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two monks walking along road

Overview

An awe-inspiring journey

Travel through Southeast Asia exploring the relationship between its villages and the waterways that provide economic, social and spiritual sustenance. Cruise the dramatic limestone islets of Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. Then ply the Mekong River in Laos from the idyllic village of Luang Prabang to visit the Pak Ou Caves, where thousands of Buddha images stand in repose. And in Cambodia, explore remote villages around Tonle Sap Lake before embarking on a four-night cruise aboard the luxurious Aqua Mekong to Phnom Penh.

Round out the adventure with time in bustling Hanoi, including a cyclo tour in the Guild District. And marvel at the archaeological wonders of Angkor, ancient capital of the powerful Khmer kingdom.

Dates

October 5–19, 2022

Duration

15 days

Price

From $13,795

Trip size

30 participants

Minimum age

18 years

Faculty leader

A different kind of classroom

With renowned Stanford faculty and scholars leading the way, every Travel/Study trip is a one-of-a-kind educational experience.

Buzz Thompson, ’73, MBA ’76, JD ’76

Stanford Law School

The Robert E. Paradise Professor of Natural Resources Law and a senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment, Buzz is a scholar of rivers, their histories and the critical role they play in shaping the countries and regions through which they flow.

Learn from a global expert on water and natural resources

On this trip, Buzz looks forward to talking with us about everything from how the Mekong River has influenced the area’s political and economic history to the threats that dams are posing to the River’s future as well as some of the more interesting and threatened denizens of the Mekong, such as the Mekong giant catfish and the Irrawaddy dolphin.

Itinerary

A cultural odyssey through Southeast Asia

Cruise stunning Ha Long Bay, wander the Guild District of Hanoi, stay in the idyllic village of Luang Prabang, explore the ancient temples of Angkor and cruise the Mekong River from Tonle Sap Lake Phnom Penh.

  • Hanoi, Vietnam

    Arrive in Hanoi and transfer to our hotel for an afternoon, dinner and evening at leisure.

    Accommodations:

    Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

  • Hanoi

    Today visit Hanoi’s fascinating Ethnology Museum that focuses on the lifestyle, traditions and culture of Vietnam’s minority peoples. Following an afternoon tour of the Guild District, attend a traditional water puppet performance. This evening gather with fellow travelers for a welcome dinner.

    Accommodations:

    Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Hanoi

    This morning we explore Vietnam’s capital with a visit to Ba Dinh Square, the locale of Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and, nearby, his spartan wartime residence. Continue to the Confucian Academy, known as the Temple of Literature and considered Vietnam’s first university. This evening dine at one of the many fine restaurants in Hanoi independently.

    Accommodations:

    Hotel Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

    Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Hanoi / Ha Long Bay

    This morning we board a private coach and drive to beautiful Ha Long Bay. Board our cruising vessel and, throughout the afternoon and into the evening, enjoy drifting amid the dramatic limestone islets of the bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stay overnight aboard our ship, floating on the peaceful waters of Ha Long Bay.

    Accommodations:

    Paradise Cruises vessel

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Ha Long Bay / Luang Prabang, Laos

    Spend the morning seeking local wildlife, hidden in river grottoes. After brunch, disembark our vessel and return to Hanoi where we board a late afternoon flight to Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of the Lanexang kingdom, the center of religious life in Laos today and a UNESCO World Heritage city. Enjoy dinner at our hotel upon arrival.

    Accommodations:

    Le Bel Air Resort

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Luang Prabang

    Following breakfast, take an excursion upstream on the Mekong River to visit the Pak Ou Caves located in a limestone cliff opposite the confluence of the Mekong and Ou Rivers. The two large caves are repositories for thousands of Buddha images, which range from a half-inch to six and a half feet in height. As we travel along the river, view typical local villages tucked amid the lush greenery and canoes bobbing by the shore. Stop at the village of Ban Muang Keo, well known for traditional Lao rice whisky. At our hotel this evening before dinner, experience a traditional Baci ritual blessing.

    Accommodations:

    Le Bel Air Resort

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Luang Prabang

    Observe the early-morning processions through the streets of Luang Prabang of monks collecting alms. Visit the Wat Xieng Thong, the 16th-century temple that epitomizes the grace elegance of Luang Prabang-style architecture. Also visit the Royal Palace featuring rooms decorated in traditional Lao style and housing historic relics of the ancient Lao kingdom, including the historic Prabang figure, a pure gold Buddha image after which the town is named. This afternoon, take an excursion to a nearby handicraft village and later enjoy dinner at our hotel.

    Accommodations:

    Le Bel Air Resort

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Luang Prabang / Siem Reap, Cambodia

    This morning board our flight bound for Cambodia. Upon arrival in Siem Reap, transfer to our hotel, then visit the Angkor National Museum. This evening, enjoy dinner in our historic hotel.

    Accommodations:

    Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Siem Reap / Angkor Wat / Angkor Thom

    This morning visit the crumbling ancient capital of the powerful Khmer kingdom, Angkor, which flourished from the 10th to the 15th century and comprises some 400 sandstone, brick and laterite temples, walls, tombs and other structures surrounded and invaded by jungle. Begin exploring this vast archaeological UNESCO World Heritage site, starting with Angkor Wat. Continue our investigation of the area with a visit to Angkor Thom, royal city of the 12th-century god-king, Jayavarman VII, which includes the Bayon with its 54 intricately carved symmetric towers topped by giant stone faces and the Terrace of the Leper King.

