If you are in Vietnam you can’t miss the Mekong Delta. One of the world’s biggest and most diverse deltas in the world. With jungle, swamps, history, floating markets, and much more.
A natural delta of almost 40,000 km2 whose branches flow into the South China Sea. People live here on or with the water. There are floating markets everywhere and everything is transported by water. It’s a totally different world.
We want to experience what this is like and we book a three-day tour, while most people opt for a one-day tour. But because of this, you see far too little, even with the two-day tour. We have looked to arrange something ourselves. This turns out to be very difficult in this area (but not impossible).
Where is the Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is in the south of Vietnam, about 4 hour’s drive from Ho Chi Minh. It’s an enormous area that spreads all the way to the South China Sea and the border with Cambodia.
The weather is hot all year round with the temperatures fluctuating between 25 and 28°C. There are a few days of the year when the temperature in the delta is below 20°C. The climate is affected by the South China Sea and it has a dry and wet season.
How to get there
You could rent a motorcycle or car to get to the Mekong Delta, although I would not recommend it. The way people drive is not really what we are used to. Another option is going by public transport. Many buses will leave Ho Chi Minh to go to one of the many towns in the Mekong Delta.
But the best way to explore the delta is by using a touring operator. We are not big fans of these, but sometimes it’s just better. Most operators offer 1, 2, or 3 days. It includes transport, accommodations with breakfast, and sometimes lunch and dinner.
We did the full 3-day tour because we didn’t want to miss out on anything. We noticed that most people only did the first day or 2 days, while the 3rd day was fantastic too.
Our itinerary for the Mekong Delta
Every tour operator has different routes and other stops. The following stops and attractions are the itinerary of the tour operator we hired.
Day 1 – Bees, fish, boats, and candy
From Ho Chi Minh we took the touring car to My Tho. Good ride with some basic information from our guide. We stopped in My Tho to catch a boat. With this boat, we explored a little bit of the Mekong Delta. Although it wasn’t really special it did have a special vibe.
We stopped at a small island and we got off the boat. Here they keep bees and we tasted fresh honey. We took a small rowing boat to get off 2 minutes later. A small walking tour to see how people are living on this small island with the land and mostly the water.
After this, we took the boat again and stopped at a coconut candy workshop. Very sweet candy made of coconut (…). Next up was a restaurant with a specialty of river fish which they deep-fry.
After lunch we went to a garden, called the Tropical Fruit Garden, to taste the local fruits of trees and bushes. With live music, we enjoy the food and the surroundings.
Then it was time to go to Can Tho where we got dropped off at our hotel.
Day 2- Floating market, noodles, bicycles, and crocodiles
The next day we got picked up again and dropped off at yet another boat. With this, we go to the floating market. Not some tourists-market, but a real one. As soon as we came near the market, small boats try to sell their wares to us; coffee, tea, fruit, vegetables, and complete meals.
We climbed aboard a bigger boat where they sold fresh pineapple. Some people also bought tea. It all was full of taste and freshness.
If you ever go to a floating market and want to find something specific; look at the big poles on the boats. They usually show what they are selling by attaching some of the wares on top of the pole.
We sail again and after a while, we moor at a Rice Noodle Workshop. Here they show you how to make rice noodles. Not only for the tourists, because every now and then a local also comes in to buy noodles. Very special to see. First, the rice grains are cooked into a kind of porridge. Then they are laid out in the sun like round pancakes to dry. They then look like plastic, which is how it feels a bit. The pancakes are then passed through a pumping station to make noodles.
We go sailing again and arrive at a restaurant. We can choose from doing nothing here and whether we dare to eat local snake, rat or fish OR we go for a bike ride to a special tree. The choice for us was made quickly; where is that tree?? A little later we cycle through the jungle! The guide leads the way and it’s a fun ride. The “bicycle path” is better than the public road. When we arrive at a kind of temple, we also see a huge tree. It is 200 years old and people never touched it and let it grow.
After this experience, we climb in a small bus and make our way towards Chau Doc. With a ferry, we crossed one of the bigger rivers and on the other side, we visit a crocodile farm. They keep and breed these crocodiles for bags and shoes. We didn’t stay long.
Time for some rest and sleep in Chau Doc.
Day 3 – Caves with a pagoda, birds, and back
The next day we leave early and head to a mountain that looks like a parrot (with some imagination… A lot). At the top, we got a nice surprise and a temple. All statues and the temple are clearly visible. Once inside, the other gentleman of our party received a cloth from the monks to cover his legs. I didn’t get one, though. We walked through caves with statues of all kinds of gods (no idea which one, because the guide didn’t really speak English) to the temple. The view was very beautiful and so was the temple.
After this, we go to Tra Su Bird Sanctuary to watch birds in silent boats. The boats were just not that quiet and we tore across the water. Somewhere we had to go out and got in smaller, quiet boats. We heard birds everywhere, but we hardly saw them. It was very nice to sail through the mangrove with this silence.
And then it was over already! The bus took us to My Tho to join other groups in a big bus to go to Saigon. We drove back on the toll roads, which was a lot more relaxing. We both fell asleep a little bit. Around half past 7, we were back in Ho Chi Minh, near our previous hotel.
Conclusion for the Mekong Delta
Although we never heard of it, we didn’t want to miss it for a second. It was a special part of the country with a lot of contradictions in nature, people, environments, and much more. Although you could do this on your own with a rented car or bike, a tour operator is better if you want to see it all and get a bit more information about the background and customs.
If you ever go to Vietnam let the delta surprise you and enjoy the way how people learned to live with and on the water.
Have you been to the Mekong Delta? What did you like the most? Or what are you looking forward to most after reading the perfect itinerary for Mekong Delta? Let us know in the comments!
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