The Mekong and Red River wind through some of the most compelling landscapes and cultural centres in Vietnam, and there’s no more comfortable way to experience them than on a luxury cruise.
Mekong cruises are generally conducted on river boats. Spanned by a woven palm-leaf canopy, these song xanh were formerly used to transport produce around the region, and when converted make stylish floating guest houses. Guests are cared for by liveried crews who serve meals and drinks on board, and act as guides as you glide through waterways thick with water hyacinth and lotus blooms, as well as floating markets and river towns. You can opt for a single-day trip, or for one lasting a few nights, taking you to lesser frequented corners of the Delta.
Longer cruises up the Mekong to Phnom Penh and beyond are generally conducted in larger vessels, such as the replica 1920s steamers operated by Pandaw, or floating palaces like the lavish Jayavarman, which attempts to recreate the feel of viceregal trips upcountry at the end of the 19th century.
Pandaw also offers cruises around the waterways and villages of the Red River Delta outside Hanoi, incorporating a night or two amid spectacular karst stacks, beaches and remote islets of Halong Bay – Vietnam’s premier sea cruising area.