10 Tips for Cruising the Mekong River
It’s the lifeblood to thousands, irrigating crops, providing water as well as a source of income. The magnificent Mekong River winds through six countries and those lucky enough to experience a river cruise on it will gain new insights into a world and lifestyle far different from that of our own.
Cruising the Mekong is an incredible experience and the preparations you make beforehand can make a world of difference. If you’re not prepared, your experience will be very different than if you have done a bit of research and come well equipped.
Today we’ve got 10 tips for cruising the Mekong:
• Pack well. Make sure you have good walking shoes and light, loose, quick-drying, moisture-wicking clothing. Clothing that covers knees and shoulders is also necessary when visiting various religious sites. A wide-brim sunhat is also a must, as well as a light jacket. And don’t forget the insect repellent (and a good antihistamine cream). Most cruises on the Mekong are casual even in the evening so you won’t need any formal dress.
• Remember that it is very hot and humid in this part of the world which means, well, you’ll sweat a lot … and that doesn’t always bode well for your favourite piece of clothing. The good news is that you can buy clothing very cheaply at the markets. Our suggestion is, if you have time before your cruise, pick up a few cheap items that you can wear and then discard if necessary at the end.
• Many tours or excursions will spend quite a bit of time outdoors. It’s important to keep well hydrated so a good water bottle is necessary (you can get specially insulated ones that are perfect). Remember to bring a small but functional day pack that is large enough to carry a jacket if you need it, your water bottle and any other bits and bobs. You can buy day packs with concealed zips that help deter those who may like to help themselves to your belongings.
• If you have limited mobility, check how much walking is involved in the excursions on your trip. Much of the terrain is flat, but often on uneven ground and the tours often involve a lot of walking (in the heat!) so just check before you go that you will be up for it.
• Be sure to back up your photographs as you go, in case you lose your phone/camera or it takes an unexpected dip in the river.
• Check what vaccinations you need. You usually need typhoid, malaria and hepatitis shots before visiting this part of the world. You may also like to pack medications like immodium or anti-nausea, just in case.
• Learn the customs and etiquette before you go. It’s easy to inadvertently offend but a quick read-up about local do’s and don’t’s can help avoid this.
• Keep your money and valuables close and out of sight and leave your jewellery at home. Pick-pocketing does happen here – as well as in many other parts of the world – so you need to be aware of your surroundings. Purses with long straps can also be targeted – they cut the strap and ride off on their scooters. Tuck everything away out of sight as much as possible and keep your wits about you.
• Allow enough time! Add on a few days pre or post cruise (or both!) so you can make the most of your time and experience everything you want to see. A couple of extra days is well worth it!
• Enjoy! Embrace the chaos of the marketplaces, try new foods and immerse yourself in different ways of life and cultures. The children will wave and pose for photos, the elders will enjoy sharing their goods and their culture with you and the river will showcase some spectacular scenery.
For more information on cruising the Mekong River or to discuss the options, have a chat to one of our Ultimate Cruising experts.