Over the past few years, river cruising has gained popularity as a unique and affordable way to travel. While originally they mostly attracted a retiree audience, efforts made by river cruise companies have helped to gain traction with younger travellers.
Born in Europe, where the connecting waterways acted as a lifeline for trade and transport, it comes as little surprise that when people think of river cruising, the immediate image that pops to mind is that of Europe. While a cruise through Europe’s rivers will immerse you into a world of cathedrals, castles, markets, vineyards and lively cities, there’s a new river cruising destination that offers a far more adventurous experience for those keen to dip their toes in new water.
The best river cruise destination that isn’t Europe is….
If you’re a lover of food, culture and adventure, the lower Mekong Delta, which takes you through Vietnam and Cambodia, is calling! If you’ve ever dreamed about seeing the phenomenal temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, visiting Vietnam’s colourful floating markets or learning more about life on the Mekong, a river cruise is a perfect way for you to immerse yourself in the local culture and customs.
Cambodia and Vietnam make for an adventurous destination, where passengers can explore remote villages – that are difficult to access via road – by ox-cart, sail through bird-rich wetlands on small boats (known as sampans) and hit the backstreets on a walking tour to discover local handicraft workshops.
Devour the local culinary delicacies…
If you consider yourself a bit of a foodie, it might also be worth adding a few extra days to your cruise holiday in Ho Chi Minh City. The food in Vietnam’s most populous city is some of the best in the world; we recommend that you try banh khoi pancakes, bowls of pho and lots of seafood!
If you want to experience all that the lower Mekong has to offer from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, check out our Avalon Waterways itineraries. FUN FACT: we’re the only river cruise company on the Mekong that disembarks from Ho Chi Minh (other companies depart from My Tho, a 2hr+ coach drive away from the city).
When you cruise along the Mekong with Avalon Waterways, you will be immersed in the local cultures with a visit to a colourful market, the home of a local family making handcrafted sampans, and a workshop to learn how rice wine and traditional candies are made. Then, when in Cambodia, tour the National Museum and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, visit the hilltop site of the 8th-century temple of Wat Hanchey and visit a local school where the children are very welcoming and eager to learn.
Of course, the grand finale of this memorable Southeast Asia river cruise is a stay in Siem Reap, home to the extraordinary Temples of Angkor.