cambodia; angkor wat; mekong river cruising; vietnam; ho chi monh city; saigon

The Lost Civilization

The Mekong River from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap aboard the Jayavarman or the Jahan

The Lost Civilization route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $5743  
Length: 8 days
Arrive: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Depart: Siem Reap, Cambodia
Lodging: 7 nights aboard 52- or 54-guest luxury vessel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship
Activity: River Cruises
Trip Level: Cultural exploration and walking tours
1

Highlights

  • Cai Be’s colorful floating market with its beautiful riverside cathedral as a backdrop
  • Phnom Penh, famous for its charm, historical treasures, and striking Royal Khmer and French colonial architecture
  • Rarely visited Kampong Cham, with its monks in saffron robes, pagodas, and stunning hilltop temples

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

An extraordinary journey full of sights, colors, and sounds awaits as we voyage along the fabled Mekong River, for thousands of years a lifeline to people residing along its banks. In the comfort of the elegant Jayavarman or the Jahan, intimate vessels reflecting the captivating charm of the region, we explore the Mekong’s myriad cultures, storied history, and enduring traditions. We call at rural villages, colorful floating markets, and ancient palaces, hike to hilltop shrines, and absorb the intriguing rhythms of riverside life. We also enjoy Cambodia’s charming capital, Phnom Penh. Our journey ends with a cruise across vast Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Asia. Extensions to Ho Chi Minh City and the astonishing World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat are available.

Itinerary

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary


Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Siem Reap itinerary

Day 1
Ho Chi Minh City / My Tho / Cai Be

We bid farewell to the hustle and bustle of Saigon as we travel 40 miles south by land to My Tho, where we embark upon our ship. We will be served a refreshing welcome drink as the ship glides steadily along the Mekong and admire the fading sunset on the balcony before a briefing at the lounge. Later, a welcome dinner awaits us. This evening, the ship drops anchor near Cai Be to moor midstream where the river is several miles wide. All meals included aboard the ship.

Note: We offer a 3-day, 2-night pre-cruise extension to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Day 2
Cai Be / Sa Dec / Chau Doc

Our day—in fact, every day—begins with an invigorating Tai Chi lesson on the sun deck, just as the sun begins its gentle glow. Our explorations start with a visit to Cai Be’s boisterous and colorful floating market aboard a traditional sampan (a flat bottomed traditional Vietnamese wooden boat). During our leisurely ride, we discover breathtaking landscapes along the river and drink in the rustic life of the Mekong Delta. We stop occasionally to observe how rice paste, rice cookies, and coconut candies are made, along with the Longan fruit drying process. After touring the canals, we visit an ancient house surrounded by fruit orchards before heading to the ship for lunch. In the afternoon we cruise to Sa Dec, where we board a traditional sampan to tour Binh Thanh Island and its man-made canals. Here, every villager is involved in the process of growing and processing water hyacinths into natural fiber floor mats and rattan baskets. We then board the ship for a tranquil evening cruise toward Chau Doc.

Day 3
Chau Doc (border crossing) / Phnom Penh

We explore Chau Doc, a pleasant town near the Cambodian border with sizeable Chinese, Kinh, and Khmer communities, and visit the colorful local market near an ancient temple. We also make a trip to the quay, where we visit floating villages and rustic catfish farms. After watching schools of basa fish being fed by hand, we take a shore excursion to the local Cham Muslim community village. By mid-afternoon, our ship makes its way to the border for Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. This is an opportune time to relax on board, sharpen our culinary skills with a hands-on cooking class, or tour the ship with our Cruise Director. Or, better yet, do all three!

