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7 NIGHTS MEKONG CRUISE

Cambodia Siem Reap – Vietnam Saigon

SIEM REAP - SAIGON CRUISES

Siem Reap – Saigon Cruises. There can be no tapestry of river life as fascinating and varied as the River Mekong. Indeed there can be no more striking a cultural contrast as that between the tranquility of Cambodia and the bustling Vietnam delta. We pass from the Siem Reap and Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh traveling along the main channel through the vast delta. Your journey will end in the vibrant French colonial port of Saigon. NEW and EXCLUSIVE upgraded itinerary – now visiting Kratie and the Mekong dolphins. No other river cruise operators go there! In 2003, with the RV Mekong Pandaw, we were the first ship to attempt this extraordinary journey, surmounting complex bureaucratic and navigational obstacles.

RV MEKONG PANDAW

RV MEKONG PANDAW Built in Rangoon in 2002 she was sailed round to Saigon under her own power and many a drama described in Paul Strachan’s Pandaw Story. This ship was designed specially for the Mekong and unlike our other P class ships does not have a flying bridge. The reason was so she could get under a road bridge. She did actually scrape under on her maiden but it was so scary that Paul Strachan, then standing on the bridge, never dared attempt it again. As a result, we ended up with this incredible 750 square meter teak deck that even has a full size billiard table.

RV TONLE PANDAW

RV TONLE PANDAW. Modelled on Pandaw II and originally called Pandaw III, the Tonle saw a year’s service in Burma in 2002/3 before being sent under tug-tow to the Mekong where she has done continuous service between Saigon and Kampong Cham ever since. With her gorgeous upper deck saloon, observation decks and formal dining room this ship is an old favourite and has a rich ambience. In 2013 she was fully refitted and the number of cabins reduced to just twenty-eight in order to create a professional spa and library on the lower deck. She is not a small ship but despite her size she has a shallow draft and can usually get up river into low water areas when other vessels are stuck well below.
Pandaw expedition map. Mekong river cruises between Saigon and Seam Reap.

SIEM REAP - SAIGON EXPEDITION ITINERARY

DAY 1 SIEM REAP

Embark on your Pandaw at Kampong Cham following a road transfer from Siem Reap (Angkor). The vessel will proceed upstream to moor midstream for cocktails and to meet key crew.

DAY 2 KRATIE AND THE DOLPHIN GROUNDS

Morning visit to Koh Trong Island a small Mekong River hamlet which can be explored by bicycle or ox cart with a real immersion into Khmer rural life visiting local schools and English classes then visiting a reforestation site where you can leave your mark by planting your own tree. Passengers should feel free to donate items for use in the schools such as books & pens etc. After lunch, moor off Kratie and continue to the dolphin grounds by local boat where we will observe the elusive Irrawaddy Dolphins.

DAY 3 SILK ISLAND

Sailing downstream all morning, with lectures and film presentations, past Phnom Penh and up the Tonle River to board our expedition vessel, the Pandaw Explorer, to visit Koh Okhna Tey, or ‘silk island’ to study the entire silk making process from worms to weavers. There will be a demonstration of the ancient Khmer martial art of Bokator. Return to ship and return down the Tonle River to turn up the Mekong at the confluence. Evening lecture on Angkor and Khmer culture.

DAY 4 PHNOM PENH

Morning orientation of Phnom Penh by cyclo visiting the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda followed by the National Museum with its marvellous collection of Angkorian statuary. Afternoon optional visit to the Killing Fields and Genocide museum or take a tuk-tuk to explore the riverfront and finish with High Tea at Raffles Hotel. Overnight in Phnom Penh city port with its lively bars, restaurants and night life.

DAY 5 VIETNAM BORDER

Early sailing to the Vietnam border for formalities and during this stationary period there is an optional tour of the working ship and fruit carving classes on deck. Afternoon, explore the labyrinthine canal system around Tan Chau to visit a Taoist temple where the monks will read fortunes. Continue through local villages by Xi Loi stopping off to help locals tend their fields before stopping off to visit a fish farm and earn merit by releasing fish back into the Mekong.

DAY 6 CON PHUOC ISLAND

In the morning sail up a small canal to moor off Con Phuoc Island and go ashore to explore the island by tuk-tuk seeing basket production and visiting a 100-year old Catholic Church and local woodworking artisans. After a short cruise downstream in the afternoon we take a short coach trip where we visit Gao Giong ‘green oasis’ with its bird sanctuary. Here a diverse selection of water birds and egrets that gather in the tens of thousands across the Duong Tharp Muoi or ‘Plain of Reeds’. Rowing boats traverse the canals to take us to see the principal nesting areas.

DAY 7 BEN TRE

After breakfast the ship moors off Cho Lach island for pot making and further glimpses of Delta life, agriculture and local Viet hospitality including a culinary lesson in making traditional Banh Xeo. Upon return to the boat we take a cruise downstream to Ben Tre. Where we travel by sampans through mangroves and bamboo groves to the fruit orchards of Ben Tre. In these local artisans are at work and are invite visitors into their homes for tea, fruit and honey products made from their own honey. This is an area rich in bird life and on our return journey we travel by horse cart through the lush countryside.

DAY 8 MY THO TO SAIGON

Early morning coach transfer to the InterContinental Asiana Saigon Hotel, arriving around 09.30 – 10.00.

  • BEST DEAL
    FROM2599 USD/ 1-PERSON
    • PRICE INCLUDES
    • Entrance fees
    • Guide services (English language)
    • Gratuities to crew
    • Main meals
    • Locally made soft drinks
    • Local beer and local spirits
    • Jugged coffee and selection of teas and tisanes, mineral water
    • Transfers between the meeting point and the ship at the start and end of a voyage.
    • PRICE EXCLUDES
    • International flights, port dues (if levied), laundry, all visa costs, fuel surcharges (see terms and conditions), imported beverages such as wines, premium spirits and liqueurs, fancy soft drinks like Perrier, espressos and cappuccinos at bar and tips to tour guides, local guides, bus drivers, boat operators and cyclo drivers.

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