My travel documents from AmaWaterways arrived last week. I have my Visa for Vietnam and my two passport size photos and $20 USD set aside for my Cambodian Visa, to be processed and received at the airport in Cambodia.
With less than two weeks until the trip, there are a few things left to do. If you’re headed on a Mekong River Cruise soon, whether it’s with AmaWaterways or another river cruise line, I hope these tips help in your preparation.
1. Purchase US & Vietnam money.
For Cambodia, it’s nice to have Riels on hand, but US dollars are also widely used. In the end, it’s better to have US dollars left over (for Canadians and Americans anyways). And of course if you’re American, purchasing your own currency doesn’t apply to you, but you’ll want to have cash on hand. Make sure you have small denominations as well. That is, have lots of $1, $5 and $10 bills not only for tips, but you may want to buy some souvenirs, do some shopping or try local meals. $200 is a good amount.
In Vietnam, US dollars may be accepted at some places, but the Dong is more often used, so ensure you have you have the local currency there.
2. Have your credit cards in order.
Visa, Master Card, and American Express are accepted in major cities in both countries. Make sure you carry two types, however, in the event the store or restaurant doesn’t accept one. Before leaving, check that it’s valid and let your your credit card company know you’re traveling overseas. You wouldn’t want access to your card frozen as a preemptive security measure! Be aware of the charges for your overseas transactions and if there are any restrictions.
3. Start your packing list.
Vietnam and Cambodia are tropical destinations so the weather is hot and humid. Pack light clothing that breathes and dries quickly. Not only should you pack shorts and T-shirts, but you’ll also want to include long-sleeved cotton shirts and long pants. And don’t forget a hat!
4. Stock up on medication & miscellaneous.
If you take prescription medication, ensure you have enough to last throughout your trip. You’ll also want to pick up some Pepto Bismol or Immodium, a first-aid kit and sunscreen. Wet naps come in handy, too.
5. Buy school supplies.
Instead of money or candy, give school supplies to kids. Money encourages begging and with candy, there’s no infrastructure in place for them to receive the proper dental care. So go out and get some school supplies.
6. Prepare to be off the grid.
Internet is intermittent on the ship. In other words, not reliable. In the major cities, you may find a cafe with free WiFi. Make sure you take care of anything major before your trip and expect your limited access to the internet to be infrequent and in short spurts on the ship.
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