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22630
Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia

The Mekong and Icons of Southeast Asia: Ha Long Bay, Angkor Wat & Luang Prabang

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and unique culture of Southeast Asia on the beautiful Mekong River, in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay and in the historic temples of Laos and Cambodia.
Rating (5)
Program No. 22630RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
4,999
Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia

The Mekong and Icons of Southeast Asia: Ha Long Bay, Angkor Wat & Luang Prabang

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and unique culture of Southeast Asia on the beautiful Mekong River, in Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay and in the historic temples of Laos and Cambodia.
Length
15 days
Starts at
4,999
Program No. 22630 RJ
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At a Glance

Discover a land of mystical beauty in Southeast Asia, where brilliant waterways cut through exotic jungles, centuries-old monasteries still serve as religious monuments and the “Descending Dragon Bay” lives up to its name. On this journey by riverboat and on foot, float down the mesmerizing Mekong River in Laos to explore traditional villages and learn about their cultural heritage. Elsewhere, experience three unbelievable UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In Vietnam, explore the emerald waters and limestone pillars of Ha Long Bay. In Laos, learn about the graceful monasteries of Luang Prabang. And in Cambodia, bask in the brilliance of Angkor Wat and its extraordinary temples.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Experience the ethereal beauty of Halong Bay on a one-night voyage aboard a private traditional Vietnamese junk.
  • Explore the magnificent temples at the Angkor Wat complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with an expert temple instructor.
  • Go ashore in traditional villages along the beautiful Mekong River to discover their cultural heritage and learn their way of life.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Mekong, Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future
by Milton Osborne
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.
A Traveller's History of Southeast Asia
by J.M. Barwise, Nicholas J. White
A compact history of the region, including the Khmer and the various ancient kingdoms that produced Borobudur, Angkor and other architectural marvels.
The Road of Lost Innocence
by Somaly Mam
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.
The Gods Drink Whiskey
by Stephen T. Asma
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.
Vietnam Journeys
by Charles Fields
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.
Cambodia's Curse, The Modern History of a Troubled Land
by Joel Brinkley
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.
The Quiet American
by Graham Greene
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.
Birds of Southeast Asia
by Craig Robson
This authoritative, masterfully illustrated guide, featuring 140 color plates covering 1,270 species throughout the region, also includes Malaysia, Burma, Borneo and Indonesia.
Communion, A Culinary Journey Through Vietnam
by Kim Fay
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.
The Eaves of Heaven, A Life in Three Wars
by Andrew X. Pham
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.
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia Map
by Nelles
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.
Temples of Cambodia, The Heart of Angkor
by Helen Ibbitson Jessup, Barry Brukoff (Photographer)
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.
Fire in the Lake
by Frances FitzGerald
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.
The River's Tale, A Year on the Mekong
by Edward Gargan
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.
Vietnam, A Traveler's Literary Companion
by John Balaban, Nguyen Qui Duc
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, Rising Dragon
by Bill Hayton
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.
Arts of Southeast Asia
by Fiona Kerlogue
A handsome guide to the art, architecture, textiles and crafts of Southeast Asia.
Eyewitness Guide Vietnam and Angkor Wat
by Eyewitness Guides
Featuring innovative site diagrams, local maps and hundreds of color photographs, this handy companion introduces the culture, history and attractions of Vietnam.
A Dragon Apparent, Travels in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam
by Norman Lewis
A classic account of travels and adventure during the last years of French Indochina, strong on atmosphere and including wonderfully detailed descriptions of local cultures and archaeological treasures. First published in 1951.
Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & the Greater Mekong
by Nick Ray
This compact practical guide covers the entire Mekong from the heights of Yunnan to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
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15 days
14 nights
30 meals
12 B 1BR 8 L 9 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
En Route
In Flight
DAY
3
Arrival Hanoi, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Hanoi
D
Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in available at 2:00 p.m. Arrivals throughout the day and early evening. Please note if the group flight arrives after 5:30 pm today, the group Orientation will be postponed until the following morning.

Afternoon: Arrivals throughout the afternoon and early evening. Hotel check-in and settle in after the your journey to Vietnam. **Please note if the group flight arrives after 5:30 pm today, the group orientation will be postponed until the following morning. 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. All meals in Asia are served family style, with 4-5 different dishes and always includes rice. All meals includes water and coffee or tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Hanoi Exploration, Museum of Ethnology
Hanoi
B,L
Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off motorcoach; minimal driving. Walking up to 2 miles total throughout the day; paved mostly level surfaces.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We begin the morning with a presentation on the History of Vietnam, led by a local expert. Next, we board a private motor coach and 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 with bottled water, coffee/tea; additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We board the motor coach and transfer to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first national university. Then for those interested, we continue on 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 us to explore on our own.

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

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Transfer to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Halong Bay
B,L,D
Bai Tho Junks

Activity note: The transfer from Hanoi to Ha Long Bay via motor coach is approximately 3 hours, with a rest stop en route.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: We board private motorcoach and drive to Halong Bay. Along the way, learn about Northern Vietnamese life, led by our Group Leader. Late morning, board 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.

