A tour of the Mekong Delta

Mekong – the longest river on the Indochina Peninsula, 4th in Asia and 9th in the world. It flows through China, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. It joins the South China Sea with a wide delta of 58.5 thousand km². Partially marks the border of Laos with Thailand and Burma. The main tributaries are Mun, Nam Ou, Kong and Tônlé Sab. In the upper course, there are many waterfalls and rock steps. Larger cities on the river are Vientiane, Savannakhet, Phnom Penh, and Luang Prabang. Lower course of Mekong is the most important communication route in Indochina, the sea ships arrive in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

Mekong Delta - Vietnam  -River
Mekong Delta – Vietnam

Mekong Delta in Vietnam is called a heart of the country and is a must-see place when visiting Ho Chi Minh City. You can admire the houses on the water and houses on stilts. The entire sales process takes place on the water. It seems as if the time passes here completely different than on the mainland. Using the local taxis (boats that are not in mint condition) we moved between the islands. On the way we got hooked about a floating gas station and a “cafe” – a boat from which coffee was sold. We passed a dozen boats on which various products were offered, mainly fruits and fish.

Mekong is not only a supplier of water for rice fields and an unlimited number of fish, but practically all life here revolves around this river. People live on the water in their floating houses, they use water from the river for everyday activities such as cooking, laundry, washing, but also as a big garbage dump, which you can throw everything into, and the stream will take it in a few seconds. Nevertheless, Mekong impresses with its richness of vegetation, beautiful flowers and the possibility of staying in touch with nature.

By deciding on a trip organized by a travel agency or hotel, we usually have a choice of 1,2 or 3-days trip (although you can also do it on your own, scooter, which I strongly recommend). I advise against three days, one day seems optimal, unless you plan to travel towards Cambodia and Phnom Penh, then the 2-days option ending in the capital of the Khmer state is the most reasonable one. The river is full of small islands. Four of them are usually in the plan of almost every trip. And so the first stop, the attraction – tasting of fruits. Of course, included in the price, only that the feast is accompanied by a performance of local people, someone sings, someone plays the harp, and someone else on something that I have no idea what is called. (picture below)

Mekong Delta Island

Artist must be paid, admittedly pay what you will, but that’s the extra cost of the trip. After all, the guide goes through the village, which is in a deplorable state, up to the channel from which a short boat trip with 3/4-passengers begins. We had  crossed the narrow branches of the Mekong, and the green plants surrounding us formed a “corridor” in which the boat behind the boat was squeezing on the river … after 15 minutes we had to leave the boats. Therefore, I suggest that you ask at the beginning about the duration of this journey and the possibility of extending it, because it is really worth it! That’s how we got to the next place – a honey settlement. As the name suggests, the whole village does its best to sell as many honey products to tourists as possible. First you watch the apiary, where you can put your finger in a cluster of honey surrounded by bees. Later, you try some honey drink, which is supposedly a medicine for everything, to which honey cookies are served.

Mekong Delta - Vietnam

The next stop on the route was the manufacture of rice noodles and coconut products. We could observe how in fast-paced fashion women packed the coconut candy in paper and then buy selected by ourselves flavors. Beside, white and pink fritters were drying in the sun, which after passed through the machine became a ready to pack rice noodles. At the end of the day, we visited a crocodile farm. I thought that such a thing is forbidden, apparently not in southern Asia. Hundreds of crocodiles are breed on the farm (mainly due to the skin, but also meat). In the fenced “lakes” you could see dozens of crocodiles (from small to ones that were several meters long). There is also an island where you can stock up on different kind of drinks, i.a. from cobra, scorpions. In the picture below you can see the tincture I drank. It was made of a snake and scorpion.

Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta Island
Mekong Delta Island

In the evening you can moor in Can Tho, a big city on the banks of the Mekong. Early in the morning the next day take the boat, which will take you to the “floating market”. It is a place on the river where dozens of boats anchor in the morning. From smaller ones warm food, sandwiches, drinks as well as freshly peeled and cut fruit are sold. On larger boats, wholesale quantities of fruit, vegetables, fish and rice are traded. The are many options, prices and durations vary. What is the most captivating is people. Apart from public transport employees, taxi drivers and individual cases of hotel owners (i.e. those who revolve around the tourist industry), people were very friendly. They were starting the conversation themselves, asking us where we were from. They smiled and waved in greeting.

In the gallery you can find more photos from the Mekong Delta

Practical information:

There are many sales offices. The easiest way to find such is in the area of Backpackers Street, where there are also a lot of hotels or hostels.

Travel time from Ho Chi Minh to Mekong Delta +/- 2h.

The cost of a 1 day tour of Saigon – Mekong Delta – Saigon 15 – 20 $.

The cost of a 2 day tour of Saigon – Mekong Delta – Phnom Penh 25 – $ 50.

The cost of a 3-day trip to Saigon – Mekong Delta 70 – $ 120.

Departure on your own:

Those willing to, can choose the “homestay” option and sleep under the local conditions of a Vietnamese family. The cost is about $ 20 a night.

Bus with sleeping areas to Can Tho 5 $.

A 6-hour cruise is +/- 40 $.

The most important places:

My Tho – with the most famous Buddhist temple in the VĩnhTràng Temple region.

Ben Tre – this is one of the southern provinces of the country.

Cai Be, Cai Rang – floating market.

Can Tho – the largest city in the Mekong Delta.

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