Grand Asian Journey: Exploring the Mekong & Irrawaddy Rivers - 2017

Bangkok • 9-Night Irrawaddy Cruise • Yangon • Saigon • 7-Night Mekong Cruise • Siem Reap • Hanoi

The Best Value in Deluxe Travel — Guaranteed!

 

Experience four legendary countries on one grand adventure through Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand. Spectacular landscapes, timeless architecture, welcoming people, and diverse cultures know no borders in this spellbinding corner of Asia. You’ll combine two popular Vantage cruise tours on this comprehensive 32-day odyssey: Myanmar Explorer: Burma & The Irrawaddy River and Mysteries of Angkor Wat & the Mekong River. So you’ll enjoy not just one deluxe river cruise on an all-suite ship, but two, with 16 nights of cruising on two beguiling waterways. Our ships are designed so that our small group can unobtrusively stop at tiny villages and markets, allowing you to meet locals along the way. Enjoy lunches in a private home and at a monastery, visit a silk farm, attend a children’s dance performance, and so much more. On multi-night stays, you’ll also explore Hanoi, Saigon, Bangkok, and Yangon. Plus, spend three nights in Siem Reap, home to the great Buddhist temple complex Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What’s more, when you combine two adventures to this captivating region, you’ll enhance our already unmatched small-group value even more, with just one roundtrip international flight. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to discover the best of Southeast Asia on one grand journey that combines an Irrawaddy River cruise with a Mekong River cruise!

Hanoi to Mandalay

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DAYS 1-3:

Depart home / Cross International Dateline on overnight flight / Hanoi, Vietnam

We’ll cross the International Dateline during our overnight transpacific flight, so we lose a day as we travel, arriving in Hanoi on Day 3. Check into your hotel upon arrival and gather later for a Welcome Briefing with your Adventure Leader this afternoon. Or, fly to Asia earlier to explore Halong Bay during our pre-trip extension.

DAY 4:

Hanoi

Today, we explore this timeless yet modern city, a heady mix of French colonial charm, traditional Vietnam and sleek modernity. We begin with a photo stop at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Square. Then, walk along a tree-shaded lane to view the former leader’s modest cottage, humbly resting beside the grand Presidential Palace. Our morning excursion concludes at the elegant One Pillar Pagoda. Cultural Discovery: For lunch, we visit the simple dining room of a local monastery for a delicious vegetarian lunch of pho, noodles, sticky rice and more. Later, visit the Temple of Literature, home of the Confucian Imperial Academy, the university for the country's elite from 1076 until 1779. Join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant tonight.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 5:

Hanoi, Vietnam / Fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia

Following breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia, gateway to the incredible temple of Angkor Wat. Our hotel here puts us just steps away from the remarkable and sprawling complex. We’ll settle in for our three-night stay, which will allow us to explore this spellbinding region in depth. Dinner is included at a local restaurant this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 6:

Siem Reap

After breakfast, we approach the ancient temples of Angkor like the locals do – by bicycle! We pedal with our Adventure Leader, marveling as the enormous terraced towers come into full view. Enjoy two tours of the complex today. This morning, we explore the centuries-old terraces, pathways, and temples of the main site, beautifully adorned with bas reliefs that depict the daily lives of the Khmer Empire that so masterfully built this site.

After lunch, get a glimpse of local life at the School of Arts, a Cambodian dance school where you will meet some of the dedicated students and teachers. Cultural Discovery: This evening, enjoy a traditional Angkor show, rich with color, music and dance, during tonight’s buffet dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7:

Siem Reap

Cultural Discoveries: After breakfast, we head to the Angkor complex for a second tour, delving deeper into the complex and exploring Prasat Kravan, five red-brick towers built in the 10th century. We visit a silk farm, where we witness how this fine fabric is made and have a chance to purchase some as a souvenir.


