Asia, Burma & Vietnam
Cambodia, Burma and Vietnam offer the traveller an experience of life from a different and bygone world that is changing fast. Each of them have distinct cultures and cuisine that are so very different from our own.
From floating markets to vistas where pagodas piece the canopied jungle almost up to the horizon a visit to this part of the world will never be forgotten.
There is an amazing assortment of wildlife too, from elephants to endangered river dolphins all viewed as you sail serenely by with the inevitable flash of a Buddhist monks’ saffron robe to keep you company.
WHEN TO GO
Cruises depart all year all round in many cases but undoubtedly the summer months can be very, very hot. Check to see too if the rainy season or monsoons coincide with your visit.
Festivals are what give these countries extra memories to bring back home. In Cambodia the Khmer New Year is celebrated in mid-April, Bonn Om Touk (the Cambodian Water Festival marking the reverse flow of the Tonle Sap River in October / November) and the Pchum Ben festival where people pay respect to their ancestors, visit the temples and spend time with their families.
WHAT TO SEE
The temple at Angkor Wat forms part of the largest religious site in the world and is renowned for its beautiful buildings and carvings, nothing can prepare you for the beauty of its five perfectly aligned towers. A source of huge national pride the temple is the heart and soul of Cambodia and still in use today over 1000 years after its conception.
The Bayon, with its pyramid covered in hundreds of half-smiling faces has giant stone terraces. Whilst Ta Prohm with its shady jungle-cloaked ruins Is a wonderful place to sit and contemplate.
Yangon is Burma’s largest city and it houses some of the country’s oldest and most highly revered temples and pagodas. The most sacred pagoda for Buddhists is the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda and to see it’s golden outline shimmering at sunset is one of the sites of the world.
You can also spend time exploring the many markets. The markets offer fascinating insights into the ethnic diversity of the city, its produce, heritage and traditions. Bogyoke Aung San Market for example has more than 2000 shops and the largest selection of Myanmar handicrafts and souvenirs.
The markets sell anything form exotic spices, lacquerware and Shan shoulder bags to puppets and jewellery.
HANOI & HO CHI MINH CITY
Vietnam’s two great cites are normally the start and end of your cruise. Both bustling cities offer an amazing innight the Indo/Chinese way of life.
Hanoi is known for its centuries-old architecture and a rich mix of culture with Southeast Asian, Chinese, and French influences. Take a walk around the chaotic Old Quarter, where the narrow streets are just about navigated by individual trades.
Saigon’s French colonial landmarks include the 19th century post and Notre-Dame Cathedral, made entirely of materials imported from France. Food stalls offering all kinds of local delicacies line the city’s streets, especially around bustling Bến Thành Market.
ASIAN WILDLIFE HIGHLIGHTS
An expedition to Southeast Asia is awash with opportunities to spot several of the world’s most fascinating species at close quarters.
Tigers, elephants, giant stingrays, along with thousands of other lesser known but equally threatened species form a complex web of life in the Greater Mekong’s area ecosystems.
The Irrawaddy dolphin is a species of oceanic dolphin is found as the name suggests in that river but also in the Mekong. A snubby nosed relative of it’s more well know cousins it is an endangered species but can still be seen.
There are however some stunningly beautiful butterflies and birds to be seen as you move more in the less populated jungle areas and reserves as well as mammals such as deer and Red Pandas.