Aqua Mekong River Cruise
Travelers to Vietnam and Cambodia inevitably come away invigorated by what they discover in these two countries, a best-of-both-worlds juxtaposition where old meets new: gorgeous unspoiled panoramas and contemporary commerce capitals, villages untouched by time and landscapes marked by war. This rapidly developing region lets travelers immerse themselves in the past or witness the bustling modernity of the present.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) has enough cultural touchstones to keep travelers occupied for days, strolling grand boulevards, visiting temples and shrines and touring the French Colonial-era structures of downtown. Visitors interested in the war for southern Vietnam can explore the underground maze of tunnels in Saigon that were held by the Viet Cong and used for supply routes, living quarters and combat. Or they can visit the site of the Tet Offensive, in Hue, and see how it’s being restored under the guidance of UNESCO.
But beyond the storied history of war, it’s the natural beauty of Vietnam and Cambodia that truly beckons. Port cities and mountain passes offer stunning views of the South China Sea. Cruising the Mekong Delta aboard the Aqua Mekong affords travelers the chance to discover more remote regions and interact with artisans and village elders, take side ventures to go bird-watching or simply relax aboard the floating spa on the way to the countryside of Cambodia and the masterful Khmer architecture of Angkor Wat.
Day 1 - 3 : Your Journey Begins
Arrive in Vietnam and begin your adventure in Ho Chi Minh City. Visit the historic tunnels of the Viet Cong on a day trip from the city center, enjoy shopping and begin to experience some of the country's most famous temples.
Day 1 - Ho Chi Minh City
Welcome to Vietnam! On arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, you will be met by your guide and transfer to your hotel. Settle into your room with the rest of the day free to relax after your long international flights.
Ho Chi Minh City, which nearly everyone still calls Saigon, is the economic powerhouse of this rapidly developing country, featuring grand boulevards, central squares and riverfront shops. Though you can still experience some of old Asia, Saigon is a new Asian boomtown and its inhabitants are poised to embrace the modern advances of the 21st century.
Day 2 - Cu Chi
Visit the infamous Viet Cong stronghold at Cu Chi. The hundreds of miles of tunnels here often confounded American troops fighting in a very foreign land. Sections are open to tourists where you can climb in and get a feel for the harsh conditions faced by the thousands of Vietnamese who lived and fought in these tunnels.
Day 3 - Exploring Saigon
This morning enjoy a leisurely walking tour of downtown, or District One. View some of the impressive colonial-era structures, including Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office, designed by Gustave Eiffel. Continue to the Reunification Palace, historically known as Independence Palace, and tour the former nerve center of the war for South Vietnam.
Next, visit the Cao Dai Temple. Vietnam's most fascinating indigenous religion, Caodaism, was founded in 1926 by Ngo Minh Chieu. It is a syncretistic faith that merges Eastern and Western religious and philosophical traditions.
End your day by exploring the bustling market district of Cholon, Saigon's Chinatown, with its frenzied merchants. Stroll Binh Tay Market and then visit Thien Hau Pagoda, Saigon's most celebrated Buddhist shrine.
Return to your hotel with the evening free to dine on your own. Perhaps stroll along Dong Khoi Street and visit the art and handicraft shops.
Sophisticated downtown colonial-style hotel overlooking the Opera House.
Enjoy a Park Suite at this Harper-recommended property.