After browsing the bountiful wares at a nearby market, we have lunch in local restaurant, then enjoy an afternoon and evening at leisure. If you’d like, you may join an optional Angkor Gondola Tour for your dinner this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch
Optional Tour: Angkor Gondola Tour with Dinner

Angkor Gondola Tour with Dinner

  • Approximate Cost: $75 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3 hours
  • Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • When: Evening tour

Make the short trip from your hotel to Wat Thmey, a beautiful local pagoda that holds memories from the oppressive Khmer Rouge regime. After a short visit, continue to 12th century Angkor Thom Complex, a grand remnant of the original Khmer Empire. Enjoy a glass of champagne as you take in the ancient ruins and their surroundings. Board a gondola and cruise along a canal in the complex, enjoying the tranquil scenery along the banks and recalling the glory days of the erstwhile empire. Listen to your oarsmen sing traditional Khmer songs as you travel by boat towards an ideal vantage point for the sunset. Enjoy wine and canapés as the sun sinks below the horizon and paints nearby Prasat Chhrung (Corner Temple) in warm hues. Return to the pier and transfer back to town where you’ll enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, an ideal coda to a wonderful experience.


DAY 8:

Siem Reap / Kampong Cham / Embark the RV Mekong Navigator

We transfer today from Siem Reap to Kampong Cham, where the all-suite RV Mekong Navigator is waiting for us. We arrive in ample time to settle in, explore the luxurious ship and make our way to the dining room for our first delicious onboard meal.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 9:

Wat Hanchey / Kampong Cham

Cultural Discoveries: This morning, we are welcomed by the schoolchildren at a riverside village. The only secondary school in the area, it is supported by the local communities. After meeting the students and principal, we walk up the hill to the local monastery of Wat Hanchey and receive a traditional Buddhist Water Blessing from the resident monks. There’ll be time here to explore the monastery and take in the amazing views of the Mekong River valley. We head back down to the ship via 303 steps.

Later today, we visit the ancient Wat Nokor, a 12th-century, Angkorian-period fusion temple which features several original, stone Buddha statues. Upon return to the ship, we begin our sail down the Mekong to the Tonle Sap River.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 10:

Cruise the Tonle Sap River

We head up the tranquil Tonle Sap River today, a Mekong tributary that reveals rural river life in Cambodia. Later, we visit the village of Angkor Ban to get a glimpse of what everyday life is like here. Back on board as we sail back to the Mekong River, attend an enlightening talk on "Life on the Mekong," and learn some secrets from our chefs during a cooking demonstration.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 11:

Phnom Penh

We awake in Phnom Penh this morning. Cultural Discovery: We meet our cyclo drivers at the pier to begin an exciting – and gentle – tour along the riverfront to the Royal Palace complex, where we enjoy a leisurely walk through the grounds. Continue to the Silver Pagoda, home of Cambodia’s Emerald Buddha and the Maitreya Buddha, encrusted with more than 9,000 diamonds. Then, we ride to the open-air National Museum, housing the largest collection of artifacts excavated at the Angkor Temple complex.

The afternoon is free to explore Phnom Penh on your own. Cultural Discovery: Before dinner, local children come aboard to perform traditional folk dances, including the Apsara, Cambodia’s national dance.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 12:

Phnom Penh

This morning, we learn more about the darkest days of Cambodian history. After a scenic 45-minute drive from our ship, we arrive at Choeung Ek, where you can walk through the notorious “killing fields” if you’d like, visit the small museum and Memorial Stupa, and learn more about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge regime. We also visit the Genocide Museum, Tuol Sleng, a former school converted to a main prison where captives of the Khmer Rouge were held.

Enjoy another afternoon in Phnom Penh on your own. You might head out with our Adventure Leader to visit one of the bars along Phnom Penh’s riverfront, a great opportunity to soak in the local culture. Or join an optional excursion to La Table Khmer Cooking School where we learn to make traditional Khmer dishes. Later, we depart Phnom Penh to sail downstream to the Cambodia-Vietnam border via the main Mekong channel – an international shipping route.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 13:

Cruise into Vietnam / Tan Chau

This morning, arrive in Tan Chau, Vietnam. Cultural Discoveries: We witness a vastly different way of life along the Mekong Delta here as we board a sampan for a scenic cruise a Cao Dai temple, a shrine to one of the unique amalgam religions founded here in an effort to unite various faiths. Upon arrival, we take a 15-minute ride on a xe loi (a local Vietnamese tuk-tuk), to a family-owned mat weaving workshop so we can observe this traditional craft. We return to our sampans and visit a floating fish farm, disembarking for a walk through a local village on Evergreen Island. Back on board, attend a fascinating lecture on “Vietnam Past & Today.”

