Feel the beating heart of Southeast Asia, as you cruise down the Mekong River. It's the contrasts you will notice first - the seemingly rural but heavily populated villages, the hectic pace but the relaxed lifestyle. Your hands will be sore from waving at locals as they run to the river bank, smiling and laughing, and you are bound to feel connected to this region by the end of your trip.
Here are a few places off the beaten track, where you can see locals going about their daily routines without the distraction of tourists:
There's not a motorbike or car to be seen in this floating village, which is one of the largest on the Mekong. Everyone who lives here travels by boat, whizzing along on the network of canals.
Chnok Tru is rarely visited by tourists, but it's the last big village before the river meets the great lake of Tonle Sap. So there is a lot going on, with factories, a church, service stations, stores, police station and even a karaoke bar! It's all happening right here on the water, and you'll get to see just how a remote and completely self-sufficient village survives in the modern age.
A short walk from Kompong Tralach Krom village, on a road that runs along the river and past robust rice paddies you'll find one of the last standing Buddhist monasteries in Cambodia.
These monasteries are known as Viharas, and this particular one dates back to early last century. It does not get many visitors, and stands alone in the middle of the rice fields as a testament to Cambodia's past.
Attached to Wat Kampong Tralach Leu Pagoda, the Vihara is suffering from neglect and daily exposure to the elements means it won't be here forever. So take your chance to view this part of Cambodia's history, a lone survivor of cultural destruction in a changing world.
Vinh Long and Cai Be
Fruit and flowers are the order of the day in Vinh Long, a town whose name means "Magestic Dragon".
Sitting smack bang in the middle of the delta between two arms of the Mekong, it boasts rich soil ideal for growing citrus fruits.
Enjoy a leisurely walk, the air heady with perfume and the orchards providing plenty of opportunities to satisfy your hunger. Then follow the path of the locals as you cross the narrow canals via "monkey bridges", made from the trunks of coconut palms or bamboo.
From here it's a short boat trip to the floating markets of Cai Be, which has been operating since the 19th century. On arrival you'll find yourself in the middle of bustling and lively trade market, divided into two parts: buying and selling.
Rafts and boats are anchored along the two sides of the Tien River, and stretch as far as the eye can see. As one of the biggest wholesale markets in the region, the action starts around 3am, with stallholders stringing their goods from poles called "cay beo".
For many traders, life revolves around the market and many live in their boats, never moving from the heart of the action.
It's time to go somewhere you've never been, and now is the perfect time thanks to Peregrine's 10% off sale*. Simply book a Peregrine trip by 31 July 2011 and depart by 31 December 2011 to take advantage.