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Angkor Wat and the Mekong River: Life along the Mekong in Cambodia and Vietnam

Program Number: 19033RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/23/2013 - 8/4/2013; 8/27/2014 - 9/10/2014; 9/4/2014 - 9/18/2014; 9/11/2014 - 9/25/2014; 9/19/2014 - 10/3/2014; 10/4/2014 - 10/18/2014; 10/26/2014 - 11/9/2014; 1/9/2015 - 1/23/2015; 1/17/2015 - 1/31/2015; 2/1/2015 - 2/15/2015; 3/3/2015 - 3/17/2015; 8/11/2015 - 8/25/2015; 8/19/2015 - 9/2/2015; 8/27/2015 - 9/10/2015; 9/4/2015 - 9/18/2015; 9/11/2015 - 9/25/2015; 9/19/2015 - 10/3/2015; 9/27/2015 - 10/11/2015; 10/5/2015 - 10/19/2015;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Vietnam/Cambodia
Price starting at: $2,295.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats
Meals: 28; 10 Breakfasts, 8 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

In the 19th and 20th centuries the nations of Vietnam and Cambodia — the offspring of empires that dominated Asia for more than 1,000 years — were beset by imperial warfare and ethnic violence. Today, these modern states are integrating into the global community even as they mend the wounds of an era of atrocity. Consider legacies both bleak and beautiful as you navigate up the Mekong River to access villages and rice paddies where authentic Khmer and Vietnamese culture lives on.




Activity Particulars

Walking up to 1 mile per day and standing for up to 1 hour at a time; uneven sidewalks and stairs without railings. Climbing ramps and stairs to board and get off boat. Hot and humid conditions. Program cost excludes 2 meals to enjoy on your own.



Please note that some dates operate in reverse.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), 2 nights; aboard mv Toum Teave, 7 nights; Siem Reap (Cambodia), 3 nights.



Days 1-2: Overnight flight from the U.S.A./Cross International Date Line


Days 3-4: Arrival Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) / embark vessel:

Explore Saigon sites including the Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral and Reunification Hall. Lodging: Comfortable hotel.



Days 5-7: Cho Gao Canal / Mekong Delta:

Observe life along the canal: people tending the land, fishing and going to market. Explore the Cai Be floating market. View the Mekong Delta at sunset from Sam Mountain. Chat with Vietnamese schoolchildren eager to practice their English or French.



Days 8-11: Phnom Penh / Kampong Chhnang / Tonle Sap:

Step back in time as you visit the cultural sites of Cambodia’s capital. Learn about the depredations of the Khmer Rouge, visiting the Killing Fields and the S-21 Interrogation Center. See farmers working in their emerald green rice paddies. Cross the Tonle Sap (“Great Lake”).



Days 12-15: Disembark / coach to Siem Reap / departure:

Explore the magnificent Angkor temples and learn about the civilization that built them. Lodging: Four-star hotel.



mv Toum Teave

Built in 2001, this river vessel has two large decks with 10 air-conditioned rooms accommodating up to 18 participants on exclusive charters. Each room has a window facing the water and a private toilet, shower and sink.


Meals and Lodgings
   Tara Angkor Hotel
  Siem Reap, Cambodia 1 night
   Toum Tiou, Mekong River Boat
  Toum Tiou, Mekong River Boat, At Sea 7 nights
   Grand Hotel
  Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 2 nights
 Tara Angkor Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The Tara Angkor is equipped with modern amenities and elegantly furnished to make your stay luxurious and enjoyable. With exceptionally warm hospitality and traditional Cambodian sincerity and kindness your stay will be something not to be forgotten.
  Contact info: Vithei Charles de Gaulle
Siem Reap,   Cambodia
phone: (+855) 63 966 661
web: www.taraangkorhotel.com/facility.php
  Facility amenities: The Tara Angkor Hotel's stylish 4 star property has cemented its status as one of the jewels in Siem Reap’s accommodation sector. Facilities include 213 magnificent rooms and suites, two restaurants, a lobby bar, and a swimming pool with jacuzzi, fitness center and sauna, free wi-fi and a small business center.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: TBD Please contact RS Travel Services for more information.

