As a luxury travel planner, I try to see as much of the world as I can, so I can share my on-the-ground perspective with clients. This is especially key in more exotic destinations, where language and culture is so different from what we have the in Western hemisphere. So I was thrilled to share a recent scouting trip with the fab wedding mag, Destination I Do. No other magazine specializes in romance travel they way that they do, from destination weddings to honeymoons — it’s a joy and a privilege to be able to share my passion with them.
The story was to experience a river cruise along the Mekong Delta of Vietnam and Cambodia. I wasn’t sure how I felt about river cruises as a honeymoon option; most of them don’t give you much alone time, which is key for a post-wedding escape. (I usually recommend them more for anniversary, birthday or multi-generational trips.) But this river cruise — by Viking River Cruises and sailing along the Mekong Delta between Vietnam and Cambodia — was something different. Much of Cambodia and interior Vietnam is rural with not-great infrastructure, and traveling by water would allow us to get around faster and see more sights. Also, this particular itinerary included multiple overnights away from the ship, in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Which means couples can slip away from the crowd and do some exploring and dining on their own — exactly what a honeymoon is about! And I’d long wanted to go to Cambodia, so it was a triple win!
After two and half weeks exploring, I came away with a revised opinion on river cruises for honeymoons. They’re not for everyone–you dine at communal tables with other guests at every meal, and the cabins aren’t super-private, at least on the smaller ships. And they move a lot, which means you have to stick to some else’s schedule of coming and going. But like all cruises, they are so EASY, which is nice after a hectic wedding-planning season. And if you combine it with some time at hotels on land, where you can get your alone fix, it becomes a great combo of alone time and sightseeing time, often for much less than it would cost if you did the trip a la carte with the same stops. Our ship had only 28 cabins so it felt intimate, and it had a beautiful covered top deck with lounge chairs and a bar, ideal for taking in the changing coastline when we weren’t ashore.
As for Vietnam and Cambodia, I loved every minute exploring these fascinating countries. Siem Reap, Cambodia was a stand-out–I could have easily spend a full week just hanging out there, exploring temples each morning before the heat kicks in, and taking in the great dining, shopping and hotel scene. The gentle Buddhist culture warmed my heart, as did the country’s optimism and generosity, especially poignant in the face of their horrific recent past of genocide.
Vietnam was a feast for the senses, from the exhilaration of trying to cross a scooter-filled streets of Saigon to the quiet splash of fisherman along the Mekong Delta. And the food!! We were able to explore restaurants on our own, as well as join the group for reservations at top spots in each city.
You can read more about the trip in the Spring 2017 issue of Destination I Do, as well as my friend Harmony Walton‘s experience sailing the Greek Isles about a Windstar sailing vessel. And if you’re interested in traveling to Southeast Asia or book a river cruise, let’s chat!