Along the banks of the Siem Reap River is the popular resort town of Siem Reap. The town serves as the gateway to the ancient capital city of Angkor, which is the most popular attraction in Cambodia. Siem Reap also have several attractions of its own including colonial and Chinese-style architecture, museums, silk farms, rice paddies and a nearby bird sanctuary.
Silk weaving tradition has been well preserved in the little Myanmar village of Prek Bang Kong. During your time here, you will be able to see the silk weaving process taking place in local houses.
Located on the banks of the Tonle River, south east of central Cambodia, is the town of Kampong Tralach. It is situated 37km south of the provincial capital of Kampong Chhnang and is the site of Cambodia’s former capital, Lovek. It was here that the Siamese King, Borommarcha II, who sacked Angkor in 1431. The site of Lovek, which was chosen as it was deemed more defensible than Ankor, was located on the banks of the Tonle Sap River, halfway between Phnom Penh and the lower end of the Tonle Sap Lake. It soon became a wealthy trading centre, attracting a number of European traders and missionaries between the 16th and 17th centuries.
The rural village of Angkor Ban is unique for its distinctive century-old wooden houses which have survived three decades of civil war conflict. Many villages were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, but Angkor Ban was utilised either as a warehouse or a residence for the communist party. Within the village, you will also find a small and bustling market as well as the colourful Angkor Ban pagoda, which is dedicated to Theravada Buddhism.
The small town of Kratie, in northeastern Cambodia, provides an ideal point of access from which to visit nearby villages and temples. In addition to these points of interest, there are also plenty of opportunities for birdwatching and dolphin watching.
Along the banks of the Mekong and Tolne Sap rivers is the capital and most populous city in Cambodia, Phnom Penh. Growing into the centre of the nation’s economic and industrial activities and its cultural heritage, Phnom Penh is considered one of the loveliest cities in Indochina. Noted for its beautiful and hugely historical architecture, there are still a number of French colonial buildings surviving French colonial buildings throughout the city.
Flowing through South East Asia, the Mekong is the longest river in the area and flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It is navigable between the latter two nations, and enables cruisers to gain a deeper insight into the ancient Khmer city of Angkor and the elegant former French colonial city of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).
From its source in the highlands of Tibet, the Mekong flows through China’s Yunnan province, through deep gorges and rapids to form the Myanmar-Laos border. It then curves through Laos to form part of the Laos-Thailand border. In Laos, the Mekong River descends the Cambodian plain, where it receives water from the magnificent Tonle Sap Lake during the dry season, via the Tonle River. Incredibly, during the rainy season, the floodwaters of the Mekong reverse the direction of the Tonle Sap River flow, causing it flow back into the lake and form a huge 93-mile wide reservoir.
Through a series of distributaries in the Mekong Delta, the Mekong River flows into the South China Sea. This delta is crossed by a number of channels and canals, making it one of the greatest rice-growing areas of Asia. This densely populated area is where you will also find Ho Chi Minh City, one of the most renowned cities in South East Asia. Within this fascinating area, you will find an endless series of towns floating on rafts and rich in river life and activity.
Large vessels are able to cruise along the Mekong River for 217 miles upstream, with Phnom Penh being a designated international port. North of the Cambodian border, the Mekong flows in short sections, as far as the Khone Falls – a six-mile-long series of rapids.
The Vietnamese town of Chau Doc is located on the banks of the Hua Giang River, a tributary of the Mekong, located 152 miles west of Ho Chi Minh City and close to the Cambodian border. This unique town offers a unique glance into the history and culture of Vietnam, with an array of temples, mosques, and Buddhist shrines, as well as a series of French colonial-style buildings. The town is also significant on a cultural level, as it is home to a bustling and vibrant local market. At the market, you will also discover a four-tiered gateway which leads the Quan Cong Temple – a Taoist structure featuring vivid murals and two rooftop dragons.
Sitting along the Mekong river in southern Vietnam is the down of Sa Dec. The former capital of Dong Thap province, Sa Dec was a river port during the Vietnam War, and site of an American PBR Patrol base. Now a peaceful town, Sa Dec is full of tree lined streets, orchards, colonial villas and flower markets. Sa Dec is also known as one of the flower centres of South Vietnams and its Flower Gardens specialise in the growing of ornamental plants.
Located on the Mekong Delta, the district of Cai Be is known for its colourful and vibrant floating market, where hundreds of motorboats and sampans gather to sell fresh local produce. A walk ashore will take you on a journey to several old houses, which are located in the Dong Hoa Hiep Commune. There are many churches and a colourful port area filled with French colonial buildings and colourful flower gardens.
Following the fall of Saigon, the Vietnamese former capital was renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1975. There are many landmarks and museums in the city which provide insight into the history of Vietnam including the Reunification Palace, which features a replica of the tank which ended conflict in 1975. Today, however, Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling metropolis, home to an array of landmarks and a vibrant culture. There are many authentic goods including striking silk-woven products to purchase, and several street markets selling delicious and authentic cuisine.
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