Saïgon, Angkor et le Mékong
From the 7 million motorcycles in Ho Chi Minh City to the few hundred tuk-tuks in Siem Reap. From the Central Post Office and Our Lady of Saigon, to the temples of Angkor. By road and river, crossing the Mekong Delta and Phnom Penh. Many different worlds, cultures, histories, and peoples follow and rub shoulders, a fascinating kaleidoscope of colours, images, flavours and sensations. Each day, each step, puts you in contact with a different universe, always being at the same time both surprising and stunning from which you will discover countless facets.
Day 1: SAIGON
Saigon, Angkor and the Mekong River will start by a Half-day visit to the colonial city found within District 1 and still known as Saigon. Depending on the time available, you can do a more complete and essential tour that includes the main buildings such as the Reunification Palace, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Central Post Office, designed and carried out by Gustave Eiffel, in a very particular architecture which resembles a railway station. Just to the north of the city center, the Temple of the Jade Emperor though less vast and spectacular, remains the most interesting and authentic. Returning to the heart of the colonial city a stop at Ben Thanh market and to a small Hindu Temple called Sri Mariamman, offered by the Tamil community, but attended also by Vietnamese. Finally Dhong Khoi, also known as Catinat Street, the heart of nightlife in colonial Saigon, that is back in vogue today, thanks to its shops, hotels and luxury shops.
2nd Day: SAIGON-CAI BE-CRUISE
Departure towards 7h00 for the Mekong River Delta. We cross the Chinese District of Cholon, with a stop at Thien Hau Temple, Chinese goddess of the sea. Continuing by road up to Cai Be that we reach in about 2h30mins. Boarding at noon near to the floating market of Cai Be. Welcome drink, introduction to the ship and crew, booking in to your cabin. Departure toward Cho Lach, downstream on the Tien Giang river. Lunch on board during the journey, resting on the upper deck or hanging around the bar. Turning off into Cho Lach canal for 30 minutes through the traffic of sand and rice barges, into a scenery of fruit dryers and wooden boat shipyards. Visit to a village on the bank of the river Mang Thit, an opportunity to see the style of life and the hospitality of the inhabitants of the region. Visit to orchard or rice fields nearby. Reboarding, welcome glass on arrival on board. Open bar; resting on deck to see the sunset. The crew will serve dinner while the vessel is on its way to the anchor point for the night, downstream of the small floating market of Tra On.
Lunch and dinner on board.
3rd Day: CAN THO-CHAU DOC
The day begins at 6h30 whilst the boat is still at the floating market of Tra On. Then departure for Can Tho. Arrival in Cai Rang floating market, return of cabins and transferal onto a lighter craft for the market visit of brooks and orchards. Returning toward Ninh Kieu wharf, arrival in Can Tho by end of the morning. Departure by car to Chau Doc (120 km, about 2h30). Depending on time available, a boat ride and visit to a village of cham weavers, or to view the sunset from Mont Sam.
4th Day: CHAU DOC – PHNOM PENH
Departure at 7h00 by quick shuttle boat to Phnom Penh. Arrival at the end of the morning (the time depending mainly on how much time is spent at the border crossing), Hotel booking and city visit, starting with the Royal Palace. Then the National Museum of Fine Arts: an elegant building in red sandstone in Khmer style which houses a superb collection of sculptures, as well as objects of daily use, mostly from Angkor. Last stop at Wat Phnom, Buddhist temple linked to the origins of Phnom Penh.
5th Day: PHNOM PENH – SIEM REAP
Transfer to Siem Reap. Arrival, booking into the hotel and depending on the time start of visits. Visit to Prasat Kravan. Built in 931. Sunset viewing at Pre Rup. It marks the end of an era and offers a superb view over the whole of the site and the towers of Angkor Wat.
6th Day: SIEM REAP
Morning dedicated to Angkor Wat. Afternoon visit to Banteay Srei, also called the “Temple Of Women”. On the way back a visit to view Banteay Samré, a very attractive small temple in the same style as Angkor Wat.
7th Day: SIEM REAP
Morning Visit to Angkor Thom, “the great city.” From there, we pass to the Elephant Terraces and Leper King. Then in the afternoon the Four temples of the Grand Circuit, such as it was designed by Henri Mouot during the re-discovery of Angkor in 1859. First of all Preah Khanh, one of the most vast and majestic, the aisles lined with trees for probably a millennia. Then Neak Pean. Then the Ta Som, Buddhist temple covered by towers of faces and today almost engulfed by vegetation which is similar to the next temple: Ta Prohm, certainly the more romantic, with the roots of the huge Kapok trees entangling the galleries and sculptures.
8th Day: SIEM REAP
Excursion to discover the Tonle Sap, the most vast expanse of fresh water in south-east Asia. The site has been placed under the protection of UNESCO for its ethnological interest. Stroll among the houses to see how the locals live and their day-to-day activities, for the most part related to fishing and shrimp farming. After about 1h30mins of boating, arrival to a second totally floating village, inhabited for the most part by Khmer and Vietnamese fishermen: here the houses rise and fall depending on the level of the lake and all life and activities takes place on the water. Landing a little further on and returning to the city for any last shopping or direct transfer to the airport, depending on the time of departure.
End of suggestions.