From your hotel, you look out of the window, and if you're lucky, you'll see Saigon River and small chugging boats going upstream and downstream. Sometimes you'll see small, floating families of green water hyacinths, moving downstream. Hm, sounds like a good idea to take a river cruise and see Vietnam at the same time right? Not!!!
You'll have to put up with the strong smell of rotting fish, ammonia, sight of clogged up rubbish on the riverbanks, etc. I was fortunate enough to skip this ordeal, all because I had an early flight to catch! Not so for my hubby's ....french colleague. Now if you're wondering why I keep mentioning him, I have to tell you that this french chappie had the worst case of traveller's luck. Every one or two things that he recommended out of his French Lonely Planet seemed to suck big time. And yes, if you have to know, yes, his french jaw dropped again, when he saw rats by the river bank, dead and floating merrily on the water...
It dropped even further later when the boatman extorted USD10 from him for the river cruise...
To read more on this unfortunate French chappie, click on b'packer's hcmc page to find out more
Unique Suggestions: For goodness sake, you don't have to take a cruise from District one to Cholon, you can take a nice smelling cab.
Fun Alternatives: If you're really dying for a cruise, skip Saigon River and go for a paddle boat experience in Mekong Delta. Not only are the waters there cleaner, the atmosphere is very, very rustic.
Best of all, the whole day trip, with lunch, would cost only a paltry $12 or less.
Make your booking with Mekong Delta Adventures or Sinh Cafe.
What happens when you have 7 million people in a city? They produce garbage. And where does that garbage go in most third world countries. That's right. In the river. So if you want to shell out $10 or more to float around in smelly and garbage ridden water go ahead.
Unique Suggestions: Take some pictures of life on the other side of the river. I got a couple of really good ones.
Fun Alternatives: Go on one of the Mekong River tours where the water is cleaner and the prices are cheaper.
The Saigon River isn't smelly anymore when i went unlike what has been described by the others. However there really isn't that much to see either. The banks are lined with industrial boats and construction works. You will not get to see much of Saigon on the cruise.
They do have preformances like fire-dancing on board, But otherwise there isn't much more.
The food is acceptable, not great. You can probably get better food at lower prices at the many restaurants in town.
Get on the cruise if you want to enjoy the night breeze, otherwise i wouldn't recommend it.