Rivers are the heart and soul of countries and cultures, a pulsating lifeline. And no river teems with more life than the mighty Mekong, which winds its way through the lush lowlands of Cambodia and Vietnam. Embark on a journey to discover the ways of life along the river, where traditions are deeply respected even as modern influences grow. Explore sublime temples at Angkor in the light of early dawn. Walk through the jungle-choked temples at Ta Prohm, and gaze into the stone faces carved into Bayon temple. Experience the bustle and unique city life of Saigon and Phnom Penh.
Experience two countries with turbulent 20th-century histories that are rapidly blossoming. Stroll sublime temples, shop colorful markets, and, in the cities of Saigon and Phnom Penh, visit important museums. Learn the way of life in small villages along the river. Visit the temple Ta Prohm, where the jungle has been allowed to slowly engulf the site, giving you an idea of what archaeologists encountered when their work began. And, at the day’s end, relax on your private balcony aboard the luxurious riverboat The Jahan and watch life along this great river.
The ship staff was always very attentive and greeted you by name. Ship staff was always polite and helpful. The Jahan is a beautiful ship. The variety of modes of travel and the variety of excursions were obviously well planned out. I came away from the trip with a greater understanding of Cambodia and Vietnam.
Explore with seasoned expedition teams
See, do, and learn more by going with engaging experts who have been exploring this region for decades. Go with an expedition leader, naturalists, historians, and more.
Sail with a veteran expedition leader—the orchestrator of your experience. Many have advanced degrees and have conducted research or taught for years. They have achieved expedition leader status because they possess the skills, the experience, and the depth of knowledge necessary to continually craft the best expedition possible for our guests.
Our captain’s river-navigation skill is a voyage hallmark. The captain, who is in constant communication with the expedition leader, navigates toward one bank or the other, giving you a view of life along the river. Since we're frequently underway during the golden hour of light for photography, our captain notifies the expedition leader of upcoming photo ops in plenty of time for you to get your camera and get the shot.
Our naturalists who are passionate about the geographies they explore (and return to regularly), illuminate each facet through their enthusiasm and knowledge. Our guests consistently cite the expertise and engaging company of our staff as key reasons to repeatedly travel with us.
One cannot understand the Khmer Rouge tragedy, the Vietnam War, or even the influence of China today without putting it in the context of French Indochina and the role of the West since the early 19th century. Our historian is the key to understanding the complexity of the past and the future outlook.
Traveling on our Vietnam and Cambodia riverboat along the Mekong River, with its beautiful sites and deep cultural experiences, will give you a spiritual lift. To compound this healthful effect, we add the luxury of comfort to the privilege of being on our Vietnam and Cambodia expedition—with a quality of shipboard life and a philosophy of wellness designed to relax and rejuvenate body, mind, and spirit.
Making a Difference
Along with a group of our passionate guests, Expedition Leader Tom O’Brien launched a grassroots project to build a library in one of the Cambodian villages we regularly visit. The Kampong Tralach English Language Library has since been constructed, offering hundreds of local people classes and open resources for learning English language skills.
On our final full day on board the riverboat
, we cruised further south on the Mekong where we could see changes in the number of other boats as general river traffic increased. The river here was also tidal and we could see mangroves start to appear in places along the banks.
After breakfast we embarked onto local longboats for our transfer to the nearby island of Binh Thanh. One of many islands within the Mekong Delta which is criss-crossed by many canals and rivers. Along the way to the island we passed many small fish farms that are directly within the river, these rafts of floating houses with arrayed ponds raise tilapia and basa (a type of catfish). All along the narrow waterways, we also passed large floating mats of water hyacinth forming dense impenetrable barriers in places. On arrival at our dock our longboat paused to make way for the local ferry transporting a number of locals on motorcycles across to the mainland for their early morning commute to work.
Our visit to this small community involved a stroll through the streets to a local temple that also serves as a local community centre. We had the opportunity to meet with one of the elders and understand how Vietnam has grown in recent decades and how they embrace peace and welcome American tourism to their country. We also had the opportunity to see how woven mats were weaved and how dried water hyacinth can be used to weave baskets.
In the afternoon we visited another village via longboat to see how puffed rice, sugar palm treats, and rice wine were created.
In the evening on board
, over a farewell cocktail party we shared our appreciation to the wonderful crew and later enjoyed the voyage slideshow in the lounge.
, we spend our first day exploring in Vietnam. We set off early at 6:30 a.m. for our first excursion to explore the town of Chau Doc by long boat. Our first stop was the floating markets then we went ashore to see the town. We started with a local transport ride of bicycle taxis through the city, then explored the morning market. We returned to the ship for breakfast. Our local guide, Tri, did a presentation on Life in the Mekong Delta. In the afternoon, we explored the local produce farms near My An Hung. Then, we had appetizers and drinks on shore on the My An Hung sandbank!
, we left Phnom Penh to sail to cross the border to Vietnam towards Chau Doc. We spent the entire day at sea filled with tons of activities and talks on board to dig deeper into the history of Cambodia and learn more about our next location in Vietnam. We were also joined by our Vietnamese guides who will be with us the rest of the trip.
Just after sunrise this morning we slowly cruised down the Tonle Sap river and into the capital city region of Phnom Penh. The city is situated between the junction of three rivers: the Tonle Sap, the Mekong and the Bassac River which is a branch of the Mekong. South of Phnom Penh, the river spreads into the complex and large Mekong delta region.
Today was our last full day in Cambodia and our chance to explore the city. After breakfast we stepped off
and explored the downtown city with local cycle rickshaw called a cyclo (pronounced see-clo). With one person per cyclo cab, we moved en masse providing a sight for locals as much as the city was for us. Our experienced and confident cycle drivers navigated busy traffic and weaved a path towards the temple of Wat Phnom. This Buddhist temple meaning mountain Pagoda in Khmer language stands 27 metres tall and was built in 1372. The beautiful gardens that surround with tall evergreen trees provided a peaceful place for reflection ahead of our busy day.
Our cyclo drivers soon delivered us to our next destination of the royal palace which not only serves as the royal residence for the King of Cambodia but is also the location of the Silver Pagoda. Its official title in Khmer language translates to temple of the Emerald-Crystal Buddha.
On our way to our lunch destination we passed a graduation ceremony for students celebrating completion of teaching diplomas. The celebration was even more poignant for a country whose recent history during the Khmer Rouge eliminated their elite or educated class. Our afternoon visits to the museum on genocide and killing fields was an opportunity for some to pay respects to those who were lost during this time.
Our evening on back on board
we slowly cruised along the Mekong with a barbecue on the terrace deck and the evening was made even more eloquent with the performance of the Apsara Dancers weaving to the sounds of traditional Khmer music.
We started the day early onboard Jahan, with a pre-breakfast oxcart ride along the banks of the Tonle Sap River. We stopped to photograph lotus fields along the way before continuing to the village to visit two schools, the Green School and the Kampong Chhnang school, supported by the Lindblad-National Geographic Conservation Fund.
We returned to Jahan for breakfast, followed by a fashion show by the crew, featuring traditional Cambodian clothing. Our naturalist Erin gave a talk about the ecosystem of the Tonle Sap River. After lunch, we had a talk about iPhone photography with our onboard photo instructor.
We started the afternoon with a long boat ride followed by a short drive in a van to the village of Ondong Rossey, which produces palm sugar and traditional pottery. Afterward, we took local boats to explore floating villages inhabited by Vietnamese immigrants.
The authenticity of the interactions and experiences, onboard the ship, on the river, in the towns and villages, and with our guides, is the exhilarating discovery I promise you’ll make.