Mekong River is the longest river in Southeast Asia, which flows through Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam before draining into the East Sea in Southeast Vietnam. Both Vientiane and Phnom Penh, Laos and Cambodia’s capitals, stand on banks of the Mekong River. Rising from the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, about three-fourths of Mekong’s drainage area lies within Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Therefore, a cruise on the Mekong truly reveals a vibrant world of Southeast Asia along its shores.
Locally known as the “mother of waters”, the Mekong River stretches over 4.500 km (2.800 mi). Along the way, it passes through some of the most exotic destinations in the world, including major rice-growing areas in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Where the name only is enough to make many spirits soar.
Our journey on the Mekong started from the “Golden Triangle”, the meeting point of Myanmar (Burma), Thailand and Laos. It is where the Mekong forms part of the international border between Myanmar and Laos, as well as between Laos and Thailand. Kicked off from Huay Xai, a small town on Laos and Thai border, we headed toward the river bank.
Our boat, the Luang Say Cruise, a barge that have been tastefully converted into vessel that evoke a traditional wooden boat that has been so familiar in Indochina. While the captain was busy to negotiate the boat through clusters of rocks, we enjoyed the warmth of the sun shining on our faces and the lush vegetation on the hills passing by. The spectacular Khone Phapheng waterfall, which is known as the “Niagara of the East”, explained why we were taking an overnight cruise from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang instead of the entire length of the Mekong in Laos.
Along our cruise, we passed by wooden houses on stilts and agricultural activities which provide signs of human habitation. But for the most part of the journey we were the only boat on the river, and the Lao scenery appeared untouched. Occasionally, Lao children with beautifully cheery faces running down to the water to smile and to wave, to play and to bathe.
Later that evening, we stayed at the Luang Say Lodge on the left bank of the Mekong. The solid teak and rosewood property is backed by mountainous jungle, offering wonderful vistas looking out over the Mekong river. After our delicious dinner at the traditional Laotian architecture, we were all satisfied with a great adventure along the Mekong.
On our second day, we stopped at the caves of Pak Ou which is filled with some 4.000 Buddha statues. The cave is just a few miles upstream from Luang Prabang, it was an extraordinary sight and fitting a prelude to the magnificent city of golden temples and colonial-era majesty that lay at our journey’s end.
The two-day cruise on the Mekong with the Luang Say, covering 125 miles and including stops a couple of traditional local villages as well as the night at the lodge, was a unique cultural journey. It was a great way to understand more about local life, and nature along the legendary river.
In Laos, the river run through the capital Vientiane, where hills and valleys are covered with dense deciduous forest and you can take the Vat Phou Cruise to explore the southern Laos.
The Vat Phou starts and finish at Pakse, a small a city in southern Laos where the Mekong and Xe Don rivers meet. In the southern lowlands below Pakse, the river finally enters Cambodia with wide stretches of alluvium in its floodplain. The junction, which occurs near Phnom Penh, between the Mekong and Sab rivers connect it with the Tonle Sap Lake, a highly productive fishing ground of Cambodia. The river then divides into two branches, the Mekong proper and the Bassac, that forms the Mekong Delta of Vietnam and spreads out to the sea. That allows us to experience parts of the Mekong in the country we want.
You can choose to experience the legendary waters of the Mekong River in Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam. Incense Travel’s expert can easy combine your cruising with other activities and attractions such as temple exploring in Luang Prabang and Siem Reap, or kayaking in the calm waters of Halong Bay. Please contact Incense Travel expert to start customizing your Lao itinerary today.