Ba Chua Xu Temple, Viet Nam. Image © Jean-Pierre Dalbéra / Creative Commons.
What You'll Get
A 7-day, 6-night trip down Southeast Asia's most important river, exploring history and culture in equal measure through Ho Chi Minh City and Chau Doc in Viet Nam; and Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia
One of Southeast Asia's mightiest rivers, the Mekong flows over 4,900 km through six countries, serving as a transportation medium, source of freshwater and food, and a foundation for countless cities and empires all along its length.
In this tour, you'll have the opportunity to see how the Mekong has shaped history and culture wherever it's flowed.
Ho Chi Minh City in Viet Nam's far south stands close to the Mekong River delta, where the waterway empties out to the South China Sea. After exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels built by the Viet Minh in the 20th century and the colonial buildings around the city center, you'll travel to Chau Doc, part of the Mekong Delta region and site of Ba Chua Xu Temple, a legendary house of worship. Another ancient pagoda, Tay An, combines Vietnamese and other Asian architectural styles.
Finish your Chau Doc stay by riding a boat around the floating raft houses and fish farms in the area – enjoy the view from afar, and come up close to see how the locals live.
From Chau Doc, an express boat takes you up the Mekong and across the border to Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. A city tour takes you to the capital's most significant spots: the Victory Monument, Royal Palace and Wat Phnom temple among them.
Finally, a six-hour drive from Phnom Penh takes you to the site of a mighty empire that once sustained itself from a tributary of the Mekong. Siem Reap is the gateway to the massive and massively beautiful Angkor temple complex. Many visitors spend weeks exploring every corner of the Angkor temples, but you'll only have a day to see its highlights: the decaying but still magnificent Ta Prohm; the sprawling ancient capital Angkor Thom; the many faces of Bayon Temple; and majestic Angkor Wat, covering 81 hectares and representing the home of the gods themselves.
Take one last boat ride on the Tonle Sap Lake, whose waters flow from the Mekong and serve as home to several lake communities who live on these fertile waters, much as their ancestors did.
Fishermen on the Mekong. Image courtesy of Cambodia Ministry of Tourism.