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Hoyaheel

Mekong Avalon in August

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No questions, just excitement - we're about to book a Mekong cruise on Avalon in August. Husband can't wait to do another river cruise and we're both so excited to see more of the Vietnam countryside after an ocean cruise a couple years ago. And Siem Reap is a bucket list item for me (my bucket list is the UNESCO heritage list ūüėČ

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Vietnam and Cambodia are murdurously hot and HUMID in August.  The sun is very, very bright and hot.  I did the River cruise in early January, when the weather is the most comfortable during the year.  It was doable for me, but I cannot imagine being there in August.  If you can, try to book between October and March.  Best is between December and February.

 

if possible, spend extra days pre and post cruise.  I arrived one day early in Cambodia to get over jet lag (also insurance against cancelled or delayed flight).  The extra day allowed me to explore the city leisurely (in Tuk-tuk of course).  As for Vietnam, if your cruise itinerary does not include Halong Bay, an overnight cruise (May be 2 nights) in Halong Bay is a must.  There are lots of activities such as kayaking to explore caves.  Hanoi is also a fun city for a day trip.  The Tuk-Tuk ride through the city weeding through traffic of disorderly fleet of zooming tuk-tuk’s is quite thrilling.

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12 minutes ago, dreamercruise said:

 If you can, try to book between October and March.  Best is between December and February.

 

August is when we want to travel ūüėȬ†We're aware of the weather and are not concerned. We're not spending extra time in Vietnam this time - we'll arrive early in HCMC and stay an extra day in Siem Reap and that's about all the time we can do right now. I'd like to visit Hue and Ha Long bay in the future. We did spend 2 days in HCMC on our ocean cruise (we were on Azamara so we sailed right up into the city - it was fabulous) so don't feel we need any additional time there this trip.

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Dress for protestation against sunburn and moisquitoes.  Bring bug spray (DEET) and cover neck and legs.  I brought a light cotton scarf to cover my neck and sometimes over my hat to shield strong sun.  I wore long pants and long sleeve shirt (over short sleeve top for layering flexibility) which are made of breatheable and sweat wicking material.  My friend gave me mosquito repellent bracelets.  She put them on her wrists and ankles!  The bracelets are more comfortable to wear than the sticky bug spray.

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Yes, mosquitos love me, quite aware I need to bring protection, thanks. I *have* travelled in Asia before. And in developing countries - I work in global health ūüėČ

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Cant wait to hear about your trip.  We follow in January.  Have fun planning.  

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32 minutes ago, Hoyaheel said:

@dreamercruise- what was your favorite excursion on the river?

Nothing stands out in particular.  They are all good., because We get to appreciate the nature, culture, customs, and lifestyle in Cambodia and Vietnam.  We went with Scenic, which is all inclusive.  We have daily excursions plus one free choice in some days.  We visited fish farms, bird watching on a 2-person boat, monasteries for women and training monks, floating market, and fish/fruits/vegetable markets (to learn about the large varieties).  Sometimes, We had performers on board for special shows in the evening.  I normally do not care about shows (except Russian ballet or musical orchestra), but I would say these cultural shows were good.

 

To me, the highlight of the trip was the land portion in Cambodia.  Angkor Wat and various temple tours including sunrise tour were very worthwhile.  We had eight or less people in our group in each excursion.

 

As for food, I did not find meals in local restaurants much exciting.  The one local restaurant we visited in Cambodia on our own pre-cruise via a Tuk-tuk ride had interesting local food.  Both my husband and I enjoyed their special fish and squid dish very much.  The food onboard Scenic Spirit, however, was excellent.  We had our meals cooked to order.  Everyday, the chef introduced different food (different themes and countries).  In one of the late afternoon food (fruits) show, the chef showed us many different kinds of local Cambodia fruits.  After we tasted a little of each kind, we were full.

 

We did not do any land portion in Vietnam, because we visited Vietnam several times in previous ocean cruises.  Thus, I cannot comment on Vietnam tours.  However, from my previous experience, Hanoi and Halong Bay are a must-visit.  I recommend taking a 3-day, 2-night cruise on Halong Bay.

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Posted (edited)

As I mentioned, we're not going to do other places in Vietnam this trip (I imagine a land trip from Hanoi to Halong Bay to Hue is what I'd want to do). We're on Avalon which is a really small amount of passengers - only 18 cabins! So it looks like the groups on excursions are small. The market excursions look amazing to me - my favorite things anywhere in the world!¬†¬†We do tour with Avalon a little in HCMC and get a cooking class/lunch which I'm looking forward to - we love to do food tours (and did a pho tour on our last stop in HCMC which we really enjoyed!), and then we're taking the extra Avalon days in Siem Reap. We also have free time there and are extending our trip an extra night (which means two extra tour days as our flight doesn't leave until 20:00 or 22:00). As I also mentioned, I do use the UNESCO World Heritage List as my bucket list, so I'm really looking forward to the temples!!! We also want to do this particular trip while we're still relatively agile ūüėȬ†[watch out Machu Pichu, we're coming for you next ;-)]

 

And after all the touring, a couple massages and some time at the pool at the Park Hyatt in Siem Reap would not be amiss either ūüėČ

Edited by Hoyaheel

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2 hours ago, Hoyaheel said:

¬†As I also mentioned, I do use the UNESCO World Heritage List as my bucket list, so I'm really looking forward to the temples!!! We also want to do this particular trip while we're still relatively agile ūüėȬ†[watch out Machu Pichu, we're coming for you next ;-)]

 

Funny you mentioned checking off bucket list while still being agile.  Same situation here.  I am rushing to complete mine as well.  La Galapagos (early summer), Machu Picchu (mid summer), Antarctica (Plus South Georgia and Falkland) planned this year.  Hopefully, Hokkaido (UNESCO, in winter), and Arctic (plus Greenland, and ending in Reykjavik in July) next year.  After that, we can take it easy with non-expedition cruising.

