Mekong River Laos comprises the longest stretch of the mighty river as it flows from the Tibetan Plateau of China's Yunan Province, along the full length of Laos where it marks part of the border between Laos and Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Laos and Thailand. It then enters Cambodia where it begins to widen into nine sub-rivers and channels that spread across the rich agricultural region of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam before emptying into the South China Sea. In Vietnam, it is known as the Nine Dragon Delta. In Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, it is known simply as Khong, Mother of All Waters. Historically, Mekong River travel in Laos has been (and remains) the chief form of transportation in this long, thin, and mountainous country that has few good roads.
The best Mekong River tour in Laos will cruise between the country's capital of Vientiane and the stretch of the Upper Mekong that originates in the Golden Triangle region of northeastern Thailand and northwestern Laos. This is considered the most scenic stretch of the river. This stretch of Mekong Laos forms part of the border with Thailand, but most of it is wholly within Laos. Notable ports of call along the route include the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang, known for its numerous Buddhist temples and monasteries, and Vang Vieng, known for its dramatic limestone and karst formations and caves that provide excellent terrain for hiking and cycling.
Your Mekong River tour in Laos will probably begin in Vientiane, capital and largest city in the country. Most of the Laos Mekong River hotels are located in this city, which is set on a bend in the river on the border with Thailand. This is the site of the Thai Lao Friendship Bridge that connects the two countries. It was built in 1994 as the first bridge over the Lower Mekong. While in Vientiane, you may want to visit the Morning Market called Talat Sal, which is open daily from early morning to mid-afternoon. Here, you will find stall after stall of handcrafts, gold and silver jewelry, and the graceful sinh traditional dress worn by many women in this country. This Mekong River Laos city is also known for its numerous Buddhist temples (wats) and stupas, including the beautiful gold-covered Pha That Luang (Great Stupa) that is the national symbol of the country.
Another route to access a Mekong River tour in Laos is to cross the border from Thailand near the city of Pakse in southwestern Laos. There is another Thai Lao Friendship Bridge here. The best Mekong Laos tours for those visitors unfamiliar with the country and region are vacation packages that have all the Mekong River hotels, transportation, and tours included. Trying to arrange all these details (especially transportation within the country) on your own can be time consuming and confusing.
As with Mekong tours in the other Southeast Asia countries through which the river flows, almost any Mekong Laos tour will include a cruise or boat ride of some sort. Most of the major sights and attractions are located near the river, and many can best be accessed only by boat. The Mekong River Laos has historically played an important role in the country, and it remains the key to transportation between the north and south. You can book Mekong River cruises that are only in Laos as well as cruises that navigate most of the length of the Mekong River in Thailand, the Mekong River in Cambodia, Vietnam, and even a few in Myanmar (formerly Burma).