Mekong River Cruises: The most popular Mekong destinations
A Mekong River Cruise Trip is the perfect way to embark on an ultimate cultural and historical journey in the area. Travelers will have a chance to admire a passing panorama of various sceneries, from rural villages with rice fields, and floating markets to big cities and temples, mostly in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Time to learn more about the best attractions you shouldn’t miss on this incredible voyage.
Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, also best-known as Saigon, is typically the starting or ending point for most Mekong River Cruises. The largest city in Vietnam is a charming destination where all tourists' interests are catered for; however, Mekong cruise itineraries usually include two days to discover the massive city. One to explore Saigon's most popular attractions, such as the Reunification Palace, City Post Office, Municipal Theater, and City Hall, while the other is an excursion to the Cu Chi Tunnels outside of the center to learn some about the country’s glorious past through the wars. Make sure to spend time at the Ben Thanh Market for a glimpse of the local life.
Cai Be Floating Market
Leaving behind the lively urban area of Saigon, your first captivating stop is Cai Be, a local district to the west of Tien Giang Province. Here your main attraction is Cai Be Floating Market, an iconic feature of life on the canals of Mekong Delta in the South of Vietnam. You will be taken on a sampan, a small wooden boat, to contemplate the bustling boat to boat trading scenery in the morning. Don't miss the chance to taste delicious tropical fruits and breakfast. Many cruises also give you an opportunity to go on-shore and visit a local factory to learn how local products like rice cookies, rice wine, and coconut candies are made.
Tan Chau Town
Located near the border between Vietnam and Cambodia, Tan Chau is a must-see destination along a Mekong River voyage. The town is covered in a pleasant, slow-paced vibe where a sizable community of Chinese, Kinh and Khmer people live in harmony. Hop on a "xeloi", a local vehicle in the region, and you can slowly travel around the streets to see a local market, workshop or temple. Another thing to do is boarding local boats to a floating fish farm where tourists can get an exclusive insight into Tan Chau's floating lives and learn some about different kinds of fishes in the Mekong Delta.
The next place on your cruise itinerary is Phnom Penh, once called the Paris of the East. The capital city of Cambodia is a sprawling cultural hotspot with pretty French and Chinese influences that can still be found at many street corners. Start your tour with a visit to the Killing Fields outside of the city where travelers get to know the sad and cruel chapter of Khmer history under the Khmer Rouge. It will not be a pleasant trip, therefore, if you travel with children, you can spend more time exploring the city with a cyclo tour or food tour. Back to the center, you will visit some fascinating cultural heritage, such as the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, and National Museum.
Situated in the central lowlands of the Mekong River, Kampong Cham is a great stop for any cruise through Cambodia. Though not as tourist popular as the capital Phnom Penh, this quaint town offers passengers a slice of the real Cambodia with its ancient Angkorian temples and picturesque village scenery. The main highlight is Wat Hanchey, an ancient 7th-century temple located on top of a remote hillside from which visitors can capture some of the best Mekong views. The other attractions are the Organisation for Basic Training or OBT Chiro Village with training courses for local children, and Nokor Wat, a notable temple dating back to the Jayarvaman VII period.
Escape from the busy modern life, the Tonle Sap, or commonly translated as the Great Lake, welcomes travelers with a wonderful waterscape of a vast “sea” and diverse ecosystem. The body of water is also the biggest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia that acts as the important lifeline for millions of Cambodians living along the banks. The floating houses on tall, thin stilts make up a number of small floating villages of Vietnamese, Cham, and Khmer ethnic groups. Cruising along the river, you will have a chance to contemplate both the gorgeous green landscapes of Cambodia and witness lives floating on the water.
Being the gateway to the ruins of the ancient Angkor Temples complex and strategically located near the shores of the Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap is one of the most popular destinations for Mekong River Cruise itineraries. A day to discover magnificent architectural masterpieces of Angkor Temples is a must; however, the town offers much more to keep you occupied from dawn to dusk. Spend time visiting museums, watching traditional Apsara dance performances, taking a bike out into the countryside or diving into the nightlife of the popular Pub Street. Siem Reap is a true place for all tourists with every travel taste.
Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is a popular stop-off for many Mekong River Cruises due to its location at a bend in the mighty river. The city feels more like a delightful French town with various highlights of cultural and historic attractions. Kick off your journey with visits to the golden Pha That Luang Stupa, Sisaket Temple, Ho Phra Keo Temple, and Patuxai, the Triumphal Arches of Laos, which give you a short brief about Vientiane's history. There’s also an opportunity for independent exploration, such as admiring the river views while sipping on Beerlao (the local brew), hopping from cafe to cafe, or spending time on French-style avenues and bustling local markets.
An old-world peninsula where the Mekong and Nam Khan River meet, Luang Prabang appeals to travelers from all around the world by its 19th century European colonial look mixed with Lao traditional urban atmosphere. It’s a delight to take a stroll and visit the town’s historical structures, such as the Royal Palace Museum, Wat Mai Suwannaphumaham, Wat Pa Phai, and Wat Mahathat. Make sure to try Lao coffee or herbal tea in the Lamache, a 100-year-old Laostyle house for noble families. For the very early risers, it’s a great chance to witness Tak Bat or the Alms Giving Ceremony, a living Buddhist tradition dating back generations in Luang Prabang. Last but not least, adventure seekers will fall in love with the spectacular Kuang Si Falls and the mysterious Pak Ou Caves.
Above are our recommendations for the best places to visit when you take a Mekong River Cruise. For more detailed information, please contact us for a wonderful Mekong voyage with the best experiences in Mekong river.