Angkor Wat in the sunrise light
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Laos & Cambodia: Mekong Marvels

A luxurious Cambodia and Laos Mekong adventure exploring the marvels of the Lower and Upper Mekong.

Itinerary & Prices

14 Day / 13 Night - Laos & Cambodia: Mekong Marvels
itinerary map

Welcome to Phnom Penh!

Welcome to Phnom Penh! Located on the banks of the Tonle Sap and Mekong River, Phnom Penh was once known as the “Pearl of Asia”, one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina. Upon your arrival, you will be met by your guide and driven to your hotel.

Take the rest of the day easy, have a good rest, enjoy a stroll along the picturesque river promenade and make sure to be ready for your exciting day first thing in the morning!

Meals: (x)

Location
Phnom Penh
Day
1 / 14

Royal and Recent History of Phnom Penh

Home to about 1.5 million people, Phnom Penh has been Cambodia’s capital since the French colonization of the country.

Spend the morning exploring some key attractions in this charming city which boasts a rich blend of Khmer and colonial architecture. Explore the hillside Wat Phnom with its big trees and mischievous monkeys and hear about the legend of Lady Penh, the founder of the city; the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, two of the most striking buildings in the capital and considered as some of the finest examples of Khmer architecture. At the Silver Pagoda, notice the small green crystal Buddha (the “Emerald Buddha”) and a life-sized solid-gold Buddha, which weighs 90kg (198lb) and is adorned with 2086 diamonds; and the National Museum, designed in Khmer style by a French archaeologist and painter in 1917. The museum’s collection includes over 14,000 items, making it one of the world’s largest collections of Khmer art, including sculptural, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects.

After lunch, meet your guide again, for a tour into the dark times of Phnom Penh. Learn about the turbulent Khmer Rouge years with visits to Tuol Sleng, a high school turned interrogation prison known as S-21 during the Khmer Rouge era and now a genocide museum; and Cheung Ek, a large memorial commemorating the 17,000 victims who died there under the reign of Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot.

Return to your hotel in the late afternoon. We suggest a walk along the Tonle River Promenade and a dinner in one of the many restaurants in the area.

Meals: (B)

Location
Phnom Penh
Day
2 / 14

Begin Your Luxury Cruise

After a leisurely morning, check out from your hotel and meet your private driver for the transfer to a docked nearby Aqua Mekong.

Settle in your cabin and get acquainted with the ship, before meeting other passengers for a short briefing in the lounge.

Meet other passengers over custom sundowners like the Salted Watermelon Crush with Thai basil. Watch a Khmer Apsara performance, an indigenous tradition memorialized on the temple walls at Angkor Wat.

Meals: (B, L, D)

Location
Aqua Mekong Cruise
Day
3 / 14

Silversmith and Pottery Villages

This morning, we visit Koh Chen, a silversmith village known for its fine craftsmanship. Keep an eye out for their famous silver bowls, regularly chosen by Cambodia’s king as gifts for visiting dignitaries.

In the afternoon, we continue learning about Khmer riverside life in Kampong Chhnang, the ‘Port of Pottery’ so called because archaeological findings here date to the 6th century. A bike option is available.

Meals: (B, L, D)

Location
Aqua Mekong Cruise
Day
4 / 14

Floating World of Tonle Sap

Continue exploring the remote communities around Tonle Sap Lake, designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997.

In Chhnok Tru, we “slide” into an ice factory and learn from locals what it’s like to live in a town where schools, churches, pagodas, and even the karaoke bar and police station all float.

After lunch, we visit the floating village of Moat Khla, accessible only by water, and attend a Buddhist blessing ceremony in this isolated community.

Meals: (B, L, D)

Location
Aqua Mekong Cruise
Day
5 / 14

Prek Toal Core Bird Reserve and Siem Reap

Set off by skiff into the 22,000-hectare Prek Toal Core Bird Reserve, one of the largest freshwater bodies in Asia and the last refuge in Southeast Asia for large waterbirds like the spot-billed pelicans, milky stork, black-headed ibis, and the elusive masked finfoot.

