Butterfield & Robinson’s new itinerary focuses on authenticity and will offer guests an inside look at local life in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. // © 2016 Butterfield & Robinson
Feature image (above): Aqua Mekong, a 205-foot luxury river cruise ship that will be used on Butterfield & Robinson’s new voyage along the Mekong River // © 2016 Butterfield & Robinson
Luxury wholesaler Butterfield & Robinson has announced a new land and river tour along the Mekong River that will stop in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The high-end biking and walking trip is scheduled to run in February 2017, offering travelers a five-star experience in some of Southeast Asia’s most in-demand destinations.
The 10-day Mekong Grand Journey excursion includes hotel stays at Amantaka in Luang Prabang, Laos, and Amansara in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and then three nights onboard Aqua Mekong, a 205-foot luxury river cruise vessel.
“Aqua Mekong is absolutely stunning,” said Kristi Elborne, director of Asia-Pacific for Butterfield & Robinson. “Made from local, sustainable materials, the interior is spacious and private and, best of all, the rooms have floor-to-ceiling panoramic views of the Mekong.”
Authentic activities and experiences are a major focus of the trip, according to Elborne, who designed the new itinerary.
“From start to finish, you’ll be exposed to traditional ceremonies, daily rituals and local life in each region,” she said. “Offer alms at dawn in Luang Prabang, receive a water blessing in Siem Reap, sit down with local artisans on the banks of the Mekong to learn about weaving and visit with village elders to hear about life during the war.”
The product also offers intimate exposure to Cambodia’s most in-demand attraction.
“We showcase the best of Angkor with carefully planned temple visits at sunrise and sunset, followed by an exclusive dinner set among the ruins,” Elborne said, adding that the new Mekong product is a good fit for a range of clients, including both young and older adventurers who might be traveling as a family or as a couple.
“It appeals to the North American traveler because the trip is intimate,” Elborne said. “The group departure is capped at 10 travelers, and we go deep into the culture with the best guides in the business and provide seamless service from start to finish.”
Not surprisingly, food is another of the itinerary’s major highlights.
“The local fare in Southeast Asia is colorful, flavorful and abundant,” Elborne said. “We’ll make several trips to the stalls of local markets, heaping with local produce, seafood and flowers. During our time on Aqua Mekong, we can shop at riverside markets with the chefs and pick out ingredients for our next meals. River prawns, coconut, lemongrass, ginger, catfish — the list goes on.”
While the new 10-day journey is the only scheduled trip the wholesaler is offering in the near future, Elborne notes that Butterfield & Robinson is happy to craft customizable private trips — which also make use of the Aqua Mekong vessel — “at anytime” along the route, and she says the company “welcomes the opportunity to do so with travel agents.”
The public voyage is scheduled for Feb. 1-10 next year. The 10-day, nine-night trip runs $19,495 per person.