 Toum Tiou, Mekong River Boat
Type: Barge
  Ship Information: Built in 2001, the Toum Tiou is 124.67 ft long and 21.33 ft wide in the middle. Accommodates 20 passengers.
  Contact info: N/A
N/A,   Cambodia
phone: +855 12 24 08 59
web: www.cfmekong.com/intro.html
  Room amenities: It has 10 comfortable cabins (10.83 ft x 8.20 ft), 4 on the first deck and 6 on the second, each air-conditioned and with a private bathroom (8.20 ft x 4.59 ft) including toilet, shower and sink featuring a fan, one 220V plugs, one 115V (razor outlet).
  Facility amenities: Public services include outdoor restaurant and bar, an inside TV lounge, sun deck, and forward deck.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: Bathroom with showers only.

 Grand Hotel
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Surrounded by a downtown ambiance, handicraft shops, restaurants - Grand Hotel, a modern comfort in a very classical French atmosphere and architecture since 1930, is an ideal place for businessmen, travellers as well as the ones who seeking rest and entertainment.
  Contact info: 08 Dong Khoi, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City,   Vietnam
phone: +84-8-823-0163
web: www.grandhotel.vn/
  Room amenities: Satellite TV (65 channels...), Mini-bar, IDD telphone with bathroom extension In-room safe box, Electricity current: 220 volts Water purification, Air Conditioning, Hair dryer, Wireless Internet access.
  Facility amenities: Souvenir Shop, Concierge, Currency Exchange, Laundry and dry cleaning service, shoe-shining service, internet access, roof-top restaurant, swimming pool.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights after: Contact Road Scholar Travel Extra nights can be arranged with Road Scholar Travel Services.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Day 3 in the late afternoon at the program hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia. You will be staying at Tara Angkor Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Day 13 in the morning at the program hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. You will be staying at Grand Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Driving in these countries is not recommended. It can be difficult to drive with the traffic and the driving style.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Participants can reach the site from the airport via taxi.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Siem Reap
  Nearest airport:  Siem Reap International Airport.
  Transportation to site: If independent flights do not coincide with the designated group transfer, it will be the responsibility of the participant/s to make arrangements to get to the program site. Outside the terminal is a ticket booth for registered taxis into town. Independent taxis and motorcycles wait just outside the airport. Usually, the price ranges from $2 for motorcycles and $10 (subject to change) for taxis. Most hotels also offer free transportation from the airport but you must notify them in advance of your arrival. The transfer from the airport to the hotel will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Private arrival and departure transfers -at an additional cost- may be arranged in advance by calling Road Scholar Travel Services
  From End of Program
  Location:  Ho Chi Minh City
  Transportation from site: Transfer at the end of the program can be arranged two ways. Participants can always contact the concierge desk at the Grand Hotel to get more information about taxi or private car services to the airport. Participants can also ask the group leader to arrange for a local taxi. The transfer from the hotel to the airport will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes (7 km) depending on the traffic. Private arrival and departure transfers -at an additional cost- may be arranged in advance by calling Road Scholar Travel Services
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Depart the U.S.
(Tuesday, July 23)
   
 Depart From: Depart US for flight to Cambodia.

Day 2: En Route
(Wednesday, July 24)
   
 In Transit: Overnight flight to Cambodia.

Day 3: Arrival Siem Reap / Orientation
(Thursday, July 25)
   
 Arrive To: Arrive to Siem Reap International Airport. Transfer to the hotel for check-in.
 Afternoon: Convene at the hotel with other participants for the Program Orientation.
 Dinner: 'Welcome Dinner" featuring a taste of local food.
   
Accommodations: Tara Angkor Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 4: Transfer to Kampong Chhnang
(Friday, July 26)

Note: Due to low water on the Tonle Sap this time of year you will transfer to Kampong Chhnang via car. Along the way you will stop to visit a floating village.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Free morning to explore on your own.
 Lunch: Lunch on own.
 Afternoon: Transfer to Kampong Chhnang for your transfer to the boat. Along the way, stop at a floating village to learn about this unique community on the Tonle Sap. Board the ship in the late afternoon. The Captain and crew will give you a safety briefing shortly after boarding.
 Dinner: Welcome drink and dinner.
   
