18681
Vietnam/Cambodia
The People of the Mekong: Vietnam, Cambodia and Angkor Wat
Dive deep into the ancient cultures of the Mekong, learning about daily village life, grand temples, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and traditional artistry from the people who live here.
Rating (4.81)
Program No. 18681RJ
Length
17 days
Starts at
3,484
Flights start at
850
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17 days
16 nights
35 meals
14 B 11 L 10 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
En Route
In Flight
DAY
3
Arrival Hanoi / Transfer hotel / Program Orientation
Hanoi
D
Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel

Activity note: Please note that if the group flight arrives after 5:30 PM, we will conduct the orientation the next morning so you can rest from your long journey.

Afternoon: Convene with your Group Leader to review program orientation. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. In addition to the program theme and logistics, we will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that indicated times are approximate and that program activities and schedules could change due to local circumstances such as weather, traffic conditions, etc. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. During free time, the Group Leader will often be available for informal excursions, activities, or meals not included in the program. You are welcome to join if you wish, with any associated costs on your own, or may explore independently.

Dinner: Welcome dinner at the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Ba Dinh Square / Museum of Ethnology / Free Afternoon
Hanoi
B,L
Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Begin the morning with a presentation on the History of Vietnam. Then visit Ba Dinh Square where Ho Chi Minh himself read out the Declaration of Independence in 1945. Inside Ba Dinh Square revel at the simplicity of Ho Chi Minh's house. Visit the One Pillar Pagoda, constructed to celebrate the heiress Emperor Ly Thai Tong, who dreamt about receiving a son from the Buddhist goddess of mercy and compassion seated on a lotus flower.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Take a guided visit of the Museum of Ethnology and learn about the life and culture of the 54 ethnic groups that live in Vietnam. The remainder of the afternoon is free for you to explore on your own.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Cooking Class / Old Quarters / Water Puppet show
Hanoi
B,L,D
Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning, partake in a hands-on cooking class at Madam Tuyet's. Madame Tuyet became famous both locally and internationally when her Anh Tuyet Restaurant was visited in 2002 by American chef Anthony Bourdain. During class you will visit the local market and learn about Vietnamese ingredients and then proceed to learn how to prepare and cook true northern Vietnamese cuisine.

Lunch: Savor your Vietnamese creation.

Afternoon: Explore Hanoi's vibrant Old Quarter. First begin with a cyclo ride near Hoam Kiem lake and around the Old Quarters. Remnant of a bygone era, The Old Quarter has the original street layout and architecture of old Hanoi. At the beginning of the 20th century the city consisted of only about 36 streets, most of which are now part of the old quarter. Each street then had merchants and households specialized in a particular trade, such as silk traders, jewellery, etc. The street names nowadays still reflect these specializations, although few of them remain exclusively in their original commerce. Then continue on a walking discovery of the old quarters.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: Engage in a traditional northern Vietnamese Mua Roi Nuoc performance, or Water Puppet Show, that tells the story of day-to-day living in rural Vietnam and Vietnamese folk tales of harvest, fishing, and festivals.

DAY
6
Transfer to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Halong Bay
B,L,D
Bai Tho Junks

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Drive to Halong Bay and board your traditional Vietnamese Junk for one night. "Ha Long" which means "Bay of Descending Dragons," is a stunning a site, famous for its scenic ocean karst topography and peaceful horizon. Along the way, learn about Northern Vietnamese life.

Lunch: On board the boat.

Afternoon: Explore the well-hidden Thien Canh Son cave, then relax on the white sandy beaches at Hon Co Island.

Dinner: On board the boat.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Transfer to Airport / Fly to Saigon
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
B,L,D
Grand Hotel Saigon

Activity note: Transfer time from Halong Bay to the Hanoi Airport is about 3 1/2 hours.

Breakfast: Enjoy sunrise over the bay. Breakfast on board the boat.

Morning: After early snack is served, you have the option of visiting Vung Vieng fishing village in the early morning on rowing boats. At mid-morning, you will disembark the Vietnamese boat and transfer to the Hanoi airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). This will be about a 3 1/2 hour bus ride. Along the way, while transferring to the airport, get a presentation on Vietnam after the open door policy by your Group Leader.

Lunch: Light snack at the airport.

Afternoon: Fly to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and transfer to your hotel.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Presentation / City Orientation / Walking Discovery of Saigon
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
B,L
Grand Hotel Saigon

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning participate in a presentation on Economic Development in the Mekong Delta. Then engage with university students to learn about higher education in Vietnam.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: After lunch, take an excursion to Reunification Hall (the former Presidential Palace) built as a modern administrative center. Then take a walking discovery of Saigon and learn about Vietnamese history through the eyes of the local artists. Finish the walk with a drink at the historical Rex Hotel.

