The Mekong River flows throughout virtually all of Southeast Asia, winding through, Vietnam, Laos, China, Cambodia and Thailand. Wherever it goes, the river sets the tone for the community, acting as a mean of trade and transportation, in addition to serving as a bountiful food source. There are thousands of communities situated alongside the river; some are simple fishing villages, while others are bigger towns and national capitals.
One of the best ways to truly experience the Mekong River is to travel on it on a boat. The pace of travel can be slow, with the river’s winding course creating long distances, but that is all part of the charm. Unlike many other tourist activities in Southeast Asia, those who travel by boat will have plenty of time to relax and just enjoy the experience. And what an experience it is!
The river is quite long, and as such the flora and fauna that surrounds it will change frequently and dramatically. In some places, the river will be extremely narrow, and travellers will get to see stunning cliff sides that are practically close enough to touch. At other times, the river will swell to as much as 14 km long, and be rich with the traffic of trade and people moving up and down the river. Rare wildlife can be spotted as well, such as the Siamese crocodile or the Irrawaddy freshwater dolphin, one of the most endangered species of dolphin in the world. The river is also home to uncountable varieties of fish, many of which are local delicacies to the fishermen who ply the waters.
Nature and wildlife aside, the humanity that can be witnessed when traveling the Mekong by boat is impressive in its own right. Most people you will see live in small communities along the riverbank, humble bamboo shacks situated on the waterfront. Many visitors enjoy brief visits to some of these towns, which can provide a unique opportunity to truly see how local people live. Locals are always eager to see fresh faces, and some will speak English quite well and are happy to act as guides and translators.
Travelling by boat is an experience not soon forgotten, as its main allure is the slow and relaxed pace it offers. Wherever it goes, the river brings life and culture, and there is no better way to understand this than to truly see it first-hand. Whether one wants to see amazing wildlife, awe-inspiring nature, friendly and fun people, or simply relax with a good book, whatever you are looking for can be found on the deep waters of the Mekong.