Mekong Delta, also called “Mien Tay” by the locals, is seemingly off-the-beaten-track to foreign tourists. Yet, it turns out to be an ideal destination with many fascinating experiences. For those who plan to come here, the best things to do in Mekong Delta are taking boat trips along Mekong’s tributaries, trading in the floating markets, enjoying the flavor of fresh fruits, plus joining with the friendly folks to feel comfortable and relaxed. Detailed descriptions of each will be provided in the following lines.
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That delta is mostly covered by wetlands and winding rivers has proved the necessity of waterway travel. However, it is not all that makes the cruise trip one of the best things to do.
Apart from the fact that traveling by cruise is really fun and convenient, a cruise trip can also provide you with both sightseeing and cultural experiences. As the Mekong River runs through Vietnam and has formed a complicated river system, life in the delta revolves around the rivers. On both sides, sceneries are the perfect combination of nature and humans; hence a strange way of how life goes on every day developed. Besides, traveling by cruise doesn’t mean that you only see everything from afar. A cruise can take you to more places than you expect. Once it lands at the destination, you can freely marvel at the sceneries or even take part in activities there.
To enjoy a cruise trip, you can book a Mekong River cruise or a package tour that includes cruising in its itinerary. Usually, a cruise will give you an overnight experience with many water-related activities and more destinations, while a package tour will only include cruising as one activity during the day, along with many others both inland or water-related.
If you like to immerse yourself in nature, then a Mekong River cruise will be the best idea. Ones that get around Mekong provinces like Mekong Eye Classic Cruise, Bassac Cruise, and Le Cochinchine Cruise are $260 to $300 per person. The luxury that can take you longer and out of the delta to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap is much more expensive, from $1000 to over $2000.
Alternatively, if you are into joining in different activities to both enjoy the natural beauty and get close to the locals, you can opt for a package tour like Mekong Delta Gateway 3 days or Insight Mekong Delta full day which are only around $200 per person.
Enjoy the Mekong Delta cruise trip
Though there are homestays all around the country, those located on tranquil islands of the delta, surrounded by acres of orchards, and filled with welcoming smiles plus delicious home-cooked food, are particularly attractive. Journey up the Mekong for a homestay with a lovely local family, and you will learn about how life goes on every day and gain a real appreciation of why this area is known as the ‘rice basket of Vietnam.
During the daytime, you can join in cycling with the local children along the village’s paths to get to bustling markets, find some garden-fresh foods for yourself, and bargain with sellers to see how friendly the people here are. When dusk sets in, lying on a hammock, savoring the fresh juice, and seeing the sun go down from the river bank will give you a sense of peace. At night, you can gather with the host’s family, talk to them while enjoying the home-cooked dinner. In general, homestay is a two-way cultural exchange as you can learn the local culture from your host and share yours with them.
This type of accommodation is available in most provinces of the delta and ranges from $4.35 to $43.46 per night. You can freely choose the one that fits the bill to stay. However, choosing the right host is difficult as many options can lead to different experiences that are not real. In this case, a Mekong Delta homestay tour will be more suitable as all activities are about to get you the best experience. For a 2-day with many activities included, you will only pay $166 per person.
Overnight in a Homestay in Mekong Delta
The delta is also famous for its floating markets. On arriving in the delta, you can start the motorized boat to visit the local floating market and experience how people exchange goods on the water. At 3.00 in the early morning, markets are filled with sounds of boats and people trading. All goods are transported to the market by boat and exchanged by being moved from one to another. Selling and buying are done right on the river. For everyone to know what is sold, sellers will suspend their products on the top of a long stick.
The lively atmosphere is such that you should try it once in your life. Also, the floating market is clear proof of how attached the local life is to the Mekong River, so to learn more about the native culture, get here.
Some of the markets include:
On visiting the market, you can buy fresh fruits or foods like bun rieu, banh mi and drinks like coffee, soy milk, coconut water for your breakfast as from 4 to 5 am is the recommended time to come here. The prices are reasonable. For example, a bowl of noodles will cost you only $0.65. Therefore, no need to bargain.
To visit floating markets, you will have to hire a boat in two ways. One is sharing a big boat with others when you come alone or with 1 to 2 friends. The other is hiring a private for your family and friends (10 to 12 people). Price varies from $15.21 to $39.11 per boat according to the number of passengers. Besides, the Mekong Floating market tours are available at about $168 per person for two days and many activities from Ho Chi Minh to Can Tho, hotel, transportation included.
Some things you have to take note of when traveling to floating markets are:
Floating market in Mekong Delta
Thanks to the fertile alluvial soil and favorable climate, the delta is famous as the largest granary of fruits. This explained for which tasting the fruits is one of the best things to do in the area. All kinds of fruits are available in floating markets. However, the short season, along with the long process of picking and transporting, cannot allow those sold to you to stay fresh like those hanging on the trees. Therefore, eating them right at orchards is the best way. Also, the activity is a part of agro-ecological tourism, known as one of the solutions for sustainable tourism development. By taking part in it, you can reduce traditional tourism’s negative impacts on the environment.
