Monday, April 28, 2014

Jahan embarkation and disembarkation in Saigon


Upstream cruises:

Meeting point time 12.00h (noon)

Embarkation time 14.30h at Embarkation jetty

My Tho pier (70 km away from Saigon)

Downstream cruises:

Disembarkation time 8.30h

Disembarkation jetty My Tho pier (70 km away from Saigon)

Drop off time in Saigon 10.30h

Meeting point/Drop off point is Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon

Atrium Lounge at 5th Floor, 8 – 15 Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Jahan disembarkation in Chau Doc


Itineraries: Deep in the Delta (3D/2N)

Upstream cruise:

Disembarkation time 11.00h

Downstream cruise:

Embarkation time 7.30h

Place of embarkation/disembarkation in Chau Doc:Passenger pier located next to Victoria Hotel.

Jahan disembarkation in Phnom Penh


Upstream cruises

Embarkation time 8.00h

(Cabins are available after 11.30h)

Disembarkation time 7.30h


Embarkation time 8.00h

(For pearl of the orient only)

Disembarkation time 7.30h

(For serenity cruise only)

Place of embarkation/disembarkation

Tourist Boat Dock (Pontoon), Phnom Penh International Passenger Pier, Located at Sisowath Quay at Eastern end of Ph 109.

Jahan embarkation in Siem Reap

Itineraries: Serenity Cruise (5D/4N, 4D/3N)

Downstream cruises in low water season*:

Meeting point time 8.00h

Embarkation time 13.30h

Embarkation jetty Kampong Cham

(240 km away from Siem Reap)

Upstream cruises in low water season*:

Disembarkation time 8.30h

Disembarkation jetty Kampong Cham

(240 km away from Siem Reap)

Drop off time in Siem Reap 13.30h

Downstream cruises in high water season*:

Meeting point time 12.00h (noon)

Embarkation time 13.30h

Upstream cruises in high water season*:

Disembarkation time 8.30h

Disembarkation jetty Siem Reap pier

Drop off time in Siem Reap 10.00h

Meeting point/Drop off point (before embarkation/after disembarkation):

VICTORIA ANGKOR RESORT & SPA, Central Park, Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Low water and high water

Low water season is approximate from January to middle of September and we will keep you posted 2 weeks before the cruise.

High water season is approximate from middle of September to the end of December and we will keep you posted 2 weeks before the cruise.

Above timing is approximate. Passengers are requested to arrive at latest 15 min. prior to the confirmed disembarkation time at the passenger pier or the meeting point. Embarkation and disembarkation time will be confirmed latest 2 weeks prior to departure. Casting o‑ time is 30 min. After the confirmed embarkation time and will be announced through the Captain with three long horn signals.

More at our official site

Daily excursions on Jahan

Our Jahan daily program, excursions and dining times will be hung up next to the reception area. 

Jahan Programs for the following day are placed in your cabin the night before. A bell will be rung five minutes prior to the excursion. Please gather at the Lobby Lounge and drop your key at the reception before leaving the ship. 

This will allow us to identify guests who wish to remain on the ship. For those who intend to stay back on the vessel, we are more than happy to prepare meals and drinks. Just inform our reception or our staff.

Jahan on board entertainment

The Boutique Shop 

The Boutique Shop offers a collection of magazines, literature, toiletries, travel items, postcards, clothes, handicraft and other items to purchase. 

Bar and Lounge 

Pre-dinner cocktails, briefings, lectures, movie nights, workshops and documentaries are hosted in the lounge or bar. 

The Lobby Lounge & Library 

Our air-conditioned library is well stocked with books, magazines, music and videos. 


Free seating is arranged in the restaurant. 

Learn the culinary delights of Khmer-Vietnamese cuisine at our cooking workshop.

Well-being on board the Jahan

Apsara Spa

Unloose the stress and strain of the world. Discover the unique upscale Southeast Asian spa experience. We offer a wide range of relaxing massages and treatments. Foot massage on the sun deck or in the privacy of your balcony or in your stateroom is also possible on request. We recommend consulting the daily excursion before booking your spa treatments so you don’t miss out on any excursion.

Sun Deck

Enjoy the cruise on the sun deck whilst soaking in the balmy rays of the Southeast Asian sun or having a pre-dinner cock-tail. Come and foster a calm and tranquil mind with our morning Tai Chi classes. A moving form of yoga and meditation combined, Tai Chi animates the body and provides a practical avenue for balance, alignment and a perfect rhythm of movement. Details and schedule in your daily program.

Food and Beverage on Jahan


Our Jahan cuisine is creative, natural and fresh. Using only best quality products, our chef has infused delectable Vietnamese and Cambodian culinary delights into the menu.

Mineral water, coffee/tea (jug), fresh juice and high tea (in the afternoon) are complimentary during the day. All coffee specialties will be charged at RV Jahan. For the shore excursions, bottled mineral water will be handed out. 
All other drinks will be put on your ship board account.

In-cabin service

Cabin service is available from 6.00h till 22.00h. The balcony is a marvellous place to have your Jahan in-cabin breakfast. 


Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style. For dinner there are options of either set menu or buffet.
We have a wonderful combination of Asian and Western cuisine. Our meals comprise of mostly locally purchased products to give you a real taste of the lands you journey through. Vegetarian or special diets may be catered with advance notice. Breakfasts can be served on the balcony as well. Just fill-up your breakfast menu form the day before and hang it to the door handle outside.


