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Along Vietnam and Cambodia's Mekong River

Follow the trail of the majestic Mekong River, as Angela Saurine explains why floating markets and ancient temples are just part of the adventure.

Floating down the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia is like travelling to a different world. Men stand in waist-deep water throwing large cast fishing nets, children bathe in the shallows, women sit on rocks washing their clothes, chatting away happily. Others sell tropical fruit and vegetables grown on the river’s shores at colourful floating markets, while the call of chanting monks emanates from the Buddhist pagodas that dot the surrounding hillsides.

Stretching for more than 4000 kilometres, from the high Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea, the Mekong is one of Asia’s longest waterways. As well as being a major trade route, the muddy brown river sustains the lives of about 60 million people in China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, and there’s an abundance of attractions in the villages and cities which line its shores. Experience it all aboard APT’s brand-new Mekong Serenity, where sophistication will follow you around every bend. Here’s a few highlights of what awaits along the Mekong...

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is often the starting point for trips down the Mekong. Previously known as Saigon, it is Vietnam’s largest city, with a population of more than eight million. One of the best ways to tour the chaotic streets is on the back of a motorbike. History buffs can book day tours to places such as Ba Ria, where you can learn about the Battle of Long Tan, and the Cu Chi tunnels, where thousands of civilians and soldiers lived and fought during the Vietnam War.

Street vendors in Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon

Cai Be

This district is best known for its floating market, where women sit in small boats piled with produce such as watermelon, mango and jackfruit. Each stallholder places the type of fruit they are selling on top of a bamboo pole so buyers can easily find what they are looking for. On land, you can visit a factory to see coconut milk being extracted and cooked in large woks to make candy, women making rice-paper rolls and, if you’re feeling brave, try snake wine poured from a glass jar in which the creature’s body has been fermenting for several months.

ice Paper Coconut, Vietnam

Sa Dec

The quaint colonial town of Sa Dec is famous as the place where French writer Marguerite Duras met her Chinese lover, Huynh Thuy Le, as a teenager. Her award-winning book about their illicit affair, The Lover, also became a film, and Thuy Le’s former house is now a popular tourist attraction. It’s also worth strolling through the nearby street markets where live chickens, rats, snails and frogs are sold.

Sa Dec Huynh Thuy Le Old House, Margurite Duras, Vietnam

Tan Chau

Just 20 kilometres from Vietnam’s border with Cambodia, Tan Chau is the place to buy high-quality silk, which is dyed with the fruit of the mac nua plant. You can also visit a silk weaving factory to see the traditional handicraft process first hand. 

View of weaving factory in Tan Chau

Phnom Penh

Discover the Royal Palace of Cambodia in Phnom Penh. In this city, you can learn about Cambodia’s heartbreaking history at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, and at the nearby Choeung Ek “killing fields”, where 20,000 people were killed by the Khmer Rouge. The mass grave is one of 380 sites thought to collectively hold the bodies of about 1.5 million people killed as part of Pol Pot’s attempt to rid the country of its educated classes and create a self-sufficient peasant society.

View of Killing Fields Museum, Phnom Penh


The ancient capital of Oudong is about 40 kilometres north-west of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. Its main attraction are the Buddhist stupas that stand on the twin hills overlooking the river, which also offer magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. Oudong was the capital and home of the royal residence for more than two centuries until 1866. 

Monks on the steps of Oudong Temple, Cambodia
Explore these iconic destinations along the Mekong aboard APT’s brand-new Mekong Serenity on the Best of Vietnam and Cambodia Luxury River Cruise.