The formidable Mekong River provides a livelihood for at least 60 million people. Spanning a whopping 4,350 km (2,700 mi), the Mekong (Song Me Kong or Song Cuu Long) is the twelfth-longest river in the world and originates at the Tibetan Plateau before beginning its enormous journey south through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
History of the Mekong River
People have been living by the Mekong since at least 200 BC. An early Iron Age Settlement is known to have lived by the river, although the first documented society dates to the 1st century AD. After centuries of use by natives to transport goods and dine on the abundant sea life, Europeans discovered the Mekong in the mid 16th century.
Spanish and Portuguese settlers quickly began exploring the river though they rarely ventured too far upstream. French colonists expanded their stranglehold of the Mekong River into Laos and created French Indochina. This era of domination lasted until the First and Second Indochina Wars where the French rules were expelled from the region – never to rule again.
Biodiversity of the Mekong River
The Mekong River is one of the most versatile and plentiful biodiversity sites in the world. Its tropical waters and rich coral life are perfect for species to thrive in. Only the Amazon boasts a higher level of diversity. The Mekong holds over 20,000 plant species, 1,200 birds, 800 reptiles, 430 mammals, and 850 freshwater fish – a staggering amount of life.
Notable fish species include 150-lb Probarbus barbs, 5m (16ft) stingrays, and a native species of giant catfish that can weigh up to 660lbs. Also present is the rare and endangered Siamese crocodile. Overall, the Mekong is, per hectare, the most biodiverse area on planet Earth.
The rapid scale of modern human development means conservation work is an area of real importance. The biggest threats to the biodiversity of the Mekong River are black market fishing, climate change, and overall destruction.
Mekong River Tours
The best way to explore the Mekong River is through the comfort and convenience of a modern cruise. There are several tour operators on the Mekong, and finding one won’t be difficult due to its massive size. You’ll spot rare and exotic sea creatures, sail past grand pagods and temples, discover remote islets, and witness humble fishermen mastering their trade.
The Mekong River is a vital facet of life in Southeast Asia. Thanks to the advent of modern cruises, exploring all it has to offer has never been easier.
Address: Southern Vietnam
- Ben Tre City | Ben Tre Province
- Can Tho
- Bien Hoa |Dong Ngai Province
- Cao Lanh City & Sa Dec |Dong Thap Province
- My Tho | Tien Giang Province
Hours: 24 hours
- Can Tho Bridge
- My Thuan Bridge
- Rach Mieu Bridge
- Bai Lai River
- Co Chien River
- Ham Luong River
- My Tho River