Suggestions for visiting fruit orchards include
Each is famous for one kind of tropical fruit so get to know first before starting your trip. Some examples are Vinh Kim star apples, Cai Be tangerine, Vinh Long grapefruit, and Cai Mon durian.
When you arrive at the orchard, just walk in, pick, and freely eat the fruit which you want. All picked fruits must be eaten right away so that their taste can remain sweet and fresh. You can simply sit under the shade and enjoy your garden-fresh, delicious fruit buffet. In particular, Some orchards will offer cozy rest areas for eating and sipping teas. At others, drink and food made from fruits are also available for purchase; including many specialties of the Mekong region.
The set price allows fruit lovers to stay all day, from 7 am to 8 pm as the open time, and eat as much as they want. For some people, it is not the fruits but the peaceful atmosphere that attracts them.
Usually, on a trip to an orchard, you will only pay for the transportation and sometimes entrance. The entrance fee is around $3.48 per person in someplace and free in others. Enjoying fruit buffets in orchards seems to be a real bargain, hence one of the best things to do in the Mekong Delta.
Vietnamese cuisines are excellent, and that of Mekong Delta is no exception. Therefore, tasting the foods is one of the best things to do in the area. Like many others, the delta is not famous for its luxury dishes but its local foods. On coming here, you should never miss tasting Hu Tieu, Bun Rieu, Pia Cake, Vietnamese pancake, and of course Coconut Larvae for those brave enough.
One thing about the foods here is that they can be made with any ingredients available in nature. Sometimes, you will hear about flower dishes like common sesban, sesbania, or flower hotpot. They may sound strange but are really good.
Apart from the low cost of $0.65 to $4.35 per dish, tasting local foods in the delta will give you an even more fascinating experience than in any other place. Instead of sitting on the street, you can settle on a floating boat in the market and enjoy your delicious dishes.
To enjoy Mekong Delta local foods, you can get to any floating market within the area. However, the markets are held early in the morning, so it will only serve breakfast. For other meals of the day, you can come to markets and restaurants in the local village. For some certain dishes, recommendations are:
If you are still in two minds of where to eat during your trip, you can go on a Mekong package tour with a meal included for around $100 per person.
Taste Mekong Delta local foods
As rivers take up most of the area, it is no doubt that two of the best things to do in the Mekong Delta are off-the-water activities. Trying a sampan boat trip is another. Generally, experience on a sampan boat is the simple, traditional version of that on a Mekong river cruise. Once you settle in your seat, the sampan boat sailed by the locals will take you through mangrove forests to reach some tourist attractions. One thing that makes a sampan trip different from a cruise one is that destinations and activities don’t matter, but the sense of peace when you sightsee everything on both sides is a real treat. On some sampans, lunch is served, which will give you another enthralling experience.
In the delta, you can start your sampan trip to explore several places such as Thoi Son Islet (Ben Tre), Tra Su Cajuput forest (An Giang), and Thi Tuong Lagoon (Ca Mau). The price will be around $3.36 for a small boat that can contain 3 to 4 people.
Try a Sampan boat trip in Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta is not only famous for its natural sites but also known for its several tourist attractions. Some includes:
Each attraction has its beauty and has been for years linked to a story. After days of traveling along big and small rivers, you can spend an hour visiting the places to know more about the history and culture. It will be another great experience and one of the best things to do in the Mekong Delta.
If you don’t know where to visit and how to combine destinations during your vacation, you can book a best Mekong Delta tour that will take you to all highlights of the area at around $200 per person.
Take an hour to visit famous attractions - Tra Su Bird Sanctuary
During your stay at a homestay, you will stand a great chance to cycle through the local villages. The activity can be done in the early morning when the air is fresh and cool. You, along with the local children, will be off riding through the idyllic countryside on paved rural roads, past countless paddy fields and vegetable farms. Compared to cycling in Ninh Binh, Mekong biking is not about to give you the up-the-mountain adventure but the experience of tranquility and refreshment. On your way, you can stop anywhere and buy yourself some food, tea, or coffee to fill your empty stomach in the morning and be ready for another day of traveling. Life is so slow that you can take time to recharge your mind and body before getting back to the roller coaster.
On joining in the activity, you will have to rent a bike from the hotel where you live. The rental will be around $4.35 per day. Recently, in Can Tho, the idea of public bikes has been brought up. Hopefully, soon, we can join in cycling here for free.
Cycling through local village
Above are our recommendations for the best things to do in Mekong Delta. For more detailed information, please contact us through our website. We’re always here to help you with the best experience. If you are interested in any of our Mekong Delta tours, let’s visit. In the end, if you are finding someplace to get away from the hectic life, then Mekong Delta will be your destination.
Image source: internet