killing Fields outside the city and afterward the centrally located prison “S21”. Both historic sites display the sad and cruel chapter of the country’s history when the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia with terror and oppression. Those places have not changed much since this horrific time back in the early seventies and it can be quite heart-breaking. Alternatively, you may explore the city on your own in the morning before rejoining the group.

We have lunch at a well-renowned restaurant in town and experience the elegant air Phnom Penh’s top addresses are known for. Our exploration of Phnom Penh continues with the cultural highlights of the city’s heritage. The golden edifice of the Royal Palace with its Silver Pagoda and the exceptional Khmer crafts at the National Museum top the list of the city’s must-sees. The day trip ends with a “cyclo” ride along the bustling streets of downtown Phnom Penh and back to the ship.

In the early evening, the lounge is set up for an eye- and ear-catching lecture about modern Cambodian history, held by our friend and local expert, Mr. Jean-Michel, a professor from the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Receiving first-hand knowledge from our lecturer who has studied the subject extensively and in person is a highlight of this cruise.

Take some rest or join fellow passengers at the bar for refreshing drinks. Today’s evening is a special one: let us invite you to a wonderful open-air gala featuring a barbecue dinner feast. The dinner is accompanied by a classic Apsara dance performance along with other folklore dances.

As the evening unwinds, enjoy your supper with a good glass of wine, and marvel at the skyline of Phnom Penh and the calming flow of the Tonle River.

Overnight on board (Heritage Line Cruises).

Meals: breakfast, Lunch, Barbecue Gala Dinner.


Cambodia apsara dancing performance

We depart before the break of dawn from Phnom Penh towards the Angkor Ban village on the Mekong River. The village is famous for its unspoiled community and beautiful, traditional houses. It feels like being transported back a hundred years, into an era unaffected by modernity where villagers are characterized by their unbridled warmth.

While we sail upstream, lunch is served and afterward, our staff is keen to show you a variety of traditional Khmer fashions the local people still wear on special occasions. Conversely, the ubiquitous Cambodian scarf, the Krama, is a garment worn by people of all ages and walks of life. This multi-functional attire is worn not just around the neck, but also as a bandanna, facemask, belt, swimwear, and even as a hammock to carry children.

We cruise further up the Mekong to visit a local school and learn more about the education of the young Cambodian generation. Children from the Organization for Basic Training (OBT) are provided free, supplemental education in English, maths, and the arts, and they are always excited to show their skills in music and dance. Shower the young performers with applause and in return, you are bestowed upon with the most genuine and happy Cambodian smiles.

We continue our land journey to the enchanting pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey (7th century). Formerly built to honor the Hindu god, Hirahara, the complex is now a Buddhist temple, a testament to the country’s past and present religious beliefs. This small complex sits on a hilltop with breathtaking views over the Mekong. Many young, novice monks live on the compound of Wat Hanchey, and we have the chance to observe a few of their daily lives: eating simple meals, praying, studying, or hanging out and making conversation while in their saffron-colored robes.

Another temple on the way is the tranquil monastery of Wat Nokor. Although not massive in comparison to the vast complexes of Angkor Wat, Wat Nokor is the largest of its kind in Kampong Cham Province and is distinctive from other temples with its black sandstone walls. Here, we might have the chance to engage in light banter with some of the sociable monks living in the area.

Back on board, you are free to relax until dinner is served. The boat moors mid-river near Kampong Cham.

Overnight on board (Heritage Line Cruises).

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, Dinner.


In the early morning, we continue sailing downstream on the Mekong. The vessel stops at the Island of Koh Oknha Tey, which lies in the middle of the Mekong and owes its fame to manufacturing high-class silk products. We go sightseeing along the island’s roads a bit via tuk-tuk before arriving at the village’s workshops and witnessing the curious process of making silk, starting from a tiny silkworm larva to a cocoon, then dyeing, spinning, and weaving the fibers into high-quality Cambodian silk.

