FIVE questions
you should
ask ...
Speak to one of our travel
within 5 rings

Which of these is important to you?

  • Concierge style service. Your own dedicated travel manager who'll look after you until you travel.
  • Better value. Exclusive fares you won't find online to save you money.
  • 24 hour helpline. A worldwide team just a phone call away if you need help while you're overseas.
  • Top on Trustpilot. More highly rated than all our competitors with 98% saying they'd book again.
  • Risk free. Fully licensed with Client Trust Account to protect your money. ABTA, ATOL protected.

Your calls always answered within 5 rings.

You've read the reviews so why not call us NOW?
Tell us what you need. We'll find you a solution
Asia Reviews 8076
Asia Offers 47
Asia Fly-Drives 1

From war to perfect peace

The 2,700-mile Mekong endured decades of conflict and heartbreak; Henry Philips tells how it has become a source of beauty and wonder


The long transition from war zone to fashionable holiday place has happened several times before, but never perhaps with such pace and style as that accomplished by Vietnam and Cambodia.

Until relatively recently Vietnam's Mekong Delta summoned up thoughts of the epic 1979 war movie Apocalypse Now, in which Martin Sheen's soldier journeys upriver on a patrol boat in search of a renegade officer played by Marlon Brando.


A highlight is to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat


The Mekong played a key role in the war. Former US Secretary of State John Kerry commanded a Swift patrol boat on the river 50 years ago - he was so appalled by what he saw during his period of combat that he became a fervent anti-war campaigner. He subsequently entered politics, becoming the Democratic nominee for President in 2004.

Last year, Kerry returned to the Delta and discovered that the free-fire zone he had served in was now the starting point for one of the world's great cruising experiences.

The 2,700-mile Mekong begins as snowfall on the Tibetan plateau among the Himalayas - and ends at the Mekong Delta in Vietnam where it flows into the sea. Like most rivers, through history it has been a source of life and hope. Its waters play a vital part in irrigation: in the Mekong Delta the rice fields thrive because of it. Politically, it acts as a border between countries - it passes through six.


Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels near Ho Chi Minh City


A Vietnam and Cambodia river trip needs at least a fortnight to do it justice - beginning for example in Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, and ending in Siem Reap near the extraordinary Angkor temple complex. A highlight of any trip here is to watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat.

As with most river cruises, a key attraction is the service on board.  Much sought after is the cuisine of Luke Nguyen - an acclaimed chef, author and TV personality who serves his own brand of local cuisine paired with quality wines. In Ho Chi Minh City, passengers can enjoy an exclusive dinner at the stylish Xu restaurant, inspired by Luke, with a range of exquisite dishes that offer a contemporary take on traditional Vietnamese favourites.

There is also the possibility of having a Vietnamese cooking class on some boats, as well as a dance show by children from a local orphanage, a water blessing by a monk and a visit to a local farmer's home.

Guests can visit the Cu Chi tunnels, which were used by the Viet Cong. There is also a chance to enjoy the Rex Hotel, famous as the place where during the Vietnam War the American military command held its daily news conference, referred to by war correspondents as the Five O'Clock Follies thanks to the absurd optimism of the American officers. The Rex's rooftop bar was a well-known hangout for military officials and war correspondents.

There are more harrowing reminders of troubled times in Cambodia, where tours are available from Phnom Penh to the Killing Fields at the village of Choeung Ek, the site of a Buddhist memorial to the victims and a genocide museum commemorating the genocide.

A memorial park has been built around the mass graves of many thousands of victims, most of whom were executed after interrogation at the S-21 Prison in Phnom Penh. Tuol Svay Pray High was turned into a torture, interrogation and execution centre. Of the 14,000 people known to have entered, only seven survived.

But the most memorable feature for most visitors will be arriving at Siem Reap, from which tours depart to Angkor Wat.


Take a tour a long the Mekong Delta


Siem Reap used to be a stopping-off point. Thanks to the growth in tourism it has become a destination in its own right. It has attracted a burgeoning community of Cambodian and international artists: the Angkor Wat International Film Festival, for example, has become a major event.

The prime attraction, however, is the temple complex at Angkor Wat, where you will be taken to watch the sunrise. The temples are on top of a hill; on arrival you will enjoy a fabulous view over Tonle Sap lake, the Kulen Plateau and paddy fields.

Built more than 1,000 years ago, the temple is beautiful, particularly when the frangipani trees are
 in bloom.

First published in the Daily Mail -  September 2018

More articles below...

For more inspiration, read what travel writers have to say...

Spa from the madding crowd

Naomi Leach finds spiritual bliss in Bali

Nature in Malaysia

Renowned British naturalist David Bellamy returns to a stunning old haunt

Vietnam's capital

John McEntee discovers a city of crazy extremes

Japan's Shrines

The spiritual Kansai region of holy sites is attracting attention

Cambodia's temples

How Mark Palmer was allowed an audience with the hidden Buddha

Converted to Bali

Fashion designer Julien Macdonald is stunned by the island's beauty

Paws for thought

Helen Nicholson encounters China's star bear

Partying in Phuket

Olivia Grant heads to Thailand with pure intentions

Beautiful Burma

A once closed country that is catching up with the modern world, says Tamara Cohen

Loving Langkawi

The Datai is heaven on Earth, says Max Hastings

A welcoming smile

The many faces of Vietnam

One night in Bangkok

Jonathan Neal spends 48 hours in the Thai capital

Thailand with a toddler

Julian Robinson and his wife enjoy an adventure holiday with their 20-month-old daughter

Perfect Phuket

Jo Gardner guides you through the many faces of Phuket

Langkawi in luxury

Harriet Walker is delighted by the wildlife and stunning scenery

Slick Singapore

Jeremy Clarke is amazed by the phenomenon that is Singapore

Raffles Returns

Mark Porter is delighted to report the re-opening of one of the most famous hotels in the world

Singapore fling

A city-state packed with excitement

Pulsating Hong Kong

Twenty years on, Siobhan Warwicker discovers that life on this island remains electric

The luxury side of Thailand

Ashley Pearson reports on three of the country's most hedonistic hotels

Thailand's grown up

Family-friendly Thailand

A taste for Bangkok

More than just a stopover, as Isabelle King discovers on a culinary tour

Temptations of tasty Thailand

Five-star foodie treats

Thailand forecast

TV weather presenter Lucy Verasamy goes island-hopping and finds the warmest of welcomes

Pangkor Laut

My island of dreams says Helen Moss


In a land with a licence to thrill, Frank Barrett finds the inspiration for both James Bond and The Night Manager

Vivid Vietnam

From vibrant street markets to havens of tranquility, Harriet Mallinson loved the contrast

Beautiful Bali

This tropical island makes Alice Hart-Davis's spirits soar

Forever Hong Kong

China may be in charge but this city shines brightly, as Max Hastings discovers

Vibrant Vietnam

Simon Heptinstall loves the glamour, the traditional and the exotic

Our guide to the joys of Japan

Land of the rising sun

Stopover in Kuala Lumpur

Fabulous street food and so much more

A foodie love affair

Chef Raymond Blanc loves the country that he says has some of the finest, and healthiest, food in the world

Something different

Japan is an enthralling mix of historic traditions and cultural quirks according to Ivo Dawnay

Not quite what you're looking for?
We can easily customise an offer to suit your exact requirements