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I may have a few days off while in East Asia/South East Asia, next month. I'd very much like to do a trip (a boat ride, if you may) up the river from Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon/SGN) or down to the delta. Which is preferable given I may not have time for both ?
What is the best way to go about booking it ? It seems that the online offers run the whole gamut, from luxury private boats to a large barge type affairs. Book it in advance ? or try something once I am in SGN ?
What are the things I should watch out for ? I do not want to fall victim to petty inflationary scams or ripoffs. Lastly, should I carry mosquito repellent sprays from here, or buy it in Cambodia/Vietnam ?
I'm a travel agent based in Seattle, and and I specialize in Southeast Asia. I work with an excellent land operator in Vietnam, and I'd be happy to help you with this trip. I have not done a trip upriver from Saigon, but I have done a trip to the Mekong Delta, and it was wonderful.
And definitely bring your mosquito repellent from home. I personally take 30% DEET, and I also take Ben's DEET wipes, which you can get at REI. I try not to use the wipes, but there have been times where have forgotten the spray bottle, but I always keep a few wipes with me in my day bag.
Hope this helps!
Wonderful World Journeys
I did a trip south from Siem Reap down to HCMC in 2009. It was very interesting, particularly after the night crossing through the Tonle Sap Lake. There are many small villages to visit, each with its own peculiarity (silversmith village, floating village, floating market where boats act as floating, travelling stores), etc.), with a stopover in Phnom Pehn and meanders into "industrial" tributaries. The scenery is wonderful, changing constantly as the river does as well. The people are friendly and curious (but so is SE Asia in general). The hours spent close to HCMC port were not interesting, so you really would need a couple of days at least to make it worth your while, I think. I definitely recommend the trip north but cannot compare it to one south as I have not done that. As my trip was booked ahead, I also cannot speak to making arrangements from HCMC. http://writeshots.com/travel-writing/worldguide/cruising-the-mekong...
Thanks for the tips and suggestions. The current thinking on my part, based on some what biased view of how flooding in shaping up in Thailand, is to just book two nights in HCMC, just in case the weather disrupts my travel plans.
In the meanwhile I am reading up as much as possible about these boat trips. The rough idea is to fall back to making the HCMC trip a culinary exploration if the weather makes the on-ground situation less than favorable. I read both the blogs with interest and throughly enjoyed it.
I mekong delta including vietnam and cambodia, you can take one of following cruises for package tour along the river.Toum Tiou Cruise
La Marguerite Cruise and bassac cruise
things to see and itinerary is very clear in this cruises web.Thanks and hope you have a great trip.
Thanks for all the great ideas. Once I complete my trip, I will post a long writeup on Vietnam and Cambodia.