Day 4
Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, once known as the “Paris of the East,” has retained much of its rustic charm and elegance. After breakfast, we enjoy a comprehensive lecture on Cambodia’s modern history, followed by a city tour of this dynamic, historical capital city that has managed to preserve much of its French colonial allure. Sightseeing in the morning will include the dazzling white and gold edifice of the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, and witnessing exceptionally beautiful Khmer craft at the National Museum. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit the Genocide Museum and the Killing Field, stark reminders of the genocide that transpired during Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime. After cocktails served on the sun deck of our ship, we enjoy an Apsara dance performance and experience the brilliance and richness of the Cambodian culture, the soothing sounds of traditional music, the calming scent of incense sticks, and a barbecue on the sundeck with the stars and the moon as our companions.

Day 5
Phnom Penh / Kampong Cham

We depart Phnom Penh before the break of dawn, and make a stop at the little known silk weaving village of Chong Koh. Returning to the ship, we cruise past the Mekong’s tranquil villages, observing exhilarating river life and sun-hardened fishermen on their makeshift boats. We explore the traditional rural village of Angkor Ban, and are transported back a hundred years into an era untouched by the modern world. The houses here are truly rustic, made by hand and without any concrete. The villagers welcome us with unbridled warmth and we can take part in their daily activities to experience village life firsthand. Return to the ship to cruise toward Kampong Cham.

Day 6
Kampong Cham / Wat Hanchey

Located at the top of a hill overlooking the river, the pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey offers one of the most breathtaking views in Cambodia. Built in the 8th century, this ancient structure, together with a larger and newer addition, underscores the superb architecture of the Chenla Empire, which predates the mighty Angkor temple complex. We return to the ship to witness a blessing ceremony performed by orange-clad local monks. When the tide allows, we enjoy a surprise sojourn in our Zodiacs (inflatable boats) to the nearby beach to swim in the tea-colored Mekong River. We then cruise toward Kampong Cham to visit Wat Nokor, built within the ruins of an ancient temple that holds a timeless story. On the way back to the ship, we visit an orphanage.

Day 7
Kampong Cham / Kampong Chhnang

Before the sun peeks over the horizon, we set sail toward Kampong Chhnang on the Tonle Sap River, an amazingly narrow river that glides through leafy swaths of the Southeast Asian jungle. We are greeted by shrieking children who waive enthusiastically as they bring their livestock for a bath in the meandering river. We then approach Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia’s “waterworld,” where everything is on stilts balanced on rich water rich soil. Here we take a motorboat excursion to the landing, followed by a short bus trip to see the Khmer-styled pottery at the Aundaung Russey village. Then, it’s back to the river for an adventurous motorboat excursion to the wetlands, floating houses, and fish farms in the region. We return to the ship for lunch and spend the afternoon cruising along the river.

Day 8
Tonle Sap / Siem Reap

Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Asia, offers abundant birdlife and it’s so wide you can’t see its shores from the middle of the lake! We enjoy the stillness of the water and the quiet tranquility as we make our way toward Siem Reap. (The water level varies a great deal according to the time of the year and the amount of rainfall recorded. Thus, minor changes to the itinerary may occur during different seasons.) Our cruise comes to an end as we reach this city of the fabled Angkor temple complex. We cross Tonle Sap Lake at dawn and at 9:00am, disembark at the Siem Reap Port for onward coach transfer to the drop off point in town.

Although it is our intention to operate the itinerary as proposed, we cannot be held responsible for any last minute changes that might occur due to climatic conditions, alterations to cruise schedules, or other operational factors.

 


Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) itinerary

Day 1
Siem Reap / Tonle Sap

We gather at the meeting point at 12:00 noon and transfer to our ship. A refreshing welcome drink awaits us, followed by a sumptuous lunch on the ship. We spend a lazy afternoon onboard as the ship glides through the tranquil waters of Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Asia. Tonle Sap offers abundant birdlife; it’s so wide you can’t see its shores from the middle of the lake! After a wonderful dinner, we enjoy a spectacular experience on the sun deck as we bathe in the glow of the moon and the radiance of the stars. We moor in a quiet spot and overnight on this great lake. All meals included aboard the ship.

