The Mekong River is the lifeblood of much of Southeast Asia. It runs the entire length of Laos, having already passed through Tibet, China, Myanmar and Thailand. From Laos it continues on to Cambodia and Vietnam.
The river changes its flow seasonally and creates torrential rapids and waterfalls during the wet season. For those living along its banks these reliable but dramatic effects can be life-changing, as they can go from scarcity to plenty in the blink of an eye. The Lao people have learned to use these fluctuations to their advantage, using the period when the floods abate to plant and harvest lush crops of vegetables in the extremely fertile land the water uncovers.
The Mekong River is not easily navigable along its entire length, but for most of Laos it is a reasonably dependable transport link. Scheduled ferries and charter boats between major towns and cities are readily available for the adventurous traveller.
The river is integral to the Laotian way of life. It creates natural borders with neighbouring countries and is vital to the Lao people, providing water for laundry, cooking, washing, playing, fishing, travelling and irrigation.
A journey along the river offers travellers unforgettable scenes of daily life in rural Laos.