Mekong River Cruise

Sunset along river in Kuching, Borneo

Adventure and exploration are synonymous with South East Asia: jungles, rainforests,  mighty rivers and the bustling cities of Cambodia and Vietnam are just begging to be explored.

Fitting in everything could be a somewhat challenging task! Ideally your trip needs to include a mix of sightseeing, culture and adventure. One of the best ways to do that is to combine them all at the same time in an epic and exciting Mekong river cruise.

A cruise on the Mekong river takes you sightseeing through several countries in South East Asia showcasing interesting cultures, amazing landscapes, gourmet foods and sobering experiences.The traditional starting point is in Siem Reap, Cambodia, home to the fascinating Angkor Wat temples and then you wend your way south to the river’s delta in Vietnam. From there you can extend your journey east along the coast to Ho Chi Minh City before ending your Vietnamese adventure and flying home.

The Mighty Mekong

You start your journey in Siem Reap with a visit to Angkor,  Angkor one of the most important archaeological sites in South East Asia.  Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire including the  famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.

From there the relaxing journey continues along the river and the scenery is a treat: the river, the traditional landscapes and villages offer a sense of a life largely untouched by the modern world.

Oknha Tey is an island marooned in the middle of the Mekong. Known as the silk island, it offers excursions to travellers looking to experience traditional silk weaving and experience a slower-paced way of life on the island. You can see how the products are made from the very beginning – from the worms which produce the raw materials to the finished article fashioned by artisans. Or you can always explore the island by traditional tuk tuk.

Local Wetlands

Your river journey continues with vistas of floating villages in the wetlands where people travel from house to house by boat before continuing to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

Here elegant royal palaces sit side by side with the gravitas of the city’s sombre history. The Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum are monuments to those who lost their lives at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. It’s a sobering sight and well worth a visit:

Phnom Penh is just a few hours from the Vietnamese border and as you leave the bustling city life slows down once again. More floating villages give a glimpse of what life is like away from the urban centres and on the wetlands either side of the mighty Mekong – whose waters ensure the fertile soils can produce exotic fruits and plant life.

Not Yet the End

The markets in the towns along the route are filled with local produce which you’ll see being transported in boats. Stop off in the island towns and sample the delights, getting to know the locals and buying goods from their stalls.

And as you arrive at the Mekong delta, it’s the end of the river cruise, but make sure this isn’t the end of your trip. Explore the town of My Tho with more unusual floating markets and make your way (by land this time!) to Ho Chi Minh City – another tourist hotspot with stunning architecture, museums galore and cultural spots with a great nightlife.

A trip to South East Asia combines stunning scenery, traditional culture, charming people and outstanding dining experiences;  it really has it all!