Indochina Mekong Cruise
Day 1: Tonle Sap
The great lake dominates Cambodia and is over 150 Km in length. Here bird life is profuse, and from the middle of the lake one cannot even see the shores. There is a great stillness and tranquillity as we pass floating fishing villages. Because of seasonal high winds and varying water levels, we will start our journey one of the following ways:
1. High water, approximately July - November. At 1200 REGISTER at ANGKOR CENTURY HOTEL to transfer to the ship at Siem Reap Port. lunch at 1330. At 1500 we take a motor boat excursion to the floating villages of Tonle Sap. Moor overnight on the lake.
2. Low water, approximately November -March. At 1200 REGISTER at ANGKOR CENTURY HOTEL to transfer by coach to Siem Reap Port, enjoying a picnic lunch on board a speed boat while crossing the great Tonle Lake. Mid-afternoon board the ship at mouth of Tonle River and cruise to Kampong Chhnang for overnight mooring.
3. No water, possibly late-March to July. At 1200 REGISTER ANGKOR CENTURY HOTEL in Siem Reap by coach stopping for sight seeing at Angkor Thom and Prem Srei Kuk temples. Packed lunch provided with refreshments and embark the ship at Phumi Prek Chik Village in early evening on the Tonle River, cruising to Kampong Chhnang for overnight.
IN ALL SITUATIONS THE SERVICE COMMENCES AT ANGKOR CENTURY HOTEL 1200
Day 2: Kampong Chhnang
Low and No Water: This is a busy rural port town with bustling markets. Mooring mid-stream, we make a truly wonderful motor boat excursion into the lakeside wetlands that form the mouth of the river. Here a stunning variety of birdlife may be seen, and of considerable interest are the great fish traps, some half a kilometre long, which net a huge tonnage of fish after each monsoon as the fish migrate from the falling lake into the Tonle River. We touch the capital Phnom Penh in the afternoon to change pilots and enter the Upper Mekong bound for Kampong Cham and stop for an afternoon walk at the village of Peam Chikang.
High Water: we cruise from 0400 across the great Tonle Lake with a brief morning stop at Kampong Chhanang and then cruise all day passing Phnom Penh to enter the Mekong River and proceed upstream.
Day 3: Kampong Cham
We continue upstream past Kampong Cham for a morning walk up the Wat Hanchai hill with its ancient Cham shrines. We cruise through lunch and in the afternoon travel by minivan (not always airconditioned) to the 12th century Angkorian temple of Wat Nokor and the twin holy mountains of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei, or Man and Woman Hills. We make a late afternoon departure from Kampong Cham heading for Phnom Penh. Overnight mid-stream.
Day 4: Phnom Penh
The capital of Cambodia retains its French charm. The old colonial architecture makes an attractive backdrop to busy cafes, and the renovated river "corniche" is full of life. The city has several impressive wats, including Wat Ounalom, Wat Phnom and the newly-painted Wat Lang Ka. Pride of place goes to the spectacular Silver Pagoda, one of the few places in Cambodia where artefacts embodying the brilliance and richness of Khmer culture were preserved by the Khmer Rouge. The National Museum is another highlight, with outstanding displays of Khmer crafts. An afternoon excursion is arranged to the Killing Fields and the Khmer Rouge's grim Tuol Sleng or S21 detention centre situated in the suburbs of the city. More happily, Phnom Penh has a lively night life, and some passengers choose to dine ashore or try one of the capital's many watering holes, a favourite being the Foreign Correspondence Club.
Day 5: Cruising the Mekong / Border crossing
We cast off for a day cruising the main Mekong channel, an international shipping route. Today we stop for a jungle village walk to visit fruit orchards, and then set off for the Vietnamese border for the usual formalities, which in this part of the world, take time. Overnight mid-stream.
Day 6: Chau Doc
We travel from the main Mekong channel at Tan Chau down the canals and backwaters by local ferry boat. At Chau Doc we visit a Cham tribal village and a cat fish farm. We make a trishaw ride round this fascinating town of fine French-colonial buildings and bustling market. We return to the ship by boat for lunch and cast off for Cai Bei.
Day 7: Cai Be
We take a morning junk trip to Dong Hoa Hiep Island to Cai Be to see a floating market, and go ashore to visit the French Gothic Cathedral and colourful port area, with its colonial buildings, delightful flower gardens and local coconut candy and rice paper manufacturers. We explore evergreen islands and visit the former Imperial residence the An Kiet House, where surviving members of the Kiet family will welcome us with tea, and we can wander in the fruit orchards around the house. In the afternoon we continue our sightseeing by traditional junk to Vinh Long to visit the Bonsai Gardens and see boat yards, brick works and traditional roofers. We rejoin the Pandaw and cruise past Vinh Long City and the Evergreen Islands. Overnight moor mid-stream Cai Bei.
Day 8: My Tho / Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
Early morning sail from Cai Bei for My Tho, where we disembark for coach transportation to the Renaissance Riverside Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City.