Come aboard the Jayavarman for an 8-day low-water cruise from Siem Reap to Saigon and indulge in the wonders of the Mekong River. Admire the landscapes and vibrant port cities as you cruise along the river. Gain insight into the local culture and traditions by exploring rural villages, ancient pagodas, and bustling markets. Interact with the friendly locals and witness their skilled artistry in crafting beautiful handicrafts and delicious treats.
Interact with locals and observe skilled craftsmen
Experience the rewarding and authentic way of life in Cambodia
Learn about the culture and life of the locals along the river with an expert guide
Discover the beauty and mystery of the Mekong River
Explore rustic villages, ancient pagodas, and vibrant floating markets
On the morning of your arrival, you will receive a welcome greeting in the lounge in Siem Reap. With a last glance back, bid farewell to the iconic sights of Angkor and travel southeast overland to the town of Kampong Cham, where the ship awaits us (approximately 4.5 hours of travel time, including a rest stop). The expert guides will share interesting facts and insights about Cambodia and the region during the journey.
Kampong Cham is an important trade and transportation hub. The highway connecting the town and the capital of Phnom Penh is among the best maintained in Cambodia and includes the first bridge across the Mekong (Kizuna Bridge). When moving into your staterooms upon boarding, your first inclination might be to step on your balcony to watch the ship set sail for a southbound journey on the mighty Mekong.
This afternoon, you will learn more about the education of the young Cambodian generation. Children from the small village of Chiro come on board, always excited to show their skills in music and dance. After the performance, prepare to leave the ship for a bus excursion to a nearby spectacle only present during the Mekong’s low water season (December to May). The Koh Paen Bamboo Bridge connects the mainland with Koh Paen Island and is rebuilt by the local community every November when water levels drop.
Continue your land journey to the enchanting pre-Angkorian temple of Wat Hanchey (7th century). Formerly built to honor the Hindu god Hirahara, the complex is now a Buddhist temple, a testament to the country’s past and present religious beliefs. This small complex sits on a hilltop with breathtaking views over the Mekong. Many young, novice monks live on the compound of Wat Hanchey and have the chance to observe a few of their daily lives: eating simple meals, praying, studying, or hanging out and making conversation while in their saffron-colored robes.
Back on board, you have some downtime before dinner. The theater in the lounge features classic films and fascinating documentaries every night if you are feeling restless after all the excitement of your first day on the Mekong River.
Day 2: Kampong Cham | Oknha Tey | Kampong Chhnang
1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Wake up early to witness the spectacular scenery at the break of dawn. To make the experience complete, join the daily morning Tai Chi class. Afterward, a rich breakfast buffet awaits, or if you prefer, breakfast can be served directly to your room.
Today, the small village of Angkor Ban is the first destination. This village is famous for its unspoiled community and beautiful, traditional houses. You will feel like you are transported back a hundred years into an era unaffected by modernity, where villagers are characterized by their unbridled warmth.
Back on board, a monks’ blessing ceremony delivers spirits and wishes for health and prosperity for all guests. While sailing downstream, afternoon tea is served at the bar. The staff is keen to show you a variety of traditional Khmer fashions the local people still wear on special occasions.
As you approach the island of Koh Oknha Tey, you will notice that this location in the middle of the Mekong is famous for producing high-quality silk products. Go sightseeing along the island’s roads a bit via tuk-tuk before arriving at the village’s workshops and witnessing the curious process of making silk, starting from a tiny silkworm larva to a cocoon, then dyeing, spinning, and weaving the fibers into high-quality Cambodian silk.
After some additional cruising time, you will pass the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Rivers. The boat will anchor near Kampong Chhnang for the night.
Day 3: Kampong Chhnang | Kampong Tralach | Phnom Penh
After a sumptuous breakfast, you are now at Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia's “water world," where everything is balanced on sticks in water-rich soil. It is perhaps the most fascinating cruising spot in Cambodia. Take a local boat to the shore and hop on a minibus to reach a unique, nearby rural village. As you explore the village on foot, the guide reveals the village’s specialties – Khmer-style pottery and the process of making palm sugar from the Cambodian palm tree, called “Skor t'not."
Drive back to the shore, where the local boat starts an exploration of nearby floating villages and the surrounding wetlands. Although you are still in the heartland of Cambodia, the residents of these floating villages are actually of Vietnamese descent.
Back on board, have your lunch ready in the restaurant. The ship will continue cruising languidly along the Tonle River towards Kampong Tralach. This part of the Tonle River is quite interesting to watch from the terrace, as the river at certain points is very narrow. The boat glides through leafy swaths of this jungle-like landscape. You will reach Kampong Tralach, where laughing children wave enthusiastically at our arrival.
You are in the middle of Cambodia’s countryside, where – surprise – traditional ox carts are still a common means of transportation. The ox-powered vehicle takes you along the riverside and through back roads lined with rice paddy fields until you arrive at a tiny village. Beginning a few short years ago, local children have had the chance to receive an education here. The “Green School” is a local project supported by Heritage Line in this remote area to support underprivileged youth. The students, who are wearing green shirts, are always happy to meet all visitors every week as the principal gives an introduction and updates on the current situation of the school.
After some additional cruising time back aboard, the boat arrives and docks at the pier of Phnom Penh. Feel free to go out and explore by yourself after dinner. 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.
Welcome to Phnom Penh, the city once named Paris of the East. It retains much of its rustic charm and elegance despite its rapid development. This lovely town has a rich history and culture that are still evident on numerous street corners.
Your day will start with a full-day sightseeing tour right after breakfast. Ride a bus to visit the Killing Fields outside the city and, afterward, the centrally located prison called S21. Both historic sites display the sad and cruel chapter of the country’s history when the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia with terror and oppression. Alternatively, you may explore the city on your own in the morning before re-joining the group.
