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The Best Time to Take a Cruise on the Mekong River

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The Mekong River is a year-round travel destination but depending on when you go, you’ll have a different experience. The best time to take a cruise down the Mekong is during the dry season, between November and April. Though November through January is the ideal time because the usual temperature won’t be too high and the wet season has already passed. The temperature is pretty uniform year-round with highs of 89 °F (32 °C) and lows of 74 °F (23 °C).

The Mekong River is the twelfth largest river in the world, flowing through six Southeast Asian countries: ChinaMyanmarLaosThailandCambodia, and Vietnam. Adventure Life offers many trips to the Mekong, especially from Vietnam and Cambodia. If you’re taking a river cruise up the Mekong you’ll likely start and end in either Southern Vietnam or Southern Cambodia. 
Boat floating along the Mekong River
Boat floating along the Mekong River

High and Low Water Seasons

The Mekong Delta has two additional seasons that somewhat coincide with the dry and wet seasons, high water and low water season. The high water season is between mid-August and November while the low water season is between December and mid-August. The difference between the two comes down to, in the high water season the Tonle Sap lake becomes available to be visited on a river cruise. Around this lake, there are a variety of floating villages and the Prek Toal Bird Reserve. Ships can also dock here during this season, allowing travelers to visit Siem Reap which is just a 45-minute drive away.

Ships cannot sail directly to Siem Reap if the water levels in the Tonle Sap Lake are at an unfavorable level. Passengers must either fly from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap or drive from Kampong Cham, depending on where the trip ends. The perks of river cruising, transportation costs are always included in cruise rates.

Southern Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh)
Month Average Temp °F (℃) Rainfall in (mm)
January 79.7 (26.5) 0.6 (15)
February 82.4 (28) 0.2 (5)
March 84.2 (29) 0.4 (10)
April 86.9 (30.5) 2 (50)
May 85.1 (29.5) 8.7 (220)
June 83.3 (28.5) 12.2 (310)
July 82.4 (28) 11.6 (295)
August 82.4 (28) 10.6 (270)
September 81.5 (27.5) 12.8 (325)
October 81.5 (27.5) 10.4 (265)
November 80.6 (27) 4.5 (115)
December 78.8 (26) 2 (50)

Southern Cambodia (Phnom Penh)
Month Average Temp °F (℃) Rainfall in (mm)
January 80.6 (27) 0.3 (7)
February 82.4 (28) 0.4 (10)
March 85.1 (29.5) 1.6 (40)
April 86 (30) 3 (75)
May 85.1 (29.5) 5.3 (135)
June 85.1 (29.5) 6.1 (155)
July 84.2 (29) 6.7 (170)
August 84.2 (29) 6.3 (160)
September 82.4 (28) 8.9 (225)
October 81.5 (27.5) 8.9 (225)
November 81.5 (27.5) 4.9 (125)
December 78.8 (26) 1.8 (45)


Flower farms in Sa Dec, Vietnam
Flower farms in Sa Dec, Vietnam

Dry Season
The dry season in the Mekong is generally considered to be between November to April. The dry season is a fantastic time to go if you’re worried about the rain or the river flooding. Between December and February, many of the flowers along the Mekong are in bloom offering once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities. You will also get the opportunity to see and interact with a ton of locals during this season because they’ll be working on farms or in the markets. Get to hear their stories, as Lower Mekong Cruises inevitably focus on Vietnam War history.

Wet Season
The wet season is between May to October. It’s worth noting that within the wet season, there’s a monsoon season(a seasonal prevailing wind in South East Asia). This season is generally considered to be between April to September, which has a lot to do with why it rains so much during the wet season. The mild annual rainfall, on the other hand, transforms the picturesque Mekong countryside into an endless expanse of vibrant green. Summer vacations in the United States and Europe coincide with the Mekong's "green season" from June to August, when the rice fields are at their lushest.

 
Sunset over Tonle Sap Lake
Sunset over Tonle Sap Lake
If you choose to go in the rainy season you’ll have a different experience, but definitely not a worse one. It’s recommended that, if going in the wet season, you go in the high water season between mid-August and November to maximize your trip. You will get the advantage of being able to visit the Tonle Sap lake area. This is also the time that the fish, vegetables, and fruits at floating markets will be the most desirable because most-everything blossoms between June and July. This also allows easier access to Siem Reap which is a must-see in Cambodia.
 
Generally, the river will be less crowded and both hotels, hostels, and cruises will be a little bit cheaper because this is considered the off-season. It doesn’t rain all day either, usually, the rain will come for at least an hour each day and stop around late afternoon so you will have a chance to get off the boat and explore the local villages and markets most days. If you choose to do a Mekong river cruise during the wet season, it’s highly recommended to talk with your doctor about investing in malaria pills because the forest will be even more wet than normal, resulting in a larger mosquito breeding ground.

Floating markets of Southeast Asia
Floating markets of Southeast Asia

Your vacation won’t be optimal unless you learn the best time to cruise Mekong river so go to Adventure Life’s website now and plan the perfect trip with our travel experts!


 

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