Note: We offer a 4-day, 3-night pre-cruise extension to Angkor Wat. Please see page 12.

Day 2
Kampong Chhnang / Kampong Cham

Our day—in fact, every day—begins with an invigorating Tai Chi lesson on the sun deck, just as the sun begins its gentle glow. Before dawn, we set sail across Tonle Sap Lake, and as the ship is about to exit the lake, we see spectacular marshlands floating along the riverbanks of Kampong Chhnang province. Our afternoon cruise continues with a languid meander along the Tonle Sap, which narrows through leafy swaths of the Southeast Asian jungle. Here, the river is very narrow and we are greeted by kids waving enthusiastically at us from the banks. We take a short bus trip to see the Khmer-styled pottery at the Aundaung Russey village. Then, it’s back to the river for an adventurous motorboat excursion to the wetlands, floating houses, and fish farms in the Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia’s “waterworld,” where everything is on stilts balanced on rich water rich soil. We reach Kampong Cham in the evening.

Day 3
Kampong Cham / Wat Hanchey

Located at the top of a hill overlooking the river, the pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey offers one of the most breathtaking views in Cambodia. Built in the 8th century, this ancient structure, together with a larger and newer addition, underscores the superb architecture of the Chenla Empire, which predates the mighty Angkor temple complex. We return to the ship to witness a blessing ceremony performed by orange-clad local monks. When the tide allows, we enjoy a surprise sojourn in our Zodiacs (inflatable boats) to the nearby beach to swim in the tea-colored Mekong River. We then cruise toward Kampong Cham to visit Wat Nokor, built within the ruins of an ancient temple that holds a timeless story. On the way back to the ship, we visit an orphanage. We overnight midstream near Phnom Penh.

Day 4
Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, once known as the “Paris of the East,” has retained much of its rustic charm and elegance. After breakfast, we enjoy a comprehensive lecture on Cambodia’s modern history, followed by a city tour of this dynamic, historical capital city that has managed to preserve much of its French colonial allure. Sightseeing in the morning will include the dazzling white and gold edifice of the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, and witnessing exceptionally beautiful Khmer craft at the National Museum. After lunch at a local restaurant, we visit the Genocide Museum and the Killing Field, stark reminders of the genocide that transpired during Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime. After cocktails served on the sun deck of our ship, we enjoy an Apsara dance performance and experience the brilliance and richness of the Cambodian culture, the soothing sounds of traditional music, the calming scent of incense sticks, and a barbecue on the sun deck with the stars and the moon as our companions.

Day 5
Phnom Penh / Chau Doc (border crossing)

From Phnom Penh, we set sail for a lazy day of cruising along the main Mekong Channel. This is an international shipping route, and we will witness large commercial ships plying the route. In the afternoon, we set off to the Vietnamese border for the requisite cross border paperwork. This is an opportune time to relax on board, sharpen our culinary skills with a hands-on cooking class, or tour the ship with our Cruise Director. Or, better yet, do all three!

Day 6
Chau Doc / Sa Dec

We explore Chau Doc, a pleasant town near the Cambodian border with sizeable Chinese, Kinh, and Khmer communities, and visit the colorful local market near an ancient temple. We also make a trip to the quay, where we visit floating villages and rustic catfish farms. After watching schools of basa fish being fed by hand, we return to the ship for lunch. In the mid-afternoon, we set off for My An Village, where we see chili, corn, and beetle nut plantations, explore the boat building yard, and visit a family’s home to taste tea with honey, local delicacies, and fruits. We set sail for Sa Dec in the late afternoon.

