Considered the father of Heritage Line’s ship fleet, the Jayavarman is plying the Mekong River from Siem Reap to Saigon (or vv). This vessel incorporates a rich history, named after Angkor’s most venerated king Jayavarman VII who ruled the Khmer Empire from 1181 to 1218. Jayavarman embodies all the serenity and harmony of its namesake who was the greatest Khmer rulers of all times, a forceful and benevolent sovereign, art lover and devout Buddhist – admired by his people far and wide.

Jayavarman VII was a valiant leader during his 30-year reign and scenes of his successful naval battles can be admired today on engravings in the Angkorian Bayon and Banteay Chhmar temples.

This king’s legacy is not only one of war and conquest but more one of spirituality and public work. Indeed, Jayavarman VII held a great and unusual devotion to Buddhism unlike rulers before him. He is credited with being of the ones who caused a shift of faith from Hinduism (the main religion of the time) to Buddhism in Cambodia. As such, he wanted to alleviate the suffering of his people and build 102 hospitals and 121 rest houses for travelers which for the time required an outstanding workforce.

He was also a great builder. After the new capital Angkor Thom he went on to construct two of Cambodia’s most spectacular temples, Ta Prom and the official state Buddhist temple the Bayon. It is believed that the massive Buddha faces depicted on the four sides of the Bayon towers are of Jayavarman’s, and that the enigmatic smile on their faces – which is every bit as captivating as that of the Mona Lisa – is none other than the serene smile of the benign monarch.

The same smiles can be found in the friendly and hospitable Cambodians, and mostly of the crew on board Jayavarman

Read all about our Jayavarman vessel here.