- Discover the winding streets of Saigon and its eclectic blend of modern skyscrapers, Buddhist temples, and bustling markets.
- Spend time in the company of the gentle giants of Borneo—orangutans—and observe the reclusive sun bear, the smallest of the bear family.
- Go snorkeling or diving amid the spectacular reefs of Indonesia’s Bunaken National Park, located in the heart of the Coral Triangle.
- Step back in time on Palau’s Peleliu Island, exploring the relics of a vicious World War II battle that took place in this tropical paradise.
Voyage from Vietnam through the Coral Triangle to the archipelago of Palau, experiencing extraordinary biodiversity above and below the sea. Learn about conservation challenges and triumphs as you kayak the mangroves of Vietnam’s Con Dao National Park and observe orangutans and sun bears in Malaysian Borneo. Snorkel and dive healthy reefs in the heart of the Coral Triangle, and swim in a lake filled with mesmerizing—and harmless—jellyfish in Palau’s Rock Islands. Along the way, encounter an array of cultures and traditions forged by people who have relied on the sea and its bounty for centuries.
This trip is operated in collaboration with Lindblad Expeditions.
Depart on an overnight flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Transfer to our hotel upon arrival and meet your fellow travelers at our welcome reception this evening.
Also known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City was officially renamed after the North Vietnamese captured the city in 1975. Trace the city’s tumultuous history on a tour that includes the former American Embassy, Reunification Palace, and the Saigon Central Post Office—a picturesque relic from the French colonial era. At the Vietnamese history museum, see artifacts from the Nguyen dynasty and learn about the country’s ethnic minorities. Then visit two important pagodas, the Jade Emperor Pagoda and the 18th-century Giac Lam Pagoda, where a few Buddhist monks still live and worship. Settle into your cabin this afternoon, and find a spot on deck to take in views of waterside villages and lush deltas as we leave the city behind.
National Geographic Resolution through Day 13
The 16 islands of the Con Dao Archipelago are characterized by jungle-covered mountains and gorgeous beaches—and nearly 80 percent of their land has been declared a national park. Con Son is the largest island and the only one that is inhabited. During the French colonial era, the island served as a political prison and later, the Saigon regime imprisoned dissenters here using the infamous “tiger cages.” While its difficult past has earned the islands recognition as a national historical site, they are now celebrated for their natural beauty and biodiversity. We will have opportunity for hikes on the inner island trails, Zodiac cruises and kayaking through the mangroves, photographing the vast array of plant and birdlife, and just soaking up the natural splendor. This afternoon, cross the South China Sea on the way to Malaysian Borneo.
Today, head inland to Kinabalu National Park, where numerous forest ecosystems culminate in the jagged granite peak of Mount Kinabalu, the highest summit in Malaysia. Follow trails into the dense jungles of this UNESCO World Heritage site, home to rushing streams, orchids, small mammals, and the bizarre carnivorous pitcher plants. Be on the lookout for laughing thrushes, babblers, and the spectacular Whitehead’s broadbill—just a few of the some 300 bird species found here.
Go ashore at the town of Sandakan for a visit to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre. Established in 1964 to rescue young orangutans orphaned as a result of habitat loss, this protected forest reserve was the first of its kind. It is now home to approximately 70 orangutans, which are being rehabilitated and prepared for safe release back into the wild. Observe these critically endangered primates with local experts and learn about efforts to protect them. Continue to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, which rescues sun bears in captivity or displaced by deforestation, and provides them with a safe forest habitat. Enjoy a relaxing day at sea, listening to talks by our naturalists or watching for marine life or seabirds on deck.
Just off the northern coast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, Bunaken National Park is a thriving marine park at the heart of the Coral Triangle. Here, we’ll spend the day immersed in the park’s natural wonders—on land and under the sea. Snorkel and dive amid a kaleidoscope of colorful fish, following sea walls that burst with bright corals. Kayak through the mangroves, keeping a eye out for unusual species such as the Pacific bluetail skink or the beautiful Sulawesi hanging parrot. Green and hawksbill sea turtles can also be found here in healthy numbers.
Take advantage of the National Geographic Resolution’s many amenities as we sail through the Coral Triangle and into the western Pacific Ocean. Soak in the ship’s infinity-style outdoor hot tubs, take in panoramic views from the rooftop observation deck, and attend talks from our onboard experts to learn about the amazing wildlife and geology that we are encountering on our journey.
Arrive in Koror on the island nation of Palau, a world leader in ocean conservation that recently established one of the largest marine reserves on the planet. This stunning archipelago was once the site of fierce World War II fighting, and we’ll encounter the vestiges of the battle on Peleliu Island, where the evocative ruins of a Japanese camp remain. Or head for the World Heritage–listed Rock Islands for an ethereal swim among thousands of stingless jellyfish in a landlocked lake. We’ll also have the opportunity to dive and snorkel Palau’s reefs, home to some 1,400 species of fish and 700 species of corals, and named part of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas Project.
Disembark in Koror today and enjoy time to visit the town and its environs. After lunch, check in to our hotel for an afternoon of relaxation and dinner under the stars. Flights home depart in the early morning hours.