By the time it reaches Vietnam, the Mekong River has already covered more than four thousand kilometres from its source high on the Tibetan Plateau; en route it traverses southern China, skirts Burma (Myanmar), then hugs the Laos–Thailand border before cutting down through Cambodia and into Vietnam – a journey that ranks it as Asia’s third-longest river, after the Yangtse and Yellow rivers. Flooding has always blighted the delta; ever since Indian traders imported their advanced methods of irrigation more than eighteen centuries ago, networks of canals have been used to channel the excess water, but the rainy season still claims lives from time to time.

It’s difficult to overstate the influence of the river: the lifeblood of the rice and fruit crops grown in the delta, it also teems with craft that range in size from delicate rowing boats to hulking sampans, all painted with distinctive eyes on the prow. These continue an ancient tradition and were originally intended to scare off “river monsters”, probably crocodiles.

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The 20 best beaches in Vietnam

The 20 best beaches in Vietnam

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22 Sep 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

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There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

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Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?

Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City: where should you visit first?

Situated at the northern and southern extremes of this long, thin country, Vietnam’s two main cities lie more than one thousand kilometres apart. Southern …

22 Aug 2017 • Helen Abramson insert_drive_file Article
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