Mekong Delta: The 'rice bowl' of Vietnam
The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. It officially starts about 100 km to the southwest of Ho Chi Minh City. The delta region encompasses a large portion of southeastern Vietnam of 39000 km2.
If you love the sense of nature, and hungry to explore the famous Vietnamese Southwest culture of generosity and friendliness, you are definitely looking for an adventurous journey to Mekong Delta.
Visiting Mekong Delta is a perfect choice for a cultural exploring trip with many specialties from the rural place. The land offers so much to explore, from boat trips in My Tho (which is suitable for a day trip from Saigon), Cao Lanh for bird enthusiasts, Sa Dec for flower nurseries, to Can Tho crowded city.
Mekong Delta was inhabited by the Khmer Krom, or so-called “downstream Khmer” sparsely. The area was under Cambodian sway until the end of the 17th century.
Mekong Delta history
Surprisingly, agriculture didn’t dominant the land as it does in the early stage. During the Nguyen dynasty of Vietnam, they wanted to broaden their sphere of influence to rule the delta and took action.
Afterward, Viet Nguyen lords took the place over in the 18th century. In the 1860s, Mekong Delta was under the French colonial like other Vietnam regions. The place was the valuable cover for Viet Minh resistance fighters as well as Viet Cong, who fought against the French and American defoliants.
Top recommended attractions in Mekong Delta
- Cai Be Floating Village: Being a charming small rural town in Mekong Delta, Cai Be is the land of floating markets, tropical fruit farming, traditional crafts, and even historical attractions. Tourists from all over the world refer to Cai Be floating market when it comes to an enjoyable southwest cultural experience tour. As one of the most popular floating markets in Vietnam, Cai Be is located only a few from Can Tho city center. Start your floating tour early in the morning to view the most dynamic and colorful rural daily life. Many travelers and locals suggest exploring the spot with a local guide on a small wooden boat or sampan. You are welcomed to taste the fresh fruits vendors offer at very little price.
Mekong Floating Market
- Chau Doc: Looking for an adventurous but relaxing trip to the southwest of Vietnam? You are definitely invited to Chau Doc – a place of a variety of rural cultures and peaceful landscapes. Some top sites of Chau Doc that would be suggested are the floating village, Chau Phu Temple, floating market, and Mubarak Mosque. Chau Doc locals rely on farming and fishing for a living. You may see many rusty houses floating on empty metal drums of locals, in which they live and practice aquaculture. The beautiful image of people feeding the fish right at their home and big nets standing nearby is undoubtedly worth your while to enjoy.
- Cai Rang Floating Market: Having been recognized as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage Site by The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Cai Rang floating market is one of the largest wholesale floating markets in the Mekong Delta. Therefore, you can enjoy more colorful dozens of goods from a variety of fruits, vegetables, to cosmetics, clothes, mobile cards, gasoline... As long as it is commonly sold on the land market, Cai Rang Floating market offers the same variety.
Mekong Delta Culture
It is undeniable when saying Mekong Delta people are the most hospitable, generous, and easy-going ones, in comparison with other regions of Vietnam. As the biggest rice bowl in the country, Mekong Delta locals depend mostly on agriculture to earn living. Thanks to nutrient-rich soil, people can grow not only one of the finest rice but also many fruits, coconut, sugar-cane groves, etc. So don’t be surprised when people offer you a taste of their fruits for free, they have plenty of them and they are generous enough to smile at you even if you don’t buy it after tasting.
Similar to the rest regions of the Southern of Vietnam, there are only 2 main seasons in Mekong Delta: the dry one and the rainy one. Travelers are definitely recommended to visit the land in the dry season, from December to May, which offers sunny weather with a comfortable temperature.
Transportation in Mekong Delta
If you are coming to Mekong Delta from Saigon, you can take tour buses to travel at the most convenient at an affordable cost. There are many transporting services to Mekong Delta cities, which are mostly located in Ho Chi Minh’s Western bus station. You may prefer Phuong Trang, and Thanh Buoi as these brands are recommended by Vietnamese thanks to good service.
Otherwise, there are many Mekong Delta cruises that can provide tourists with good service, a comfortable full packaged journey, and interesting activities with friendly local tour guides.
- Mosquitos beware: As a western rural side of Vietnam, Mekong Delta is an area with greenery and rivers, which encourages the life of mosquitos. In the rainy season, you may get a bit uncomfortable staying here due to this issue. To avoid this unwanted inconvenience, preparing yourself a bottle of anti-mosquito lotion will be a good idea.
- Mekong Delta is not only about 1 city: Many travelers choose to spend a day or two in Can Tho – Mekong Delta’s biggest city, to access decent hotels, restaurants, and more civilization. However, it would be great if you can spare some more days visiting more rural areas like Ca Mau (Vietnam’s Southern end spot), Soc Trang, Chau Doc, etc. Each of these cities has various special cultures, lifestyles, and specialties waiting for you to try once for your life.
- Safety on a local boat: Life in the Mekong Delta revolves much around the river and boats are still the main means of transport to access villages. As you will travel by boat and ferry quite often in Mekong Delta, be careful when embarking or disembarking. Check out the best time to visit Mekong Delta and stay tuned to the weather forecast for flood news in the area if any.
- How to choose a suitable Mekong Delta tour: A leisure trip to the Mekong Delta is appropriate for any age or level of fitness and can be taken place all year round. To choose a suitable tour, you should consider your timeframe, demand, or the purpose of the trip. Those who only want to make a day trip can still have many options in the Mekong Delta day tour. If you don’t like the itinerary of a package tour, contact a travel agency to customize your tour. Provide your ideas about the tours such as destinations, attractions, your group, hotel class… you will get back the best offers.
- Overnight in a homestay: Conditions can be fairly basic – home is often a simple wooden construction with mats on the floor to sleep on, cold-water showers, and definitely no air-conditioning… but if you’re up for a little bit of an adventure and come with an open mind, you’ll soon find that the minor discomforts are far outweighed by the benefits of this unique experience.
- Communicate with local people: In the villages there are not many people who speak languages other than Vietnamese or Khmer, though in the cities you will find more that do. Bring a book with common phrases if you are venturing out away from a tour or into places that are not listed in your guidebook.
Top places to visit in Mekong Delta
Recommended Mekong Delta Itineraries
Insight Mekong Delta Full day9.3Excellent - 10 reviewsHo Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta - Ben Tre/pax
Experience Mekong Delta with Fish Catching by Bare Hands9.7Excellent - 2 reviewsHo Chi Minh City - Mekong Delta - Cai Lay/pax
Mekong Delta Explore at Ben Tre Homestay 2 daysHo Chi Minh City - Ben Tre - Mekong Delta/pax