Cruising along the Mekong through Cambodia and Vietnam transported me back in time to another era, where the rhythms of the countryside move at a slower pace and allow for a fascinating glimpse into a traditional way of life.
I just got back from an amazing experience on AmaWaterways. I visited rural villages, colorful markets, monasteries and more. This was truly a transformative journey. I’d never sailed with AmaWaterways before, and was very pleased with their exemplary service and the ship, the AmaLotus, with Asian-themed decorations to match our Cambodia/Vietnam itinerary.
One of the main highlights of the trip was Angkor Wat near Siem Reap. These temples are the largest religious monument in the world, and are also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. They are very well preserved, and our guide was able to take us to areas where most people don’t get to go. I was also grateful to be given a blessing from a Buddhist monk.
Another major event was heavy flooding in Cambodia didn’t allow us to take the AmaLotus from Siem Reap. Instead AmaWaterways arranged for us to travel via motor coach. It certainly wasn’t the plan, but we were very impressed with how well they handled the detour. In fact, it was almost as if the trip had been planned that way… if we hadn’t known it was a detour it would have seemed like a seamless part of the trip. We drove for five hours in axel deep water, but eventually made it!
Travelling through third world countries makes you have a new found vision for your life. As you travel down the Mekong, you do see poverty… but you also see how gracious and thankful the people are. They have very little, but they are thankful for what they have. The people were honestly the real highlight of my travels; everyone smiles and they are also fairly fluent in English, especially the children. One child came up to me and wanted to touch my grey hair because he had never seen anything like it!
There were also very modern destinations on the trip; Vietnam is very fast-growing and the traffic there was unreal. In Saigon our guide told us that we couldn’t wait for the traffic to stop to cross the street, because they wouldn’t. The guide explained that you just have to slowly step out into traffic, and the scooters drive around you!
Taking a river cruise through this part of the world is not a good fit for clients with physical challenges. The ship itself is not built for that, and the destinations are not accommodating. With that said, these areas are great to see via river cruise because you really get to see the local life on the waterways.
Pete’s Tips for This Trip
- Much of the food in these countries will be very unfamiliar; they eat snakes, beetles and all sorts of things that may not agree with you if you are not used to them. The meals on board however have everything from buffets, Western European foods and more general Asian fare. If you are not looking to explore the exotic local food, the meals on the ship are the way to go.
- The humidity can be extremely high. Be prepared for warm weather in the high 80s.
- This cruise can be very active, or very relaxed depending on what you choose to do.
- Remember that this part of the world is nothing like Europe. You will need to get vaccinations, and be careful not to drink the water as there are microbes that you are not used to.
- Be sure to talk to your travel advisor about getting your visa ahead of time for Cambodia. You can get a visa once you are there, but when you arrive after a long trip the last thing you want to do is wait in line for hours to get a visa. Vietnam visas cannot be secured ahead of time.
- Get Travel Insurance!
Contact Pete about this vacation
- (520) 825-2757
- [email protected]