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8 Hanoi to Asia River Cruise Reviews

Mekong river cruise, Dec 2018. We chose this cruise because we know and trust Viking, and had not seen much of Asia (this was my wife’s first trip to Asia). This cruise certainly met our expectations: The food was great, the staff ... Read More
Mekong river cruise, Dec 2018. We chose this cruise because we know and trust Viking, and had not seen much of Asia (this was my wife’s first trip to Asia). This cruise certainly met our expectations: The food was great, the staff was friendly, and the ship’s cleanliness was impeccable. We had ground tours before and after the river cruise which were fantastic. A suggestion about the pre-tour: Stick some tissue in your pocket when you leave your hotel. A number of the rest stops do not provide toilet paper. Speaking of the hotels, they are indeed the best in town. The Reverie in Saigon is by far the best hotel we have ever stayed in. Our guide for the pre-tour survived the Cambodian holocaust and told us at length of the horrors of trying to survive under Pol Pot. We visited one of the killing fields, which is not for the faint of heart, since there is a large reliquary filled with skulls. Our guide stressed that if we don’t remember, these things will happen again. We missed the first day because of passport problems. The Viking staff smoothly found us very late at the Hanoi airport and joined us up with the tour. There were a couple of negatives about the river cruise. The shower had a serious ‘flush shock’ problem. If anyone on the same deck flushed, the shower temperature would jump. If someone in the cabin behind ours flushed, the water became dangerously hot. Unfortunately this is a design problem, and it would take a complete re-fit to fix. The second issue happened at dinner when the staff served KFC... Khmer Fried Critters. The plate of crickets and grasshoppers did not bother me at all, my wife has eaten them before and I might try them sometime. However, when a platter of fried tarantulas was placed in front of me, an arachnophobe, without any warning, it was too much. I grabbed my wine and bolted. The staff could have showed some sensitivity in this case. Overall, this was a wonderful experience, and I recommend it to any adventurous traveler. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I had travelled on a Pandaw cruise previously and could not fault it for style, comfort, friendly crew, variety of villages and other attractions to visit, the food, the guides and the comfort of the cabins. I like the small number of ... Read More
I had travelled on a Pandaw cruise previously and could not fault it for style, comfort, friendly crew, variety of villages and other attractions to visit, the food, the guides and the comfort of the cabins. I like the small number of fellow travellers these ships accommodate, and the range of countries they come from. It leads to a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. The first cruise was the downstream Mekong trip which I found very interesting, but the Red River/Halong Bay upstream trip was even better, providing us with an interesting variety of villages and towns to visit as well as the chance to enjoy the spectacular scenery of Halong Bay and other areas off the regular tourist beat. The teak construction and shiny brass fittings give the ships a timeless and classy look. The ships and excursions may challenge those with very limited mobility as there are no lifts but apart from that small inconvenience the cruises cater for most abilities. I can highly recommend Pandaw as a great company to travel with. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Pros: very clean and well maintained ship Internet, when in port, works very well - no streaming Good organization for departure More things are included than on some cruises - most alcohol, for example, is included. ... Read More
Pros: very clean and well maintained ship Internet, when in port, works very well - no streaming Good organization for departure More things are included than on some cruises - most alcohol, for example, is included. Variety of shore excursions was great and it is included in the price. Food is very good. Well presented, healthy and small size portions meant less waste. The ethnic dance we were treated to in our first night in Phnom Pen was extraordinary. Kids from a local school performed a one hour exhibition that was both interesting and informative. Climate control for the rooms was superb. Hot water for showers seemed to always be available any time of day. Service was exceptional if not slightly overwhelmingly considerate Things that should be included in the advertised details about the cruise: ask before you book if the cruise you are interested in leaves directly from Siem Reap or if you will take a long bus ride down to the port (6 hours). The bus was comfortable, and the road the whole way was paved. But you should be made aware of this. Only 2 per cabin. We are a family of 3, so we had to buy an extra cabin. If you do have close friends or family going with you, book early and get cabins across from each other. That way, you can see things on both sides of the boat. While never advertised as such, this is not a cruise for families. I would guess the average age