Luxury Mekong River Cruise

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Dal Kikin
October 29, 2018

Photo: www.aquaexpeditions.com

For the new route along the Mekong River, the vessel Aqua Mekong, 62.4 m long, designed by Noor Design (Saigon, Vietnam), was built. Its design embodies the aesthetics of a modern five-star hotel. When it was created, reliable materials of local origin were used, and the decoration of the vessel includes elements of manual work that reflect the diversity of cultures of the peoples inhabiting the shores of Mekong.

Photo: www.aquaexpeditions.com

The interior of the floating hotel was created for a comfortable rest, all the delights of which guests can enjoy in the intervals between excursions along this amazing river and its banks. Spacious and comfortable, the Aqua Mekong Hotel will satisfy the most sophisticated tastes thanks to the elegance and relaxed atmosphere of the recreation and restaurant areas, and will give you a feeling of complete privacy: no more than 40 guests can be accommodated on board, as well as crew members. Modern navigation technologies, compliance with the highest requirements of shipbuilding, professionalism and experience of the captain and crew will ensure your complete safety during the trip.

Photo: www.aquaexpeditions.com

The chef aboard Aqua Mekong is David Thompson, thanks to whom the first ever restaurant of southeast Asian cuisine received a Michelin star. Today, the Nahm restaurant in Bangkok is on the list of the 50 best restaurants in the world. On board of the ship Aqua Mekong that you can enjoy delicious dishes from the cookbook of Thompson. The culinary master brings together the best recipes of Khmer and Vietnamese cuisine, using only the freshest ingredients and morning catch, be it smoked fish, tapioca, vegetable dumplings, minced Vietnamese catfish with shallots, Chili and Thai basil, or shrimps grilled with peanuts.

Photo: www.aquaexpeditions.com

The voyage:

Day 1. Saigon - Mitkho - Mekong River

Photo: www.aquaexpeditions.com

You will go along the great Mekong River and visit places not accessible to everyone. Boarding on a luxury vessel “Aqua Mekong” and accommodation in your elegantly decorated cabin (all cabins of the vessel overlook the river). Briefing on the observation deck (in the closed air-conditioned lounge). Your adventure will begin today. You will visit the floating market of Kai Be, where more than 400 sampans (flat wooden boats) gather every day. On each boat, a bamboo stick is installed in front of the goods: it can be Vietnamese fish sauce, rice dim paper or multi-colored confectionery. We will continue the excursion into the life of the inhabitants of the Mekong Delta and go on a hiking or cycling trip. Night on the ship "Aqua Mekong". Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 2. Mekong River (Vietnam) - Gieng Islet Island

Photo: www.aquaexpeditions.com

Today, you will have a walking tour of Sadeq. Despite the fact that we are in the center of Vietnam, buildings of French colonial architecture can be seen everywhere. A visit to the local market of exotic spices, the home of French writer Marguerite Duras, harmoniously combining elements of Western and traditional Vietnamese architecture. Return to the ship and lunch. Boat cruise to the island of Gieng Islet. Walking or cycling in this truly sacred place. You will visit the church Cu Lao Gieng, built in 1875 from materials brought from France, as well as local communes with traditional pagodas and wooden houses from the beginning of the 20th century decorated with bonsai trees. Night on the ship "Aqua Mekong". Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 3. Gieng Islet - Chau Dok

