The magnificent temples of Angkor are a key highlight of “Vietnam, Cambodia & the Riches of the Mekong,” the popular AmaWaterways cruise and land tour of Vietnam and Cambodia. Prior to embarking on a 7-night Mekong River cruise, AmaWaterways guests on the full 16-day cruise and land program spend three nights in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the gateway to the Angkor Archeological Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor marks the once-thriving center of the ancient Khmer empire, and is known for world-renowned landmarks such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm. AmaWaterways guests now have the opportunity to visit yet another spectacular temple of Angkor: the newly-reopened Baphuon.
Constructed during the 11th-century reign of King Udayadityavarman II, the three-story temple once constituted one of Angkor’s most spectacular sights. Restoration of the temple began in the 1960s but was put on hold during the country’s civil war. The project commenced again in 1995 with the help of the French government, and was completed in the spring of 2011. The sheer magnitude of the restoration project makes the monument’s re-opening all the more impressive. Workers literally took apart more than 300,000 sandstone blocks, laid them out in the surrounding jungle and then reassembled them like a puzzle. Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni himself attended ceremonies commemorating the re-opening of the Baphuon in early July, half a century after restoration efforts began.
AmaWaterways guests enjoy a tour of the Baphuon temple as part of their land program in Siem Reap. The “Vietnam, Cambodia and the Riches of the Mekong” itinerary also includes two nights in Hanoi with included sightseeing; an overnight on a luxury junk in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ha Long Bay; two nights in Ho Chi Minh City, plus the 7-night Mekong cruise to Ho Chi Minh City from Siem Reap. As of September 2011, AmaWaterways will operate two vessels on the Mekong: the brand new 124-passenger MS AmaLotus and the 92-passenger MS La Marguerite, built in 2009.
AmaWaterways, 800-626-0126, www.amawaterways.com