This is a fascinating area of Ho Chi Minh city, with appealing French colonial buildings. The Opera House, the Central Post office and Notre Dame Cathedral are all located close to each other and you almost feel you are in Europe because of the architecture. For example, the post office is designed by Gustav Eiffel.
We also visited the museum of traditional medicine, which was interesting. There are a few Chinese temples to visit; and the War Remnant Museum is indeed worth seeing, giving considerable detail about the Vietnam War.
The Jahan (Heritage Line)The Jahan is a beautiful boat with an Indian colonial style. The cabins are really spacious, all with large bathrooms and a balcony with table and chairs. The cabins felt like a nice hotel room actually.
|Rooftop bar - cocktails in the sunset|
|Soaking in the sun, and cooling off in the pool|
Although The Jahan is a small boat most of the excursions are made in even smaller boats, making it possible to enter the narrow arms of the Mekong river. We really got close to the people who live their lives by the river and we got the chance to visit villages and local markets completely without other tourists.
While docking in Pnomh Penh the most important excursion is to the famous Genocide Museum and the nearby Killing Field. It’s a depressing and emotional experience and a lot of people turn around and leave the museum. The presentation is not censored and knowing that this is recent history makes it even stronger (for those who don’t know, Khmer Rouge killed around 1 million people in the 1970s).
The tour includes two excursions every day to different villages, temples, fish-farms, museums, local schools, etc.
|Bamboo bridge Phnom Penh|
|Typical life along the Mekong delta|
It is possible to cruise the other way around also, i.e. starting in Siem Reap and ending in Ho Chi Minh, or you can do half of the cruise, e.g. Ho Chi Minh to Pnomh Penh. Please note that when the water level is low, normally starting end of January, the boat cannot cross Inle Lake to Siem Reap and there will instead be a 4-hour bus ride from Prek K’dam. (that’s what we had to do ).
Very friendly staff on board and knowledgeable guides. A great trip.
Angkor WatThe hotels we most recommend in the area of Angkor are La Residence d’Angkor and Amansara. Amansara is near the entrance to Angkor and is a retreat with only 24 suites, half of which have private pools. It is all-inclusive including 2 meals/day, drinks and private temple tours. La Residence d'Ankor is a Belmond property overlooking the river with 62 rooms & suites. Both hotels feature spas, pools.
It was my second time at Angkor Wat and it was equally amazing this time. The temples are truly a special experience. It’s fantastic to be there at sunrise, around 05:00 in the morning, though you will be there together with thousands of others…..
|Sunrise over Angkor Wat|
Note: Erland Stubmo is a senior travel consultant in the Select Collection Oslo office. Erland is an inveterate traveller who always has his camera handy, with beautiful results.