A First-timer’s Guide to Mekong River Cruising

A First-timer’s Guide to Mekong River Cruising

The Mekong River is the 12th longest river in the world, and the longest in South East Asia. Along its 4,350 kms flowing across six countries, you will discover boundless wonders. If you’re planning on taking a Mekong River cruising holiday for the first time and are unsure about what to see on a Mekong River cruise, here’s a ready reference to hold you in good stead. 

Why Take a Mekong River Cruise?

The banks of the Mekong River are bedecked with ancient temples, the most vibrant floating markets, and the most unique ecosystem. On a Mekong River cruising holiday, you will have the chance to explore at least two of the six nations flanking the river. You will discover the magic of this dynamic waterway, witness the daily interactions of local residents and admire the ornate temples and gold-top pagodas that dot the countryside, as you gently pass by. 
And when you choose to cruise on a 5-star luxury river ship such as Scenic Spirit, your time on board will be one of unparalleled intimacy and outstanding indulgence. With only 68 guests, you'll relish the high-level of service and luxury, along with on board features such as resort-style pool and open-air cinema, and all the facilities you would expect to find in a world-class hotel.

When to go on a Mekong River Cruise?

While the Mekong is beautiful and exciting all year long, each season has its pros and cons. The weather is milder during November to April, which means you can expect to be out and about all day, thanks to lower humidity and cooler temperatures. However, during the wet and warm months from May to October, the countryside transforms into a pristine green wonderland that is a sight for sore eyes. Additionally, the higher water levels and fewer tourists during this time make for smooth and quiet Mekong River cruising. 

What to see on a Mekong River Cruise?

An intoxicating fusion of east meets west, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are a melting pot for the senses. From ancient pagodas and 12th century temples to dense forests and picturesque waterfalls, this is a place where natural and manmade wonders coexist in peaceful harmony. From bustling cities to charming riverside communities, the chaos of markets, both on land and on water, to the peaceful chanting of monks, there is something to captivate and excite even the most seasoned traveller.
The top temples that deserve a mention on your ‘what to see on a Mekong River Cruise’ list are: the stunning temple complex of Angkor Wat, and the Ta Prohm Temple in Cambodia, the Vietnam’s Temple of Literature, and the Wat Phou temple of Laos. Amongst the markets, make sure you include the Cai Rang floating market of Vietnam, the Angkor Night Market of Cambodia and also make time for a vintage Vespa foodie tour in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Packing list for your Mekong River Cruise

Regardless of the time of the year you visit, you are likely to encounter a fair amount of heat and humidity. Here are our top five must-pack items for a comfortable Mekong River cruising trip. 
  • Sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen: Grab all the accessories you need to protect yourself from too much sun exposure. 
  • Mosquito repellent: The lush countryside surrounded by ample waters often provides an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Be sure to pack a good quality insect repellent to stay bug free. 
  • Comfortable walking shoes: You’ll be doing a fair bit of walking on uneven ground so pack a comfortable pair of shoes that provide a strong grip.
  • Moisture wicking clothing: The regions you’ll be touring tend to get hot and humid during the day so pack clothing that wick moisture, rather than cotton clothing which absorb sweat and start to sag. A light sweater for the cooler nights is also recommended. While visiting the temples and monasteries, be mindful of wearing clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. If you’re travelling during the wet season, a rain poncho or raincoat will keep you dry during the sudden spells of rain. 
  • Camera and binoculars: The Mekong River is filled with incredible flora and fauna, and places like Tra Su Bird Sanctuary in Vietnam provide ample opportunities to observe rare wildlife. Be sure to pack your camera (with spare batteries and memory card), and a handy pair of binoculars to capture memories to last a lifetime. 

Top Mekong River Cruises