THE LOST CIVILIZATION
Saigon – Siem Reap (or vice versa), 8 Days – 7 Nights
A mysterious body of water. Flowing through six countries in Asia. Giving love and life to millions. Received its fame by the legendary God King of ancient Cambodia, King Jayavarman VII, who linked hands with the waters of the Mekong to build the magnificent Angkor civilization.
The displayed program below is a sample of a 7-night upstream cruise between Saigon and Siem Reap for high water cruises. Please visit our download page to review programs for downstream and/or low water cruises.
Day 1: Saigon - My Tho - Cai Be
We gather before noontime at our welcome lounge in Saigon. Lean back with a drink as our staff welcomes you and collects your details for the boarding.
We bid farewell to the hustle and bustle of Saigon and travel 70 kilometers south overland to My Tho to embark your luxury floating home for your coming journey along the Might Mekong.
Upon boarding our crew warmly welcomes you and you check in to your prepared staterooms. The ship set sail and your fasctinating journey of exploring the Mekong can begin. Lunch buffet is served in the restaurant while the vessel steadily glides upstream to reach the overnight spot. Make yourself familiar with all the ship facilities. Now it is time to become one with one of the largest streams in Asia.
The afternoon allows you pastime at your private balcony or join our tea time at the open air bar as the twilight bathes the land of Mekong Delta into a golden haze.
During the time you savor your dinner the ship reaches Cai Be. Cai Be is a charming small town, famous for its Catholic French church and manufacturing of traditional crafts and food products. The floating market of Cai Be is getting smaller every year, since trading on the water is shifting more and more into modern central markets.
We drop anchor mid-stream and overnight near Cai Be.
Day 2: Cai Be – Sa Dec – Tan Chau
Everyday, we offer to our guests an invigorating Tai Chi class on the sun deck. Set in your day like many local people do around Asia just as the sun begins its gentle glow.
A sumptuous buffet breakfast is the perfect start in your first exploration day in the Mekong Delta.
The morning tour takes you Cai Be. Cai Be still hosts a small floating market for boat to boat trading of local goods such as fruits and agricultural products. Our guide explains the particularities of this long lasting dealing cutlture. Each boat has a special marker to let buyers know what goods they are selling.
Cai Be is a rustic town criss-crossed by and many water canals. We go on-shore to visit a workshop where we learn about and observe how rice paste, rice paper, rice cookies or rice wine is manufactured. Cai Be and its surrounding areas are covered by palmtrees and hence the region is also famous for the production of coconut candies. With our local boat we continue to cruise through the lush and green canel network and can observe farmers working in the fields.
Back on board lunch is served and you have some time for yourself afterwards to either enjoy a true Vietnamese coffee at the bar or simply watch the life on the riverbanks floating by.
In the afternoon, we reach the area of Sa Dec. We embark a traditional sampan and tour towards Binh Thanh Island. This island is one of the larger ones in the vast stream of the Mekong. Some communities have settled here and make their living by growing water hyazinths. We visit exclusively one of those untouched areas. By wandering through the village we get a deep understanding of the native life. But moreover we can follow the whole process of ratt making. You can even try yourself the weaving which is still done manually. We will meet also an old local people who shares with us their story on this island and they are happy for any chit-chat with you.
Back on board you may like to pamper yourself with a spa treatment or take a dip in our pool on the sun deck. Our expert guides offer a presentation on the “Life on the Mekong Delta” as the ship continues sailing to Tan Chau-the boarder town to Cambodia. We moor mid-stream near Tan Chau.
Dinner is served and afterwards you can join our evening cinema session (offered every night) featuring selected classic movies.
Day 3: Tan Chau – Border crossing – Phnom Penh
Welcome to the fish sanctuary of Vietnam. Begin your day with a hearty breakfast at the dining hall or in the quiet sanctuary of your balcony.
Brace yourself for an excursion around Tan Chau, a pleasant, slow-paced town near the Cambodian border with a sizeable Chinese, Kinh and Khmer community. Once arrived on-shore we hop on “xelois” to explore Tan Chau. A xelaoi is a local vehicle which is still used as taxi in this region. We slowly move around the streets to see all the workshops, houses and domiciles. Get to feel the laid back vibes of this place. We stop at the colorful local market near one of the ancient temples. This is the best time you can interact with the vendors of this friendly town to make your own bargain experience. We board our local boats and cruise along floating houses to finally reach a floating fish farm. This region is the source of fish production to be sold all over the world and we can see closely how fish farmings works.
Back on board our “home” we sail towards the Vietnamese-Cambodian border. Get ready for a fascinating and leisurely cruise through the deep Cambodia countryside towards Phnom Penh.
The whole afternoon is at your own arrangements. This is the cruise part when even the last passenger will turn into cruise mode and hopefully experience the therapeutical influence this mighty river radiates. It is time for massages, time for sun bed relaxations, time for private balcony kick-backs - forsooth the time to merge with the river.
