Coffee and karaoke in south-east Asia’s secret corner Save

The Mekong should be on everyone’s travel bucket list, and your first glimpse of it - through the stilts of a floating village or between the trunks of a coconut palm forest - stays with you forever.

Its journey from China to Vietnam is as wild as you’d expect, winding through tight jungle and rice fields as it passes through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. But it’s not all wilderness: along its route you can wake up with a cup of artisan coffee, spend a day spotting dolphins and then unwind by entertaining locals with your karaoke skills.

With Laos embarking on a year of special events in a bid to reverse a decline in visitor numbers, now is a great time to explore the lower Mekong - whether by bicycle or scooter along its traffic-free roads and trails, aboard one of the many intercity coaches or from the deck of cruise ship.

Coffee culture

Rising up on the eastern bank of the Mekong as it enters central Laos, the cool climate of the Bolaven Plateau is home to many of Asia’s best coffee plantations. Some - like The Sinouk Coffee Resort - offer luxury accomodation in tropical surroundings as well as a chance to visit the plantation and taste the coffee. If you want to stay by the river, Delta Coffee in Pakse (Route 13; 8am-8pm) serves excellent coffee from its own plantation.

Karaoke bars

Nothing is more fun then going out with friends, grabbing a Karaoke Microphone and having some food and drinks in Cambodia. Karaoke is a phenomenon all along the Cambodian stretch of the Mekong. Look for signs saying KTV and either head towards it or book accommodation far away - music can go on long into the night. Some small town bars can be a bit seedy; to be safe, head for KTVs in big towns like the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. Blue-O Rhythm and Bowl Platinum Room (Level 2, Aeon Mall, Sothearos Boulevard, Phnom Penh) is family-friendly and has a bowling alley for when you’re sung out.

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