Vietnam 17.03.2014 Transindus
Travellers often give plenty of focus to where they go on holiday and what they do once they get there, but it's well worth remembering that the style of holiday you choose can be just as important. For instance, by swapping a standard tour of southeast Asia for a river cruise, you can have a very different experience.
Why go river cruising?
If you've never been river cruising before and are used to exploring on foot or taking more standard tours on dry land, you might be wondering what exactly the appeal of river cruising is. In truth, there are a lot of elements that make river cruising the fantastic experience it is, not least of which is that it often gives you a chance to get off the beaten track.
Indeed, by going on this type of holiday, you can enjoy sights and sounds that many other travellers miss. Plus, this also allows you to observe the daily life of locals, with things like floating markets and farms among the things you could come across.
Of course, another advantage of exploring local communities in this way is the fact that you get to relax in luxury as you do so, while also seeing areas that you mightn't otherwise encounter. At the same time, though, you'll also be able to visit the top attractions in the local area, and so achieve a good balance between getting off the well-trodden tourist path and ticking off all the must-sees.
It's also worth remembering that there will be plenty for you to do on board, much of which will be in keeping with your surroundings. Morning tai chi lessons and cooking classes to help you learn how to make the local cuisine are just a few of the possibilities.
All these factors mean that river cruising is also a good option for travellers looking to do something a bit different from the norm. The combination of unique perspectives and travelling in comfort gives it a wide appeal, while also making it really different from your average getaway.
River cruising options
Southeast Asia is particularly well suited to river cruising and has plenty of excellent routes through countries like Cambodia and Vietnam. In fact, you can explore both these countries with a trip on the Heritage Line, which gives you the opportunity to discover the famous Mekong, visit floating markets and learn about local life.
On this kind of cruise, your trip will begin in Vietnam. Among the early highlights is an outing to Cai Be, where you'll have an opportunity to explore the vibrant floating market. Cruising in this part of the country also means you'll get to see some stunning landscapes - one of the key advantages of river cruising.
Taking you to the Cambodian capital city as well, this route will give you the chance to explore Phnom Penh - a fast-paced, exotic city on the banks of the Mekong. Home to a stunning royal palace and the fascinating National Museum, this chaotic-feeling metropolis is packed with amazing cultural attractions.
Little-known villages like Chong Koh and temples such as Wat Hanchey, the latter of which gives you absolutely incredible views across the Cambodian landscape, are among the other highlights of this kind of itinerary.
Alternatively, you could take a river cruise through Burma - a country that, compared to many others in southeast Asia, is relatively little-explored. Cruising through this beautiful country, you'll be able to visit wonders like the historic city of Bagan, which is packed full of stunning temples and stupas, all of which differ vastly in terms of size, design and, in the case of temples, what can be found inside.
You will, of course, also have the opportunity to explore lesser-known destinations like Prome, which is home to the fascinating Thiri-ya-kittiya - an archaeological site that dates back to the 5th to 8th centuries. What's nice about this kind of river cruise is that it gives you the chance to get a really broad overview of the country (while seeing plenty of attractions in-depth), which makes it particularly great for first-time visitors.