Vietnam and Cambodia, the lands of monasteries and temples and home to one of the world’s major rivers, Mekong, are renowned worldwide for the peaceful practices of their people. The Mekong River is the ancient lifeblood of the cultures and societies of these countries that have arose on its banks. The best way to experience the culture of these countries and delve into a world unbeknownst to you is by taking a river cruise on the Mekong River.
World’s 12th largest and South East Asia’s longest river, the Mekong, flows for more than 3,000 miles through Burma, China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia and is indisputably the lifeline of generations of South East Asian people.
The Mekong River is navigable through Vietnam and Cambodia, and the best way to discover the sights, tastes and sounds of these two captivating countries connected by one river, is by cruising. Mekong river cruises offer an opportunity to peek into the history and diverse cultures of these two unique countries while soaking up marvellous panoramic landscapes, stunning river views and beautiful vistas while travelling through the heart of these countries, crisscrossing through smaller villages, cities and towns besides the larger capital cities, all with an easy and quick access, lending plenty of time to explore. As you cruise along this amazing river, you will enjoy a mix of new traditions, cuisine, lifestyles and languages while admiring glorious sunsets and scenery.
The elegantly designed luxury cruise boats running on the mighty Mekong River, flowing through the centres of Vietnam and Cambodia, are like floating boutique hotels, with outstanding cuisine, exceptional service, spacious cabins, exotic spas and even swimming pools to ensure that you don’t compromise on your luxury. These cruises represent great value for money with their upfront pricing including meals and excursions.
With numerous river cruise lines and so many exhilarating destinations to discover in these countries, you will really find something for everyone in your family!
The best time to take a river cruise on the Mekong River is from mid September through October and November.
A typical itinerary covers:
Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital city, renowned for its frenetic streets, refined colonial architecture, abundant temples and verdant parks. When here, start your explorations of the city by visiting famous historical and cultural sites. Start with the Museum of Ethnology that houses a number of intriguing exhibits that bring Vietnam’s astoundingly diverse culture and history to life. See the Temple of Literature and its graceful gateways and labyrinth of courtyards. Proceed to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, a huge complex dedicated to the nation’s 20th-century Communist leader and the nearby11th-century One-Pillar Pagoda. Later tour the infamous prison “Hanoi Hilton,” where American POWs were held captive during the Vietnam War. Then explore the Old Quarter in a passenger bicycle known as “cyclo”, present everywhere in Southeast Asia, followed by an amazing traditional water puppet show.
Angkor, the former capital of the Khmer empire, is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site and a very significant archaeological site in all of Southeast Asia. When here, begin your tour by visiting Angkor Wat, one of the Angkor’s largest Khmer temples, constructed in the 12th century to honour the Hindu god, Vishnu. Its widespread, detailed bas-relief stone carvings and beautiful proportions make it one of the most stunning sites in Southeast Asia. Following it, travel around Angkor Thom, a fortified city, which houses a number of Angkor’s famous sights. Then visit Ta Prohm, renowned as the “Kingdom of Trees” as over the centuries the temple stones have intricately intertwined with dense forest vegetation. Later visit the Bayon Temple, renowned for its gigantic stone carved faces with mysterious smiles, the Terrace of the Elephants, the newly restored Baphuon Temple, and the Terrace of the Leper King. Finally tour the fabulous 10th-century pink sandstone Hindu temple Banteay Srei and enjoy a special “Apsara Dancing Show” performed by local Khmer/Cambodian folk dancers.
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh is a wonderful city, well-known for its French colonial architecture, colourful nightlife and busy cafés. When here, tour the city in the cyclo. Visit the glorious Royal Palace and the spectacular Silver Pagoda, constructed by French in the 19th century. Then tour the National Museum of Cambodia that displays art that precedes the mighty empire and houses assets of Khmer craftsmanship. Later, take an expedition to the infamous Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and the memorial situated in the Tuol Sleng S21detention centre, where the homicidal Khmer Rouge regime’s thousands of victims died. Following it, stopover at Udon Monastery and then visit some more of the city’s wats like Wat Botum, Wat Langka, Wat Ounalom or Wat Koh, each with its own special purpose and character. Finally, explore the city’s historical riverfront area, with its art galleries, silk shops and restaurants, or perhaps shop for curios, jewellery, souvenirs and clothes at the “Russian Market”.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City, the former capital of Indochina, is Vietnam’s largest city and a cultural, educational and industrial hub that still retains vestiges of its colonial past. When here, take a city tour and explore famous landmarks as the Central Post Office, the former Presidential Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Thien Hau pagoda . Also see the old opera house with its towering arched entryway, the grand city hall and War Remnants Museum, home to vast collection of artefacts from the Vietnam War. Later walk through the Chinatown area of the city and the Dong Khoi Street, shop your heart out here and later shop for handcrafted souvenirs in Ben Thành Market.