A wide range of quality wines is available at the bar and the restaurant. Wine can be also served in-room.
You may want to return any unfinished bottle to the waiter and consume it another day.

Drinking water / Ice

Water used for the ice machine is purified and clean. Our Jahan water purification system comprises 10 steps of filtration such as sand filtration, active carbon filter, micro filter, UV sterilization, chlorine disinfection plus a reverse osmosis system to provide pure drinking water. The drinking water in the jugs (in all our outlets) is safe and clean as it is filled from bottled mineral water. When you are on an excursion, avoid all ice, ice cream, crushed sugar cane, salads or fruit sold by vendors.

Sun Deck

On request we serve breakfast to your sun bed on a lap tray on the sun deck of Jahan. Please fill in your breakfast menu (for balcony or sun deck) which you find in your cabin or just tell our reception staff. Drinks and snacks will be served from 6.00h to 22.00h from the bar, charged to your account on board.

Bar & Lounge

Enjoy sundowner drinks and snacks while cruising through the changing scenery.
Opening time: 6.00h till the last guest leaves.


Our air-conditioned indoor restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner offering buffet or set menu.
We cater for vegetarians or special dishes upon request. Dinner time will vary, please refer to the program.

Lobby Lounge

Afternoon tea will be served at the lounge depending on the weather. Drinks and food can be served on request as well in the Lobby.

Services on the Jahan


Power adaptors/batteries

Power adaptors are available on request on the Jahan Cruises.

We sell batteries at the reception and also accept used ones for environmentally sound disposal.

Booking Service

Please contact our front desk for any after cruise hotel bookings, reconfirmations, tours and pick up services on the Jahan Cruises.

Onboard account

You will be given a personal ship board account which allows you to sign for all purchases and services throughout your cruise. Your ship board account will be automatically opened upon check in. All bills are charged in US Dollar (American Express, Master Card or Visa). We accept cash and credit card payment.

Please note that only bills exceeding 25 USD can be settled by credit card. We do not accept traveler cheques.Your provisional account is presented for your review the evening prior to your departure on the Jahan Cruises.

Burn CDs

If your camera card memory is full we offer you to burn a CD at our Jahan reception for free.

Lost & Found

For lost and found items please contact the reception of the RV Jahan.

Money Exchange
We change small amounts of foreign currencies such as Euro and Australian Dollar into US Dollar or Vietnamese Dong.

Please note that the US Dollar is widely accepted in Cambodia but barely in Vietnam.


We have special designed postcards to purchase at our boutique shop.

Postal Service

To send greetings to loved ones back home, simply drop off your letters or postcards at our reception letter box. We will affix the stamps and drop them off at the post office. The cost of the stamps is charged to your Jahan ship board account.


After your Jahan cruise we can assist in arranging any private or special transportation for you to the airport or your hotel. Please ask at the reception.


Umbrellas are available at the reception.


Room service

Please contact the Jahan reception for any room service request.

In-cabin dining

You can order food and drinks to your cabin. Breakfast at your balcony is served upon request. Please fill in the breakfast menu card the night before and simply hang it out on the door handle.

Air conditioning

The air condition in each cabin is individually adjustable.


Cotton buds, cotton sticks, shower cabs, sanitary bags, and sewing kits are available in the amenity box or tray in your bathroom. Please contact the reception if you need more of those.


Flashlights are available in your Jahan cabin.


Ice is provided to your cabin upon request. Please call the reception.

Laundry Service

Simply fill up the laundry bag with your used clothes and place the bag outside the door. Don’t forget to attach the laundry receipt. Your fresh and cleaned laundry will be returned to you the following day.

Luggage Storage

If you need additional storage space please call the reception. Your luggage is picked up and kept in our storage. Your luggage will be returned to your cabin on the evening before disembarkation.

Mini Bar

Each cabin has a mini bar which is replenished daily. Ice is served upon request.

Mosquito Incense Coils

We have taken every measure to reduce mosquitoes on the cruise. However, for your comfort, you find mosquito coils in your cabin’s desk drawer. Please only burn the mosquito coils in the mosquito coil holder to prevent the risk of fire.


We have a selection of different types of pillows on request. Please contact your room attendant. The Jahan displays a selection as well in the directory.

Linen, Blankets and Duvets

If you do not wish the linen to be changed on any day please kindly let your room attendant know. All linen is of non-bleached and non-dyed natural cotton. Duvets can be replaced with blankets and are available on request.


We have soft mattresses (mattress pad) available. Please contact our Jahan reception.

Safety Box

Each cabin is equipped with a safety box. Please follow the instruction manual to use it and feel free to ask for assistance if needed. You are highly encouraged to put all your valuables in the safety box. Jahan Cruises will not be held responsibilities for any losses in your cabin.

Shoe Shine Service

To give your shoes an extra shine simply place them outside your door and we will polish them for you.


To make international calls please contact our reception.

Turndown Service

At dinner time, our house keeping staff will prepare your bed for the night. You will also find the itinerary on your bed for the cruise the following day.

Wake Up Call

Please arrange with our reception.



Available at the reception.

Books & Music



Board games are available at the reception or via room service (Backgammon, Chess).


Pre recorded i-pods are available upon request.


Available upon request.

DVD player*

Available upon request.

*Varies for each boat. Only limited items.


IDD at the reception

There is an International Dialing Directory available at the reception (depends on network).


Internet is available in the lobby lounge/reception area while mooring in Phnom Penh port and mostly en route.


We have notebook to lend. Please book your notebook well in advance. Internet is available during most of the cruise in lobby.


