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River Boat Cruises in South East Asia

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Angkor Wat

While there are numerous opportunities of varying length and quality for river boat cruising on the rivers of Southeast Asia, there are two of particular interest.

The mighty Mekong River rises in Yunan Province in China and flows through 5 countries before emptying into the South China Sea.  The most appealing river boat cruise on the Mekong is the 7 day sailing between Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Siem Reap in Cambodia, with a visit to Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, en route.  Along the way passengers will encounter temples, fishing villages and floating markets untouched by time, a glimpse into a way of life virtually unchanged in hundreds of years.

AMA Waterways currently has La Marguerite in service between Saigon and Siem Reap.  La Marguerite will be joined by a new-build, as yet unnamed, in the Spring of 2011.  Pandaw River Cruises has two ships on the Mekong, Mekong Pandaw and Tonie Pandaw.  Pandaw offers not only the usual Saigon to Siem Reap river boat cruise, but also some longer cruises into areas less frequently visited by tourists.  Lastly there is Jayavarman Cruises, with one ship, the Jayavarman.

Burma (or Myanmar), hidden away for decades, has only in recent years re-opened itself to the outside world.  A land of great geographical diversity, Burma offers the visitor stunning beauty, abundant history, and a way of life virtually unchanged in centuries.

River life dominates this country to this day.  Mountainous terrain helped to make the rivers the main transportation route; farm lands rely on the rivers for irrigation; and river fishing provides the primary source of protein.

Most river boat cruises ply the waters of the Irrawaddy River, also known as the Ayeyarwady.  2000 years of Buddhist art and architecture are found along its banks.  Depending on the cruise chosen, passengers can visit the ancient capitals of Ava and Amarapura, visit pagodas and villages along the way, and experience the wondrous Pagan (Bagan).

Pagan, an ancient Burmese capital and spiritual center still awaiting its

Pagan (Bagan), Myanmar

rightful designation as a World Heritage Site, has literally thousands of surviving monuments.  Only Angkor Wat in Cambodia can compare.  Abandoned as a capital some seven hundred years ago, Pagan declined as a religious center as well.  Today, the temples and monuments remain, rising from the vast plain in stunning beauty.  Pagan is a place of peace and calm, a site of enduring wonder.

The iconic river boat cruise in Burma is the 7 day roundtrip sailing between Mandalay and Pagan.  Orient Express offers this cruise on the deluxe Road to Mandalay.  Pandaw Cruises operates one vessel, the Pandaw II, in their native land.  Pandaw offers a number of different cruises of varying lengths and ports of call throughout the sailing season.

Technorati Tags: AMA Waterways, Angkor Wat, Bagan, Burma, Cambodia, Irrawaddy River, Mandalay, Mekong River, Myanmar, Pagan, Pandaw Cruises, river boat cruises, Siem Reap, Viet Nam