Grand Asian Journey: Exploring the Mekong & Irrawaddy Rivers - 2018

Mandalay • 9-Night Irrawaddy Cruise • Yangon • Saigon • 7-Night Mekong Cruise • Siem Reap • Hanoi
  • Saigon: the Pearl of the Far East
  • Explore the Great Temples of Angkor
  • Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon
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Bangkok, Thailand

4 DAYS FROM $799

Halong Bay & Hanoi, Vietnam

3 DAYS FROM $399

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Make the most of your time in Southeast Asia by embarking on a truly epic adventure through three different countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Stunning landscapes, exotic architecture, warm people, and captivating cultures are seemingly around every bend in this remarkable corner of the continent and you’ll experience it in full Grand Asian Journey.
This sweeping 30-day odyssey combines two of our popular Asian small ship cruises – Myanmar Explorer: Burma & The Irrawaddy River and Mysteries of Angkor Wat & the Mekong River to create an unforgettable journey at an unbeatable value. On this remarkable adventure, you’ll enjoy 27 Included Features and 30 Cultural Discoveries, not to mention experiencing three UNESCO World Heritage Sites (Angkor Wat, Shwedagon Pagoda, and Bagan). Our deluxe 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. You’ll also explore Hanoi, Saigon, and Yangon. Plus, spend three nights in Siem Reap, home to the great Buddhist temple complex Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You’ll enjoy the benefits of a small group experience plus an unmatched value by combining two adventures with just one international flight. Southeast Asia offers endless discoveries – don’t miss out on the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in this timeless region. Join us on one grand journey that combines an Irrawaddy River cruise with a Mekong River cruise at the best value in deluxe adventure travel, guaranteed. 

Hanoi, Vietnam to Mandalay, Burma

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DAY 1:

Depart home for Hanoi, Vietnam

Depart the U.S.A. on an overnight flight to Vietnam.

DAY 2:

Cross the International Date Line

You'll cross the International Dateline during your overnight transpacific flight, meaning that you'll arrive in Hanoi on Day 3.

DAY 3:

Check into your Hanoi hotel and attend a Welcome Briefing

Check into your hotel upon arrival, gather for a Welcome Briefing by your Adventure Leader this afternoon.

DAY 4:

Exploring Hanoi — from Ho Chi Minh Square to the Temple of Literature

Today, you'll explore this timeless yet modern city during a tour, including visits to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Square for a photo stop, as well as the Presidential Palace and One Pillar Pagoda. Cultural Discovery: A vegetarian lunch is included at a local monastery, followed by a visit to the Temple of Literature, home of the Confucian Imperial Academy, university for the country's elite from 1076 until 1779. Join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner tonight.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 5:

Fly to Siem Reap, site of magnificent Angkor Wat

Following breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap, site of your Angkor Wat tour — where you’ll check into your hotel just steps away from the remarkable Angkor Wat complex. This remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest religious monument in the world, and we'll explore it in depth while we're here. Dinner is included at a local restaurant this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 6:

Touring ancient Angkor Wat’s sprawling complex

Embark on a tour of the Angkor complex today, spending half a day meandering through the centuries-old terraces, pathways, and temples of this sprawling complex. Lunch is included in a local restaurant. Cultural Discoveries: In the afternoon, get a glimpse into local life during visits to a Cambodian dance school and silk farm. Enjoy a traditional Angkor show during tonight's buffet dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

More Angkor explorations, and an optional gondola tour

In the morning, set off on another exploration of the Angkor complex, including a tour of Angkor Wat and Prasat Kravan. Lunch is included at a restaurant in Siem Reap, followed by an afternoon and evening at leisure. If you like, you may join an optional Angkor Gondola Tour with dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch
Optional Tour: Angkor Gondola Tour with Dinner

Angkor Gondola Tour with Dinner

  • Approximate Cost:
  • Approximate Time: 4 hours
  • Location: Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • When: Evening tour

We'll travel by coach to the 12th century Angkor Thom Complex, a grand remnant of the original Khmer Empire. Here, we'll take a canoe  through a man-made moat,  enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. Admire the impressive architecture of the enclosing laterite walls here, and soak up the tranquil scenery. You will also have a chance to savor a glass of local wine or a cocktail during sunset in this singular location.  Then, we make our way to town where we'll enjoy dinner in a local restaurant, the ideal coda to a wonderful experience. 

