Cruises in Asia on the Mekong River are offered by most major river cruise lines. Packages are usually between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam with a combination of land tours and a river cruise. You'll spend about 8 days cruising the Mekong River between Kampong Cham, Cambodia and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
Itineraries range in length from 8 to 22 days. Before and after your river cruise, you will spend time visiting cities in Cambodia and Vietnam.
There is a company that offers cruises on the middle part of the Mekong River in Laos between the cities of Luang Prabang and Vientiane. And within the next couple of years, the entire Mekong River is going be used for river cruises. You can read about it here.
Mekong River in Luang Prabang, Laos
By Allie Caulfield [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Cruises are available throughout most of the year with the exception of May and June depending on the cruise line. Some have itineraries in June, which tends to be when you’ll find the lowest prices along with the month of July.
The cruise ships that travel the Mekong River are smaller than vessels on other rivers throughout the world, including Europe. Most carry an average of 40 to 50 passengers. Although, the Mekong River boats are smaller, the cabin sizes are actually larger than the average stateroom size. For this river, the smallest staterooms range in size from 168 square feet to 226 square feet. That’s pretty spacious!
The Mekong River is 2703 miles and is the 7th longest river in Asia. It rises in the Tibetan Plateau and flows through these six countries - China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
At the end or the mouth of the river, the Mekong Delta is formed by several distributaries, which eventually empty into the South China Sea. The Mekong Delta is located in southwestern Vietnam and comprises about 15,000 square miles of land and water. The water levels vary depending on the time of year, which means the entire area might include both land and water.
If you take a cruise on the lower Mekong River, your trip will begin in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Both cities are located in eastern Vietnam. Hanoi is about 1,100 miles northeast of Kampong Chang where you’ll either embark or disembark for your Mekong River cruise.
You’ll travel between Siem Reap and Hanoi by airplane and between the Cambodian cities of Siem Reap and Kampong Chang by motor coach. Most of your trip between Kampong Chang and Ho Chi Minh City will be on the Mekong River to the Mekong Delta.
Whether your tour begins or ends in Hanoi, you’ll spend a couple of days visiting the city. There are many historical and cultural sites that you’ll be able to tour.
While you’re in Hanoi, you will probably travel to Halong Bay, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s located about 105 miles east of Hanoi. Halong Bay is a particularly beautiful and scenic region of Vietnam that is made up of about 1,600 islands.
You’ll visit a few cities in Cambodia before and during your river cruise, including Siem Reap. Located about 145 miles northwest of Kampong Cham, the city leads to the UNESCO site of Angkor.
Angkor Wat Near Siem Reap, Cambodia
By sam garza (originally posted to Flickr as Angkor Wat) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Phnom Penh is located southwest of Kampong Cham at the confluence of theTonlé Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers. It is the capital of Cambodia and is also the largest and the wealthiest city in Cambodia. One of the sites you’ll see in Phnom Penh is the Royal Palace.
Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
By dalbera from Paris, France (Le Palais Royal (Phnom Penh) Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Other destinations you’ll visit as you cruise the Mekong River are located in Vietnam near or in the Mekong Delta, including Châu Đốc, Sa Dec and Cái Bè.
Mỹ Tho is where your river cruise will either begin or end. It’s located about 43 miles southeast of Ho Chi Minh City – formerly called Saigon. You’ll spend a one to two days touring Ho Chi Minh, which is the largest city in Vietnam.
A cruise on the middle portion of the Mekong River will be between Luang Prabang and Vientiane in Laos; however, none of the major river cruise suppliers operate on this part of the Mekong River.
Other river cruise destinations in Asia.
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Lauri Wakefield is a travel writer who specializes in river cruises in Europe and the U.S. Connect with her on Twitter and Google+.
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