In Vietnam it’s called Song Cuu Long, roughly translated as “Nine Dragons River”. From the air you can clearly see why: the Mekong River Delta includes nine tributaries that unite to create a land rich in rice paddies, orchards and swamps. Flowing for 2,700 miles though six countries the Mekong River is home tothousands of species of plants, animals, birds, reptiles and fish as well as about 60 million people. TheAma Waterways Mekong River cruise will allow you to experience first-hand one of Asia’s least industrialised and most biodiverse rivers.
Unlike any classic European or Caribbean cruise, the Ama Waterways route from PrekKdam in Cambodia to My Tho Port, just outside of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam,is a study in contrasts and diversity. The recent histories of Cambodia and Vietnam are both chequered and challenging and you should bear this in mind when considering your itinerary. One moment you could be exploring an ancient and spectacular Buddhist temple or the stunning displays of colourful producein the local markets. The next day you could find yourself standing inquiet reflection in the notorious Killing Fields or at the Khmer Rouge Genocide Museum. But, as the locals will tell you, the past is the past,time moves forward, both countries are revitalizing and everywhere you go you’ll be greeted with bright smiles and total courtesy.
The Ama Waterways Mekong River cruise includes a rich and varied itinerary that allows you to choose for yourself how much of this gorgeous and all-embracing region of South East Asia you want to discover and explore. There’s the floating market at Cai Be and the Cao Dai Temple with its hospital of traditional Vietnamese herbal medicine and the splendidly dressed adherents at their daily prayer. At Tan Chau you’ll get the opportunity to take a trishaw ride around this unspoiled town or a boat ride along the narrower channels of the Mekong. You’ll also get to witness local artisans weaving floor mats using unchanged and centuries-old methods.Be sure to take in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s exotic, dazzling, bustling capital with a City Tour and a visit to the glittering Royal Palace. At Oudong there’s the chance to visit a former Buddhist monastery for a special blessing and an ox-cart ride through the local rice paddies.
Traditionally, the Mekong River is a major trade route between Western China and South East Asia. But it can suffer from extreme seasonal variations in water levels so cruise itineraries can sometimes be subject to change. Temperatures vary from warm to hot with an average of 89°F so light, breathable clothing is essential.
On an Ama Waterways Mekong River cruise you’ll witness scenes of incredible beauty as well as glimpses of a simpler rural life. However you decide to explore this region, you will come away enriched, inspired and heartened by a tough and resourceful but warmly welcoming people, only too happy to show how proud and resilient countries can be reborn.
Bliss Travel Service - a travel agency specializing in cruises, all-inclusive vacations, honeymoons, weddings, group travel
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Dominique Barba, CTC, ECC