The mighty Mekong River sustains a rich past and present, best evidenced by its rice paddy-fringed verdure, floating markets and historic cities. You’ll start with Ho Chi Minh’s colonial charm and guerrilla tunnels before cruising aboard an ultra-luxury river ship through the Mekong’s delta maze – often referred to as the ‘Rice Bowl’ of Vietnam for its vibrant, agricultural beauty. Along the way you’ll pause at hilltop temples, traditional riverside villages and islands cloaked entirely in jungle before arriving into the Cambodian capital’s palatial riches. You’ll end in style with a guided tour of Angkor Wat whose jungle-shrouded temples evidence a once all-powerful ancient empire.
Included premium-lounge access will ensure you’re fully rested before your overnight flight to Ho Chi Minh City.
Arriving into Ho Chi Minh City, a private transfer will bring you to its most luxurious hotel – the garden-lined Park Hyatt. It’s a serene counterpoint to Saigon’s big-city bustle with ancient temples and energetic markets punctuated by towering skyscrapers. You’ll explore it all on a private tour, taking in the French-colonial charm of Dong Khoi Street, the Municipal Theatre and the ornate Notre-Dame Cathedral.
You’ll then trace the city’s battle-scarred past with the excellent War Remnants Museum and the grand Reunification Palace after travelling by speedboat to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Climb into this three-level labyrinth, used by the communist guerrillas in the Vietnam War.
A private transfer brings you to My Tho to board your all-suite river ship where private day beds look out through floor-to-ceiling windows and everything from the spa to the observation deck is realised in locally sourced wood.
Cruising this rice paddy-lined stretch of the Mekong, you’ll visit vibrant riverside markets and traditional delta villages to be treated to folk songs and performances, taste your way through fruit plantations and watch traditional mat weavers at work.
Get lost along the Mekong’s canal maze to reach the Chau Doc floating market before continuing to Long Son Pagoda where age-old Buddhist traditions are practised atop Sam Mountain. You’ll then have the option of a chef-guided rickshaw ride through Tan Chau’s market or a bike ride on the paradisiacal Long Khanh Island.
Here, turquoise waters fringe old growth forests that fold in over narrow waterways. You’ll then decide between Khmer massages, regional cooking lessons or simply relaxing by the pool as you drift across the border.
Today presents a unique opportunity to glimpse traditional life in Cambodia’s off-the-beaten-track countryside. Your first introductions will be made with a visit to some of its artisan craftsmen, weaving traditional krama garments. You’ll then explore the drama of riverbank life, by bicycle if you wish, passing Buddhist temples and thatched houses perched on spindly wooden stilts as oxen wade offshore.
A skiff jaunt will then bring you to Preah Prosop, a remote village of silted houses that’s home to one of the region’s oldest Buddhist temples.
Golden palaces and silver pagodas have emerged from Phnom Penh’s tortured past unscathed – as has your luxury hotel, which, for nearly a century, has stood as Phnom Penh’s premier accommodation. You’ll explore it all on the nation’s favourite form of transport – the three-wheeled tuk tuk.
There are the gilded tiers of the Royal Palace and the world’s largest collection of Khmer art in the National Museum while the Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum evidence Pol Pot’s reign of terror. The latter, a high school turned prison, is particularly chilling.
Breakfast & Dinner included
Today you’ll head out into Phnom Penh’s surrounds, lined with shimmering lakes, bright-green rice paddies and ancient temples. There’s the 6th-century Phnom Da Temple, an ancient capital built atop a small mountain, along with Tonle Sap, a glassy lake ringed by palm trees, floating bamboo shacks and Angkorian temples.
To help introduce you to Cambodia’s fragrantly spiced cuisine, we’ve also included a dinner on day eight and lunch on day nine.
Breakfast & Lunch included
Fly north to Siem Reap where you'll be met for a private transfer to your landmark hotel where frangipani trees shade expansive French gardens and original cage elevators recall its rich heritage. You’ll then be treated to a private guided tour of one of the world’s true wonders – Angkor Wat. Start with its eponymous centrepiece to explore a tangle of terraces, corridors and central chambers that lead to jungle views and bas-reliefs that provide an insight into this lost civilisation.
It makes for spectacular sunsets and sunrises, enjoyed over breakfast the next day after a walk in the pre-dawn dark through Angkor Wat’s hoary cloisters. Your tour will then turn to Bayon’s giant carved faces, the tree-root-wrapped temple of Preah Khan and the famous Ta Prohm; hidden deep in the jungle, it was once the home to nearly 3,000 monks.
Breakfast & Lunch included
After a leisurely morning and a final private transfer to the airport, you'll board your flight home.
"I love the contrast of this itinerary. It starts in the energetic Ho Chi Minh City and ends in the ancient temples of Cambodia. In between, you'll witness the mighty Mekong. Whilst it teems with life, much of which plays out in front of you, there is an indescribable charm and tranquillity to cruising at a measured pace through the heart of Vietnam."
Low Season from: £8,705 pp
High Season from: £9,105 pp