Mekong River Cruise

Dec 4th, 2009, 01:53 PM
  #1  
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Mekong River Cruise

When taking a Mekong River Cruise- which is the best way to travel ?
From Saigon or from Siem Reap?
Helencallie is offline  
Dec 4th, 2009, 01:57 PM
  #2  
 
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We are doing the SR to Saigon trip December 19th with Pandaw...because we wanted to spend a lot more time in VN after the cruise. I don't know which is "best" but I think your overall itinerary must be the determining factor. Guess I will know more in a few weeks.
losaltos is offline  
Dec 4th, 2009, 02:54 PM
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I don't think there is any "right" direction, but I flew from Saigon to Siem Reap, then worked my way down by boat from there all the way back to Saigon. I loved it. The only break in the journey was from Chau Doc to Can Tho -- unless you want to charter your own boat, or do like losaltos is above on Pandaw, which might go by water the whole way.
296vancouver is offline  
Dec 4th, 2009, 05:56 PM
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vancouver - did you go by tour or independently back to Saigon? Did you stay overnight in Chau Doc and Can Tho? I'd love to read your trip report as we are trying to figure out how to best do this. We've already done Siem Reap, but missed Phnom Phen when we were in Cambodia, so we are trying to fit it in along with our Vietnam trip.
dgunbug is offline  
Dec 4th, 2009, 07:57 PM
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I've done this trip two and a half times on Pandaw, but there are lots of other options.

IMHO, going from Saigon to Siem Reap is way better. That way you get the Big Finale in Angkor Wat.

Even better - way, way better - is to do it when the river is high. Low water can be rather like traveling down a tunnel with a picturesque rubbish tip either side.
dogster is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 01:18 AM
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so far.... it appears the we should be selecting a holiday that goes...high water,HCMC to Sem Reap. Thanks to dogster and co.... thanks guys !!!!!!! so what month do you think we should travel?? Is Sept OK .. some September dates are still in low season.... or should we opt for Oct ... onwards???
Helencallie is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 11:00 AM
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dgunbug, I went by myself and organized it independently once I got there. BTW, it's extremely easy to take an organized tour, esp departing Saigon -- they're everywhere! Even your hotel can put you in a group where everything is organized for you.

However, if you want to do it yourself, here's what I did. (I haven't written a trip report, and my notebook is with a friend leaving on the same trip today, but if memory serves ...)

1. Any travel agent in Siem Reap can book you on the ferry between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. A minivan will pick you up at your hotel before 7 am and take you to Chong Kneas, a port on the Tonle Sap lake, where the boat is waiting. It costs about $30 USD, but it's a fantastic experience seeing how people live on the water. I loved it. Stay above deck for the best views and photos. Trip takes about 5 hours.

2. It drops you off at Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh-- lots of drivers waiting to take you wherever you want. You'll have to stay overnight in PP.

3. To arrange passage across the border into Chau Doc, several signs along the quay. I went with a travel agent in the same building as FCC who arranged "luxury" transfers -- wouldn't use him again: Fast forward to the next day -- tiny motorboat, people sitting on floor, overcrowded to the extent that when I put my hand out the window it was in the water! Apparently the luxury boat leaves "tomorrow" Anyhow, the boat leaves PPenh and takes you across the Vietnamese border -- 2 border stops -- no problem at all, and continues to Chau Doc. I didn't stay in Chau Doc, but I definitely would stay if I did the trip again. It had a nice coastal, laid-back feel to it. The trip between Phnom Penh and Chau Doc took about 4 hours, I think, because of the border stops.
4. A "luxury" bus was to pick us up at the pier and take us to Can Tho. It never arrived. I guess it comes "tomorrow". After a couple of phonecalls (thanks to the very nice moto-taxi guys who let us use their cellphones!), next thing you know I'm on the back of a motorcycle heading to a bit of a wasteland, but that's where the mini-buses are. I think the bus took about 3 1/2 or 4 hours -- we kept stopping to pick up people's laundry, drop off dinner for someone else, etc etc. I was the only tourist on the bus, the object of quite a lot of curiousity among the children at our reststops (aka cigarette breaks). Once in Can Tho, I suggest getting a taxi to the waterfront -- really the best location to stay because of its proximity to Mekong Cruise meeting points (they leave 6-7 am, so you're right there) and also, the boat from Can Tho to Saigon leaves from there as well, but on the eastern dock, past Golf Hotel. .
5. I stayed 2 nights in Can Tho and hired a boat for a cruise to the floating markets at Cai Rang. BTW, there are lots of bigger boats, modeled on traditional Vietnamese boats, that take you to Cai Rang in style. They looked great. Personally, I hired a woman in a rowboat with a motor the size of my fist -- because after Cai Rang it's possible to go through lots of smaller inlets of the Mekong (which you can't do in a larger boat). I was quite the object of pity among the bigger boats at Cai Rang (people going Awwww, she's so cute, asking "Are you okay" and taking lots of pictures of me and my boatwoman as she loaded our boat with a dozen watermelons). But I didn't mind that too much because when we went down the inlets, I saw NO ONE on the river, just local people going about their lives, and that was just awesome. Didn't pass any boats the whole time, and we were there about 1 1/2 hours, not counting the time spent on the big part of the river (and it IS big, so if you have a fear of boats/don't swim well/etc, you might be more comfortable doing it on the larger boats and skipping the inlets). Going down the inlets was the highlight of that part of the trip, more than Cai Rang, and it took about 3 hours.

