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Vietnam the top river cruise destination in Asia

Released at: 14:17, 16/05/2019

Vietnam the top river cruise destination in Asia

An authentic boat trip in Mekong Delta. Photo: Lonely Planet

River cruises in Asia promise exotic destinations with rich cultures, according to World of Cruising publication.

by Le Diem

Vietnam has been named the number one destination for river cruises in Asia by World of Cruising, a luxury publication packed with the latest cruise trends and destination guides.

As river cruise tours become popular in the West, it’s time to expand your horizons and head to the East for a different experience, with Asia’s rich diversity of cultures, landscapes, and cuisine, according to the site.

Thanks to its ideal location with the Mekong River and the Red River, Vietnam offers long-haul cruising with ever-changing panoramas through lush landscapes and contrasting cities.

Known as the “Mother of all Rivers”, the 2,700-mile-long Mekong is Southeast Asia’s longest waterway, so a Mekong River cruise is a must, it wrote. From Ho Chi Minh City, visitors can go to Mekong Delta provinces on authentic excursions, including visits to floating fishing villages and rides in ox carts to meet the local people in small towns.

Cosmopolitan Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, where crossing roads jam-packed with cars and hooting motorcycles is an art form, is also recommended. Outside Ho Chi Minh City, the Cu Chi Tunnels are an extraordinary experience. This 75-mile labyrinth was dug by liberation soldiers during the American War, with underground living areas, kitchens, hospitals, and command centers. Thousands sheltered down here, surviving US carpet-bombing. The tunnels are incredibly narrow, but a few sections have been widened so today’s visitors can get some sense of the soldiers’ subterranean existence.

Cruise passengers can also opt for a pre or post-cruise stay in enigmatic Hanoi, the country’s capital, with centuries-old buildings and Asian, Chinese and French influences.

Rising in China and flowing through northern Vietnam, the Red River connects Hanoi to the UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay, a maze of thousands of islands forming a spectacular seascape of limestone pillars. Guests can spend time in both destinations as well as enjoy a tranquil river cruise, visiting temples and seeing a performance of “xoan”, an ancient Vietnamese form of storytelling that incorporates singing, dancing, acting, chanting, and drumming. A voyage along this less-travelled waterway is the perfect choice for anyone who has already sailed on the Mekong.

Vietnam is followed on the list by Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, China, and India.

The number of foreign holidaymakers to Vietnam in the first quarter of 2019 totaled 4.5 million, a 7 per cent increase against the same period last year, according to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism. Most visited Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, with 2.2 million to Ho Chi Minh City and 1.9 million to Hanoi, up 14.1 per cent and 15.5 per cent, respectively, against the same period of 2018.

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