What to Expect on A Mekong River Cruise
by Hello Vietnam Travel Jun 27, 2018
Thanks to diverse culture and splendid landscape, Southeast Asia is a tourist destination that you should travel once in your life. While trips to the golden pagodas in Myanmar help you broaden your horizons about history and Buddhism, treks at magnificent waterfalls in Laos make you amazed at how beautiful the nature is. However, it is obvious that you cannot discover all places in Southeast Asia during your tour.
But don’t worry since there is a way that will help you a lot in making use of your time to explore this region as much as possible. Not only will you enjoy the service with international standard but you will also experience different cultures in some Southeast countries in only one trip without wasting much time on transferring from one place to another. Are you curious? If yes, the answer is cruising on Mekong River, which is the 12th longest river in the world. In case you are still sceptical, this article will explain to you why travelling on this river is totally worth your try and won’t make you disappointed.
1. Immerse in diverse Culture
Mekong River runs through many countries including Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, which is difficult for you to travel through all of them with the limited time of your tour. Nevertheless, the landscapes and interesting things along the river banks are waiting to be explored by you.
For instance, you will stop at a pottery-making village in Myanmar, learning how to make a pottery product and even join in the process of making or decorating ceramic artefacts. In addition, you can stop to visit nearby temples or pagodas, and discover their unique architectures that have existed for hundreds of years. If lucky, the monks will explain to you about the decorations carved into the walls or the columns. Mainly of these come from mythologies or Buddhism teachings which will evoke your curiosity. Besides, if possible, don’t forget to chat with the locals so that you will have a deeper insight into their life and their customs. Each place has its own culture, and cannot be mistaken for each other, so the journey will be full of interesting culture experience which will make you excited about before reaching it.
2. Sample Various Local Foods
The region along Mekong River is famous for delicious and unique dishes, so there is no reason why any food lovers should not look forward to this journey. You will try as many dishes as possible in various places, from luxury ones on the restaurant of the cruise to local foods at food stalls, food vendors, or even at locals’ houses on land. You can even join in the process of making the dishes to know more about the ingredients and some tips in cookery. All make up a wonderful culinary heaven which is always ready to fulfil your hungry stomach after physical activities. Notably, there are some restaurants on the river, so don’t forget to drop in, try some beers and enjoy the authentic dishes while seeing the stunning sunset. Each place has its own specialities which you should try and buy some for your friends and families in your home country. Some specialities that are highly recommended for you are keo dua, banh pia (Ben Tre, Mekong Delta), coconut mouse, noodle made from rice flour (Ben Tre), bot loc cake, and Sa Dec noodle soup (Dong Thap).
3. Experience Shopping on Mekong River
It sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Life on Mekong River becomes really lively when the floating markets, the most unique markets in the world, begin. There are various selections, from fruits, seafood, to meat, and even lotteries. To help the buyers and tourists know what are sold on each boat, the traders often hang their goods on the top of the long pole. The colours of the fruits combine with the locals’ palm-leaf conical hats in the sunlight of the sunrise to make a picturesque painting, so don’t forget to bring your camera to take nice photos. Another thing that you should not skip when visiting a floating market is enjoying local foods right on the boat, since there are some sampans runs as cafe shops or food stores.
Because the floating markets normally begin at the sunrise, you should visit them early so as to catch their vigorous moments. Some best floating markets are Cai Be, Cai Rang (Mekong Delta), Damnoen Saduak (Bangkok, Thailand), and Siem Riep (Cambodia).
4. Explore the Nature along the River
Due to the lack of industrial activities along the banks, Mekong River still maintains its rich biodiversity which only places after the Amazon’s one. Most of the surrounding is swamp, remote villages, and rain forests which are home to many species including plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, and so on. In particular, over 145 species has recently been discovered at this river. Therefore, Mekong River offers you a great chance to explore its diverse ecosystem and to dive yourself into the greeneries of the nature. Because of the complicated river and canal system, sometimes you will have to travel on a boat in order to pass through small canals to continue your journey. This activity is very suitable for families, especially for which have children, because they will learn more about the animals and plants, and their awareness of saving environment are also raised considerably.
