Conley & silvers
Invites you to celebrate our love of
Vietnam & Cambodia
CRUISING THE MEKONG RIVER Soirée 2017
aboard the elegant 12-cabin Mekong Princess
December 4-17, 2017
With Optional Extensions to Hanoi and Luang Prabang
join us as we journey
Into the heart of Indochina
Surveying the Mekong via riverboat deck chair
Genuine smiles and healing hearts
French colonial architecture draped with a garland of electrical wires
Capitalism at work in a Communist country
Villagers weaving river weeds into baskets for IKEA
Cities pressing forward in an ocean of motorbikes
Climb aboard elephants, cyclos, sampans and tuk tuks
The ancient art of the Khmer and the art of crossing the street
Creamy sweet Vietnamese coffee and slurping pho-slurping with friends
Wrapping our heads around it all.
Witnessing Angkor Wat for the first time
An enchanting torchlit evening dining temple side
The curvaceous Apsara dancing with her eyes and red finger tips
Sunrise views over an ancient empire forgotten in time
We will take care of all the details.
All we need is you.
The goal of our small group trips, which we affectionately call our “Soirées,” is to capture the energy of a perfect dinner party—great food, fine wine, excellent conversation, beautiful company—and extend it for an entire trip. The group must be curious, intelligent, and fun. That’s you. The hosts need to be witty, charming, and full of great stories. That’s us. The location needs to be saturated with art, culture, history, stunning sights and culinary delights. Where to this time? Vietnam & Cambodia with optional extensions to Hanoi and Luang Prabang, Laos!
A Note from Dana
Dear Soirée Friends,
I first floated down the Mekong over 20 years ago, and was instantly captivated by the region’s rich cultural heritage, natural beauty and flavorful food. What overwhelmed me most, however, was the kindness and generosity of the people. How could people who had lived through hellacious times be so forgiving and so hopeful? How could I feel safer in Luang Prabang than New York City? But I did (and still do!) I developed a curiosity for Buddhist studies and promised myself to keep returning. Over the last few years, I have had the good fortune to help our trusted travel partner, Criterion Travel, develop the itinerary set forth below. From inspecting the Mekong Princess as she was being built to tour managing university alumni tours after the ship was launched last year, I have had the privilege of partaking in this extraordinary itinerary and travel opportunity and I would love to share it with you. Conley & Silvers is working with Criterion Travel to provide logistics for the main trip, and I hope to share our experience with you on the Mekong!
❖ Spend seven nights aboard the luxurious Mekong Princess floating along the Mekong River. The small size and shallow draft of our riverboat allows for exclusive visits to villages that are inaccessible to larger boats. Twelve comfortable cabins (all suites) have panoramic floor-to-ceiling glass French doors. Enjoy 5-star luxury at hotels on land.
❖ Experience the cultural, historical, and culinary riches of Indochina in brilliant and intimate juxtaposition. Explore bustling cities and must-see museums and gain real insight into village life, with accompanying visits to floating markets, farms, and artisanal workshops.
❖ Climb aboard the many colorful modes of transportation common in Southeast Asia, including elephants, sampans, cyclos, and tuk tuks.
❖ Explore the temples of Angkor (UNESCO World Heritage Site) for two full days. Experience sunrise views of Angkor Wat from the peaceful surroundings of Bakheng Temple. For our exquisite farewell dinner arranged specially for our Soirée, dine by torchlight at our privatized temple in Angkor, complete with a performance by local musicians and dancers.
❖ Enjoy the best of local cuisine on the Mekong Princess and carefully curated restaurants on land along the way. Take time to peruse some of the most charming and characterful shops and markets.
❖ Immerse yourself in conversation with our fabulous accompanying team of knowledgeable and charming local guides. Throughout the trip, our study leader Dr. Julian Brown will lead us through the maze of Indochinese history. As ever, tour manager Dana Conley will provide guaranteed daily sunshine.
Indochina. The Mekong River. Angkor Wat. These names evoke appealing images of exotic cultures, magnificent Buddhist and Hindu temples, and lush tropical landscapes punctuated by a patchwork of rice paddies. Join us for a fascinating journey through Vietnam and Cambodia, including a 7-night Mekong River cruise aboard the all new Mekong Princess, a riverboat that embodies the gracious heritage and beauty of Southeast Asia, combined with a romantic French colonial style and all the modern comforts. Her small size and ultra-shallow draft allow us to experience this mighty river from an intimate and authentic perspective, get a glimpse into the homes and lives of locals, and watch floating markets come to life in the early morning hours.
Our program begins with a stay in busy and dynamic Ho Chi Minh City (still known to many as Saigon) exuding energy and abuzz with activity. The main trip ends with two full days to explore the remarkable Khmer temples and monuments of legendary Angkor, one of Asia's most exquisite archaeological gems. In between, the Mekong River takes us into the fascinating but seldom-visited world of one of Asia's great waterways. Marvel at floating villages where residents quite literally live on water—working, shopping, even attending school and church. Tour a family-owned orchard, visit a noodle factory and a coconut candy maker, and experiment with authentic Vietnamese ingredients at a cooking demonstration. A pre-trip optional extension to Hanoi is also available, as well as a post trip to Luang Prabang, Laos.
