Mekong Explorer - 8 days/7 nights
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – Cai Be – Can Tho – Chau Doc – Phnom Penh
Explore the mighty Mekong River from the heart of Southern Vietnam to Cambodia. In this cultural and historical journey, you will meet a war time photo-journalist and local artisans. Visit rustic countryside villages, home workshops and beautiful French colonial villas. Learn about the culture and cuisine of the Cham people who once ruled an ancient kingdom in Central Vietnam.
Privately-Guided! Whether you are a single person, a couple, or a group, you'll have your own guide and driver for all airport pickups, drop offs, and daily excursions.
Choose Your Own Dates! This is not a fixed-departure-date tour. Just let us know the dates that work best for you and we will arrange everything.
Customizable! Need more time? Less time? Want to see or do something that isn't included? Just let us know, and we will arrange it for you and let you know the change in costs.
Click here to read what our clients have told us after they return.
- Visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels by speedboat
- Have your portrait sketched by a local artist
- Overnight cruise aboard the Song Xanh Sampan
- Bicyle ride in the countryside
- Speedboat ride to Phnom Penh
Day 1: Arrive Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, you will be welcomed by our representative and transferred to your hotel for check in. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City
Optional: make an early morning visit to Tao Dan Park where you can join many local people for morning exercise or tai chi. After, return to the hotel for a hearty breakfast before visiting the Reunification Palace - the former Presidential Palace of the Southern Vietnamese Government before 1975. Proceed for photo opportunities at the Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, City Hall and Opera House. Head up to the observation deck at the new Bitexco Financial building for a bird's eye view of Saigon at 627 feet high, then enjoy lunch at the charming Indochine Restaurant. Afternoon, you will enjoy tea with a traditional local musician to learn about their skills, and watch a short live performance. Later stop by the iconic Ben Thanh market and interact with local vendors selling an array of handicrafts, household goods, grocery items and typical local snacks. End the day with sunset cocktail drink at the roof top bar of the Caravelle hotel, a popular gathering place for journalists during the Vietnam War. Overnight in Saigon. (Breakfast, lunch)
Day 3: Ho Chi Minh City
Early morning, you will take a speed boat ride from Saigon to the Cu Chi tunnels along the Saigon River with light breakfast on board. Cu Chi was an important base during the American War because of its strategic location. The Vietcong built a 200km long network of tunnels connecting command posts, hospitals, shelters and weapon factories. Dug out of hard laterite by hand tools without the use of cement, this amazing network was never discovered. Return to Saigon by speed boat with a light lunch onboard. After, you will enjoy dessert at the most popular local ice cream vendor in town – Bach Dang Ice Cream.
Afternoon, visit a private museum of war photography by Mr. Hoang Van Cuong, a former United Press International photojournalist during the war. Most American journalists departed with the US Embassy staff when North Vietnamese troops took over Saigon on April 30, 1975. Mr. Cuong was one of the few journalists who stayed behind and documented this momentous period with his photos. Listen to his encounters with combat troops and imprisonment in a re-education camp for seven years. Later, enjoy a Vietnamese coffee break while having your portrait sketched by a professional local artist. A lovely memento from your visit to Vietnam! Overnight in Saigon. (Breakfast, lunch)
Day 4: Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho
Early morning, you will drive about two hours from Saigon to Cai Be to board the Song Xanh Sampan to start your Mekong Delta cruise. Stop over at local home workshops to observe how rice paper, coconut candies and other specialties are made traditionally. Your sampan will cruise upstream along Tien Giang River, one of the two large arms of the Mekong. Disembark to take a small row boat along a narrow canal passing by local villages and fruit plantations. Further on the banks, cruise by one of the largest artisanal bricks and tiles factory. Disembark at the local market place of Sa Dec for a guided visit of this charming town filled with beautiful French old houses and Chinese temples dating from the last century.
