Aboard your beautiful river ship, you’ll discover the exciting and the awe-inspiring. Discover the ancient temples of Siem Reap, be captivated by differences in the Vietnamese and Cambodian cultures or take some time out to find that perfect souvenir among the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City on a Mekong River Cruise.
Explore too, the many colourful local floating markets and share in the charm of a traditional fishing village, to name just a few of the magical sights and highlights. A river cruise along the majestic Mekong River is a soul-stirring surprise to all who make this unique voyage, an extraordinary journey that definitely belongs on everyone’s bucket list.
Here are some of the sights and highlights that you don’t want to miss.
Siem Reap – Angkor Wat
Many of the Mekong River Cruises will start or end in Siem Reap, home to an extensive array of ornately decorated 12th century stone structures. Centrally located and well preserved is the magnificent temple of Angkor Wat, a huge temple of undeniable ancient beauty. Keep an eye out for that picture-perfect photograph combining Angkor Wat’s beehive towers with the natural golden glow of sunrise, or stunningly silhouetted against rich reds and purple hues of a sunset.
If you have time to visit the other temples within the vicinity, make your way to Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple (where Tomb Raider was filmed), Preah Khan and Ta Prohm – each a significant example of ancient Khmer architecture.
Featuring ancient architecture, religious, saffron-robed monks, and beautiful temples, Phnom Penh is a crossroad of cultures where the past meets the present. A visit to the golden Royal Palace, National Museum and Silver Pagoda showcases Cambodia’s undeniable cultural and historical significance. Or, for a more sombre experience to reflect upon Cambodia’s tumultuous past, a visit to the Killing Fields will serve as a compelling reminder of the still recent Kmher Rouge regime.
Can Tho or Cai Be Floating Markets
Located right inside the Mekong Delta are numerous traditional Floating Markets, ready for the savvy traveller to bargain. This is where locals come to buy and sell everything: from seasonal fruit and vegetables, flowers, drinks as they savour the delicious aromas of freshly caught fish or skewers of succulent chicken cooking over an open grill.
You can also try out a unique gastronomic experience, with tried and tested local dishes such as pho (noodle soup), com tam (rice with meat and various greens), and bun rieu (a meat and rice vermicelli soup). Dig in!
My Tho – Vĩnh Tràng Pagoda
One of the oldest Buddist temples in the Mekong Delta, Vinh Trang Pagoda is a gilded confection of golden temples, intricately designed towers and more than 60 statuesque smiling Buddhas.
The resident monks tend to the two acres of beautifully manicured gardens, as well as maintaining a children’s home for the less fortunate. This peaceful temple area is one of the most popular attractions in Vietnam, is easily accessible and free to locals and tourists alike, although we would encourage a supportive donation.
Tan Chau – Tra Su Bird Sanctuary
Tan Chau is a charming riverside town offering an insight into everyday Vietnamese life, virtually untouched by the rapid progress of modernity and tourism. Known for its superb silk weaving, a visit to one of the nearby villages will inspire you, as will a stroll to local riverside markets, Buddhist temples, and more.
And, if you’re into wildlife photography, you’ll find the many colourful, exotic birds taking flight amidst the serene silence of the Tra Su Forest is simply mesmerizing. Arguably one of the most picturesque places you’ll visit in Asia, here you can step aboard a traditional Vietnamese boat to cruise among sunken cajuput trees (Meleleuca), where the only sound to be heard is the swish of a paddle and a cacophony of birdsong. Simply magic.
Known for pretty French-colonial architecture of the town’s mansions and homes, and complemented by riverside markets, street food, cafés, and restaurants, Sa Dec should definitely be on your itinerary! A sight to behold are the stunning displays made by nearby villages farming ornamental, traditional, and new species of flowers for the markets of larger towns and cities.
Sa Dec was made famous for its connection to the movie “L’Amant” and French novelist Marguerite Duras’ autobiographical novel “The Lover”, that took the world by storm in the 1920’s. Set in the ancient house Huynh Thuy Le, the story takes many twists and turns as it leads you through her doomed love affair with a wealthy Chinese land owner. As the town’s biggest attraction, this must-see house combines Asian-French style with rich, dark, intricate woodwork, porcelain delicates and a simple, yet timeless garden. Definitely worth the visit.
Ho Chi Minh City
Formerly known as Saigon, the vibrant energy of Ho Chi Minh is hard to beat, giving travellers a dynamic cityscape that combines historic colonial architecture with soaring skyscrapers. Discover the Reunification Palace and Notre Dame Cathedral. Immerse yourself in the culture as you enjoy the taste of delicious street food while you explore Saigon Opera House, Ben Thanh Market, and the Jade Emperor Pagoda on a spectacular city adventure.
If you’re up for one of the most culturally diverse journeys of your life, and are ready to embrace new, soulful discoveries, then a Mekong River Cruise is waiting for you!
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