Mekong River Cruise Blog | 7-Nights with Viet Princess Cruises!

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Are Vietnam and Cambodia on your bucket list? Has a river cruise on the Mekong intrigued you? The answer to these questions should be YES! Whether you wanted to or not, this is an experience of a lifetime that you will never forget, and the time is now. Vietnam is a trending destination, jam packed with unique experiences.

In March 2018 we had the pleasure of experiencing a land tour and river cruise throughout the countries of Vietnam and Cambodia. After 7 days of exploring Vietnam by land; Hanoi, Halong Bay and Hoi An, we flew to Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon, for one night before embarking on our 7-night river cruise with Viet Princess Cruises! This 7 night cruise operates in both directions. (*in the future, we will provide more details about our land touring in a separate blog)

Viet Princess Cruises has preferred rates at pre and post hotels. We began our river cruise experience in style by staying at the luxurious Reverie Saigon Hotel. Tom, has stayed at the Plaza hotel in New York, and can attest it is just as opulent. We were up on the 28th floor, and walked into the room and our jaw dropped. Huge bathroom and floor to ceiling windows with an incredible view of the city skyline. The buffet breakfast the next morning was delicious and the service was impeccable. All you had to do was look around and the server would notice and come right up to the table asking us what we needed. Your dish was cleared as soon as the last morsel of food was eaten and your fork was put down. The next morning we were picked up professionally and precisely at 11 am. We had a short 5-minute drive to the Saigon cruise port (most river cruise companies dock their ships in My Tho, which is approximately a two-hour drive away from Saigon). We entered a quick passport check point. The experience for travelers is seamless with Viet Princess Cruises as they have strong relationships with the cruise port authorities along the Mekong.

Seconds later and there she was, the elegant, boutique, “Mekong Princess” ship! Built in 2015 and it’s the smallest ‘large’ cruise ship on the Mekong River with only 12 cabins, 24 passengers and 28 crew members to serve you! The ship’s architecture (and décor) is done in a French colonial luxurious style. Simply put, it’s gorgeous.

*For your information, the Mekong River is one of the largest river systems in Asia, let alone the world (12th longest). The length of the river is 4350 km, flowing from the Tibetan Plateau through China’s Yunnan Province, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and then Vietnam, before draining into the South China Sea.

Viet Princess Cruises are the pioneers when it comes to river cruising on the Mekong. Out of 22 large cruise ships, Viet Princess has built 14 of them! They operate several independently, where the others are chartered, bought or leased by other companies. Viet Princess Cruises follows the International Safety Standards in everything they build.

As we embarked on the ship we were greeted by the friendliest, most courteous and hospitable staff that I may have experienced in all my travel experiences. We were fortunate enough to be travelling with the engineering mastermind behind building these solid ships (the Founder), as well as the Co-Founder/Managing Partner and Sales Director.

We were taken on a short tour of this stunning ship to observe the many amenities and beautiful, spacious rooms with large French balconies. As we settled ourselves into our own individual rooms and unpacked by putting clothes away in the closet/drawers, we took a moment and realized where we were and the experience we were about to enjoy for 7-nights…we were in awe.

In less than two days the staff knew our names, always welcomed us with a smile and delivered 6-star customer service and hospitality. They even knew our drink of choice and without asking they would bring it over! Oh yes…throughout the cruise you have unlimited soda, water, beer, spirits and wine (with dinner). Also, all your meals are included, and they are delicious! Breakfast and lunch are done in a buffet style (with the odd items to order off a menu) and for dinner it is a full a la carte; from Vietnamese/Cambodian to International cuisine options.

The areas where most people gravitated towards on the ship were either the main lounge area or the open air (sundeck) with an awning over top and loungers that stare out to both sides of the Mekong, to watch the daily activities of the locals and other boats using the river system. When we weren’t on our excursions, most of our time was spent here on the sundeck and it was always great enjoying a beverage at sunset.

The Mekong Princess ship has several advantages over the other large river cruise ships. Due to its smaller size it can travel to more “off the beaten track” locations for cultural immersion experiences and because it is faster than the others (travels at 22 knots, versus an average of 12-15 knots) it can see more over the course of the 7-night cruise. Throughout our experience there were very few tourists around . I’ve never travelled on a trip where I experienced so many authentic excursions and cultural interactions as we had in Vietnam and Cambodia, with Viet Princess Cruises. On another note, if you need to be ‘connected’, wifi is complimentary on the ship and rarely would it be spotty!

We were fortunate that the weather was nice and warm throughout our journey. It’s nice to have the AC on the ship! The best times to be travelling in Vietnam and Cambodia are generally from September to April.