on the cruise is about 55. We are struggling to make sure our 14 year old is having a good time. But that's not the cruise company’s fault. We knew this going in. Also know that the majority of people on the cruise (at least on our cruise) are culturally unaware when it comes to foreign countries. From how they act and the excursions that are set up, this is more of a “photo op” cruise than anything experiential. That's not to say you can't get off the boat when it docks and explore the culture on your own. Just don't plan on the cruise company giving you that kind of option. In addition to the above, leave frustrations and embarrassment about how your fellow cruisers act behind. Talking during performances, loudly laughing and cackling while receiving a monk’s blessing, wearing inappropriate clothing (after several written and verbal advisories) and not learning how to say “hello” or “thank you” in the local language is not something you're going to be able to explain or ask forgiveness. It's just the way people are. The guide says that you may consider bringing “smart casual” clothing, but you absolutely don't need to. We love to pack light, so we didn't and never felt uncomfortable. Shorts that cover the knees and shirts that cover the shoulders along with decent walking shoes are the only necessities. Laundry is expensive on board like most cruises. Try to do laundry before you depart. There’s really not a convenient way to do laundry after you start the cruise. Lock the outside cabin doors in Phnom Penh. You're right up next to the dock, and while there is security, it would give you some extra piece of mind Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
This was our second trip with Viking. We chose this cruise because we wanted to see Southeast Asia and we had had a great experience with Viking on our last cruise. This cruise exceeded our expectations and we would highly recommend it. I ... Read More
This was our second trip with Viking. We chose this cruise because we wanted to see Southeast Asia and we had had a great experience with Viking on our last cruise. This cruise exceeded our expectations and we would highly recommend it. I would say that this is a higher end cruise-specialty cruise. The cruise consists of both a land portion and a cruise on the Mekong. We started at Hanoi, then went to Seim Reap and then drove to the boat. Our last stop was Saigon. We added an additional package to Bangkok at the end. The Mekong Viking is a small (54 passenger) boat. The rooms are very small but nicely decorated. Each room opens up to an outside walkway around the boat. We had a least expensive stateroom but it was more than sufficient.The restaurant is on the main level and has windows to look out. There are long tables sitting about 10. These facilitate getting to know others. Seating is by choice. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style. There were generally three choices for dinner and they accommodated people with special health needs. Lunches included a wide variety of foods and some specialty items. Fried insects were served for dessert one night. We felt the food was excellent both on the ship and on the land portion. On the top floor of the boat, the sides are open but most of it is covered to protect from the sun. This is where everyone spend most of their time. There was also an enclosed bar. Usually there was nightly local entertainment. (Most people were older and tired at night so entertainment tended to be low key but good.) The ship had a mixture of people from the US, Britain, Canada, and Australia. On this cruise, all tours are included. The passengers were divided into two groups. Each group had a program manager for the duration of the trip. I can't say enough good things about ours-Kong. He was very knowledgeable, fun, resourceful and had a great personality. I know the other group also enjoyed their program manager. Kong was always with us and met our every need. We enjoyed all of the excursions. While on the river, we stopped at many small villages which gave us a more rounded picture of Vietnam and Cambodia. We had excellent tour guides-all local. Their personal insights and openness about their lives deeply enriched our experience, especially the guides in Cambodia. The hotels we stayed in were first class. The Metropole in Hanoi is a classic old French built hotel in downtown Hanoi. In Seim Reap, we stayed at the Sofitel Angkor Wat. In Saigon we also stayed at the Sofitel. We particularly liked the hotels in Hanoi and Angkor Wat. The breakfasts were huge buffets. The rooms were roomy, and beautifully designed. In Angkor Wat, for example, we had fresh fruit in the room. We had lunch poolside in Angkor Wat. Service in these hotels was excellent. We felt the hotel in Saigon was more dated in decor. Our only glitch was with Viking's air travel department which initially made the wrong airplane arrangements. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
I am interested in history, current culture and architecture. I was able to experience all on this cruise. The guides were locals and extremely knowledgeable. The tours of different areas were small so that you could ask questions as ... Read More
