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Australia | New Zealand | Fiji | French Polynesia

Opinions of what constitutes Oceania range, but for our purpose, we will encompass (largely) the islands of the South Pacific including Australia, New Zealand, French Polynesia, and the island nation of Fiji.

Hospitable land of kangaroos, wallabies and koala bears, the natural splendor of Australia ~ a.k.a. the Down Under ~ is truly unique. From its vast Outback and red-sand landscapes to the far reaches of Kangaroo Island and the Kimberly, Australia’s beauty is one of a kind. Step back in time with an exclusive visit to a private sheep station, or ‘hang’ and horse-trek with the cowboys in a working cattle station. Treat yourself to the sophisticated culinary experiences and fine vintages of Hunter Valley and the Blue Mountains. Swim, sail, snorkel or scuba amidst the technicolor coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef with its tropical marine population. Finally, take delight in Sydney’s cultural landmarks and bustling bushland ambience.

Then on to the island nation of neighboring New Zealand - consisting primarily of the subtropical, more populated north island and glacier-clad Alpine south island. Home of Maori culture, rolling farmlands, bubbling geothermal pools, emerald lakes, world-class fishing, and some of the most delightful hotels and lodges on earth, New Zealand offers a world-class, environmentally serene adventure.

Your luxury adventure travel experience is taken to new heights on the islands of Fiji and French Polynesia. With resorts headlining over-water bungalows and white sand beaches, and secluded luxury hotels built on crystal blue lagoons, these islands offer a dream vacation for families, honeymooners and anyone seeking the ultimate south sea island escape.

We're here to help you navigate the options and orchestrate a custom holiday that suits perfectly your special wishes and interests.

Faces of Cambodia & Vietnam


Cambodia, once home to powerful Khmer kings, dazzles with timeless architectural treasures - foremost, Angkor Wat. The country's soul, however, lives in the friendly smiles and warm hospitality of villagers dwelling along the Mekong River. Discover Angkor Wat with an expert guide, then cruise for seven nights on an exclusive charter along the Mekong to experience its history and river culture, gaining deeper insight into Southeast Asia's way of life through interactions with residents, families in their homes, and monks in ancient pagodas. Finally, continue on your journey with a custom private tour, exploring the colonial legacy of Saigon and the coastal communities of Vietnam - a country which embraces both the bustle of contemporary life and the tranquility of a bygone era. Landscapes range from river deltas to unspoiled beaches to forested peaks. Add to this a delightfully complex cuisine - a fusion of French-colonial influences and fresh local ingredients! 


Itinerary

Day 1:  Arrive Bangkok
Arrive in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, and transfer to your luxurious hotel.
The Peninsula Bangkok

Day 2:  Bangkok | Sailing the Serene Chao Phraya River
Discover Wat Pho Temple, with its massive reclining Buddha statue, and listen to the musical sound of coins dropping into brass offering bowls. Then, Ride Like a Local on a tuk-tuk around the sprawling Grand Palace. Explore the ancient Siamese court, home to Thailand’s most important shrine, the green-jade Emerald Buddha. Next, gather for a light lunch aboard a traditional wooden rice barge. Cruise the quiet Chao Phraya River, taking in the wonderful views. Later, fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia, and transfer to your traditional, Khmer-style boutique hotel.
Belmond La Résidence d'Angkor | Meals: BLD

Day 3:  Angkor Wat | Temples and Terraces of Kings
Set off to explore the extraordinary temples of Angkor, a breathtaking city lost in the jungle and Cambodia’s most prized national treasure. Enter the monumental gates of Angkor Thom, where 54 gods and 54 demons are represented in an epic tug of war. Visit the Bayon Temple, with its 172 large-scale faces wearing enchanting smiles, as well as the terraces of the Elephant and Leper Kings. Later, walk ancient Ta Prohm Temple, an Indiana Jones-worthy fantasy with its crumbling towers and massive tree roots. Stay at Angkor Wat until sunset, marveling as the diminishing, moody light washes over this unforgettable, faraway world.
Belmond La Résidence d'Angkor |
Meals: BL

Day 4:  Kampong Cham | Board Mekong Princess
Drive through the lush and scenic Cambodian countryside to Kampong Cham, where you will board a private charter of the all-suite Mekong Princess, your boutique river cruiser for the next seven nights. Tonight, enjoy a Khmer-inspired dinner.
Mekong Princess | Meals: BLD

Day 5:  Cruising the Mekong | Life in a Local Village
Explore the charming town of Angkor Ban, where you enjoy the opportunity to glimpse into the lives of local people, starting with a visit to a family home. Continue to the village school to observe the classroom experience. Stop briefly at the local monastery complex on your walk back to the ship.
Mekong Princess | Meals: BLD

