Mekong Delta Travel Guide
The Mekong Delta is approx 70 km south of Hoi Chi Minh City and one of the top tourist attractions for the Vietnam private holidays. It flows across several countries including Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and China. In Vietnam the rich waters help to feed the fields for agriculture where fruit, vegetables and rice are cultivated. For the tourist, there is plenty of opportunity to go on a canal excursion that makes it possible to see the locals at work while also visiting the floating markets with local goods for sale.
The vast paddy fields that benefit from the Mekong Delta help to produce over a third of the country’s food crop from just 10% of the countries land mass. Even though rice is by far the major crop, this fertile ground is also used to grow sugar-cane groves, fruit orchards and coconut palms.
A great reason to include the Mekong Delta on the travel itinerary for the Vietnam adventure tour is because of its great diversity. There are plenty of wonderful scenes to admire such as locals on traditional boats on the delta’s maze of channels, Khmer monks passing along towards the pastel pagodas, storks circling over a sanctuary, market vendors working stacks of fruit and rice workers stooping in the paddy fields.
Throughout the delta there are plenty of towns that are set up with facilities for the travellers, but some are quite out of the way and lead to nowhere, so are rarely visited. A great place to visit for a boat trip is My Tho and within a relatively short distance from Ho Chi Minh City to make it an enticing day-trip. A trip to Ben Tre is a short distance away and great to get a glimpse of the bounteous fruit orchards.
A boat trip in the Cao Lanh region is certain to appeal to the bird enthusiasts; Sa Dec is rich in colourful flower nurseries and timeless river scenes, while Vinh Long is a further point to start exploring the Mekong Delta.
Can Tho is the delta’s biggest settlement and a great place for the tourists to spend a few days. There are plenty of high quality hotels and restaurants in the region, which give the time to rest up before going out on a boat trip that includes the nearby floating markets.
Other destinations that are worth featuring on the river trip from Can Tho include Ca Mau and the surrounding swamplands. A stop at Soc Tehran; a Khmer stronghold is great if travelling in November or December when the lively festival of Oc Om Bok is taking place. By travelling northeast it is possible to get close to the border with Cambodia, which includes the lively town of Chau Doc. Plus, there is the Sam Mountain which is rich in ancient pagodas and temples.
The climate in the Mekong Delta is quite consistent year-round with a temperature range of 25° C to 28° C with only slight variations. The preferred time to travel in the Mekong Delta on the Vietnam family vacation is the dry season that runs from October/November to April/May. However, the rainy season (May to October) is still acceptable for exploring this region of Vietnam. Most of the rainfall is in short bursts, but quite heavy and takes place in the afternoon for one or two hours. The temperature in this region rarely falls below 20° C.
The major tourist season lasts from October to January with a lot less travellers noticed in the off-season. But, for those tourists that decide to travel in the off-season, there are significantly less tourists to get in the way and prices are more favourable.
How to get there
The Mekong Delta is relatively easy to reach from Ho Chi Minh City with a travel time in the region of 4 hours. There is only one major road to drive on, so the route can get quite crowded.
Air travel is a further option with flights taking place between Ho Chi Minh City and Rach Gia and Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho. Also, there a few speed boats and flight services that take place between Rach Gia and Phu Quoc Island.
The majority of the delta is flat which makes it really easy to explore on a bicycle. Plus, by using the services of a local guide, it is possible to find the less travelled tracks that don’t appear on the maps. This makes it possible to see more and understand the life of the Mekong Delta.
Where to stay
A visit to the Mekong Delta on the Vietnam holiday packages is best experienced when able to combine with a homestay to get a complete appreciation of the local river life and local communities. There are quite a few homestays in the local area.
A visit to the Mekong Delta is not only great for experiencing the authentic and unique culture, but also a very appealing destination for its bustling floating markets. Ninh Kieu, Cai Rang and Phong Dien are the largest and most outstanding.
The Phong Dien floating market is well located near the T-junction of Can Tho River to offer a great central point for exchanging and trading goods. It is open early in the mornings from about 4 to 5 am to 7 to 8 am. This market has a long list of items ready to be bought, such as fruit and vegetables, handicraft, working tools and furniture. There are literally hundreds of boats engaged in frenetic buying and selling activities. Plus, there are several boats set-up to serve local cuisine, such as grilled meat noodles, Can Tho-style noodles, duck hotpot, duck eggs and more. Other attractions in the local area include peaceful villages and dense orchards along the Tra Nien channel.
The Cai Rang floating market is well-known for its focus on selling specialties and fruits of the Mekong Delta. It is located within a short distance (approx 6 km) of Can Tho City centre and opens early until about 8 to 9 am. Some of the great items to witness for the tourist include extremely delicious fruits like dragon fruit, avocado, durian, pomelo, mandarin, Mangosteen and mango. This market is constantly lively which makes it possible to enjoy the bustling atmosphere and see the real floating life. This market helps to create a special cultural feature and a unique tourist attraction for all types of travellers.
The Long Xuyen floating market is approx 2 km from the city centre of Long Xuyen to create one of the most bustling markets in the region. This market has plenty of large boats selling a varied range of items. Popular items include colourful fruits like papayas, tangerines, pineapples, oranges, coconuts, grapefruits and bananas. This market even has a floating gas station nearby. Even though Long Xuyen floating market is a lot less famous than the alternative, it is still a well travelled and frenetic place to visit to truly experience the floating market scene.
Things to see and do
Cruise the Mekong Delta
One of the major reasons for the tourist to visit this region for the Vietnam tour packages is to cruise or paddle-down the Mekong Delta. Whether this is a local trip with a Vietnamese skipper in charge or rowing by yourself, this is certain to make a fascinating time to see the locals' daily activities on the water.
Visit a floating market
On any sightseeing trip of the Mekong Delta it certainly makes sense to visit one or more of the floating markets. This can make a truly memorable spectacle of watching the locals and seeing the market come to live. It is best to travel early in the morning when the markets are more active and locals are trading their wares.
Cham Island Settlement
By exploring the Mekong Delta it is possible to meet the friendly locals from minority Cham villages to fully appreciate the lifestyle of the inhabitants. The Cham villagers wear quite distinct clothes with a headdress that looks quite remarkable. Plus, their friendly nature means it is possible to ask them to pose for a photograph to help create the cherishing memories.
For those travelling on the Mekong Delta that go as far as Chau Doc (close to the Vietnamese-Cambodian border) it is worth visiting the Cave Pagoda and climbing to the top to get picturesque views of greenery, stilt villages and rice fields.
Bang Lang bird sanctuary
Located near Long Xuyen, the Bang Lang bird sanctuary is a great destination on the Vietnam holiday packages for the tourists interested in seeing the local wildlife. It is easily reached on a day-trip from Can Tho. This bird sanctuary is home to a wide range of bird species, including thousands of storks. There is a dedicated viewing platform that gives a stunning view of the full range of the sanctuary; to reach the platform it is necessary to climb a spiral staircase.