An in-depth journey of discovery along the Mekong River, you will embark on a four-night Mekong River Discovery Cruise bringing you from Saigon in Vietnam to Phnom Penh, Cambodia aboard Aqua's Newest Ship The Aqua Mekong. A luxury cruise on the Mekong River offers a fresh perspective and deeper insights into the diverse history, esoteric cultures and remote nature of this flourishing region. Begin your four night adventure in Vietnam’s cacophonous city of Saigon, then leave modernity behind for timeless floating villages, vestiges of Indochine and remote Buddhist monasteries, explore deep into an ancient flooded forest among rare birds and turtles, before emerging into the history rich city of Phnom Penh, home to one of the world’s finest collections of Angkorian art.
We suggest adding a trip to the historical vibrant city of Saigon as a pre or post extension to this cruise.
- Arrival at Saigon Meeting Point.Your guides greet you and porters collect your luggage for delivery to your suite. Board the air-conditioned bus for the scenic 90 minute countryside ride to My Tho where you meet 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.
This morning climb aboard to paddle through the 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 wrapping dumplings, or colorful sweet confectionery.Continue your exploration of this area on foot or by bicycle for more up close glimpses of Mekong Delta dwellers. Begin the afternoon excursion by skiffs to Binh Thanh Island, where the villagers weave mats and baskets from Mekong river reeds and water hyacinths. At the village’s simple temple where worshippers adhere to the indigenous practice founded in 1939 known as Hòa Hảo Buddhism, in which emphasis is placed on modesty over ornate offerings, you will have an interaction with village elders to learn about their life before, during and after the war. On your return skiff journey, stop by one of the local fish farms to learn how these farmer fish directly underneath their floating home.
- Leave the Aqua Mekong this morning to head by skiff for Tam Nong – the largest bird sanctuary of South Vietnam at 7,300 hectares. This protected national park is home to 233 waterfowl species and accounts for one fourth of the countries bird populations.By skiff cruise through lush cajuput forest, looking out for rare white-winged wild ducks, painted storks, lesser adjutants, spot-billed pelicans and sarus cranes – the largest among the crane species.This afternoon take time to relax aboard the ship.
- Today, begin you Cambodia adventures with a visit to Koh Oknha Tey – a beautiful island on the Mekong. Here, explore by tuk-tuks, heading to one of the villages where renowned weavers have invited you to wander freely among their looms, admiring their skills as they work at this knotty art form. Witness the entire process, 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. A biking option is also available for those who wish to explore deeper into the island.This afternoon, cruise further north along the Mekong towards the remote village of Preah Prosop. Here, as you walk through this typical Khmer village of stilt houses, you will see and experience authentic Cambodian village life untouched by the outside world. You will also pass a local brick factory, which will be more interesting than you might think, before reaching one of the oldest Buddhist temples of this area. More sportive explorers may opt to venture around Preah Prosop by bike.
- Shifting gears from the sleepy countryside to this country’s political and economic capital, we sail into Phnom Penh.Today’s urban adventure is by two wheel motorized tuk-tuks in this historic city’s most important sites including the 1866 Royal Palace.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 you 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.Afterwards, return to the Aqua Mekong to pack up and disembark.