Embarking on a Mekong River cruise offers a voyage that seamlessly blends enchanting landscapes and cultural immersion. As the waters of the Mekong River meander through Southeast Asian destinations, travelers are presented with a unique opportunity to explore the heart of a region rich in history and natural beauty. In this article, we unveil a curated selection of the finest all-inclusive options, ensuring that your journey becomes an indelible memory.
1. What to expect on a Mekong River cruise?
Beginning a Mekong River trip grants a mesmerizing voyage full of assorted experiences that unravel along the twisting route of the river, peculiarly while exploring the hypnotic terrain of the Mekong Delta. When you board the ship, get ready to experience a mix of advanced relaxation and classic essence. As you meander through the river, you will observe a breathtaking sequence of transformations, ranging from emerald rice fields to thriving marketplaces nestled snugly at the very core of the Mekong Delta’s embrace.
As your vessel stops at attractive riverside hamlets and towns, immerse yourself in the area’s culture through interactions with nearby residents and observations of traditional rituals along the Mekong’s bank. On board, you can savor dining experiences fusing together regional flavors to represent the vibrant culinary fabric weaving through the Mekong Delta region.
2. Reviews of 7 of the best Mekong River cruises
To help you navigate the plethora of options, we’ve compiled reviews of 7 of the finest cruises along this legendary waterway. These cruises promise an unforgettable blend of cultural immersion, breathtaking scenery, and luxurious comfort.
2.1. Le Cochinchine Mekong Cruise
- 2-day tour: Cai Be – Tra On – Can Tho
- 3-day tour: Cai Be – Sa Dec – Mang Thit – Tra On – Can Tho
- 7-day tour: Cai Be – Sa Dec – Long Xuyen – Nghe An – Chau Doc – Phnom Penh – Siem Reap – Angkor Wat
Le Cochinchine provides river trips along the Mekong River, available in lengths of 2 days, 3 days, or 7 days. You can immerse yourself in an assortment of captivating experiences, such as exploring colorful floating markets, discovering scenic waterways, interacting with talented craftspeople, embarking on relaxing bike rides or leisure walks along picturesque country trails, and gaining insightful knowledge during visits to local workshops and working farms.
Aboard the Le Cochinchine vessel, there exists an oasis of serenity and ease, comprising snug cabins, vast decks ideal for unwinding and relishing breathtaking vistas, a hospitable dining room, as well as a bar where one may indulge in peaceful moments while appreciating the constantly transforming panorama. Additionally, there are several vital features available, such as tastefully decorated cabins, private bathrooms, dining areas, and designated spaces for unwinding and interacting, so that your trip becomes an exceptional experience. And the starting price for a Mekong tour with Le Cochinchine is $205 per participant.
2.2. Charms of the Mekong cruise offered by AmaWaterways
- Itineraries: Ho Chi Minh City – My Tho – Cai Be – Sa Dec – Tan Chau – Border Crossing – Phnom Penh – Oudong – Kampong Tralach – Phnom Penh – Oknhatey Village – Angkor Bat – Kampong Cham – Siem Reap
AmaWaterways provides a 7-night Mekong River cruise deal. With various activities such as visiting local workshops and historical sites, taking trishaw or ox cart rides, and immersing themselves in tradition, you will get to experience the heart of the region. Cultural trips lead to dynamic marketplaces, historical temples, majestic palaces, and informative museums, granting an in-depth comprehension of the region’s illustrious legacy.
On board, you will find ample roomy cabin space, cozy communal areas, an elegantly decorated dining area, and sweeping observation decks providing breathtaking views of the stunning Mekong River scenery. AmaWaterways provides generously sized rooms and suites complete with private dual balconies, so you will never miss out on taking in the spectacular views. Inside the hotel, there are many different public spaces to unwind, such as two stylish restaurants, a welcoming lounge, a fitness center, a hair salon, three extravagant spas, and a revitalizing Sun Deck swimming pool. Depending on the date and type of cabin you prefer, the rate typically ranges from over $2000 to $3000 and above per person.
