Cruising the Mekong River is one of the most popular activities in Vietnam. In fact, those who travel to Vietnam are recommended to partake in a Mekong River cruise. The river cruise is accompanied by a tourist guide who will walk you through the history of the river and its cultural and political significance. Therefore, it is a truly enriching experience for tourists who want to get to know the culture when they visit Cambodia, Vietnam or Thailand. To appreciate the experience, you need to know some basic Mekong River facts so you will gain a bigger appreciation for what you are about to experience.
1. The Mekong River is the 12th longest river in the world. It stretches over 4,000 kilometers in length that flows through six countries: China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
2. Although the Mekong River is known throughout the world as one of the most important river systems, it is called by different names. It is also called Lancang Jiang, Cuu Long and Mae Nam Kong.
3. The Mekong River basin is habited by people. In fact, there is an estimated 60 million people who live along the basin.
4. Mekong River is the 14th in the world in terms of water discharge from a river. It discharges around 475 square kilometer of water to the West Philippine Sea in an annual basis! Of the total water discharge, 35% of that is coming from Laos and 18% is from Thailand.
5. The annual flow or water discharge from the Mekong River to the West Philippine Sea typically happens during the monsoon season, which is from July to October.
6. One of the most important Mekong River facts that a lot of tourists don’t know about is that the river is more than just a cultural and historical gem. It is also being utilized for a number of industries and applications today such as fishery, power generation, domestic supply, irrigation, industrial and transportation. In fact, the Vietnamese rely on the river primarily to irrigate their crops. About half of their irrigation supply comes from the Mekong River.
7. The Laos government has expressed their plans on building a hydroelectric dam along the Mekong River. This has been highly protested because of its possible drawbacks to the river’s ecosystem.
8. Vietnam isn’t the only country to benefit from the river; Cambodia also gets 80% of their protein supply from the fish that are caught from the river.
9. Historically, the Mekong River is known for its role in the trading industry. To this day, it is still used significantly as the transport channel for traders, particularly in Vietnam.
10. The Myanmar-Laos Friendship Bridge is constructed along the international border of the river. The construction for the bridge commenced in 2013 and is one of several friendship bridges built for by the two countries.
With these Mekong River facts, you are now ready to explore the river on a cruise. Whether you choose a full day or half-day cruise, it is going to be one of the most amazing experiences you will ever have.