Explained: The Mekong River
Meet the “Mother of Water” on an A&K Luxury Cruise
Southeast Asia is filled with diverse peoples and cultures, each with traditions uniquely their own. Yet this multifaceted region has one unifying element that offers locals and fans of luxury travel alike a common frame of reference — the enduring presence of the Mekong River.
The Mekong originates in China’s Qinghai Province where it is called Lancang Jiang, and flows southeast for 2,700 miles through the popular small group travel destinations of Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, before it empties into the South China Sea. Like the Mississippi River in the United States, the mighty Mekong is vital to the lives of the tens of millions who live along its wide, winding waters. It is a source of sustenance, a means of travel, a place of business — in short, the Mekong is a way of life.
A World Moving at Its Own Pace
Lush, pristine tropical forests punctuated with ancient temples and exotic wildlife grace much of the Greater Mekong, and outside of major cities such as Phnom Penh in Cambodia and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in Vietnam, there is a pace to life here influenced by both the hot, humid climate and the patient, persistent outlook of local inhabitants. The river is a world unto itself, moving with a rhythm you can sense, even on a group travel tour.
Watershed of Spectacular Diversity
According to the World Wildlife Federation, the Mekong River basin is second only to that of the Amazon for ecological diversity. Since 1997, more than 1,500 new species have been discovered living in the Greater Mekong, ranging from the saolo, an elusive relative of the antelope, to a huntsman spider with a 12-inch leg span. Other rare animals found here include tigers, crested gibbons and the Irrawaddy dolphin.
Nourishing and Nurturing
The capacity of the Mekong to sustain and nourish the people that depend on it is vast. The name, Mekong, itself is derived from a term both Thai and Lao in origin, meaning the Mother of Water. In the words of A&K Thailand’s Ole Bruch, the Mekong is “a swirling mass of golden brown water, glistening in the sun, snaking its way through the wild tropical landscape, the source of fertility in one of the most exotic terrains in the world.”
Four Ways to Explore this Exotic Destination
Discover the mysteries of the Mekong for yourself in 2017 on A&K’s new Luxury Small Group Journey, Cruising the Mekong: Siam, Saigon and Angkor Wat (12 days, from $6,745 was $8,495), limited to 24 guests. Explore the Greater Mekong region by land and water on the luxury small group tour, Images of Indochina & Angkor Wat (13 days, from $6,495). Alternatively, see the splendors of the Mekong on your own private journey, Signature Mekong (10 days, from $8,495) or Signature Indochina & Angkor Wat (13 days, from $5,995).