Aqua Mekong Cruise
5 Days » Downstream Cruising from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
- Wonderful chance to explore Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, also one of the most productive captive fisheries in the world
- Explore authentic wet market with diverse kinds of food
- Take the most captivating views of the surrounding countryside’s rice fields
- Admire the beautiful landscapes passing by along the river bank
- Visit fishing villages to understand more about the isolated communities
- Witness the process of weaving in one of the villages in Phnom Penh
- Explore the highlights of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh as Art Deco buildings, Buddhist temples, French colonial villas, the 1866 Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, the National Museum of Cambodia, Angkor Wat.
|Day 1||Siem Reap – Cambodia||Arrive in Siem Reap Meeting Point, embark on the Aqua Mekong, begin the cruise along the Tonle Sap lake, explore Tonle Sap- the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, head towards Kampong ...||Dinner|
|Day 2||Tonle Sap Lake – Kampong Khleang – Moat Kla||Cruise to the remote fishing village of Moat Kla and find out their lives, attend the blessing ceremony at Moat Kla’s Buddhist temple||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Day 3||Tonle Sap Lake – Moat Kla – Chnok Tru – Tonle Sap River – Koh Chen – Phnom Penh||Explore remote communities around the Tonle Sap River, visit Chnok Tru, pass Kampong Tralach, visit Koh Chen to purchase ornamental items and experience an authentic Buddhist blessing ceremony.||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Day 4||Tonle Sap River – Phnom Penh||Cruise towards Phnom Penh, take skiffs to visit carved Prek Bongkong Pagoda, witness the process of weaving in one of the villages||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Day 5||Mekong River – Phnom Penh – Kaam Samnor - Cambodia||Explore the highlights of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh as Art Deco buildings, Buddhist temples, French colonial villas, the 1866 Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, the National Museum of Cambodia, the ...||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
Siem Reap – Cambodia
Activities: Arrive in Siem Reap Meeting Point, embark on the Aqua Mekong, begin the cruise along the Tonle Sap lake, explore Tonle Sap- the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, head towards Kampong Khleang, take skiffs to a village built on wooden stilts
Early morning arrive at Siem Reap Meeting Point. Board our air-conditioned bus for the scenic 30-minute countryside ride to the dock on the Tonle Sap Lake.
Welcome to the laid back luxury of the Aqua Mekong. We begin our cruise today along the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. This great lake covers an area of around 250,000 hectares in the dry season. Listen carefully as our expert guides explain the unique hydrological phenomenon of the Tonle Sap. The Tonle Sap is rich in bird life, including Brahminy kites, pied kingfishers and blue-tailed bee-eaters. The Lake is also one of the most productive captive fisheries in the world, providing more than 60% of the protein intake for the entire population of Cambodia.
We head first towards Kampong Khleang, passing through a landscape dappled with kapok trees, sugar palms and bamboo along the riverbanks. Have lunch on board.
A village built on wooden stilts over the water that is only accessible by land at certain times of the year, Kampong Khleang is home rice farmers and fishermen practicing their livelihoods as their ancestors did for generations. We come here in part simply because the view en route in from the Tonle Sap, of hundreds of houses and other buildings rising above the water is, we think, stunning.
The many simple wooden paddleboats here attest to the importance of fishing in the inhabitants’ daily lives, as do the variety of fishing devices such as oblong traps called lop and V-shaped scoop nets. You may also see boats piled high with firewood heading to market, as 95% of Cambodians rely on this source of fuel for cooking. This reality makes commercial exploitation of Cambodian forests a growing concern for the future of the Tonle Sap’s delicate eco-system.
Tonle Sap Lake – Kampong Khleang – Moat Kla
Activities: Cruise to the remote fishing village of Moat Kla and find out their lives, attend the blessing ceremony at Moat Kla’s Buddhist temple
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After a sumptuous breakfast, perhaps of Vietnamese coffee, fresh fruits, eggs to order and sweet banana sticky rice treats that the locals devour, we cruise onward from Kampong Khleang to the remote fishing village of Moat Kla. We climb back into the skiffs and head for shore where our expert guides act as translators, allowing you to pose questions to the people of Moat Kla about their lives.
You may be surprised to see that although most communities on the Tonle Sap are quite isolated, even Moat Kla has floating ‘convenience’ stores stocked with fishing tackle, cooking utensils, rice, beer, candy, fruits and vegetables. Along the water, there are also small merchants like fresh egg vendors, women selling bamboo stalks stuffed with sticky rice and even divers hired to search for lost objects.
Moat Kla is the last village in Siem Reap Province on the southeastern end of the lake and only accessible by water. The community is largely of Vietnamese descent, owing to its settlement long before the nuances of international borders. Aqua Expeditions has made special arrangements for our guests to attend the blessing ceremony conducted at Moat Kla’s Buddhist temple, home to only four monks.
Tonle Sap Lake – Moat Kla – Chnok Tru – Tonle Sap River – Koh Chen – Phnom Penh
Activities: Explore remote communities around the Tonle Sap River, visit Chnok Tru, pass Kampong Tralach, visit Koh Chen to purchase ornamental items and experience an authentic Buddhist blessing ceremony.
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We continue to explore remote communities around the Tonle Sap River, an ecological hot spot designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997. Here we “slide” into an ice factory, the importance of which will be obvious after even just one day in Southeast Asia. As local factory workers explain how they make and use the ice for fish preservation, our expert guides translate and get answers to your questions about this livelihood so different from ours. Also be on the lookout in this lake village for floating schools, riverside churches and pagoda, and even the karaoke bar and police station. Literally everything and everyone in Chnok Tru travels by small boat through the intricate network of canals crisscrossing this tiny town.
We return to the comforts of the Aqua Mekong and continue along the Tonle Sap River to Koh Chen. On the way, we pass Kampong Tralach, the site of Lovek, the capital of Cambodia after the Siamese King sacked Angkor in 1431. Though its glory days are long gone, this area was wealthy metropolis in its time and even attracted Europeans traders and missionaries through the 16th and 17th centuries.
By skiff we visit Koh Chen, or ‘Chinese Island’ in Khmer. The inhabitants of this riverside village are renowned throughout the region as silver and coppersmiths. They purchase the precious metals in Phnom Penh and return here to make ornamental items such as the cups, boxes and delicately engraved tropical fruits used in Buddhist ceremonies and marriage blessings. Each family member carries out an aspect of these ancient methods and the intricate, beautiful workmanship belies its humble origins. Purchase whatever catches your eye before we continue on to the pagoda. If the monks are in residence, we will experience an authentic Buddhist blessing ceremony.
Tonle Sap River – Phnom Penh
Activities: Cruise towards Phnom Penh, take skiffs to visit carved Prek Bongkong Pagoda, witness the process of weaving in one of the villages
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 and angels that appear 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 returning by skiff to the Aqua Mekong, ready to continue another dozen kilometers to Phnom Penh.
Mekong River – Phnom Penh – Kaam Samnor - Cambodia
Activities: Explore the highlights of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh as Art Deco buildings, Buddhist temples, French colonial villas, the 1866 Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, the National Museum of Cambodia, the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide, Angkor Wat.
Meal: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
From the remote charms of the Tonle Sap River, we cruise into what may feel like another Cambodia altogether as we explore this country’s political and economic capital, Phnom Penh. Here, 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 the 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 will 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.
For our guests who are interested to delve deeper into Cambodia’s recent past, we offer an optional excursion to the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide, with its extensive photographic evidence of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge era and into the countryside to visit The Killing Fields.
- All meals while onboard
- Beverages (non-alcoholic, selected wines and beer)
- All shore excursions
- Bike use
- Group transfers