The Mekong is a trans-boundary river in Southeast Asia. It is the world's 12th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is 4,350 km (2,703 miles), and it drains an area of 795,000 km² (307,000 square miles), discharging 457 km³ (110 cubic miles) of water annually.
The river has extreme seasonal variations in water level. In Laos, during the rainy season, the water level is several meters higher than during the dry season. The river inundates large areas during the rainy season. These areas are farmed seasonally in the dry season.
The area around the Mekong Waterfalls, about 145 km (90 miles) south of Pakse, is called 4000 Islands. There are thousands of islands in the Mekong river. Some of the largest ones are Don Khone, Don Det, Don Som, and Don Khong.
The Mekong Waterfalls themselves are spectacular. The highest falls reach 21 m (69 ft) in height. The succession of rapids stretches over 9.7 km (6.0 miles) of the river's length, they are several kilometers wide.
The French tried to enable shipping in this area during their colonial times. It proved impossible to navigate the falls, so they constructed a railroad from below the falls to above the falls, to move goods and ships across the falls. The falls are the reason that the Mekong is not usable for transporting goods all the way to China.
Seasonal farming along the Mekong river. This area is under water during the rainy season. (649k) Seasonal farming along the Nam Khan river. (955k) Boats along the Mekong river. (879k) Excursion boats on the Mekong. (715k) Large barges on the Mekong. (725k) Boat on the Mekong just before sunset. (824k) Bamboo bridge over the Nam Khan river. This bridge is seasonal, it gets washed away during the rainy season. (937k) Seasonal bridge over the Nam Khan river. (873k) Fish traps on the Mekong. (1029k) Casting a fishing net on the Mekong. (813k) Fishing on the Mekong. (668k) Collecting sand for construction from the Mekong. (976k) Scenic view along the Mekong. (530k)
Somphamit Falls. (1019k) Somphamit Falls. (930k) Somphamit Falls. (1110k) Khone Phapheng Falls. (1015k) Khone Phapheng Falls. (948k) Khone Phapheng Falls. (748k) Steam locomotive that ran the railroad across the falls during French colonial times. (817k)
4000 Islands area
View over the Mekong with a Buddha statue and a temple on the mountains across the river. (626k) Floating hotel on the island Don Det. (741k) Bungalows on Don Det. (802k) Water buffaloes grazing in the Mekong. (1024k) Water buffalo grazing in the Mekong. (950k) Tree with cormorants. (780k) Large tree with the root system exposed on the bank of the Mekong. (1041k) Settlement with boats and seasonal gardens on the bank of the Mekong. (1166k) Kids diving for snails. (547k) Bathing in the Mekong. (1041k) Doing laundry in the Mekong. (1002k) Fish traps waiting to be deployed. (1046k) Fisherman below the Khone Phapheng Falls. (1151k) Fishermen on the Mekong. (494k) Fisherman casting a net in the evening light. (597k) Fisherman expertly casting a net. (918k) Fisherman expertly casting a net below the Khone Phapheng Falls. You can see the splashing circle where the net hit the water. (1079k) Boat being repaired. (902k) A lot of boat travel is by hand. (1021k) Boat on the Mekong. (958k) Boat on the Mekong. (1035k) Birds on a power line across the Mekong. (500k)