Photo: iStock/vermontalm

Morning cruise on sampan boats deep into the flooded forest of Tra Su Cajuput through thickets of acacia trees. The territory of 845 hectares serves as a haven for more than 70 species of birds, including the rare Indian beak and the eastern serpentine, bats, snakes, and rare species of turtles also live here. The local flora is no less unique - 140 species of plants, including 22 species of trees, 70 species of herbs, 13 species of aquatic plants, 9 species of fruit trees and a variety of medicinal herbs valued in traditional Vietnamese medicine. We return to the ship and move on, towards the village of Chau Doc, which stands on the river Hâu (a tributary of the Mekong). You will go there by boat, then do part of the journey along the ground (6 km) until you reach Mount Sam (230 m), the highest point of the Mekong Delta and the place where there are dozens of pagodas, some of which are located in caves. You are expected to climb to the top, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding rice fields and neighboring Cambodia. Here, in the border area, there is also a military guard post, a legacy of the Khmer Rouge era, giving the place a somewhat anachronistic atmosphere and reminiscent of a terrible time in the history of the country. Guests of the Aqua Mekong are also waiting for a unique audience of the esteemed Buddhist monks of the Long Son Tu monastery. Enlightened, we will go back to the foot of the mountain, visiting the Lady Xu temple, one of the most sacred places of the Mekong delta, on the way. According to legend in 1800, villagers found a statue of a goddess dating from the 6th century. In 1820, a temple was built in her honor (originally from bamboo and leaves) in the hope that it would help residents with a good harvest. Those interested can go with the chef to the local market, where residents sell river catch, vegetables and fruits. Night on the ship "Aqua Mekong". Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 4. Chau Doc - Kam Samnor / Mekong River (Cambodia) 

Photo: iStock/simon_photos

We continue to move south towards Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. On the way we are waiting for a stop and a boat ride to the carved pagoda Prek Bongkong. These areas are also known chain of "silk islands" located on the river. We will visit one of the villages where people are engaged in silk production. You can see the whole process from start to finish - from silkworm to beautiful Khmer silk products. We return to the ship and approach the border between Vietnam and Cambodia. Night on the ship "Aqua Mekong". Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 6. Phnom Penh - Kompong Chhnang

Photo: iStock/Pipop_Boosarakumwadi

In the morning excursion by boat to Ko Chen, or as it is called the “Chinese Island”. Villagers are known throughout the region as skilled craftsmen in silver and copper, each family keeping the ancient secrets of this art. They buy precious metals in Phnom Penh and make of them things decorated with elegant ornaments, including objects that are used in Buddhist ceremonies. After lunch, we continue to explore the coastal regions and go to the floating village of Kompong Chhnang. Archaeological excavations have reported that this place from VI to XI century was an important port on the trade route between China and India. Colorful temples, country people in conical hats and traditional houses on bamboo stilts create an atmosphere that is timeless. Night on the ship "Aqua Mekong". Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 7. Kompong Chhnang - Tonle Sap Lake. 

Photo: iStock/alexeys

This morning we continue to explore the lost settlements around Tonle Sap Lake. These territories were recognized by the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997. We will go by boat to the isolated village of Chnox Tru. Here is the ice factory, the need for which you understand after a few days spent in Southeast Asia. Factory workers will talk about how they produce and use ice to conserve caught fish. Life on the lake dictates its own laws - you will see floating schools, churches, pagodas and even karaoke bars and police stations. Literally everything and everyone in Chon Tru moves in small boats along the canals that permeate this tiny city. We return to the ship and continue to the lost fishing village of Moat Kla. We disembark on boats ashore, where our guides will act as interpreters, and you will be able to ask the local inhabitants about their lives. The settlement, founded long before the appearance of modern borders, mainly has Vietnamese roots. Today, a blessing ceremony will be organized exclusively for the guests of Aqua Mekong at the Moat Kla monastery, where only 4 monks live.

Day 8. Lake Tonle Sap - Siem Reap

Photo: www.aquaexpeditions.com

Today is the final, but no less intense, day of our cruise. After breakfast, you will go boating to the Prek Toal bird sanctuary on Tonle Sap Lake, one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in Asia. The reserve serves as a haven for a variety of waterfowl, inhabited here: gray stork, gray pelican, black-headed ibis and rare Asian lapchatonog. On the way, you will find houses on the water, fish farms and learn about the local women's community, which weaves 100% natural carpets from water hyacinth and various home accessories for some of the best hotels in Southeast Asia. Return to the ship and disembarkation, from where on the ground we will go to Siem Reap. Meal: breakfast.

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