Stop by a charming old house from 1890, the home of Huynh Thuy Le, the character “Lover” from French novelist Marguerite Duras. Back on board, lunch will be served while cruising under several wooden “monkey bridges”. It is possible to make some stops on the banks to interact with local villagers and visit a Cao Dai temple, a unique religion created in Southern Vietnam in the 1920s. Before sunset, meet the owners of another old house or “Nha Co” dating from the early 19th century. A memorable candlelight dinner awaits you in a unique atmosphere. After dinner, cruise approximately for one hour until arrival in Can Tho. The boat will moor to spend the night in a quiet place. Overnight onboard Song Xanh Cruise. (All meals)
Day 5: Can Tho
At 6 am your sampan will commence cruising. Breakfast will be served on board at 7am, while cruising through the bustling Cai Rang floating market, the largest in the Mekong delta region. You will pass countless boats selling a large variety of local agricultural produce and small sampan food vendors. Your cruise journey will end at around 10 am at the Ninh Kieu pier after a visit to the Can Tho local market. After checking out from the sampan, you will visit Binh Thuy House – the most impressive ancient house in Mekong Delta before having lunch at Sao Hom Restaurant. After lunch, check in at your hotel. Afternoon you will take 3 to 4 hours bike ride to discover the peaceful rural areas of Mekong Delta. Starting from Can Tho, you will cycle along Cai Son canal to Cai Rang, visiting local workshops making rice noodles and typical local wooden sampan. Then continue along the Rau Ram and Nuoc Lanh canal along small trails and between fruit orchards. You will stop to enjoy some fresh fruit before riding back to Can Tho. Dinner at Nam Bo Restaurant. Overnight in Can Tho. (All meals)
Day 6: Can Tho to Chau Doc
This morning you will drive for about three hours from Can Tho to Chau Doc, a quaint little town bordering with Cambodia. Upon arrival, enjoy lunch at local restaurant then check in at your hotel. In the afternoon visit Sam Mountain – a popular pilgrimage for South Vietnamese people. Enjoy a panoramic view of Chau Doc and neighboring fields of Cambodia. Then ride on a local pedicab to visit Chinese temples & a local market. Return to your riverfront hotel for a sunset view before a relaxing 20-minute foot massage. You will enjoy a sumptuous dinner tonight at your hotel. Overnight in Chau Doc. (All meals)
Day 7: Chau Doc
After breakfast, you will take a boat to visit a typical floating fish farm on the Bassac River. See schools of live fish kept in cages underneath the farmer’s house and try feeding the fish. Return to your boat and continue to a Cham village, a Muslim minority and one of the most impoverished local communities in Vietnam. You can contribute by purchasing some local handicrafts from the villagers. Then explore this charming village, see skilful weaving techniques and stopping by a local mosque. A cooking demonstration awaits you in a typical Cham House. Learn more about their unique cuisine from a professional chef who will demonstrate Cham cooking techniques over a traditional wood burning stove. Lunch will be served in this house where you will dine sitting on the floor like the locals do.
Afternoon, visit the Tra Su Bird Sanctuary, a protected National Park in the Mekong Delta region. About an hour’s drive away, you will enter a beautiful and well preserved flooded forest area. Take a boat ride to the middle of forest to observe various kinds of birds like Stork, Heron, Waterhen or Kingfisher. Head up to a 23-meter high observation tower where you can have a panoramic view of canopy trees and flocks of birds. Overnight in Chau Doc. (Breakfast, lunch)
Day 8: Chau Doc to Phnom Penh
Rise early for breakfast before taking your four-hour speed boat to Phnom Penh. You will travel along the Bassac River, the west delta tributary of the Mekong. Enjoy rustic views of bamboo stilt houses on river banks, agricultural farm lands and life along the Mekong. (Breakfast)
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While this itinerary ends in Phnom Penh,, we can arrange a tour of Cambodia as an extension to this tour. For tours in Cambodia, see our Cambodia page for recommended itineraries.
Per Person Rates (based on double occupancy) start from: $2,490
Contact Us for advice on hotels and a quote based on your choice.
Please note that peak season supplements for stays over Christmas and New Years may apply.
- All airport transfers to and from hotel by private car
- All tours and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
- In-country flights as outlined in the itinerary
- All surface transportation as per the itinerary by air conditioned car with bottled water
- Hotel accommodation with breakfast including taxes and service charges
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary
- Entrance fees to indicated sites
- Speedboat ride from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh
- Services of a local English speaking guide for all visits and excursions
Rates Do Not Include
- Visa fees
- International airfare
- Expenses of a personal nature
- Supplements for stays on Christmas or New Year's Eve and mandatory gala dinners at the hotels on those dates
To Book This Tour
Please call us toll free at 1-877-362-2793 and let us know that you would like to book this tour. Then follow these instructions:
- Download, print, and fill out the Reservation Form for each person.
- Fax the form to us at 206-529-4803, or mail it to:
Red Lantern Journeys
1000 N. Northlake Way, Suite H
Seattle, WA 98103
- Pay a non-refundable $500 per person deposit and we will initiate your reservations.
- Final payment is due 75 days prior to departure.
If your reservation is made less than 75 days prior to departure, the non-refundable deposit will allow us to initiate reservations. Full payment will be due immediately upon confirmation of all hotels and transportation services. If the services quoted cannot be confirmed, alternate accommodation or transportation will be arranged and the price will be adjusted accordingly.
Payments can be made by personal check, bank wire transfer, or credit card. Upon receipt of your deposit, we will initiate your reservations and send you a statement showing your payment. Approximately 4 weeks prior to your departure, we will send you a final confirmation package containing your itinerary and detailed information on the logistics of your trip.
Forms to Download (pdf file)
Reservation Form with Complete Terms and Conditions
- Cancel more than 60 days prior to departure - forfeit your deposit.
- Cancel between 30 and 60 days prior to departure - forfeit 50% of the tour cost.
- Cancel less than 30 days prior to departure - NO REFUND of tour cost.
- Cancellations must be made in writing and sent via mail, fax, or email to Red Lantern Journeys.
- Refunds will be processed within 30 days of receipt of your written request.
- No refunds are available for unused services or tours during your trip.