Insight to Indochina
Lotus Cruises have created a rich and unforgettable 4-night travel experience along the mighty Mekong River between My Tho and Phnom Penh, navigating through magnificent remnants of former civilisations with a dedicated guide, exploring vibrant floating markets by sampan contrasted by a slower pace of life along the riverbanks where herds of water buffalo idle in the green fields and villagers continue time honoured artisanship. Lotus Cruises offer luxurious and all-inclusive travel along the very heartbeat of Vietnam and Cambodia with a rich land itinerary which captures the true essence of these fascinating countries.
Depart Ho Chi Minh City in the afternoon on a scenic drive to the port of My Tho to embark the luxurious Mekong Navigator and settle into your elegant suite. As the upstream journey commences towards Cai Be, experience our cordial hospitality on the Sun Deck at a welcome reception and introduction to our friendly and professional crew who will present a safety briefing. In the evening a “Mekong Delta” themed dinner offers a cultural and innovative introduction to Vietnamese cuisine.
After a short sail to Cai Be, the English-speaking guide will accompany you on the tapestry of waterways by sampan, passing a colourful collection of local boats from the delta provinces, larger boats selling their goods and the characterful stilted houses of Cai Be. Continuing into the narrower canals of Cai Be, a stop is made to visit Ba Duc House, a traditional Vietnamese home and garden. Back onboard the sampans, it’s a short paddle through the canals to reach a traditional rice factory where industrious artisans produce rice paper, rice wine and popped rice. There’s a selection of postcards, souvenirs, and beautiful oil paintings on sale. On return to the ship an elegant buffet lunch is served while sailing upstream through tranquil riverine scenery towards Sa Dec.
On arrival at Sa Dec port the traditional sampan is again used to navigate the tapestry of Mekong canals, giving guests the opportunity to observe traditional village life before arriving at the historic town of Sa Dec. A visit here would not be complete without a visit to the former home of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le, who was the inspiration for Marguerite Duras’ famous novel, L’Amant (The Lover). Here you will also enjoy a private calligraphy demonstration exclusively for you. There’s a visit to the Chinese Temple called Kien An Cung, built in honour of the Huynh Thuy Le Family, greeted with a warm welcome of traditional Chinese Lion Dances. Guests return to the ship on foot through the town's market which is a bustling, extraordinary and colourful experience, providing many wonderful photo opportunities of the fresh and unusual produce of meat, live fish and seafood for sale.
In the morning, guests make the short journey from ship to shore by traditional sampan, landing on the charming island of Cu Lao Gieng to visit a local village where hundreds of sampans and rowing boats are made daily. An enchanting sampan cruise circumnavigating the island ends with a visit to the Cu Lao Gieng Cathedral, which was built in 1879, shortly after the Notre Dame Cathedral in Saigon in 1863. There may be an opportunity to interact with a local priest at the Cathedral (subject to his availability). The peaceful villages are surrounded by flourishing orchards and verdant green lawns, far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Mid-afternoon your sampans take you to the local island village of Hong Ngu in the Mekong Delta, close to the Vietnam-Cambodia border. Here, a large number of traditional Khmer scarves are woven in many village homes and exported to Cambodia. Guests have the opportunity to observe the weaving process passed down many generations. Some villagers are also embroidery artists and display their art for visitors to enjoy. The inhabitants of this rural area have only recently become familiar with western travellers and always offer a friendly welcome. Before returning to the sampans guests can enjoy a walk around the beautiful evergreen island, stopping for a visit at the home of a local war veteran.
After border formalities, relax and enjoy leisure time on the sundeck, in the lounge, library or wonderful La Vie spa until mooring close to the city of Phnom Penh late evening. Guests observe a fascinating transformation in the riverfront architecture. Exciting cultural activities will take place on board.
Following breakfast the crew bid farewell as guests are invited to disembark in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
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