2.3. Dragon Eyes Mekong River Cruise
- Private 2-day tour: Sai Gon – Can Tho/Cai Be
- Private 3-day tour: Sai Gon – Can Tho/Cai Be – Phnom Penh
With Dragon Eyes cruises, you can experience the enchantment of the Mekong Delta over 2 or 3 days. Activities include guided town excursions along with stops at community workshops, allowing full involvement in vibrant market environments and joining in cultural traditions.
These cruises feature expansive living quarters, offering each guest approximately 100 square meters of space. Each cabin is spacious, boasting two private rooms with beautifully designed bathrooms, French balconies, comfortable seating areas, personalized air conditioning, and cooling fans for added convenience and relaxation.
Amenities aboard vessels include generous cabin sizes, fashionable lounge areas, roomy outside spaces, and a personalized drink service reserved exclusively for travelers at the uppermost level. You can also enjoy Vietnamese food in their dining areas. Prices vary by season, with the private 2-day tour starting at $316 in low season and $402 in peak season, while the private 3-day tour is priced at $526 in low season and $624 in peak season.
2.4. Bassac Mekong Cruise
- Cai Be – Cho Lach Canal – Mang Thit River – Can Tho – Cai Rang Floating market – Can Tho
- Can Tho – Mang Thit River – Cho Lach Canal – Cai Be
Take a thrilling 2-day voyage with Bassac Mekong Cruise and experience exciting activities like bike rides and kayak expeditions while soaking up the sun aboard our sundeck or getting creative by joining one of our live art workshops. One exceptional experience is making bread from Bassac’s strand of sourdough. You can prepare the dough and shape it, and the onboard baker will bake it for your next-day breakfast.
The cruise ships have impressive features, such as a large 100-square-meter dining space, complete with a substantial kitchen. Moreover, there are additional benefits like a little workplace and a big 700-square-foot conservatory for your pleasure. With well-appointed cabins boasting air conditioning and private bathrooms, you can expect a relaxing trip. Starting prices are $260 per person, the rates are subject to change based on fuel costs.
2.5. Gecko Eye Cruise
- Itineraries: Ho Chi Minh City – Panorama River Cruise – Cai Rang/Cai Be floating market – Ho Chi Minh City
Go on an entrancing, private 2-day or 3-day cruise with the Gecko Eyes Cruise and immerse yourself in the mesmerizing landscapes while witnessing firsthand the region’s natural beauty and the local way of life. Activities entail leisurely guided walks in picturesque villages amidst lush apple or rice fields, followed by visits to delectable sweet treat manufacturers. Through the lush waterscape, you can sail to find hidden towns, picturesque fields, and ships being built in secret locations.
The area for guests, spanning 40 square meters, boasts an opulent cabin equipped with a French-style balcony, air conditioning, a personal bathroom, a picturesque space featuring French balconies, and a sun deck situated at the prow. Furthermore, the living room may be converted into a guest space by using two beds in addition to its current function. The cruise promises your comfort with features such as cooled accommodations and a complete kitchen at hand. The starting price of the 2-day tour ranges from $470 during the offseason to $591 during peak season, while the 3-day tour starts at $659 in the offseason and goes up to $791 during peak season.
2.6. Aqua Mekong Cruise
- 3-night tour: Phnom Penh – Tonle Sap River – Mouth Of The Tonle Sap Lake – Tonle Sap Lake – Siem Reap
- 4-night tour: My Tho – Ho Chi Minh City – Binh Thanh/Sa Dec – My An Hung – Chau Doc – Vinh Xuong – Ka’om Samnor Border – Phnom Penh
- 7-night tour: My Tho – Ho Chi Minh City – Binh Thanh/Sa Dec – My An Hung – Chau Doc – Vinh Xuong – Ka’om Samnor Border – Phnom Penh – Tonle Sap River – Tonle Sap Lake – Siem Reap
With Aqua Mekong, you can choose your preferred duration of 3 nights, 4 nights, or 7 nights. The cruise offers an alluring mix of pursuits, allowing you to uncover neighboring landmarks and ancient shrines and totally submerge yourself within the thriving conventions of riparian communities.
