Rushing down from the Tibetan plateau the Mekong passes through Southeast Asia, emptying into the South China Sea through the many channels of the Mekong Delta. The river passes through some of Asia’s lushest landscapes, the banks often lined with vivid green rice paddies tended by conical hatted farmers and the riverside settlements of minority tribal groups, whilst the waters themselves, long a life-giving force, are bustling with fishermen and children splashing in the shallows.
Stretching 2,703 miles from its springhead in Tibet to its delta in the south, the Mekong is the world’s 12th longest river. Passing through China’s Yunnan province, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, the river ends in the bountiful beauty of the delta at the South China Sea. Due to rapids and waterfalls along its route, it isn’t possible to navigate the river as a whole but vast sections are – from Vietnam’s delta up to Phnom Penh in Cambodia for example, and from Vientiane in Laos up into China’s Yunnan province. The banks of the Mekong are home to farmers, fishermen and hilltribe communities, the lush and biodiverse landscapes providing life for flora, fauna and human alike. Long an essential trade route, you’ll also find great cities on or close to the river – Saigon, Phnom Penh, Luang Prabang and Vientiane.
Cruise on the Mekong with Pandaw for up to 14 nights on itineraries such as the following:
– From Saigon to Phnom Penh on a three or four night itinerary
– From Saigon to Siem Reap on a seven night itinerary
– From Saigon to Kampong Cham on a 10 night itinerary
– From Vientiane to the Golden Triangle on a 10 night itinerary
– From Vientiane to Jinghong, China on a 14 night itinerary
As well as the cities of Saigon, Phnom Penh and Vientiane, you could also see the following sights on your cruise:
Cai Be – Stop at this delta town to enjoy the sights and sounds of a local floating market. The variety of colourful fruits piled high on the sampans plying the waterways is astonishing!
Wat Hanchey – This pre-Angkorian hilltop temple offers fantastic views down over the river and the surrounding classical Cambodian landscapes.
Tribal villages – Visit some of the ethnic minority villages that line the banks of the Mekong, including the Cham communities of Vietnam and the Aka tribal villages of Muang Long, Laos.
Pak Ou Caves – Explore the sacred caves of Pak Ou, right on the river. The caves store Buddha statues that can no longer be used for worship due to being damaged or out of date – it makes for a fascinating stop.
Golden Triangle – The area where Thailand, Burma and Laos meet, the region was once the world’s largest opium producer, a history documented at the opium museums – the landscapes are also spectacular.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.