Sightseeing Cruises in Vietnam- Stretching from north to south, life on the water in Vietnam is a vital organ of the country’s livelihood.
From seafood and fish that play an integral role in Vietnamese cuisine to rice production and the growing of fruit and vegetables; the ocean and rivers breathe life into Vietnam.
The rivers of Vietnam have been part of life in Vietnam for centuries, with many of them playing an integral part in much of Vietnam’s folklore. However, away from the legends and lore, Vietnamese people rely on the rivers and seas that surround this country as a means of income and a way of life.
Touring Vietnam’s coast and rivers offer you the chance to witness this first hand as you become part of life on the river and witness all that is created from it.
From luxury cruise liners to small bespoke sampans, opting to travel overland will take you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country and into the coconut groves of the mighty Mekong River.
Ranging from multi-day cruises to day tours from Vietnam’s two largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, there is a tour of Vietnam to suit all times schedules and preferences.
The best have been hand-picked to make your choice a little easier. You can easily fly into Hanoi from most parts of the world and enjoy these cruises.
Long-Stay Cruises in Vietnam
#1 The Mekong to Phnom Penh
Starting in Ho Chi Minh City, over one week, you’ll journey through the Mekong River to the “rice bowl” of Vietnam on a luxury sampan boat with open bay windows, indoor and outdoor restaurants, and even a pool!
Along the way, you’ll visit the Mekong region’s top locations such as Ben Tre, where coconuts and all that can come from it is in abundance; Vinh Long, where you’ll learn about and try the national favorite, rice wine, and visit the infamous Cai Be floating market. At the market, you’ll learn the extent of life on the water, as locals turn up early morning to sell and buy produce from boats. You’ll even have the chance to dine in a floating pop-up plastic chair restaurant!
You’ll cross the border at Chau Doc as locals have done for centuries, and make your way north as you sail towards Phnom Penh. This journey will show you how the landscape and way of life transform as you go through Cambodia. Your cruise from Ho Chi Minh City will finish in Phnom Penh, with one last sightseeing tour before it is time to say goodbye.
The Mekong River is one of the longest in the world. The source stems from the Tibetan plateau through China and into the Southeast Asia countries of Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It is often referred to as the Mighty Mekong, because of its power and force as an integral resource for the countries it flows through. This one-week trip will show you exactly what that means for Vietnamese and Cambodian people.
#2 Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap
A cruise that takes just eight days, this leisurely journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap starts in My Tho, a city that substitutes many of its roads for rivers, where you’ll navigate through mangroves to discover this natural city in the Mekong.
Much like the journey from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, you’ll visit floating markets and explore the power of the Mekong and all it creates as your lull along the river. Before crossing the border, you’ll visit Sa Dec, a town that is famous in the south of Vietnam for its fresh produce and dishes with a slight Cambodian twist. Along the way, you’ll be introduced to the people who live and work in this region, with a chance to enter workshops and learn the processes behind their crafts.
After crossing the border to Cambodia, you’ll continue your cultural immersion as you make your way to Phnom Penh, where you’ll stop for a sightseeing tour and introduction to the history of the country. You’ll spend two days in the capital city before your cruise takes you to your next and final destination, Siem Reap, where you’ll visit small villages and get to know the locals before your trip comes to an end.
Cruises that tour from Ho Chi Minh City are lavish. With some featuring impressive additions such as a library and perhaps even a swimming pool that centers the decking area. During your cruise, you’ll be inclined to watch the world go by on the deck, where you’ll have the chance to see the landscapes change around you as you travel through each country.
#3 Viet Tri to Halong Bay Red River Cruise
Starting on the outskirts of Hanoi, this two-week journey takes you from northern villages to Vietnam’s most famous attraction; Halong Bay, one of the New Wonders of the World, according to UNESCO.