Click on an image to view the details for each day of the itinerary
We feel confident that this amazing part of the globe will work its charms on you. Since the trip covers just a small part of the south of Vietnam, Dana and Julian intend to extend their stay before and after the tour and would love for you to join them. Even though we are spoiled for choice, we have decided on the following locations as the top two ideas. Once guests have signed up for the main trip, we will ask for your interest level in the optional extensions proposed below.
Pre-Trip Optional Extension: Hanoi
We would love for you to experience the vibrancy of Hanoi's old town, its tranquil lakes and tree-lined streets of the old French quarter. To grasp what Vietnam is today, a visit to Hanoi is a must because it is so different from Saigon. Although Hanoi is a 21st-century capital and the high-rises have arrived, it is one of the last surviving old cities in Southeast Asia with a historic center that is largely unspoiled. We imagine that you look forward to experiencing streets crowded and buzzing with people, merchandise and motorbikes – possibly a new and exciting experience for some of you.
Post-Trip Optional Extension: Luang Prabang, Laos
While in the region, you might want to get a peek at Laos, which formed French colonial Indochina along with Vietnam and Cambodia. And where better to start the exploration than Luang Prabang? Once the capital of an early kingdom, Luang Prabang is a leafy timeless place nestling in a valley at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Kan rivers. Filled with ancient red-roofed temples and processing monks, Luang Prabang is a center of serene spirituality. You will also find here, however, bustling markets and wonderful cafés and restaurants. The perfect place to unwind.
RSVP & Deposit
We would be thrilled if you’d like to join us! First come, first serve for booking choices. Let us know if you are “in” by placing you RSVP online or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once we have received your RSVP, we will hold your place for 7 days. We will send you an invoice with instructions for remitting a deposit of $1,500.00 USD per person. The remaining balance will be due by August 1, 2017. We will also send you a copy of our standard Waiver and Release of Liability form for you to return.
***ALL PAYMENTS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE
Unless we can find another guest to take your place ***
Conley & Silvers LLC
2700 Broadway # 7C, New York, NY 10025
+ 1 347 951 7948
Park Hyatt Saigon
The Park Hyatt Saigon is one of the premier Ho Chi Minh City hotels, enjoying a prime location overlooking Saigon Opera House on the city’s most famous square. The elegant, French colonial-style hotel is within walking distance of the most popular cultural and historical attractions. Renovated in 2015, the Park Hyatt Saigon was recently named Best Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City at the DestinAsian Reader’s Choice Awards 2015; Best Business Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City at the Business Traveller Asia-Pacific Awards 2015; and one of the ‘World’s Best Hotels’ at the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2015.
For the ultimate in relaxation and rejuvenation, you will find a well-equipped fitness center, elegant outdoor pool, stunning gardens and luxurious spa. This 5-Star luxury hotel has all of the amenities you would expect, including WiFi, and for more information you can look here: https://saigon.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html
Launched in 2015, the Mekong Princess offers 12 luxurious suites and combines the elegance of French Colonial style with the peacefulness and comfort of a Southeast Asian spa. All suites have sliding glass doors that open to a French balcony (railing); Angkor Suites additionally feature a full private veranda with seating area. Saigon and Apsara Suites have two twin beds that can be converted into a queen bed, while Tonle and Angkor Suites have a king-sized bed. Modern conveniences and amenities include a spacious seating area; en suite facilities with shower (plus separate soaking tub in the Tonle and Angkor Suites), hair dryer, and spa robes and slippers; individual climate control; daily butler service and housekeeping with nightly turndown; premium mattress, duvet, bed linens, and your choice of pillows; in-room electronic safe; and flat-screen televisions. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet- style. A single-seating dinner offers sumptuous French Indochine and gourmet Spa Cuisine featuring locally sourced produce. Public spaces include open-air lounges with comfortable chaises, spa with menu of treatments, small fitness center, and library with Internet access (subject to availability). The small size and ultra-shallow draft of this elegant riverboat allow for visits to villages and tributaries not accessible to larger vessels, and the one-to-one guest-to-staff ratio ensures an unparalleled and unforgettable river cruise experience.
Rooms on Ship
Saigon Suite (Main Deck)
Four suites, approximately 235 sq. ft. with French balcony
Apsara Suite (Upper Deck)
Four suites, approximately 235 sq. ft. with French balcony
Tonle Suite (Upper Deck)
Two suites, approximately 305 sq. ft. with French balcony
Angkor Suite (Upper Deck)
Two suites, approximately 495 sq. ft. with French balcony plus private veranda, complimentary laundry service, and evening canapés
Park Hyatt Siem Reap
Experience authentic Cambodian hospitality at the award winning Park Hyatt Siem Reap. Recognized as one of the Top 100 hotels in the world, Park Hyatt Siem Reap located in the heart of the city, situated within walking distance to the shops and restaurants and near to the renowned 12th century ruins of Angkor. It has all of the modern conveniences you might expect from a luxury 5-star hotel including refined interiors and graceful gardens, two luxurious pools, a decadent spa, free Wi-Fi. For more information, visit: https://siemreap.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html
What to expect
To experience all of our planned activities, and keep us from gaining weight from all of the good food, you’ll need to be happy with at least three hours of daily walking in the city or shuffling around in a museum. The ancient towns of South East Asia are filled with mobility challenges like potholes, cobblestones, and narrow stairs without railings. You can always take a coffee break or grab a taxi, but in general we will be on the move. Travelers should be able, with assistance, to climb in and out of small boats and other local vehicles such as bicycle-driven and motorized rickshaws.
