How to Choose a Mekong River Cruise
| Mekong River
Everyone loves being on vacation. What people don’t normally love is all the preparation it takes to get to that stage. Choosing a Mekong River cruise can be stressful, but it doesn't need to be. Here, at Rainforest Cruises, we have made things as simple as possible for would-be cruisers so you can organize your next getaway in just a few clicks and save your energy for what is really important.
If a Mekong River Cruise sounds like the perfect way to spend your next vacation, take a read through this guide. It will take you through Rainforest Cruise’s search and booking features and show you how to plan your trip with ease and skill.
Here’s how you do it.
Step 1: Select Your Cruise Style
On the home page of the Rainforest Cruises website there is a drop down menu under “Select a Cruise Style”. The menu contains the following styles:
Luxury: There’s no reason why you can’t explore foreign lands in luxury and that’s what are luxury ships are designed to do. With gourmet cuisine, magnificent accommodation, and outstanding public areas, the ships will leave you wanting for nothing. A few of our Luxury Mekong Cruises: Aqua Mekong, Mekong Princess & Mekong Navigator
Superior: the superior cruise ships are one step above comfort, but are not quite as lavish as the luxury ships. They offer an excellent level of comfort and plenty of space to roam around whilst on board. They also have a staff/crew ratio of roughly 2:1 so you’ll get lots of personal attention during your cruise. Check out the Indochine II Mekong cruise as a wonderful Superior cruise option.
Comfort: these cruises are tailored for people on a budget. Just because you don’t have endless pools of cash doesn’t mean you should miss out on the adventure of a lifetime. However, don’t confuse budget with low quality. The comfort cruise ships are basic but cosy and follow the same routes as the luxury ships, which is what really matters anyway. The Indochine I cruise and Toum Tiou Mekong cruise are great comfort cruise options for the Mekong.
Charter: a charter cruise means you will have the whole boat to yourself. The vessel will come fully staffed with an experienced crew, but will not have any other guests on it. This is perfect for team-building trip, people with large families, film crews, or large groups of friends looking for adventure.
In addition to these styles, you should also factor in whether you will be traveling in a family, group, couple or for a honeymoon. Different ships will cater better to different travel needs.
Step 2: Choose Your Itinerary
Most cruise itineraries last between four and eight days. Work out how much time you have and what your budget can handle and book accordingly. By clicking on “itineraries” on the page for your selected cruise you will be able to compare all the itineraries for that boat at a glance or click through them for more information.
The Mekong River is roughly divided into two sections: the Upper Mekong and Lower Mekong. The Khone Falls, located at on the Laotian side of the Laos/Cambodia border is widely considered the point where the Upper Mekong becomes the Lower Mekong. From the falls North into China is the Upper Mekong, while the Lower Mekong flows south into Cambodia and Vietnam.
Lower Mekong (Vietnam & Cambodia)
Your journey along the Lower Mekong will be filled with fascinating sights, sounds and smells. You will stop off at sites of great historical and cultural importance, including the Royal Place and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam. You will be invited to sample local delicacies and to get hands on experience cooking the for yourself. You may also have the opportunity to attend craft workshops or even language lessons at various points on your trip.
Upper Mekong (Laos, Thailand, China, Myanmar)
The Upper Mekong takes a long time to explore and as a result itineraries usually last around two weeks. If you travel downstream you will start in Jinghong, China and make your way down through Laos, with an excursion into Myanmar along the way. You will end your journey in Vientiane. If you choose the upstream itinerary your journey will be the exact reverse, starting in Vientiane and ending in Jinghong.
Whilst in Jinghong, you will have the chance to learn about Chinese history, culture and language through various visits and workshops. You will spend your time both on land and on board the boat. After a few days, you will enter Laos, where you will spend most of the rest of the trip. You will enjoy some of Laos’ most famous spots, including Luang Prabang, Vientiane, the nation’s capital, and the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar meet.
Step 3: Choose Your Add-Ons
You may well find that there are parts of your destination that you’re desperate to explore but are not accessible by boat. We offer a selection of add-ons you can choose for either before or after your cruise, including trips to the famous UNESCO World Heritage site, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Hanoi and Halong Bay in Northern Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City in the South, among others.
Step 4: Choose Your Dates
We have lots of information on our destination pages and in our blog about seasons and weather patterns. The Mekong region generally has four seasons: cool & dry; hot & dry; hot & wet; and cool & wet. There is more detailed information on what these consist of on the landing page for our Mekong River Cruises. If you have the luxury of flexible dates, decide what you want out of your vacation and book your cruise with that in mind.
The Seasons in Vietnam and Cambodia
The Mekong Delta region of Cambodia and Vietnam is ruled by the wet and dry seasons. The dry season runs from November through April and is generally considered the best time to travel. The wet season is exactly what you expect it to be: rainy. The wet season runs from May to October. Throughout the day there will be short but heavy bursts of rain that will pummel the ground for half an hour or so and then disappear, leaving blue skies in their wake. If you can cope with these intermittent showers, the wet season is a great time to travel.
Step 5: Book!
Now you have all the details sorted, all that’s left is to book it all and mark the dates on your calendar. Let the countdown begin! Contact our Asia travel specialist, Eva, for all of your Mekong River Cruise questions. Fill our a Mekong River Cruise inquiry here, or call 1-888-215-3555.