Accommodations: Toum Tiou, Mekong River Boat
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Kampong Chhnang
(Saturday, July 27)

Note: Must be comfortable climbing up and down the barage ladder. Will require that participants get in and out of small wooden boats. Must be able to be active between sitting and standing for at least 4 hours a day.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the boat.
 Morning: A great day awaits you in Kampong Chhnang village, or Pottery Village, where villagers still produce pottery using traditional methods. Located some 56 miles from Phnom Penh, the town of Kampong Chhnang is one of the largest fishing ports on the Tonlé Sap. Fish farming is also widely practiced in the area. The area is famous for its pottery ware, unchanged in style for centuries, which is produced in sufficient quantities to supply the entire country. Other village products are not to be overlooked, such as the Thnot tree (sugar palm – a real national symbol) that abounds in the area, a mellow tasting, caramel-colored sugar sold in large cakes, and palm wine.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the boat.
 Afternoon: Ship cruises down towards Phnom Penh and drop anchors for the evening.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the boat.
   
Accommodations: Toum Tiou, Mekong River Boat
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Kampong Tralach / Phnom Penh
(Sunday, July 28)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the boat.
 Morning: Arrive at Kampong Tralach to visit its wonderful Vihara belonging to Wat Kampong Tralach Leu pagoda. To get to it, we will approach Kampong Tralach Krom village along a small road perpendicular to the river, crossing some stretches of emerald rice paddy. The Vihara dates back to early last century. It was probably built on an older site, as indicated by the latérite foundations. The Vihara is home to some outstanding mural paintings; however they are starting to suffer from weathering. They remain some of the last survivors of cultural destruction that continues unabated due to widespread indifference. Standing by itself in the middle of rice fields, it is a modest pagoda that receives very few visitors. Its isolation may well be its undoing, as was the case for Wat Tani Pagoda in the province of Kampot.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the boat.
 Afternoon: Step back into time, as you arrive to Phnom Penh — renowned for its French influenced architecture. Begin the afternoon by attending an expert lecture on Khmer Culture and Cambodian History, and then take explore Phnom Penh on your own. Visit one of the local markets, walk the city streets, or just relax.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the boat.
   
Accommodations: Toum Tiou, Mekong River Boat
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Phnom Penh / S-21 / Killing Fields / National Museum / Royal Palace
(Monday, July 29)

Note: Will need to be able to walk and stand on and off for at least 3-4 hours minimum. Heat and humidity needs to be taken into account.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the boat.
 Morning: Explore Choeung Ek Killing Fields, where thousands of Cambodians were executed for unwarrented crimes. Then return to town to visit the the S-21 (Tuol Sleng) Interrogation Center, where Cambodians were tortured and forced to confess to crimes they did not commit. Through these visits, you will hopefully gain a better understanding of the recent tragic period in Cambodian history, the scars it left, and how it affects both social and economic development in the country today.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: This afternnon, discover the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, and finish the afternoon at the National Museum. The National Museum in Phnom Penh is the most significant public repository of Khmer artifacts in the country, displaying many important Angkorian artifacts and rare pieces from later periods.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the boat.
 Evening: Enjoy an "Apsara Dance" performance danced by a group of local artists working to preserve the traditional Cambodian classical arts. As evidenced in part by the innumerable apsaras (celestial dancers) that adorn the walls of Angkorian and pre-Angkorian temples, this dance has been a part of Khmer culture for more than a millennium.
   
Accommodations: Toum Tiou, Mekong River Boat
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Kaam Samnaar / Border Crossing / Chau Doc
(Tuesday, July 30)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the boat.
 Morning: Navigation towards Kaam Samnaar — the Cambodian Border.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the boat.
 Afternoon: Depart for the Vietnamese Cambodian border. Arrival at Kaam Samnaar checkpoint in Cambodia. Enjoy a lecture by your Study Leader on the Economic Development along the Mekong Delta. The ship leaves the border and proceeds toward Chau Doc.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the boat.
 Evening: Overnight near Chau Doc.
   
