Beautiful wooden boats – not extravagantly plush, but equipped to a high standard and extremely comfortable once on board. Bassac have three vessels, the first converted from a rice barge whilst the other two, introduced in 2007, are new riverboats built to blend seamlessly with their surroundings in the delta. Each cruises on the Mekong River itself and through smaller tributary waterways, between the towns and markets of Can Tho and Cai Be. The boats were designed with a shallow draft to ensure safe access, even during low water. The boats are plenty spacious and built entirely from wood, with only 10 cabins featuring air-conditioning and en-suite facilities, including western toilets and hot water showers. They have two upper decks which include a bar area, a covered dining area and open relaxation areas with deck chairs and sun loungers. From this privileged vantage point you gently cruise past a dizzying and vibrant array of activity, from lone fishermen with their canoes and nets to large floating markets with boats of every size and hue.
The overnight night cruise departs at 11am and docks at around the same time the following morning, in either direction – starting at either Can Tho or Cai Be. The Bassac moors briefly in the late afternoon to allow you to step into a smaller boat to explore tiny canals and rural villages. The boat then moors overnight in a quiet spot and at sunrise you find yourself amongst a small floating market the following morning. They can also operate longer cruises, heading as far as Chau Doc.
Included in the price are all your meals, which are whole-hearted and flavoursome, featuring local delta specialities – so good they featured on Rick Stein’s Mekong odyssey. The bar is well stocked and comes in to its own at sunset. Service is unfailingly professional and welcoming and the safety levels are second to none on the Mekong River.