There can be no tapestry of river life as fascinating and varied as on a Mekong River Cruise. Indeed there can be no more striking a cultural contrast as that between the bustling Vietnam delta and the tranquility of Cambodia. We pass from the vibrant French colonial port of Saigon, through the vast delta so rich in human life and endeavour, to travel along the main channel into the rich countryside of Cambodia. With a full day in charming Phnom Penh we then explore remote waterways as we progress to the great monuments of Angkor. Angkor Wat is unbelievable!
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DAY 1 SAIGON TO MY THO
Transfer from the meeting point in Saigon to My Tho Port to start your Mekong River Cruise. After boarding your Pandaw we sail downstream to Ben Tre and anchor midstream. In the afternoon, there is a lecture on Vietnamese life on the Mekong Delta. During cocktail hour passengers are entertained by an indigenous dance group and meet your key crew.
DAY 2 BEN TRE
Travel by sampans through mangroves and bamboo groves to the fruit orchards of Ben Tre. In these local artisans are at work and are invite visitors into their homes for tea, fruit and honey products made from their own honey. This is an area rich in bird life and on our return journey we travel by horse cart through the lush countryside. After lunch, the ship moors off Cho Lach island for pot making and further glimpses of Delta life, agriculture and local Viet hospitality including a culinary lesson in making traditional Banh Xeo.
DAY 3 CON PHUOC ISLAND
After breakfast, there is a short coach journey to the Gao Giong ‘green oasis’ with its bird sanctuary. Here a diverse selection of water and egrets that gather in the tens of thousands across the Duong Tharp Muoi or ‘Plain of Reeds’. Rowing boats traverse the canals to take us to see the principal nesting areas. After returning to the boat we cruise upstream to Con Phuoc Island. We Moor in a small canal off Con Phuoc Island and go ashore to explore the island by Xi Loi seeing basket production and visiting a 100-year old Catholic Church as well as local woodworking artisans.
DAY 4 CAMBODIA BORDER
Afternoon, explore the labyrinthine canal system around Tan Chau to visit a Taoist temple where the monks will read fortunes. Continue through local villages by Xi Loi stopping off to help locals tend their fields before stopping off to visit a fish farm and earn merit by releasing fish back into the Mekong. Border crossing formalities take up much of the afternoon and during this stationary period there is an optional tour of the working ship and fruit carving classes on deck.
DAY 5 PHNOM PENH
Morning orientation of Phnom Penh by cyclo visiting the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda followed by the National Museum with its marvelous collection of Angkorian statuary. Afternoon optional visit to the Killing Fields and Genocide museum or take a tuk-tuk to explore the riverfront and finish with High Tea at Raffles Hotel. Overnight in Phnom Penh city port with its lively bars, restaurants and night life.
DAY 6 SILK ISLAND
Sail up the Tonle River to board our expedition vessel, the Pandaw Explorer, to visit Koh Okhna Tey, or ‘silk island’ to study the entire silk making process from worms to weavers. There will be a demonstration of the ancient Khmer martial art of Bokator. Return to ship and return down the Tonle River to turn up the Mekong at the confluence. Evening lecture on Angkor and Khmer culture.
DAY 7 KRATIE AND THE DOLPHIN GROUNDS
Morning visit to Koh Trong Island a small Mekong River hamlet which can be explored by bicycle or ox cart with a real immersion into Khmer rural life visiting local schools and English classes then visiting a reforestation site where you can leave your mark by planting your own tree. Passengers should feel free to donate items for use in the schools such as books & pens etc. After lunch, moor off Kratie and continue to the dolphin grounds by local boat where we will observe the elusive Irrawaddy Dolphins.
DAY 8 SIEM REAP
Sail downstream to moor at Kampong Cham for disembarkation and road transfer to Siem Reap.
Cruise Price Includes: Entrance fees, guide services (English language), gratuities to crew, main meals, local mineral water, jugged coffee, teas & tisanes. Transfers between the meeting point and the ship at the start and end of a voyage.
Cruise Price Excludes: International flights, port dues (if levied), laundry, all visa costs, fuel surcharges (if applicable), all beverages except local mineral water, jugged coffee, teas & tisanes and tips to tour guides, local guides, bus drivers, boat operators and cyclo drivers.