Aqua Mekong Cruise
5 Days » Upstream Cruising from Saigon to Phnom Penh
- Have great chance to travel through Cai Be floating market and explore of the daily life of Mekong Delta dwellers.
- Discover a number of pagodas and temples such as Long Son Tu Temple, Lady Xu Temple, Ba Chua Xu statue
- Explore authentic Vietnamese wet market and purchase diverse kinds of food
- Visit Cu Lao Gieng Church, Catholic Church and admire the indigenous pagodas and wooden houses
- Take the most captivating views of the surrounding countryside’s rice fields
- Wonderful chance to climb up Sam Mountain, the highest point in the Mekong Delta and visit pagodas along the mountain side
|Day 1||Saigon||Arrive in Saigon Meeting Point, embark on the Aqua Mekong and paddle through Cai Be floating market||Dinner|
|Day 2||Mekong River – Sa Dec – Gieng Islet||Walk around Sa Dec town, visit the house of Marguerite Duras, cruise to Gieng Islet, visit Cu Lao Gieng Church and Catholic Church||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Day 3||Bassac River – Gieng Islet – Chau Doc||Take sampan into Tra Su Cajuput Forest, sail to Chau Doc, climb to Sam Mountain, visit the Temple of Lady Xu, explore an authentic Vietnamese wet market||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Day 4||Bassac River – Chau Doc – Vinh Xuong border - Vietnam||Cruise towards Phnom Penh, visit Prek Bongkong Pagoda, visit one of the villages, witness the process of weaving||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Day 5||Tonle Sap River – Phnom Penh - Cambodia||Sail into Phnom Penh, visit the city's highlights as Silver Pagoda, Emerald Buddha, Maitreya Buddha, Angkor Wat||Breakfast, Lunch|
Activities: Arrive in Saigon Meeting Point, embark on the Aqua Mekong and paddle through Cai Be floating market
Your guides greet you and our porters collect your luggage for delivery to your suite. Board our air-conditioned bus for the scenic 1.5-hour countryside ride to My Tho where we meet the Aqua Mekong.
Welcome to the laid back luxury of the Aqua Mekong. Settle into your elegantly appointed, river facing suite as the vessel begins to cruise and thus begins one of life’s most memorable and photogenic adventures. Ascend to the Observation Deck if you wish, to take in the view of the swaying palms and bustling waterways of My Tho.
We start by going native, so to speak. People of the Mekong Delta rely on flat-bottom wooden boats called sampan to get around and transport goods to market. We climb aboard to paddle through Cai Be floating market, where more than 400 sampans gather every day, starting in earnest from 5 a.m. Each boat has one bamboo stick on the front to display that vendor’s product, be it Vietnamese fish sauce, rice paper for dumplings, or colorful sweet confectionery. We continue our exploration of this area on foot or by bicycle for more up close glimpses of the daily life of Mekong Delta dwellers.
Mekong River – Sa Dec – Gieng Islet
Activities: Walk around Sa Dec town, visit the house of Marguerite Duras, cruise to Gieng Islet, visit Cu Lao Gieng Church and Catholic Church
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Though we are in the heart of Vietnam, French colonial architecture stands all around us today as we walk back in time with a tour on foot around Sa Dec town. We roam around the fresh produce and exotic spices on sale at the local market and make our way to the colonial house once occupied by French writer Marguerite Duras. The house, built in late 19th century, is interesting in itself as a harmonious combination of Western and traditional Vietnamese architectural styles.
Our time travel continues after lunch on board the Aqua Mekong. We cruise by skiff to a 40 square kilometer riverine island called Gieng Islet, to walk or cycle around this peaceful religious enclave on the Mekong Delta. Together we visit Cu Lao Gieng Church, built in 1875 with materials imported from France. It is impossible not to admire its imposing bell tower that appears to pierce the sky high above its low-rise neighbors. At the Convent of the Providence Order and Catholic Church, interact with Sisters or Father to learn of the religious influences on the surrounding communities, which we may visit to admire the indigenous pagodas and wooden houses built in the early twentieth century in traditional Vietnamese design and shaded by bonsai trees, as was the local custom.
