Cruising the Mighty Mekong River

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Paddling along the Mekong river. Anna Lin photo
Paddling along the Mekong river. Anna Lin photo

From China to Vietnam, the Mekong River is the Lifeblood of Southeast Asia

By Oscar Davis

The best time to cruise the Mekong River is, um, well, always. The Mekong is a 4,000 kilometer long river that passes through six countries, and it’s the lifeblood of the locals who live on the fields and farms.

Mekong River floating Market.
Mekong River floating Market.

It starts in China, goes through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and enters the South China Sea.

Life on Stilts Above the Mekong

Cruising the Mekong river is the best way to explore life in Asia, see how the locals live on the hanging stilts over the water, learn more about the fishermen who profit from the fish in the area, or the vendors who sell cooked food and produce from their boats.

It’s a magnificent experience that will transform your journey into an unforgettable memory.

In this brief guide, we’ll take you on a cruising trip along the Mekong river and emphasize the essentials on what to expect, when is the best time to go according to travel agents, and how to prepare for the trip.

What to Expect?

The blend of the West and East will get your senses intoxicated. And this is what a cruise along the Mekong river will grant you. From the dense forests and breathtaking waterfalls to the peaceful harmony among the locals in the area and the ancient temples, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions, adventure, and exploration.

River cruiser, Siem Reap on the Mekong river.
River cruiser, Siem Reap on the Mekong river.

A Mekong tour is the perfect way to explore the sights along the river, see the Cai Rang floating market, and visit the iconic Hanoi Temple of Literature and the city of Ho Chi Minh. You can meet with the community of monks and wander through the vibrant cities and modern skyscrapers.

How to Prepare?

You should always pack accordingly, no matter the season you’re cruising through the Mekong. Since every day will be a new adventure, you should pack comfortable walking shoes so that you get the ultimate comfort while hitting the ground. Plus, you’ll be walking on uneven surfaces most of the time, so you need a pair of shoes that will provide a firm grip.

Small crabs for sale in the market in the Mekong Delta.
Small crabs for sale in the market in the Mekong Delta.

Regarding the rest of the equipment, you should bring a camera and binoculars. The river boasts rich flora and fauna and provides a unique opportunity to observe the wildlife and capture the beauty of the wilderness in the area.

Pack Lightweight Clothing

Remember to pack lightweight clothing that doesn’t absorb moisture rather than keeps it off your skin. Avoid clothes made of cotton since they absorb sweat, and bring a light sweater that you can use during cool nights.

In most temples, you will need to wear clothing covering your knees and shoulders, so make sure you respect their traditions and religious customs and dress appropriately.

Do not forget to pack a raincoat or a poncho that will keep you dry in case of rain. During the wet season, rainfall episodes are frequent, so make sure you’re prepared.

And as a last reminder, do not forget to bring such items as an insect repellent, sunglasses, sunscreen, or a hat. These accessories will help you stay safe under the sun and protect you from unwanted insect bites.

Paddling the Mekong. Tomas Malik photo.
Paddling the Mekong. Tomas Malik photo.

When is The Best Time to Cruise the Mekong?

While the river Mekong is mesmerizing all year round, each season has its advantages and disadvantages. But don’t let this discourage you from visiting it at your convenience.

The majority of the cruises operate at the beginning of the year, allowing you to explore the area and enjoy the trip.

The optimal time to visit the Mekong river is from November through January. It’s considered the best time of the year since you don’t have to tolerate rainy days and spend most of the time in your cabin.

You can enjoy the warm water and clear sky outside and discover the lands without worrying about the weather.

Also, from November to April, the weather is milder and with warmer temperatures, which means there’s less humidity. So, you can spend your days exploring and discovering new places.

A longboat on the Mekong river in Vietnam.
A longboat on the Mekong river in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, from May to October, the weather is prone to tropical storms, and the temperatures are much warmer, which leads to increased water levels. And tourists usually avoid cruising during this period.

Even though it is recommended to travel during the dry season, the wet season is perfect for exploring the flooded forests and observing the local’s life in a different light. It rains daily in the wet season; however, the rain usually lasts about an hour, and it’s mainly in the afternoon. So it wouldn’t be a mistake if you booked your trip during the wet season!

Book Your Trip Now!

Now that you know what to expect from your Mekong cruise, it’s time to pack those bags and book the trip. It’s time to explore this part of Asia and return home with a rollercoaster of emotions.

Visit our blog for more information regarding travel restrictions, complete itineraries, or required vaccinations.

Oscar Davis

 

Oscar Davis is a freelance writer living in Leeds, UK. 

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