Phnom Penh Meeting PointMeet your guides and porters and transfer by bus to the Aqua Mekong. Settle in to your suite as the ship begins to sail the Mekong. In the evening, view a performance by renowned Cambodian apsara dancers, who continue an ancient tradition venerated on the intricately carved walls at Angkor Wat.
Tonle Sap River / Koh Chen / Kampongang
In the morning, embark by skiff to visit Koh Chen. The inhabitants of this riverside village are renowned throughout the region as silver and coppersmiths. They purchase the precious metals in Phnom Penh and return to make ornamental items such as the cups, boxes and delicately engraved tropical fruits used in Buddhist ceremonies and marriage blessings. Each family member carries out an aspect of these ancient methods and the intricate, beautiful workmanship belies its humble origins. Purchase whatever catches your eye before we continue on to the pagoda. If the monks are in residence, experience an authentic Buddhist blessing ceremony.
Later in the day, continue exploring Khmer riverside life in the floating village of Kampong Chhnang, meaning Port of Pottery. Archaeological findings link this now sleepy area as far back as the Dvaravati kingdom, dating to the 6th through 11th centuries when Kampong Chhnang was an important coastal stop on the trade route linking China and India. More recently, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen was born in this province. Colorful shrines with gilded Buddhas, villagers sporting conical hats more often associated with Vietnam, and simple houses on bamboo stilts are among today’s striking sights along the waterfront.
Kampong Chnang / Chnok Tru / Tonle Sap Lake
Continue exploring remote communities around the Tonle Sap River, an ecological hot spot designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997. Travel by skiff to the village of Chnok Tru, as photogenic as it is remote and thus completely self-sufficient. Visit an ice factory, the importance of which is obvious after a few days in Southeast Asia. As local factory workers explain how they make and use the ice for fish preservation, expert guides translate and get answers to your questions about this livelihood so different from ours. Be on the lookout in this lake village for floating schools, riverside churches and pagoda, and even the karaoke bar and police station. Literally everything and everyone in Chnok Tru travels by small boat through the intricate network of canals crisscrossing this tiny town.
Onboard the Aqua Mekong, cruise onward to the remote fishing village of Moat Kla. Climb back into the skiffs and head for the shore where our expert guides act as translators, allowing you to pose questions to the people of Moat Kla about their lives.
Tonle Sap Lake / Siem Reap - Cambodia
The adventure is far from over as you head off by skiff after breakfast into the Prek Toal Core Bird Reserve on Tonle Sap Lake, one of the largest freshwater bodies in Asia and the last refuge in Southeast Asia for large waterbirds like the spot-billed pelican, milky stork, black-headed ibis and the elusive masked finfoot. Along the way, visit floating houses and fish farms, and learn about sustainable development initiatives like Saray, a cooperative of women who weave water hyacinth into 100% organic mats and home accessories for some of Southeast Asia’s finest hotels.
Return to the Aqua Mekong to pack up, then disembark for the road journey to Siem Reap.