Day 7
Sa Dec / Cai Be / My Tho

In the morning we board a traditional sampan to tour Binh Thanh Island and its man-made canals. Here, every villager is involved in the process of growing and processing water hyacinths into natural fiber floor mats and rattan baskets. After lunch aboard the ship, we arrive in Cai Be. Our explorations start with a visit to Cai Be’s boisterous and colorful floating market aboard a traditional sampan (a flat bottomed traditional Vietnamese wooden boat). During our leisurely ride, we discover breathtaking landscapes along the river and drink in the rustic life of the Mekong Delta. We stop occasionally to observe how rice paste, rice cookies, and coconut candies are made, along with the Longan fruit drying process. After touring the canals, we visit an ancient house surrounded by fruit orchards before heading to the ship for dinner and a tranquil evening cruise toward My Tho.

Day 8
My Tho / Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Our cruise comes to an end as we reach My Tho, about 40 miles south of Ho Chi Minh City. We disembark around 8:30 am and join the transfer to the meeting point in the city.

Note: We offer a 3-day, 2-night post-cruise extension to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). Please see page 13.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Note: These cruises are not exclusive Wilderness Travel departures. The itinerary, lecturers, and other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the ship operator.

2014 Cruise Collection Brochure

We’ve searched the world to find the finest small ships and most active adventures, from Greenland to Sumatra to the great rivers of Europe. Download our beautiful new Cruise Collection Brochure! Or request a printed copy to be sent by mail, or by calling 800-368-2794.

What the Trip is Like

The trip is rated Level 1, Easiest, and is appropriate for anyone in good health who is physically active. Shore excursions include walks to cultural monuments and local towns and villages.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

CRUISE DATES & PRICES

Prices are per cabin and based on boat and season.
Please call for low-season dates and rates (Jun-Oct 4).

Aboard the Jahan

START CITY DATES
Siem Reap Dec 7-14, 2013
Saigon Dec 14-21, 2013
Siem Reap Dec 21-28, 2013
Saigon Dec 28-Jan 4, 2013
Siem Reap Jan 4-11, 2014
Saigon Jan 11-18, 2014
Siem Reap Jan 18-25, 2014
Saigon Jan 25-Feb 1, 2014
Siem Reap Feb 1-8, 2014
Saigon Feb 8-15, 2014
Siem Reap Feb 15-22, 2014
Saigon Feb 22-Mar 1, 2014
Siem Reap Mar 1-8, 2014
Saigon Mar 8-15, 2014
Siem Reap Mar 15-22, 2014
Saigon Mar 22-29, 2014
Siem Reap Mar 29-Apr 5, 2014
Saigon Apr 5-12, 2014
Siem Reap Apr 12-19, 2014

Cruise costs on the Jahan

High Season 2013 (Oct-Dec 2013)

Cabin Category Double occupancy Single occupancy
Superior $5903 $4427
Deluxe $7145 $5359
Signature $7790 $5843
Suite $8535 $6402

High Season 2014 (Jan-Mar 2014)

Cabin Category Double occupancy Single occupancy
Superior $6080 $4560
Deluxe $7359 $5520
Signature $8024 $6018
Suite $8792 $6594

Call for Shoulder & Low Season rates

Aboard the Jayavarman

START CITY DATES
Saigon Dec 7-14, 2013
Siem Reap Dec 14-21, 2013
Saigon Dec 21-28, 2013
Siem Reap Dec 28-Jan 4, 2013
Saigon Jan 4-11, 2014
Siem Reap Jan 11-18, 2014
Saigon Jan 18-25, 2014
Siem Reap Jan 25-Feb 1, 2014
Saigon Feb 1-8, 2014
Siem Reap Feb 8-15, 2014
Saigon Feb 15-22, 2014
Siem Reap Feb 22-Mar 1, 2014
Saigon Mar 1-8, 2014
Siem Reap Mar 8-15, 2014
Saigon Mar 15-22, 2014
Siem Reap Mar 22-29, 2014
Saigon Mar 29-Apr 5, 2014
Siem Reap Apr 5-12, 2014
Saigon Apr 12-19, 2014

Cruise costs on the Jayavarman

High Season 2013 (Oct-Dec 2013)

Cabin Category Double occupancy Single occupancy
Superior $5630 $4223
Deluxe $6495 $4871
Signature $6977 $5233

High Season 2014 (Jan-Mar 2014)

Cabin Category Double occupancy Single occupancy
Superior $5743 $4307
Deluxe $6820 $5115
Signature $7326 $5494

Prices are per cabin and based on boat and season

$150 surcharge for all cruises falling on New Year’s Eve and/or Christmas.