I am interested in history, current culture and architecture. I was able to experience all on this cruise. The guides were locals and extremely knowledgeable. The tours of different areas were small so that you could ask questions as you went along. The boat was small and intimate. You get to know everyone on the cruise. That was great because the other passengers were from all over the world. The staff was fantastic. Because on the smallness of the boat, they were able to anticipate your needs. The hotels when we were not on the boat were beautiful and really captured the area we were in. My only complaint about the trip has nothing to do with the actual cruise. The travel service was not helpful at all. We got our itinerary very late which made it hard to arrange work coverage. Our flight was cancelled and they did not help at all with different options. We spent 13 hours in the Philadelphia airport. Our luggage was lost for almost 1/2 of the trip. Again, no help. The hotels and our guides did most of the work. We did not want to spend our vacation hunting down our luggage. That was not the purpose of our trip. My whole purpose of travel is to learn. I learned so much on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I just returned from Pandaw's "Halong Bay and the Red River" cruise (from Hanoi) aboard the Angkor Pandaw. Everything about the cruise was perfect, especially the visits to small towns and villages and two wonderful guides. ... Read More
I just returned from Pandaw's "Halong Bay and the Red River" cruise (from Hanoi) aboard the Angkor Pandaw. Everything about the cruise was perfect, especially the visits to small towns and villages and two wonderful guides. I'm retired but traveled with two college-age relatives. We all enjoyed every moment of the trip and learned a lot about Vietnam and its culture. This was my third Pandaw cruise (others: Mekong and Irrawaddy) and I love the way the Pandaw staff develop good relations with villages along the rivers of Southeast Asia, allowing their passengers to enjoy frequent delightful visits to them and see small town life and encounter folks who seem equally thrilled to meet and chat with foreign visitors. And their boats are run faultlessly with great accommodations and delicious Vietnamese, Asian, and international food. I've traveled extensively through more than 75 countries and find Pandaw cruises to be fun, educational, well-paced, comfortable, and economical. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We began our Mekong adventure by flying in early to Hanoi just before the Chinese New Year. The city of Hanoi was lit up like our Christmas lights all around the lake and in the neighborhoods. It was delightful! Everyone should experience ... Read More
We began our Mekong adventure by flying in early to Hanoi just before the Chinese New Year. The city of Hanoi was lit up like our Christmas lights all around the lake and in the neighborhoods. It was delightful! Everyone should experience Chinese New Year at least once in their lives in Hanoi. The next day we took the Viking extension to Ha Long Bay and saw the hundreds of rock islands. Beautiful and so different from anything we've ever seen. We then went back to Hanoi and began the Viking River tour, including Siem Reap, Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City. Our tour group consisted of approximately 40 people and we were split into two groups of 20 and spent the land portions of the tour in the same bus and with the same tour guide "Bob". By splitting into the same tour group we were able to get to know our fellow travelers better and become familiar with our guide. Bob was fabulous! Friendly, knowledgeable, great sense of humor - it was a great experience being part of "Bob's family" for 15 days. Our first experience getting onto the boat was eye-opening to us. We climbed over a short wall and crew members helped us climb down to the ship on dirt steps dug out of the hill. It was quite an introduction! Thankfully crew members carried anything we needed onto the ship and held our hands as we came down the make shift ramp. The food was great - no complaints in any way. It was fun to try Cambodian delicacies one evening (fried frogs, silk worm larvae, bugs), but you didn't have to join in - all the other food was aimed at American, Canadian, Australian, English tastes. There were so many activities along the way. All educational and new experiences for most of us. A wonderful time. I think one thing that surprised me was how tranquil it was sailing on the Mekong. Passing fishing villages, farms, fish pens - life on the Mekong is vibrant and awesome. I couldn't go inside to rest for our next adventure because I didn't want to miss any village or temple we were passing. One last significant note - the Cambodian & Vietnamese people are extremely friendly. Children would come out to wave to us. Parents didn't mind us taking their children's picture - and they would even invite us to come into their homes or boats to see how they lived. Lovely people! If Cambodia & Vietnam were not so far away - I'd be going back again and again. The only negative from our trip - I was eaten alive on my legs from the mosquitoes - even with bug spray on and wearing Off ankle strips. Take precautions if mosquitoes like you! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014

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