Aqua MekongVietnam,    Cambodia

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  • Sail the Mekong in style & luxury
  • Explore remote riverside communities
  • A private audience with the venerable Mahayana Buddhist monks at Long Son Tu Temple
  • All meals & shore excursions included
  • 1:1 staff to guest ratio
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Aqua Mekong
I'm enquiring about:
Aqua Mekong

Aqua Mekong

Sail along one of the world's greatest rivers, the mighty Mekong, aboad the regions most luxurious cruiser: the new Aqua Mekong. This small floating luxury hotel begins sailing from September 2014; operating 3, 4 and 7 night itineraries.  

Call us for a tailor-made quote on your preferred destinations, hotels and dates.

Itinerary

Day 1
Ho Chi Minh City - My Tho - Mekong River, Vietnam
Early this morning arrive at the Saigon Meeting Point. 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.

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.
Day 2
Mekong River - Sa Dec - Gieng Islet
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.

Perhaps no one has done more to associate themselves with the Mekong Delta than Duras. Born in Saigon because her parents had responded to a campaign by the French government encouraging people to work in the colony, Duras’ early life in Sac Dec was one of extreme hardship. Her father fell ill soon after the family arrived and returned to France where he died shortly thereafter. Her mother remained in Indochina with Marguerite and her two siblings. It was here in Sa Dec that the teenaged Duras and Huynh Thuy Le, a rich Sa Dec merchant began their affair that Duras wrote about in her most famous work The Lover.

Our time travel continues after lunch on board the Aqua Mekong. We cruise by skiff to a 40 square kilometre 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. 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.
Day 3
Bassac River - Gieng Islet - Chau Doc
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 and Oriental Darter. Flora here is equally abundant with over 140 specified floral varieties including 22 tree varieties, 70 types of grasses, 13 species of aquatic plants 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 kilometres to the 230 metre high Sam Mountain, the highest point in the Mekong Delta, and home to dozens of pagodas that dot the mountainside, 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. We won’t be alone up here. As this is border territory, there is a military outpost on the summit. This legacy of the Khmer Rouge era confers a slightly anachronistic aura, which allows us some insights into the tensions of that horrific period, although these soldiers appear far more relaxed. If you ask, they will likely pose for your photos, assuming you have a few cigarettes handy as payment for their impromptu modeling duties.

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 the mountain, stopping to visit the Temple of Lady Xu, one of the major religious sites of the Mekong Delta. According to a legend, in the early 1800s, villagers found a statue of a lady dating to the 6th century in the forest. In 1820 they completed this temple to honor her and in hopes that she would bring them better crops, thus improve their lives. Even 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 fruit
Day 4
Bassac River - Chau Doc - Vinh Xuong Border
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.
Day 5
Tonle Sap River - Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Shifting gear 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.

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.

Sip sundowners on the Observation Deck before an entertainment evening - a performance by renowned Cambodian apsara dancers who continue an ancient tradition venerated on the intricately carved walls at Angkor Wat.
Day 6
Tonle Sap River - Koh Chen - Kampong Chnang
This morning, we embark by skiff to 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.

Later in the day, we continue exploring Khmer riverside life in the floating village of Kampong Chhnang, meaning Port of Pottery. Archaeological findings here link this now sleepy area as far back as the Dvaravati kingdom, dating to the 6th through 11th centuries when Kampong Chhnang was an important coastal stop on the trade route linking China and India. Colourful shrines with gilded Buddhas, villagers sporting conical hats more often associated with Vietnam and simple houses on bamboo stilts are among today’s striking sights along the waterfront.
Day 7
Kampong Chnang - Chnok Tru - Tonle Sap Lake
We continue exploring remote communities around the Tonle Sap River, an ecological hot spot designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997. Today we travel by skiff to the village of Chnok Tru, as photogenic as it is remote and thus completely self-sufficient.

Here we “slide” into an ice factory, the importance of which will be obvious after a few days 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.

Back onboard the Aqua Mekong, we cruise onward to the remote fishing village of Moat Kla. Moat Kla is the last village in Siem Reap Province on the southeastern end of the lake and only accessible by water. We climb back into the skiffs and head for the shore where you will have time to pose questions to the local people 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 egg vendors, women selling bamboo stalks stuffed with sticky rice and even divers hired to search for lost objects.

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.
Day 8
Tonle Sap Lake - Siem Reap, Cambodia
This may be our last day but the adventure is far from over as we head off by skiff after breakfast into the 22,000-hectare Prek Toal Core Bird Reserve on Tonle Sap Lake, 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.

Along the way, we visit floating houses and fish farms, and learn about sustainable development initiatives like Saray, a cooperative of women who weave water hyacinth into 100% organic mats and home accessories for some of Southeast Asia’s finest hotels. Visitors like us are invited to test our knotting skills, usually to the amusement of the resident experts.

We return to the Aqua Mekong to pack up then disembark for the road journey to Siem Reap

Whats Included

Call us for a quote
Price Includes:
  • Luxury Yacht
  • Shared Transfer
  • Guide
Price Includes
  • All meals while onboard
  • Beverages (non-alcoholic, selected wines & beer)
  • All shore excursions
  • Laundry
  • Bike use
  • Internet
  • Group transfers
Price Excludes
  • Flights
  • Visas (needed for both Vietnam & Cambodia)
  • Private transfers
  • Spa services
  • Guide & crew gratuities
Price Notes

Price based on two people sharing a Design Suite First Deck. All itineraries subject to change, due to weather conditions, water levels and time of year. Seven night itineraries begin on a Friday. Contact us for departure dates

3 and 4 night itineraries available and reverse 7 night Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City options. Ask us for more information.  

Tour Route Map

  1.   Ho Chi Minh City
  2.   Phnom Penh
  3.   Siem Reap

How To Book

How do I talk to a specialist in Vietnam holidays?

We are happy to give you a call back to discuss your holiday at a convenient time for you or we welcome you to come to our office in central London to discuss your holiday in detail.

Why use our specialist service?

Our destination experts provide a personalised service to tailormake your dream holiday. Within our experienced team we have visited most of the properties we feature and will be able to give you expertise and specialist knowledge from our first hand experience. You will be offered a direct telephone number, so you are able to speak to the same specialist from the time you pick up the phone until your documents are sent out.

Do I have to travel on certain dates and only do the itineraries suggested?

No, we tailormake all our holidays and subject to availability you will be able to travel on any date. The itineraries and holidays on our website are for inspiration and are suggestions only, you can change any aspect according to your personal requirements and available spend.

How far in advance should I book my holiday?

Many customers are under the illusion that booking late secures the best prices. This is often not the case and it is advisable to book early especially if travelling in peak seasons such as Christmas, Easter or school holidays. Many hotels and airlines actually offer special “Early Booking Offers” so you are able to secure the best price early on.

I don’t know what board basis to book. Can I eat out locally, should I consider All Inclusive?

It's always a difficult decision to make before you travel. Call one of our destination experts, who will be happy to advise you on local restaurants and prices you can expect to pay in resort.

What can I do when I get there?

There are many excursions, activities and highlights that are not to be missed out on, whilst in the country. Please contact our experts for advise on whether to prebook these before travel.

What financial protection do you offer?

When booking through Western and Oriental, if your flight is delayed or cancelled due to bad weather or you have a problem in resort it is our responsibility you are taken care of. We offer a 24 hour emergency number to assist with any issues you may have in resort and all of our flight inclusive holidays are financially protected through ATOL bonding for your protection.