Lunch: Aboard ship, enjoy characteristic Vietnamese cuisine with appetizer, choice of entrée, and dessert.

Afternoon: Begin the afternoon with a presentation on the ecology and environmental issues on Halong Bay. Then, using a small rowboat, visit a small fishing village and learn about life in the bay. Afterwards, explore Thien Canh Son Cave, where you walk through a forest and on stop cliffs before you get to the cave.

Dinner: Amid the light atmosphere and cool breeze aboard ship, enjoy more Vietnamese flavor with bottled water, coffee/tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Halong Bay, Coach to Hanoi, Old Quarters, Water Puppet show
Hanoi
B,BR,D
Mercure Hanoi La Gare Hotel

Activity note: The transfer from Halong Bay to Hanoi via motor coach is approximately 3 hours, with a rest stop en route.

Breakfast: Early morning coffee, tea and pastries.

Morning: Enjoy the sunrise and leisurely morning cruising down the Halong Bay. On an early-morning excursion, will get off the Junk onto the rowboats and explore the well-hidden Thien Canh Son Cave; learn about the topography of Halong Bay, and how this cave is a distinct characteristic feature. After, return back to the Junk to prepare for check-out and brunch.

Brunch: Brunch on board the ship before returning to the port of Halong Bay, disembarking and transferring back to Hanoi by private motorcoach.

Lunch: On our own to sample local fare.

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. While here, visit a restored 'tube house' to see how residents in this area once used to live.

Dinner: At a local restaurant with bottled water, coffee/tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Engage in a traditional northern Vietnamese “Mua Roi Nuoc” performance -- a water puppet show. Water puppetry is performed in a pool, depicting scenes from rural life and episodes of national history. This uniquely northern Vietnamese art form is a centuries old variation on ancient Asian puppet traditions. Puppets would be put out to watch over crops, and when fields flooded, villagers would entertain themselves with the puppets.

DAY
7
Fly to Laos, Board Riverboat, Explore Night Market
Luang Prabang
B,D
Lernidee's Mekong Sun

Activity note: Flight from Hanoi to Laos approx. 1 hour. Board river-ship, Mekong Sun. NOTE: Every river cruise on the upper Mekong is a pioneering experience and is subject to constantly changing river conditions, including floodwaters and shallows. River-cruise itinerary of this tour may be altered due to the logistical complexities, depending on weather and river conditions. For safety reasons and according to navigating conditions, the river-cruise itinerary may be amended while on program.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel.

Morning: Luggage out of room and hotel check out before our transfer to the airport for our flight to Luang Prabang, Laos.

Lunch: Light lunch provided on airplane.

Afternoon: Arrive in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Upon arrival, coach transfer to town to board the Mekong Sun for 5 nights. Time to settle in.

Dinner: Dinner is seated dinner with three course meals of starters, main and desert. There will be a couple of different options to choose from.

Evening: Later in the evening, take a 10 minute walk into town and hike up Phusi Hill for those interested. The hike up is only a short 20 minute hike with some steps along the path. In front of Phusi hill is the Hmong Night market. This is a great place to explore where a lot of ethnic minorities, especially the Hmong community sell handmade items. There are also a lot of other items for sale as well. This market is very much a huge part of the Luang Prabang community in the evening.

DAY
8
Luang Prabang, Alms Giving, Morning Market, Wat Xieng Thong
Luang Prabang
B,L,D
Lernidee's Mekong Sun

Breakfast: Before breakfast, walk to town to witness a very traditional part of Lao culture, Tak Baht. Observe devout Buddhists giving alms to monks as they make their daily procession. Hundreds of Monks from different temples will walk through the city, in their daily rituals of collecting alms for their daily meals. Then explore the morning market before returning to the ship for a buffet breakfast.

Morning: After breakfast, take a walking discovery of Luang Prabang town. This town is unique as it dotted with temples and on the confluence of the Mekong River and the Nam Khan river. The morning discovery, takes you through the small town, exploring the architecture and the way of life. End the walk at Wat Xieng Thong, one of the most important Lao monasteries and a significant monument to the spirit of religion, royalty and traditional art. The temple complex has over twenty structures including a sim, shrines, pavilions and residences. It was built from 1559-1560 by the Lao King Setthathirath and was a royal temple where the Lao kings were crowned until 1975, when the monarchy was dissolved in Laos. The temple is a good representation of typical Lao art and craft.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Today’s lunch will be a selection of traditional Laos food served family style.

Afternoon: After lunch return to the ship and participate in a safety drill. Then the ship starts cruising up the Mekong River. Later in the afternoon, join the cruise director for a talk on the plight of Asian Elephant.

Dinner: Enjoy a Captain's Welcome Dinner on the sundeck. It is seated dinner with three course meals of starters, main and desert. There will be a couple of different options to choose from.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Village Visit, Elephant Experience, Pak Ou Caves
Mekong River
B,L
Lernidee's Mekong Sun

Activity note: Getting off and on smaller boats. There are around 220 steps to the first and second set of caves to see all the Buddha images.

