With its mystical temples and exotic sights, sounds and smells, Asia offers a rich and vibrant experience for any traveler. And there is perhaps no better way to experience Asia than in the comfort of a luxurious river ship. Cruising through Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong has become a bucket list staple for many cruisers, and those who want to push further afield can try Burma's Irrawaddy, India's Ganges or China's Yangtze.
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With its mystical temples, floating water villages and lush tropical landscape, the Lower Mekong River that flows through Vietnam and Cambodia is an ideal itinerary for those who've never been to Southeast Asia. The Lower Mekong is easier to navigate than its northern counterpart, despite some seasonal issues with water levels. Although Vietnam and Cambodia still suffer great postwar impoverishment, especially in rural areas, a significant rise in tourism over the past 10 years has prompted more investments in infrastructure and business in the cities found on Upper Mekong itineraries. Even with its advantages, the Lower Mekong River is not an itinerary that one can just book on a whim; it requires extensive planning and preparation, and this article offers everything you'll need to know. Is it safe to visit? The answer is yes. Although it might not seem like the Vietnam War and genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime happened that long ago, the two countries have overcome their political unrest and continue to see growth in tourism, including the cruise sector. War history is, inevitably, a focus of Lower Mekong River cruise tours. In fact, it's common to see American Vietnam War veterans sailing the itinerary for closure. Despite Vietnam's and Cambodia's grizzly pasts, and the poverty and suffering that continue today, locals are positive, perseverant and spiritual, and they welcome the chance to share their stories with visitors.
If you're looking to cruise to the places that are generating buzz, or want to be among the first to sail to cutting-edge destinations, we've got your wish list. The hottest cruise destinations for 2019 span the planet, from a Caribbean port you might think you know to a remote coral atoll in the
Visiting Myanmar, also known as Burma, is like taking a journey back in time; pictures just don't do this fascinating country justice. While major cities, such as Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay, are vibrant and bustling, much of the nation still lacks basics like running water and electricity. Small
For most Westerners, Vietnam and Cambodia are linked together, through geographic proximity and a shared history regarding the Vietnam War. Yet the two countries couldn't be more different culturally. Vietnam's culture draws heavily on Chinese history and tradition, while Cambodia's heritage pulls
Unknown to most Westerners, the Red River (Song Hong in Vietnamese) is considered the historic and economic lifeblood of Northern Vietnam. Starting in Southwest China, the river and its tributaries flow past both tranquil rice paddies and pulsing urban areas, connecting the capital of Hanoi to iconic Halong Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin. And, for river cruisers who've already sailed the popular Mekong in Southern Vietnam and Cambodia, the Yangtze in China or the Irrawaddy in Myanmar (Burma), a journey along the Red River offers a unique insight into a still-rural but rapidly developing Southeast Asian country. The river is so new to cruising that only one line is currently offering sailings. Pandaw, a river cruise line that specializes in Southeast Asia, was looking for an alternative to the increasingly crowded and competitive Mekong. So in 2015, it moved one of its shallow-draft vessels, the 32-passenger Angkor Pandaw, and launched what remains the only commercial cruise along the Red River. Though Pandaw's all-inclusive, 10-night trips are offered year-round, itineraries vary by season according to water levels, which fluctuate dramatically depending on rainfall.