Gently Down the Mighty Mekong
The Mekong River is more than an exploration in culture and tradition; to some, it is a way of life.
The Mekong River spans over 4000 kilometers and runs through six countries, making it the longest river in Southeast Asia. Beyond that, the Mekong basin is one of the most diverse regions in the world, rich in natural resources due to its diverse ecosystems. With 60 million inhabitants, the basin is a major source of livelihood for most in this region.
One of the greatest ways to explore a region as rich in culture and history as the Mekong Delta is to actually sail its waters. It’s a fully immersive experience which allows you to discover the Cambodian and Vietnamese way of life in authentic fashion.
Aboard our award-winning Aqua Mekong river cruise, you’ll have knowledgeable, local guides who will lead you on excursions to some of the region’s most remarkable sights.
And just picture this – after a long day of adventures, you’ll be sitting back on the deck with a glass of wine in hand, looking at the sun as it sets over the calming river waters. Sounds perfect, don’t you think?
Here’s what makes the Mekong one of the most incredible sailing destinations in the world:
The world in a grain
Agriculture is one of the most prominent activities in the Mekong basin, especially rice farming. Vietnam and Cambodia are both among the world’s main producers of rice.
Rice has always been a staple of the Cambodian diet. Back in the 9th century, the Khmer Empire relied on rice as their main food source, developing complex irrigation systems for their rice paddies. These days, over 80 percent of farmers cultivate rice through traditional farming practices, mainly using the method of two oxen pulling a plough and harrow.
In Vietnam, about 82 percent of its arable land is dedicated to the cultivation of rice. The Mekong Delta is its most fertile area and has been dubbed the country’s “rice bowl”.
When you cruise Vietnam as part of our Aqua Mekong itineraries, our expert guides will showcase the importance of rice in Vietnamese and Cambodian cultures.
In Vietnam, guests will ascend Sam Mountain, a 230-meter hill where breathtaking views of the everlasting lush green rice fields can be enjoyed, an unforgettable landscape that goes all the way to neighboring Cambodia.
In Vietnam’s district of Cai Be, one of our Aqua Mekong excursions is an insightful stop to learn about the manufacturing of rice products such as rice paste, rice paper, and popped rice snacks. Meanwhile, in Cambodia, biking excursions include pedaling through vast paddy fields, a peaceful experience that will connect you to these lands and its people.
Besides rice, the nutrient-rich soil and environmental conditions of the Mekong Delta also make this region optimal for fruit agriculture. Coconuts, bananas, jackfruit, and mango are among the main products.
While out on our signature small-group shore excursions, Aqua Mekong will visit My An Hung, a typical Mekong Delta village where guests will get to taste a delicious array of tropical fruits and vegetables produced locally.
A big catch
The Mekong River supports the largest inland fishery in the world. This is reflected in the important consumption of freshwater fish within the communities of the lower Mekong basin, accounting for around 80 percent of their protein intake.
For centuries, Cambodians have traditionally processed freshwater fish into products such as fermented fish or fish paste known as prahok. It’s an essential ingredient in Cambodian cuisine, which is something you can try on board Aqua Mekong thanks to our locally curated menus.
During our explorations in Vietnam, we will make a stop at Binh Thanh island to learn how the communities make their living by growing water hyacinth and fish farms, as well as fruit and vegetable gardens.
One of the best ways to immerse yourself into the culture of a region and feel like a local is by visiting local markets. Whether an inland or floating market, each one is different and will provide a new perspective of life along the river.
One of our favorites is Vietnam’s bustling Chau Doc floating market located near the border of Cambodia and Vietnam. Guests will discover a peculiar form of advertisement in which each boat hangs their wares, usually fruits or vegetables, on long bamboo poles – a simple way to spot what you’re looking for from afar!
At the photogenic and colorful Chao Doc market, guests will find numerous regional specialties such as dried fish, tamarind paste, coconut- and mango-flavored sweets, palm sugar, lotus seeds, and sugar palm fruit. Some of these are used in Aqua Mekong’s flavorful menu.
The Aqua Mekong offers three, four and seven-night cruises in the stunning Mekong region. With our expert English-speaking guides and local community connections, we are able to reveal a more authentic side of Cambodia and Vietnam, offering fresh perspectives and deeper insight for a truly rewarding journey. Book your adventure here.