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 14:

Sa Dec / Cai Be

Our next port is the peaceful orchard town of Sa Dec. Cultural Discovery: Here, we visit a local brick factory to see how the Mekong’s clay is shaped and hardened. Continue to the flower market and the house of Mr. Hyun Thuy Le, the man who inspired The Lover, a novel by Marguerite Duras which was later made into a movie. After lunch, we continue cruising to the sleepy port of Cai Be. Cultural Discovery: Here, we explore the floating market, see the beautiful French Gothic cathedral and stop at a rice factory to see how rice paper, rice wine and traditional rice candies are made. We’ll also see the An Kiet House with its lovely gardens.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 15:

My Tho / Disembark ship / Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

We arrive in My Tho today and disembark the RV Mekong Navigator, leaving river life behind to visit Vietnam’s most vibrant city – Ho Chi Minh City. A panoramic city tour of Saigon (as the locals call it) takes you to the Opera House, the Old Saigon Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. Cultural Discoveries: For lunch, a family in Saigon welcomes you into their home for home-prepared spring rolls and other family specialties. Later, get acquainted with Vietnam’s beloved ancient art form during a water puppetry show.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 16:

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

We see more of Ho Chi Minh City on today’s excursion to the Reunification Palace. A former presidential residence of great importance during the Vietnam War, it is now a museum. The rest of the day is yours at leisure to explore more of Old Saigon – the ancient pagodas, bustling markets, and gourmet restaurants – at your own pace. You may also join an optional tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels, a subterranean network of passages used by the Viet Cong. This evening, we gather to reminisce about your incredible adventure during a Farewell Dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner
Optional Tour: The Tunnels of Cu Chi

The Tunnels of Cu Chi

  • Approximate Cost: $59 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 6 hours
  • Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon
  • When: Half-day tour including lunch

The Cu Chi the tunnels were part of a vast underground network that enabled the Viet Cong to control a large rural area near Saigon. Began during the French/Vietnamese War (1946-1954), the tunnels were vital to the success of the Viet Cong military effort, and were used as a base of operations for the 1968 Tet offensive. The Cu Chi network ultimately included 75 miles of tunnels, with connections to other tunnel great networks that underlay much of the country. Parts of the Cu Chi tunnels were several levels deep and included innumerable trap doors, specially constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centers, and kitchens. On this fascinating tour, learn about the tunnels and other aspects of the war and, if you choose, get a taste of subterranean life. While most of the tour takes place above ground, travelers also have the option of entering a 30-meter-long enlarged tunnel to experience what life was like underground. A lunch will be served on your way back to the city.



DAY 17:

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam / Bangkok, Thailand

After breakfast this morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Bangkok, Thailand. We arrive in the capital of Old Siam, where we'll enjoy a Welcome Dinner at the hotel.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 18:

Bangkok

Awake in the vibrant city of Bangkok this morning, the bustling capital of Old Siam straddling the serene Chao Phraya River. On a city excursion, we visit the colorful and thriving flower market to take in the local flavor. Continue to the Grand Palace, a sprawling complex that still serves as the royal residence. As we explore, we’ll pause at Wat Phra Kaew to show our reverence to the Emerald Buddha, a glittering figurine of green stone draped in a gold robe. After lunch at a local restaurant, our afternoon is free. Later, join our optional "Bangkok by Night" excursion or enjoy the evening at leisure.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch
Optional Tour: Bangkok By Night

Bangkok By Night

  • Approximate Cost: $75 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3.5 hours
  • Location: Bangkok, Thailand
  • When: Evening tour, dinner included

Available on optional Bangkok extension only. 

On this evening tour in Bangkok, you’ll be immersed in a truly Thai ambiance. Your tour starts with the sunset boat cruise along the Chao Phraya River , passing by temples, government buildings, the Royal Grand Palace Then, you’ll enjoy dinner at a local Thai restaurant. After dinner, hop on an local Tuk Tuk , to Kings Avenue for view of Bangkok at night with stop at the Equestrain status of King Rama V for photo opportunities & then continue to China Town where locals made it busy at night , full of food stands / restaurants . Your tour ends at Patpong night market, one of Bangkok’s great night markets.

Spend some time browsing the shops and streets stalls offering a variety of local products, such as hand-made souvenirs, carved woods, home decorations, clothes, painting before returning back to hotel.