A culinary class if offered during the afternoon to sharpen your knowledge and skills on the local cuisine. Some may like to do a flying visit at the bridge - the captain always has a story to share about “his” river. “The Highway Blues” beckons as we float into a state of mild bliss and before you totally drift away join our afternoon high tea for some treats.
Dinner is served before we arrive in the capital of Cambodia around 8 o’clock. The boat docks at the pier of Phnom Penh. You are free to go for your first exploration by yourself. Stroll along the river promenade and watch the locals chit-chating, selling odds and ends or have a drink in one of the numerous bars (kindly inform our crew once you are leaving the ship on your own).
Day 4: Phnom Penh
Welome to Phnom Penh the once called Paris of the East. Despite its rapid development, it has retained a lot of its rustic charm and elegance. It is an amazing town to bespeak centuries of incredible history and culture which can still be felt at many street corners.
After breakfast we bid farewell to our passenger of the Pearl of the Orient Cruise (3-nights).
At the same time we welcome around 8 o’clock our passengers of the Serenity Cruise (4-nights).
We start with a full sight-seeing tour right after breakfast. By bus we visit the Killing Fields at the outskirts of the city and after the centrally located prison “S21”. Both historic sites display the sad and cruel chapter of Khmer history when once the Khmer Rouge ruled the country with terror and supression. Those places have merely changed much since the horrific time back in the early seventies and so it can be heart wrenching. There is the alternative to explore the city during the morning by your own pace individually before re-joining the group.
Lunch we take in a nice restaurant in town. Our exploration of Phnom Penh focuses afterwards on the fascinating cultural heritage of Phnom Penh. The golden edifice of the Royal Palace with its Silver Pagoda and the exceptional Khmer crafts at the National Museum are the afternoon highlights. The day trip ends with a “cyclo” ride back to the ship through the bustling streets of downtown Phnom Penh.
Take some rest in your spacious cabin or join other fellow passengers at the bar for some refreshing drinks before our capturing evening activities start:
It begins with a variety of cocktails served on the sun deck or at the open bar. We move to the lounge which is set up for a captivating lecture about Cambodian mordern history, held by a professor of the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Definitely among the highlights of this cruise to receive knowledge out of first hand as our lecturer had a private relation to the former King of Cambodia and many other high ranking politician.
After the lecture a feast of barbecue dinner on the sun deck commences. The dinner is accompanied by an Apsara dance performance. You have to witness the brilliance and richness of this dance along with the soothing sounds of traditional music.
As the evening unwinds enjoy your supper with a good glass of wine and marvel at the skyline of Phnom Penh and the calming flow of the Tonle River.
Day 5: Phnom Penh – Kampong Cham (Mekong)
We depart before the break of dawn from Phnom Penh towards the small Angkor Ban village up the Mekong River. Wake up to the gentle cruise motion and get ready for breakfast in the dining room.
The Angkor Ban village is famous for it´s unspoiled community and beautiful, traditional houses. It feels like being transported back a hundred years into an era unaffected by modernity. Villagers characterize an unbridled warmth.
Back on board our staff is keen to show you the variety of traditional Khmer fashion. Lunch is served after this performance.
We cruise further up the Mekong to visit a local school to understand more about the education of the young Cambodian generation (the project is funded by an NGO). Those children here are always excited to show their skills in music and art and will bath you in smiles upon your applause. We continue the travel by road to the enchanting pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey (7th century). This small complex sits on a hill top right on the shore with breath-taking views on the Mekong. Another temple on the way is the tiny, colorful monastery of Wat Nokor. Here we might get the chance to engage in a light banter with some of the monks living in the area.
Relax back on board until dinner is served. The boat moors mid-river near Kampong Cham.
Day 6: Kampong Cham (Mekong) – Kampong Chhnang (Tonle)
We sail downstream the Mekong during breakfast time and stop at the Island of Koh Oknha Tey. This spot in the middle of the Mekong owns its fame for the manufacturing of high class silk products.
By tuk tuk we explore the island with its workshops and learn how silk is processed from its source, provided by little silkworms, to a final top quality product made of original Cambodian silk.
Before lunch our expert guides offer a presentation about “Geography of the Mekong and Tonle Sap”.
After lunch a Monks’ blessing ceremony on board will deliver spirits and wishes for our health and prosperity for all.
The cruiser continues its journey, passing the confluence of Mekong and Tonle River towards Kampong Tralach. Gliding through leafy swaths of this jungle-like landscape we reach Kampong Tralach. Cacophonous children waive enthusiastically while bringing their livestock for a bath in the meandering river. Live to see all this life - which is so much different than ours - by a local ox cart ride.
The boat find its anchor spot later in the Tonle River near Kampong Chhnang allowing you to observe the interesting and close-by life on shore until dinner is served in the restaurant.
Day 7: Kampong Chhnang – Tonle Lake
Wake up early to witness this spectacular water-world in the break of down. Our moring Tai Chi class has the perfect backdrop today. Breakfast buffet is served in the restaurant.
We are now at Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia’s “water world”, where everything is on sticks balanced on water rich soil. This is the most fascinating cruise part in Cambodia.
