A New Mekong Cruise

Cruising the Mekong Delta is not as easy as one might think. A commonly asked question is how a person can exit or enter Vietnamand travel between the Cambodian border and Saigon. Until now, there are only one or two companies that offer such a thing and because they are based on a complete Mekong cruise experience they can be quite expensive and restricted to the larger waterways because of boat size. I have been discussing the possibility of some kind of alternative to these cruises with my friends at V’Explore and out of curiosity, Nghia, Hau, and I had decided to try a grand experiment and see if it was possible to enjoy a less

Our Homestay

expensive Mekong adventuer travelling the waterways and canals through less touristic waters to connect with the hydrofoil at the Cambodian border in order to help passengers on to Phnom Penh. As luck would have it. I ran into a nice couple trying to travelVietnam on their own that wanted such a trip. We just said goodbye to Daryl and Ulrika as they boarded the hydrofoil forPhnom Penh. We had a great adventure and here is how it all came about…..


Homestay Bedroom

In my last blog I wrote about a tour of the highlands. While on that tour, I ran into a couple in Buon Ma Thuot who were trying to do Vietnam on their own avoiding all of the touristy places. I was talking to them of where they had been and where to go. They had just left Hoi An after hours of being there being disturbed by overly heavy tourism. I suggested they head to Nha Trang but they had decided to skip Nha Trangall together because of what the Lonely Planet

fishing for prawns

Guide and what some bad travel forum advice said. As usual I tried not to mention I had a hotel but told them of the rest of the city that is not touristy at all, and also talked to them of visiting Dalat. The next day I carried on with my tour forgetting the conversation. After a few days more I returned home and to my surprise, Daryl and Ulrika were staying in our hotel and enjoying Nha Trang. They both became certified

The “Lovers” house

Open Water divers instructed by a friend of mine who has a small diving company called Aloha Dive. After spending a number of days in fun and friendly “untouristy” beach area in Nha Trang, they surprised me again by asking me about a way to go intoCambodia via theMekongRiver. I mentioned to them that I wad headed to Saigon in a week to discover if such a thing was possible and if they wished, we could turn their last week or so into

Early to rise

one grand adventure and we could travel to Saigon over days on motorcycles. The couple jumped at the chance to do a back country tour to Saigon so me and my partner Tien set out with Daryl and Ulrika for a 4 day tour to Saigon via Dalat, Bao Loc, Dong Xoai and visiting Cu Chi before ending inSaigon. I will not go into a lot of detail about the trip but suffice it to say that we had a lot of fun and experienced some real adventure. At one point we ever rented a private karaoke room and belted out Joe Cocker songs that will forever leave dong Xoai with raspy voiced echoes. All along the way I was in contact with Nghia and

Bathing Beauty

Hau planning our next leg of the journey. I informed them that I had two guests that were interested in doing such a trip and after a little consideration we agreed that it would be a good way to have feedback on the tour. Daryl and Ulrika understood that this was an inspection tour and there could be problems and bugs along the way, but the adventurous duo would have it no other way…… OK!!!! Off we go.


TheMekongtour began with a comfortable bus picking us up at our hotel to transport us to Vinh long where we connected with the Sampan we arranged. On board were upgraded chairs, hammocks, bicycles and necessities for food and drink. The afternoon was filled with examining local industries such as visiting a brick factory and coconut candy manufacturers. We transferred to smaller watercraft and toured beautiful canals and ended the afternoon riding bicycles to our homestay for the first night. Daryl and Ulrika enjoyed a free cooking class while Nghia, Hau and I discussed the first day’s outcome. After a relaxing evening and restful sleep we cycled back to our Sampan and departed Vinh Long and made our way to Sa Dec through some of the smaller waterways not accessible by the larger boats. Along the way we enjoyed viewing the day to day life


ofMekongresidents. We visited an Ancient house where the movie “The Lover” was based and enjoyed a home cooked meal on the Sampan. The late afternoon had us arriving at our second homestay. OH Oh!…. Here we ran into a bit of difficulty as the homestay was set up like a dormitory and not really suitable for our purposes. Luckily were able to get to our boat before it was secured for the night and instead, we ended up in a nice hotel in Long Xuen. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise and we enjoyed an evening in a town that sees very few foreign visitors. The next day found us continuing through smaller canals and river systems. This

Cool Dudes

day was a bit lazier and we found ourselves swinging in hammocks and having brief naps with a countryside bike ride here and there. We also visited a dry dock to watch the hand crafting of a large boat. The day ended with us visiting the market in Chau Doc and arranging transfer for Daryl and Ulrika to the hydrofoil for the next day trip toPhnom Penh.

