The best time of the year to do cruising in Vietnam personally is during winter especially for American or European people like me who are getting old and hate the cold. I have been coming in and out of Vietnam not only to get away from the cold but because I love nature. Vietnam has wonderful places to go that is just wonderful. They have clean and beautiful beaches, clean rivers and the people are just warm and sincere. But before embarking on this journey, I suggest you do first some research on where you want to go to and what you may want to see.
The Mekong River also known as the Nine Dragon River is about 2, 700 miles heading to the South China sea and is locally called Song Cuu Long. This mighty long river is the reason why the land is so fertile and green. It is also the home for thousands of species.
In contrast to Europes Danube River, the cruise from Vietnam to Cambodia is in some level a little challenging. Here you will see largely huge contrast from the rich beautiful Buddhist temple, to the beggars asking for change which were actual victims of landmines. The tours will be taking you to genocide museum and prisoners of war museums that will show you how bloody and bad their history has been. The good thing is that the locals let go of the past and even though they have experienced long hard history, they still give generous warm smiles to everyone.
Things to do when go to Mekong river by cruises
Almost all cruises in Mekong is a part of a long land tour that includes a few night sleep in a hotel or onboard the ship. If you are on a tight budget I suggest that you research and see the packages travel agencies have that will suit you. However, only Avalon Waterways offer the only cruise-only package from what I heard of. Most cruise tours journey starts at Vietnam and ends at Vietnam (starts at Saigon and ends at Hanoi or maybe vice-versa)
Most cruises included almost the same thing to do and enjoy, these included the exploring small rural villages at the Mekong River, cruising at the big floating markets, checking out famous temples, going to cities like Phnom Penh and visiting some famous tour spots such as the Killing Fields and the Museum of Ethnology at Hanoi. Mostly only the stops are different depending on the cruise that you embarked on. A good example of this is that AmaWaterways will stop at Ta Toum where they sponsor and English language school while in Kampong Cham, the Viking River Cruises made a stop there to visit a local orphanage which is company supported. While all cruise lines gives an opportunity for passengers to find some souvenirs from local handicraft shops such as lacquer pieces, silver and weaved products although may not be the same shop from one cruise to the other.
Some cruise lines such as AmaWaterways, add in their places to go and visit the Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay is a very nice, quiet and peaceful seascape that is famous of their limestone pillar which is located at Tonkin Gulf at no additional cost while other cruise line will charge you for extra if you want to go to Ha Long Bay. It usually takes a few hours flight to get to S.E Asia so it is just common sense to stay as much as possible and get the best of what you can get with what you have paid for.
So since most cruise lines offer the same itineraries, it is best that you first research well and compare which cruise line to take. You need to be well prepared and see how much is your budget and what you would want to include or see when you go to this part of the globe. A good example is that there are some cruise lines that offer free lunch, free beer and wine at dinner while Uniworld included unlimited spirits, beer and wine anytime of the day.
About the Author:
Julius Amber, globe trotter and writer. Loves to travel in Asia and is also a food blogger for Asian cuisine.