Cruise the Mighty Mekong River from Saigon, to Siem Reap

A unique “soft adventure” cruise up the Mekong from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Siem Reap in Cambodia is planned for November 7-21, 2006. Organized by the Landmine Relief Fund and Value World Tours, and escorted by Bill Morse, the founder of the Relief Fund, this tour offers a truly special look at Vietnam and Cambodia today, with English speaking guides who will talk about the history of the countries, its peoples and life today along the Mekong River, one of the major rivers of the world. You will have ample time to explore on your own, and relax on the deck of your private cruise ship, while sailing a river few have had the opportunity to see up close.

The tour will culminate with a visit to the Cambodian Landmine Museum in Siem Reap Cambodia, where you’ll meet Aki Ra, its founder and Managing Director. Aki Ra spends his time “making his country safe for his people” by clearing as many landmines and IEDs as he can find (over 60,000 to date), and caring for the 15 orphaned and maimed children he and his wife have adopted.

Days 1- 4 After flying overnight to Asia, we’ll start our adventure in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). We’ll spend three nights in a 5 Star hotel while we explore this unique and historical city as few have had the chance.

After we rummage through the markets of Saigon, and discover its old sections by pedicab, we’ll travel to the tunnels of Cu Chi to see where the Viet Cong hid themselves from American troops during the “American War” of the 60s and early 1970s. Full breakfast and dinner are included while in Saigon.

After Saigon we head for our next home away from home, the Mekong Pandaw, a ship designed and built by the Irrawaddy River Company of Burma. Specially designed to navigate and explore the rivers of Southeast Asia, the Pandaw accommodates only 80 passengers. Your teak cabins accommodate two comfortably, with en-suite bathrooms, and full air conditioning. All your meals will be taken in the ship’s dining room, and you’ll have the chance to discover the beauty of the Mekong from the covered top deck of the ship, from your comfortable chaise lounge, or deck chair. Lectures and daily updates on our itinerary will be presented in the inclusive, air conditioned bar on the bow of the ship.

Day 5 We start our 7 day river adventure up the Mekong in My Tho and after a light buffet lunch explore Vinh Long and the Tien Giang islands in a traditional junk. B/L/D

Day 6 Cai Be and Chau Doc We’ll visit floating markets and a rural French Gothic Cathedral tourists seldom see. You’ll also have the opportunity to visit riverside villages and watch the locals make hand made coconut candy and pitch in to make your own rice paper. B/L/D

Day 7 Chau Doc and Cambodian Border Take a morning rickshaw ride through this French colonial city and then board smaller boats to visit a local Cham Minority Tribal village. This evening we cross the border into Cambodia. Don’t worry, all the paperwork is done by the crew while you relax on the top deck. We moor this evening near Phnom Penh. B/L/D

Day 8 Phnom Penh Rich in French Colonial architecture, Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia, the home of its king, wonderful markets, and the haunting vastness of the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. B/L/D

Day 9 Leaving Phnom Penh, we’ll travel up the Mekong, visiting Kampong Cham, a silk weaving village. B/L/D

Day 10 Today we cruise Cambodia while visiting an 8th century Wat (temple) in the morning and the unique Wat Nokor in the afternoon. Wat Nokor is special in that a modern Wat is set inside the ruins of the original temple.

Day 11 Today we’ll travel up the Tonle River to Kampong Chhannan to visit her bustling rural market, a sight seen seldom by Western eyes. B/L/D

Our final stop will be Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat, one of the true wonders of the world. Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century as the capital of the Angkor empire which stretched from the Thai border into Vietnam. Our local guides will walk you through temples overgrown with jungle and take you places you never dreamed of seeing. You’ll have three full days in Siem Reap. Your home in Siem Reap is a 4 star hotel/resort with pool, air conditioned rooms, full restaurant and bar.

Day 12 Siem Reap After breakfast we disembark our ship for the last time and transfer by coach to Siem Reap, the second largest city in Cambodia. Our afternoon will include a visit to a silk farm and a local artist village where you can watch these artisans at work. The day ends with dinner at the Foreign Correspondents Club. B/L/D

Day 13 Today you visit the Angkor Temple complex. In the morning we’ll tour the lesser known Temples, Angkor Thom, Elephant Terrace, and Leper King. Lunch is at the Red Piano, a favorite of Angelina Jolie, a regular visitor to Cambodia and star of the Tomb Rader movies. After lunch we head to the unbelievable main Angkor Wat Temples for a magnificent sunset tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. We have a special dinner planned for this evening with performance of the Apsara Dance, Cambodia’s national folklore. B/L/D

Day 14 Our final day in Siem Reap will include an optional trip to the Cambodian Landmine Museum. Founded by Aki Ra, native to the area, its sole purpose is to make Cambodia safe for its people. (B)

The Landmine Relief Fund, sponsors of the trip, has been supporting Aki Ra and his work since Bill first visited in 2004. Aki Ra was suppressed into the Khmer Rouge Army at the age of 5 when the KR overthrew the government of Pot Pot and attempted to take Cambodia back to its agrarian roots. Banning all forms of money, breaking up families, emptying the cities and changing the calendar to year 0, the Khmer Rouge began eliminating anyone they saw as a threat, eventually murdering millions of their own citizens.

Aki Ra received his first gun at 5, and by his mid teens was an expert at designing and planting landmines, true terror weapons, that continue to kill and maim to this day. Eventually the Khmer Rouge were overthrown, and the UN came to Cambodia to assist in establishing some form of normalcy. They hired Aki Ra to help de-mine the country.

He had found his trade.

Today Aki Ra spends his time clearing landmines, defusing IEDs and caring for the 15 maimed and orphaned children he and his wife Hourt have adopted as their own. With their two children his family of 19 is surviving through the donations of visitors to their museum, and the help of others.

Day 15 Siem Reap – Home (B)

A portion of the proceeds of this trip will be donated to Aki Ra. Price for land & cruise only is $2,499.00 and estimated airfare from LAX is $1,000.00. A special $100 discount per person if reservations are made through the Landmine Relief Fund website.


33 meals

3 nights deluxe 5 star hotel in Saigon

3 nights fist class/deluxe hotel in Siem Reap (Angkor Borei, Angkor Century Hotel, Sofitel Resort or similar)

2 full days of sightseeing in Saigon with English speaking guides

All transfers to and from the ship

Welcome drink and information meeting on board ship

Farewell Captains dinner

All excursions from ship

Round trip airfare from the USA to Vietnam and out of Camboida*

Temple tours in Siem Reap

Arrival and departure transfers

*If air is purchased through them

Learn more about Aki Ra and Landmine Relief Fund at:

See a more detailed itinerary at:

See some pictures from previous cruises at:

Filed Under: Meaningful Travel

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