5. Help You Save Time
Another advantage of this mean of transport is helping you save time searching for coaches or moving from a place to another in the heat of the tropical climate. Moreover, all the concerns about where to eat or to stay will be solved since most of cruises are international standard. Like mini hotels, these cruises have rooms with balconies, spa and message rooms, gym, bars, restaurants, and especially culture lectures and night shows on board. Sometimes, they will stop at some places so that you can visit tourist attractions on land, but this depends on each cruise’s itinerary. Hence, all you need to do is booking a suitable cruise online and then preparing you personal stuffs and get ready for the journey.
If you are still not convinced by the above advantages, continue to read this article since below are some common questions about travelling by a cruise on the Mekong River and some suggestions to have the best cruising.
- Is it safe to take a cruise on Mekong River?
This may be the question coming up first in your mind, but don’t be too worried as all the cruises operating on Mekong River must have the safety condition and equipment like life buoys or life jackets. Furthermore, there are well-trained staffs being always ready to face up with difficulties that suddenly arise during the journey. In terms of the boats’ condition, it is often checked by the government to assure the safety for the tourists.
The superb view on the sundeck of Jahan Cruise
- When is the best time to cruise on Mekong River?
The region enjoys tropical climate, which means it has dry season and wet season. Though the cruises have itineraries around year, the period from November to January when the wet season has just ended is the ideal time to have a cruise. The weather is cool and the sun is not too hot. Also, you can enjoy the magnificent view of the mountains along the banks with clear sky and calm water from the deck of the cruise. Nonetheless, cruising in the wet season (May to November) is possible if you want to see flooded forests and the locals’ life on floating houses and boats. During the wet season, it often rains in the afternoon but lasts for about 30 minutes to an hour.
Note that the river reaches its highest level in September and sometimes, the details of itineraries may be changed owing to the effects of seasonal water levels on the river.
Cruising on the Jayavarman Cruise
- How to choose a suitable Mekong cruise?
That there are many operators providing river cruise may make you confused. To solve this problem, first, you should plan where you want to pass by during the cruise. Then, decide how much money you can afford the cruise. The cost is various, but travelling in groups is often much cheaper than travelling alone on the ground that you don’t have to deal with single supplement or to pay the same price as two in a cabin. Even some cruises offer free cabin for groups, so consider this to avoid single supplement and to have unforgettable journey with people you love. Another point that you should take in consideration is the time you want to go. How about dry or wet season? Do you want to avoid the crowd? After answering all these questions, you can get information about the cruises’ itineraries on the Internet or at any tourist agencies in your country to find out the most appropriate one. Or you should find information and useful suggestions on some online tourist pages to prepare for your cruising.
- How to have a great cruising?
- Bring repellent spray: remember that this is a tropical region. Beside mosquitos, you may be bothered by tiny gnats and fire ants (especially when you go on small canals and around the temple ground). Accordingly, insect repellent is very necessary.
- Don’t forget to pack clothes that are breathable and suitable with the heat and humidity.
- Take remedies for solving stomach issues with you. You may not be familiar with street food or some dishes you taste for the first time, which can cause some discomforts. Consequently, it is advisable to bring some drugs like lope amide in case you have problems with your stomach.
- Write diary during the journey. Photos can not remind you of the Mekong cruise as much as a diary since when you write, you are reading your mind and all the feelings about each moment. Along with photos, the diary will help you treasure all the journey’s wonderful remembrances.
- Don’t make fun of the monkeys. You may be excited when seeing the monkeys in reality. But don’t let this lead to the risky act: petting them, since they may become angry and bite you.
- Be careful when buying foods from street vendors. It is suggested to avoid diary products, ice, and salad.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why you should take a Mekong cruise once if you have chance to travel to Southeast Asia. For many tourists, money paid for travelling must be put at right destination and right services, which you will definitely find during cruising on Mekong River. Thus, put all your concerns aside and get prepared for once-in-a-life-time journey on the largest river in Southeast Asia and you will have the best trip ever with your friends and family members, or just simply enjoy yourself after hard-working days.