I am planning a trip to vietnam/ Cambodia and have come across several companies on the internet that offer cruises along the Mekong and onward boat travel to Phnom Penh. There are several different options but something along the lines of pick up from hotel in HCMC, travel to a river boat, cruise around visiting local villages, cruise to the border, catch the ferry to PP would fit in with my current plans and be an interesting way to get from HCMC to PP. They usual take three days with a couple of overnights, sometimes on board or at a riverside hotel on route. They also usually include meals on board.
Has anyone got experience of taking one of these and can give me any recommendations/ companies to avoid? They look a little pricey but if they offer an interesting experience I may go for the extra cost.
#1 suzienichols has been a member since 5/9/2010. Posts: 17
The first part of this journey, from HCMC to the Mekong Delta area, is a huge industry in HCMC. You can book very cheap tours from any travel agent in the city, ranging from an all-day tour returning to HCMC up to one like you describe or even longer that ends up in Phnom Penh. Unless you are in an enormous rush and are coming during absolute peak season, I'd recommend deciding once you get to Vietnam and booking just before you go. I really doubt they ever sell out, since they can just send another bus or boat at a moment's notice.
I recently did this route independently. I took a bus from HCMC to Can Tho, three days later I took another bus up the Mekong to Chau Doc near the border, and three days later I took the fast boat from there to Phnom Penh. The bus rides were maybe US$5 each on the nicest bus going, and I'd guess that by pre-booking on the internet you'd actually pay more. The same is true up in Halong Bay where the internet price is basically the "starting price" and when you come in person they start discounting at the first sign of hesitation.
Both the Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta sections here on Travelfish are loaded with excellent information that is still more or less up to date. Their opinion is that packaged tours booked in person are actually the cheapest, but not always the best way of seeing the area.
Id definatly recommend visiting the mekong delta, my favourite part of vietnam! leave HCMC by local bus (24000 dong, make sure you re not cheated, they were asking us 60000) to my tho. make a boat trip around the islands, sleep in ben tre, leave to can tho, wake up really early and go for the floating markets in an individual boat (not the big ones full of japanese and chinese(I have nothing against them btw, just not my type of tourism)), then leave to chau doc. in chau doc take the fast boat (which really isnt that fast, is absolutly safe and allows you to perfectly whatch the scenery) to phnom penh which takes about 6h although they say its 4h. the boat trip is really great! I loved how we did it so wouldnt do it from HCMC, I think you ll get annoyed of so much boat! for a bit more action you should do ben tre to can tho by bike! I recommend Mr Phi, really nice guy, he can drive you in his bike and if you re several he gets some friends to drive all of you. his tlf: 01234010373
#3 Indoluso has been a member since 22/12/2009. Posts: 133
Cheers for the imput Indoluso and rawjer.We'll definitely ive it a go especially as I'd sooner go overland/ water than fly. Cheers
#4 suzienichols has been a member since 5/9/2010. Posts: 17
Interesting how this industry grew in Saigon over just a relatively short amount of time.
#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
I don't usually mention this in forums - because I don't want to put people off what should be a good experience - but Indoluso I have to respond to your comment that the fast boat "really isnt that fast, is absolutly safe and allows you to perfectly whatch the scenery". The boat we got went far too fast and about 1/2 hour over the border nose-dived into the water sending gallons of water through the windscreen, which obviously smashed being non-reinforced glass, and leaving everyone terrified and me and my partner with cuts that required hospital attention. One was about a large gash about 5mm from my eye. Neither the driver nor the other guy on board spoke any English so we were all left to sort ourselves out (luckily there was a nurse on board with a good supply of bandages and ice packs)
and sit on the boat for another 2 or 3 hours until it got to Phnom Penh.
The weather was bad which didn't help re the accident but it also meant that we didn't get the wonderful scenic views that everyone raves about.
My point - go by boat if you want to but don't expect a slow luxury cruise along the waterways and if they say 4 hours ask for one that takes 6!