Exotic destinations are all the rage right now. The good news is plenty of suppliers are adding product to meet the demand. New to the waterways is Minor Hotels’ Mekong Kingdoms river cruises. There will be five vessels in the fleet, but the two barges you need to know are Bohème, a 13-cabin vessel that will begin a Luang Prabang-to-Chiang Khong itinerary on July 1, and Gypsy, a two-cabin, exclusive-use vessel that will begin operating in the same space in April.
Aboard Bohème, guests will find Indochinese-inspired artwork, comfortable furnishings, an expansive sun deck, wine cellar and spa. The top stateroom is the Royal Suite on the upper deck, totaling 645 square feet in addition to its 150-square-foot veranda. Both cabins on Gypsy are 258 square feet, although one is fitted with a king bed and the other is configured with twin beds.
The journey from Chiang Khong to Luang Prabang is two nights as it heads downstream; the upstream cruise takes three nights. Itineraries include guided jungle treks, a visit to the Pak Ou caves (known for the thousands of Buddha images carved into the limestone formations), a stop in the Hmong Village at Pak Beng or Ban Baw and mountain biking to the village of Ban Houy Phalam. Onboard, guests can partake in sunrise yoga, Buddhist meditation, sunset cocktails, cooking demonstrations, jewelry-making classes, fishing for giant catfish and more.
For bookings, reach out to Sheila Buenafe ([email protected]), sales & marketing, Mekong Kingdoms.
Also on the Mekong, Avalon Waterways is adding the 36-passenger Avalon Saigon, which can make the trip all the way from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap due to its narrow body. We love the “face the view” beds that look out through your window onto the destination. Guests in the Panorama Suites will have 14-foot sliding windows that they can open, turning their entire cabin into a balcony.
Additionally, Pandaw is constructing the 28-passenger Sabei Pandaw, which will debut in November. While this vessel won’t have sliding glass doors, it will have an outside promenade accessible to all guests, which will have chairs and a table outside each cabin. Both Avalon Waterways and Pandaw will offer longer excursions than Mekong Kingdoms with a 13-day “Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia and the Mekong River” and an 11-day “The Laos Mekong” itinerary, respectively, available.