9 New Experiences to Relish in South East Asia – Scenic and Emerald Waterways
Discover this fascinating region with the new experiences available on Scenic’s 2023 and 2024 South East Asia Mekong River cruising program.
Each year, we introduce exciting journeys to immerse you in this vibrant destination. Here are some of the new experiences awaiting you:
1. Introducing Vang Vieng and Vientiane
The culturally rich and picturesque country of Laos is worthy of lingering a little longer, and guests on the Grand Indochina & Luxury Mekong and Journey Along the Mekong will be able to do just that by adding two nights.
Travelling via the new high-speed rail link that connects to China, you will spend one night in Vang Vieng, a small town surrounded by mountainous jungle and caves and home to the striking Blue Lagoon and Chang Caves. The second night is in the country’s capital, Vientiane, where you will visit Patuxay war monument and Pha That Luang, a gold-covered stupa and the national symbol of Laos.
2. Additional experiences in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
The Old Quarter is the traditional heart of Vietnam’s capital: an ancient network of narrow laneways, each historically dedicated to a different trade or craft. If your itinerary stops in the city of Hanoi, you can now learn about the history of this fascinating area on a 30-minute Old Quarter tour in a ‘green’ electric car. Get up-close to the cyclo drivers and the pulse of this ancient city.
3. Tour of Cao Dai Temple
Established in 1926, the unique Cao Dai religion fuses together the ideas and beliefs of Buddhism, Christianity, Taoism and Confucianism. Its awe-inspiring temples in the Mekong Delta really are to be seen to be believed: a clash of bright colours, gaudy patterns and eclectic motifs juxtaposed against the white robes of its worshippers.
During your Mekong River Cruise, you will get to witness it all at the Cao Dai Temple in Tan Chau, which has just been reopened to the public after renovations.
4. High tea at Raffles Phnom Penh
Elevate your afternoon at the Raffles Hotel Le Royal, whose high tea has been an institution since the hotel opened in 1929. This luxurious epicurean experience comprising pastries, sandwiches and sweets is available as a Scenic Freechoice option for all guests in Phnom Penh.
5. Visit to Koh Chen Silversmith village
The craft of silver and copper smithing has been passed down through generations in Koh Chen, a tiny village on the Tonle River. On a Scenic Freechoice excursion, you can observe these local artisans at work as they craft intricate bowls, vases and other pieces that make for authentic souvenirs.
You’ll also feast on a Khmer-style lunch at Romdeng Restaurant, which is run by Friends, a social enterprise that supports local street children.
6. Bicycle tour through Hoi An countryside
This two-wheeled Scenic Freechoice excursion journeys through Hoi An’s rural landscape to see first-hand how locals live off the land. Pedal along quiet laneways, past family farms, rice paddies and grazing water buffalo before swapping your bike for a round bamboo boat to try your hand at traditional fishing with a net.
This one-of-a-kind immersive tour will end with a scenic cruise back to Hoi An with lunch on board.
7. Lantern-making class in Hoi An
Learn the 400-year-old craft of lantern-making during a Scenic Freechoice workshop hosted by Reaching Out, an NGO that helps disabled people gain meaningful employment and lead independent and fulfilling lives.
Hoi An is famous for the lanterns that line the ancient streets and riverside – in the evening the town is simply magical.
Image credit: Kathleen D, Scenic Guest, USA
8. New dining in Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City
These new Scenic Freechoice dining options serve up a memorable feast for the soul as well as tastebuds. In Hoi An, guests can embark on a street food walking tour to sample tasty traditional fare such as banh mi (baguette) and cau lau (noodle bowl), as well as dining at Quang’s Kitchen, run by a chef from the local MasterChef series, and The Field Hoi An Restaurant and Bar, which is nestled in a verdant green landscape.
In Ho Chi Minh, you can dine among lanterns in the intimate Secret Garden Restaurant and enjoy a home-cooked-style meal with panoramic city views at SHRI Restaurant Bar and Lounge.
9. Learn about Cows for Cambodia
Cows are very expensive, so many families can’t afford one, however, through ‘Cows for Cambodia’ the family can look after the pregnant cow and can keep the calf once it is born, working like a ‘cow bank’. Featured as Scenic Freechoice activity, this experience will give guests a chance to learn about the program and be immersed in the local community.