• a blue and yellow boat in a large body of water

The Lost Civilisation Vietnam to Cambodia Mekong River cruise

Get ready to set sail on an adventure to discover life on the Mekong Delta. Your journey begins in Vietnam and cruises along the Mekong River towards Cambodia. You’ll stop to see the many different types of riverside villages and communities along the way.

What’s fascinating about visiting the Mekong Delta is the way that the locals live harmoniously with nature. Houses are built on stilts high above the water, sweets are made from the coconuts in the palm groves and the river’s myriad of fish is a key source of income and food. The locals accept the power of the mighty Mekong - even as far as rebuilding a bamboo bridge every year after it is destroyed when the river’s water levels rise.

From being mesmerised by the floating markets and learning to weave a traditional mat from water hyacinths, to touring Cambodia’s capital on a cyclo (three-wheeled bicycle taxi), this promises to be a holiday that you simply cannot forget.

The Lost Civilisation Cambodia to Vietnam Mekong River Cruise is aboard a beautiful vessel in which the traditional style of the boat is coupled with all the latest conveniences and amenities. From spa treatments and stately cabins with private balconies to movies in the cinema lounge, your time spent on this luxurious floating sanctuary cannot fail but to delight.

Duration
8 days
Best time to go
November to April
Options
Private basis, Escorted
Start your journey
Old Post Office

Trip highlights

  • Enjoy a cyclo tour of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, and learn about the city’s tragic history
  • Cruise to the village of Angkor Ban and see how Cambodia’s beautiful, quality silks are made
  • Visit the fascinating town of Cai Be and learn the artisanal way of making rice paper, rice wine and rice cookies
  • Discover Kampong Chhnang, a charming village built on wooden stilts above the water
Halong Bay

Your day begins with being welcomed and briefed at the Heritage Line’s welcome lounge in Saigon.

After your briefing you’ll take a roadtrip to My Tho to board your luxury floating home. After checking-in to your stateroom cabin, your ship begin its voyage on the mighty Mekong River. Lunch will be served on board and the rest of your day is free for you to enjoy exploring the ship’s facilities and simply relaxing on your private balcony.

Dinner will be served as the ship drops anchor in the charming town of Cai Be. Admire Cai Be’s magnificent Catholic Church, which towers on the banks of the riverside. It’s gothic architecture stands out against the surrounding tropical lush green jungle.

After dinner, you can enjoy a film in the onboard cinema, or perhaps a nightcap at the bar before retiring to your cabin for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • RV Jayavarman
Tam Coc Ninh Binh
Mat Weaving

After breakfast, your first excursion will be to go ashore and explore Cai Be. This small town is a centre for traditional crafts and fresh produce. Cai Be is criss-crossed with canals, so the best way to explore it is on a small local boat. Watch locals trade goods on the river, exchanging fruit and veg from one boat to another at Cai Be’s floating market. You’ll discover the region’s specialties when you visit a workshop and learn how to make rice paste, rice cookies and rice wine. Do try Cai Be’s very own signature confectionary - delicious coconut candies that are produced from the surrounding palm groves. As you meander through the network of canals, be sure to look out for the local farmers working in their fields.

Back onboard, you will tuck into a delicious lunch. As you watch life on the riverbanks float by, why not treat yourself to the signature Vietnamese coffee at the bar? This strong coffee is made with sweetened condensed milk and quite different from your usual black gold.

Your afternoon excursion takes you to explore one of the largest islands in the Mekong River - Binh Thanh Island. Discover the artisanal craft of making traditional mats from the water hyacinths that grow here. You will even get a chance to have a go at weaving a traditional mat yourself. This is a truly fascinating craft that is part of the fabric of Binh Thanh Island - and it’s not as easy as the locals make it look. A highlight of your day is meeting an elderly local couple who will share anecdotes and chat about their life on the island.

Return to the main boat and make the most of your free time by enjoying a refreshing dip in the pool, indulging in a spa treatment or simply sitting on your balcony and watching the world go by. As your ship sets sail to Tan Chau, your local guide will give a fascinating talk about ‘Life on the Mekong Delta.’

