I’ve never considered myself the type that would love a cruise – I mean, I always loved Julie McCoy on that iconic T.V show The Love Boat when I was young…
and yes I had just stepped off the Fairstar the week before the iconic show premiered in 1977 so I thought myself a fancy pants and rather ahead of my time, but that was where the fantasy ended.
Years later, cruising with a boat load of strangers was never at the top of my experiential travel “hot” list until I found this one – Aqua Expeditions Aqua Mekong and a cruise between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh.
Think a floating Aman resort… all dark and pale grey interiors built entirely of local sustainable materials featuring natural textiles – cabins large enough to feel relaxed in with en suite bathrooms so chic it hurts. Balcony doors slide right back so you can prop yourself up in a beautifully made bed and watch life on the Mekong float by.
I was invited on-board by the owner (and friend) Francesco Galli Zugaro, the dashing and ever stylish entrepreneur that put the word luxury into cruising the Amazon with his first two vessels Aqua Amazon and Aria Amazon, and now his latest, the Aqua Mekong (and yes, there are more exotic destinations to come …stay tuned!).
I was also joined by my crew from LUXHD who I am working with, creating a new luxury travel show project (more to come on this later!).
We spent four nights filming the whole experience and it was incredible.
YOU HAVE TO EAT!
Of course a stylish boat needs stylish food so Francesco has teamed with the amazing David Thompson of Nahm Restaurant in Bangkok. As consulting chef of the Aqua Mekong, Thompson expands his adventurous palate more broadly around Southeast Asia… think indigenous inspired dishes like river prawns with ginger, shallots, tamarind and palm sugar served on betel leaves (which was a real fave), Cambodian green curry of catfish and lemon basil cashew nut pudding with coconut cream. YUM!
I can tell you the food was sensational… I couldn’t fault it – even the weekly barbecue that was held poolside (yes the Aqua Mekong boasts a plunge pool!) was one of the best barbecues I have experienced.
Of course it helps when you are dining al fresco, under the stars, floating down the Mekong on a beautiful balmy evening… dining with some of the most interesting passengers – all of us lapping up this once in life time experience.
And do not fear, you will be sharing your table with guests as stylish as you are!
Shore excursions off the vessel are on point – you’ll be woken early and after a seriously yummy breakfast (I ordered pancakes daily) you’ll get to experience local markets, remote Buddhist Monasteries, trek the sultry jungle on foot and visit the house of Marguerite Dumas who grew up along the river.
The launch transfers are exhilarating in themselves but my highlight would have to be visiting a local school and witnessing their genuine smiles of happiness that our visit brought them. Priceless
NEED TO KNOW
Aqua Mekong attracts a sophisticated guest list, with young jet-set couples enjoying a tour of Indochina mingling with stylish retirees elegantly floating their way between Vietnam and Cambodia.
This is luxury river cruising at its best and I encourage you to experience it once in your life.
There are variety of itineraries to choose from, and depending on the season and if the river is high enough – you may be lucky enough to sail all the way between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap (or vv) on one of Aqua Expedition’s 7 night cruises.
I can’t recommend this trip enough… this is unmatched luxury adventure, where everything is included – stylish accommodation, award wining food with wines to match (even the included wines were worthy of a fine dining table), along with exclusive sight-seeing experiences accompanied by the very best guides.
*Oh… and if you are worried about your sea legs and if the boat will rock – don’t… it’s smooth sailing all the way on this chic river queen.
For more information on how to sail the Mekong with Aqua Adventures, and how to combine it with the very best of Indochina – CONTACT me today.
*A special thank you to Francesco and Vera from Aqua Cruises who hosted and arranged every little detail of our stay and made this once in lifetime experience absolutely unforgettable. Next stop, The Amazon!