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 largest in South East Asia. Along its 4,350 km flowing across six countries, including Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, 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 are some helpful hints and insights;  

Why Take a Mekong River Cruise?

The banks of the Mekong River have many ancient temples, the most vibrant floating markets and  unique ecosystem. On a Mekong River cruising journey, you will have the opportunity to explore at least two of the six nations along 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. Further, Scenic is the only cruise company in the region that designs, owns, operates and builds its ships to meet European safety standards. The finest teams are hand-selected and trained to look after you, with local Scenic offices to provide consistent on ground support to our crew, so they can go above and beyond to make your experience unforgettable.

When to go on a Mekong River Cruise?

While the mighty Mekong River is beautiful and exciting during the whole year, each season has its advantages and challenges. 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 lush green wonderland. 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 most stunning temples to see on your Mekong River Cruises are the iconic complex of Angkor Wat, and Ta Prohm in Cambodia, Vietnam’s Temple of Literature, and the Wat Xiengthong in Luang Prabang. Amongst the markets, make sure you include Cai Rang floating market of Vietnam, the Angkor Night Market in Siem Reap and also make time for a vintage Vespa foodie tour in Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi.

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. 
  • 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), and a handy pair of binoculars to capture memories to last a lifetime. 
  • Sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen: Pack all the accessories you need to protect yourself from 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. 

Note: * Outdoor cinema is available to weather conditions.

Top Mekong River Cruises