Day 1: Thursday, March 14th, 2019 | Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) – Ben Tre (Vietnam)

  • We were welcomed by the staff, along with a welcome drink.
  • To start we had a Mandatory Safety Briefing in the Ramvong Lounge (a location many people frequent throughout the cruise, with AC); after the safety briefing we set sail for Ben Tre.
  • We were also taken on a tour of the ship, then escorted to our individual rooms.
  • Lunch was then served in the Indochine Dining Room, the one and only restaurant on the ship, where the food is exquisite, and the service is top notch.
  • Following our lunch, it was time to sit back and relax to enjoy a lazy afternoon of cruising!
  • For the Vietnam portion of the cruise we had an excellent guide from Vietnam, named Nam, who took us on all the daily excursions we had. His knowledge was unlike most guides I’ve had; a wealth of knowledge and passionate about his job, his company and country! Nam provided a light presentation in the evening and explained the process when getting on and off at the ports.
  • At 7 pm the gong rang! When it is time for dinner the ‘gong’ rings at 7 pm every evening and our first meal was a Vietnamese Themed Dinner.
  • After dinner, you have the opportunity to have some drinks with new friends in the Ramvong Lounge or the Sundeck area and then at 8 pm the anchor drops in Ben Tre for the night.

Day 2: Friday, March 15th, 2019 | Ben Tre – Can Tho (Vietnam)

  • *Every day you are provided with a daily program agenda that provides you with the date, weather for the day, sunrise/sunset information, as well as the full daily schedule. 
  • After a great sleep on the comfortable bed, I work up with excitement to begin the day. *Due to heat the tour excursions tend to be in the morning with the odd afternoon excursion. But I have to say as a whole, the Mekong River Cruise is one of the more relaxing cruises out there that offers a perfect pace.
  • Breakfast starts at 6:30 am in the morning, in a buffet style with an omelet station available. Anyone like pastries and croissants?? I loved waking up in the morning to eat the fresh pastries, fruit, eggs benedict and more!


  • The Mekong Princess was anchored in the middle of the river. This morning we disembarked for an exciting 2-hour tour of Ben Tre by a sampan (sampan is a relatively flat-bottomed wooden boat used in Vietnam). *The process getting off the ship is seamless. Everyone is provided with a VOX headset so that you can hear the guide clearly as he is speaking into a microphone.

  • Also, before stepping off the ship, you provide your room key to the employees and you are given a small shoulder bag with a water bottle inside (you can also use the bag for other items- money, suntan lotion, sunglasses). They definitely cover the little things! The staff waved goodbye to us as we departed the ship, which makes you feel special.
  • We sailed on our traditional Vietnamese sampan through a channel linked with mangroves. We walked through the pathway, were picked up on a horse carriage ride to visit an orchard where fruits native to Vietnam can be seen in various stages of maturity. After a fresh fruit tasting of jack fruit, dragon fruit, lychees, mangoes and others we continued to a pier where we boarded a small, local boat. Each boat can accommodate 2-4 people as you’re gently paddled through the narrow tributary lined with Nipah Palm. Before returning to the ship, we visited a family run local coconut candy maker. It was very interesting to witness the assembly line process of production and packaging before sending to the market. If you don’t like candy, you like it now!

  • When we returned to the ship, the incomparable service did not end… and this is the consistent process in order, for when you get back on the ship after each excursion: The staff greet you with a smile, you return your shoulder bag, receive your room key, give your shoes to the staff to clean, receive a wet hand towel to refresh and or clean your hands, and then you’re provided a refreshing drink. Absolutely incredible!
  • We set sail to Can Tho and docked right in town. We visited the Ong Temple while having a Unicorn dance specifically for our group and some of the locals of the town. We toured around the markets and listening to “mobile-karaoke” on the streets!  The Vietnamese people love their karaoke by the way. Occasionally as you cruise along the Mekong river you hear music playing with someone singing their hearts out. Quite entertaining I must say! 


  • Before dinner, you will have a cocktail/social hour and hors d’oeuvres in the Ramvong lounge to reflect on the day. What could be better?

Day 3: Saturday, March 16th, 2019 | Can Tho & Hoa An (Vietnam)

  • At sunrise, enjoy tea, coffee and pastries before your full breakfast at 6:30 am
  • Today, we took a tour through Can Tho by sampan to see the fascinating Cai Rang, the largest floating market in the world! You’re dodging boats left and right—what an experience to see the daily life on the water for the locals; picture a chaotic ‘farmers market’ in the middle of the river! The photo opportunities here are endless with many good laughs along the way.