As for my opinion of Can Tho, aside from the boat trip, I really didn't like it much and would stay just long enough to do the cruise and then get moving. I regretted that I hadn't spent some time in Chau Doc, in comparison. It seemed more authentic, whereas Can Tho is quite a big city with all of its attendant problems.

6. Last part of the trip was a speedboat departing the docks at the east end of the riverside walk, as mentioned above. It leaves around 1 pm or so, and just takes about 2 1/2 or 3 hours to get to Saigon. Very comfortable boat with water onboard. We did hit a dock, for some reason, which the Australian expats told me was pretty standard, so keep your wits about you. (Everyone else landed in the "ready" position of runners, but I went flying.) It drops you off right in the best area of Saigon, and I stayed at the Renaissance Riverside just 30 ft away -- highly recommended -- esp after roughing it in $15 hotels in Can Tho!

Anyhow, hope this helps. Was it "hard" to arrange on my own? No, not really, but you have to be willing to fly by the seat of your pants a bit!
296vancouver is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 04:32 PM
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Vancouver - Thanks for the info. Sounds like a real adventure. We see from our research that there are many tours from Saigon, but like you did ...we are considering making our way through the Delta slowly so as to explore it more fully - heading from Phnom Phen to Saigon.
Dogster - your river cruise looked interesting, but there are none available in May when we will be there. I did take the opportunity to check out their itinerary though. Thanks for the heads up.
dgunbug is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 06:35 PM
  #9  
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Have done some research ... And I'm totally confused.
When is it High / Low Water on the Meakong

These are the results I came up with.

High
Helencallie is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 06:36 PM
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oops didn't finish my reply ..

High
Helencallie is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 06:41 PM
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...oops ..used my tab .. and it auto submitted !!!

High Aug - Nov, July - Nov, Oct-Mar

Low Nov - Aug , Nov to Mar, Mar - Sep.

When is it High / Low water on the Meakon ??
all the travel books are different.
Helencallie is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 09:23 PM
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Helen - learn to use Google Search [and, by the look of it, your computer - lol]. This took one milli-second to find.

High water occurs after the monsoon, obviously. Go here:

http://www.mrcmekong.org/flood_repor...conditions.htm
dogster is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 11:04 PM
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Thanks dogster... had a look at this web site .. not too easy to Interpret. You would think the the travel Brochures would be consistant with the info they publish !!!!! As for my computer skills ... hehehe... they were silly mistakes !!! but isn't it good that we are Anonymous !!!!

Anyway - do you thing that early Sept would be OK for a Mekong River cruise - Saigon to Siem Reap ??? cheers !!!
Helencallie is offline  
Dec 5th, 2009, 11:31 PM
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I'm not going to answer that until you tell me what you mean by 'a Mekong River Cruise'.
dogster is offline  
Dec 6th, 2009, 10:49 AM
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We definitely ..want a luxury holiday!!! Where everything is organised for us - so we are considering pandaw, La Marguerite(APT) or the new Jayavarman. The Jayavarman -I think - has just had its "Maiden Voyage" .. so I will be watching - postings - to see how things went !!
Helencallie is offline  
Dec 6th, 2009, 12:08 PM
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Then, quite frankly, it doesn't matter what time of the year you go. A wise Helen might care to do a search on 'Jayavarman' in this very forum. Make sure your spelling is correct.
dogster is offline  
Dec 8th, 2009, 06:33 PM
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thanks dogster .. Yep I'm aware that I need to research further .. have viewed info re Jayavarman ..and will be very interested in what previous passangers post.
Helencallie is offline  
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