Day 6:  Cruising the Mekong | Phnom Penh, Pearl of Asia
Today, Ride Like a Local through Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s lush and alluring capital city, on an engaging cyclo tour. Discover the ornate Royal Palace and wander past huge stupas, spirit houses and potted flowers en route to the famous Silver Pagoda, home of Cambodia’s Emerald Buddha and the diamond-encrusted Maitreya Buddha. Visit the National Museum this afternoon. Later, learn about Cambodia’s darker days as you walk the notorious killing fields of Choeung Ek. Sense the somber atmosphere of this, one of history’s most infamous places. Then, leave behind that bleak period in Cambodian history to attend an uplifting performance by children from a local orphanage of Apsara, the country’s national dance, which you can enjoy on the sun deck of your ship.
Mekong Princess | Meals: BLD

Day 7:  Cruising the Mekong | A Hidden Port
Sail into Vietnam and cruise downstream to little-known Hong Ngu, which nimble Mekong Princess can enter with ease. In this place few Westerners have ever been, experience an especially friendly welcome, followed by a visit to a local family home, where you watch the weaving of kromas (traditional Khmer scarves), which are exported to Cambodia. Later, explore a local temple dedicated to Hòa Hóa, a unique Vietnamese religion.
Mekong Princess | Meals: BLD

Day 8:  Cruising the Mekong | Cao Dai
Begin the day with a sampan (wooden boat) ride to the riverside market town of Long Xuyen. Walk the bustling market and then visit the Cao Dai Temple, where a compelling Vietnamese religion was founded as an amalgam of different beliefs to harmonize relations. Indigenous to Vietnam and founded in the early 20th century, Cao Dai is a fusion of the best from Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism with Christianity and Islam thrown in for good measure. The elaborate temple’s architecture reflects the combination of religions. Later this afternoon, sail to the village of Thot Not. Here, ride a xe loi (motorized trishaw) through the village to a sanctuary filled with the cacophony of birdsong. Following a short walk into the sanctuary, climb the steps to the viewing platform, where an incredible view spans treetops and the nesting area of protected egrets.
Mekong Princess | Meals: BLD

Day 9:  Cruising the Mekong | Remote Buddhist Temple Visit
Rise early for a sampan cruise through the fascinating Cai Rang floating market near Can Tho. Weave between the many boats that sail into the market each morning to sell produce and goods. Grab your camera: This is the place to capture brilliant photographs of a dynamic market life. Fresh coconut water, the Vietnamese “anti-aging drink,” refreshes you before a stop at a local factory to see the making of instant noodles. Back on board, sail deeper into regions of the Mekong Delta rarely touched by travellers to see Phuoc Hau Pagoda. At this important Buddhist temple that dates back to the fourth century, interact with local monks to learn about their daily life and practices.
Mekong Princess | Meals: BLD

Day 10:  Cruising the Mekong | Life Among the Mangroves
Today, board a sampan to wend your way through a channel lined with mangroves, whose tangled roots provide a sheltered habitat for the smallest denizens of the river’s ecosystem, for a visit to a local coconut candy maker. After watching the candymaking process, board an intimate, two-seater boat for a cruise through lush, narrow creeks lined with Nipah palm, a native species and the only one of its kind adapted to the mangrove habitat.
Mekong Princess | Meals: BLD

Day 11:  Ho Chi Minh City | Immersed in Vibrant Saigon
Unlike other river ships that are forced to dock outside of Saigon, the swift Mekong Princess takes you right into the heart of this lively, evocative metropolis, which today goes by the name of Ho Chi Minh City. Recently experiencing a resurgence of art and culture, the city is a hub of activity. Bid farewell to the crew of Mekong Princess and set out to discover the city’s colonial legacy including the Central Post Office designed by the French architect Gustav Eiffel, the Notre Dame Cathedral (a red brick edifice with twin spires based on the original construction in Paris) and the Opera House. Continue your exploration with a tour of the History Museum and the colorful Ben Thanh Market. Then, drive past the former U.S. embassy building from which helicopters carried off the last American personnel remaining on site before the city fell to the Vietcong in April of 1975. Observe as you go, the vibrant, bustling energy of a people on the move, wholeheartedly embracing the trappings of western culture, as giant images of “Father Ho” gaze out at streets streaming with the latest-model luxury automobiles. 
Intercontinental Asiana Saigon | Meals: BD

Day 12:  Ho Chi Minh City | Immersed in Vibrant Saigon 
After a leisurely breakfast, meet your guide for a full-day private tour of Saigon, the country’s commercial center and, with over nine million inhabitants and five million motorbikes, a city that never sleeps. Despite the well documented hustle and bustle, Saigon retains its connections with the past. First, transfer to Dong Khoi Street, or Rue Catinat as it was known in the time of the French occupation, to discover some of the beautiful French colonial buildings built in the late 19th and early 20th century. Following this, continue on with a two hour drive northwest of Saigon to the Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnel complex was initially started in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. The tunnels also served as communication routes, storage facilities for food and weapons, hospitals and living quarters for guerrilla fighters throughout the American war. A visit to the underground villages will provide a better understanding of the tunnels’ history - the hardship of life underground and the Vietnamese resilience during combat.

