There’s no doubt that Europe is the most popular river cruising region, but Asia is growing fast behind it. Waterways such as the Irrawaddy, Yangtze and Mekong offer an exciting insight into life on the river banks and in the towns and cities that rely on these rivers so much.
A Mekong River cruise can take you through the heart of Vietnam and Cambodia, stopping at beautiful temples, lively river markets and remote villages in which the people greet you with open arms and smiles across their faces. Here are some fantastic itineraries to consider if you are looking to embark on a river cruise adventure in this part of the world.
From Angkor Temples To The Mekong Delta
The Temples of Angkor are one of the main highlights of any Mekong cruise and this itinerary allows you to explore a number of them on your first day. As well as Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat, two of the most famous temples in the area, you will get to see the contrast between the less crowded Banteay Srei, which has been cleared of trees and roots, and Ta Prohm, where nature has truly taken over.
Once on board the ship, you will sail across the Tonle Sap Lake towards Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Here you’ll see the Royal Palace, home to the Silver Pagoda, and learn about the tragic history of life under the Khmer Rouge. As you continue towards Ho Chi Minh City and the end of your cruise, you will enter Vietnam and spend a day enjoying the vibrant markets and beautiful houses on stilts found in Sa Dec, Vinh Long and Cai Be.
The Mekong Unexplored
Mekong cruises like this one with Pandaw, the Asian specialists, can take you to parts of the river that other ships cannot visit. The shallow drafts of the purpose-built Pandaw ships mean they can get to points towards the northern reaches of the river. This means you will visit ports like Kratie and Chhlong. The latter is home to great examples of colonial architecture, whilst the former is your base for visiting an area inhabited by rare river dolphins and protected by the WWF.
As you sail south past Phnom Penh and visit the Angkor Temples, you will cross the border into Vietnam and receive a unique insight into how locals go about their lives on the river bank. From the catfish farms of Vinh Long to the rice paddies of My Tho, you will see just how much they rely on the water for food, farming and more.
Luxury Vietnam & Cambodia
Although this luxury Mekong cruise is operated by APT, you will be sailing aboard an exclusive charter of the AmaWaterways ship AmaLotus. Starting in Ho Chi Minh City, you will experience the itinerary in reverse compared to the other river cruises above. The luxury aspect means that a number of the activities and excursions on offer provide an exclusive touch, making you feel special and enhancing your trip in a number of ways. For example, you can enjoy a champagne sunset over Angkor Wat and a delicious dinner inspired by TV chef Luke Nguyen in Ho Chi Minh City.
As well as larger ports such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, you will also stop in smaller, less visited ones like Tan Chau and Oudong. In Tan Chou, you will swap your river ship for a smaller vessel to help you navigate the narrow waterways that run through the town and during your time in Oudong, former capital of Cambodia, you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Arthaross Temple.
Any of these Mekong River cruises would be a great choice if you’re looking to explore Asia. If this is your first time, the first or third options might be best, but if you are after something different then ‘The Mekong Unexplored’ can certainly provide this. Talk to our team today to discuss these and other options.