Summary : Experience the Mekong River in true style on this in-depth voyage from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, down the river to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Over 2,000 years of human history flow among these waters, from the high Himalayas of Tibet through provinces of China to the equatorial flood plains of Vietnam and Cambodia. It is even said that the rise and fall of the great Khmer civilization that built Angkor Wat was linked to the Mekong's tides. The cultural diversity along the Mekong is as striking as the surrounding topography. Soaring limestone mountains separate Vietnam from Cambodia, providing a natural boundary that split the two most powerful influences on this region. From India to the west came Hinduism into Cambodia, the state religion of the Khmer Empire at Angkor until the 13th century while Chinese monks from the north brought Buddhism along the ancient trade routes to Vietnam. Explore the timeless floating villages and remote sanctuaries of the this ancient river.
Activities : Child-Friendly, Culture, Triple/Quad Cabins
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$6,615 to $9,800
You will be met at the Phnom Penh TS1 Port for check-in to your 3-story, five star Mekong abode. Welcome aboard! Settle in to your floating retreat, with its window wall conferring an endlessly captivating panorama. Enjoy these private Mekong moments on your California king bed, terrace, or daybed. Together you will celebrate the onward journey towards the heart of the mighty Mekong with a Khmer apsara performance, an indigenous tradition memorialized on the temple walls of Angkor Wat.
Relax today, on this river of time, and admire dexterous Khmer artisans dyeing and weaving kroma, the ubiquitous item no Khmer lives without. Explore the riverbank on two wheels if you wish, past Buddhist temples and thatch houses perched on spindly wooden stilts while white oxen wade just ashore. After lunch, board a marine-grade skiff and head towards the tamarind trees of Preah Prosop, a remote village little changed over several lifetimes.
This morning you will visit Koh Chen, a silversmith village known for its fine craftsmanship. Keep an eye out for their famous silver bowls, regularly chosen by Cambodia's king as gifts for visiting dignitaries. Cruise across the glassy water and disembark among the lotuses for an ox-cart ride along the Tonle Sap riverbanks, past lacquered wooden houses where during these dry months residents take refuge in the relative cool of these outdoor impromptu living rooms.
In the cooler hours, head into the lush countryside to visit traditional potters and palm-sugar producers, astride mountain bikes or chauffeured by shaded tuk-tuk. Into the rice paddies you will pedal to watch wizened masters scale sky-piercing palms towering over you. Come afternoon, as you cruise past fertile fields of green beans flourishing among the charms of the Tonle Sap channel, relax admidst the air conditioning on the top deck lounge while your expert guides lead an insightful discussion of Mekong life.
Spend the day in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Explore by motorized tuk-tuk – see the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum of Cambodia, home to the world's largest collection of Khmer art. For those who wish, you will have the option to visit the Tuol Slen Museum of Genocide and the Killing Field, or shop at the Russian Market. Today you will bid farewell to the 4-night guests who are disembarking in Phnom Penh. You will welcome the 3-night passengers over custom sundowners like the Salted Watermelon Crush with Thai basil. Together you will celebrate the onward journey towards the heart of the mighty Mekong with a Khmer Apsara performance.
Say 'good morning, Vietnam' today as you cross the border and sail towards Tan Chau, a vibrant border town where you will take a local rickshaw called xe loi for a trip around town or pedal 11 miles on the peaceful island of Long Khanh. In the afternoon, visit a typical Mekong Delta village called My An Hung where you will walk through verdant plantations. You will be invited to a local's home to taste local fruit while hearing traditional folk songs performed by villagers, followed by a unique Unicorn dance. An option to bike is also available for those who wish to explore on wheels.
Begin the day at Binh Thanh mat weaving village or opt to visit Sa Dec where you will peruse the vibrant market and see the famous house of Marguerite Duras' legendary lover, Mr. Huynh Thuy Le. Continue downstream for Cai Be, zigzagging in a sampan past lone fishermen on their long tail boats. Later, you will moor your skiff at a wooden pier. Here in Cai Be, walk or bike ride among high-roofed open courtyard houses, some dating back more than 100 years, which are currently inhabited by gracious locals who will invite you in to glimpse their property.
Today your Mekong river journey will come to end. En route to Ho Chi Minh City, you will stop at Vinh Trang Pagoda, one of the largest Mahayana Buddhist temples in the region. You will notice the mixed architectural style and see three large buddha statues plus an impressive collection of bonsai trees.
Read this itinerary as a guide only; the exact route and program varies according to weather conditions—and the wildlife you encounter. Flexibility is the key to the success of this expedition.
Special Guest Jean-Michel Cousteau: 2/23/2018
Ocean conservationist and filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau will be joining the 2/23/2018 departure. The son of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel founded the Ocean Futures Society in 1999 to carry on this pioneering work and to honor his father's heritage. An award-winning producer of more than 80 films, Jean-Michel has been recognized internationally with numerous awards for his work in ocean. During this departure, travelers will experience the Mekong from the perspective of a conservationist and will get to know Cousteau along with a small group of fellow travelers. Guests will learn first-hand about Cousteau's deep experience exploring the Amazon and other remote areas around the world as he champions the cause of environmental conservation and protection. Each voyage will include evening talks with Cousteau, and screenings of several of his films.
Group transfers to and from vessel and the meeting points in Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City; cabin accommodations and meals aboard the ship; beverages (non-alcoholic, premium wine, and beer); shore excursions; laundry service; bike use; entrance fees en route; wireless internet. Subject to change without notice.
Air transportation; passport and visa fees; private transfers; travel insurance; items of a personal nature; boutique purchases; spa treatments; guide and crew gratuities.