Disembark in Siem Reap and meet your guide, who will transfer you to the hotel. Evening at leisure.

Meals: (B)

Location
Aqua Mekong to Siem Reap
Day
6 / 14

Angkor Temples at Your Pace

It’s a full day around the Angkor Archeological Park today.

After breakfast, transfer by private car to Ta Prohm – one of Angkor’s jewels. Overgrown with fig trees, giving a haunting yet exotic atmosphere, is the most photographable. From here drive a short distance to Ta Keo, which would have been one of the finest temples in Angkor had it been completed.

Continue to Angkor Thom – an entire walled city, the royal Capital in the 12th century. With a population of 1 million, it was far bigger than any city in Europe at the time. The amazing centerpiece is the Bayon temple crowned with 216 giant, smiling faces of King Jayavarman VII.

Take a lunch break before the exploration of Angkor Wat, claimed to be the largest religious building in the world. The temple, which took 30 years to construct & used the labor of 300,000 workers was built as the earthly representation of the universe with its’ central tower symbolizing Mt Meru – the center of the Universe.

Return to your hotel late afternoon.

Meals: (B)

Location
Siem Reap
Day
7 / 14

Countryside on the Back of the Vespa and Evening Show

This morning, delve into the idyllic Cambodian countryside on this Vespa tour of cultural discovery! Start by visiting APOPO, an NGO that trains southern giant pouched rats to detect landmines. Nicknamed ‘Hero Rats’, these critters are an invaluable asset in the fight to safely remove the explosive legacies of war.

Waving farewell to these valiant rodents, leave the hustle of the city behind and follow tree-lined roads deep into the countryside, stopping at a local market to be introduced to your guide’s favorite vendors.

Venture onwards to a beautiful Buddhist temple to receive a traditional blessing, gaining an intriguing insight into the local belief system and the daily lives of monks.

Hop back on the Vespa and cruise through the lush natural scenery of rice paddies and farmland to enjoy refreshments at a local household and meet their herd of water buffalo.

Interact with the other local families who each have their own specialized trade, from rattan weavers and sugar palm harvesters to noodle makers and traditional medicine vendors. Epitomizing the hardworking ethics of rural life, it’s a heartwarming experience to meet these resourceful communities, and you are sure to return to the city with a deeper appreciation of their challenging livelihoods!

In the evening your driver will pick you up in time for the fascinating and inspiring Phare Circus Show and dinner.

Phare Circus works mainly with disadvantaged young people. They learn circus skills, theatre performance, music, and a range of visual arts. It combines local traditions with new creative and innovative genres.

Daring athleticism is combined with stories that speak powerfully to Cambodia’s not-too-distant history.

Meals: (B)

Location
Siem Reap
Day
8 / 14

Sunrise Alms Giving

Wake up early and prepare for an ultimately evocative start of your day, journeying deep into the Angkor Complex to a small village community and its monastery with 200 Monks for the ancient tradition of Alms Giving at Sunrise.

Witness the Monks pay respects to their elders before you join the local community in preparing a Monk’s breakfast, as part of the Alms offering. Receive a blessing from the Monks, in this truly South East Asian tradition.

As you are guided around the community, you will hear & feel the vibrations of their morning traditional chanting to finish this exclusive experience before continuing onwards.

The rest of the day at leisure.

Meals: (B)

Location
Siem Reap
Day
9 / 14

Transfer to Laos

After breakfast, meet your driver for the drive to the airport, and catch a flight to Luang Prabang – another charming town remembering the French colonization.

There, you will be met by the local driver and transferred to the lovely hotel.

Enjoy your evening at leisure at this quaint place!

