The first time we covered a Mekong River itinerary was in 2010, when my dad and I cruised from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap with AmaWaterways. Since then, we have covered the Mekong a number of times. Most recently, one of our readers cruised the Mekong onboard AmaWaterways’ AmaDara. Read about Paulette’s experience here.
Rereading these accounts brings up some of the best memories of my life. Though our trip was in 2010, and I was a mere 14 years old, I remember it almost as if it were yesterday. The images of walking through the bustling streets of Ho Chi Minh city and through the tree lined temples at Angkor come straight back to mind.
Southeast Asia has boomed in popularity as a travel destination since we were there twelve years ago. At the time, AmaWaterways was one of the only major river cruise companies that was operating on the Mekong. Over the years, the company has fine tuned its program in Southeast Asia, introduced new pre- and post-cruise extensions, and even introduced a purpose-built Mekong River ship – AmaDara.
AmaWaterways offers two itineraries along Mekong.
The first itinerary, Riches Of The Mekong, takes guests from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City over eight days.
Ama’s second Mekong offering, Charms of the Mekong, sails the reverse itinerary from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap.
Guests on both itineraries will have the chance to visit some of the most important landmarks within the Mekong Delta. AmaWaterways strives to give passengers an authentic experiences on the Mekong. There are many excursions to small villages where travelers can learn about local trades, industries and customs. We loved our visit to Cai Be, where we visited candy and rice paper making workshops.
These Mekong itineraries also take guests to bigger cities like Phnom Penh. There is much to do and see in the Cambodian capital. One of our favorite excursions was an oxcart ride. It was bumpy – but so much fun. The the most powerful excursion on the itinerary is a visit to Cambodia’s Killing Fields and Genocide Museum. I remember many moments from my trip but this excursion stays with me the most. I was young at the time, so this was the first I had learned about atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. Though heavy, it was extremely eye opening to see what the country had been through as nearly a third of its population was decimated. Those who wish to have a lighter experience in Phnom Penh can opt to visit the city’s Central Market instead.
If you are planning on traveling all the way to Vietnam or Cambodia, I would highly recommend booking a pre- or post-cruise package. It takes time and effort to get to Asia from the United States. Getting to Ho Chi Minh City from North Carolina took me over a day of travel. None of this is meant to deter you, of course, just to advise you that the more time you can spend in the destination, the better.
AmaWaterways offers packages with stays in Siem Reap, Ho Chi Minh City and even Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Bangkok. Personally? I’d go for the 16 day tour that includes 2 nights in Hanoi, 1 night in Ha Long Bay, 3 nights in Siem Reap and 2 nights in Ho Chi Minh City. Go big or go home. Seriously though, if you have to chose, you should not miss Angkor. The temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom are like nothing I’ve ever seen, and their surroundings are beautiful.
New for its upcoming Mekong season, Ama has announced a 2-night pre-or post-cruise land package in Hanoi. Guests will spend one night on board a ship where they will explore the bay. During the day you can also experience the tranquility of the area, surrounded by the jade water of the bay and the limestone formations that rise from its depths.
Another highlight is Tuan Chau Island, the largest of the islands of Ha Long Bay. Guests can hike through the island’s natural beauty or relax at one of many beaches. Titop Island is also an amazing place to visit, and the top of the island provides an incredible view of Ha Long Bay.
Ama is offering early bookings for its 2024 Mekong cruises with savings up to US$1,500 per stateroom. There are also cabins left for 2023, with rates starting at $1,399 per person, a savings of $2,000 per stateroom.
An additional five percent savings is available for select itineraries booked by December 31, 2022.
Interested in a Mekong cruise? Get our recommendations.