Are You Ready For Your Mekong Adventure?
The countdown is on! It’s time to start planning all those little details that will make our OUTbound Mekong River Cruise & Angkor Wat visit even more amazing! Below are a few things to help you make the most of our vacation together. As always, if you have any questions that we haven’t covered, or have a special request, hit us up… either by phone at 916.683.1000 or email us at info@iamOUTbound.com.
Let’s get started!
Since our Mekong River Cruise leaves from Ho Chi Minh City and we end in Siem Reap, many OUTbounders are booking a ‘Multi-City’ ticket when looking for flights. The ‘Multi-City’ option can be found on most airline’s websites where you would choose between a one-way or round trip flight or under the ‘Advanced Search’ link. With the ‘Multi-City’ option, you’ll be able to enter your departure airport, arrival in Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and then a departure from Siem Reap–Angkor International Airport (SAI) back to your original airport. The multi-city option will often be cheaper than purchasing two one-way tickets separately.
The airline you choose is completely up to you. While flights are not included, we’re always happy to help narrow down the best flight options for you. Simply give us a call or send us an email, letting us know where you’ll be flying from, if you have a preferred airline (based on frequent flyer miles or credit card points), & what class of service you typically like to book.
Getting to the Ship
The exact address of the Bach Dang Wharf is 17 Đ. Tôn Đức Thắng, Bến Nghé, Quận 1, Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, Vietnam.
There are a number of ways to reach the Bach Dang Wharf. The wharf is about 25 minutes from Ho Chi Minh City’s airport, the Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Taxis are readily available at the airport as you exit the arrivals hall on the ground floor. While Uber does not operate in Vietnam, ‘Grab’ is the most widely used ride-hailing app in Vietnam. You can download the ride-share app by clicking HERE.
Boarding officially begins at 4:00pm local time, but you are free to arrive at our ship at any time after 2:00pm. In the event your stateroom is not ready prior to 4:00pm, feel free to drop your bags at the reception desk, grab a drink from the bar and relax in the panoramic lounge or head up top to the sun deck to recover from your long travel day.
Both Vietnam and Cambodia require a tourist visa for United States citizens upon entry. For both countries, your passport must have six months’ validity remaining to be allowed entry.
One blank passport page is required for your Vietnamese entry stamp.
The Vietnamese Immigration Department issues E-visas through an online application process. E-visas are issued with a validity period of up to 90 days, one-entry for $25 USD or multiple entries for $50 USD. E-visa holders may enter and exit Vietnam through 42 designated international border gates, including all international airports and the Mekong River as we exit the country and cross into Cambodia.
Since we will be crossing into Cambodia by boat, your Cambodian visa will be completed onboard. It is a quick form that will take less than five minutes to complete. Your visa fee has already been paid, so you are good to go!
The best time to visit is October to April, during the dry season. This coincides with Southeast Asia’s peak travel season when visitors come to enjoy the sun and the relatively cooler months, although the weather along the Mekong tends to remain warm and humid throughout the year.
What To Pack
- The weather along the Mekong River is most suited for comfortable and lightweight clothing, particularly natural fabrics such as cotton.
- Avoid sheer clothing and pack shirts (not tank tops) and pants for visiting temples, shrines and palaces where it is often a requirement to cover the shoulders and knees.
- A light waterproof jacket for occasional rainy weather or cooler evenings.
- Good walking shoes or sandals. Keep in mind that you may be required to remove footwear when we are visiting religious sites.
- A hat, sunscreen, sunglasses and insect repellent.
Laundry services are available for an extra fee. The prices and instructions will be found in your cabin. Generally, laundry deposited in the morning will be returned to you that evening. Dry-cleaning services are not available.
Our ship has a treatment room with an onboard massage therapist who provides different types of massages for an extra fee. Each massage lasts one hour.
- Aromatherapy Oil Massage – $28
- Aromatherapy Cream Massage – $30
- Hot Oil Massage – $30
- Head, Back & Shoulder Massage – $25
- Traditional Thai Massage – $23
- Traditional Khmer Massage – $23
- Khmer Foot Massage – $20
- Facial Care Herbal Treatment – $32
All treatments can be booked onboard, depending on availability.
On board our ship, bottled water is provided in your staterooms, at the bar and at the reception desk. Bottle water is used for making all the ice cubs onboard, and our chefs use bottled water when preparing our meals.
When not on board, we caution you against eating local ice creams or beverages containing ice cubes, raw sugar cane, or fruit peels. Do not drink tap water in Vietnam or Cambodia.
Tipping Our Hosts
Tipping is the ONLY thing not included with your OUTbound vacation. We never want to dictate anyone’s generosity or decide how much you think YOUR experience with a crew member, waitstaff or tour guide was worth. How much to tip depends on the type of service you receive and your personal experience.
During our trip together, you’ll come into contact with many different servers and hosts. At the end of each day’s guided tour, you’ll have the chance to tip our guide and driver whatever you feel your experience was worth. Feel free at any point during your cruise to tip whoever you’d like, be it a bartender who goes the extra mile, your stateroom attendants who not only clean your room but provide nightly turn down service, or a tour guide who’s insight and knowledge makes your visit even more memorable than expected.
If you feel that any individual in particular has gone above and beyond in making your experience something extra special, then we encourage you to reach out to them directly and let them know how much you appreciated their service during our time together.
What Money Should You Bring?
The official currency in Vietnam is the Vietnam đồng, symbolised by ₫ or VND. Vietnamese notes are a mix of small paper bills (no coins are used), and larger polymer bills, in values from 10,000 VND to 500,000 VND. If you’re confused by all the zeros, mentally remove three zeros to get a simpler number.
Upon arriving in Vietnam, you’ll want to have some cash in the local currency. You can find ATMs accepting international cards just outside the arrival gates at all major airports. ATMs are a common sight in Vietnamese cities, and you should have no trouble locating one in most destinations. International cards such as Visa are accepted at more than 20,000 ATMs nationwide. If you need help finding the nearest ATM, just ask your hotel. Withdrawal limits per transaction range between 2 million VND (just under 100 dollars) and 3 million VND with local bank ATMs; and between 5 million VND to 10 million VND with international bank ATMs.
American Express is not widely accepted in either Vietnam or Cambodia.
One thing to remember… It’s a good idea to withdraw some extra cash before boarding our ship, especially if you want to buy crafts or textiles directly from the local artisans we will visit. We’ll be traveling to some of the more remote destinations in Vietnam, so credit cards won’t always be accepted.
Wondering how much money to prepare for your trip in Vietnam? Below is a list to give you an idea of some average prices:
Sidewalk coffee – 25,000 VND (1 USD)
Street food meal with ice tea – 45,000 VND (2 USD)
Cappuccino in a cafe – 55,000 VND (2.50 USD)
Three-course restaurant meal – 450,000 (20 USD)/person
The national currency in Cambodia is the Khmer Riel (KHR). Although US dollars are widely used, it is recommended to keep some local currency at hand. Banknotes are issued in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000.
Visa and MasterCard are accepted in many major restaurants and shops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. However, it is recommended that you carry some cash in Khmer Riel or US dollars for smaller purchases from local craftspeople and shops.
ATMs are available in towns throughout the country.
What Power Converters Will I Need?
Feel free to bring a UBS adapter with multiple outlets so that you can charge several of your devices at once.
Some reasons why you might buy travel insurance include:
- Cancel for Any Reason
- Unexpected Work Requirements
- Personal or Family Illness
OUTbound does not provide travel insurance. However, we always recommend using a third-party insurance carrier to provide your coverage.