Linked by the mighty Mekong River, Vietnam and Cambodia abound with magnificent carved temples, lush landscapes, and cities where rich imperial and colonial legacies mingle. An expedition cruise between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap allows you to see more of the region in less time than on self-powered journeys.
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The 7-night river journey from Saigon to Siem Reap or in the opposite direction will enlighten and delight you with an unforgettable experience of the Mekong Rivers as well as the Vietnamese and Cambodian communities that inhabit this part of the world.
During the journey, you will have many opportunities to experience not only the major tourist attractions but also the life of the Vietnamese and Cambodian as you travel along the river. You will be led on the vibrant cities of Phnom Penh and Saigon, as well as experience rural life on visits to floating homes, farms, and traditional villages.
The cruise journey departs at My Tho Port, located 70 kilometers far from Saigon. During the transfer between Saigon and My Tho, you will have a chance to stop at Cholon Chinatown Market featuring authentic Chinese atmosphere and visit a lacquer factory with thousands of exquisite lacquered artworks. While arriving at the harbor, all you need is to settle into your floating luxury departure and a memorable traditional music show on board.
Cruise offers journey between Vietnam & Cambodia
Landing at Cai Be local port, you can enjoy a morning junk trip along a floating market then sightsee the unique Cai Be Cathedral which represents the French Gothic style in the early 20th century. Additionally, you can spend time walking along the bank river and visit a rice paper and coconut sweets manufacturer.
After lunch on board, the cruise goes on passing Vinh Long Province to arrive at Sa Dec, where the French novelist Marguerite Duras spent part of her youth. In this sprawling busy town of the Mekong Delta, you can see the house of the Marguerite's Chinese Lover. Today, the house becomes the little museum of "The Lover" in Sa Dec.
Take your time to visit the Cao Dai Temple, a center of the most indigenous religion in Vietnam called Caodaism, and stroll through the colorful local market before night navigation through the Delta.
The stunningly vibrant architecture in Cao Dai Temple
Tan Chau is an unspoiled little town on the main Mekong River. A traditional rickshaw ride around the town will take you to fascinating silk-weaving and mat-making workshops. After that, enjoy a boat ride through the narrow Tan Chau Canal to explore the lower and upper Mekong River branches and visit a scenic fishing farm called "Evergreen Island".
Casting off for the Cambodian border, evening cruise up the broad Mekong River to Phnom Penh along the route.
Tan Chau silk village
Crossing the border to Cambodia, cruise on towards the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh which has managed to preserve huge slices of its French colonial allure in riverside streets. This will be followed by a cyclo city tour to explore the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum with outstanding displays of Khmer crafts.
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
After lunch on board, the afternoon excursion will take you to the country’s profoundly sobering history at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and notorious Tuol Sleng S21 converted to a detention center under the Red Khmer’s rule between 1975 and 1979. Then call on the Wat Phnom after which the city was to be named. Returning to the cruise, you definitely enjoy your dinner as well as the Traditional Khmer Apsara Dancing Show on board.
The sacred and religious sites of Wat Phnom
In the early morning, the cruise makes a stop at Chong Koh, a peaceful riverside village on the bank of the mighty Mekong River, Cambodia. It's amazing to visit silk workshops and watch the artisans showing their impressive weaving skills to create stunning silk masterpieces. Also, take your time to encounter a rustic elementary school and a wonderful Buddhist temple where are home to beautiful sculptures and mysterious images of Buddha. After lunch, the ship will sail through eternal villages to contemplate local life on the Mekong River with fishing activities. Return to Phnom Penh and free afternoon to discover the city on your own, you can go shopping in the Russian market.
Chong Koh Cambodian silk village
Morning journey upriver will head for Oudong, the capital city of Cambodia between the years 1618 and 1866. Erected at a hilltop, this place counts numerous Stupas dating of the last Khmer Kings. Strikingly, you will see the Vipassana Dhura Pagoda, a place of meditation for Buddhist Monks. After the visit to Oudong, departure on the bus will head for Kampong Tralach where there is a very charming Vihara of the Wat Kampong Leu Pagoda dating back from the last century and has been retaining beautiful wall paintings until now.
Oudong Buddhist temple complex
Cruise towards Kampong Chhnang, you will call on a busy rural port town which is located approximately 90 km from Phnom Penh with bustling markets then boarding on local boats to visit the authentic floating village. The life of the entire population is connected with the river and all people evolve in boats through the canal system which criss-crosses this little town. Going ashore offers a stroll through the scenic market longing the River.
Kampong Chhnang floating village
Crossing of the Tonle Sap River early in the morning, the great lake dominates Cambodia and is over 150 km in length. Due to the time of year and rainfall, the water levels of the lake and river vary a great deal. Disembarkation is after breakfast and transfer to a hotel in Siem Reap, the city of the fabled Angkor temple complex. The architectural grandeur is arguably unmatched among the world’s ancient ruins. See several of the temples, including spectacular Angkor Wat and the mesmerizing faces of Bayon. Here you will also enjoy a private Apsara dance performance and will visit a development project teaching young adults traditional handicraft techniques.
Bayon Temple in Angkor temple complex
Perhaps, most rewarding for travelers looking to get off the tourist path is the stretch we sailed along the rice paddy-fringed banks of the Mekong's agrarian heartland, which afforded a colorful patchwork of views of local life. You can observe the passing Mekong landscapes from your cabin or the sundeck.
Sundeck on Cruise
Generally, a cruise in Vietnam and Cambodia is a discovery of the histories, cultures, and religions of the countries and their extraordinary differences. You will find the charms and character of each through intimate village visits and curated urban experiences. From Ho Chi Minh City, through the Mekong Delta that is so rich in human life and endeavor, to the diverse countryside of Cambodia, these experiences and more offer you a chance to discover the sights, the sounds, and the tastes of two countries joined by one river.
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