DAY 19:

Bangkok, Thailand / Yangon, Myanmar

Today we fly to Yangon Burma's bustling cultural and economic capital, where we enjoy three nights in a lush garden hotel overlooking Royal Lake in the heart of the city, the perfect base for exploring. We begin our exploration of this historic capital with a panoramic afternoon excursion that takes in the Sule Pagoda, City Hall, and the High Court. We next stop at the city's dazzling centerpiece – the Shwedagon Pagoda, a soaring golden Buddhist stupa that soars above all, attesting to the close connection between the spiritual and the everyday.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 20:

Yangon

After breakfast, we head out to see more of colonial-flavored Yangon. We stop at the waterfront area; the colonial-style Scott Market brimming with antiques, jewelry and handicrafts; and the National Museum of art, history and culture. After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is free. Enjoy the evening at leisure with dinner on your own.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 21:

Yangon

We have today to explore this city more deeply, walking past markets and along streets buzzing with bicycles and rickshaws. Some of Asia’s finest British-colonial architecture is here. If you like, you may join an optional excursion to the ancient capital city of Bago.

Included Meals:

Breakfast

DAY 22:

Prome, Myanmar / Embark RV Irrawaddy Explorer

This morning, transfer to Prome, an important trading post that clings to its history as part of the prosperous Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in the 1890s. We visit the 5th- to 9th-century archaeological site of Thiri-ya-kittiya, the former center of the Pyu civilization. Later, we head to the river where the luxurious RV Irrawaddy Explorer waits. We embark in time for dinner on board.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 23:

Thayetmyo

This morning, we explore the colonial town of Thayetmyo, which once guarded the border between Royal Myanmar and British Myanmar. While here, we can browse its colorful market and see the stately colonial houses built during the British occupation. For another taste of Old Britannia, we visit the country's oldest golf course and learn about its fascinating history. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 24:

Magwe

From our port of Magwe, we head up to hilltop pagoda of Myat Lun Paya, built in 1929. Here, the luster of gold that is central to so many Buddhist monuments takes center stage as this incredible temple was built from solid gold bricks. Our view of the surrounding countryside from here is also priceless. Back on board, we enjoy a lecture: "Burma - From Early Innovators to Closed Society."

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 25:

Salay / Tan Kyi Taung Mountain

We cruise to Salay today to visit teak monasteries and see the spectacular wood carvings of Yout-saun-kyaung. We’ll also witness the British influence here as we explore an area of charming colonial-style houses. Afterward, we ascend Tan Kyi Taung Mountain by foot – or by World War II Jeep, if you prefer – just in time to watch another glorious sunset over the temples of Bagan.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 26:

Bagan

Spend the day exploring Bagan, currently vying for UNESCO World Heritage Site status, where the spires of more than 3,000 Buddhist temples pierce the sky over an awe-inspiring plain along the Irrawaddy. This could well be the most incredible vista we’ll see during our adventure. Built between 700 and 900 years ago, the Bagan temples attest to the wealth of the once-mighty Bagan Dynasty. A guided tour introduces us to this fascinating area. If you’d like, you can rent a bicycle from a local shop to venture off and explore this spellbinding site on your own. Cultural Discovery: Later today, ride in an oxcart to the top of a temple for a magical sunset view of the monument-dotted plains. Tonight, you'll enjoy a glimpse of local culture during a traditional puppet show back on board. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 27:

Bagan / Shwe Pyi Thar Village

Cultural Discoveries: You’ll dock in Bagan today, where we head out to visit the local markets selling wood carvings, fabrics, longyis and rattan products, stopping at a workshop to also learn about ancient Burmese lacquerware techniques back on board. After lunch, we transfer to the ancient village of Shwe Pyi Thar for a walking tour, getting an intimate glimpse of daily living along the river. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 28:

Yandabo

Cultural Discoveries: All day today, we delve deeply into the culture and daily lives of the people along the Irrawaddy, beginning with a visit to the lively village of Yandabo. Though it is known as the site of the 1826 Treaty of Yandabo that began a long British occupation, this picturesque village today is famous for its pottery. We stroll around and watch some artisans at work. Then, visit a local school and meet the children as they go about their daily lessons. Back on board, we enjoy a lecture that focuses on "Myanmar Today."