Meals: (B)

Location
Siem Reap to Luang Prabang
Day
10 / 14

Market Snacks and Architecture

You’ll be picked up by your guide early in the morning, to start the day in the Lao lifestyle. The morning market in Luang Prabang, lining a couple of quiet streets near the Royal Palace, starts early and is over by mid-morning. The butcher and other vendors sell goods like rice, fresh vegetables, tofu, steamed fish, frogs, chickens. Your guide will explain how the dishes are made and encourage you to sample some of the authentic snacks.

From here we’ll continue to marvel at Luang Prabang’s beautiful mix of architecture, drawing influences from both the East and the West. Enjoy a lively presentation on preservation projects, followed by a walking tour of some of the town’s architectural highlights.

Wander through small streets and alleys to observe the lifestyle that the local people have maintained. If time permits, we can stop by the local home and meet the owners for a glimpse of daily life in this laid-back town. Back to the hotel for late lunch and remains of the day at leisure.

Meals: (B, L)

Location
Luang Prabang
Day
11 / 14

Hmong Village, Waterfall Trek and Bear Rescue Center

Spend a day trekking in the Lao countryside to visit local villages and the stunning Kuang Si Waterfalls.

Morning 40-minute drive from your hotel to the Hmong village of Ban Long Lao. Walk around the village for an insight into the rural lowland Lao and Hmong community.

Begin an easy trek through the surrounding paddy fields and farms and into the jungle. Follow a forest trail, stopping to explore a cave that served as a natural bomb shelter for the villagers during the Second Indochina War.

After another hour of walking, reach the Kuang Si Waterfall. Enjoy a Lao-style set menu lunch served in a beautifully located restaurant. Spend the afternoon relaxing by the pools and swimming.

Also visit the nearby Bear Rescue Center, home to sun bears and Malayan black bears rescued from bile farms or wildlife traffickers.

Return to Luang Prabang by private transfer.

Meals: (B, L)

Location
Luang Prabang
Day
12 / 14

Back on the Mekong River

Wake up early for your Luang Say boat departure towards the Pak Ou Caves. A continental breakfast is served onboard.

Opposite the mouth of the Nam Ou River, near Pak Ou village, the cruise stops to visit the Tam Thing cave. Translated as Rock Cave, it is famous for housing over 2,500 Buddha statues of all sizes and for being a place of pilgrimage for locals.

After lunch onboard, a few hours into the day after enjoying the sights of granite cliffs and sparkling sandy shores, the riverboat makes a stop to visit the hill tribe village of Baw, where you can watch the traditional process of making Lao whiskey.

In the early evening, the boat arrives at Luang Say Lodge near Pakbeng, giving you plenty of time to refresh, enjoy the scenery of the river, and admire the surrounding nature.

A Laotian dinner is served on the open-air terrace overlooking the Mekong River.

Meals: (B, L, D)

Location
Luang Prabang to Mekong
Day
13 / 14

Arrive at Huay Xai

Mornings are special times at Luang Say Lodge with stunning sights of the peaceful neighboring mountains, often shrouded in mist, while a full breakfast is served on the expansive teak terrace.

The cruise departs for another day of nature discovery along the legendary river with one stop planned along the way to Houei Say.

After lunch, the boat stops at a traditional village. This is a chance to observe rural life along the Mekong and witness the daily life of ethnic minorities and their talented craftsmanship.

Arrive at Huay Xai in the late afternoon, in time to cross the border and arrive at your hotel before night.

Meals: (B, L)

Location
Mekong to Huay Xai
Day
14 / 14
1 / 14

Accommodations

Cruises & Lodges

Aqua Mekong from above

Aqua Mekong

A river expedition vessel with modern state-of-the-art design and the highest levels of luxury.
40 Guests
20 Cabins
View

Luang Say

A cruise on this motorized riverboat is complemented by charming accommodation in a riverside lodge.
40 Guests
1 Cabins
View

Hotel Options

5 Star

Sarai Resort & Spa

Siem Reap