For travellers eager to experience the sights of some of the most exotic, least frequented countries of South-East Asia, there are many Mekong and Irrawaddy river cruises from which to choose.

The Mekong

The Mekong, one of the world’s great rivers, runs for nearly 5,000 kilometres from the Tibetan plateau through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Viking’s 15-day ‘Magnificent Mekong’ cruise through the countries of Vietnam and Cambodia begins in Hanoi and ends in Ho Chi Minh City. The fare covers an eight-day river cruise in a river-view stateroom, stays at luxury hotels in the cities, intra-itinerary flights and tours. From $5,399 per person, twin share.

Scenic Tours’ 15-day ‘Highlights of Cambodia and Laos’ includes a seven-night luxury Mekong cruise. From Ho Chi Minh City, the tour visits the Mekong Delta, then guests have two days’ sightseeing around Phnom Penh, Lake Tonle and Angkor Wat before they transfer to Jayavarman, a French-colonial-style riverboat carrying 34 passengers, for a seven-night cruise. The tour concludes with three nights in Luang Prabang. From $7,555 per person, twin share.

The Irrawaddy

Abercrombie & Kent offers a seven-night cruise along the Irrawaddy past the palaces and pagodas of Myanmar. The cruise, on the refurbished Road to Mandalay (which carries 43 passengers), begins in Bagan and ends, appropriately, in Mandalay. From $3,380 per person, twin

Active Travel’s 12-night ‘Golden Irrawaddy’ cruise leaves from Yangon (formerly Rangoon) and ends in Mandalay. Passengers spend 10 nights on board Pandaw 1947, stopping daily to visit temples, villages and markets. The 16-cabin vessel is a major attraction in itself: built during the colonial era, the boutique steamer is listed in The International Register of Historic Ships. Main-deck cabins cost from US$3,350 per person, twin share.