Returning to Saigon, a visit to the Rex Hotel's Rooftop Garden & Bar may be in order. Overlooking the very heart of the city, the Rooftop Garden is the place where memories linger. It recalls to the world its famous nickname “Five O’clock Follies” - the place where international correspondents who covered the Vietnam war, U.S officers and GIs had their drinking niche during the 60s. 
Intercontinental Asiana Saigon | Meals: B

Day 13:  Fly to DaNang | Overland to Hoi An (25 mins)
After breakfast, check out and meet your guide for transfer to the airport to board your flight to DaNang. Upon arrival in DaNang, collect your luggage and exit into the arrival hall where your guide will meet you for transfer to Hoi An. Upon arrival in Hoi An, embark upon a guided cylco tour of the Old Town, a UNESCO declared area. The narrow lanes are ideal for a visit to the old merchant’s house with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture; the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge; the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with outstanding wood carvings; and the colorful market with stalls brimming with tropical specialties including silk, which can be turned into fashionable garments within a day.
Anantara Resort, Hoi An |
Meals: B

Day 14:  Hoi An | Small Houses and Silk
Following breakfast, drive along the Thu Bon River where you have a chance to take photographs of many fishing boats and small houses. Continue through Thuan Tinh ecological village where you will see areca-nut gardens, family shrines, and local villagers going about daily life. Continue along quiet inland trails, past water-coconut palm trees, fishing farms and rice paddies to reach Cua Dai Beach. Cam An is a local fishing village with charming ocean views, many kumquat gardens and corn fields. On your return to Hoi An town, you may wish to stop by Tra Que village where many farmers cultivate herbs and vegetables. Help water the plants or fertilize the land if you have no problem getting your hands dirty. The rest of your day is at leisure.

OPTIONAL: Tailoring in Hoi An
Hoi An is a silk mecca. The quality and selection are the best in the country, and you'll have more peace and quiet here during a fitting than in Hanoi. Silk suits are made to order within 24 hours for about $35; cashmere wool is $45. There are countless shops, and a good way to choose a shop is by what you see out front - if you see a style you like, this will help with ordering. Make sure you take the time to specify your style, down to the stitch. It's not a bad idea to bring an actual suit or piece of clothing that you'd like a copy of.
Anantara Resort, Hoi An | Meals: B

Day 15:  Overland to Hue | Scenic Hai Van Pass
 
Join your guide this morning for a 3½ hour scenic transfer to Hue via Hai Van Pass, offering a spectacular panorama of the central coastline at the summit into DaNang. As you leave the Imperial City behind, a sequence of valleys and a long peninsula separates a shallow lagoon from the sea dotted with traditional Hue style houses. This journey unfolds yet another natural wonder of this beautiful country, the Hai Van Pass that literally means “Sea Clouds”. The pass forms an obvious boundary between North and South Vietnam and is the highest in the country (1640 feet above sea level). Stops will be made to enjoy the views and scenery of Hai Van Pass. Arrive Hue early evening. Assistance is provided with check-in, and your evening is at leisure.
La Résidence Hue Hotel & Spa | Meals: B 

Day 16:  Fly to Hanoi | Imperial Citadel Hue and Thien Mu Pagoda
Following breakfast, join your guide and begin the cultural integration with a 10-minute cyclo ride from your hotel to the Imperial Citadel (Hue). Stroll to explore the history and architecture around the Capital Citadel (the bastion), Royal Citadel (the sanctum), and the Forbidden Citadel (the royal family’s residence). Most of Hué's sights and a sizable chunk of its population reside within the 2m-thick, 10km-long walls of its Citadel on the north bank of the river. From here a 20-minute cyclo ride will bring you to the boat docking station, where you will embark on a half-hour boat trip on the picturesque Perfume River to visit Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue’s best-preserved religious monument. Standing on the riverbank with its seven-storey tower, the pagoda is a sight to behold. Built in 1601 between a river and a pine forest, the Thien Mu Pagoda ("Heavenly Lady Pagoda") in Hue is one of the oldest and prettiest religious buildings in the country. Evening transfer to the airport for your fight into Hanoi. Upon arrival in Hanoi collect your luggage and exit into the arrival hall where your guide will meet you for transfer to your hotel.
Sofitel Legend Metropole | Meals: B