    Accommodations:

    Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Siem Reap / Banteay Srei / Embark Aqua Mekong

    This morning explore one of Angkor’s earliest and most prized sites, Banteay Srei. This temple, situated in a small, out-of-the-way location, displays the most beautifully preserved carvings remaining at Angkor. Also visit the temple ruins of Ta Prohm. Depart our hotel after lunch for the port at Tonle Sap Lake and embark our luxury river vessel, the Aqua Mekong. It features superb cuisine, well-appointed rooms and small skiffs that let us explore the less-traveled parts of the Mekong. After settling in to our cabins, enjoy dinner aboard our ship.

    Accommodations:

    Aqua Mekong

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Tonle Sap Lake / Prek Toal / Moat Khla

    Set off by skiff for the Prek Toal Core Bird Reserve, a 54,000-acre, seasonally inundated swamp forest and last refuge in Southeast Asia for large water birds such as the spot-billed pelican, milky stork, black-headed ibis and the elusive masked finfoot. After lunch, visit the floating village of Moat Khla, accessible only by water, and attend a Buddhist blessing ceremony in this isolated community.

    Accommodations:

    Aqua Mekong

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Tonle Sap Lake / Chhnok Tru / Kampong Chhnang

    Explore remote villages around Tonle Sap Lake, designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997. In Chhnok Tru, “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 are all afloat. Learn all about Khmer riverside life in Kampong Chhnang, the “Clay Pot Port” famous for its skilled potters who sell their wares throughout Cambodia.

    Accommodations:

    Aqua Mekong

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Koh Chen

    Visit Udong, the royal capital from the 17th to the 19th centuries, and learn about a uniquely challenging Buddhist practice at the Vipassana Dhura Mandala, a meditation center. In the afternoon, set off for the Mekong’s “silk islands” where renowned weavers allow us to wander freely to admire their intricate craftsmanship. Biking is optional for those who wish to explore more of the islands.

    Accommodations:

    Aqua Mekong

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Phnom Penh / Disembark Aqua Mekong

    Disembark our ship and experience the Cambodian capital by motorized tuk-tuk, viewing the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda and stopping at the National Museum of Cambodia, home to the world’s largest collection of Khmer art. Later visit the moving Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide, and Phnom Penh’s Central Market. This evening, check in to our hotel and enjoy a festive farewell reception and dinner.

    Accommodations:

    Raffles Hotel Le Royal

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Phnom Penh / Home

    Depart on flights bound for the U.S., arriving home the same day.

    Included meal: Breakfast

Make the most of your trip

Want more time to explore? Get the most out of your stay in this region when you sign up for an optional trip extension.

Post-trip Extension to Ho Chi Minh City

Enjoy three additional nights aboard the sleek Aqua Mekong as we journey from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City. En route, explore the towns and countryside on foot, by rickshaw or by sampan. Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, spend a full day visiting its landmark sights.

  • Phnom Penh / Embark Aqua Mekong

    After a day spent in Phnom Penh, transfer back to the Aqua Mekong for dinner and an additional three nights aboard our luxury river vessel.

    Accommodations:

    Aqua Mekong

    Included meal: Dinner
  • Tan Chau, Vietnam / My An Hung

    This morning awake in Vietnam as we cruise toward Tan Chau, a bustling border town. Ride the local rickshaw called a xe loi for a trip around town or take an 11-mile bike ride on the peaceful island of Long Khanh. In the afternoon, visit My An Hung, a typical Mekong Delta village, and walk through verdant plantations. Pay a visit to the home of a local to taste fresh local fruits while hearing traditional folk songs performed by villagers, followed by a unique Unicorn dance.

    Accommodations:

    Aqua Mekong

    Included meals: Dinner, lunch and breakfast
  • Binh Thanh or Sa Dec / Cai Be

    Begin the day at the mat-weaving village of Binh Thanh or opt to visit Sa Dec and peruse the goods in its colorful market before visiting the house of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le, whose affair with the famous French novelist Marguerite Duras was immortalized in her best-selling book, L’Amant. Continue downstream to Cai Be where we board local sampans to zig and zag past lone fishermen on their long tail boats. Walk or bike past high-roofed open courtyard houses, some dating back more than 100 years and currently inhabited by gracious locals, some of whom will invite us in to see their homes.

    Accommodations:

    Aqua Mekong

    Included meals: Dinner, lunch and breakfast
  • Disembark Aqua Mekong / Ho Chi Minh City

    This morning, disembark our ship and transfer to Ho Chi Minh City. After checking in to our hotel, explore the landmark sights of Ho Chi Minh City with our local guide on a tour that includes the former Presidential Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Cultural History Museum. Our hotel is ideally situated next to the French Colonial Opera House and close to the cafes and shops that line Dong Khoi Street, putting this attractive part of the city right at our doorstep.

    Accommodations:

    Park Hyatt Saigon

    Included meals: Lunch and breakfast
  • Ho Chi Minh City / Home

    Today, with transfers provided throughout the day, proceed to the airport and board individual flights, arriving back home the same day.

    Included meal: Breakfast

Trip details

Start preparing for the trip of a lifetime

From top to bottom, we’ve taken care of all the details, so you can enjoy a no-stress, worry-free travel experience.

“This was an emotional experience for those of us who came of age during the Vietnam War, but it was interesting to see how these areas are thriving today. The people were warm; the scenery spectacular; the food delicious. The week on the boat was totally luxurious in every respect.”

— Patricia Leicher, ’70

Pricing

Secure your spot today

The price of your trip covers a comprehensive educational program in addition to meals, accommodations, tours and excursions. Continue reading for a full list of what’s included.

ship sailing at sea in the evening

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