Saigon – Siem Reap (or vice versa), 8 Days – 7 Nights

The mighty Mekong – 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 classic Mekong River cruise, the Lost Civilisation combines places rarely visited with historical world heritage sites. Destinations include the market towns of Cai Be and My Tho as well as Kampong Cham and Kampong Tralach before docking in Siem Reap.

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 boarding.

We bid farewell to the hustle and bustle of Saigon and travel 70 kilometers southwards by land to My Tho where we embark our luxury floating home for the upcoming journey along the Might Mekong.

Upon boarding our crew warmly welcomes you and you check into your prepared staterooms. The ship set sail and your fascinating 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 pass time at your private balcony or join our tea time at the open air bar as the twilight bathes the land of the Mekong Delta into a golden haze.

During the time you savour your dinner, the ship reaches Cai Be, 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 the modern central markets.

We drop anchor mid-stream and stay overnight near Cai Be.

Day 2: Cai Be – Sa Dec – Tan Chau

Every day, we offer an invigorating Tai Chi class on the sun deck to our guests . Start 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 for your first exploration day in the Mekong Delta.

The morning tour takes you to 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 culture. Each boat has a special marker to let buyers know what goods they are selling.

Cai Be is a rustic town criss-crossed by many water canals. We go on-shore to visit a workshop where we learn about the manufacturing of rice paste, rice paper, rice cookies or rice wine. Cai Be and its surrounding areas are covered by palm trees 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 canal network and observe farmers working in the fields.

Back on board, lunch is served. Afterwards, you have free time for yourself 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 take a 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 hyacinths. 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 mat making. You can even try the weaving yourself which is still done manually. We will meet also an old local couple who shares their story on the island with us.

Back on board you may like to pamper yourself with a spa treatment or take a dip into our pool on the sun deck. Our expert guides offer a presentation on the “Life in the Mekong Delta” as the ship continues sailing to Tan Chau, near the boarder 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 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 privacy of your balcony.

Brace yourself for a tour around Tan Chau, a pleasant, slow-paced town with a sizeable Chinese, Kinh and Khmer community. Once on-shore we hop on “xelois” to explore Tan Chau. A “xeloi” is a local vehicle which is still used as a 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 town’s temples. This is the best time to interact with the vendors of this friendly town to practice your bargaining skills. We board our local boat and cruise past floating houses and finally reach a floating fish farm. This region is the source of a fish production that is sold all over the world. Here we get a deep insight on how fish farming works..

Back on board our “home” we sail towards the Vietnamese-Cambodian border. Get ready for a fascinating and leisurely cruise through the deep Cambodian countryside towards Phnom Penh.

The whole afternoon is at your own arrangements. This is the cruising part when even the last passenger turn on their cruise mode and hopefully experience the therapeutic influence this mighty river radiates. It is time for massages, time for sun bed relaxations, time for private balcony kick-backs - it's the time to merge with the river.

A culinary class is offered during the afternoon to sharpen your knowledge and skills on the local cuisine. Some may like to do a flying visit at the ships bridge - where the captain is always happy about a little chit-chat. “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 Cambodia's capital in the evening. 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-chatting, selling odds and ends or have a drink in one of the numerous bars (kindly inform our crew when you are leaving the ship on your own).

Day 4: Phnom Penh

Welcome 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 of century-long, incredible history and culture which can still be felt at many street corners.

After breakfast we bid farewell to our passengers of the Pearl of the Orient Cruise (3-nights). At the same time around 8 o’clock, we welcome 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 the Khmer Rouge ruled the country with terror and suppression. 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 individually in your own pace before re-joining the group.

We take lunch 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 cycle 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 modern 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 knew the former King of Cambodia privately and many other high ranking politicians.
After the lecture, a feast of a barbecue dinner commences on the sun deck. 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 are characterized by their unbridled friendliness.

Back on board our staff is keen on showing you the variety of traditional Khmer fashion. Lunch is served after this demonstration.

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 the “Geography of the Mekong and Tonle Sap”.

After lunch a Monks’ blessing ceremony on board will deliver spirits and wishes for health and prosperity to 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 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 dawn. Our morning 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 afternoon tea at the bar and as the sun sets, our crew invites for a farewell event. Enjoy your dinner and some music and dancing afterwards together with the crew.

The boat moors mid-stream 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 9 o’clock, we arrive at the Siem Reap pier and bring you back by 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 you plenty of memories and friendships 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 ship travels. Downstream means from Siem Reap to Saigon, whereas 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 decreases greatly in the Tonle Sap, so the vessel must dock in Kampong Cham for embarkation and disembarkation. It takes 4.5 hours for our coaches to transfer to the meeting point in Siem Reap (Victoria Angkor Hotel & Spa).
Low water season is approximately from mid-November to late August (exact dates vary yearly).
High water season: The Ship is able to cruise along the Tonle Sap lake and dock near the Siem Reap pier. It takes 45 minutes for our coaches to transfer to the meeting point (Victoria Angkor Hotel & Spa). The embarkation and disembarkation of the ship will take place near Siem Reap pier.
Approximate dates for high water season are from late August to mid-November (exact dates vary yearly).
Please see our Lower Mekong Embarkation and Disembarkation guide for meeting locations and schedules.

Do I need to arrange visa before arriving in Saigon or Siem Reap?
For most foreigners visas are needed for both countries. Please check with the Vietnamese and Cambodian embassies in your country.

  • For upstream cruises (Saigon to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap), Heritage Line can support you with arranging a Cambodian visa on arrival.
  • For downstream cruises (Siem Reap or Phnom Penh to Saigon), a visa for Vietnam must be obtained before arrival in the destination. Heritage Line is pleased to help you with a pre-arranged Vietnam visa.

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 a new visa onboard and pay all fees.

What does the tour include?
Please visit our download section www.heritage-line.com/download/. Our inclusions and exclusions are listed on our rate sheets.

Please see the following links:
Cruise Departures
Cruise Rates