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  • The RV Indochine on the Mekong River

    © Live Studio via CroisiEurope

  • Angkor Wat temple complex

  • Floating houses on the Mekong River

  • The RV Indochine on the Mekong River

    © Live Studio via CroisiEurope

  • Banteay Srei Temple

  • Stupa of King Norodom Suramarit and Silver Pagoda

Overview
Itinerary
Fitness / Practicalities
Tour Director


  • Join this brand new ACE cruise exploring the fascinating history and culture of the Mekong Delta

  • Travel from the vibrant urban hubs of Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh along the lush Mekong to tranquil villages and the extraordinary temples of Angkor

  • Myriad themes, from archaeology, history and architecture to local customs and gastronomy combine to create an in-depth impression of Southeast Asian culture


Please note that this description represents a guide to what we hope to offer, and full details, including the tour dates, cost, accommodation and musical programme, will be released later in 2024. If you would like to receive full details of this tour when they are available, you can do so by filling in our register interest form here.

 

This exciting new cruise offers travellers the opportunity to gain unique insights into the cultural world of the Mekong Delta of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia. Taking history and archaeology as particular focal points, the tour will offer a rounded experience, immersing participants in the heritage to be found along this captivating river.

 

Our tour begins in the lively city of Ho Chi Minh, with visits to atmospheric pagodas dedicated to the Taoist god Jade Emperor and the sea goddess Mazu, as well as the Reunification Palace and Cholon, the Chinese-influenced section of the city. From here we will cruise towards My Tho and Cai Be along the magnificent Chao Gao Canal, with an excursion by riverboat to Thoi Son Island, including a ride in sampans (traditional boats) along picturesque narrow waterways.

 

En route to the prosperous city of Chau Doc on the border with Cambodia, where we will explore Ba Chua Xu Temple and the Tay An Pagoda, we will visit Tan Chau to experience the floating houses of a fishing farm on a special tour by boat. Our vessel then continues to Phnom Penh, which our Tour Director will introduce in a dedicated lecture, discussing the development of the city from the 15th century onwards.

 

A whole day will be dedicated to exploring Phnom Penh, including an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of its troubling recent past, with visits to Cheong Ek (known as the ‘killing fields’) and Tuol Sleng Prison, to glimpse the devastating horrors that prevailed during Cambodia’s ultra-radical Marxist movement. We will also visit the Royal Palace, built in 1866 under King Norodom, to experience Khmer architecture and the Silver Pagoda, named after its floor, which is covered with over 5000 silver tiles.

 

Although much of the pagoda’s contents were destroyed under Pol Pot’s regime, what remains is spectacular, and it is one of the best places in Cambodia to view objects embodying the brilliance of Khmer civilisation.

 

The city of Udong was destroyed by the Americans and Khmer Rouge, but an excursion to the base of the mountain remains a worthwhile experience, and participants will have the option to climb the 500 steps to visit the local temple and receive a blessing from the monk.

 

Traditional crafts and produce will form a focal point of our tour, with visits to a beekeeping centre; factories producing bricks, pottery and traditional products such as puffed rice; and the small village of Koh Chen, where craftspeople specialise in silver and copper work. Further highlights will include an afternoon cruise on Tonlé Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, and a visit to Kampong Chhnang, one of its largest fishing ports and a region known for producing fine traditional pottery.

 

No tour of the region would be complete without a visit to Angkor. After our cruise comes to an end, we will spend several additional days in Siem Reap, travelling to Angkor Thom to see the temples of Bayon and Baphuon, the Terrace of Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. Angkor Wat, meanwhile, is the largest and most breathtaking monument: built as the funeral temple for Suryavarman II, who ruled from 1112 to 1152, it never fails to reward either the first-time or repeat visitor with its grand scale, surreal bas reliefs and exquisite details.

 

Banteay Srei was for many years inaccessible due to its remote location and Khmer Rouge activity; built in the late 10th century and dedicated to Shiva, its pink limestone walls contain what are arguably the best bas reliefs of any temple at Angkor. The site has recently been redeveloped with sustainability at the forefront; a fascinating visitor centre details the history, inscriptions, discovery and preservation of the temple, and our visit will end with a delightful walk through cool forests.

 

Beng Mealea is a spectacular jungle temple north of Siem Reap. Meaning ‘lotus pond’ in Khmer, Beng Mealea is orientated towards the east, and its ancient Khmer architecture has been largely reclaimed by nature, with trees and moss covering the ruins. Its shady, quiet atmosphere, largely devoid of other visitors, makes this a particularly special place, and we look forward to viewing the exquisite carving of scenes from Hindu mythology – including the Churning of the Sea of Milk and Vishnu being born by the bird god Garuda. We will also pay a visit to the jungle-clad Temple of Ta Prohm, which exudes a magnificent, haunting atmosphere.

 

Our tour concludes in Siem Reap with a visit to the Angkor National Museum, offering state-of-the-art displays on Khmer civilisation and the temples of Angkor. Here, we will gain insights into the development of statues (including pre-Angkor examples), lintels, styles of dress, columns and asparas, and see a room filled with 1000 Buddhas.

 

This tour will be led by Moira Tait, MA, FRAS, who read archaeology at the University of London, focussing on Paleolithic and Mesolithic Europe before gaining an MA in the archaeology of Southeast Asia from SOAS. She excavated several Iron Age sites in Thailand, exploring the transition from prehistory to city states such as Angkor, Moira has led tours to destinations including Southeast Asia for many years, and undertook a research recce on the Mekong in 2023 to devise this brand new itinerary for ACE. She looks forward to sharing the cultural treasures to be found along this waterway with ACE travellers in 2025. Moira will also be joined by local guides along the way, who will be able to share their own unique insights into local life, whether in the cities, countryside or on the river.

 

Tour Director Moira Tait writes: “This tour offers a wonderful taste of Southeast Asia, taking you from the vibrant urban hubs of Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh to the tranquil villages along the lush Mekong Delta and the extraordinary temples of Angkor. It is a great time to explore Vietnam and Cambodia – especially Angkor – while they are relatively quiet and reminiscent of my visits two decades ago. Many temples have been restored over the past five years, while the forests around the temples are being rewilded and facilities much improved, making the whole visitor experience considerably enhanced.”

Days
15
Cost
£TBC
Tour Code
MEKO-25

Full details, including the tour cost, hotel details and itinerary, will be released later in 2024. Please click here to register your interest.


Included: Full details, including the tour cost, hotel details and itinerary, will be released later in 2024.


Not Included:

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