Sailing the Mekong River Aboard the Aqua Mekong

The Aqua Mekong cruises the Mekong River through Cambodia and Vietnam

Southern Explorations Founder and CEO Justin Laycob recently traveled to Vietnam and Cambodia to sail the Mekong River aboard the Aqua Mekong. Here he reports back on his experience.

Obviously our passion lies in travel to South and Central America, but like you, I’m not about to limit my personal exploration of the world to Latin America, no matter how much love I have for the destination.
That’s why we like to feature another destination every once and awhile to let you in on how we are exploring the world when we’re not digging deep into the ultimate Latin America travel experience. If you’re looking for Southern Explorations-esque experiences beyond Latin America, I recommend you check out our Partners page and stay tuned to our social media and newsletter for updates like this one on some of our favorite experiences around the world.
This time, I headed out east for an unbelievable cruise down the Mekong River aboard the Aqua Mekong with our friends at award-winning Aqua Expeditions. We work with the awesome team at Aqua Expeditions on our Aria Amazon cruise, which takes 32 passengers deep into Peru’s Amazon wilderness to explore places very few people are fortunate enough to ever experience in their lifetime. 
Knowing how spectacular their Amazon ship is, I was excited to explore Cambodia and Vietnam in the same style and with the same luxury-level service we offer in Peru. I was not disappointed. It was an incredible experience through Cambodia and Vietnam with the crew, guides, and staff all working together to deliver an unforgettable trip.
Before we even set sail, I was in awe of the Aqua Mekong. Built in 2014, the Mekong river cruise ship’s 20 spacious, air-conditioned suites feature full-length windows that offer spectacular panoramas of the ever-changing Mekong scenery. It also received the coveted Gold Award in the Architecture/New Build category in the 2015 Asia Hotel Design Awards and it’s easy to understand why as you take a walk around. The ship itself showcases modern architecture and interiors by the renowned architect Noor Design, with a world-class modern dining experience crafted by Michelin-starred consulting chef David Thompson.  There’s an outdoor cinema under the stars, indoor and outdoor bars, a screening room with theater-style seating, a top deck gym overlooking the Mekong, an outdoor plunge pool with private cabanas, two spa treatment rooms, a library and games room with “the Mekong’s only foosball” table, all of it thoughtfully crafted and beautifully executed.
But not only that, it also sets a fantastic example for other river cruises around the world because it features a water treatment plant and it’s virtually smoke-free. It’s also fuel efficient, complying with the strictest U.S. and International environmental standards.
So if you love getting deep into the culture and history of a place like I do, then this one is for you. It’s one of the more epic journeys I’ve ever been on, as you sail through Cambodia and then Vietnam, with a ton of active excursions along the way, making your trip as active or as laid-back as you want. Personally, I chose to make it pretty active!
You can choose to do something active in the morning, and something relaxed in the afternoon, or vice versa. A fleet of launch boats takes guests to shore from the Aqua Mekong for guided cycling excursions on top-of-the-line, all-terrain Cannondale bicycles that sail with the Aqua Mekong, and in Cambodia you have the opportunity to kayak, with the ship carrying eight double-kayaks for excursions on the Mekong’s waterways. At Koh Oknha Tey, guests can even paddle their way to local silk-weavers. Meanwhile, the Moat Khla floating village on the Tonle Sap lake and the Kampong Chhnang’s waterways offer the chance to “do as the Cambodians do”, engaging in daily life with just a boat and paddle.
It was a mind-blowing experience and I’d be happy to chat with you about it more if you’re interested (or about cruising along the Amazon), or reach out to Aqua Expeditions to talk to them about the Aqua Mekong!