With its mystical temples and exotic sights, sounds and smells, Asia offers a rich and vibrant experience for any traveler. And there is perhaps no better way to experience Asia than in the comfort of a luxurious river ship. Cruising through Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong has become a bucket list staple for many cruisers, and those who want to push further afield can try Burma's Irrawaddy, India's Ganges or China's Yangtze.
With its mystical temples, floating water villages and lush tropical landscape, the Lower Mekong River that flows through Vietnam and Cambodia is an ideal itinerary for those who've never been to Southeast Asia. The Lower Mekong is easier to navigate than its northern counterpart, despite some seasonal issues with water levels. Although Vietnam and Cambodia still suffer great postwar impoverishment, especially in rural areas, a significant rise in tourism over the past 10 years has prompted more investments in infrastructure and business in the cities found on Upper Mekong itineraries. Even with its advantages, the Lower Mekong River is not an itinerary that one can just book on a whim; it requires extensive planning and preparation, and this article offers everything you'll need to know. Is it safe to visit? The answer is yes. Although it might not seem like the Vietnam War and genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge regime happened that long ago, the two countries have overcome their political unrest and continue to see growth in tourism, including the cruise sector. War history is, inevitably, a focus of Lower Mekong River cruise tours. In fact, it's common to see American Vietnam War veterans sailing the itinerary for closure. Despite Vietnam's and Cambodia's grizzly pasts, and the poverty and suffering that continue today, locals are positive, perseverant and spiritual, and they welcome the chance to share their stories with visitors.