With luxuriously appointed 322-square-foot design rooms or connecting 644-square-foot spaces boasting expansive floor-to-ceiling windows offering spectacular vistas, every detail of your stay will provide unparalleled relaxation and pleasure. Enjoy fine dining created by Michelin-starred consulting chef David Thompson while sampling an assortment of handcrafted beverages curated by celebrated spirit artisans and mixology innovators at Proof & Co. Costs vary according to the season, accommodations, and tour duration booked, commencing at approximately $3000 per person.
2.7. Viking Mekong Cruise
- Hanoi – Siem Reap – Kampong Cham – Phnom Penh – Tan Chau – Sa Dec/Cai Be – Ho Chi Minh City
- Ho Chi Minh City – Sa Dec – Tan Chau – Phnom Penh – Mekong River – Kampong Cham – Siem Reap – Hanoi
Viking offers an incredible 15-day adventure along the Mekong River, discovering its hidden treasures. You can travel through rural picturesque landscapes by indulging in traditional village life, enjoying a serene rickshaw ride, and examining remarkable destinations like expertly crafted silk workshops and an innovative floating fish farm, all while navigating the elaborate.
The Viking Mekong provides generous accommodations, with rooms boasting breathtaking river views and featuring enormous windows plus personal outside spaces. Feast your senses on sumptuous courses carefully crafted by talented cooks, featuring regional delicacies gracefully paired with locally produced wines. The fare for this excursion starts at around $5000 per person.
3. Frequently asked questions about Mekong River cruises
3.1. When is the best time to take a Mekong River cruise?
The best time to embark on a Mekong River cruise largely depends on your preferences and the experiences you seek. Generally, the peak season for Mekong River cruises falls between November and January, when the weather is cooler and drier, making it an ideal time for outdoor excursions and sightseeing. During this period, you will also have the chance to admire the stunning rice paddies, which adorn the riverbanks with picturesque landscapes.
However, if you prefer a more budget-friendly option with fewer crowds, the shoulder seasons of April to September can be appealing.
3.2. Are there any visa requirements for Mekong River cruises?
Yes, you need visas when traveling via river cruise in places like Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand because your boat could go through more than one country. Depending on the destinations included in your journey by sea plus any additional stops or excursions, the necessary documentation might differ regarding visas. Here is a general overview of the visa requirements for Mekong River cruises:
- Vietnam: Visa exemption is granted to visitors holding passports from 25 certain nations. From whatever country you hail, you might linger in Vietnam for between 14 and 30 days. Check your eligibility here. E-Visas can be obtained by citizens of more than 80 countries; they grant access via multiple entry points – by land, sea, or air.
- Cambodia: Similarly, if your cruise takes you to Cambodia, you will typically need a visa to enter the country. Cambodia offers both e-visas and visas on arrival at major entry points, including airports and land border crossings. Please note that E-visas cannot be utilized for the river border crossing from Vietnam to Cambodia in the upstream direction.
- Laos: Most voyagers planning excursions including Laos may apply electronically for a Laos eVisa, permitting entry at various points along both terrestrial routes and aquatic passages. Some countries have visa exceptions too; therefore, doing your homework on the present rules is crucial.
- Thailand: Based on your country of origin and your specific travel plans, you might require a visa for entry into Thailand. In some cases, cruises could entail stops within Thai waters. In Thailand, there are diverse types of visas, consisting of tourist visas plus immunity excuses for particular countries’ inhabitants.