Bassac River – Gieng Islet – Chau Doc
Activities: Take sampan into Tra Su Cajuput Forest, sail to Chau Doc, climb to Sam Mountain, visit the Temple of Lady Xu, explore an authentic Vietnamese wet market
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Leaving the Aqua Mekong behind, today we journey by sampan into the Tra Su Cajuput Forest, floating deep into the acacia flooded forest under dense tree canopy. The 845 hectare preserve is a colony for 70 bird species including the rare painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala) and Oriental darter (Anhinga Melanogaster) as well as bats, snakes and endangered turtles. Flora here is equally abundant with over 140 specified floral varieties including 22 tree varieties, 70 types of grasses, 13 species of aquatic plants, nine varieties of fruit trees and many medicinal herbs of great value in traditional Vietnamese medicine.
Back on board the Aqua Mekong, we sail onward to the village of Chau Doc, which sits along the Hâu River, a tributary of the Mekong. We head to the shore by skiff then by road for a change, about six kilometers to the 230 meter (755 feet) high Sam Mountain, the highest point in the Mekong Delta, and home to dozens of pagodas that dot the mountain side, some even set in caves.
We make the easy climb to the mountaintop for the most captivating views of the surrounding countryside’s rice fields, and into Cambodia. Still at the top of Sam Mountain, Aqua Expeditions guests have the unique privilege to sit with the venerable Mahayana Buddhist monks at Long Son Tu Temple for a private audience. Enlightened, we head back down at the foot of Sam Mountain, stopping to visit the Temple of Lady Xu, one of the major religious sites of the Mekong Delta. Today, the marble statue of Ba Chua Xu, meaning "country lady" is worshipped, with Vietnamese coming year round to ask for her protection and benediction.
The chef heads into the local market here with any gourmet minded guests interested to explore an authentic Vietnamese wet market, its copious baskets of the day’s catch from the river, crisp vegetables and luscious tropical fruits.
Bassac River – Chau Doc – Vinh Xuong border - Vietnam
Activities: Cruise towards Phnom Penh, visit Prek Bongkong Pagoda, visit one of the villages, witness the process of weaving
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
In the cooler morning time, we cruise further south towards the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Around 90 minutes into today’s journey we pause to head by skiff towards the shore for a visit to the intricately carved Prek Bongkong Pagoda with its upturned naga wingtips and angels appearing to hold up the pitched Khmer roof. This area is known for a series of “silk islands” along the river. We visit one of these villages where the weavers allow us to wander among their looms, admiring their skills at this knotty art form. Witness the entire process here, learning how silk starts with the worms, see silk thread being looped and dyed, then admire and purchase, if you wish, the final shimmering Khmer silk accessories.
We return by skiff to the Aqua Mekong, ready to continue to the Vinh Xuong –Kaam Samnor border for our crossing into Cambodia. Guests who have opted for a visa on arrival should contact the Cruise Director for assistance with this process.
Tonle Sap River – Phnom Penh - Cambodia
Activities: Sail into Phnom Penh, visit the city's highlights as Silver Pagoda, Emerald Buddha, Maitreya Buddha, Angkor Wat
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch
Shifting gears from the sleepy countryside to this country’s political and economic capital, we sail into Phnom Penh where Art Deco buildings still stand in the shadows of ever-rising skyscrapers and vintage cyclos cruise alongside imported European sports cars. Buddhist temples, French colonial villas and the Royal Palace provide photogenic backdrop to international business and a new generation of boutique hotels, chic shopping and cosmopolitan nightlife.
Following your goodbyes and disembarkation from the Aqua Mekong, today’s urban adventure by two wheel motorized tuk-tuks take in this historic city’s most important sites including the 1866 Royal Palace that is still home to the reigning monarch and its Silver Pagoda, the royal compound’s most famous attraction, so called because in 1962 then Prince Sihanouk ordered the floor inlaid with 5,329 genuine silver tiles. Today the pavilion houses many jeweled statues and images, including the 17th century Emerald Buddha, made of Baccarat crystal, and a life size gold Maitreya Buddha adorned 9,584 diamonds, the largest of which weighs 25 carats.
Just next door, the National Museum of Cambodia houses the world’s largest collection of Khmer art, much of it removed from Angkor Wat to prevent looting. Here we can linger among the linga, representations of the Hindu deity Shiva, and thousands of other artifacts including an imposing 11th century bronze sculpture of a reclining Vishnu that is considered a monumental example of Khmer statuary.
- All meals while onboard
- Beverages (non-alcoholic, selected wines and beer)
- All shore excursions
- Bike use
- Group transfers