Mekong River and Ha Long Bay
The Mekong River has iconic status worldwide, and is a recognized symbol of Southeast Asia, spanning the length of the sub-region. It is Southeast Asia's longest river at 4350km in length, making it the twelfth largest river in the world. This sensational waterway pulses with all aspects of the region's day to day life, from the industrious rurality of the rice paddies to the busy hum of cities like Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City that fringe its banks. It is one of the most enriching places to explore by boat. The Mekong river directly supports more than 60 million people, many still living in rustic fishing villages, or trading their seasonal production in one of the many floating markets. Running from the Tibetan Plateau, through the Three Parallel Rivers of China's Yunnan Province, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, the river eventually enters the South China Sea via the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
This important waterway is best explored by water, and Rainforest Cruises has a whole host of Mekong tours for your tailor-made itinerary. From the decks of one of our luxury boats lucky travelers have unrivaled views of this vibrant region - a front row seat to watch the hubbub of life on the banks of the river and a chance to cruise amongst a spectacularly rich ecosystem of species. You might spot giant soft-shell turtles, fishing cats, smooth-coated otters, stingrays... or even the elusive and exceptionally rare Irrawaddy Dolphin!
It's not hard to see why Halong Bay was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as it is widely considered one of the most beautiful places in the world. People flock from all corners to see the spectacular geographical shoreline of the Quang Ninh Province in northeastern Vietnam, with its crystalline waters and thousands of pinnacles and grottoes of all shapes and sizes. This enormous bay of about 1,553 km2 (600 square miles) holds some 2000 islets of towering limestone, the largest of which are Cat Ba and Tuan Chau, crested with leafy vegetation where you might find elusive species of wild fowl, primates, reptiles or antelope. A large proportion of these small islands contain hollow cave chambers formed slowly over the course of 500 million years, whose stalagmites, stalactites and deep crevices conjure otherworldly shadows. It's a must-visit region for wildlife-watchers with 200 species of fish and 450 species of mollusc alone, and 74 species of flora and fauna endemic to the area. Travelers searching for adventurous activities could meander around this turquoise paradise in kayaks or canoes, or go climbing or biking on the islets. For residents of Halong Bay fishing remains a way of life and the fishing villages of Halong Bay exist as small conglomerations of floating houses.
Most travelers spend two to three days exploring and taking in the sights, and with four different boats at Rainforest Cruises to choose from it’s easy to include a trip to Halong Bay as part of a greater itinerary to Southeast Asia.
A Halong Bay tour allows slow perusal and navigation of the waters around the rocks, but also opportunities to get up close to the islands themselves. Excursions ashore may include hiking and exploring, or kayaking and cycling. For others a shore excursion may simple include some time to rest and take in the views. Halong Bay is currently the better know destination with traditional boat Jasmine navigating through. Travelers with a bit more time might head to Lan Ha Bay to the south where they would find less crowded waters and gorgeous beaches. This bay can be visited on our Ginger and Ylang boat cruises.
How To Combine The Two
The Mekong River stretches to the south of Southeast Asia while Halong Bay sits to the north, so an itinerary including tours to both may seem a daunting task, but at Rainforest Cruises we can take your worries away and plan it all for you. Bear in mind that the dry and cool season stretching from November to mid February is generally considered the most favorable time of year for visiting this region.
Get in touch to discuss how we can add a trip to Halong Bay onto the end of your Mekong River tour (or the other way round!) and we'll help you choose the best time and length for your stay according to your needs. All of our pre or post extensions can include accommodation, select meals, domestic transfers, English speaking guides and entrance fees. Send us an enquiry or call 1-888-215-3555to start building your custom Southeast Asian tour!