Pre- and post-trip extensions are also available, please call for details.

Note: These cruises are not exclusive Wilderness Travel departures. The itinerary, lecturers, and other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the ship operator.

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Accommodations aboard the Jayavarman or Jahan
  • All meals onboard including mineral water, coffee/tea
  • Group shore excursions including entrance fees, transportation
  • Services of English-speaking tour guide
  • Transfers in Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap to /from meeting point to boat
  • Services of an experienced cruise staff
  • Signature Staterooms also include:
       Complimentary mini bar
       Balcony breakfast
       Journey book
       Fruit basket
       Bottle of Prosecco or other sparkling wine

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, hotels or meals in arrival and departure cities, visa and passport fees, Phnom Penh port taxes ($65), baggage, cancellation and accident insurance, fuel surcharges (if any), meals or beverages not served aboard, items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry charges, bar expenses, (alcoholic beverages are not included), hairdressing and massage treatments, medical services, telephone and internet charges, and gratuities to shipboard personnel ($5 per person per day is recommended).

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: 10%
40 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

81-90 days prior to departure: 10% of trip cost
60-80 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
29-59 days or less: 50% of trip cost
15-28 days or less: 60% of trip cost
8-14 days or less: 90% of trip cost
7 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Arrival & Departure Information

Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap Itinerary

Arrival & Meeting Place
Renaissance Riverside Hotel, Saigon
5th Floor Atrium Lounge
8-15 Ton Duc Thang Street
District 1
HCMC Vietnam

Date: Day 1
Suggested arrival time: by 12:00 pm (noon)*
*Exact time subject to change based on season

Suggested Arrival Airport
Ho Chi Minh City Airport (airport code SGN)

Guests arriving early in the morning should have no trouble transferring directly to the ship, however, it is strongly suggested that you arrive at least one day early in order to guard against the danger of delayed flights. We are happy to arrange extra overnights in Saigon.

Departure
Siem Reap or Kampong Cham, Cambodia
Date: Day 8
Disembarkation time: 10:00 am or 1:30pm (depending on season)

Suggested Airport for Departure
Siem Reap International Airport (airport city code REP)

Disembarkation time depends on seasonality. A transfer will be provided to the Victoria Angkor Resort in central Siem Reap. From the Victoria Angkor Resort, transfer on your own to the airport. There are flights from Siem Reap, Cambodia, to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) and Seoul Korea (ICN), where you can connect with flights to the U.S. Please check with our office before booking your return flight home to ensure it coordinates with your disembarkation time.

You might like to extend your stay in Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat. For information regarding the post-trip extension in Cambodia, please call for details.

 

Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City Itinerary

Arrival & Meeting Place
Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa, Central Park, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Date: Day 1
Suggested arrival time: 8:00 am or 12:00noon depending on season

Suggested Arrival Airport
Siem Reap International Airport (airport city code REP)

You will probably need to arrive a day early in order gather at the downtown meeting point by 12:30 pm for the transfer to the ship. You might wish to arrive several days early to visit Angkor Wat before embarking on your journey, please call for details.

Departure
My Tho, Vietnam
Date: Day 8

Suggested Airport for Departure
Ho Chi Minh City Airport (airport code SGN)

Disembarkation is at 8:30 am. You will be transferred to Ho Chi Minh City and will arrive at Renaissance Riverside Hotel, Saigon by 10:30am. From the Renaissance Riverside Hotel, transfer on your own to the airport. Suggested flight departure time after 3:00pm. If you would like to extend your stay in this interesting city, please call for details.