Have lunch at a well-known restaurant in town and experience the elegant air for which Phnom Penh’s top addresses are known. The exploration of Phnom Penh continues with the cultural highlights of the city’s heritage. The golden edifice of the Royal Palace with its Silver Pagoda and the exceptional Khmer crafts at the National Museum top the list of the city’s must-sees. The day trip ends with a cyclo ride along the bustling streets of downtown Phnom Penh and back to the ship.
Take some rest or join fellow passengers at the bar for refreshing drinks. Join your fellow passengers for a special open-air gala featuring a barbecue dinner feast in the evening. The dinner is accompanied by a classic Apsara dance performance and other folklore dances.
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.
The lounge is set up for an eye- and ear-catching lecture about modern Cambodian history, held by our friend and local expert, Mr. Jean-Michel, a professor from the Royal University of Phnom Penh. The lecture will take about an hour before you continue to sail southbound toward the Vietnamese border.
The rest of the morning and the whole afternoon is at your disposal. From here, even the last passenger turns on their cruise mode and hopefully experiences the relaxing cadence this mighty river emanates. The afternoon is perfect for massages, relaxation on a terrace deck sunbed, or private balcony kickbacks. Conjure up a spell to merge with the river and float into a state of mild bliss.
You also may like to visit the bridge, as the captain always has a little story to share about “his” river. Or, if you are curious to learn more about Khmer gastronomy, join a culinary workshop to sharpen your knowledge about local cuisine.
As you sip drinks and nibble on treats during afternoon tea, you will approach the border and finally arrive in Vietnam. From here, it is just a short distance to Tan Chau, a pleasant, slow-paced border town with a sizeable Chinese, Kinh, and Khmer community. The ship will moor near the city with views of the riverbanks.
Take a xelois when you arrive on shore to see Tan Chau's vibrant town life. A xeloi is a local vehicle that is still used as a taxi in this area. Your Xeloi driver slowly navigates through the streets to observe all the workshops, houses, and shops while feeling the laid-back vibe of this place. Make a stop at the colorful local market near one of the temples and take this opportunity to interact with the vendors of this friendly town and try your hand at bargaining with them.
To see what Tan Chau is famous for, board one of the local boats and head to a floating fish farm to get an exclusive look into the world’s largest inland aquaculture industry. This floating structure has netting hanging down into the water to enclose the fish, which are raised and fed daily. The specialties of this region are tilapia and the Basa catfish, or Pangasius, which are unique to the Mekong River basin and are rapidly gaining popularity in the international seafood market.
Back on board, and before lunch is served, you may take a dip in the pool. After the meal, the expert guides offer a presentation about life in the Mekong Delta as the ship continues to My An Hung, near Sa Dec province.
My An Hung Village in the Mekong Delta is a beautiful illustration of a genuine native village. Upon arrival, you will receive a remarkable insight into the private household of a local family and visit the seasonal vegetable fields to see what they are currently cultivating. Visit a local family's house for a Vietnamese tea tasting. Vietnamese tea is often bitter, so locals sweeten it with honey, a regional delicacy also produced by our hosts. The family then presents a wide variety of fruits growing in the delta, freshly cut from the tree.
The sunsets and the light now bathe everything in a golden hue. The surrounding natural beauty is a perfect backdrop for a riverbank gathering with cocktails and dancing with the crew in this remote and secluded location.
This morning the ship arrives at one of the larger islands in the vast stream of the Mekong, Binh Thanh Island. Several communities have settled here and made their living by growing water hyacinths.
During this exclusive visit to one of the untouched areas, you will have the chance to wander through the village and get a deep understanding of native life. One of the local artisans will demonstrate the entire process of traditional mat-making. You can try weaving yourself. You will also meet a local elderly couple who will share their story of living on this island. They are always happy to chit-chat with our guests.
Back on the ship, continue to sail toward Cai Be while taking your lunch. Cai Be is a charming town famous for its Catholic-French church and the manufacturing of traditional crafts and food products. You will learn from the guide about the long-lasting trading culture and how each boat has a special marker to let buyers know what goods they are selling.
You will sail along the green canal network and watch the farmers working in the fields from a local boat. A visit ashore to a workshop shows the manufacturing of rice paste, rice paper, rice cookies, and rice wine. Due to the abundance of palm trees in Cai Be, the area is renowned for producing coconut sweets.
Back on board, the crew will invite you to a farewell event and some cheerful moments before dinner, including music and Cambodian dancing together with the team. Enjoy your final dinner aboard and relive the week’s adventures in your mind’s eye with a glass of wine at the open bar.
Day 8: My Tho | Saigon | Disembark | Return Home
Enjoy your last breakfast aboard your floating home. Disembark the ship after breakfast and take a bus transfer from My Tho to Saigon. It is only around 70 kilometers on the highway, and you arrive in Saigon by mid-morning.
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Room Size: 20 sqm/215 sqft. (Double & Twin Beds) Located in the main deck, the Superior Staterooms feature a separate bathroom and large floor-to-ceiling panoramic glass doors that open onto a balcony.
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Room Size: 23 sqm/248 sqft (Double & Twin Beds) The Deluxe Stateroom comprise of a combined bed and living room, chairs, private balcony and a spacious bathroom. Warm tones, dark wood antique furniture, and handmade, rustic copper sinks in the bathrooms bring back the sensation of an awe-inspiring colonial era.
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Room Size: 27 sqm/290 sqft. (Double Beds) The Signatures Suites sit on the upper deck and in a quiet area at the front of the ship. Both are uniquely designed and have a king double bed, sofa, walk-in wardrobe, luxurious bathroom with shower, and a front-facing balconies. A butler takes care of these suites.
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