Accommodations: Toum Tiou, Mekong River Boat
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Chau Doc / Sa Dec
(Wednesday, July 31)

Note: Must be able to comfortably walk anywhere from 1 to 1 1/2 miles in the morning.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the boat.
 Morning: In the morning, take an exploration of this little city. Take a field trip to Sam Mountain, the highest elevation on the Mekong provides a spectacular view of the region's Rice Paddies and canal system and the Cambodian border. Stop at a few spots to look at some of the temples such as Tay An Pagoda, the Temple of Lady Xu and the Tomb of Thoai Ngoc Hau.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the boat.
 Afternoon: This afternoon, arrive in Sa Dec. Continue to Kien An Cung Pagoda. Stroll around Sa Dec Market along the Sa Dec River bank. Sa Dec is a small city of 30,000 inhabitants and is fascinating in its unspoiled authenticity, undisturbed by visitors. It provides a glimpse of the delta where a few colonial houses still remain, including the "Chinaman's house" (from Duras' novel "The Lover", also made into a movie). Return to the boat with stopover at a nursery of flower and bonsai trees. Famous for its horticulture (it has many varieties of fabulously exotic flowers) Sa Dec was known as the "Garden of Cochin Chine" during colonial times.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the boat.
   
Accommodations: Toum Tiou, Mekong River Boat
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Vinh Long / Cai Be / My Tho
(Thursday, August 1)

Note: This will be an active day. Though there won't be a lot of walking, participants must be able to easily climb ladders on the side of the barge. Participants must also be comfortable getting in and out small wooden boats at least 3 to 4 times a day.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the boat.
 Morning: This morning arrive in Vinh Long and explore the brick and pottery factory, the Binh Hoa Phuoc Islet Nursery of fruit trees, as well as a typical house and a show room of traditional farming tools. Vinh Long, which translates as "Majestic Dragon," is right in the middle of the delta, between two arms of the Mekong. The soil of Vinh Long is enriched by silt deposits, making it ideal for growing mandarins and other citrus fruits. Life is organized around the water. Houses on stilts, hawkers on boats, hundreds of small crafts crisscross in all directions. Then continue to Cai Be floating market.
 Lunch: Lunch on board the boat.
 Afternoon: This afternoon arrive in My Tho and depart for Vinh Trang Pagoda with a view of My Tho town. On the banks of a northern arm of the Mekong, My Tho, which translates as "fragrant herb," is where vistors come to discover the beauty of the delta. It's a quiet, prosperous city of about 100,000 inhabitants, famous for its many fruit orchards, gardens and the huge rice fields that surround it. The surrounding countryside is home to one of the most luxuriant gardens of Vietnam, with its coconut palms, banana and mango trees.
 Dinner: Captain's farewell dinner on board the boat.
   
Accommodations: Toum Tiou, Mekong River Boat
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Cruise towards Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) / City Orientation / Family-hosted dinner
(Friday, August 2)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board the boat.
 Morning: Arrive at Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon) in the morning. The vibrant city of Saigon is a thriving metropolis reflecting Vietnam's contentious past as well as its fast-forwarding future. Clear port authorities and transfer to hotel.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel.
 Afternoon: Led by an expert historian, begin the afternoon learning about the history of Vietnam. Then visit some of the main sites in Saigon including the Rex Hotel, the People’s Committee Building which was built as the Hotel D’Ville by the French in 1908, Notre Dame Cathedral and the General Post Office.
 Dinner: Enjoy a family-hosted dinner.
   
Accommodations: Grand Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: War Remnants Museum
(Saturday, August 3)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Take an excursion to Reunification Hall (the former Presidential Palace) built as a modern administrative center. Then continue to the War Remnants Museum, which holds a large collection of weapons, machinery, artifacts and photographs illustrating the War.
 Lunch: For lunch enjoy the taste of Vietnam as you sample Pho —a local favorite!
 Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore Saigon on your own.
 Dinner: Convene for a farewell dinner and program wrap-up.
   
