A River Cruiser's Guide to the River Mekong
The Mekong River is the 12th largest river in the world, at over 2,500 miles long, it flows from the Tibet in China through Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar - making it the longest river in Southeast Asia.
A river cruise along the Mekong is filled with discovery; you will explore two culturally distinctive countries, Vietnam and Cambodia; from the floating markets in Cai Be to the Cu Chi Tunnels in Saigon. Whether you’re visiting the fascinating Angkor Temple or a 'grass roots' orphanage in Siem Reap, you’ll be truly immersed in this thrillingly new world.
Highlights of a Mekong River Cruise
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
Located in Cambodia, close to Siem Reap is Angkor Archaeological Park; a complex of temples scattered over 1000 square miles. The most iconic of them all is Angkor Wat, the first Hindu temple in Cambodia and the world’s largest religious monument! Although the busiest time to visit, Angkor War is a must see at sunrise – the perfect photo opportunity! The park is less crowded in the afternoon – if you can stand the heat, visit the smaller temples in the afternoon. Don’t worry about fitting the whole park into one day - During most Mekong itineraries you will have more than one day in Siem Reap, and therefore an opportunity to see the remaining highlights of Angkor Archaeological Park, including; Angkor Thom, Baphourn Temple, Temple of Elephants and Leper Kings!
Cu Chi Tunnels, Saigon
Not far from Saigon you will find the Cu Chi Tunnels – a web if underground tunnels built by Vietnamese resistance fighters during the Vietnam War & used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots, communication routes and makeshift hospitals! During a tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels you will be given an insight into life during the War and how the tunnels were used plus a demonstration of just they would have navigated through the tunnels! The Cu Chi Tunnels will most likely be offered to you as a complimentary guided tour within the itinerary of your Mekong river cruise – a definite must see whilst in Saigon!!
Floating Markets, Cai Be
You will most likely dock in Sa Dec, near to Cai Be and in order to see the floating markets you will take a local boat to Cai Be!
The floating markets are definitely worth seeing if you have never experienced it before – they start at around 5-6am and are open until midday, so you may find it is an early start! The markets are an impressive colourful site, you will visit local boats gathered together to sell a variety of good – mainly foods but also some hand crafted products!
When to go?
You will find that most river cruise lines operate on the Mekong for most of the year, if not all year round! In terms of when is the best time to go….. April to May are the hottest summer months, June to September are the wettest, rainy months and from November to March it is dry and mild!
One thing worth mentioning is that the river flow of the Mekong can vary and so changes to itineraries can occur during river cruises along the Mekong.
Who is a Mekong river cruise for?
The Mekong is perfect for those who wish to visit both Vietnam and Cambodia; two culturally distinctive countries!! Culture vultures and history buffs will truly enjoy a Mekong river cruise; from stunning natural wonders to ancient architecture and beautiful riverside landscapes, on a Mekong river cruise there is plenty to see and do!
Cruise lines that operate on the Mekong
To include the above highlights… choose a river cruise that starts in Siem Reap and ends in Saigon (or vice versa). Speak with our river cruise experts – they will provide their honest advice!
From the many river cruises that operate on the Mekong we highly recommend APT River Cruises, AmaWaterways or Scenic Tours River Cruises (starting in 2016).
Click here to see a selection of our Mekong River Cruise offers.
Looking for a great deal? Visit www.rivercruising.co.uk to find the right river cruise for you!
Alternatively, call one of our friendly river cruise experts on 0800 810 8229.
Come back soon. Jess Nuttall - RiverCruising.co.uk