Darby's Destinations Luxury Travel - Italy

10 Things to Know Before You Journey on the Mekong River

A handy guide to help you make the most of your river cruise

April 8, 2022

A journey on the Mekong River is a trip you will never forget. This vast Asian waterway crosses through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The majority of live-aboard cruises focus on the Cambodian and Southern Vietnam sections. Here are 10 things to know before your journey on the Mekong River.

1. Expect diverse experiences and sights: Your journey may well start in the hip metropolis of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) but you’ll soon encounter an entirely different rhythm as your ship glides through rural villages, floating markets, and traditional workshops. Meanwhile, Buddhist temples provide the chance to connect with the region’s spiritual beliefs.

2. Consider extending your trip: While you’re in this part of the world, you are encouraged to see as much of the region as possible. For example, you might want to tap on a couple of days to explore the Temples of Angkor Archaeological Site. As well as being the gateway to the temples, the small Cambodian town of Siem Reap is a fantastic place to find your feet in Southeast Asia. You could also seize the opportunity to visit Ha Long Bay.

3. Dress appropriately: A major highlight of your journey on the Mekong River is the opportunity to visit temples along the route. Pack modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. A sarong is a handy addition to your luggage that you can throw over your shoulders or wrap around your legs.

4. Brush up on the etiquette: Honoring the local customs goes a long way during your Mekong River cruise. When passing an item, always present it with both hands. Haggling at the markets is cultural but it’s important to haggle with consideration and not cause offense. And never point your feet towards an image of Buddha.

5. Visit a travel clinic: You will need to seek medical advice regarding what travel shots you need before this trip. Malaria has been eradicated from the area but you may need other boosters. Discuss the options with your clinician as per your cruise schedule.  

6. Sturdy footwear is essential: You will be in and out of your cruise vessel to explore the waterways by smaller rowing boats. Upon disembarkment in cities, you will have the opportunities to get around on foot, by bicycle, and local transport such as trishaws and tuk-tuks. It is important to wear non-slip footwear such as walking sandals or sneakers.

7. Travel requirements: If your Mekong River cruise itinerary passes through more than one country, you may need to purchase multiple visas. Your visa requirements are dependent on which countries you will visit and how long you will spend in each.

8. Practice mindful photography: It’s always polite to ask before taking a photo of the local residents, especially where children are concerned.

9. Travel in the dry season: The Mekong River is subject to monsoons between late June and October. It is advisable to book your excursion in the dry season of November through April. That means that now is the perfect moment to initiate the planning process.

10. Prepare to be amazed: The Mekong River is incredibly rich in terms of culture and nature. You will visit inspirational, heart-breaking, and exciting destinations. Expect to want to repeat your Mekong journey again, and again!

A journey on the Mekong River is right around the corner. Contact me today to start preparing your trip.

Ready to embark on your own journey to the extraordinary?