Explore Asia on a river cruise along The Mekong to discover temples, floating markets and jungle scenery
The Mekong flows from China’s Tibetan Plateau, through Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Cruises, on small ships, ply the Mekong delta in the south, travelling between Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam up to Siem Reap in Cambodia for the perfect itinerary of temples and floating markets amid misty, jungle scenery.
Cruise to Vietnam and Cambodia
This adventure travels between Vietnam and Cambodia on one of the region’s finest and newest ships Avalon Angkor, launched in 2012. Traditional style combines with modern luxury, a world of colonial teak and brass, with only 16 rooms all opening on to deck. The boutique-hotel feel extends to the dining area, with Vietnamese and Western options, and the open-air lounge and bar. The itinerary includes two nights in Siem Reap and the Angkor temples, the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, three nights in Ho Chi Minh City and a wealth of villages, floating markets and remote regions, plus a night in Bangkok on the way home.
The 14-day Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong trip with Avalon departs year-round and costs from £3,995pp, including a seven-night, all-inclusive cruise, six nights in hotels, excursions, flights and home pick-up (0800 668 1801; avaloncruises.co.uk).
Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos
This trip includes two cruises. The first, on board luxury Jayavarman travels from Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap, the must-do Cambodia/Vietnam voyage, taking in temples and the French colonial town of Chau Doc along with a sampan tour, Khmer dance performance and on-shore barbecue. After that, fly to Laos for a two-night cruise on the Mekong at Vat Phou.
The 14-day Cruising Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos – Saigon to Pakse cruise, departing from July to April, costs from £2,980pp, including a nine-night cruise, four nights in hotels, internal flight and tours, from Travel IndoChina (01865 268 940; travelindochina.co.uk).
Small ship river cruise
Cruise vessels don’t come any smaller than Song Xanh, a private sampan with one bedroom. You spend two days and nights on board, boarding at Cái Bè and meandering through the floating market before cruising the Mekong and its tributary, the Tien Giang. One dinner is on board, one with a local family. You’ll also visit Ho Chi Minh City, Luang Prabang in Laos, Siem Reap in Cambodia and the island of Phu Quoc.
The 17-day Indochina in Style tour, with local guides, departs regularly and costs from £3,595pp, including a two-night private cruise, 12 nights in hotel accommodation, two lunches and two dinners, flights and tours, from Bamboo Travel (0207 720 9285; bambootravel.co.uk)
Top tips for your Asian river cruise
You need a visa for Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and China – cruise companies can often help with this. No inoculations are required for any of the countries but, with jungle countries, advice can change, so keep checking. Don’t forget lightweight rain jackets – the mist can appear swiftly in the jungle. Sun hats are equally important, as conditions change quickly. Take comfortable, lightweight shoes and insect repellent.
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