December offers some of the best weather in both Vietnam and Cambodia, with daytime temperatures generally in the low 80s F, humidity between 70 and 80 percent, and little rain. Although our riverboat, hotels, and motor coaches are air- conditioned, temples and traditional conveyances such as cyclos and sampans are not, nor are some restaurants and museums.
While we hope you love the itinerary outlined above, we, of course, reserve the right to mix things up and swap things in to maximize the good times.
Your Tour Director and Study Leaders
Your Tour Director, Dana Conley, fell in love with international travel during college while studying art and politics at the Stanford-in-Florence program. She majored in International Relations and has traveled to over 50 countries in search of authentic adventures, beautiful meals, and life-changing moments to share with her private and organizational clients. Via Conley & Silvers LLC, her goal is to provide guests with the highest level of customer service while creating unique and magical itineraries and events. Before co-founding Conley & Silvers with long-time Stanford mate Alison Silvers, Dana’s career spanned from being a researcher at the Pentagon and International security think tanks to art appraisal and directing a gallery. When Dana is not tour managing or on a reconnaissance mission, she divides her time between Europe and New York City where cheese consumption, museum going, antiquing and urban biking reign as her favorite pastimes.
Born and educated in England, your regional expert Dr. Julian Brown made Paris his home thirty years ago. Family holidays introduced him to the joys and fascination of travel and foreign cultures at a very young age and he began leading tours around Europe in the early 1980s whilst studying French and Spanish at the University of Durham. He now spends much of each year conducting museum visits and historical walking tours in the French capital and leads tours through the French provinces. When not in France, he is probably lecturing on tours in Italy, Spain or Southeast Asia, where he spends time each winter. His passion for this region began with a more or less chance visit to Vietnam in the early 1990s, and he has travelled extensively in Asia ever since, studying its art and culture, and leading tours throughout the region. He holds a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, on the colonial and museological contexts of the ancient art of Champa (Vietnam), and has lectured on his research at universities, museums, royal societies and international conferences. Books and classical music compete with travel, art and history as his main passions.
The Nitty Gritty
To run this amazing trip, we need a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 22 attendees. If you can vouch for your friends and think they would enjoy our company and style, we’d love to have them join us. We prefer ages 18 and up so we don’t have to censor any dinner conversations. Exceptions can be made for youngsters who have already heard it all and can carry their end of the dinner table conversation.
❖ All accommodations, meals, and excursions as specified in the itinerary
❖ Comprehensive program of briefings, lectures, and presentations
❖ On land, local beer, coffee, tea, and soft drinks are included at lunch and dinner.
❖ On board the Mekong Princess, local beer, liquor, coffee, tea, and soft drinks are available at all times.
❖ Wine is included during all dinners as well as the welcome and farewell receptions.
❖ All group entry fees and tickets
❖ Airport transfers (you may be grouped with other guests flying at the same time)
❖ Group transportation via boat & private coach
❖ Expert & local guide fees
❖ All gratuities
❖ Port Charges
❖ Baggage handling
❖ Movie and book list to get you excited
❖ Dana Conley as Tour Director and concierge services by Conley & Silvers for help with personal arrangements.
❖ Lots of good stories and great memories
Not Included for both Main Trip and Optional Extension:
❖ Passport and visa expenses
❖ Medical expenses and immunizations
❖ Travel, medical, or evacuation insurance. We strongly recommend you purchase any insurance policies for your specific needs.
❖ Meals and beverages other than those specified as included
❖ Personal charges such as telephone calls, laundry, and mini-bar blowouts
U.S. domestic and international airfare is not included in the program rates. Round- trip economy-class airfare from New York to Saigon, Vietnam, with return from Siem Reap, Cambodia, is approximately $1,600 per person as of November 2016 and is subject to change without notice. Information about making flight arrangements will be sent to all participants.
Costs for the main trip
Saigon Suite (Main Deck), per person, sharing.....$8,980
Apsara Suite (Upper Deck), per person, sharing.....$9,980
Tonle Suite (Upper Deck), per person, sharing.....$10,680
Angkor Suite (Upper Deck), per person, sharing.....$11,980
Saigon Suite (Main Deck), single.....$15,280
Apsara Suite (Upper Deck), single.....$16,980
NOTE: All prices shown already reflect a discounted rate of 3% for paying via check. Should you wish to pay via credit card, it is possible, but you will be charged at a non-discounted rate.