Newspapers in English or German are available at the Lounge.

Behavior in the Jahan cabin

Do Not Disturb

Please hang up the “Do not disturb” sign outside your Jahan door if you don’t want the hotel staff to clean your room.

Drinking Water

Don’t drink the tap water on RV Jahan! Although the water has been filtered several times, we recommend using it for washing purposes only. Complimentary drinking water is available at your desk. Drinking water from the jug is available at all outlets and during meals.


A hairdryer is available in each Jahan cabin. For your safety, please keep it away from water. The hair dryer must not be used in the bathroom for security reason.

Hot water

Please adjust the water temperature before getting in the shower on board the Jahan Cruises.

Insect Precautions

External doors and the sliding windows should be kept closed. If you are on deck or going ashore at night, please use mosquito’s repellants. During the day, mosquitoes are less of a problem than other forms of insect life. Switch off lights when leaving your cabin as not to lure them in.

For your comfort, we have mosquito nets available, mosquito multi plugs and mosquito coils for your use.


Please drop your room key at the reception before leaving the ship.

Sanitary Pads

Since these are not readily biodegradable, guests are requested to dispose them only in the bags provided.


Smoking is permitted only on your balcony (outside your cabin). Please close the panoramic sliding doors when smoking on the balcony. It is forbidden to smoke in your cabin and all indoor public areas. The danger of fire should never be ignored.


To ensure an eco-friendly sustainable environment, towels will only be changed if you place them on the floor of the bathroom.

More information at:

Behavior on board RV Jahan

Bridge policy / No go areas

Clearly indicated as “crew only”, please do not enter “No go” areas or the bridge without the permission of the cruise director. Jahan Cruises operate an open bridge policy but ask that you be considerate to the ship’s officers’ duties.

Dress Code

The dress code on board and ashore is informal and relaxed. In the day time, feel free to wear comfortable casual attire. In the evenings, smart casual would be appropriate.


Flip flops are provided for your comfort. When on-shore, guests should use comfortable non-slippery footwear. During certain seasons, the river banks and paths can be muddy. Thus, Jahan Cruises request that you take off your footwear when returning on board so that we can clean your shoes and return them later.

River Disturbance

Due to heavy winds, especially on the Tonle lake, the ship can be a bit rocky. Please remain calm.

The Jahan ship is very secure and the worst that could happen is that you will suffer from seasickness.\

More information at:

General cruise information

Border Crossing of Vietnam/Cambodia

All passengers should be aware of a slight delay on either Vietnam or Cambodian side of the border.

Normally a crossing takes about 2 – 3 hours; it can be longer if a passenger’s visa application is not written out correctly.

Jahan Passengers do not have to disembark. Though the Jahan cruise ship remains still, life on-board goes on uninterrupted.

Daily Schedule

A printed daily program for the following day will be placed in your cabin during dinner. We have a turndown service every evening. Please keep observing the notice board for any changes to the schedule, and also be aware of our daily cruise briefings.


Two round pin type, same as in Continental Europe can be used on Jahan Cruise. Various adaptors for different types of plugs are available at the reception. The electricity supply is 240V. Please turn your lights off when you leave your cabin.


When mooring, you are welcome to leave and return to the ship as many times as you wish. Our next sailing time will be displayed on the daily schedule and passengers are requested to remember this before disembarkation. Group shore excursions are organized by the Jahan Cruise director. Meeting point for the excursion is the Lounge.

You will be accompanied by an English speaking tour guide on all your excursions. Five minutes prior to casting off, our captain will sound the ship’s horn three times to remind you to return to the ship.

Passengers are encouraged to sign out on the special board; this way we ensure that we do not sail off without you.


We suggest that if satisfied with the service a gratuity will be collected at the last day aboard Jahan Cruise. We give everybody, staff and crew an equal share and make sure that those in the kitchen or engine room all benefit as well. The amount would be at your discretion, but if an indication is required we suggest 8 USD per passenger per day. Gratuities shall be settled together with the shipboard account at the end of a cruise. Please note that you are under absolutely no obligation to make any gratuity at all. Our tour guides do not partake in the staff’s tips and you may tip the guides separately before the end of their tour.


Our Jahan guide services are conducted in English. Guides services in other languages are available at additional cost.


The Jahan itinerary on our website is a general overview of the main ports of call. The itinerary can be changed as much of the tour depends on river conditions and other local factors. A daily schedule will be posted one day in advance. This schedule contains an informative fact sheet on the sites we intend to visit.

Loud Speaker System (PA)

Please be informed that announcements can only be heard in all public areas as well as on the outside decks. Announcements do not go reach your cabin. In case of an emergency you will hear a loud continuous blast through the ships horn.

River Conditions

These vary depending on the season. In the dry season (December-April) the water level of the river will be quite low and in some places, the level would have dropped by more than 8 meters from its monsoon level (Jun-Sept). Though the river can be miles wide, channels may be narrow and hard to navigate. There is, thus, some risk of running aground on submerged sandbanks. Our captain will take every necessary precaution.

In case of high seas or even in the Tonle Lake, the winds can be very strong.

Changes to Schedule

Changes to schedule may be made due to technical complications or unpredictable weather conditions.

The Jahan Cruise Director will immediately inform you of the changes vis-à-vis or an announcement will be made via the public address system. Please also keep an eye on the notice board for any subsequent notice of any changes to planned events.


Tourists are rarely the targets of theft in the countries in which we operate. When sailing, passengers tend to leave their cabin doors unlocked. Though a 24-hour security detail is assigned to the gangplank controlling access to the ship, we recommend that you keep your doors locked at night. All cabins have a combination type safe - please use a number you are familiar with. Jahan Cruise will not be held liable for any losses from the ship or whilst on an excursion ashore during a voyage.

Ship’s office

The main office is at the Lobby Lounge. The Jahan Cruise Director or his/her assistant will be on duty from 6.30h until 24.00h.

Sun Care

The sun can be powerful. Please be careful and always wear sun block during the day.


Vietnam and Cambodia are 6 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). In winter, please add 1 hour.


The ship’s water is cleaned through a filtration system and the water is suitable for washing and brushing teeth but should not be drunk. Complimentary water is available in your Jahan cabin.

Tap water is not safe, although the water is purified (Sand filtration, Reverse Osmosis, UV and Active Carbon). We have a central boiler system in place; please wait for a short while for the heater to heat up the water.

Medical on board

The Jahan Cruises are equipped with first aid and key medical supplies. All senior staff members and IMO certified personnel have attended first aid courses. In the event of serious illness or accidents we are never more than 2 hours away by car or speed boat from a main hospital or 5 hours from Saigon or Phnom Penh where there are international hospitals and air evacuation facilities. We have a rescue boat that can accommodate up to 6 passengers. It is advisable to check with your doctor if you are fit for travel or require prophylactic drugs or inoculations.
We apologize that we do not have facilities for disabled persons. There are no elevators or wheelchair access. If a passenger is unable to access a ship and mount stairs unaided, RV Jahan Cruise reserves the right to refuse to accept that passenger.

Please note:

Due to various reasons such as heat and humidity, physical activities, personal hygiene, change of food, in order to avoid stomach illness during the cruise please be cautious when buying and eating food during your land excursions, washing your hands often.

Passengers must have insurance for medical expenses and repatriation; the company is not responsible for any of those liabilities.

More information at

Top 15 places to discover in Saigon

Before or after you join our RV Jahan Cruises, you can discover Saigon on your own way. Here is our recommended places:

More information at:

Top 10 shopping places in Saigon


Ipa-Nima is known for unique creations featuring striking colour schemes and ingenious embellishments. Meticulously crafted and exuberant collections are inspired by imaginative themes, ranging from a Moroccan sunset to the journey of an exiled Geisha to the sensual cyber adventures of Barbarella and beyond. Always eye-catching and trendy, Ipa-Nima accessories are yet intangibly timeless and sophisticated. 


Established in 2003 by a collection of French designers, Gaya's two outlets specialise in fashion and gifts inspired by the Parisian art scene. The first international designer showroom in Vietnam pioneered new retail concepts in downtown Ho Chi Minh City. The multi-level, stylish Gaya is the perfect platform to exclusively showcase their signature lacquer tableware and high end jewelry pieces. 


The city’s antique collectors long whispered about Le Cong Kieu Street years before curious tourists added it to their itineraries. The small street is a joint Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street and Pho Duc Chinh Street, a two-minute walk from the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Art Museum or Ben Thanh Market. About 10 antique shops are scattered on this small street offering an abundant choice of antiques from colonial and pre-colonial times.


A six-storey shopping centre that houses the world's most famous luxury brands plus more than 250 fashion retailers and various restaurants. Each level has a coffee corner to help weary shoppers recoup while looking over the city. Vinpearl Games features fun & games for wide range of ages. 

Another department store located near to the hotel, features mostly popular international brands such as clarins, Estee Lauder, Calvin Klein, Guess. Its ideal location sees one entrance facing Dong Khoi Street, the center of retail in Sagon.


Located imidiately opposite Kumho Plaza, which houses the InterContinental Asiana Saigon, Diamond Plaza department store inldues four storeys of retail presents the world famous fashion brands such as Givenchy, Salvatore Ferragamo, Burberry, Bvlgari, Montblanc and importaed jewelery from Italy, France.


Running through the fabric of the culture, the music, the poems and the art of the peole of Vietnam, XQ's hand-spun embroidered artworks capture the essence of all that is Vietnamese. With thousands of workers forming virtual village of embroiderers, XQ showcases their work at a central location, to the exacting standards of the company's founder.


Returning from Vietnam without a bag full of tailor-made clothing is something of a waste. Located a short stroll from InterContinental Asiana Saigon, T&V is run by two sisters who dare to be alittle different than your run-of-the-mill Saigon tourist-tailors. Daring cuts, virtually end less fabric choices, and importantly 1-2 day turnarounds make T&V a favourite.


Ben Thanh Market sits right in the middle of the town, and is notable for its clothing, shoes, fabrics, coffee and, increasingly, souvenirs, as the tourist trade comes to overtake the local relevance of the market. The market houses fresh food and specialty products from all three regions of Viet Nam. By night the streets flanking Ben Thanh Market on the East and West sides transform into a bustling night market full of assorted t-shirts, shoes and jewellery vendors.


Saigon Square is a representative of modern shopping in Saigonese, with swanky interiors include a large supermarket encircled by twenty other retail outlets of up market brands like Hugo Boss, Longines, Motorola, Nokia etc. There are also other shops which sell designer sunglasses, watches, furniture, air conditioners, luggage clothes and shoes. Please bear in mind that you need to bargain at least half of the price for most items and then slowly increase.

The original article is published at our Jahan Cruise web

Life along the Saigon River

SAIGON - Take me to the Saigon River. That’s all. Just take me to the river. That’s a request I often make while visiting the Vietnamese city of Saigon, now officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City after the Communist takeover in 1975. Let’s clarify something up front: Many inhabitants indigenous to the southern half of the nation refuse the renaming of the city – I agree.

Editor's choices:

To them, and to me, it remains Saigon. They lost their city to the Communists, but not their spirit. Traveling throughout southern Vietnam, it is usually acceptable to say Saigon. In the northern half of the country, refer to the city as Ho Chi Minh City. Although the city lost its romantic name to favor a scrawny dictatorial victor, the river has not. The correct name remains Saigon River – or locally Sông Sài Gòn.

The Saigon River is literally the lifeblood of Vietnam’s largest city – about 7.5 million and growing. The river supplies drinking water, transportation, fishing, ports, tourism, and an extremely important link between the isolated rice-farming villages of the Mekong delta and the global markets that buy their products. Like many large trading rivers, the Saigon River is comprised of a complex culture of peoples that have been ravaged by famine, war, and ideologies – ravaged, but never beaten. And that’s what I love about the Saigon River.

To this day, locals say, the river hasn’t changed much. Many people live along its banks, in tin-roof shacks and thatched huts – much of the rusted metal being leftover military material from the Vietnam War. In fact, if anything or anyone changed the local flavor of the river, the Americans did. Most, will tell you, for the better. But that’s not the point of this story.
Many people also live along the Saigon River in expensive condos, in pricey apartment buildings that overlook the meandering mass of water that begins in Cambodia and ends 50 miles later in the bustling South China Sea. Perhaps the strangest thing I find, when I say “take me to the river,” is that life along the river means very different things to many different people.

Saigon is a bustling city, one of the fastest rising economies in all of Asia. To understand the importance of the river, one must understand the city and its inhabitants. From 1954-1975 the city was the capital of South Vietnam. Before that, it was part of Cambodia, which gave way to French interference and war. In 1940 the Japanese, who ultimately surrendered in 1945 at the end of World War II, occupied Saigon. This provided an opportunity for communist Ho Chi Minh to take over.
The French intervened, hoping to keep their rich coffee and rubber empire intact. A war ensued and in 1954 a truce split Vietnam into two countries – North Vietnam and South Vietnam – along the Ben Hai River at the 17th parallel.
An influx of northern Vietnamese into the southern half complicated matters and a war broke out when the north crossed into the south – the Vietnam War. The Americans got involved in the early 1960s and it ended near the Saigon River on April 29, 1975. Many buildings and landmarks along the river have disappeared since then – but many remain.

I love Saigon. It is a fascinating, bustling city full of life – very busy, very chaotic. But also very romantic and historical. The city is geographically – almost culturally – chopped into districts. The poor and the rich know their place, and tourists are steered to certain areas and pulled away from others. But no matter, the river is omnipresent, always a player. Like the Mississippi in St. Louis or Memphis or New Orleans, the river steals the thunder, steals the show. It is the constant, the ebb and flow of life that gives sustenance to a city so desperate for normalcy.
My first few visits to the Saigon River waterfront were purely normal. In fact, my Vietnamese friend took me to the usual riverfront park that all Americans probably see. She didn’t know what I wanted, just that I wanted to hang out “at the river.” Sure, a lot of locals were fishing from the banks and piers, and young Vietnamese teens were walking hand-in-hand. In the downtown area – similar to American cities – the riverfront was clean and showcased. I shot a few photos – all of them postcards that said “Hello From Saigon!” But that’s not what I wanted. I wanted a local experience.

After some debate, I got one. Many locals are reluctant to show Americans anything other than the best of Saigon. It’s easy enough to find poverty and social ills without a local guide – especially in Southeast Asia. Although Vietnam, particularly southern Vietnam, is doing well (American industries do a lot biz in the southern half of Vietnam), many locals are embarrassed about the nation’s poverty and environmental situation. In any case, my friend put me on the back of her motorbike and off we went.
Somewhere just outside the city – I’m not sure where – we stopped on a bridge spanning the Saigon River. It was about 2 p.m. and the sun was burning hot. She dropped me mid-bridge, in the heavy traffic, and took off. At first I figured she left because the traffic was dangerous. Later, I learned, that she didn’t want locals to know that she was associated with the bloke that was photographing the slums and shacks along the river below.

The river rats - as my friend calls them - seem to embarrass the locals. They live for free along the rusted tin and plywood shacks that make up a large percentage of the river’s poorest inhabitants. Some of the tin, she said, came from American military forces during the war – just another reminder that the river is part of our history, too. The river, she says, was full of Americans for many years – the rusted tin and barbed wire nothing more than remnants of war.

“The Americans loved tin and barbed wire,” says my friend Ngoc. Her dad was a South Vietnamese pilot, killed in action fighting alongside U.S. forces. “You still see it along the river from way down south to Saigon.” In fact, the tin shacks along the riverbanks near Saigon give way to thatched huts north and south of the city. The tin huts are a decades-old reminder of the Vietnam War that doesn’t exist outside of the city. For most residents, especially the youth, the war of the past and the river of today are of little consequence. But at night, the river comes alive.

On a humid Saturday night, Ngoc and I motorbiked our way to the outskirts of Saigon. I only ask that we go to a local river hang-out. The brilliant lights of the city’s riverfront stays on the horizon. In the distance, modern glass and steel skyscrapers dazzle the city’s landscape with multicolored mosaics of light. After a 20-minute ride, butt thoroughly buzzed to numbness, we stop. And we have company.

