Steps to an Unforgettable Mekong River Cruise from Laos

Getting ready for a trip almost always requires doing some thorough research, but we tend to mostly focus on finding the right restaurant or the perfect shopping mall. However, once you book an exotic river cruise ship, this routine changes. While traveling to faraway places is always exciting and new, such trips planning takes a lot more time, effort, and thought.

After all, visiting your parents for the weekend can hardly be compared to packing your bags and visiting Laos for a couple of weeks, can it? On the other hand, packing smart is not all that it takes in order to make sure that your trip is peaceful and satisfying! There are lots of things to consider and learn before hitting the airport just yet.

And if your next tour happens to be the Mekong river, you can be sure that you will come fully prepared! You can embark from Luang Prabang, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh or Ho Chi Minh City.

When it’s time to board your cruise at the home port, don’t rush to be the first one onboard. The lines in the morning are very long and they move slowly; the cabins are not ready and will be left just hanging out onboard for a few hours. Instead, wait a few hours and you will simply breeze through. Sleep in at your hotel, have a nice breakfast, and show up for boarding around noon. You will start your cruise in a better mood and well rested.

Well, without further ado, lets get into the steps you should take if you want to make sure that your next trip is an adventure of a lifetime!

1. Best Time For Mekong River Cruise

All big rivers can be somewhat of a challenge when it comes to planning out a trip, due to the fact that they, as a rule, have two seasons (the wet one and the dry one). When it comes to the Mekong river, you will be happy to hear that there are Mekong cruises offered throughout the whole year, so the only thing left to do is to determine which season suits you best.

The dry season begins in November and ends in May, and the wet season lasts from May to October. One thing is certain - both of them have their ups and downs, but if visiting the Mekong river via a cheap cruising tour, you should consider doing so in the wet season, due to the higher water levels!

2. What to Wear to Mekong River Cruise?

Speaking of the different seasons, you will want to make sure that you are also prepared when it comes to your clothing. This means that your packing routine is about to change! While you will be fine packing a dinner dress for a meal on the cruise ship, you will also want to make sure that all of the other clothes you are bringing along are dry-fit, light-colored, and loose-fitting.

This way, you will be fully protected from the sun and the mosquitoes. Another important thing to pack is a wide-brimmed hat that covers your shoulders!

However, visiting a river also means that you should be prepared for sudden rain showers, so you should also make sure to pack a raincoat, or buy one on the ship (if it is available).

3. Mekong Delta Culture

Visiting a faraway place such as Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam also means that you are coming into a whole new culture and a different lifestyle. It also means that you have to make sure to respect all the people you meet and their customs. Dress appropriately, act accordingly, and you can be sure that you will be welcomed anywhere you go!

4. Vaccinations for Laos

Going on an exotic trip like Mekong river cruise also requires getting all the shots you need. If you are visiting the Mekong delta, you will want to receive the inoculations for Hepatitis A and B, malaria, dengue fever, and typhoid.

Also, if you have any health conditions, make sure to stack up on your medication for the duration of your trip. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should bring some medication for upset stomachs. Most travelers tend to have stomach-related issues when readjusting to a new diet, so make sure to avoid having to go through this unpleasant stage!

5. Cuisine of Laos

While indulging in exotic meals sounds attractive to most of us, you should still know what you are getting yourself into. If you are feeling adventurous, you can try some local delicacies such as the deep-fried tarantula, grilled snake-head, peanut worms, or blood pudding!

However, doing some research on the local cuisine can be a life-saver if you have any allergies or other medical conditions. You can never be too safe when it comes to your health, can you?

Empurau are members of the tor tambroides species found throughout Southeast Asia - Thailand's Chao Phraya and the Mekong River - but it is the Empurau in Borneo that’s special and more valued. They sustain themselves with a diet of wild fruit that falls from trees overhanging the jungle rivers in Sarawak (Malaysia Borneo).

The fish's fruitarian diet is what gives the flesh a sweet, delicate flavor that is entirely unique. Wild Empurau Fish commands a premium price bracket and have been known to cost as high as RM1,800.00 per kg. A single one-kilogram (2.2-pound) empurau prepared in a restaurant can cost between US$300 to $500.

The steamed Empurau has a creamy fatty texture - due to the diet of eating Engkabang (Ilipe nut; Madhuca latifolia) - native to the island of Borneo. The fish scales are edible.

6. Places to Visit in Mekong Delta

Once you are all packed up and ready for the next adventure, you should also know what you can expect once you get to the Mekong. The classic trip par excellence for Vietnam is visiting the north with Hanoi its capital and Halong Bay one of the natural wonders of the world, its center with two World Heritage cities Hoi An and Hue, Sapa ending in the South with Ho Chi Minh and its Mekong Delta.

To end the trip you can pass through Laos to see Luang Prabang, Pak Ou Caves and Kuang Si Falls. While navigating the Mekong River you can see the whole city of Luang Prabang, being one of the jewels of Laos. Luang Prabang was the capital of the kingdom of Laos until the revolution of 1975, when it changed to Vientiane until today.

A very interesting point while traveling Laos is the one at the end of the main street of the city, the Sisavangvong Road, right at the confluence of the River Mekong and Nam Khan. There is a small beach where you have the best views. The beauty of Luang Prabang is not only limited to the artistic but nature also plays an essential role and an example are the waterfalls of Kuang Si, located at 30 kms.

It is a beautiful historic town in the mountains of Laos, set on the banks of the Mekong (which is pretty small at this point). Unlike much of South East Asia it is pretty temperate (due to altitude), and it also benefits from having been the administrative centre of French Indochina, which led to a fabulous integration of French and Asian cuisine which continues to this day. It really is a very lovely spot.

A lot of people don't know this but there are remote island locations in South East Asia which are not surrounded by ocean, they are surrounded by a river. One such place is the 4000 Islands location on the borders of Laos and Cambodia. There are 2 magical islands here, known as Don Det and Don Khone, which are surrounded by the majestic waters of the Mekong River.

There are no sealed roads or four wheeled vehicles on these islands, and it takes a twenty minute boat ride to reach there. Accommodation is inexpensive and the mood is very relaxed. Touring around the islands is done on bicycles and if you go in late October you'll see the massive Khon Phapheng Falls in full flow.

The first word that comes to mind is - versatility! The Southeast Asian region is definitely diverse in every meaning of the word so you can expect the unexpected. Whether you are traveling on a charter cruise or just traveling on a budget, you can be sure that you will get to experience the Mekong in a unique and unforgettable way! Happy journey and stay safe while you travel Mekong!
Kalyan Panja