DAY 8:

Embark the rv Tonle Pandaw and set sail on your river cruise

You’ll transfer to Kampong Cham today, where you’ll embark the deluxe rv Tonle Pandaw and set sail on your 7-night Mekong River cruise. Begin to fall under the spell of this storied river as you cruise past beautiful scenery and charming villages.

Please note: Conditions can vary based on the season, so your itinerary may change to ensure you have the best experience possible. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 9:

Wander the colonial town of Kratie, and a enjoy Mekong cooking demo

There are a number of activities today to showcase the many splendors of this region. Cultural Discoveries: You'll enjoy a cooking demonstration, which will introduce you to the flavors of the local cuisine, as well as a lecture on life on the Mekong. You'll then venture out to explore the charming French colonial town of Kratie, as well as getting a chance to see the local wildlife: specifically, the distinctive Mekong dolphin. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 10:

Visits to the Monkey Temple and Angkor Ban village

Our discovery of this exotic destination continues as we visit the Monkey Temple today. This is a chance to delve even deeper into the culture and history of this land, and to learn about the culture and spiritual heritage of Cambodia. Cultural Discovery: Visit the village of Angkor Ban, and get to know more about the locals here. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 11:

See Phnom Penh in local fashion

Fascinating Phnom Penh comes alive in the best way possible on Day 11 of your Southeast Asian tour. Cultural Discoveries: You'll you hop aboard a cyclo — a Cambodian rickshaw — to travel like the locals as you visit the Royal Palace and National Museum. Later, join your Adventure Leader on a trip to the local bar on the banks of the river in the Cambodian capital. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 12:

Sailing the Tonle Sap and delving into village life

On Day 12, we'll sail on the Tonle Sap and come ashore to interact with local villagers. One village is renowned for its silver making, so we'll get a firsthand look at this age-old process as we chat with the artisans who create it. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 13:

Cruise back to Vietnam while enjoying a lecture on its history

We re-enter Vietnam today, and begin discovering another side of this nation.  We'll have some time to settle in to our new surroundings, admiring the scenery and enjoying a lecture entitled Vietnam Past & Today.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 14:

Chau Doc’s literary lore, and a sampan ride to Cai Be

Your next stop on your Southeast Asian tour is the town of Chau Doc. We'll visit the ancient house featured in the movie The Lover, based on the book by novelist Marguerite Duras. Cultural Discovery: We'll also visit the Cham tribal village — yet another opportunity to interact with locals -- as well as a fish farm to pick up some insights on the local economy. The afternoon takes you to Cai Be; cruise aboard a sampan through canals and backwaters, with a visit to a market to experience the pulse of everyday life here.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 15:

Saigon’s sights, and a delightful water puppetry show

Arrive in My Tho and disembark the rv Tonle Pandaw, leaving river life behind to visit Vietnam’s most vibrant city — Ho Chi Min 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, followed by lunch. Then, get acquainted with an ancient art form during a water puppetry show.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 16:

Savor a home-hosted dinner with a former U.S. ambassador

Day 16 of your Southeast Asia tour begins with a visit to the Reunification Palace, a former presidential residence that was of great importance during the Vietnam War. It is now a museum. The rest of the day is yours at leisure to enjoy more of Saigon — the ancient pagodas, bustling markets, and gourmet restaurants — at your own pace. If you like, you may join an optional tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet Cong, with lunch included. 

Unforgettable Moment: Savor a home-hosted dinner at a former US Ambassador’s Residence. You’ll enjoy a cocktail reception followed by delicious, authentic Vietnamese dinner, all while listening to live music.

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 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:

A panoramic excursion through 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. Dinner is at the hotel this evening. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 18:

Yangon’s gilded Shwedagon Pagoda and an afternoon at leisure

After breakfast, we head out to see more of colonial-flavored Yangon. 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. 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 19:

Yangon on your own, or take an optional day trip to Bago

We have today to delve 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, stopping at the Taukkyan War Cemetery and pausing to admire revered Buddha figures, a small village and the Khat Wain Monastery.