Dinner will be served onboard your ship, and afterwards there is the chance to watch a film in the cinema lounge before you retire for the evening.

Suggested Accommodation

  • RV Jayavarman
Phnom Penh

Wake up to another day on the Mekong as you set sail for Cambodia. Breakfast can be enjoyed in the dining hall or in the quiet privacy of your balcony. Afterwards, you will head ashore to explore Tan Chau, a border town which has been influenced by its Chinese, Kinh and Kymer communities. Immediately, you will notice Tan Chau’s peaceful and laid-back atmosphere.

To embrace the local spirit, board a xeloi, a popular vehicle that usually involves a motorbike pulling an open carriage. Whizzing along the streets, you’ll get a glimpse into daily life with its interesting street-side workshops and idyllic homes. You’ll stop at the town’s colourful market, where you can mingle with local people and discover unique crafts. Tan Chau is known for its high-quality silk, so why not look for a souvenir to remind you of your holiday here?

Jumping aboard a local boat, your last excursion of the morning takes you to visit a floating fish farm. Fish is exported to many different countries across the world, and you’ll learn how the floating farm operates this incredible feat.

Returning to the comforts of your own floating home, you will set sail for the Vietnamese-Cambodian border. Enjoy a leisurely cruise towards Phnom Penh with a variety of onboard activities to choose from. You can enjoy sharpening your foodie skills at a culinary class and, if you have a sweet tooth, then don’t miss the High Tea served in the afternoon. Of course, there is also the opportunity to book a massage or simply soak up the rays on the sun loungers.

Dinner will be served on board, before your ship docks at the pier of Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, at around 7pm. You are then free to disembark and explore the city by yourself. Whether you choose to stroll along the promenade, peruse the stalls of the local night market, or simply enjoy a drink in a bar while people watching, Phnom Penh is a wonderful place to discover. If you do decide to see Phnom Penh, please inform your crew before leaving the ship.

Suggested Accommodation

  • RV Jayavarman
Royal Palace

Phnom Penh is known as the Paris of the East, and despite its rapid development in recent years, it has managed to retain its rustic charm and authenticity. Today, you will enjoy a full day of sightseeing, discovering the city’s challenging history and fascinating culture.

Your tour begins by heading to the city’s suburbs to visit the Killing Fields and the S21 prison. These two poignant sites make up part of the tragic history of Cambodia when the Khmer Rouge ruled the country with terror and cruelty. If you feel that this era in Cambodia’s history will be too upsetting, you can opt to take the morning to explore other parts of the city by yourself. You can then rejoin the group for lunch at a local restaurant.

Your next stop will be to admire the city’s Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. The Royal Palace is an exceptional example of Khmer architecture with its spiralled roof and opulent gilding, while the Silver Pagoda gets its name from its ornately silver-tiled floor. During your visit, there’s the chance to visit the National Museum and discover the interesting collection of historical and religious artefacts. Your city tour will end on a cyclo (three-wheeled bicycle taxi), taking you on a fun ride through Phnom Penh’s downtown before you return to your ship.

Once back onboard you’ll have the chance to relax before your evening activities begin. A highlight of the evening will be an enlightening talk about Cambodia’s history from an esteemed professor from the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

After the talk, a barbecue dinner will be served on the sundeck. Your dinner will be accompanied with an Apsara dance performance and traditional music. This is the perfect end to your day of discovering Cambodia’s moving history.

Suggested Accommodation

  • RV Jayavarman
Mekong River
Sunset in Vietnam

For the next part of your journey, the itinerary will vary depending on the river’s water level.

High Water Cruise: Phnom Penh - Kampong Cham (Mekong)

Bidding Phnom Penh farewell, you will set sail for the small village of Angkor Ban. After tucking into a delicious breakfast onboard in the dining hall, you will shortly arrive at this traditional village nestled on the banks of the Mekong River. Exploring Angkor Ban feels like stepping back in time - this precious village was one of the few that didn’t get destroyed in the 1970s by the Khmer Rouge regime. From its delightful square wooden houses on stilts to its quaint agricultural community, Angkor Ban is one of Cambodia’s hidden gems.

