Everything in Cambodia is dominated by the profound liquid presence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers. The astonishing extremes of water level wrought by the monsoon, and the resultant almost bizarre flow reversal of the Tonle Sap, which give rise to the spectacular enlargement of its lake, have challenged the adaptability of people and wildlife for thousands of years.

Both a life-giver and destroyer, this dramatic river system enabled the development of the great Angkor civilisation, who, through their vast and pioneering water management gained such enormous wealth and influence, but also contributed to its catastrophic demise, during a prolonged failure of the monsoon.

Cruising these rivers offers a close experience of this unique ecosystem, travelling the tide of history, ancient and modern, and understanding the continuing adaptability of the peoples of Cambodia and beyond in Vietnam.

Variants of short three to five day cruises operate between Siem Reap at the head of the great lake, and Phnom Penh, situated at the confluence of the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers, and offer a relaxed and insightful alternative to a flight or overland journey between these cities as well as visits to the famous stilted and floating villages on the lake and the silk islands of the Tonle Sap river.

Longer cruises of up to eight days leave from Siem Reap travelling across the lake and downriver to Phnom Penh, passing into the flow of the Mekong River and penetrating into Vietnam, visiting the floating markets and riverside craft villages before arriving at My Tho, on the Mekong River Delta.  

These cruises provide an excellent leisurely way to pass between these counties and, usefully, the various itineraries can also be undertaken in reverse order. The majority of vessels used to travel these waterways are tastefully styled after colonial river steamers and luxuriously equipped.