Depart Ho Chi Minh City in the afternoon on a scenic drive to the port of My Tho to embark the luxurious Mekong Navigator and settle into your elegant suite. As your upstream journey commences towards Cai Be, experience our cordial hospitality on the Sun Deck at a welcome reception and introduction to our friendly and professional crew who will present a safety briefing. In the evening a “Mekong Delta” themed dinner offers a cultural and innovative introduction to Vietnamese cuisine.
After a short sail to Cai Be, the English-speaking guide will accompany you on the tapestry of waterways by sampan, passing a colourful collection of local boats from the delta provinces, larger boats selling their goods and the characterful stilted houses of Cai Be. Continuing into the narrower canals of Cai Be, a stop is made to visit Ba Duc House, a traditional Vietnamese home and garden. Back onboard the sampans, it’s a short paddle through the canals to reach a traditional rice factory where industrious artisans produce rice paper, rice wine and popped rice. There’s a selection of postcards, souvenirs, and beautiful oil paintings on sale. On return to the ship an elegant buffet lunch is served while sailing upstream through tranquil riverine scenery towards Sa Dec.
On arrival at Sa Dec port the traditional sampan is again used to navigate the tapestry of Mekong canals, giving guests the opportunity to observe traditional village life before arriving at the historic town of Sa Dec. A visit here would not be complete without a visit to the former home of Mr. Hyunh Thuy Le, who was the inspiration for Marguerite Duras’ famous novel, L’Amant (The Lover), as well as the Chinese Temple called Kien An Cung,built in honor of the Huynh Thuy Le Family, where you will be warmly welcomed by traditional Chinese Lion Dances. Guests return to the ship on foot through the town's market which is a bustling, extraordinary and colourful experience, providing many wonderful photo opportunities of the fresh and unusual produce of meat, live fish and seafood for sale.
CU LAO GIENG
LONG KHANH A ISLAND
In the morning, guests make the short journey from ship to shore by traditional sampan, landing on the charming island of Cu Lao Gieng to visit a local village where hundreds of sampans and rowing boats are made daily. An enchanting sampan cruise circumnavigating the island ends with a visit to the Cu Lao Gieng Cathedral, which was built in 1879, shortly after the Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon in 1863. There may be an opportunity to interact with a local priest at the Cathedral (subject to his availability). The peaceful villages are surrounded by flourishing orchards and verdant green lawns, far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Mid-afternoon your sampans take you to the local island village of Hong Ngu in the Mekong Delta, close to the Vietnam-Cambodia border. Here, a large number of traditional Khmer scarves are woven in many village homes and exported to Cambodia. Guests have the opportunity to observe the weaving process passed down many generations. Some villagers are also embroidery artists and display their art for visitors to enjoy. The inhabitants of this rural area have only recently become familiar with western travellers and always offer a friendly welcome. Before returning to the sampans guests can enjoy a walk around the beautiful evergreen island, stopping for a visit at the home of a local war veteran.
After border formalities, relax and enjoy leisure time on the sundeck, in the lounge, library or wonderful La Vie spa until mooring close to the city of Phnom Penh late evening. Guests observe a fascinating transformation in the riverfront architecture. Exciting cultural activities will take place on board.
Guests will today learn more about the darkest days of Cambodian history and the harrowing loss and sadness that haunts its people. A 45-minute drive through countryside are the Choeung Ek killing fields where more than one million people were killed and buried in mass grave sites by the Khmer Rouge regime between 1975 and 1979. Walk through the fields, visit the small museum and buddhist memorial stupa and learn more about the atrocities committed during the Pol Pot’s regime. Before returning to the ship there is a visit to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (also known as S-21), a former school that was converted to the main prison and torture headquarters of the Khmer Rouge.
Guests have the option to take the coach accompanied by their local guide from the port to the central market to explore the city of Phnom Penh in the afternoon, from shopping, dining at one of the many wonderful restaurants, to sightseeing around the city independently. Pre-dinner cultural entertainment is provided on the Sun Deck as guests enjoy a performance by local children of Aspara, the Khmer national dance and other traditional folk dances.
Breakfast is taken on board before guests are greeted at the pier by their appointed Tuk Tuk driver for an enchanting tour of the best sites in Phnom Penh. Guests are expertly pedalled along the riverfront to the Royal Palace which is the official residence of the King of Cambodia. Comprising several buildings, the main palace is an important symbol of the Kingdom set in beautifully manicured gardens. Guests stroll through the grounds to see the Throne Hall and Moonlight Pavilion, the famous Silver Pagoda, home of Cambodia’s Emerald Buddha and Maitreya Buddha encrusted with more than 9,000 diamonds.
The city tour continues by Tuk Tuk to the National Museum, Cambodia’s largest museum of cultural history with one of the world’s largest collections of Khmer art and ceramics as well as Angkorian artifacts, excavated at the Angkor Temple complex in Siem Reap and further afield in Cambodia. In the afternoon, guests are free to further explore Phnom Penh on a variety of optional excursions at a small cost. Alternatively, guests can opt to go shopping or sample the city’s vibrant restaurants and bars.
The morning begins with a visit to the rural and charming village of Angkor Ban, with its stilted houses and grazing Brahim cows seeking the shade of a banana tree. Guests feel a sense of timelessness here, witnessing the rhythm of rural life. A visit is made to the home of a local family who discuss their lifestyle, then onto the local school to join children in their classroom and glimpse a typical school day. A leisurely stroll through the village back to the ship offers an opportunity to take photos of this place that time forgot. This walking route includes a brief stop at the local monastery before returning to the ship to sail further upstream to Wat Hanchey.
Guests begin the afternoon with a walk up the hill to Wat Hanchey a thriving religious complex of both Hindu and Buddhist temples with breath-taking panoramic views over the Mekong. There is the option to receive a traditional Buddhist Water Blessing from the monastery’s resident monks. There are many outstanding stupas, temples, pagodas and statues worth exploring before descending all 303 steps when returning to the ship. For gentle walkers, there is a small coach provided for ascent and descent of the hill.
Before dinner guests gather on the Sun Deck for a farewell reception with all the crew followed by a Cambodian Farewell Dinner in Le Marche Dining Room.
Following breakfast the crew bid farewell as guests are invited to disembark for transfer from Kampong Cham to Siem Reap with a lunch stop, arriving early afternoon at the hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia.