Best vacation ever! We’ve been on close to 30 international vacations of various types, and this one was indeed exceptional.
We booked our Scenic vacation Treasures of the Mekong for Oct. 20 – Nov. 1, 2019. We began in Ho Chi Minh City and finished in Siem Reap – which was lovely ending it all with the fabulous Angkor Watt. Although it was considered at the end of monsoon season, our weather was spectacular.
We chose this river cruise because we wanted to experience different cultures and locations than we had previously encountered. We chose Scenic because of previous bookings and expected them to deliver “the best”.
Scenic has planned incredible experiences for its guests every step of the way. This vacation includes two nights stay in Ho Chi Minh City at the Saigon Intercontinental, seven nights stay on the Scenic Spirit, and three nights stay at the Siem Reap Hyatt. Accommodations throughout were phenomenal. Food at the hotels and on the Scenic Spirit was first class. Scenic carefully chose restaurants and food experiences outside of the hotels and boat, and we enjoyed them all. One of the most fun food-related experiences in Ho Chi Mihn City was the “Saigon at Dark” – a foodie adventure on Vespas. The most memorable and elegant off-the-boat dinner experience was on our last night at Kravan Temple. Unbelievable!!
The excursions we chose to go on were all worthwhile. These cultural outings in both Vietnam and Cambodia provide huge contrasts – extreme poverty and luxury, extreme sadness and elation, concern and hope. All that we experienced changed us, informed us and/ or delighted us. There is so much history – both recent and centuries old – that we had read about but never connected to until this vacation. We felt a tie to (as much as you can be in such a short time ) the “real” Vietnam and Cambodia. Cannot miss excursions / experiences in our opinion: Chu Chi Tunnels, Vespa Adventures street food night, War Remnants Museum, Killing Fields and high school prison, Raffles Hotel, Phnom Penh by tuk tuk at night, Phare Circus, monastery at Wat Hanchey, floating village, Angkor Watt, Ta Phrom temple, Kravan temple dinner.
The Scenic Spirit is such a beautiful boat. The design is spectacular. Local artists’ work adorns the walls. The spiral staircase, with an elevator in its centre, makes movement between levels so easy. The rear of the boat features a lovely pool area on the third level, an inviting lounge area on the second, and the dining room on the first. We really enjoyed massages at the spa. A big surprise to us was complimentary use of washers and dryers (including laundry detergent). The do-your-own laundry room saved us, as we hadn’t accounted for changes of clothing twice daily (due to the heat).
We cannot say enough about the Scenic employees. Our tour director, our guides and the onboard manager and staff were exceptional. There were 50 guests on the boat, and there were 50 staff. We have never experienced such warm greetings and attentive gestures as on this vacation. We acknowledge that every single staff person was engaged and personable. However, we want to name a few who we had more frequent contact with and who contributed immensely to our incredible vacation experience: Bunly, Charran, Endra, Nghia, Dara, Thida, Lin, Srechan, Sreleak, Phally.
As an end note, we appreciated that Scenic supports local organizations that promote the education and skills of the local people. We had two dance presentations on the boat that featured young people who were developing skills and being educated beyond that of what their birth situation could provide. The wonderful evening of circus entertainment featured young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who have been acquiring skills in a variety of performing and visual arts. And Scenic made purchases of gifts from local artisans to gift to guests. We love the choices that have been carefully made by Scenic related to social responsibility.
As a second end note, Scenic’s environmental initiatives should be mentioned. We were provided with re-fillable metal water bottles. Instead of individual plastic toiletry bottles, porcelain pump units are in the bathrooms. Paper straws are used for drinks. LED lighting is used throughout. Less obvious to a guest is that the boats have efficiencies built in to the waste water system, into the power management system, and into the HVAC systems. Scenic boats also have energy saving high-glazed glass.
Much more than expected. 350 sq. ft. Bright. Comfortable king bed with adjustable sleep positions. Walk-in closet with sliding door, comfortable sitting area, balcony, roomy bathroom, bedroom closes to living areas with sliding doors, TV gives access to many common channels such as HBO and Sports. Lights come on automatically as you enter different areas. This room is 25 sq. ft. larger than the Royal Panoramic Suites on the Scenic Diamond and Crystal (European river boats). Loved our location at the end of the hallway. Wouldn't hesitate to book a room on the lower level, as those rooms are identical and above water level.