At 4,350 km (2,700 miles), the Mekong river is the longest in Southeast Asia. The Upper Mekong rises in China’s Tsinghai province and flows through the eastern part of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Yunnan province. The Lower Mekong forms part of the border between Burma (Myanmar) and Laos, and between Laos and Thailand.
Vientiane, capital of Laos, and Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, are both located directly on the banks of the river, which drains into the South China Sea to the south of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).
The region’s popularity among long-haul travellers is increasing and, with it, the choice of itineraries and type and style of ship. River cruises travel between Siem Reap in northwest Cambodia, gateway to the Angkor region, and Ho Chi Minh City, or between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The route is full of thriving cities, rural communities, floating villages such as Kompong Luong, floating markets and endless rice paddies, pagodas and temples.
A highlight is a visit to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, an extensive array of ornate 12th-century stone structures and beehive like towers built in the jungle near Siem Reap. You could easily make two or three visits to the temple complex but a sunrise or sunset visit is best to avoide both heat and crowds.