MEASURING a vast 4350km the Mekong River, the 12th largest in the world, runs like a vein through Asia, bringing life and industry to China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and all the communities who live and work along its banks.
For travellers too it has become an important part of an Asian sojourn. Many will have encountered sections of it to see festivals, when they’ve stayed in riverside towns, or even utilised the waters for transport.
From the Tibetan Plateau the river flows southeast through Yunnan in China, then along the border of Burma and Laos, touching parts of Thailand, Cambodia and finally into Vietnam where it exits into the South China Sea via an enormous delta.
The Mekong is known by many names. These include “mae” in Khmer which means big, mother, boss or large. While in northern Thailand it is called “River Khong”; Khong coming from a sanskrit word meaning sacred water.
Its twists, turns, confluences, floodwaters and flow reverses are incredible. These images demonstrate some of the landscapes through which the river moves and shapes, the people that utilise its waters for agriculture or fishing, and travellers making sojourns on the Mekong.
The mountainous landscape around Luang Prabang, Laos, creates an impressive backdrop for the river. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com
A common sight anywhere along the Mekong are fishermen casting nets. Aquatic biodiversity in the Mekong is high and fish habitats exist in the river and its tributaries, in nearby rain-fed wetlands and floodplains, and in canals and reservoirs nearby. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com
Backpackers making the border crossing between Laos and Cambodia by boat along the Mekong. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com
The idyllic river scene around Si Phan Don, or the 4000 islands, in southern Laos. These islands lie in the Mekong River and are popular with travellers seeking an experience of laid back village life along the river. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com
Fellow passengers on the river: men and monks in a canoe near Siem Reap, Cambodia. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com
At times there are fast currents on the river as seen in this image near Luang Prabang, Laos. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com
The Mekong ferries rarely make stops on the way; instead small boats come out to make mid stream exchanges. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com
A woman paddles past stilt houses in Cambodia. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com
Ferry passengers near Luang Prabang heading towards the Thai border. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com
Sunset on the river near Kratie, Cambodia. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com
Mekong River from the air above Luang Prabang, Laos. Pic: Joanne Lane, www.visitedplanet.com