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Lao Fishermen on the Mekong

April 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Destinations, Features, Photography

Luang Prabang is a pleasant city in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The city is one of the popular tourist stops in this former French colony. The area is perfectly suited for those seeking outdoor activities or a spiritual journey among local monks. Luang Prabang also finds itself on the Mekong River, which is rich in biodiversity. Fishermen can be viewed perfecting their craft on the shores of the 12th longest river in the world.

Follow this photographic journey featuring two of these fishermen:

mekong-river-asia.jpg Mekong River, Laos © Gennaro Salamone

The Mekong River plays a vital role in the economy of several Southeast Asian countries. Laos is particularly dependent upon it with all their major cities located on the river. Luang Prabang, a north-central city, is a interesting spot for a river voyage or to simply watch locals at work.

fishermen-asia.jpg mekong-river-boat.jpg Fishermen, Luang Prabang © Gennaro Salamone

The best time to view the fishermen in action is early in the morning. This is when they catch fish for their families or to sell at the various markets. The men working on the river are very friendly, but rarely speak English. Learn a few Lao phrases to break the ice before asking to photograph them.

lao-fishing-mekong.jpg lao-fishermen-mekong.jpg Fishermen, Luang Prabang © Gennaro Salamone

The condition of their equipment gives some insight into the economics of fishing on the Mekong. Local fisherman often use primitive gear that requires a lot of manual labor. That usually makes for a limited catch per day. The men in the photographs remained in the same spot for two hours. They caught six decent-sized fish.

Follow another photographic journey to Pushkar, India.
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing a travel article or photograph for publication.


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41 Responses to “Lao Fishermen on the Mekong”
  1. Seth says:

    Great photos. Love the one with the torn shirt. That does look like a lot of work. I’m thinking we should start “fishing rods without borders.” Help them out.

  2. Yen says:

    I’ve been to Luang Prabang a few years ago. A very nice city. Local people are friendly also. Most are simple in their living. I made a trip on the Mekong. Sometimes it’s much better than the roads which a pretty bad in Lao.

  3. Gennaro says:


    Funny. It’s also a pretty good idea though I’d be interesting in the impact that would have on the river and life there.


    Agree with you. Very friendly locals. It’s a country that struggles economically. Not as much as neighboring Cambodia, but it’s still pretty poor materially.

  4. jen laceda says:

    While I have not been to Laos, it is a country I am always dreaming about. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Gennaro says:

    @jen laceda

    It’s an under-rated country. A lot of people skip it, but it’s worth a visit. It’s a bit better for outdoors activities than other traditional travel activities, but there is enough for everyone to enjoy it.

  6. Beth Partin says:

    The advantage of poor gear is that they can’t catch a lot of fish–thus the river doesn’t get overfished.

  7. Gennaro,
    The more i read your short stories like this one the more i get used to the idea that “Enduring Wanderlust” becomes my escape place where i recharge my emotional reservoirs.
    thank you

  8. Gennaro says:

    @Beth Partin

    And that is a major problem through much of Southeast Asia.

    @Alik Levin

    Glad to hear. Travel has that effect for me too. Whether it’s doing it or reading and viewing info about the cultures across the globe.

  9. Tim says:

    Planning a trip for SE Asia this summer. Wasn’t sure about Laos, but I think it will now make the itinerary. Love the outdoors and that along with te culture experience is drawing me to it. The last two are my favorites. Top level images.

  10. Jen says:

    Very cool photos…I am going to show these to my class as we just finished reading a story about poling through the river and they had a hard time visualizing it.

  11. great shots. it’s so hard to capture authenticity in such photos. but you certianly did. it’s a romantic image with the reality of a hard life!

  12. J.D. Meier says:

    I really like the fact I get to preview my potential journeys.

    The pictures here help a lot.

  13. globalgal says:

    Perfect timing as I am in the planning stages of a trip to Laos! I can’t wait!

  14. Gennaro says:


    It’s worth a visit if those are your interests


    Sounds great. Thanks for sharing it.

  15. Gennaro says:

    @marina villatoro

    Appreciate that. Two very interesting and friendly fishermen.

    @J.D. Meier

    Visualizing it is the first step


    Have a great time. Let me know if I can help.

  16. Ashley says:

    Great look at the fishermen in action. Looks work intensive for them. Photos are really well done too.

  17. Very interesting photos. I linked to you from “Sunday Scenery” at Tarheel Ramblings. I never imagined I’d be seeing fishermen in the Mekong River!
    This kind of intensive labor makes me feel so guilty. I was so stiff and sore from gardening last week. And, I complained about it.
    Thanks for the lesson.

  18. Aileni says:

    Seems a timeless world.

  19. I just watched a fascinating documentary about the Mekong River (on the National Geographic Channel, I think). Your photos are wonderful. Thanks!

  20. Thank you for sharing these wonderful images as part of this week’s Sunday Scenery. I love the chance to explore different parts of the world through this meme and visit places I will probably not have the chance to visit in person.

  21. Gennaro says:


    They definitely get their exercise.

    @Amazing Grace

    Thanks and funny comparison.


    Much of Laos feels that way. And this is in a city.

  22. Gennaro says:

    @Angela K. Nickerson

    It’s amazing how essential the Mekong is to a host of countries in Asia. Cambodia is even more dependent upon it than Laos.

    @Tarheel Rambler

    Thanks. One of the fun parts of visiting other sites is seeing the fascinating places that people come up with. Add that to the different experiences people have visiting the same places. Great stuff.

  23. Carrie says:

    Hi Gennaro,
    Great photographs. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! For me, Laos stands out in the top three for all my travels. Life runs at a totally different pace there, and I’d love to go back. I can’t remember ever feeling so relaxed or carefree as I did in Laos.

  24. Sire says:

    The water looks a little muddy doesn’t it? As for the fisherman, they are really lean and you have to wander if it’s because of all the hard work or because they just don’t catch enough to eat.

  25. Hi Gennaro,

    I love the pictures that you took. It looks so peaceful. Excellent job!

  26. Gennaro says:


    I agree the pace is completely different. It’s like stepping into another era.


    That’s an interesting point. It may be both. Most people there are lean. It’s a relatively poor nation and I image the calorie intake is low.


    Thanks. It is peaceful. Nice place to either relax or do outdoor activities.

  27. Dominique says:

    I love how you tell the fishers’ story through this progression of photos. Great work…thanks for sharing.

  28. Gennaro says:


    Really interesting to watch them. Chatted a bit too. Nice guys.

  29. RennyBA says:

    Living in Norway, of course I love fish and fishing. This is totally different way of doing it and very exotic to me. A very interesting read and great pics – thanks for sharing!

    Happy Easter.

  30. Gennaro says:


    One of the fun things about travel is seeing the different ways in which people do things. Enjoy.

  31. Andy says:

    Wow really cool series. I have never seen fishing done like this. Looks like alot of work. Great shots!

  32. Gennaro says:


    It was a lot of fun to watch. Though a little slow in developing.

  33. Hi Gennaro

    This photos are amazing. You photos of the fishermen looks like time have stand still for them. I have seen fisherman photo form 30, 40 years ago and they looked just like this.
    Thank you for taking all of us with you on your journey.

    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  34. Gennaro says:

    @Giovanna Garcia

    It’s amazing how little has changed for them over the years. Something nice about that.

  35. Jill T says:

    Great photos. Amazing that people still fish in that manner. Says a lot about the different cultures around the world.

  36. michelle staley says:

    what a peaceful place the Vietnamese people are such proud friendly people, thankyou for the great pics

  37. Gennaro says:

    @Jill T – Agreed.

    @michelle staley – Appreciate the comment.


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