Tour Duration: 15 days (Cruise from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City)
Day 1: HANOI, VIETNAM
Arrive at Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city and transfer to your hotel for check. Rest of the day is at your leisure.
Day 2: HANOI
After breakfast, see some of Hanoi’s most popular cultural and historical sites, like the Ba Dinh Square, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Temple of Literature and One-pillar Pagoda.
Day 3: HANOI
After breakfast, take a picturesque ride to Ha Long Bay, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site.
Day 4: SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA
After breakfast, disembark the ship and go to Hanoi Airport. Take a flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia and transfer to your hotel. Tonight, enjoy an exceptional “Apsara Dancing Show” at the hotel, performed by local Khmer/Cambodian folk dancers.
Day 5: ANGKOR
After breakfast, take a tour of the Angkor Archaeological Park, a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. Later, travel through the countryside and visit Banteay Srei temple made of pink sandstone.
Day 6: ANGKOR
Today, visit the Angkor Wat temple and later visit Ta Prohm. Rest of the day is at your leisure.
Day 7: KAMPONG CHHNANG
Board your ship at Tonle Sap Lake and meet and mingle with your fellow travellers as your ship sails to Kampong Chhnang.
Day 8: KOH CHEN
After breakfast, take a local boat to reach the lakeside wetlands. Enjoy the spectacular variety of bird life there and later take a leisure walk to the beautiful Koh Chen village.
Day 9: PHNOM PENH.
Today, after breakfast, explore the former capital of Cambodia, Oudong. In Kampong Tralach, enjoy an oxcart ride that will take you through the rice paddies. Later, your ship will depart for the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. There take a walking tour of the city. The ship will moor overnight in Phnom Penh.
Day 10: PHNOM PENH
Today, explore the famous tourist attractions of the city like the National Museum, the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. After lunch, take an excursion to Cambodia’s ill-famed Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum located just outside the city.
Day 11: TAN CHAU, VIETNAM
Today your ship will cruise the Mekong River all day and will cross the border into Vietnam. It will moor at Tan Chau, a small town in Vietnam.
Day 12: TAN CHAU
Today, take a local boat to sail narrow channels to various beautiful locations and later visit Tan Chau. Later, your ship will cruise to Sa Dec and it will moor here overnight.
Day 13: SA DEC
After breakfast, tour the Sa Dec city and visit Xeo Quyt, a significant ecological site. In the evening, take a local boat to see Cai Be’s impressive floating market. Enjoy your farewell dinner on board.
Day 14: HO CHI MINH CITY
Your cruise will end at Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, take a city tour and explore famous landmarks like the Central Post Office, the former Presidential Palace, Cho Lon (China Town), Notre Dame Cathedral, and the Thien Hau pagoda. Also visit the War Remnants Museum. Spend the night at your hotel in the City.
Day 15: HO CHI MINH CITY
The entire day is free for you to explore the Ho Chi Minh City leisurely.
Day 16: DEPART HO CHI MINH CITY
After breakfast, bid farewell to Vietnam and proceed to the airport to board your homeward flight.
Cruises in Vietnam and Cambodia:
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises offer a first-class resort-style experience with their inviting river view staterooms, cosy libraries, stylish lounges and panoramic restaurants. Uniworld launched their “Timeless Wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia, & the Mekong” a 15-day river cruise tour in January 2012 on their River Orchid cruise ship.
Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises, the world’s largest river cruise line, has ships designed in Scandinavian style, with an average guest capacity of about 150. Having received multiple awards from Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler, Viking River Cruises offers its discerning travellers affordable, comfortable, and an all-inclusive “Magnificent Mekong” 15-day river cruise tour between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Avalon River Cruises
Avalon Waterways offers the latest, quietest and the most spacious river cruise ships with modern resort-style amenities and unparalleled service. Avalon Waterways’ first ship on the Mekong River, the Avalon Angkor, was launched in September 2012. It is the smallest river ship on the Mekong with only 16 staterooms, however its small size lets it cruise all the way from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City (or vice versa), eliminating the seven-hours of coach time required by larger river ships, according to the cruise line.
CruiseBay is India’s first and only Cruises-only Holiday Company with a website www.cruisebay.com that features over 1000 cruise itineraries from 30+ cruise liners. In addition, we have pioneered the concept of CruiseBay Lounges in multiple cities in India with professionally trained cruise consultants to help clients plan their cruise vacation.