Away from the city, to get the best view, and far from cops and nosy adults – the youth find their spot. The view of the city away is a reminder of the chaos left behind – if even for a moment – but also a view of the city they love. The Saigon River, flowing below, is lit by colored lights along the boardwalk. Below the bridge, locals relax in chairs, sit on motorbikes, chat among friends, and fan the humid air away from another sultry day.
This is life along the city’s river. Free and easy, relaxed and slow.

Her name is Saigon.

The original article was published at

RV Shin Arahan Life on board

As the sun slowly sets...Step out on to your private balcony...sip on your drink and become part of the river life unfolding around you.

The Veritable Hosts

  • Shin Arahan is renowned for being a peerless host on water. They are personal. They are specially arranged to suit your palate, your adventurous spirit, your whims and fancies and at times, your need for privacy 
  • You are made to feel at home. A home that is as warm as it is exquisite. Private breakfast can be served to your staterooms or whilst sitting under a shade on the sun deck in the rising morning sun. 
  • Comprehensive menus are created to leave you wishing for more. Single Spa and massage hideaways allow you to feel the complete Southeast Asian touch.
  •  Unique lounges of wonderful splendour fitted with cosy and antique furnishings re-create that homely feeling, reminiscent of babies snuggled on their mother’s lap in the living room. But most importantly, Shin Arahan creates intimate bonds and friendships. You will likely be welcomed as a family member. The crew, who are kindred spirits, are keen to ensure your experience remains indelibly etched in your memory. With a genuine smile. 
  • They remember your preferences and tastes. And as mentioned before - they remember your names. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

RV Jahan Cruise Facts & Figures

Find belows some information about the Jahan Ship

Built: 2010/11
Vessels Registry: Vietnam
Type of Vessel: River vessel
Length: 70 m
Beam: 12.5 m
Draft: 1.7 m
Decks: 4 — lower, main, upper, pool deck
Gross tonnage: 950 tons
Cruising speed: 12 nautical knots
Crew: 40 (Cambodian and Vietnamese Crew)

RV Jayavarman Cruise Apsara Salon

Located on the Main Deck, "Apsara" Beauty and Wellness Spa is all about giving you an upscale South Asian experience, entirely dedicated to your well being.

Bargain hunters can expect to find lucrative year-end sales this month, with luxury travel packages, resort bookings at First Choice site
That Exquisite feeling is guaranteed.

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RV Jayavarman Cruise Life on board

As the sun slowly sets...Step out on to your private balcony...sip on your drink and become part of the river life unfolding around you.Start your day on the Mekong with Thai Chi lessons on the Sun Deck. Or bathe in the rays of dawn shining through your balcony as you lay in bed. A journey full of reverberating sights, colors and sounds awaits you.

Whether it is a refreshing sundowner drink at the lounge or a pampering time at the "Apsara" beauty salon, this is a time for reflection and relaxation.

When night falls, dancers perform and dinner is served. The ship changes hue at night and the staff emerge the following morning in their exquisite Cambodian traditional outfit.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Jahan Cruise- Itinerary

From its icy start in the Tibetan Plateau, the Mekong River winds through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia before breaking into tributaries in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

The glistening rice paddies, tangled fruit orchards and floating fish farms of the delta all depend on this river’s bounty. First Choice operates two luxurious vessels in this lush delta: the father of our fleet, The Jayavarman, and his brother, The Jahan. Custom-ordered to evoke the stately elegance of Indochine and the rich artistry of an Indian Maharaja’s palace, these craft combine old-world elegance with modern comfort. In the Mekong Delta, First Choice cruises explore the age-old ways of life supported by this majestic river. Guests can ride bicycles through the rice fields; sip homemade fruit liqueur in a pomello orchard; and quiet riverside temples. With so much to see and learn, and so many ways to relax, guests will feel both pampered and invigorated. Vietnam is perhaps the only country to use the words “land” and “water” to mean “nation”. Crisscrossed by myriad waterways, the only way to experience the Mekong Delta is by boat. First Choice cruises take you through Vietnam’s rural heartland to Cambodia’s temple-strewn capital. Options include the seven-night Lost Civilization cruise; the three- or four-night Serenity cruise; the three-night Pearl of the Orient cruise; and the two-night Deep in the Delta cruise. Guests seeking privacy can opt for special tailor-made excursions.

Discover Cai Be floating market

Cai Be is a river-land mixed town in Vietnam. It is a district of Tien Giang Province in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. Along the river, there are docks that handle passengers and goods, and the floating market.

Cai Be is the north shore of the tree My Thuan Bridge, the gateway to the city of Vinh Long and the Cuu Long River Delta. Nearby Vinh Long, it is the bustling Cai Be Floating Market, where you can see wholesalers on big boats hang a sample of what they sell from the top of a long pole. It is also a leisure time for boating to see small canals and visit orchards.

Cai Be is located on the left hand side of the Upper Mekong River with the population of 275.000 inhabitants (2004). Cai Be used to be the Administrative - Economic and Political Center of South Vietnam which called "Cai Be Dinh" (1732 -1757) and then Long Ho Dinh. Nowadays Cai Be is one of the most important centers for the distribution of the agricultural products, especially the tropical fruits for the whole country and also for the entire region.

The nature is fertile, harmonious; people are opened-heart, hospitality; a distinctive ecological system and the river network of South Vietnam together with a floating market; the cultural features are very distinctive but really special in general are made Cai Be as a Mekong Delta in miniature, a safe and attractive destination for travelers all over the world.

