A Mekong River Journey To Angkor Tops The Bucket Checklist

A Mekong River journey is a captivating, deep dive into Indochina, the center of Southeast Asia. The peninsula labeled Indochine by French colonists includes at this time’s very distinct international locations of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Though the Mekong flows 4,300 miles from the Tibetan Plateau in China to the South China Sea, river cruises give attention to the Mekong Delta and its 22 million inhabitants.

A fishing boat with family aboard leaves the Mekong River shoreline to fish with nets at dawn.
On a Mekong River journey, watch fishing boats depart the shoreline at daybreak.

The Decrease Mekong River Basin, which supplies life to agriculture and fish merchandise, has nourished native cultures and customs that exist to this present day. That’s what makes a cruise on the Mekong to the excellent Angkor temples such an enriching journey.

We sailed with the French river boat firm, CroisiEurope, in April 2023. Mekong River journey itineraries run 11 to 17 days between Ho Chi Minh Metropolis (the previous Saigon) and Tonle Sap (the Cambodian port nearest to the temples at Angkor).

Cruise and land excursions run in each instructions between the months of August and April. Temperatures vary from about 73°F to 93°F (23°C to 32°C) year-round on this tropical monsoonal local weather. November to January are essentially the most temperate months with the least anticipated quantity of rain.

Why A Mekong River Journey Makes Sense, Even For Adventurous Vacationers

Visitors ride oxcarts from the Mekong River pier to tour Wat Leu Pagoda in Kampong Tralach, Cambodia.
Cruise friends journey oxcarts from the Mekong River pier to tour Wat Leu Pagoda in Kampong Tralach, Cambodia.

A river cruise is a cheap choice for exploring the center of Indochina. Because of the language barrier, most guests discover Vietnam and Cambodia troublesome international locations to navigate on their very own. A river cruise covers the territory whereas eliminating transportation considerations.

Though group excursions are much less versatile than unbiased journey, the professional guides who be part of the cruise deliver the websites to life. CroisiEurope river journey charges embody all guided shore excursions, onboard packages, meals, beer and non-alcoholic drinks so budgeting a Mekong River journey is easy.

In fact, river cruises are a simple type of journey by design. That’s true regardless of your age. Full-service crews, escorted excursions, comfy cabins and wonderful eating make exploration stress free. Pack and unpack solely as soon as. Depart your cabin in disarray, ship out the laundry. Ignore world occasions. Dine and drink amidst fixed visible and mental stimulation.

What’s to not like?

What To Count on On A Mekong River Journey

A Vietnamese rice barge with the traditional talisman of guiding eyes painted on its bow unloads a shipment of rice.
A Vietnamese rice barge with the standard talisman of guiding eyes painted on its bow unloads a cargo of rice.

CroisiEurope’s From the Mekong Delta to Siem Reap river cruise is each enjoyable and unique. The intimate view of day by day life alongside the riverbanks of Vietnam and Cambodia is mesmerizing. Being one with the river brings you nearer to the nice and cozy and welcoming — and unique — individuals of Indochina. That’s why this journey designed for adults will curiosity older kids touring with them.

Pals heard us say “Mekong River journey” and recalled Apocalypse Now, the Francis Ford Coppola anti-war movie set on a tributary of the Mekong. Quite than forbidding jungle, the Mekong Delta we skilled was busy with fishing boats, freight barges laden with rice, and waving villagers.

Twice day by day guided shore excursions present loads of curiosity. Most highlight native structure, produce markets and handcrafts distinctive to every city.

Which Ship Is Proper For Your Mekong River Cruise Fantasy?

Person's feet on bed in front of view of Mekong River from a river cruise ship cabin.
Every day naps are important after touring the websites of the Mekong River Delta throughout the afternoon. This view is from our stateroom aboard CroisiEurope’s Indochine II.

You’ll see a number of colonial model river ships on the Mekong. Nevertheless, the 4 customized CroisiEurope ships are smaller and have a shallower draft than others, making them extra maneuverable. We sailed on the extra upscale Indochine II the place every of the 31 staterooms has a balcony. (Cruise charges for this 5-anchor ship fluctuate from 10% to fifteen% greater than their 4-anchor ships, relying on departure dates.)

Having fun with the passing surroundings is completely one of many nice pleasures of this journey. You may sit outdoor at breakfast and admire the view. Head as much as the shaded roof deck and nap throughout the warmth of the day. In late afternoon, swim within the ship’s small pool or use the train bikes to work off among the terrific meals. Linger with afternoon tea and biscuits at nightfall.

And sunsets — with or with out the day’s wine particular — are really epic.

Who’s Aboard A CroisiEurope Mekong Cruise

Man takes photo of a woman on the roofdeck pool of Indochine II, a CroisiEurope river cruiser on the Mekong River.
Afternoon, loosen up on the roofdeck pool on Indochine II, a CroisiEurope river cruiser doing a Mekong River journey.

The French-owned CroisiEurope, based in 1976, is a well known model in mainland Europe. French and French-Canadian vacationers are particularly attracted by the wonderful delicacies and cultural programming.

A Mekong River journey exploring what had been France’s most prized colonial possession attracts a extra worldwide crowd together with Belgians and Germans. Many dad and mom with grownup kids had been on our spring journey, which coincided with each the TET and Songkran New 12 months celebrations. Throughout college holidays, we discovered some households deliver teenagers.

Reserved tables at meals make for fast friendships and tall journey tales. Three solo vacationers ranging in age from 40 to 80 joined our “English Audio system Desk.” As frequent cruisers from the US, Australia and Spain, every had put the Mekong River on their Bucket Checklist.

Just a few passengers dealt with bodily challenges with leg braces, canes and even a wheelchair. Whereas there are accessible cabins and an elevator onboard the ship, among the excursions are troublesome for these with disabilities.