A cruise in the north of Vietnam takes you on a historic journey as you discover the little-known ancient temples in the crevices of limestone karsts that dot the landscape. When you are not gawking at ancient history, you’ll be taken away by the lime green hue of the rice paddies and the calming nature of life in the countryside of Vietnam.
Cruising along the Red River, your journey will be marked halfway by a stop in the capital, Hanoi. You’ll see the sights of this 1,000-year-old city before you make your way to the next highlight of the trip, Ninh Binh.
Known as the ‘Halong Bay on Land’, Ninh Binh is a vista of rice paddies and limestone karsts that you will float dreamily between as your cruise takes you along the Red River that runs through it. Your time on land today will be spent hopping between artisans that attest to Ninh Binh’s reputation as a home of true craftsmanship.
Now you have seen the ‘Halong Bay on land’, it is time for the real thing. You’ll have three days to cruise between the 1,600 islands to see the caves and beaches, as well as visiting the floating village and pearl farms that locals have built here. The light haze that sits on the water creates a sense of calm in the limestone karsts. The perfect way to end the cruise.
Short Sightseeing Cruises in Vietnam
#1 Mekong River Cruises from Ho Chi Minh City
Boat trip from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong’s main cities, Ben Tre and My Tho can be done in a day or multi-day trip depending on your time frame
Whether you choose to tour Ben Tre or My Tho, you’ll be taken to the outskirts of the city to visit small villages and get to know a little about life on the Mekong. The tours of the Mekong region are very well structured: you’ll hop on a boat and be given a traditional non la conical hat, then you’ll be guided through fruit orchards and workshops making coconut candy, pottery and weaved fabrics.
It is possible to visit both of the cities in one day, as your small traditional boat can weave through the fern-covered river to connect them. You’ll stop in a large restaurant that accommodates a tourist palette before making your way back to the city or to your accommodation for the night. The two-day trip will include a visit to the famous Cai Be floating market for breakfast the early morning before returning to the city.
#2 Halong Bay
An essential when visiting the north of Vietnam, the cruise liners of Halong Bay are an iconic symbol of tourism for the entire country.
From Halong city, it is possible to go on a one-day tour that will take you between the karsts on a small local boat. You’ll visit some of the caves that Halong Bay is home to and perhaps even drive the boat yourself during your tour. This is a more local tour that is perfect for low budget travellers looking to see Halong Bay.
For those on a larger budget, you can spend the night on a cruise ship that will take you further into Halong Bay.
Throughout your cruise, you’ll never feel hungry as you are offered multi-course meals that introduce you to northern Vietnamese cuisine. In between meals, you’ll visit caves, pearl farms, and Ti Top Island, where President Ho Chi Minh once took Russian cosmonaut, Titov. You’ll have additional activities including squid fishing or kayaking to fill out your trip.
This is one of the most memorable trips in Vietnam, where you’ll have lots of time to gaze out at this natural wonder.
Indochina Junk Cruise Dinner in Ho Chi Minh City
The shortest of Vietnam’s cruise experiences, the Indochina Junk Cruise is the perfect date night for your Vietnam tour. As you are welcomed with drinks, you’ll cruise along the Saigon River as the sun starts to set, a magical time of day in the city.
You’ll have dinner to the sound of traditional Vietnamese folk music and be entertained with dances to finish off the short but sweet evening.
Whether you want to cruise your way through the Mekong to Cambodia on a longer trip or hop on a one or two-day tour; taking a cruise in Vietnam will introduce you to the local way of life in a way that you never would have experienced otherwise. Cruise into the local culture and see life between coconut trees or limestone karsts while on a boat in Vietnam.
About the Author
Born and raised in Scotland, my writing career started in an art studio in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, three years ago. From there, I progressed from strength-to-strength, I travelled around Asia and Europe and found myself in Da Nang, my home for the time being.
Words flow when I am writing about unknown experiences, authentic cuisine, and artistic endeavors. I write to find tangibility and emotion through words that you can find through Tripfuser on Instagram and Facebook.