 

International Air Travel

You are responsible for making your own arrangements for international air transportation to and from Asia. Airlines with the most convenient schedules for this trip include:

Cathay Pacific (via Hong Kong)
Phone: 800-233-2742
www.cathay-usa.com

United Airlines (via Japan/Taiwan)
Phone: 800-241-6522
www.united.com

Delta (via Seoul)
Phone: 800-241-4141
www.delta.com

Eva Airlines (via Taipei)
Phone: 800-695-1188
www.evaair.com

Thai Airways (via Bangkok)
Phone: 800-426-5204
www.thaiair.com
   
*Korean Air (via Seoul)
Phone: 800-438-5000
www.koreanair.com

*Please note that Korean Air offers direct service from Seoul, Korea, to Siem Reap, Cambodia, allowing you to bypass Bangkok.

 

Flights to Siem Reap from Bangkok

If your international carrier does not include the flights from Bangkok to Siem Reap, you may book them directly thru Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com).

Depending on your routing, departure time from the US will be at least two to three days before the trip begins as you cross the international date line when traveling to Asia. The name on your airline ticket must match the name on your passport exactly, and your passport must be valid for at least six months after your date of return to the US.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip and have reviewed your proposed air schedule with our office. Once your tickets have been reviewed and purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule so we can arrange the appropriate airport transfers. It is your responsibility to ensure your flight times coordinate with the arrival and departure logistics for the trip.

Flight Reconfirmations
Reconfirm your international flights 72 hours prior to departure to verify check-in and departure times and to learn of any last minute changes. We suggest you check your luggage all the way through from your hometown to your final destination.

Late Arrival
If you miss your flight or are otherwise delayed, contact the airlines immediately to rearrange your flight schedule. Once rescheduled, please contact our office at (800) 368-2794 or (510) 558-2488 (Monday-Friday, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm Pacific Time, or leave a message after hours). Detailed information with local contacts will be included in your Final Documents.

 

Emergency Contact

Should you wish to give family and friends an emergency contact number, please have them call our office. As it may be difficult, expensive, or even impossible to contact you for short periods (especially when you are traveling in remote regions), this should only be used in cases requiring your early return or an immediate phone call.

Wilderness Travel: (800) 368-2794 or (510) 558-2488.

 

Suggested Hotels in Bangkok

As most flights from the US arrive early in the day in Bangkok, you may need to overnight before continuing to Siem Reap. Also, most flights returning to the US depart early in the day you may need to overnight in Bangkok on your return.

We suggest you stay at the convenient Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel (www.novotel.com). The Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel is conveniently located next to the Bangkok International Airport and offers a free shuttle bus that operates 24 hours (there is also a 300-meter underground walkway). For longer stays, we suggest you consider a downtown hotel more conveniently located for sightseeing.

Downtown Hotels
If you are staying more than one night in Bangkok, you may want to stay closer to the river area in the heart of Bangkok. Below are a few hotels we recommend. You can make transfer arrangements with the ground level Taxi or Thai Limousine Service in the airport upon arrival. You may also contact the hotels to request a private transfer.

Navalai River Resort
74 room boutique hotel
www.navalai.com

Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel
International Toll-Free: 1-800-325-3535
www.royalorchidsheraton.com

Mandarin Oriental Hotel
www.mandarin-oriental.com/bangkok
Help with online reservations: 1- 800-932-2198

Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa
International Toll-Free: 1-800-228-9290
www.marriott.com

<em>Jayavarman</em>

Jayavarman

Days 1 to 7 (7 nights)

Inspired by the 1930s cruise liner Normandie, the Jayavarman is a floating sanctuary of style and space, marrying avant-garde French colonial design ...
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<em>Jahan</em>

Jahan

Days 1 to 7 (7 nights)

Launched in October 2011, the Jahan is a river cruiser with a distinctive British colonial design theme. She accommodates 52 guests in 26 ...
Click here for full description and more photos