What to Expect
Each Vantage Adventure is designed to help you fully experience local culture and to get out and explore while keeping active. We find these are the two most fulfilling and rewarding ways to transform any trip into an adventure, and into the experience of a lifetime. To that end, we've rated each trip to indicate the level of cultural immersion and physical activity, with "1" being the lowest and "3" being the highest.
CULTURAL IMMERSION: The different customs, delicious food, friendly people, and rich history of four countries make this tour uniquely diverse. Vietnam's economy is developing rapidly, while Cambodia recently finished a civil war and is on its way to recovery and redevelopment, so you will see a lot of buildings and roads under construction while on your tour. Burma is a relatively poor Asian country, and only recently has been re-opened to the outside world. Indochinese countries practice Buddhism and uphold traditions of hospitality and optimism, so you will encounter good service wherever you travel. Few people speak English on the street, so you will need a good map and your hotel card when leaving the hotel on your own. While traveling throughout Indochina, you may encounter areas of poverty.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: This adventure requires climbing up and down uneven stairs. Your Angkor Wat excursion will require heavy walking, but stops will be made for rests. Embarking and disembarking the ships may require climbing a few rough steps up or down the river bank depending on the water level. You may at times also need to walk on paths which may be muddy or dusty. Rest assured that the ship's staff will be on hand to assist you. Do pack comfortable walking shoes that provide good footing. The ships are not handicapped-accessible, as river banks can be very steep and slippery. In addition, porterage services are not available inside the airport area and passengers will need to carry their carry-on bags, and sometimes checked bags, from the bus to group check-in counter (luggage carts are available).
The region you'll cruise through is much less developed — in terms of both tourism and infrastructure — than the United States or Europe. However, traveling by river affords many opportunities for cultural interaction with people known for their hospitality, including visits to village markets and temples.
PACING: You'll visit 4 countries in 29 nights, including 13 nights at hotels, 7 nights aboard the RV Mekong Navigator, and 9 nights aboard the RV Irrawaddy Explorer. This program includes domestic flights between Siem Reap and Hanoi, Hanoi and Bangkok, Yangon and Mandalay, and Bangkok and Yangon. Please note that on your flight between Yangon and Mandalay, you will be requested to check your regular-sized rolling carry on luggage. Domestic air check-in can be frustrating because it is not computerized, but your Adventure Leader is experienced with airport procedures and will be on-hand to assist you. There are also 2 long motorcoach transfers on tour: between Siem Reap and the Mekong pier (5 hours) and between Prome and Yangon (6 hours). This is a comprehensive itinerary, but well balanced between heavy walking and light activities.
WHAT TO WEAR: Shorts, short skirts, or revealing clothing are not appropriate, especially when visiting temples or any religious site. Your local guide will tell you ahead of time which days require a dress code. We recommend you bring sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, hat, rain coat, and a toothbrush and toothpaste to use on board the ship. Also bring sensible walking shoes which can be easily removed when required. Sandals are ideal when visiting a temple because you can easily take them on and off.
SPECIAL FACTORS: The best time to travel is January through February and November through December when there is seldom rain and temperatures are pleasant. The temperatures in Cambodia are very warm all year round. During monsoon season, which lasts from June through early October, expect short periods of heavy rain in the afternoon. This precipitation helps to alleviate humidity, but the weather could still be hot and humid. Bringing rain gear is highly recommended. All hotels feature modern facilities, and are air conditioned to meet the best International standards. Do not hand out small gifts or donations, as this will cause some locals to follow the group. A Vantage local guide will make a donation or buy a gift on behalf of the group when visiting a school, a village pagoda, or whenever appropriate. However if you wish to make a greater donation, please speak with your Adventure Leader for guidance.