We take a local boat to the shore. With mini buses we head to a rural village nearby and go on a walking tour. Our guides introduce the village specialities – Khmer style pottery and the making of palm sugar. Definitely you should bring home some. Before returning to the boat we explore the local floating villages and wetlands of the region.
Back on board lunch is served as your floating sanctuary cruises gently along the narrow and meandering Tonle, towards the Great Tonle Lake. The river opens up to a vast “sea” - known as the biggest fresh water lake in Asia. This lake can only be crossed during high water season (approx. from End-July to Mid-November). Let your soul float and your eyes wander while the boat makes its way towards Siem Reap.
In the afternoon we serve a high tea at the bar and as the sun sets, our crew invites for a farewell event. Enjoy your dinner and some dance and music afterwards together with the crew.
The boat moors mid-like near Siem Reap.
Day 8: Siem Reap
The Tonle Sap (The Great Lake) is the flowing heart of Cambodia, giving love and life to millions of people. It has more fishes than any other lake in the world and is home to an incredible variety of birds, including rare – and endangered – feathered life.
Our Heritage Line cruise comes to an end. We prepare to disembark the ship and take a local boat to the shore, passing a vast floating community.
Around 09:00 o’clock, we arrive at the Siem Reap pier and bring you with a short transfer to the drop off point in the city center.
We hope that you enjoyed this fascinating river same as our crew does every single time. Moreover we wish that you will take plenty of memories and friendships along with you that will linger with your stories of this amazing river - the Mighty Mekong.
What is the difference between Upstream and Downstream?
Upstream and Downstream indicate the direction, the Ships will travel. Downstream means from Siem Reap to Saigon. Upstream is the opposite direction from Saigon to Siem Reap.
What is the difference between Low Water and High Water season?
Low water season: The water level goes down and very low in Tonle Sap, so the Ships have to dock in Kampong Cham, where the embarkation and disembarkation will take place. It takes 4.5 hours for our coaches to transfer to the meeting point in Siem Reap (Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa).
For downstream (REP-SGN) we will meet at 08:00am for the check-in formality.
For upstream (SGN-REP) the coaches will drop you off around 13:30pm at Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa.
Low water season is approximate from January to middle of September.
High water season: The Ship could cruise along in Tonle Sap and dock near Siem Reap pier. It just takes 45 minutes for our coaches to transfer to the meeting point (Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa). The embarkation and disembarkation of the Ship will take place near Siem Reap pier.
For downstream (REP-SGN) we will meet at noon (12:00pm) at the meeting point for check in formality.
For upstream (SGN-REP) the coaches will drop you off around 10:00am at Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa.
High water season is approximate from middle of September to the end of December.
High water and low water season just make itinerary timing schedule changeable in Siem Reap, there will be no changes at other destinations.
Do I need to arrange visa before arriving in Saigon or Siem Reap?
For most foreigners visa are needed for both countries. Please check with the Vietnamese and Cambodian embassies in your country.
During the upstream cruises (SGN-REP), Heritage Line could support to arrange Cambodia visa at the border. The visa fee of USD 37 per person (subject to change during public holidays and Cambodia Immigration policy) will be added to their onboard account.
For downstream cruises (REP-SGN), Heritage Line could support to arrange Vietnam visa as well. But as the visa has to be issued in Phnom Penh, the processes is difficult and expensive (visa fee will be advised at the time you request). We strongly recommend arranging Vietnam visa before arrival in Vietnam or Cambodia.
Is an E-Visa accepted in Vietnam and Cambodia?
Please note that both Vietnamese and Cambodian E-Visas are not accepted for waterway entry to either country.
Passengers who wish to obtain their own Visas before the trip must apply directly at a Cambodian or Vietnamese Consulate or Embassy, or by other methods, that will allow them to receive a normal Tourist Visa-for the country they will enter into on the water.
- For upstream journeys (Vietnam to Cambodia) a Vietnamese E-Visa is acceptable for entry by air to Vietnam-but for the water way entry to Cambodia, a Cambodian E-Visa is not acceptable.
- For downstream journeys (Cambodia to Vietnam) a Cambodian E-Visa is acceptable for entry by air to Cambodia-but for the water way entry to Vietnam, a Vietnamese E-Visa is not acceptable.
Passengers who have obtained E-Visas-for the country that will be entered by water-will be required to apply for new onboard and pay all visa fees.
What does the tour include?
a. General Inclusions
All cruises include group shore-excursions, entrance fees, transportation, tour guide services (English speaking), taxes, fuel, river pilots, port dues, transfers in Saigon and Siem Reap from/to the meeting point to/from embarkation/disembarkation point or vice versa. Meals are included full board. Drinking water, coffee/tea (from jug) is included all day. Fruit juices are included in addition during breakfast.
Port tax per passenger of 65 USD (levied by Port authorities and port taxes appear on our invoice). Crew gratuities (8 USD – 10 USD per passenger per day are recommended). Cambodian Visa (available on Upstream cruise only/37 USD)