Back onboard, your crew will enjoy showcasing pieces of traditional Khmer fashion. Lunch will be served onboard before your next stop at a Cambodian local school, where an NGO project is providing education for the local Cambodian children. It’s a real privilege to step inside and see the impact of this wonderful organisation. The children are usually equally delighted to show you their schoolwork too.

Your cruise continues up the Mekong to visit Wat Hanchey, a 7th century Hindu temple that is now inhabited by Buddhist monks. The complex sits on a hilltop and the views here over the Mekong are utterly breath-taking. At Wat Nokor, a nearby monastery, you will have the chance to chat with some of the Buddhist monks that live in the area, which provides a wonderful insight into their religion and way of life.

Returning back to your boat, you are free to enjoy a little downtime before dinner is served. The boat will moor mid-river, not far from Kampong Cham for the night.

Low Water Cruise: Phnom Penh - Kampong Chhnang (Tonle)

Today, your Heritage Line ship will sail along the narrow Tonle River, gliding through leafy swaths of jungle to Kampong Tralach. Look out for the children on the banks bathing their livestock in the river. Your morning’s first excursion takes you to the Green School, which is an education program that is partly funded by The Heritage Line. Then, you will discover Kampong Tralach’s distinct way of life on a local ox cart ride.

Back onboard, lunch will be served and the crew will showcase the traditional clothing of the Khmer communities.

Your next stop is a visit Cambodia’s water world, Kampong Chhnang. Heading ashore and after a short drive, you’ll begin a walking tour with a local guide where you can discover this fascinating region. You’ll learn about the village’s specialities such as its palm sugar sweets and Khmer-style pottery. There’s even time to explore the nearby floating villages and wetlands. With its houses all built on stilts, Kampong Chhnang is considered one of the most fascinating places to visit in Cambodia.

Dinner will be served onboard the boat and your evening is free to enjoy at own leisure.

Suggested Accommodation

  • RV Jayavarman
Tonle Sap River
Mekong River

High Water Cruise: Kampong Cham (Mekong) - Kampong Chhnang (Tonle)

Your first excursion of the day is to the island of Koh Oknha Tei, which is known for its beautiful silks. The fun begins in a tuk-tuk as you tour the island with a local guide. You’ll stop at workshops and learn about the different stages of silk production. From the silk worms to the artisans that produce the final exquisite Cambodian silks that are exported across the world, this ‘silk island’ is truly fascinating.

Back onboard, your local guide will give an interesting talk about the ‘Geography of the Mekong and Tonle Sap’. Then, you’ll have the unique opportunity to be part of a blessing ceremony in which a Buddhist monk will wish you good health and prosperity to you and all your fellow Mekong River Cruise passengers.

As your ship continues its journey along the Mekong, you’ll pass the confluence of where the Mekong meets the Tonle River. While you tuck into your delicious lunch onboard, you’ll glide through a jungle-like landscape. Approaching Kampong Tralach, look out for the children that often come to the riverbanks to bathe their livestock. In Kampong Tralach, you’ll visit the Green School, before taking a tour of the town on a local ox cart ride.

Dinner will be served onboard the ship, which will anchor for the night in the Tonle River near Kampong Chhnang.

Low Water Cruise: Tonle River - Kampong Cham (Mekong)

During breakfast, the ship will sail along the lower Tonle River towards the silk island of Koh Oknha Tei. This island is known for its high-quality silk products, which are exported and sold all around the world. Jumping aboard a tuk-tuk, your island tour with a local guide will begin. Stopping at workshops, you’ll learn learning about the origins and traditions of Cambodian silk production.

Back onboard, your local guide will give you an interesting talk on the ‘Geography of the Mekong and Tonle Sap’. Then, you will experience and if you wish, take part in a Buddhist monk’s blessing ceremony. After the monk has bid wishes of health and prosperity to your and your fellow passengers, lunch will be served.