Day 17:  Hanoi | Street Food Adventure to Hanoi Hilton
Meet your guide at 9:00am and commence a full-day tour. First visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, then onto the One-Pillar Pagoda, resting on a single stone pillar emerging from the water. Inside is a statue of the Goddess of Mercy with its legendary “thousand arms and thousand eyes”. At 10:30am, enjoy a street food adventure with your local chef. Eating on the street is a very typical activity for Hanoians and makes up an important part of the city’s unique culture. Street food is for everyone – rich, poor, old, young, tourist and local alike. Start your street food tour with an overview of local ingredients by visiting a local food market with your local chef. With some background knowledge, it’s time to hit the streets and start your food adventure. Most street restaurants only serve one or two dishes – and each is prepared right in front of you. Walk down small alleys and bustling streets and savor some of Hanoi’s specialties which are recommended and explained by your gastronome. Finish the trip dining at Ngon Restaurant (delicious) which is set up like a local food market selling specialties from each region in Vietnam.

Your next stop is at the Temple Of Literature. Founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong, this campus of tile-roofed sanctuaries and walled courtyards was Vietnam's first national university. Then visit the infamous Hanoi Hilton, Hoa Lo prison. About two thirds of the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" was demolished in the early 1990s for the construction of a high-rise apartment complex, but the penitentiary's remaining cells and dungeons were turned into a small, fascinating museum. The bulk of the exhibits (iron fetters, razor-sharp guillotine) recount the cruelty of French jailers during the colonial era, but a few rooms are devoted to the Vietnam War, when the jail held and tortured American prisoners of war. Next stop at the Vietnam Military History Museum. Its exhibitions present the Vietnamese military history from the first period of founding the country to the Ho Chi Minh era. The Vietnam Military History Museum is one of seven national museums and acts as the headquarters of the army museum system. The museum has around 160,000 objects stored and 4000 on display, many of which are placed in object collections for future exhibition or research.
Sofitel Legend Metropole | Meals: B

Day 18:  Overland to Halong Bay | The Halong Violet
This morning meet your English-speaking guide for an overnight transfer to Halong Bay. A rest-stop is included en route at Da Viet Center

Halong Bay:
Imagine 3000 or more incredible islands rising from the emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and you have a vision of breathtaking beauty. Halong Bay is pure art - a priceless collection of unfinished sculpture hewn by the hand of nature - and was designated a World Heritage site in 1994. These tiny islands are dotted with beaches and grottoes created by wind and waves, and have sparsely forested slopes ringing with birdsong. Halong Bay is the stuff of myths, and naturally the Vietnamese have concocted one. Halong translates as "where the dragon descends into the sea". Legend has it that the islands of Halong Bay were created by a great dragon that lived in the mountains. As it charged towards the coast, its flailing tail gouged out valleys and crevasses. When it finally plunged into the sea, the area filled with water, leaving only the pinnacles visible.

Embark on your beautiful five-star, traditional wooden junk, the Halong Violet. After a delicious lunch on board, the sailing begins! Cruising along Tu Long Bay where the film L’Indochine was shot with French actress Catherine Deneuve, visit Cua Van fishing village by tender. View a close-up of local fishermen’s daily lives on the water of Halong Bay. Transfer from the tender to the bamboo boat which is slowly rowed around a quiet lagoon and through a water cave. For the adventurous, climb over 400 steps to the top of Titov Island to experience a stunning panoramic view of the entire bay. Then head to the Cong Do area for anchoring overnight. Enjoy a cooking class and demonstration lead by the skilled chef before you delight in a fantastic meal of Vietnamese fusion cuisine in the expansive dining room. Browse the wine and champagne selection for a relaxing glass as you take in the glorious sunset over the water. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Halong Violet guides passengers through the majesty of Ha Long Bay in absolute luxury. Aboard the five-star traditional junk, explore hidden beaches, towering limestone karsts and the beauty of the bay. Designed to reflect the Indochine style of the 1930s, the red-sailed Halong Violet is the definition of opulence afloat.
Halong Violet - Deluxe Cabin | Meals: BLD 

Day 24:  Halong Bay |The Halong Violet 
Enjoy early morning Tai Chi on board, followed by a visit to Titov Island. Over 400 steps lead to the top of the island for a panoramic view of the bay. Brunch is served (a la carte menu). Enjoy the afternoon completely at leisure aboard the elegant Halong Violet.
Halong Violet - Deluxe Cabin | Meals: BLD

Day 25:  Overland to Hanoi | Fly Hanoi/USA
Following breakfast your beautiful journey ends today as you join your guide for a private transfer to Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport, where assistance will be provided with check in for your flight homeward bound. Meals: B

 A Fond Farewell to the Smiles of Indochina    

 

 

Mekong Princess: program in collaboration with Abercrombie & Kent
Departures through March 2018

 


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