Cruise review Aqua Mekong
From Vietnam to Cambodia
What’s it like
The boutique cruiser that leaves a stylish wake on the mighty Mekong provides a wonderful snapshot of the river and its people.
It is adventure cruising with all the comforts and you never tire of the watching life unfold both on the river and along its banks.
But it is the Mekong that is the star of the show.
The longest river in South East Asia and the 12th longest in the world, it stretches 4350 kilometres from the icy Tibetan plateau through Laos and Thailand to the flood plains of Cambodia and Vietnam and finishes at the South China Sea.
The 62.4 metre Aqua Mekong has all the features and style of a five star hotel yet is sympathetic with the landscape and environment featuring sustainable materials and traditional Vietnamese and Cambodian handicrafts.
Designed by Saigon-based British architect David Hodkinson of Noor Design it was built in Vietnam and although compact there’s a great sense of space about it from the observation deck with its small plunge pool to the compact gym.
It accommodates 40 passengers in 20 suites – some with balconies and has 40 crew.
The suites feature floor to ceiling panoramic windows and comfy daybeds that are perfect for lazing back and river watching, as well as a king-size bed and stylish en-suite bathroom.
It is not hard to see why CEO and founder of Aqua Expeditions, Francesco Galli Zugaro, who has carved his name in the world of luxury and adventure, decided to launch his newest venture on the Mekong. It’s the perfect match with his other two sleek boats, Aqua Amazon and Aria Amazon who have their home on the South American waterway.
“The Mekong has so much to offer – it is such a wonderful river- it’s different from the Amazon but I was looking for somewhere equally captivating,” says Francesco, who never does anything by halves and believes luxury is just as much about experiences with memories that last a life time as well as creature comforts.
Our days are filled visiting colourful markets with neat piles of fresh fruit and vegetables, wandering through small villages where children come out to see us and visits to silk weavers, silversmiths, bamboo mat makers, temples and attractions
Children playing at the water’s edge wave and yell in excitement, fishermen stop and stare and women tending animals smile as the Aqua Mekong cruises along the waters from Vietnam to Cambodia.
Dining is an adventure with award-winning executive chef David Thompson creating menus with dishes that reflect the flavours of Vietnam and Cambodia.
We often see the chef and staff stocking up on fresh fruit and vegetables at the local markets.
Breakfast is served in the dining room with fresh juices, yoghurt, tropical fruit and pastries with other treats such as banana pancakes and tortilla with spinach, mozzarella and asparagus.
Lunch is a selection of salads and noodles and dinner features Asian dishes and tastes associated with Thompson’ Michelin starred Bangkok restaurant, Nahm.
Cocktails and drinks are served in the chic lounge with soft lighting and plump couches that is a haven for passengers to discuss the day’s activities.
Each day reveals another secret of the Mekong River both in Vietnam and Cambodia, led by the Aqua Mekong’s knowledgeable guides.
Four aluminium tender boats are used for expeditions and we visit a French colonial mansion that preserves the beauty of the bygone era, ancient Khmer ruins and see some of southeast Asia’s water birds.
For me the stand out is Cambodia’s amazing Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in south east Asia that is considered an ecological hot spot and was classified as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997.
It’s a clean, green haven with pristine waterways, blue skies, fluffy clouds and an amazing bio system. Many Vietnamese families who fled the war reside in colourful water villages and make a living from fishing or if you are entrepreneurial, selling ice.
We visit a floating school and monastery where we are warmly greeted.
What I like:
There’s excitement and romance on a cruise on the Aqua Mekong that’s totally captivating.
There’s nothing like sitting on the deck on a balmy night watching the lights twinkle in the distance and being serenaded by the sounds of the night.
Aqua Mekong cruises per person twin share in First Deck Suite are priced from USD3315 for a 3-night Discovery Cruise, USD4420 for a 4-night Explorer Cruise and USD7735 for a 7-night Expedition Cruise, inclusive of all on-board meals and scheduled shore activities.
For further information and reservations, call 1800 243 152 (Toll Free) or visit
Fly: Vietnam Airlines offers direct daily flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City and vice versa. As the largest carrier in Indochina, Vietnam Airlines also operates 6 daily flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap to offer seamless connections to Aqua Mekong. If you are joining or disembarking Aqua Mekong in Phnom Penh, Vietnam Airlines operate 3 daily flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh. For details see www.vietnamairlines.com