Cruises only explore a fraction of the Mekong’s length, but what a fraction it is – get on board to visit floating markets, traditional villages, jaw-dropping temple complexes and buzzing cities packed with elegant colonial buildings.
The Mekong: need-to-know
At 2,703 miles, the Mekong is only just outside the world’s top 10 longest rivers (it comes in at 12). And it comfortably outstrips the longest rivers of Europe, beating even the mighty Volga by several hundred miles. Rising in the Tibetan Plateau – also home to the sources of the Yangtzee and Yellow rivers – it passes through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, eventually expanding into a complex and fertile delta that empties into the South China Sea. Thanks to the relative lack of development along the river, the Mekong is a great choice for wildlife-watching and traditional village visits.Typical routes
The Mekong can be tricky to navigate, and most Mekong river cruises stick to the southern reaches in Vietnam and Cambodia. Generally, they will travel between Siem Reap on the Tonle Sap lake and Ho Chi Minh city in the river delta, but the direction of travel will depend on your itinerary. The vast majority of Mekong cruises are part of larger cruise-and-tour or cruise-and-stay packages, so have a good look at each itinerary to see what’s on offer before and after the cruise. Some packages offer several days exploring Ho Chi Minh City or Siem Reap (the location of the iconic Angkor temple complex), while others continue north into Thailand.
Ports of call and major sights
Ho Chi Minh City