A Journey on the Mekong - RV Mekong Prestige II
The mighty Mekong River flows through the heart of South East Asia, rising in the Tibetan Plateau and passing through China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam to make the world’s tenth longest river system. Flowing through gorges, swift rapids, mirror-like lakes and vast fertile floodplains - over 60 million people depend on it for food, water and transport. Only the Amazon basin boasts a higher biodiversity than the Mekong; it’s particularly known for its giant catfish and carp up to 9 feet in length.
Our journey along this amazing natural marvel explores its fascinating water-borne worlds, from floating villages, stilt houses and colourful floating markets to the thousands of local boats plying its mud-coloured waters.
We visit Cambodia and Siem Reap, gateway to the incredible complex of temples at Angkor. At its peak in the thirteenth century, with a staggering one million inhabitants, Angkor was the world’s largest city and capital of the fabulously wealthy Khmer Empire, encompassing Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and southern Vietnam. This is the largest complex of religious buildings ever created, 200 temples spread over 150 square miles in a truly astonishing fusion of Hinduism and Buddhism. Its incredible state of preservation, the beauty of design and the artistry of its sculptures have made Angkor one of the great wonders of the world.
‘Stepping back in time’ is a much-used cliché, but as our Mekong journey unfolds through some stunning countryside, it is absolutely suitable: farmers bent almost double beneath their traditional conical hats work in fields which disappear into the distance, whilst docile water buffalo methodically plough the rice paddies until the sun sets in a blood-red explosion of tropical colour.
We cruise past tiny sampans being rowed to market, overloaded with everything from ducks, chickens and ripe fruit, to an imponderable number of bicycles! Lining the riverbanks are wooden houses, balancing precariously on stilts or gently bobbing on rafts of bamboo, whilst giggling children peep at the strange tall westerners gliding by.
Beautifully located at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, wondrous Phnom Penh, long considered the most beautiful of the ‘French’ colonial cities of Indochina, is one of Asia’s most intriguing capitals. Almost completely depopulated during Pol Pot’s notorious regime, the city is again full of life and thriving once more.
In Vietnam the people and landscape are different, with a faster pace of life and increased river traffic. Vietnam has for the past two millennia been ruled by the Chinese, Khmers, Portuguese and the Japanese, who have all left legacies in the temples and pagodas, together with palaces, fortresses and innumerable other buildings of every style. Then the French arrived, contributing cathedrals, fine mansions and neo-classical public buildings, not forgetting excellent baguettes and pastries – quite an eclectic mix! Many visitors inevitably recall the US-Vietnam war – who could forget those dramatic images of the frantic helicopter flights from the roof of the US embassy in Saigon, now over a generation ago?
Today, in one of the world’s last communist countries, the motorcycles and western dress of the industrious youth happily co-exist with orange-clad Buddhist monks and political posters from another era. Visitors are invariably impressed by the sheer size and constant bustle of Saigon, which still retains an unmistakable French flavour in its pavement cafés, architecture, and aptly named Notre Dame cathedral.
Vietnam and Cambodia are countries experiencing colossal change. Although modern in outlook, they still retain a unique traditional Far Eastern character. Bicycles and mopeds outnumber cars by 100 to 1, so now is the time to visit these most captivating and colourful destinations whilst so much of this uniqueness and tradition remain in evidence! And the best way to discover these two fascinating countries is just as it always has been - from their beautiful arterial waterway, the stunning Mekong River.
- Return scheduled flights from London Gatwick
- Experience a seven night river cruise on board the 4-star superior RV Mekong Prestige II
- All staterooms are outside cabins with balconies and river views
- Stay in 4-star hotels with breakfast
- Gaze in awe at the magnificent temples of Angkor, one of Asia’s greatest ancient sights
- Stay in the heart of Saigon with its bustling waterfront and French colonial architecture
- Tour of Phnom Penh, the ‘Paris of the East’, with its golden temples and palaces
- See the fascinating Cu-Chi tunnels, a poignant reminder of the US-Vietnam conflict
- Visit the teeming floating markets of Kampong Chhnang and Cai Be
- Visit local communities to discover their
- unique way of life, unchanged in centuries
- Experience the delights of exquisitely presented
- Vietnamese and Cambodian cuisine
- All shore excursions and crew gratuities included
- All meals and selected drinks included whilst on the Mekong Cruise
- Escorted by an experienced Riviera Tour Manager
- The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room/cabin; five nights bed and breakfast in four-star hotels and seven nights on full board, including non-alcoholic soft drinks, local beer and local wine at mealtimes on the RV Mekong Prestige II ; all flights as mentioned; all transfers; porterage; guided tours of Saigon & Cu Chi tunnels, one-day entrance and guided tour of Angkor; all shore excursions as described whilst on the cruise; gratuities for ship’s crew; the services of a Riviera tour manager.
- Whilst the traveling schedule shall pose no problems for people of any age in normal physical health, we would point out that in visiting a number of historical sites, paths may be uneven and we often enjoy walking tours of the main sights. Therefore this holiday may not be suitable for clients of greatly impaired mobility. In the tropics temperatures and humidity levels will also be quite high for most of the year. Please consult your GP regarding the appropriate inoculations required for Vietnam & Cambodia at least a month before departure.
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