Before lunch, our expert guide holds a presentation about the geography of the Mekong River and Tonle Lake along with the unique attributes of the area. Afterward, a monk’s blessing ceremony delivers spirits and wishes for health and prosperity for all.

The ship continues its journey, passing by the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Rivers. Gliding through leafy swaths of this jungle-like landscape we reach Kampong Tralach, where laughing children wave enthusiastically at our arrival.

We are in the middle of Cambodia’s countryside where – surprise – traditional ox carts are still a common means of transportation. Our ox-powered vehicle takes us on a journey along the riverside and through back roads lined with rice-paddy fields until we arrive at a tiny village. Beginning a few short years ago, local children have had the opportunity to receive an education here. The “Green School” is a regional project supported by Heritage Line in this remote area to support underprivileged youth. The students, who are dressed in green shirts, are always happy to meet us every week as the principal introduces and updates us on the school’s current situation.

Tonight, the boat finds its anchor spot in the Tonle River near Kampong Chhnang, allowing you to observe river life close by until dinner is served.

Overnight on board (Heritage Line Cruises).

Meals: breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.


Koh Oknha Tei monk blessing ceremony

After a sumptuous breakfast, we are now at Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia’s “water world”, where everything is balanced on sticks in water-rich soil. It is perhaps the most fascinating cruising spot in Cambodia. We take a local boat to the shore and hop on a minibus to reach a quite unique, nearby rural village. As we explore the village on foot our guide reveals the village’s specialties – Khmer-style pottery and the process of making palm sugar from the Cambodian “skor t’not” palm tree.

We drive back to the shore where our local boat starts an exploration of nearby floating villages and the surrounding wetlands. Although we are in the heartland of Cambodia, the residents of these floating villages are actually of Vietnamese descent who were expelled by the Khmer Rouge and soon returned after the ruling party was overthrown in 1979. No longer having land to settle on, they have since lived “on the water”.

Back on board lunch is served as your floating sanctuary cruises gently along the narrow Tonle River, towards the Great Tonle Sap Lake. The river then opens to a vast “sea”, the biggest freshwater lake in Asia.

You can feel fortunate about this occasion, as generally this shallow lake can only be crossed during high water season, which is approximately from August to mid-November. In fact, the Tonle Sap (Sap means Lake in the Cambodian language) varies from 2,500 sqkm (965 sqmi) in size and 160 km (99 mi) in length during the dry season to an astonishing area of 16,000 sqkm (6,000 sqmi) and length of 250 km (160 mi) in the wet season. Now that we are on the open water, let your soul float, and your eyes wander towards Siem Reap as the boat makes its way across.

Our crew invites you to a farewell event and to enjoy some cheerful moments before dinner, including music and Cambodian dancing together with the team. Savor your final dinner aboard and relive the week’s adventures in your mind’s eye with a glass of wine at the open bar.

Overnight on board (Heritage Line Cruises).

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.


Siem Reap floating villages Tonle Sap

Enjoy your last breakfast on board our floating sanctuary.

The Tonle Sap (The Great Lake) is the flowing heart of Cambodia, giving love and life to millions of people. This rich ecosystem and UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve has more fish than any other lake in the world and is home to an incredible variety of birds, including rare and endangered feathered life.

Here, our Heritage Line cruise comes to an end this morning. We prepare to disembark the ship and take a local boat to the shore, passing a vast floating community. We arrive at the Siem Reap pier and bring you to the drop-off point in the city center.

You will meet your private guide and driver and drive to the hotel. Lunch is at your own expense.

Today’s tour will begin at 17:30. Enjoy an evening of culture at Phare Cambodian Circus Show. Set up by refugees of the Khmer Rouge era, Phare promotes performing arts as a way to cope with trauma. Over the years they have not only helped hundreds of Cambodians but also helped to promote traditional Khmer culture. Then sit down for dinner, a feast of traditional Cambodian dishes.