Joie De Vivre On A CroisiEurope Journey

Dancers from the Apsara Association of Cambodia perform in the lounge of CroisiEurope's Indochine II river cruiser.
Dancers from the Apsara Affiliation of Cambodia carry out within the lounge of CroisiEurope’s Indochine II river cruiser.

You gained’t go hungry on a Mekong River journey and also you’re not more likely to achieve weight both. The French prefer to dine nicely and CroisiEurope is aware of its viewers. Meals are relaxed.

The CroisiEurope culinary staff presents Continental and Asian entrees that take food regimen, allergic reactions and preferences under consideration. Count on seafood and vegetarian choices sourced from every port of name. Nightly wines, many from Australia, and cocktail specials are nicely priced. Desserts starting from Black Rice steamed in banana leaves to crème caramel accompany platters of recent fruit.

Meals are the time to work together with new mates and the charming wait employees of their conventional Cambodian costumes. (By the way in which, primary gratuities are included in charges however the cruise director and purser assist you depart any additional quantity you need.)

Land And Sea Applications Make This Mekong River Journey Particular

Women selling fruit, produce and dried fish at the daily market in Sa Dec, Vietnam.
Ladies promoting fruit, produce and dried fish on the day by day market in Sa Dec, Vietnam.

CroisiEurope ships dock in a single day at each Ho Chi Minh and Phnom Penh, cities wealthy with museums, markets, beautiful temples and UNESCO World Heritage websites.

Multilingual guides accommodate visitor languages. That meant our small English Audio system group had their very own minivan and didn’t put on headsets to listen to the information’s commentary. Our Spanish pal, a photographer, had his personal Spanish language information and transport, so he might take photos freely throughout the excursions.

Ports embody My Tho, Cai Be, Vinh Lengthy, Sa Dec and Chau Doc, Vietnamese villages you’ll keep in mind for his or her silverwork, multi-colored temples, pottery or gardens. In Phnom Penh, tuk-tuk motorcycle taxis take cruisers to the Royal Palace and the famed Emerald Buddha in a Silver Pagoda. After Cambodia’s quickly rising capital, stops embody the village of Koh Chen, an oxcart tour of Kampong Tralach and Kampong Chhnang.

Some excursions are painful reminders of the Vietnam Battle (1955-1975), known as the American Battle all through Indochina. There are lots of references to Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979.) Crawling by way of the Cu Chi Tunnels that hid 1000’s of Viet Cong is suffocating. Visiting Phnom Penh’s S-21, now the Tuol Seng Genocide Museum, is an engrossing but very disturbing expertise.

Context is offered within the printed day by day schedule and at night talks led by the cruise director. After dinner, topical motion pictures equivalent to Roland Joffe’s The Killing Fields and Catherine Deneuve in Indochine are broadcast within the Lounge and visitor TVs. Some nights, we loved a Singapore Sling as native musicians and dancers carried out onboard. (And sure, there may be WiFi, however the sign is weak and unpredictable.)

Because of the environmental results of damming the Mekong, the water was too low at Tonle Sap to cross safely. As a substitute, CroisiEurope employed tour buses to go to points of interest on the ultimate day’s land journey in Cambodia.

Angkor Wat — The Final Bucket Checklist Vacation spot

Sculptures at the Bayon Temple at Angkor, a UNESCO World Heritage site outside Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Sculptures on the Bayon Temple at Angkor, a UNESCO World Heritage website exterior Siem Reap, Cambodia.

For our household, the journey’s spotlight was Cambodia’s magnificent UNESCO World Heritage website often known as Angkor Wat exterior Siem Reap. The 2-night/three-day, post-cruise land tour is a should add-on to this itinerary.

The Angkor Archaeological Park is an unlimited 154-square-mile advanced. Greater than 300 temples (or wats) constructed by Khmer Emperors between the ninth and fifteenth centuries rise from the jungle. Given the time, native guides might solely highlight Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon and some different unimaginable archeological websites.

We spent one other two nights at Angkor Village on our personal – a complete delight. As a substitute of a taxi, we booked a tuk tuk to go to another Hindu and Buddhist temples. In fact, native drivers have been there, accomplished that. Our driver Thom insisted we see three additional temples — his favorites, every eclectic and beautiful — earlier than stopping for a roast pig barbecue by the aspect of the highway.

A Grand Finale In Siem Reap

Man and woman pose at Wat Phra Thom in front of a temple where "Tomb Raider" was filmed.
Creator and husband pose at Wat Phra Thom in Cambodia’s Angkor Archeological website in entrance of the temple the place “Tomb Raider” was filmed.

Siem Reap is a surprisingly subtle city. Expatriates from world wide help museums, wonderful artwork galleries, boutiques, wonderful eating places and cultural troupes. They don’t disappoint.

CroisiEurope based mostly its tour individuals on the opulent Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort. Every day, we had been sorry to depart the resort’s non-public hen sanctuary, lush gardens and freeform swimming pool. Eating out and going to the theatre with our new finest mates, nevertheless, made up for it. We even had drinks on the legendary Raffles Grand Lodge d’Angkor below a portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy doing the identical factor.

It was the right finale to a Mekong River journey that exceeded all expectations.

For 2023-2024, CroisiEurope’s “From the Mekong Delta to Siem Reap” river cruise charges start at $2,999 per particular person, double occupancy.

Expensive Reader: This web page might include affiliate hyperlinks which can earn a fee if you happen to click on by way of and make a purchase order. Our unbiased journalism will not be influenced by any advertiser or industrial initiative except it’s clearly marked as sponsored content material. As journey merchandise change, please make sure you reconfirm all particulars and keep updated with present occasions to make sure a secure and profitable journey.

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