Summary : Experience an in-depth expedition along the Mekong River in true style, traveling from Siem Reap, Cambodia, to Tonle Sap and then on to Phenom Penh, ending your journey in Saigon (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 : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Triple/Quad Cabins
$9,450 to $9,800
Gather at the Siem Reap meeting point then board an air-conditioned bus for the scenic 45-minute countryside ride to the dock on the Tonle Sap Lake for check-in to your 3-story, five star Mekong abode. 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.
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 lunch, visit the floating village of Moat Khla, accessible only by water, and attend a Buddhist blessing ceremony in this isolated community.
Explore remote villages 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 are afloat. Continue learning about Khmer riverside life in Kampong Chhnang, the 'Port of Pottery' so called because archaeological findings here date to the 6th century.
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, set off for the Mekong's 'silk islands' where renowned weavers allow you to wander freely, admiring their intricate craftsmanship. Biking is optional for those who wish to explore deeper into the island.
Explore the Cambodian capital by motorized tuk-tuk, including 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 go 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, 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.
Say ‘Good Morning, Vietnam’ while crossing the border and sail towards Tan Chau, a vibrant border town where you take the local rickshaw called "xe loi" for a trip around town or pedal 18 kilometers 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're invited to a local's home to taste local fruits while hearing traditional folk songs performed by villagers, followed by a unique Unicorn dance. Biking option 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 your sampan past lone fishermen on their long tail boats. Later, your skiffs moor 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, and currently inhabited by gracious locals who will invite you to glimpse their property.
Disembark your vessel. En route to Saigon, stop at Vinh Trang Pagoda, one of the largest Mahayana Buddhist temples in the region. Notice the mixed architectural style and see three large Buddha statues plus an impressive collection of bonsai trees. Continue homeward or on to other adventures.
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.
Group transfers between the meeting points and the vessel; 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.