Floating Market

All in all it was a success and my friends at V’Explore Travel are creating a new affordable tour to accommodate those that have been asking for this thing on the travel forums.

The advantages of this kind of trip over the larger cruises are:

A great way to experience theMekongand move between destinations.

Much less expensive

Access to places the big boats cannot go.


Sleeping on land in quiet accommodations away from the often noisy riverboats

Ability to enjoy evenings moving about without being restricted to a curfew.

Being able to cruise independently or in a small group making it a more personal experience.

Experiencing a much less touristyMekongadventure



I could go on in detail about the adventure and fantastic sights we saw and, but I will let the included pictures speak for themselves.







In the canals
our boat

















Along the Mekong
Hydrofoil to Phnom Penh
, , , , , , , ,

Post navigation


Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

23 thoughts on “A New Mekong Cruise

  1. Hi owee! Me and my boyfriend arrived yesterday in Ho Chi Minh made a bit of research and we are leavin tomorrow for vinh long and hope we could go up to chau doc by ourselves with no agency through the mekong, how easy is to find a sampan and what should be the average price, is there different type of transportation possible as a sampan or is it the only common transportation? could u give me any good tips? We got a homestay already booked for the night in vinh long. I also had a quick look to your friends agency but saw it too late as we have already booked the homestay. We were in a hurry to leave Ho Chi Minh 🙂 Hope to hear from you might be short for a answer on time.

    1. Wow. Sorry I cannot help much. A last munite sampan is beyond my ability but your homestay might be able to help. A private sampan would most likely be over one hundred a day. The phuong trang (Futa)bus company can get you most places. Sorry if my answer not too clear but it is late night and I am enjoying drinks with friends.

  2. Dear sir,
    first I was thinking of going from Saigon to Chau Doc in 1 day, but as I read here, it would be difficult to do so if I want to do a part by boat? And I would miss a lot.
    right ?

  3. Aah, I have been looking all over the internet for a trip like this – It is perfect!! My friends and I are going backbacking in Vietnam and Cambodia in spring 2015, and we have been wanting to enter Cambodia trough the Mekong delta, but not on a expensive cruiseship. Thank you so much!

      1. Owee, is there a way to contact Say at Hai Dang Guesthouse in Danang. Website, phone#? Just wondering if same Day I knew 44 years ago at 45 Quang Trung. Thanks, Max.

          1. Thank you
            45 quang trung was a villa in DaNang where the Sau I know was working and I was living.
            Thank you for getting back toe so quickly. Max

            1. Yes I know Sau quite well and she does still work at the Hai Dang Guesthouse in Danang. I am asking her for email address now… will get back to you

  4. My wife and I want to do a Mekong excursion in a more authentic way. We want to start in HCMC on Wednesday am, Sept 17 and end up in Phonm Penh on Friday pm, Sept 19. What would you recommend that is fun, safe and comfortable?


    1. I suggest taking the Lazy Waterways tour that V’Explore Travel offers. It will get you from Saigon to Phnom Penh via off the beaten track. It is my favorite Mekong tour

    1. I would estimate anywhere between 80-125 dollars per depending on how many people. Contact V’Explore Travel for a quote…… Tell em I sent you 😉

  5. Hey I am looking for this exact trip but I’ll be coming from PP going to HCMC. Would I just take the speedboats from PP to the border then meet up with them on the other side to go back to hcmc? I will be in Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam all of may looking for some adventures like this. If you can, get back to me I would greatly appreciate any information and advice!

    Thank you!


      1. Hi there, so glad I cam across your thread as the description of your Mekong Delta experience sounds like something my husband and I would enjoy (less tourists, small groups, no rushing and off the beaten track).
        If contacting V’explore which tour name should I mention to them when inquiring about the same one you had experienced?Cheers
        Rgds Maz 🙂

        1. I think at the moment it is called the lazy watewrways, there is also another off the beaten track tour we designed to U Minh Thuong Park.
          Just tell them it was the sampan tour that we sedighned together and they will know for sure.

  6. Aaaah what bliss – sounds like an absolutely fantastic tour – something Gordon and I would have done given half the chance. Next time……. So looking forward to our holiday, now it’s only a few weeks away. Whenever I read your blog I feel inspired and excited about our upcoming trip!

  7. Gday mate! Awesome storey, sums it up perfectly. This is the way to see VN. Anything else is just not the whole picture. Thanks so much for the opportunity and I hope someone else takes you up on this offer soon. Highly recommend it and that’s first hand from the direct experience you see above. talk soon, cheers mate.

Leave a Reply