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 29:

Ava / Sagaing

This morning, we set off on an excursion to the ancient capital of Ava, soaking in the history of this fascinating site. In the afternoon, we arrive in Sagaing and visit the famed Soon U Ponya Shin Pogoda here. Then we gain insight into a unique way of life when stop by the Tha Kya Di Thar Nunnery.


Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 30:

Mingun / Mandalay

We begin today in Mingun, where we walk through the village to witness daily life. We’ll stop at the large, unfinished pagoda and see the world's largest working bell. Afterward, enjoy a tour of Mandalay, including the famous Kathodaw Pogoda and Mandalay Hill. 

After lunch, cruise to Amarapura, the last Burmese royal capital. Cultural Discoveries: Here, we embark a small sampan on the lake, just in time to catch the sunset as it washes over the famous U-Bein bridge, made of ancient teak from palace ruins. This evening, enjoy a Burmese dance performance on board with our Farewell Dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 31:

Mandalay / Disembark ship / Flight home

Today we visit some local artisan workshops to learn about gold leaf and tapestry making, wood and marble carving, and bronze casting. We’ll see the craftsmen and women at work and have a chance to talk with them about their skill. Later, transfer to the airport to begin the journey home or begin your optional post-trip extension.  


Included Meals:

1 Breakfast

Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.

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Vantage Uniworld Vantage Advantage
Journey Grand Asian Journey: Exploring the Mekong & Irrawaddy Rivers Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong
Price Without Air $0 $5,799 Save with free or 2-for-1 international airfare
Trip Length 0 days 15 days Vantage offers the best value —and the only company that provides this grand Asia journey
Per Diem $0 per day $386 Save over $140 per couple per day
Included Tours and Special Features 53 sightseeing tours and Cultural Connections with state-of-the-art QuietVox portable audio headsets on all shore excursions throughout your cruise — a value of $7,608 per couple! 14 included tours and 1 UNESCO World Heritage Site Experience the BEST of China & the Yangtze River with the MOST Cultural Connections and special features!
Single Travelers Single Supplement starting from — From only $4,699! Available in category B. Singles available in all other categories. Roommate Matching on select dates! Free Single Supplements on optional extensions — a value of up to $399! 100% Single Supplement Single friendly! We are the only company to offer FREE Single Supplements on every departure in Upper Deck cabins! Plus, FREE Single Supplements on the Hong Kong extension!
Meals & Dining 74 meals: 29 breakfasts, 22 lunches, and 23 dinners with local beer, local spirits, soft drinks, coffee, water, and tea throughout your cruise, plus complimentary free-flow house wine served with dinner on board ship 33 meals: 14 buffet breakfasts, 9 lunches, 10 dinners Welcome and Farewell Dinners with wine and live entertainment onshore Complimentary house wine, local beers and spirits, and soft drinks throughout the cruise More meals, drinks and extras, including free-flow wine with dinner on board ship
Extend Your Trip 4-days Bangkok, $699 $175 per day 3-days Halong Bay & Hanoi, $449 $150 per day 3-days Halong Bay Pre extension, $449 $150 per day 7-days Luang Prabang& Chiangmai, $1,699 $243 per day 5-days Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Bangkok, $1,899 $380 per day 3 choices: 4-days Bangkok-from $899; 5-days Luang Prabang from $1,829; 3-days Ha Long Bay from $599; THE BEST EXTENSION VALUE!
Ship Accommodations Cruise aboard the new, all-suite RV Mekong Navigator and RV Irrawaddy Explorer, featuring all-suite accommodations with riverview cabins, plus daily sightseeing and local drinks included. Pay less and stay on the 5-Star Century Legend, the newest ship cruising the Yangtze.
10 Ways to Save SmartPay — pay in full, 12-months in advance and save up to 10%. Preferred Traveler Rewards — Earn 5% of purchase price towards future trips — Save up to $556 per couple. Buy direct & save — no travel agents, savings passed on to you. Referral Rewards — $200 per traveler referred after 2 referrals. Travel Protection, Referral Rewards$150 per person on 7-12 night cruise; $250 per person on cruises 13+ nights THE BEST REWARDS PROGRAM IN TRAVEL! Save up to $276 more than competitors with preferred traveler rewards!

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