Throughout his life, chef Anthony Bourdain traveled the world, but he called Vietnam one of his favorite places on earth. And, in recent years, as tourism increases in the region, more and more of us are getting the chance to discover Vietnam and agree wholeheartedly with Anthony’s assessment.
One of the very best ways to see the unqualified beauty of Southeast Asia is a river cruise along the Mekong River. It’s the perfect mix of scenic rural vistas and bustling modern cities, seamlessly accessed as you sail in luxurious comfort.
Read on for just a few of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences you can have while cruising through Vietnam and Cambodia.
Experience 1: Shop at an authentic local market.
Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City is everything you imagine a vibrant Asian market to be. With a history dating back to the 17th century, today’s Ben Thanh Market is a lively place where you’ll find all types of souvenirs, clothing, and local cuisine. In fact, the market is known as one of the world’s best destinations for delicious street food.
Experience 2: Be blessed by Buddhist monks.
A visit to Oudong, the former capital of Cambodia, must include a blessing ceremony at the local Buddhist monastery. The peaceful setting and soothing chants will have you feeling relaxed and centered as you explore these historic surroundings.
Experience 3: Take in a royal palace.
The Royal Palace and its surrounding gardens in Phnom Penh are truly sights to see. While it’s the official residence of Cambodia’s king, visitors can tour the majestic Throne Hall, where coronation ceremonies take place. Visit the nearby Silver Pagoda to see a collection of Buddha statues, including a life-sized one made of solid gold and crowned with nearly 10,000 diamonds.
Experience 4: Observe local craftspeople in action.
Along the banks of the Mekong River, you’ll find Oknha Tey, which is known as “Silk Island.” There, you’ll be invited by the locals to observe the region’s rich tradition of silk weaving firsthand. You’ll learn about the process as threads are looped and dyed; then, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase the beautiful fabrics and take a piece of Cambodia home with you.
Experience 5: Pause to remember.
No trip to the area is complete without reflecting on its darker moments in history. A visit to the Killing Fields and the Choeung Ek Memorial near Phnom Penh offers a solemn remembrance of the nearly 2 million people who died during the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s. The Genocide Museum provides a stark and educational trip back in time.
Experience 6: See an extraordinary show.
Don’t miss the chance to attend a centuries-old folk tradition: Vietnamese water puppets. Intricate puppets carved out of wood appear to dance, glide, and even swim through the water. The puppeteers are gifted artists who complete awe-inspiring moves that will have you believing the puppets have come to life.
Experience 7: Take a rickshaw ride.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter is one of the few places where you can still opt for a rickshaw ride, also known as a cyclo, as your transportation. It’s an unforgettable way to tour the area, and you’re likely to find your driver is a wealth of knowledge willing to share insights about Vietnamese culture and customs.
Experience 8: Sail Ha Long Bay.
The legend of Ha Long Bay offers a unique explanation of the dramatic seascape. Ha Long means “descending dragon,” and the ancient story says a dragon and her children descended from heaven to protect the people, spraying fire and jewels, which created the towering limestone formations, jagged cliffs, and lush green islands now found throughout the bay. An overnight cruise is the best way to appreciate the ethereal beauty of the more than 1,600 – mostly uninhabited – islands.
The experiences showcased here barely scratch the surface of what you’ll find when you explore Southeast Asia. Cruise Dreams can design an adventure of a lifetime for individuals, groups, and incentive travel programs. Ready to discover Southeast Asia? Call the Cruise Dreams team today at (877) 999-4533 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Waves to you and smooth sailings ahead!