Brownell Independent Advisor, Kimberly Denison, recently returned from a voyage across the Mekong River. Sailing aboard AmaWaterway’s ship, the AmaDara, Kimberly experienced some of Asia’s most precious hidden gems from the waters of one of the world’s longest rivers. Now that she’s back, she’s sharing everything you need to know about seeing Southeast Asia from the river!
Length of trip:
Where did you go:
Our journey began in Siem Reap, Cambodia where we checked in and met our local guide. A 4-hour bus ride later we were in Kampong Cham at the Mekong River, embarking the AmaDara!
We sailed the Mekong in Cambodia for 4 nights, stopping in small villages along the way. We docked in Phnom Pehn for 2 nights which gave us a great opportunity to explore this bustling capitol city!
On the 5th day we crossed the border into Vietnam, and made memorable stops in Tan Chau and Sa Dec (made famous by Marguerite Duras’ The Lovers). On our final day we disembarked in My Tho port, and made our way to Ho Chi Minh city to head our separate ways.
There were several! I loved how spacious even the starting category stateroom was, and the twin balconies were fabulous. The spa, though small, was a lovely treat. But the main highlight for me would have to be the crew and hotel staff. They were fantastic and really felt like close friends by the end of the week!
The energy in Vietnam is intoxicating – our time here was not nearly long enough! I absolutely LOVED our visit to the village of Tan Chau, where we visited a silk workshop which was pretty special. We learned about the production process from silk worm to final product which was really neat! We also visited a BUSY and bustling market in Sa Dec which I won’t soon forget!
Why cruise to this destination?:
Cruising along the Mekong is such a memorable experience! It’s a pretty amazing feeling to know that you are floating along one of the largest rivers in the world, on the same waterway that has been a life-force to so many people for thousands of years!
Choosing to cruise along the Mekong also allows you an opportunity to see a different way of life than you would if you were traveling by land and hitting just the major cities. Along the Mekong you get a glimpse of rural areas and more traditional lifestyles that you wouldn’t see otherwise. The slower pace really lends to soaking up the vibe of your destination as well!
In Cambodia, it would have to be the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum. It was such a moving experience, and a little bit surreal. To hear firsthand about this dark moment in human history from those who personally experienced it was so powerful.
At breakfast each morning there was a different soup using local ingredients and they were all so delicious!
Insider tips for this cruise:
All meals are open seating, and this is a great time to meet your shipmates! As an introverted solo traveler this was a little intimidating at first, but I had a great time visiting with so many other like-minded travelers and remain in touch with several!
No need to spend a ton of time choosing excursions in advance, as you will be asked to make your choice either the day before or day of excursion while onboard. This is nice because you can modify the pace you prefer as you go!
Know before you go:
Though the AmaDara is definitely a luxury ship, it is still operating in developing countries. Meaning that graciousness, compassion, a great sense of humor, and flexibility will go a long way!
Light-colored clothing, quick-dry options, and shoes that you can slip off quickly (to enter temples). Keep in mind that shoulders and knees must be covered to enter temples. Also be sure to pack a small container of insect repellent, some hand wipes to keep in your daypack, and plenty of sunscreen.
Ideal passenger for this cruise:
This cruise is great for a wide range of ages and physical abilities. Open-minded, inquisitive and flexible travelers who are interested in other cultures will love this itinerary!