Top 5 Vietnamese River Cruises

4 December 2012

Vietnam is a country of immense natural beauty and contrasting cultures. For those wanting to experience the real Vietnam and see Vietnamese daily life outside of the cities, a river cruise offers a pleasant sight seeing alternative. Whether it's a luxurious cruise through the Mekong Delta, a foodie cruise on the Saigon River or a more peaceful journey meandering through one of the provinces, Vietnam's rivers offer travellers a different cultural perspective and the chance for quiet contemplation.

Here are our top five river cruises in Vietnam.

 Vietnam's Mekong River

Huong River
Vietnam's "Perfume River", Huong River leads silently, gently, to Hue City, the capital of the Thua Thien-Hue province on the central coast of Vietnam. Travel the 22-kilometre river in a traditional dragon boat to see Vietnamese houses, gardens, pagodas and mausoleums. Along the way, visit Thien Mu Pagoda, Hon Chen Temple, Tu Duc Tomb, Minh Mang Tomb and Khai Dinh Tomb. Book a night cruise and enjoy dinner and live local Vietnamese music on board.

Ngo Dong River
A river with a different view, the 100-kilometre long Ngo Dong River in Vietnam's Hoa Lu District, boasts three magnificent limestone caves. The first cave, Hang Ca, known as "the fish cave" is 127 metres in length, offering challenging climbing opportunities as well as hidden lagoons, accessible only by boat. As you emerge from the third cave, purchase a refreshing drink and a souvenir from a local seller in a sampan.

My Tho
Just two hours from Ho Chi Minh City, in the Mekong Delta in Thien Giang province sits the ancient port of My Tho. The traditional gateway to the Mekong Delta, My Tho's bustling waterfront is a fascinating insight into the region’s rich agricultural industry. As you cruise by My Tho you’ll see lush green rice fields and orchards. Take a smaller boat to Phoenix Island, Thoi Son Island and be sure to visit My Tho's most popular attractions, Vinh Trang Pagoda and Dong Tan Snake Farm.

Vinh Long - Cai Be
Vietnam's "Majestic Dragon", Vinh Long is located between two arms of the grand Mekong, the Tien and Hau Rivers. Stop here on your way to Sa Dec to find one of the busiest floating markets in Vietnam, Cai Be, with its hundreds of hawkers in sampans, selling fresh produce, grown locally. Surrounded by silt-rich soil, the area features abundant rice fields orchards that can be seen via the smaller arroyos, or man-made canals. The local people's daily lives here are built around the water and houses on stilts line the banks of the river.

Hau River
Vietnam's Hau River is one of the great Mekong Delta’s tributaries. Experience the sights and sounds of Cai Rang, one of the largest and prettiest floating markets in Vietnam, which features sellers in sampans who offer fresh seasonal produce, agricultural goods and breakfast. The best of this river is to be discovered at sunrise. To get there, you’ll cruise just five kilometres from Ninh Kieu Quay in Can Tho.

Xanthe Coward

Xanthe's favourite travel destinations are the Greek Islands, Indonesia, Fiji and Vanuatu. With a background in performing arts, fine food, wine and good times, Xanthe enjoys travel that brings her close to the locals and their leisure activities. Being a theatre reviewer means that Xanthe will always do dinner and a show before checking out the late night city scene and still be up early to find the markets and a decent pot of chai.