Angkor temple gala dinner 2

A First Timer's Guide to Mekong River Cruising

The Mekong River is the 12th-longest river in the world and the largest in Southeast Asia. Spanning more than 4,350 kms and weaving a route through six different countries – including Vietnam and Cambodia – the mighty river is flanked by awe-inspiring landscapes and boundless wonders. If you are thinking of discovering the beautiful destinations along the Mekong River, read our guide for helpful tips on when to travel, what to pack and what to expect from a Mekong river cruise with Scenic.

What can you see on a Mekong river cruise?

An intoxicating fusion of East meets West, life along the Mekong River is a melting pot for the senses. From ancient pagodas and 12th-century temples to dense forestry and awe-inspiring waterfalls, this is a fascinating region of the world where natural and manmade wonders coexist in peaceful harmony. Whether you are wandering around the vibrant cities, meeting the charming riverside communities or listening to the peaceful chanting of monks, there is something to captivate and excite even the most seasoned traveler.

Some of the highlights along the Mekong River include the spectacular temple complex of Angkor Wat and mysterious jungle-strewn Ta Prohm Temple in Cambodia. The Cai Rang floating market along the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is an iconic sight to behold, as is Hanoi’s Temple of Literature, which dates back to 1070. A journey to Vietnam also wouldn’t be complete without visiting Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s largest city; the city brings old and new together with its soaring modern skyscrapers set alongside ancient temples.

Why choose Scenic for your Mekong river cruise?

When you choose Scenic for your Mekong river cruise, your journey on board our 5-star river ship, Scenic Spirit, will be one of all-inclusive luxury. Scenic is the only cruise company in this region to specially design and build its ships to meet European safety standards, letting you cruise in complete confidence. The most luxurious and spacious ship on Asian waters, Scenic Spirit accommodates just 68 guests, offering unparalleled intimacy and the highest level of service from our crew. 

Home to facilities that rival those of world-class hotels, from innovative features like an outdoor cinema* and resort-style pool to spacious public areas and luxurious suites that all include a balcony, our attention to detail and excellence sets Scenic Spirit apart from other river ships in Southeast Asia. Delight in up to four dining options; our expert chefs craft dishes inspired by regional flavors and locally sourced ingredients, letting you savor the authentic tastes of Asia. From à la carte menus in the chic Crystal Dining restaurant to healthy snacks and Asian-inspired light bites in the River Café, there is something to tempt all taste buds. For a more casual dining experience, our expert crew will even deliver breakfast to your suite – the perfect way to start your day. If you choose to stay on the Diamond Deck of Scenic Spirit, you will also receive an exclusive invitation to dine at the Captain’s Table for an evening of degustation.

Explore at least two of the six nations – Vietnam and Cambodia – along this mighty river, with numerous opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture. Each of our Mekong itineraries boasts a selection of included excursions and exceptional experiences, letting you gain insight into the heart and soul of this region. Experience the daily interactions of local residents and be a part of the ancient traditions that are so deeply rooted in the culture. From an exclusive themed gala dinner and Apsara dance show at an Angkor temple to the chance to receive a traditional Buddhist monk blessing at a local monastery, your river cruise will be embellished with extraordinary Scenic Enrich moments such as these.

When is the best time to go on a river cruise along the Mekong?

While the Mekong River is beautiful and exciting throughout the year, each season presents its own advantages and challenges. The majority of our river cruises operate in the beginning half of the year, allowing you to experience this spectacular region at its finest.

The weather is milder during November to April, which means you can spend a full day exploring, thanks to lower humidity and cooler temperatures. During May to October, the countryside transforms into a lush green wonderland, but the weather is much warmer and prone to tropical storms. Due to this and higher water levels, there are fewer tourists in this period, allowing for a smooth and quiet cruise.
Tra Su Bird Sanctuary

What should you pack for your Mekong river cruise?

Regardless of the time of the year you visit, you are likely to encounter a fair amount of heat and humidity. Here are our top five must-pack items to ensure your Mekong river cruise is one of complete comfort.

Comfortable Walking Shoes

Each day presents a new chance to explore your destination. Since you will be doing a fair bit of walking on uneven ground, pack a comfortable pair of shoes that provide a strong grip.

Moisture Wicking Clothing

The regions you will be touring tend to get hot and humid during the day so pack clothing that wicks moisture, rather than cotton clothing which absorbs sweat and can start to sag. A light sweater for the cooler nights is also recommended. While visiting the temples and monasteries, be mindful of wearing clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. If you choose to travel during the wet season, a rain poncho or raincoat will keep you dry during sudden spells of rain.

Camera and Binoculars

The Mekong River is lined by incredible flora and fauna. Places like Tra Su Bird Sanctuary in Vietnam provide ample opportunities to observe rare wildlife. With this in mind, be sure to pack your camera and a handy pair of binoculars to capture and witness these incredible scenes.

Sun Hat, Sunglasses, and Sunscreen

Whichever time of year you visit, make sure you pack all the accessories you need to protect yourself from sun exposure.

Mosquito Repellent

The lush countryside surrounded by ample waters often provides an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Be sure to pack a good quality insect repellent to stay safe from unwanted insect bites.

Discover the Mekong with Scenic

The lush countryside surrounded by ample waters often provides an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Be sure to pack a good quality insect repellent to stay safe from unwanted insect bites.