Visiting this place, travelers will have chance to enjoy the boat trip of on the mighty of the Mekong river for the dreamy and the pleasure moment. Please join with us to discover the "Countryside Civilization" where something news are waiting for your exploration.

How to get there

After 110km on the National Highway 1A from Ho Chi Minh City, travelers will arrive Cai Be being considered as a wild land where it is always ready waiting the discovery of the travelers.

What to see

Cai Be Floating Market

It is among the others in Mekong Delta such as Cai Rang, Phong Dien, Phung Hiep Floating markets. Up to now, the history ofCai Be Floating Market is still unknown but people believe that it was formed during time of the formation of the delta in 17th to 18th century by people came from the Central of Vietnam. They were the founders of the delta who cultivated and settled down here for years. According to “Gia Dinh Thanh Thong Chi”, Nguyen Lord declared to build the Long Ho Town in Cai Be (called Cai Be Town) in 1732, Cai Be river mouth where located the Cai Be floating market stretching 500m long is the center for many boats in the delta gathering and trading. This is the place for more than 400 boats doing the business everyday. It is so busy in the morning especially at 5-8am but it opens all day. Each boat has one bamboo stick on the front which used to hang the product of the boat. This is a kind of advertising to show what do the boat sell inside. Local people produce the farming products in the farm or in the garden and then they load them to the floating market. Some people come here to buy the products from the merchants and bring back to the markets in the mainland for selling to the customers.

Tropical fruits in Cai Be

Hoa Loc Mango: the name was after the name of Hoa Loc region. People can't forget the sweet and fresh flavor of Hoa Loc Mango. According to Dr. Nguyen Thi Thuong, Hoa Loc Mango is the top of 120 species which Long Dinh Southern Fruit Institute developed and this fruit won the "The Queen Fruit" title in mango competitions.
The father tree is in Mr. Hai Cong garden now and Long Dinh Southern Fruit Institute had reproduced the cheap seedling to sell for farmers in the whole country. To choose the best one, people must distinguish the big shape, light brown skin from the others.
Cai Be orange: this is the most popular one and had a long history in this region. King and sweet orange can be found in Cai Be, An Huu, Tan Phong Island with the nice and unforgettable flavor. Once you come and taste the specialty here you can't leave without emotion.

Dong Hoa Hiep Old House. There are quite some old houses in Dong Hoa Hiep Commune, Cai Be. Best preserved ones include Ba Duc Old House, Cai Huy Old House and Anh Kiet Old HOuse. They were built in old architecture typical in the region. Some were restored under cooperation program of Vietnamese government and Japanese organization, JICA.

What to do

Visiting Cai Be Market, you will have a great photographic opportunities as all manner of produce is traded from boats, communicate with the local, take sampans along canals to visit local houses and enjoy fresh fruits.

Where to eat

Mekong Lodge Riverside Restaurant. A semi-open restaurant with nice settings and great view of Tien River, especially during sunset. Excellent food yet need a wider range of wines.

Where to stay

Mekong Lodge, Hamlet5, Dong Hoa Hiep Commune, Cai Be, ☎ +84 933 449 391. An eco-resort set in a large and well-landscaped green area with good food, pure atmosphere and nice people, typical of Mekong Delta. Request a garden view bungalow if you are light sleepers. from US$60.

Travel Tips

Almost floating markets start in the very early morning and finish before noon. Thus, to catch the liveliest and busiest scenery, you should plan to stay one night in Vinh Long. Bring along camera, hat, sunscreen and insect repellant.
Spend the day on the cruise or boat in Cai Be exploring the fascinating life on the Mekong River. This trip will allow you to visit a floating market and a beautiful island. This trip is an idyllic experience for anyone wishing to indulge in the delta’s most prized assets for a truly memorable and satisfying day visit.

What to do in Ben Tre

Ben Tre Province provides some of the most beautiful scenery in the Mekong delta. The milk coffee colored waters wind their way along small channels lined with water palms, thatch and bamboo houses are nestled in the lush orchards. The famous Vietnamese poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu was born in Ben Tre Province, but until now this fact hasn't spawned touristic exploitation.

How to get there

By Boat

Ferries from Rach Mieu in My Tho (20 min/24h) arrive some 10 km north of Ben Tre, so you might want to hire a Xe Om to take you to the town center.

There is also a ferry from Vinh Long Province to the north-western part of the island, again you may want to hire some sort of transport to cover the remaining distance to Ben Tre town. There is also bus 8 from ferry pier to Ben Tre. It seems frequent, costs about 25,000 Dong for 2h trip. You will need a taxi (moto ~ 20,000 Dong for 10min ride). Pay attention when arriving in Ben Tre as the bus goes to outer bus station. Best seems to stop at the roundabout after the two big bridge and Mat Kinh Dien Bien Phu optic shop and take a taxi (moto ~ 15-20k Dong) to the town center.

By Bus

Direct (mini-)bus services from Ho Chi Minh City are to be found at Cholon and Mien Tay bus station. A new bridge, constructed in 2009, now connects the city to My Tho so the bus ride is direct, without a ferry. On arrival at the bus station in Ben Tre, a very welcoming man with good English will try to get you to his travelling guide rated guest house by showing books and stuff. In fact, the ride there takes you back where your bus came from, halfway to My Tho, about 10km from Ben Tre. Make sure to get from Ben Tre bus station into the town of Ben Tre, not elsewhere.