3.3. What to wear on a Mekong River cruise?
When preparing for a Mekong River cruise, choosing the right clothing is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable journey. Given the tropical climate of the region, opt for lightweight and breathable attire, such as loose-fitting cotton or linen clothing, to keep cool in the heat. Don’t forget sun protection, including a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with UV protection, and sunscreen to shield yourself from the strong sun.
Comfortable walking shoes or sandals with good grip are essential for shore excursions, while swimwear might be needed if your cruise includes water activities. For temple visits and interactions with local communities, pack modest attire that covers shoulders and knees as a sign of respect. Lastly, a light sweater or jacket can come in handy for cooler evenings or mornings.
3.4. What are the most popular routes for Mekong River cruises?
The Mekong River is a majestic waterway that flows through Southeast Asia, offering two distinct yet equally captivating cruise experiences: the Upper Mekong River and the Lower Mekong River.
- Upper Mekong River:
- Luang Prabang to Chiang Saen: This route often explores the northern part of the Mekong, starting in Laos’ UNESCO-listed town of Luang Prabang and concluding in Chiang Saen, Thailand.
- Chiang Rai to Vientiane: Cruises may also travel from Chiang Rai in Thailand to the capital city of Laos, Vientiane, offering a blend of cultural and scenic experiences.
- Lower Mekong River:
- Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh: Cruises often begin in bustling Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and make their way to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, passing through the Mekong Delta.
- Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap: Another popular route explores the stretch of the river from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap, providing access to the renowned temples of Angkor.
3.5. What are the must-visit destinations along the Mekong River?
When embarking on a Mekong River cruise, there are several must-visit destinations that promise unforgettable experiences. Starting in the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, travelers can dive into the rich history and vibrant culture of Vietnam. A visit to Can Tho, often considered the heart of the Mekong Delta, is essential for exploring its lively floating markets and immersing oneself in the picturesque countryside.
These are just the first chapters of a remarkable journey along the Mekong, which also includes stops in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, the awe-inspiring temples of Siem Reap, the serene town of Luang Prabang in Laos, and Thailand’s enchanting Chiang Rai and Chiang Saen.
3.6. Which are better, Upper or Lower Mekong River cruises?
The selection between Upper and Lower Mekong River cruises ultimately relies on your preferences and the encounters you seek. Each possesses its own distinct attraction. Upper Mekong River cruises (Laos and Northern Thailand) offer peaceful and less-developed vistas, permitting cultural immersion and a calmer encounter with fewer tourists. Conversely, Lower Mekong River cruises (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Southern Thailand) grant entrance to renowned landmarks, bustling markets, and a diverse tapestry of cultures owing to traversing multiple nations. Whether you favor tranquil serenity or lively variety, the Mekong River has a sailing encounter to match your cravings.
Besides the Mekong River, Vietnam has many other attractions that are worth exploring, such as Hanoi, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, Hoi An, and Ha Long, etc. In these places, you can consider staying at the Vinpearl hotel and resort system.
Vinpearl is renowned for its world-class facilities and top-notch services, ensuring a luxurious and memorable stay. Guests can indulge in state-of-the-art accommodations, exquisite dining options, rejuvenating spa treatments, and a range of recreational activities.
Moreover, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the entertainment paradise, VinWonders, for an exciting and fun-filled experience. VinWonders offers a wide array of attractions and amusements that guarantee enjoyment for visitors of all ages.
Embarking on a Mekong River cruise is not just a journey; it is an odyssey through the heart of Southeast Asia’s cultural and natural treasures. The Mekong River cruise experience is elevated by the best all-inclusive options, making it a trip of a lifetime. From the vibrant cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh to the serene countryside of the Mekong Delta, these cruises offer a seamless blend of luxury, adventure, and cultural immersion.
*The details in this guide/article are for reference purposes only and may change over time. If you are planning to visit these attractions/establishments, it is recommended that you contact them for the most up-to-date information.