Three ways to experience the Mekong River

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Mekong River life is nothing short of bustling and busy, with constant activity to observe from river craft and fisherman, to floating markets and traditional villages, as well as the local cuisine.

Mekong River has long enchanted visitors from around the world. Stretching more than 2,700 miles, flowing through six countries, The Mekong is a natural wonder ranging from rare wildlife in spectacular natural landscapes to communities with distinct cultural heritages. Vientiane, capital of Laos, and Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, are both located directly on the banks of the river, which drains into the South China Sea to the south of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). And as a traveller, those thousands of miles offer a wealth of adventures. Here are some ideas to enjoy one of the longest rivers in the world.

Mekong River is a vital source of life to the people living by it in each of the countries is passes through on its way towards the sea.

A day tour

Day tours are suitable for who want to explore the Mekong with the most flexibility and least time commitment. Seeing fisherman expertly casting their nets at dawn? Or watching some of local factories? Whether you go for a half day or full day excursion, you're going to find something magical.

If you're in Laos, Luang Prabang is a good place to kick off a day tour. Every corner of this sleepy town seems to offer picturesque views from under towering palm trees. Book a cycling trip to a local village and get a taste of life along the river, make sure you get some Laotian specialties like Mekong riverweed, a salty snack dressed with sesame seeds or water buffalo jerky.

For a look at Cambodian life, a day tour through Kampong Cham is a great choice. You'll find fewer tourists, less chaos, and more room to wander through markets and temples.

Bamboo Bridge In Kampong Cham

A visit to the Mekong Delta

Located at the end of the Mekong River, Mekong Delta — where the winding Mekong splits into nine distributaries in Southern Vietnam — is home to lush natural beauty and a history of both prosperity and turmoil. Wars could not destroy this bountiful region, and the Delta still retains a unique charm like no elsewhere on Earth.

There are so many things about this region that make it special – lush orchards overflowing with tropical fruit, floating markets and villages built on stilts but it’s really the locals who call the Mekong home that set it apart. It's no surprise that it is one of the most alluring destinations in South East Asia.

Leisurely boat trip along narrow canals in Mekong Delta

Perhaps it's the area's incredible cuisine. Vietnam is a culinary superpower and the Mekong Delta brings its own unique flavours and twists on traditional Vietnamese cuisine. The abundance of rice and crops means everything is amazingly fresh with subtle fragrances and this place is truly a foodie heaven. Freshwater crabs, elephant-ear fish and catfish are just a few of the local specialties to feast on.

Keep your camera ready to capture the canopy of greenery stretching over the river — you're going to want to preserve the memory of the Mekong Delta's beauty. Or try your hand at recreating your favourite dishes by booking an excursion with a cooking class. You'll learn how rau thom (herbs) and fish sauce are in the process.

A luxury cruise

A river journey offers the adventure of exploring a foreign land at a relaxed pace whilst retaining all the comforts and luxury that a real holiday should bring. Cruise for a few nights, or embark on a longer expedition spanning a week or two. Modern luxury cruise operators in the Mekong spare no expense to create their amazing floating accommodation, so you may want to stay on board as long as possible.

Lazing along the river from the comfort of a luxury cruise would be the most comfortable way to enjoy the Mekong.

River cruises often travel between Siem Reap, gateway to the Angkor temples, and Ho Chi Minh City, or between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The route is full of thriving cities or rural communities or floating villages and floating markets and endless rice paddies, pagodas and temples...

Cambodian monks in a "floating village"

As beautiful, fascinating and diverse as the river is though, it’s the people who call it home that are the real stars of any journey along this magical river. We know that there is nothing more precious than authentic local experiences. As one plies the waters from Cambodia to Vietnam, life unfurls. Villagers bathe in the waters and trade along the banks. Men cast traditional fishing nets into the river pregnant with freshwater fish at daybreak, and, at day’s end, kids paddle around, holding large banana trunks as a floating device. Indeed, while pampered by all the luxurious material spoils one can ask for, it is the priceless warmth of the local people that makes a journey like this truly exceptional.

Xuyen

Image Sources: Internet.

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