Your afternoon excursion takes you to visit the small village of Angkor Ban, one of the few places that survived the Khmer Rouge regime. Discover its traditional charm from the square wooden houses that stand on stilts to its quaint agricultural community. Following ancient traditions and customs, visiting Angkor Ban feels like stepping back in time.

Afterwards, you will enjoy a fun cocktail party on the riverbanks before returning back to your ship. Dinner is served onboard as your boat anchors at Kampong Cham for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • RV Jayavarman
Tonle Sap Lake

High Water Cruise: Kampong Chhnang - Tonle Lake

Today’s itinerary takes you to Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia’s water world where an entire community is built on stilts above the water. This is considered one of the most fascinating places in the Mekong. Once ashore, a mini bus will drive you to a nearby village where your walking tour of this captivating rural region will begin. Accompanied by a local guide, you’ll discover the village specialities, such as its Khmer-style pottery and palm sugar candies. During your tour, you’ll also get the chance to explore the local floating villages and wetlands.

Lunch is served back onboard as your ship continues its journey along the narrow Tonle River to the Tonle Lake. As the largest freshwater lake in Asia, Tonle Lake can only be crossed during the high water season (from end of July to mid-November). Home to a multitude of fish and an incredible variety of bird species, this lake is the flowing heart of Cambodia. Take in the mesmerising views across the lake as you glide through its tranquil waters.

In the afternoon, you can dine like royalty and enjoy a High Tea while watching the sun set over Tonle Lake. The crew invites you to a farewell event before dinner, as the boat moors on the lake for the night.

Low Water Cruise: Kampong Cham (Mekong)

Today, your morning excursion takes you to the 7th century temple complex of Wat Hanchey. Built on a hilltop, the panoramic views at Wat Hanchey across the Mekong are utterly breath-taking. Returning to the ship, you will enjoy lunch onboard and have time to relax and watch the world go by.

In the afternoon, you will head to the tiny colourful monastery of Wat Nokor, where you will be able to chat with Buddhist monks and gain a greater understanding of their lives. The advantage of visiting during the low-water season is that you get the opportunity to also see the bamboo bridge that connects the mainland to the island. Local communities rebuild this bamboo bridge every year when the water levels drop. Stopping at a school, you will learn about a wonderful NGO project that is helping to educate local Cambodian children.

Back onboard, your crew invites you to a farewell event where you can enjoy dancing and music before dinner. Your boat will moor on the riverbank of Kampong Cham before you retire for the night.

Suggested Accommodation

  • RV Jayavarman
a tree next to a brick wall

High Water Cruise: Kampong Chhnang - Tonle Lake

After enjoying your final breakfast aboard your floating holiday home, you will disembark at Siem Reap pier and bid your Heritage Line crew a final farewell.

Low Water Cruise: Kampong Cham (Mekong) - Siem Reap

After a final breakfast aboard your Heritage Line ship, you will bid farewell to the crew and disembark at Kampong Cham pier and be driven to Siem Reap. During your four and a half hour drive you can feast on the snacks that are provided, before arriving in Siem Reap in the early afternoon.
As your holiday on the mighty Mekong comes to an end, you’ll bid farewell to Cambodia, taking with you the unforgettable memories of an amazing holiday.

Included

  • International flights
  • Board basis is Full Board: breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • All meals, soft beverages, house brands of wines, beer and spirits, complimentary tea, coffee, and mineral water onboard, butler service, transport, and guide services for sightseeing
  • Cost of accommodation (in a Heritage Line stateroom cabin, based on two people sharing) for a total of 7 nights
  • Assistance and porterage: meeting and assistance on arrival/departure on the Heritage Line ship
  • English-speaking local guides for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees (excluding video camera fee) for monuments, palaces and entertainment for all guided excursions as illustrated in the itinerary

Not included

  • Visa arrangements and fees
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses, such as alcoholic beverages, telephone calls, laundry, camera fees, spa and business facilities in the hotel unless specified
  • Video and professional still camera fees during excursions
  • Gratuities for drivers, tour directors, local guides, naturalists and crew
  • Optional attractions and excursions (unless specified)