Dinner: On your own to explore what you like. Your Group Leader can offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Cu Chi Tunnels / Free Afternoon
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
B,L
Grand Hotel Saigon

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning, experience the Cu Chi Tunnels - an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces, and helped achieve ultimate military success.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free afternoon for you to explore Saigon on your own.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Cruise the Mekong Delta / Transfer to Chau Doc
Chau Doc
B,L,D
Victoria Chau Doc Hotel

Activity note: Participants must be comfortable enough to sit and stand and get in and out of small boats.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Depart for the Mekong Delta and begin your journey along the Mekong River. Along the way, stop in Cai Be and board small boats along the arms of the Mekong River, passing by villages and fruit farms.

Lunch: At an ancient house.

Afternoon: After lunch, continue your drive to Chau Doc. Along the way, learn about the changing culture of the Mekong Delta. Chau Doc sits at the junction of a tributary linking the Bassac and Mekong Rivers and the Bassac River itself. An incredibly friendly and bustling little city, it has a colour scheme to match its ambience, with bright pastel hues of green, blue and purple adorning many of the newer shopfronts.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Sam Mountain, Agriculture & Development Along Mekong Delta
Chau Doc
B,D
Victoria Chau Doc Hotel

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning, 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: On your own.

Afternoon: Enjoy time to relax or explore on your own.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
12
Border Crossing / Phnom Penh Discovery
Phnom Penh
B,L,D
Sunway Hotel Phnom Penh

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning transfer by speed boat to Cambodia. At the Vietnam Cambodia border, go through immigration, then proceed to Phnom Penh and check into your hotel.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Known once as the “Paris of the East,” discover the charming capital city of Phnom Penh. First visit 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: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
S-21, Choeung Ek Killing Fields Memorial, Free Time
Phnom Penh
B,L
Sunway Hotel Phnom Penh

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning participate in a presentation on the current economic and political conditions of Cambodia. Then continue on a field trip to S-21, the interrogation center, and Choeung Ek Killing Fields Memorial. Though not for the weak hearted, seeing these three sites will help you understand the horrors and the legacy left by Pol Pot's regime who ruled Cambodia from1975 to 1979.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore Phnom Penh. Visit one of the local markets, walk the city streets, or just relax at your hotel.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Drive to Siem Reap
Siem Reap
B,L,D
Tara Angkor Hotel

Activity note: This will be an all day trip. First the drive will take place from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham which will take about 2 1/2 hours. Then there will be lunch and then we will continue to Siem Reap.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Rest and get ready to check out. Drive to Kampong Thom.

Lunch: At a silk farm where you learn about silk production from the warms to the dying to the weaving process.

Afternoon: Attend a presentation on the process of creating Cambodian silk. Then continue driving to Siem Reap.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei,Traditional Cambodian Dance
Siem Reap
B,L,D
Tara Angkor Hotel

Activity note: This will be a long day. Participants must be able to get in and out of the bus and sit and stand in the morning in hot and humid weather.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Begin your introduction to the temples of Angkor with a visit to Ta Prohm. Built at the height of the Khmer Empire by Jayavarman VII as a Buddhist monastery and center of learning, Ta Prohm has a traditional Khmer structure consisting of a series of gradually smaller enclosures, the largest of which is about 1000 by 650 meters. The sanctuary is centered around the huge, elevated stone face of Prajnaparamita, the personification of wisdom, whose features were modeled after those of the king's mother. Ta Prohm's popularity has soared in recent years along with the rest of the Angkor complex, but especially because of its appearance in the movie "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider." Then visit Banteay Srei, the Citadel of Women, a pink sandstone temple, built in the latter half of the 10th century by Rajendravarman II and Jayavaraman V.

Lunch: Home hosted lunch.

Afternoon: Free time for you to relax from the morning activity. For those interested, join your Group Leader for an optional excursion to the Angkor National Museum and gain an overview of the Angkor Temples. Later in the afternoon, watch "The Flute Player," a film about a Cambodian American who escaped Cambodia and returns to his home country to revive the Khmer traditional performing arts.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: Enjoy an 'Apsara Dance' preformance danced by a group of local artist that are 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.

DAY
16
Angkor Wat / Angkor Thom / Free Time
Siem Reap
B,D
Tara Angkor Hotel

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Immerse in the breathtaking beauty of Angkor Wat as it silhouettes in the sky during sunrise. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. As the best-preserved temple at the site, Angkor Wat, is the only temple to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation is Hindu - dedicated to the god Vishnu - then Buddhist. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. Also explore Angkor Thom, the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. Established in the late twelfth century by king Jayavarman VII, at the centre of the city is the mesmerising temple of Bayon.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore Siem Reap on your own.

Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: Say farewell to new Road Scholar friends and prepare for departure in the morning.

DAY
17
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Safe travels! If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for the next program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Depart for Siem Reap airport for your return flight home.






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