How to get around

The town is stretched along the river, so a bicycle or a motorbike seem to be the best way, especially if you are planning to take it to the orchards on the far side of the river.

What to see

There are no real sights in their own right, but you could have a look at the unspoiled market or visit the rice wine factory on the south bank, 0.5 km west from the old bridge. You can also visit the inevitable coconut candy factory here. It's a must if you haven't been to one yet, since in this "factory" basically everything is done by hand.

What to do

Trung Tam Dieu / Ben Tre tour operation center (closed during lunch) has some tours by boat (US$ 25/30 for 1/2 persons 3-4h), by bike or cart and homestay addresses. It also gives some information on the city. Another option is to speak to one of the man standing around the tourist oriented boat pier (best change is between 2PM and 5PM), which is located on the area west of the new bridge. Some offer nice boat tours combined with biking on one of the islands for around 30USD.

Explore the Delta. boat trips are one of the nicest ways to negotiate the network of channels, but the land in between the waters is just as fascinating. It's fun to follow some of the small trails along the channels, crossing sidearms on very basic bridges and walking by fruit and coconut orchards.

Coconut candy factory. There are apparently four factories across town. The shop selling the coconut candy (keo dua) is in the front and the factory is in the back. The visit of the factory where you see the women making the handmade candy is free. 212B Dai Lo Dong Khoi (there is a second shop across the street). Enjoy!

Ben Tre green tourist (Bao Duyen Tourist), 18D, An Thuan A, My Thanh An, TP Ben Tre, Ben Tre, Viet Nam (Email:, ☎ 0753817366 - 01267593979.


There is a big coopmart with low Air conditioning (food, department store, game center) near 'Cong Vien Dong Khoi' park and north of lake/pond

Where to eat

The usual food stalls are found around the market. Be warned that one of the favourite soups in the Delta, Hu Tieu, contains boiled intestines and liver, so choose wisely. There is also a floating restaurant near the old bridge. Sweet bakery for breakfast? Go to the huge CoopMart (8-22) just behind street Hai Ba Trung. It's very good here and budget.

Nam Song, Phan Ngoc Tong. Attention extra 2,000 Dong if you use the wet tissu. I never saw a single local eating here, and we were never able to get food here. prices from 25k (com ga) to 250k (tom xao).

Where to drink

Coldest beer in Ben Tre? Go to the Oasis. Bar closes at 9.30pm.

Club 007: Most popular nightclub in town. Extremely loud techno(earplugs recommended). Only busy on weekends. Mostly 18-30 year old crowd with some slightly older, wealthy locals in the VIP area.

AP 1 - Xa Son Dong - QL60 - TP Ben Tre Ph: 075 3833 369

Where to stay

Ham Luong Hotel, 200 Nguyen Van Tu, 5th Ward, ☎ (+84-75)818 595. One of the best hotels in Ben Tre and fancy for a three star hotel with outside swimming pool, steam bath and sauna. Buffet breakfast is a mix between asian and western food. All rooms have cable internet, TV with English channels and so on. Next to Ben Tre tourist. Rooms between 17 - 39 dollars.

Khach San Phuong Hoang, 28, Hai Ba Trung, Phuong 2, TP. Ben Tre (town center, north of ho truc giang lake/pond), ☎ 0753.57.53.77. Cold shower (some hot ?), Fan or Air condition, Free wifi, Limited english-speaking staff between 120-180,000 Dong for a single room.

Khach San Dong Khoi / Dong Khoi Hotel, 16, Hai Ba Trung, Phuong 2, TP. Ben Tre (town center, north of ho truc giang lake/pond), ☎ 075.3822501 - 075.3822632 (, fax: 075.3822240). hot water except cheapest rooms, free wifi, restaurant, karaoke, massage single 150-240k, strangely prices dropped if checkin after 4pm 100-120k.

Nha Nghi 99, 73, Phan Ngoc Tong, Phuong 2, TP. Ben Tre (town center, street south of ho truc giang lake/pond), ☎ 075.3831234, 075.3811233. Air condition, no wifi, limited english-speaking staff. single 150k Dong.

Oasis hotel, 151 My Thanh An, Ben Tre 1234, Vietnam (across river), ☎ 0752467799. kiwi and vietnamese owners, free wifi, swimming-pool, english, viet, khmer spoken. cold beer, local knowlebge. number one on trip advisor

Que Huong, 38 Hai Ba Trung (Red house in front of the town's chilly lake.), ☎ 075 3835 888. All rooms with hot shower and fresh towel, Fan 100k-120k, A/C 160k-180k. Good service, limited English and friendly.

Hai Long Hotel, 500 A2, KP2, Tan Phu, Ben Tre City, Ben Tre, Viet Nam ((Email: speaking : 0918.516.626 )), ☎ 0753.8511236 - 0753.829505.

Two star hotel 100 - 300k Dong.

How to get out

Either go to the outer bus station, but you can get minibus to My Tho or Ho Chi Minh City inside town

to Ho Chi Minh City: 70k Dong, on tran quoc tuan street north of the lake/pond.

to My Tho: ~20k, on dong khoi street, bus stop near school

The cargo boats also will take you to places like Tra Vinh, Can Tho or Vinh Long. The boats leave between 8h30 and 9h every day. It takes a very long time, but it's a adventurous and cheap option (expect to pay between 60.000VND and 120.000VND each person). They leave from the area east of the new bridge. Boats are light blue.
Ba Tri: 40 minute scooter ride east of Ben Tre