Nothing grants access to the varied cultures, flavors, and scenery of Vietnam and Cambodia quite like a Mekong River cruise. As you meander along, you’ll be immersed in the hidden villages of the delta, the fascinating history of Phnom Penh, and the serenity of Long San Pagoda—with opportunities for excursions to landmarks like the Angkor Wat* temple complex.
If you’re sailing aboard the intimate Aqua Mekong from Aqua Expeditions, you can add gourmet meals, luxurious accommodations, and attentive service to the itinerary.
Here’s how Aqua helps makes the journey flawless from start to finish and why the summer is—surprisingly—an ideal time to embark on a Mekong cruise.
Keep Cool and Cruise On
If the thought of summer in the tropics has you running for air conditioning, think again: temperatures along the Mekong are consistently warm all year long, with April actually being the hottest month and the rainy season (May-October) cooling things down with about 30 minutes of refreshing showers a day. Aqua's daily excursions are timed so that guests are back on board—cocktail in hand—to enjoy the romance of the afternoon showers from the covered deck, or from the chill of Mekong's only shaded pool. Guests can also unwind with a traditional Southeast Asian massage in the ship’s spa.
Not only do this season's daily rains help keep thing cooler, but they also enhance the beauty of the region. Riverbanks and fields are made lush and green—providing beautiful backgrounds for cruises—while the dust is washed off sites like the temples of Angkor Wat, and reservoirs and lakes are filled, giving the whole region an enchanting, emerald-hued magic. Bonus: this season also yields the greatest variety of tropical fruits, so your taste buds will be happy, too.
Lines? What Lines?
Despite the slightly cooler temperatures, May-August is low season in the region, as the term "rainy season" does have some travelers shying away. This just makes things better for the rest of us, as the cultural sites are blissfully less crowded—meaning you can admire sunrise over Angkor Wat without having to jostle for a spot. Pre- and post-cruise, the beaches, dive sites, islands and markets of Vietnam and Cambodia are also yours to explore during the dry and temperate days.
Celebrate Like a Local
Adding to the joy of the reduced crowds is the fact that Aqua Expeditions is the only Mekong cruise to operate during the month of May—which means the day trip stops along the river will be yours alone to enjoy. You’ll have more opportunities for meaningful interactions and making local Khmer and Vietnamese friends along the way. Many notable festivals are also held during these months, offering more chances to soak up local flavor; Vesak Day, for example, celebrates Buddha's birth, and typically occurs in May or June.
Connect with Your Crew (and Enjoy a Special Perk)
In addition to connecting guests to the destinations, Aqua's Mekong cruises help re-connect them with their loved ones, too. There’s plenty of quality time to bond over shared meals, interactive experiences (like cooking classes, blessing ceremonies, or bike tours), or just relax in the lounge, which is equipped with a library, board games, and foosball table. For its May departures, Aqua Expeditions has an introductory promotion allowing children between the ages of 7-12 to stay for free aboard the Aqua Mekong when accompanied by a single parent or sharing with two parents in a triple cabin.
For a limited time, mention "AFAR" when booking to receive a $100 on-board credit per booking. More information can be found at aquaexpeditions.com
*Angkor Wat excursion arranged separately from cruise itinerary.
© 2016 AFAR Media