 

One warning about the Angkor Wat temples - the itinerary was jam packed.  On one day, we visited two temples (one in morning, and one in afternoon) and then went to an outdoor gala show in the evening.  There was a lot to see, so was the walking and climbing.  Normally, the exercise was no big deal to me.  Yet, it was the hot and humid weather plus very bright sun (yes, even in early January) that took the toll for me.  Adding to the long day was the extended night gala.  It was a very, very long day.  Early next morning, we got up in wee hours and went back to the temple to catch the sunrise.  It was well worth it though.

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We did our first ever river cruise on the Mekong 9 years ago. We also travelled in August. It was hot and humid but would get a reprieve most afternoons with a short sharp downpour (maybe last 1/2 hr). We travelled downstream, most of the cruise boats call at the same places. Siem Reap was definately the highlight. I had read beforehand to take a lanyard and plastic pouch (which we did) to put our Temples pass in. So glad we did - pass was made of paper (to last 3 days) and you were constantly being asked to show your pass - on the roads, entrance to sites, walking through site etc - if it had been in our wallet it would have been useless after day 1. Something that we did extra was go up in the tethered balloon and we enjoyed this. If you want to climb up to the top part of Ankor Wat, you will both need your knees and shoulders covered - a shawl/ scarf won't do.

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I appreciate this advice too as I’ll be there this fall...in November.  Right this moment 

I’m sitting in the Hong Kong airport for a looong trip home to Boston.

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On 4/20/2019 at 10:11 AM, Hoyaheel said:

No questions, just excitement - we're about to book a Mekong cruise on Avalon in August. Husband can't wait to do another river cruise and we're both so excited to see more of the Vietnam countryside after an ocean cruise a couple years ago. And Siem Reap is a bucket list item for me (my bucket list is the UNESCO heritage list ūüėČ

 

YES!!  The weather can be super hot in Southeast Asia in August AND Siem Reap is totally awesome.  Below is a link to my live/blog from visiting early last year all over in this amazing part of the world.  We sailed with Avalon and were very pleased.  Below are a few sample visuals to help build up your anticipation and excitement.  In Bangkok, they told us there are two weather seasons there.  Then, the punch line . . . the two seasons are . . . hot . . . and HOTTER!!!  It was very hot for us in January.  Cannot image the challenges in the middle of the summer.  Good luck.  Don't be shy in asking any and all follow-up questions.  

 

THANKS!  Enjoy!  Terry in Ohio

 

SE Asia/Mekong River, Etc.!  Live/blog from early 2018, first adventure through SE Asia, stops in Hong Kong and Bangkok, before exploring all over Vietnam and Cambodia, seven days sailing on the Mekong River. Now at 46,074 views.

www.boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2591474

 

Here are just a few visuals samples from what we saw and did with Avalon while sailing along the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. Many, many more photos and details on the full live/blog.:

(Open your screen/viewer wider to see these pictures larger/better!)

CMY_0654%202_zpsu3xzdbr1.jpg

 

CMY_1642%202_zpsylne46ki.jpg

 

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We saw many temples, palaces, markets and samples of daily life/work, including at this below spectacular Royal structure in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.:

CMY_1271_zpsif0trcea.jpg

 

CMY_1025%203_zpsn1ha0rtn.jpg

 

From Siem Reap, here are just five quick visual "eye-candy" samples.  We super loved not just the historic temples there, but this town was also very charming and hyper interesting.  Don't miss Siem Reap and allow enough time to fully enjoy its history and sights!!.:

750170660_CMY_27101.jpg.3a018576ce8b3e578de9fe496a524eef.jpg

 

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632504104_CMY_28116.jpg.86f9fe9e3f61c836bdc380948d4a9bdd.jpg

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Hi Hoyaheel,  we did the Mekong with Avalon 3 years ago and it was excellent.  We did do the whole 9 yards pretty much from Hanoi to Siem Reap, I can’t say enough wonderful things about the entire experience.  We too were on the Siem Reap ship, only had a total of 28 and met so many nice people.  

 

We so enjoyed Vietnam that we‚Äôre returning this November- mid December and doing an independent trip, visiting more of central Vietnam. ¬†We realize this is t the ‚Äėbest‚Äô time of year for CV but it worked for our schedules.

 

Enjoy your travels with Avalon and while in Siem Reap at the Park Hyatt there’s a great night market a few blocks away, we’ll worth a visit, especially to see the bug market, I’m way to squeamish to eat insects but it was interesting to see.

 

Sorry if you’re already aware but your shoes must be taken off when you return to the ship for cleaning by crew members so I’d try to have a pair that were easily hosed down, I wore Keen H20 I think that’s the style, dried quickly and no need to put on wet shoes.  Just a helpful hint.

 

enjoy!  Avalon does a great trip, nice hotels, great ship, guides, etc.  oh and the cooking class was a blast.

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I have some Chaco water/sneakers that I'm planning to bring, and probably some minimalist ECCOs I have. Keen sandals don't work on me - only the boots (and only if I size up a half size). I used to have Teva sandals with a toe cap but they don't make them anymore and mine died (after many years on life support due to Shoe Goo glue ;-)

 

We have booked our flights and our extra hotel nights now, and now is the time when it feels real to me!! I think our final cruise payment is in a week or two - I'm traveling for work and will check when I get home :-)

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I visited Angkor Wat in March a few years and it was so hot I thought I was going to pass out.  August would be challenging.  Hopefully they will take you early in the morning and late afternoon.  

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