Breakfast: Breakfast is buffet with fruit, coffee, juices, western style brioche, bread, cornflakes and egg station.

Morning: Embark on a small local boat up the Mekong River to Pak Ou Village. First watch and feed the Asian Elephants in the village. Then return to our boat and cross the river to Pak Ou Caves.These caves house thousands of votive Buddha statues left by pilgrims. Then continue on a short walk through the forest and visit a traditional Laotion village. In the village, you see how the villagers make Lao-Lao a traditional local rice liquor.

Lunch: Return to the ship for a buffet style lunch serving local and western cuisine and at least one vegetarian option.

Afternoon: The ship will start cruising down the scenic Mekong River. Later in the afternoon participate in a talk on Laos, the Country and its people.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner on board the ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
10
Wild Nature Along the Mighty Mekong
Mekong River
B,L,D
Lernidee's Mekong Sun

Breakfast: Breakfast is buffet with fruit, coffee, juices, western style brioche, bread, cornflakes and egg station.

Morning: The ship cruises further down the Mekong River, where you will see impressive landscapes, hill covered with tropical vegetation and awe inspiring rock formations. This morning, we visit another local village and its school that is supported by the Mekong River Cruise fleet. Here you will get to meet the local school children and see a little of village school in Laos. (school visit subject to holidays and exam schedules)

Lunch: Buffet style lunch serving local and western cuisine and at least one vegetarian option.

Afternoon: The ship cruises up the Mekong and stops at a sandbank for the evening.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner on board the ship.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Kuang Si Waterfall, Luang Prabang, Baci Ceremony
Luang Prabang
B,L,D
Lernidee's Mekong Sun

Breakfast: Breakfast is buffet with fruit, coffee, juices, western style brioche, bread, cornflakes and egg station.

Morning: This morning, the ship cruises further upstream towards Luang Prabang. First stop is in a village where you board a minivan to visit Kuang-si waterfall, a great place to see the locals enjoy spending time with their families. Then return to the ship.

Lunch: Buffet style lunch serving local and western cuisine and at least one vegetarian option.

Afternoon: The ship continues to Luang Prabang where you have some time at leisure to explore this amazing town.

Dinner: 'Farewell Dinner' on board the ship.

Evening: Participate in a traditional Laos Baci Ceremony that serves as a farewell (or welcome) ceremony giving you good wishes for your journey ahead.

DAY
12
Disembark Ship, Fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap
B,D
Tara Angkor Hotel

Activity note: Flight from Luang Prabang, Laos to Siem Reap, Cambodia approx. 1 ½ hours.

Breakfast: Breakfast is buffet with fruit, coffee, juices, western style brioche, bread, cornflakes and egg station.

Morning: Disembark the ship in the morning and transfer to the airport for our flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia

Lunch: Lunch served on the plane.

Afternoon: Upon arrival in Siem Reap, transfer to our program hotel for check in. Join our local guide for a quick orientation of Siem Reap and Cambodia. Late afternoon, or early evening enjoy an Apsara Dance performance by a group of local artists that are working to preserve 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.

Dinner: Hotel buffet with bottled water, coffee/tea included; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Free Time
Siem Reap
B,L
Tara Angkor Hotel

Activity note: Waking up to 2-3 miles on uneven surfaces with many steps, some without railings.

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. Return to the hotel for breakfast. Later, 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 center of the city is the mesmerizing temple of Bayon.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore Siem Reap on our own. Refer to "Free Time Suggestions" sent in first mailing, or the Group Leader can offer suggestions.

Dinner: On our own to sample local fare. The Group Leader is happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Ta Prohm, Banteay Srei, Landmine Museum
Siem Reap
B,L,D
Tara Angkor Hotel

Activity note: Early morning departure by motorcouch to visit Ta Prohm temple (about 7 miles/ 20 min drive), then walk total 1½ miles on flat dirt path through forest to reach Ta Prohm. Motorcoach transfer from Ta Prohm to Banteay Srei temple (about 16 miles/ 45 minute drive). Visiting Banteay Srei can be very hot as there is very little shade, walking around ½ mile.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Begin in the early morning around 7:00 a.m. to visit Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap Province (before the crowds get there). 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 (3,300 x 2,100 feet). 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 continue to 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: At a traditional Khmer style house in open air setting with fan. Because it is in the countryside, it is a traditional house style, the setting is comfortable.

Afternoon: Explore the Landmine Museum and learn about the landmine issues in Cambodia. Then coach returns to your hotel in Siem Reap.

Dinner: 'Farewell Dinner' featuring local cuisine with bottled water, coffee/tea available; additional beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Say farewell to new Road Scholar friends and pack and prepare for departures tomorrow. The Group Leader will discuss transfers to the airport for tomorrow.

DAY
15
Program Concludes, Departures Home
In Flight
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 noon.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. Program concludes.

Morning: 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!






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