Accommodations: Grand Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Departure
(Sunday, August 4)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to the airport for return flight home.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Dragon Apparent, Travels in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam


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A Traveller's History of Southeast Asia


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Arts of Southeast Asia


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Birds of Southeast Asia


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Cambodia's Curse, The Modern History of a Troubled Land


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Description: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Joel Brinkley returns to Cambodia a generation after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime to report on the country's continuing struggle to recover from its past.



Communion, A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam


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Description: Fay recounts in savory detail a five-week journey with two friends from Hanoi to Saigon in search of the traditions, rituals and pleasures of food from local markets and street foods to haute cuisine.



Eyewitness Guide Vietnam and Angkor Wat


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Description: Featuring innovative site diagrams, local maps and hundreds of color photographs, this handy companion introduces the culture, history and attractions of Vietnam.



Fire in the Lake


Author: Frances FitzGerald


Description: A classic historical, political and cultural portrait of the Vietnam War, seen through the eyes of the Vietnamese. Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, FitzGerald, a staff writer at the New Yorker and a reporter in Vietnam, presents a vivid image of a revolution and a clear-sighted case for why the U.S offensive was doomed from the start.



Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & the Greater Mekong


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Description: This compact practical guide covers the entire Mekong from the heights of Yunnan to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.



Temples of Cambodia, The Heart of Angkor


Author: Helen Ibbitson Jessup, Barry Brukoff (Photographer)


Description: Jessup (Art and Architecture of Cambodia) provides the accompanying essays to this oversized portfolio of dazzling color images by Barry Brukoff, who has been photographing the monuments of Cambodia since 1963.



The Eaves of Heaven, A Life in Three Wars


Author: Andrew X. Pham


Description: Pham recounts the story of his father's life during the French occupation, Japanese invasion and the American War, weaving such momentous events with anecdotes from his childhood and details of family, friends, food and daily life.



The Gods Drink Whiskey


Author: Stephen T. Asma


Description: Asma writes with verve and wit in this eye-opening account of his yearlong stint teaching at the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh. His account is both an overview of Theravada Buddhism and a down-to-earth portrait of contemporary Cambodia.



The Mekong, Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future


Author: Milton Osborne


Description: A cultural history of the great river from prehistory to European exploration, colonial tensions and modern challenges. It's an engaging introduction to the history of Southeast Asia.



The Quiet American


Author: Graham Greene


Description: A classic, this is the most famous Western work of fiction on Vietnam. Greene writes of a love triangle between a war correspondent, his Vietnamese consort and an optimistic young American during the last days of French rule.



The River's Tale, A Year on the Mekong


Author: Edward Gargan


Description: A personal, probing chronicle of a 3,000 mile journey on the river from its source in China through Tibet, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.



The Road of Lost Innocence


Author: Somaly Mam


Description: Sold into servitude by her grandfather, Mam recounts the experiences of her early life, her awakening as an activist -- and work to rescue thousands of women and children in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.



Vietnam Journeys


Author: Charles Fields


Description: Photographer and traveler Charles Fields portrays the cultures and landscapes of Vietnam from the World Heritage Site of Hue and the Phung Hiep floating market to its forests and coastline in stunning color photographs.



Vietnam, A Traveler's Literary Companion


Author: John Balaban, Nguyen Qui Duc


Description: From rain forest and rural countryside to the cities, these 17 stories from Vietnam's finest writers explore its landscapes, myths and changing traditions.



Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia Map


Author: Nelles


Description: A convenient, double-sided map of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam at a scale of 1:1,500,000, with city maps of Hanoi, Vientiane, Ho Chi Minh City, Luang Prabang, and Phnom Penh. Includes the eastern portion of Thailand and Bangkok.



Vietnam, Rising Dragon


Author: Bill Hayton


Description: The veteran BBC newsman covers the tangled politics, rapidly changing economy, culture, history and people of Vietnam with great insight in this timely portrait of a nation in transition.





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