Explore the striking cultural contrasts of Vietnam and Cambodia on this 8-day Upstream Classic Mekong Cruise from Saigon to Siem Reap aboard RV Bassac Pandaw. Travel from Saigon's vibrant French colonial port through the vast delta so rich in human life and endeavor to Cambodia's rich countryside. With a full day in charming Phnom Penh you then explore remoter waterways as you progress to the great monuments of Angkor. Disembark in Siem Reap.
Visit the floating markets & fish farms by sampan in Chau Doc
Explore riverside villages, markets, and temples while traversing through Kampong Tralach
Transfer from Saigon to the river port for embarkation. After lunch, you journey by sampans through mangroves and bamboo forests to the fruit orchards of Ben Tre. This is an area rich in birdlife which you will explore via local transport before transferring to a local rowboat. You will journey slowly through the bamboo-covered canals before arriving at a village specializing in making local products. In the evening you will be entertained by a Vietnamese dance troupe on deck.
Sailing through the delta offers a real insight into life along this vast waterway. After lunch, a short coach journey through the lush countryside to Gao Giong ‘green oasis’, a 1,000-acre eucalyptus forest and listed wildlife sanctuary. Here a diverse selection of water birds and egrets gather in their tens of thousands across the Duong Tharp Muoi or ‘Plain of Reeds’. Rowboats traverse the canals to take us to view the principal nesting areas where photo opportunities abound.
Go alongside at the picturesque border town of Chau Doc where you visit the floating markets & fish farms by sampan. You make a stop at a Chham Village and observe the lives of Vietnamese Muslims before taking minivans for a short drive to Sam Mountain, the location of Phuoc Dien Tu or the Hang Pagoda. We climb the 400 steps to the top to visit the pagoda. Upon return to the ship, we navigate a web of canals before dropping anchor on the Vietnam/Cambodia border to undergo Immigration formalities.
Morning orientation of Phnom Penh by cyclo visiting the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda followed by the National Museum with its marvelous collection of Angkorian statuary. In the afternoon you visit the Killing Fields and Genocide museum to learn more about the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Overnight in Phnom Penh city port with its lively bars, restaurants and night life.
Morning at leisure in Phnom Penh with its café life and many smart boutiques. After lunch, you sail up the winding channels of the Tonle Sap river to Kampong Tralach. You travel by ox-cart around the river-side villages, markets and temples to get a sense of life along the river. In the evening cocktails are round a village fire pit where you will be joined by village folk keen to show us their traditional dancing show us more of the delightful Khmer culture.
In the morning, travel by coach to the ancient capital of Cambodia, Oudong. On the way you stop to visit the Vipassana Dhura Meditation Centre before taking a drive around the old capital. You re-join our ship at Prek Kdam before returning to the Mekong. After lunch you sail to Koh Nghe Tei (Silk Island) to study the entire silk-making process from worms to weavers. You visit silk makers and can buy from them their lovely silk scarves and other fabrics. This village is a centre of the ancient martial art of L’bokator which roughly translates as 'pounding a lion'. It includes weapons techniques and is one of the oldest combat techniques in Cambodia and believed to date back to the Angkor empire.
Sunrise cruise to Angkor Ban village to see how local villagers live and visit the library which was donated by Pandaw to Angkor Ban secondary school.
NOTE: if you want to donate books, please bring along some Children’s books in English language (suitable for age 8 to 15 yrs) which you can personally gift to the library.
In the afternoon you sail north to Wat Hanchey, an important center of worship during the Chenla period located on top of a hill above the mighty Mekong River with some of the best Mekong views in Cambodia. Visit 8th-century structures some destroyed by American bombings during the Vietnam War.
Day 8: Siem Reap | Disembarkation
Disembark and travel by coach from Kampong Cham through stunningly lovely countryside to reach Siem Reap, adjacent to Angkor Wat.
The trip was terrific with great planning on your part. Most of the adventures were not mainstream and somewhat off the beaten path which made it especially enjoyable!! We felt taken care of and you all were readily available to respond to questions and issues. I would highly recommend your company and friends have already expressed interest based on our pictures and excitement.