MEKONG PRINCESS Upstream Journey
7 night jounery cruising along the legendary Mekong River
Because of its smaller size, the Mekong Princess can navigate the smaller tributaries in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, delivering a unique and fascinating itinerary that is unlike anything else currently sailing the Mekong. From the candy-making families of Ben Tre to the floating market of Can Tho; from the cacophony of the bird sanctuary near Thot Not, to the crocodile conservation center; and from the floating village of Kampong Chhnang to the Killing Fields of Phnom Penh, this innovative, 4-night Vietnam, 3-night Cambodia itinerary is allows you to experience the best of both countries.
DAY 1 - Ho Chi Minh City / Embarkation
This afternoon guests will drive to Saigon port and embark the RV Mekong Princess to begin the journey up the Mekong. Following a safety briefing, the Princess will sail to Ben Tre, where it will anchor for the evening, while guests enjoy a welcome reception and a Mekong Delta Welcome Dinner.
(Welcome Reception/Theme Dinner)
DAY 2 - Ben Tre / Tam Binh
This morning, guests will sail on traditional, Vietnamese sampans through a channel lined with mangroves to visit a local coconut candy maker. After watching the candy-making process and walking through the family’s orchard, a horse cart will take guests on a 15-minute ride to a pier where they will board small, local boats (two guests per boat) for a trip through the narrow creeks lined with Nipah palm before returning to the ship. After lunch, guests will sail through an area of the Mekong Delta barely touched by tourism to see Ky Son, an ancient Khmer pagoda and interact with the Khmer monks who fled to Vietnam during the Cambodian civil war. Guests will enjoy local entertainment during cocktail hour this evening. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
DAY 3 - Can Tho / Tho Not
Early this morning, guests will board a lovely sampan before breakfast for a cruise through the fascinating Cai Rang floating market near Can Tho. The sampan will weave in and out of the many boats that sail into the market each morning to sell produce and other items residents of the Mekong Delta need in their daily lives. As they weave through the market, guests will have many opportunities for amazing photographs of life in this river market, while enjoying the Vietnamese “anti-aging drink,” fresh coconut water. After the market visit, guests will stop at a local factory to see the amazing process of making instant noodles; then tour a large, family-owned fruit orchard, where they will see fruits native to Vietnam in various stages of maturity on the vine, then enjoy a fresh fruit tasting before returning to the ship on their sampans. Later this afternoon, the sampans will return to the ship to take guests to the village of Thot Not, where guests will ride a Vietnamese xo loi (motorized trishaw) through the village, and begin to hear the cacophony of a bird sanctuary. Guests will have a short walk into the sanctuary, and be able to climb the steps up to the viewing platform, from where there is an incredible view over the treetops and down on the nesting area of protected egrets. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
DAY 4 - Long Xuyen
This morning, guests will board sampans that will take them into Long Xuyen City. After a short walk around the river town, and through the market, they will visit the Cao Dai temple and learn about this fascinating, Vietnamese religion that was founded as an amalgam of several different religions, in an effort to stop the infighting between the various followers.The afternoon excursion is to a local crocodile farm, where guests will view and learn about the crocodiles that once inhabited the Mekong River, and how the farm raises and conserves this Asian wildlife. Guests will also be invited to sample a few of the restaurant’s crocodile dishes. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
DAY 5 - Hong Ngu / Border Crossing
Today, guests will be presented with the unique opportunity to visit a local island village, not far from the Vietnam-Cambodia border that produces the traditional, Khmer scarves for export to Cambodia. Produced by many families, and in many homes around the village, guests will have the opportunity to see the weaving process under several families’ homes. Several people in the village are also embroidery artists, and display their art in and around the homes. The villagers of this area had only encountered one western visitor prior to the arrival of the Mekong Princess, and are especially friendly and welcoming. Before returning to the sampans, guests will visit the local temple dedicated to another religion founded in Vietnam, Hòa Hóa. This afternoon, the MV Mekong Princess will cross the border into Cambodia and up the Mekong to the area near Phnom Penh, where we will anchor for the evening. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
DAY 6 - Tonle Sapr River Cruise / Kampong Chhnang
After an early morning of sailing along the Tonle Sap, guests board a private excursion boat and experience a panoramic cruise of the floating village at Kampong Chhnang. Villagers live, work, shop, and even attend church and school on the river. The return sail down the Tonle Sap provides a rare, up-close view of rural life in Cambodia, where children run down to the river to wave at the passing ships. This evening, we will welcome performers from the local shadow puppet theater to demonstrate their art.
(Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner)
DAY 7 - Phnom Penh
After breakfast on board this morning, local cyclo drivers will meet guests for an exciting city tour of Phnom Penh. Guests will ride along the riverfront to the Royal Palace, where they will enjoy a leisurely walk through the grounds, with opportunities to visit the Throne Hall and Moonlight Pavilion. Upon crossing into the second section of the complex, guests will walk amongst enormous stupas, spirit houses, and potted flowers, on the way to the famous Silver Pagoda, home of Cambodia’s Emerald Buddha and Maitreya Buddha, encrusted with more than 9,000 diamonds. Following a short break where guests may choose to walk through the Elephant Room, guests return to their cyclos for the ride to the National Museum. Housing the largest pre-Angkorian and Angkorian holdings in Cambodia, the National Museum ends the morning tour with a comprehensive look at many of the artifacts excavated around the Angkor Archeological Area in Siem Reap. After a return cyclo ride to the ship, guests may wish to take some time to have lunch at a local restaurant, walk along the quay, or visit some of Phnom Penh’s famous markets or lovely boutiques.This afternoon, guests learn more about the darkest days of Cambodian history. After a scenic 45-minute drive from the ship, they arrive at Choeung Ek, the killing fields depicted in the movie. Guests will walk through the fields, visit the small museum and Memorial Stupa, and learn more about the atrocities committed during the Khmer Rouge regime. On the return drive to Phnom Penh, guests stop at Tuol Sleng (infamously known as S-21), which was converted by the Khmer Rouge from a large school to a prison and torture headquarters. Before dinner, children from a local orphanage entertain guests on our Sun Deck with a cultural performance including Apsara, Cambodia’s national dance, as well as several traditional folk dances. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Farewell Dinner)
DAY 8 - Preak Kdame / Disembarkation
Following breakfast this morning guests will disembark and transfer to Siem Reap.