Travelling the Mekong river by boat gives passengers a feel of what the French must have felt when they first discovered this part of Laos in the 19th century. In many ways, little has changed since then, the people living on the river banks still sustain themselves from farming the land and fishing in the river. An increasing number of travellers chose to visit this part of Indochina by boat to experience one of the most charming places in Southeast Asia in a relaxed manner.
Most boats operating on the Mekong for tourist purposes are made from wood and travellers can enjoy the comfort of their own private cabins complete with air condition and private bathrooms. Boats such as those provided by Vat Phou Cruises usually feature upper and lower decks to make the most of the lively scenery passing by. Guides will conduct small excursions to local villages, many of them home to some of the region's more than 95 indigenous tribes where visitors can experience first hand the life of people living along the river. The food served on board is some of the best Laos has to offer with ingredients oftentimes fetched along the way, from the river or local markets.
On a Mekong cruise, the boat will pass the legendary Wat Phou ruins and visiting this famous temple site is a must. The Khmer temple was initially associated with the city of Shrestapura, which was the capital of a 5th century kingdom and later was converted into Theravada Buddhist use. In 2001, it was awarded the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site and every February a festival is held on the site. The nearby Phu Kao mountain has a 15-metre tall monolith with carvings on the temple walls pointing toward the temple and the mountain, serving as fertility symbols for ancient cultures.
The timeless flow of the Mekong and the various rapid and slower stretches makes for a pleasant journey through some of the most fertile landscapes in the region. The pace allows passengers to enjoy the scenery fully and also allows enough time to photograph the animal life along the way. Green tropical forest and dense mangroves line the banks and provide habitat to various wildlife such as reptiles, birds and small mammals. Gliding through five Southeast Asian nations and giving life to ancient as well as modern civilizations, the Mekong river is an excellent way to discover this part of the world.
Original source http://www.vatphou.com/mekong_river_travel.html
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