The Mekong River, one of the world’s great rivers, originates from the Tibetan plateau. The countries China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam are the countries this mighty river runs through before emptying into the sea at the Mekong Delta.
It’s not just the majesty of the river that needs to be appreciated, but also the lives of the millions of people who live alongside the river, leading lives that have remained largely unchanged for thousands of years. The sheer variety of the customs and cultures of all these people would make for an extensive anthropological study in itself and as a result, is a perfect river to cruise along and take in the local life.
Although a major trade route between western China and Southeast Asia, there is still plenty of room for people who want to take the cruise of a lifetime. Although perhaps not physically impossible to travel the whole length of the Mekong, many people select a cruise that’s put together by an experienced tour operator who has a presence in the most common countries where Mekong cruises start.
Luxury Mekong River cruise tours usually start from Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam, although there may be more depending on the operator. In the section below, we’ll have a closer look at the countries in question and what you can expect to see.
Laos is a relatively untouched destination for tourists and as a result, is largely unspoiled. Outside of the main cities and towns, you will see nothing but locals working hard in the fields along with some spectacular scenery. If you begin your cruise in Laos, you will witness communities who have lived alongside the mighty Mekong for generations and generally live in the same way as their ancestors did. If you embark at Luang Prabang, be sure to have a look around this amazing city before you leave as it’s one of the truly authentic cities in South East Asia that still retains its culture and traditions.
Although having suffered a painful recent past, Cambodia is now firmly embracing all the benefits that tourism can bring and a cruise from the capital city Phnom Penh through Tonle Sap Lake to northwestern resort town Siem Reap is the best way to see this fascinating country in luxury. Cambodia is another country where the riverside way of life is largely unchanged and the friendly locals along this stretch of the Mekong make this cruise particularly memorable.
Departing Saigon, a Mekong Delta tour is one the best ways to see the real Vietnam. You will witness the industrious people toiling away and see a slice of life that is largely disappearing in many parts of the world. There are many more Mekong cruise options from Saigon, contact your specialist tour operator for more options.
Although it is possible to cruise the Mekong independently, the best experiences and ultimately the best value for money come from booking with an experienced tour operator. They will take care of everything from visas, to excursions to accommodation, leaving you to concentrate on the majesty of the Mekong River.
This article is published in partnership with Mediabuzzer.