Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling metropolis along the Mekong River in Vietnam, and although it has been a major international trading port for centuries, much of its cultural traditions are still alive and well. The sounds of street vendors bartering can be heard for blocks as bicycles careen down narrow streets - putting New York City's traffic to shame. Despite its fast-paced nature, this city is full of kind and welcoming people that want nothing more than to share their beautiful nation with those on Asian cruises.
Beginning an Asian shore excursion along the Mekong Delta, Princess passengers will have a chance to see miles of rice fields frequently dotted with familiar straw hats as locals delicately pick stalks from the muddy waters. Nicknamed the "rice basket" of Vietnam, the Mekong features winding canals that are brimming with life. River vendors are just as loud on the water as they are along the streets of Ho Chi Minh City and are eager to sell goods that range from tropical fruits such as mangoes and dragonfruit to sweet Vietnamese candies.
Back in the city, lucky passengers on a Thailand cruise can visit the Jade Emperor Pagoda, one of the most idyllic landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City. This picture-perfect Taoist pagoda was built at the turn of the 20th century and is filled with smoke from freshly lit incense. Elaborate carved figurines line the interior, leading visitors to the large statue of the Jade Emperor himself, referred to as the "god of the heavens" in Taoist beliefs. His ominous gaze sends chills down many travelers' spines.
For an exciting taste of Thai market culture, travelers on an Asian cruise vacation may want to stop at the Ben Thanh Market, which features one of the oldest surviving compounds in Saigon and serves as a lasting symbol for Ho Chi Minh City. Many travelers enjoy taking photos amidst the locals who are busy negotiating with hagglers for the best price for their products. With its tantalizing food stands and tempting handcrafted goods, Ben Thanh is a great place to pick up a few souvenirs before heading back to a Princess cruise ship for an evening of fine dining and entertainment.