Summary : Experience the Mekong River in true style, traveling from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam on to Phnom Penh and Tonle Sap in Cambodia, ending your journey in Siem Reap. 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 : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$9,450 to $9,800
Today you will meet at the Ho Chi Minh meeting point and transfer by air-conditioned coach to My Tho dock where you will be welcomed aboard the Aqua Mekong. Settle into 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.
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. 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 fruits while hearing traditional folk songs performed by villagers followed by a unique unicorn dance. A 17-kilometer biking option is also available.
Travel by skiff along Bassac Canal to Chau Doc floating market then head off by van to Long Son Pagoda atop Sam Mountain. Ask the monks about their age-old Buddhist practices. Return via the bustling morning market. Optional 18 kilometers bike ride on Long Khanh Island or take a rickshaw ride to visit Tan Chau Market with chef. After lunch, relax by the pool, try traditional Khmer massage or learn to cook Mekong inspired dishes while you cross the border.
On this river of time 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 offshore. After lunch, board your marine-grade aluminum skiffs and head towards the tamarind trees of Preah Prosop, a remote village little changed over several lifetimes.
Experience the Cambodian capital by motorized tuk-tuk, 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, visit the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide and the Killing Field or shopping at Russian Market. Bid farewell to 4-night guests who are disembarking in Phnom Penh.
Return to welcome 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 this mighty river with a Khmer Apsara performance, an indigenous tradition memorialized on the temple walls at Angkor Wat.
This morning 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. In the afternoon, continue learning about Khmer riverside life in Kampong Chhnang, the 'Port of Pottery' so called because archaeological findings here date to the 6th century. Bike option is available.
Continue exploring the remote communities around the Tonle Sap Lake, designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997. In Chhnok Tru, 'slide' into an ice factory and learn from locals what it’s like to live in a town where schools, churches, pagodas, and even the karaoke bar and police station all float. After lunch, visit the floating village of Moat Khla, accessible only by water, and attend a Buddhist blessing ceremony.
Set off by skiff into the 22,000-hectare Prek Toal Core Bird Reserve, one of the largest freshwater bodies in Asia and the last refuge in Southeast Asia for large waterbirds like the spot-billed pelicans, milky stork, black-headed ibis, and the elusive masked finfoot. After this last excursion it will be time to disembark.
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 Ocean Conservationist and Filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau: 9/14/2018
Experience the Mekong from the perspective of a conservationist and get to know ocean conservationist and filmmaker Jean-Michel Cousteau. During this departure, travelers will learn first-hand about Cousteau's deep experience exploring 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. 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.
Group transfers between the vessel and the meeting points; 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 / visa fees; private transfers; travel insurance; items of a personal nature; boutique purchases; spa treatments; guide and crew gratuities; fuel surcharge may apply.