  • We took our sampan to an on-land market where you saw everything and anything;  they sold ducks, frogs, fish, vegetables, fruits, crabs, clothing, and other interesting items. We even saw how they made noodles! My favorite.
  • In the afternoon, we went for a short excursion to Hoa An; where we saw how they created nón lá (leaf hats)– iconic Vietnamese hats. Interesting fact: These hats take up to 4 hours of labor to make and they sell for less than $5 USD.
  • This evening we had a presentation/lecture from our guide Nam on “Vietnam Past & Present”, which was extremely informative and eye opening at the same time. Amazing what the Vietnamese people endured in the past and where they are today. Since economic reforms took place in the early 90’s, Vietnam’s economy has been growing at a rapid pace!
  • Tonight, we anchored in the area of Cu Lao Gieng Island.

Day 4: Sunday, March 17th, 2019

  • To start the day we visited Cu Lao Gieng island with Nam to learn about how they build Sampans! They are slightly larger than a canoe and more detailed, and the wholesale cost is only $125 USD. Pretty reasonable considering it takes 2-3 full days worth to build.
  • As we continued on, we went to Hong Ngu next where we visited the home of a Viet Cong soldier who served in the Vietnam War for over 12 years! Him and his wife were some of the friendliest people we met throughout our journey. Through our guide, he interpreted our entire conversation with them and reflected on his life/achievements. This is another unique and powerful experience that you cannot make up and will be a story I tell forever. 


  • Later in the day we crossed the border into Cambodia;
    •  The Visa Process is simple;
      • To start the cruise you provide your passport to the staff of the ship, have your passport photos with the  appropriate size (something we can provide further guidance on) and $50 USD for the Cambodia Visa. *Going to Vietnam you will need a Visa as well, where the Viet Princess Cruises with provide assistance, along with Trip Merchant, and it costs $25 USD (and again with appropriate size passport photos).
      • Viet Princess Cruises team deals with the border crossing and it is hands off for you. Relax and enjoy your cruise…without even knowing it you’re in Cambodia!
  • Tonight, to gain more perspective on what took place in Cambodia, during the Khmer Rouge Regime, we watched the movie, “The Killing Fields”, in the lounge.
  • We sailed to Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia to dock for two nights.

Day 5: Monday, March 18th, 2019 | Phnom Penh

  • We had a leisurely morning and before our arrival into Phnom Penh, we had a carving and tasting demonstration of the tropical fruits of Cambodia with their Executive Chef!
  • Upon arrival in Phnom Penh we had a mandatory face check for our Cambodian Visa in the lounge. Then shortly after we went off on a cyclo tour of the city to visit the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda & National Museum. Our Cambodian guides name was Peter, who was also very well educated and shared a lot about the country’s poignant past.


  • Once we returned to the ship, we had a cooking class demonstration and made a couple of tasty meals. I’ve kept the recipes and I’ve even made a couple Vietnamese/Cambodia meals for my wife recently! We then had our daily social hour and a briefing with the cruise director Eric. Eric has worked with other big cruise companies in the past with lots of experience and he truly has found his home with Viet Princess Cruises.

Day 6: Tuesday, March 19th, 2019 | Phnom Penh

  • Today was a powerful day as we departed on an excursion by bus to tour the Killing Fields and the S-21 Genocide Museum. Words cannot describe the brutality that took place during the rule of the Khmer Rouge that was struck upon the Cambodian people. Over 55% of the population today in this developing country is under the age of 25 years of age and it was due to the Khmer Rouge and their profound decision to kill the Cambodian civilians. Fortunately, Cambodia is starting to change in a positive way and tourism really has helped the economy.
  • In the evening we had local group dance for us on the sun deck of the ship v-  local Apsara dance, which was truly an amazing dance performance from a young children’s group from a nearby village. You’ll be taking photos and videos non-stop throughout the 45-minute performance!


Day 7: Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 | Angkor Ban

  • We sailed to Angkor Ban and along the way locals continued to wave at us from their boards or from the lush river banks. Though everything throughout the trip has been a highlight, this day was definitely at the top of the list for me as we entered a village that felt so unspoiled. Our local guide gave us a lecture on Cambodian Geography and Life along the Mekong before we went on a walking tour of this village. Here we went into a Buddhist temple and were blessed by monks, went into people’s homes and learned about the daily life of the people. There were no tourists and we even were asked to teach English in a local school! What an experience and memory this was and I will cherish forever.


  • As a farewell to our Mekong Princess experience, the entire crew performed a dance for us to say thank you!

Day 8: Thursday, March 21st, 2019 | Disembark at Kampong Cham – Siem Reap (Cambodia)

  • After breakfast, we disembarked and the entire Mekong Princess crew waved farewell to us as we got onto our private transfer to depart for our 4-hour drive to Siem Reap through the countryside.
  • What an incredible experience these 7 nights were!

– Ryan Mikucki

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