Afterward, the lights will dim and the performers will take to the stage. The hour-long show tells stories of modern life in Cambodia through a rich spectacle of song, dance, and acrobatics. The performers combine traditional Khmer theatre with modern influences resulting in an entertaining and enthralling show. There is an opportunity to take photos with the cast following the show, a spectacular memory of the evening’s performance.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.


Siem Reap floating villages Tonle Sap

Start your morning temple exploration at the most illustrious of the Small Circuit Temples, Ta Prohm, arriving as early as possible to avoid the crowds. Built-in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries, Ta Prohm is unique in that it is overgrown by jungle. With many parts crumbling to the ground, it is one of the most picturesque Angkor temples.

Alternatively, depending on the season and the crowds, you may wish to visit the Preah Khan temple. Built by the same king in a similar style, this larger temple complex is also largely left in ruins and its labyrinthian layout and fewer visitors make a more intimate experience even in the high season months. (Note: speak to your guide about the crowds during the time of your visit: Ta Prohm is best at 7:30 am, just as the temple opens).

Next, visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8m-high wall, drawing a perfect square. Enter the city through an ancient gate carved with three-headed elephants and capped with four giant faces of the Buddha. On each side of the causeway over the moat leading to the gate, a row of 54 gods and demons stands holding a sacred Naga snake.

From here, continue to Bayon Temple in the exact center of the city. This 12th-century masterpiece is a study in grandeur and is well-known for its 52 towers with enigmatic faces looking out over the vast provinces of the Great Khmer Empire. The nearby Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King are also must-visits as they are both known for their intricate and unique carvings.

After lunch, begin exploring the crown jewel of the Khmer Empire, Angkor Wat.

Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat was constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolizing Mount Meru, the home of the gods. Inside, the temple walls are covered with stone carvings depicting Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign. Angkor Wat is well known for the more than 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Construction is thought to have taken around thirty-five years of intensive labor. Today, Angkor Wat is featured on Cambodia’s national flag as the temple symbolizes the soul of the Khmer people. Arrive just before sunset, when Angkor Wat is less visited and the Apsaras will shine in the most beautiful light.

After, return to your hotel where there is time at leisure to take dinner (at your own expense) and perhaps relax at the pool.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch.


Siem Reap Angkor Wat

Today is at your leisure. Breakfast is still included and check-out is at mid-day. Depending on your departure time a private driver will collect (3 hours before your flight departure time) you from the hotel and transfer you back to the airport for your departure flight.

Meals: Breakfast.


Siem Reap local night market

Useful Information

This sample itinerary was created by our travel experts as inspiration for your next trip. Ready for your customization. You pick to suit your budget, desires, and cultural experiences. The price of this trip will vary, depending on the number of people in your party, dates of departure, and the availability of ground services. Please click on Inquire Now (above) and give us the necessary information to enable us to send you a FREE personalized quote within 48 hours if not sooner!

Our Service Include:

  • Accommodation.
  • Daily (group) shore excursions & entrance fees.
  • Sightseeing and transfers during the cruise
  • Transfers from/to Heritage Line’s meeting point to/from the ship (please read details in the embarkation guide).
  • English-speaking tour guiding on and offshore.
  • Entertainment/activities during the cruise as mentioned in the program.
  • Meals as mentioned in the program; welcome drink, brewed coffee, tea, and mineral water; complimentary beverage package.
  • Passenger liability insurance; internet on the ship (subject to cellular network signal).
  • Complimentary usage of ship facilities (exclusive of spa treatments).
  • River pilots.
  • Fuel fees.

Our Service exclude:

  • Crew and guide gratuities.
  • Visa fees.
  • Private transfers.
  • Personal expenses.
  • Other beverages than those stated under inclusions.
  • Medical services.
  • Spa treatments.
  • Port and anchorage fees.
  • All other services or items not listed under inclusions.

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