In March of 2019 we did Scenic’s ‘Treasures of the Mekong’ tour and cruise. The trip consisted of 3 nights in Siem Reap, Cambodia followed by 7 days on the Scenic Spirit and ending with 2 day in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. Upon arrival in Siem Reap we were met any taken to the fabulous Park Hyatt Hotel and that evening we were surprisingly divide into 3 groups, which we stayed in for the remainder of the trip. We were fortunate to be in group 2 which was led the fantastic Duc Ho (called Duke by the group).
I can’t say enough about Duc. He was very knowledgeable, humorous and caring. In addition when we were touring Duc always made sure we had clean useable restrooms (not always easy to find in Cambodia) which he called happy houses, hand sanitizer, which he called happy hands, Mosquito repellent, and he insisted on our drinking lots of cold water which was provided both on the boat and on all the buses because it was very hot and humid for the whole trip. Scenic is very lucky to have Duc and should do everything they can to retain him!
Our first 2 days in Siem Reap were spent primarily touring the Angkor complex to temples and we always had very knowledgeable local Cambodian guides in addition to Duc. The second day start by rolling out of bed at 3:00 AM for the sunrise at Angkor Wat and ended back at the hotel at about midnight after the most fabulous dinner and show at an old temple I have ever experienced. Scenic really knows how to do things right. The next morning, we boarded buses for an all-day ride to the Scenic Spirit. About 4 in the afternoon we were welcomed aboard the Spirit.
The Spirit is a wonderful boat. Our suite was large and well arranged with a very large bathroom, a walk-in closet and a nice sitting area. The bed was heavenly! However there could have been a little more storage space, and in the walk-in closet there was a light that was motion activated and would sometimes come on in the middle of the night while we were turning over in bed or would go off while you were still in the closet but that was then negative about the suite. The food for the whole trip on the Spirit was very good and a nice mix of Western and Asian cuisine. The chef was excellent and always visible when the food was being served. My wife has some food allergies and we met with chef the first day, different and any of the other Scenic cruise we have been on, and then throughout the rest of the cruise he was always advising her what to safe eat and not to eat. The bar and lounge are was very comfortable and always had great service. Our suite attendant/butler was excellent and really took good care of any of our needs. There is a self-service laundry room that was also available for use.
The sun deck on the top of the boat was very nice and was used extensively in the evenings both for the local entertainment that was brought on board and just for the cocktail hour, O’gin o’clock. They had a regular bar on the sundeck for making and serving drinks and a few of the daily briefings took place there always at about sunset when it started to cool off. We didn’t use the nice pool area on the stern of deck 3 but it looked very inviting.
One of the really interesting parts of the trip as opposed to the more developed European rivers is that in many places when we stopped along the river for a tour the boat simply pulled up to the rives bank and they tied up to a bush put out a gangway and we got off under sometimes rather difficult footing but there were always lots of crew to help everybody get off the boat. Most of the tour were very interesting but probably my favorite was the tour of the Sa Dac wet market. Also, the tour of the Eco Village was very interesting.
On the morning of the 7th day we had to say a sad goodbye to the Scenic Spirit, and we boarded buses for Ho Chi Ming City (Saigon). I must say I was really sorry to have to leave the Spirit. The boat itself and the wonderful crew were the absolute best we have experienced on Scenic and it is now our “Gold Standard” and we now compare all of our other trips to the Spirit and it great crew!!
Scenic up us up in the Park Hyatt Ho Chi Ming City which was a wonderful 5-star hotel! The highlight of our stay in Saigon was our choice for dinner the first night. Before we left the Spirit, we were given about 5 different choices for different types of dining in Saigon. We chose the “Ride of Your Life” which is a tour on the back of Vespa motor scooters after dark around the streets of Saigon with 3 stops to sample a variety of different but wonderful street foods. Probably about a third of the passengers choose this option and we all absolutely loved the tour. What a lot of fun it was and none of the scooters crashed!!! They even carefully watched out for my wife’s good allergies.
But probably the best part of the trip was the wonderful people that were in group 2. The group really bonded, and we all became friends and got along famously together and of course Duc was great. If you are lucky enough to take this trip, I sincerely hope that your group leader will be Duc and he might even sing you a few songs while he plays his ukulele.