The world’s twelfth longest river, the Mekong River stretches 4,350km across Southeast Asia.
Along the way, the river briefly cuts by southern China, flows by Burma and Laos before reaching all the way to Cambodia and Vietnam. It’s safe to say that the Mekong River offers some of the richest and vibrant experiences of Asia.
While the river may not be as famous as the likes of The Amazon, it certainly has an exciting and diverse history. With that said, here are five things you might not have known about the Mekong River.
The Mekong River flows through many cities
Many people choose to explore the Mekong River via cruise for an authentic exploration trip through dense mangroves and lush greenery.
However, as we mentioned earlier, the river passes through many different regions of Asia and not all of these include dense jungle and peaceful villages.
The river also connects many cities, including Can Tho. As the largest city in the Vietnamese region, Can Tho doesn’t disappoint. This buzzing town sits on the southern bank of the Hau River, which is connected to the Mekong Delta region. Here, you will find beautiful sculpted gardens, lively backstreets and the famous floating markets.
The Mekong River has more large fish species than any other river in the world
Despite not even making the top 10 for the longest rivers in the world, The Mekong River is home to more species of large fish than any other river across the globe.
The river, which starts in western China, eventually reaches a tri-point between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. If you follow the Thailand fork through many a different river, you will eventually end up in the Gulf of Thailand and at the shores of Phu Quoc Island
Here, you will be welcomed by an incredible array of sea life including 108 species of coral as well as dugong and green turtles. The snorkelling and kayaking opportunities here are abundant.
After a long day exploring, why not end it all with some seafood you can actually eat?
There are plenty of eateries on the island offering up some of the most incredible freshly caught food including crab, lobster and other local delicacies.
The Mekong River brushes past mountainous landscapes
Standing at 230m, Sam Mountain is the highest mountain in the Mekong Delta region. The Vietnamese call Sam Mountain ‘Cuu Long’ meaning ‘New Dragons’ and what better way to get the viewpoint of a dragon than hiking up this stunning landscape.
This mountain is a sacred place for Buddhists, so don’t be surprised when you’re met with many ancient pagoda and temples on your journey.
The earliest signs of civilization found along the Mekong River dates to the 1st century A.D
The Mekong River holds a lot of history with proof of civilization dating all the way back to the 1st century A.D. While you may be dazzled by the bustling cities while on a cruise, don’t forget to pay a visit to some of the more traditional villages along the way.
Settlements like Ben Tre give you a real taste of local life. This sleepy waterfront town is excellent for walking and hiking if you want to really explore the area.
The village also has many boat trips that depart from the river banks which means you can get out to those hard to reach places that you wouldn’t otherwise see on a bigger boat.
Dolphin development programme
The Mekong River is home to the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphin. Sadly, the species was in rapid decline and it was feared they may eventually become extinct.
Luckily, a development programme was put in place through strong efforts from the Cambodian government. Since then, the population has seen an increase and considering the Irrawaddy dolphin is considered a natural treasure, this couldn’t be better news. There is still plenty of work to be done to preserve these incredible animals, but the Mekong River is proving to be the perfect natural home.
The Mekong River has so much to offer in terms of culture, landscapes and sea life. If you’re looking for a cruise that’s far more than just a trip around the Mediterranean, make sure to add the Mekong River to your destination list.