Included Meals:

Optional Tour: Bago Day Trip

Bago Day Trip

  • Approximate Cost: $79 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 9 - 10 hours
  • Location: Bago, Myanmar
  • When: Full day tour, lunch included

Join us for a day discovering the wonders of Bago, the 15th-century capital of the Mon Kingdom. You’ll learn the history and myths of the city while visiting the reclining Shwethalyaung Buddha, the four seated Buddhas at Kyaikpun, and the old palace of Kambozathadi. You’ll also see the stunning Mon-style Shwemawdaw Pagoda, the most outstanding religious monument in Bago. This golden temple stands at 375 feet tall, higher than Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda, and can be seen from around 6 miles outside of the city. You’ll stop at Kha Khat Wain Monastery during lunchtime to view locals offering food to the Monks and learn about their daily life in the monastery. A venture to a local weaving village is also included in your tour. On the way back to Yangon, you’ll visit the Allied War Cemetery — the peaceful, beautifully landscaped final resting place of more than 27,000 allied soldiers who perished during World War II.

DAY 20:

Visit a monastery and embark your ship, the Makara Queen

This morning, we head to the Irrawaddy River, the country's most important waterway. The river's name comes from the Sanskrit meaning "elephant river," and it runs for nearly 1,350 miles through the heartland of Myanmar. On our way to the ship, we'll stop in Danuphyu, where we’ll visit a century-old monastery and stroll through the lovely botanical garden here as well as a traditional cigar factory. We'll then board the luxurious RV Makara Queen at the town of Satcott, and enjoy dinner on board the ship.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 21:

The charms of Myan Aung, and a Cambodian cooking demo

We arrive in Myan Aung, a charming riverside hamlet with impressive colonial-era homes.  We’ll walk through this small town admiring the town and stop by a local market to interact with the people of this region. Cultural Discovery: We’ll gain new insights into the cuisine here as we attend a cooking demonstration: we’ll learn how to make a tea-leaf salad, a local favorite.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 22:

Touring the ancient town of Pyu and the Shwesandaw Pagoda Complex

Today, we discover the captivating history and culture along this storied river in a new place: Pyay. We’ll see the famed “toll mountain” where tax collectors would collect money from those who passed through here. We’ll tour to the ancient town of Pyu, which was the most important city in this region between the 5th and 9th centuries. We’ll see the impressive collection of ancient art at a library with an amazing collection of ancient art, followed by visit the impressive Shwesandaw Pagoda Complex, one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the country. Cultural Discovery: Listen to a lecture on the history of Myanmar, giving you more perspective on how this nation has evolved over time.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 23:

More Myanmar exploration, and a sunset oxcart ride

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. Cultural Discovery: Later today, ride in an oxcart to the top of a temple for a magical sunset view of the monument-dotted plains. We’ll enhance our understanding with a lecture onboard the ship entitled “Life Along the Irrawaddy River.”

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 24:

The new gold standard in Myanmar’s temples

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. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 25:

A walking tour of Salay and exploring the famed Bagan temples

Set off on a walking tour of the small town of Salay, with its charming colonial villas. We’ll also stop by the 150-year-old teak monastery here, which is well known for its magnificent woodcarvings. After lunch, we'll enjoy some afternoon sightseeing in 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. We'll visit some of the major temples, such as Pyattatgyi Temple, and witness a magical sunset view of the monument-dotted plains. In the evening, enjoy an traditional Burmese Puppet Show on board.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 26:

Discover the treasures of Bagan’s market

Cultural Discovery: This morning, we'll explore Bagan's large, open market, teeming with produce, meat, spices, woodcarvings, fabrics, longyis, rattan products and more — a great spot to pick up gifts for loved ones back home. Later today, we'll enjoy a cooking demonstration during which we'll learn how to make some delectable local cuisine. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 27:

The culture and artistry of Yandabo village

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. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 28:

Get to know historic Mandalay

Today, you'll explore Mandalay, including a visit to Mahamuni Pagoda and Mandalay Hill. Cultural Discovery: You'll also get a glimpse of the remarkable art and craft work in this country, as you visit some local workshops, including tapestry-making, wood- and marble-carving, and bronze-casting workshops. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 29:

Disembark your ship at Sagaing and fly home

Today, you'll disembark your ship and transfer to the airport to begin your journey home. 

Included Meals:


DAY 30:

Arrive home

Today, your overnight flight lands back in the U.S.A.

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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Grand Asian Journey: Exploring the Mekong & Irrawaddy Rivers - 2018

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