The Mekong Delta is a flourishing green fairyland with fish-filled waterways and an abundance of flora. Before starting your trip to Vietnam, there’s no doubt that you will have seen advertisements on TV, and in travel brochures, featuring the idyllic scenes of the Mekong Delta. After all, it’s one of Vietnam’s number one attractions that should NOT be missed.
The Mekong Delta is poles apart from the crazy life you will experience in Ho Chi Minh City; substitute a motorbike ride on the chaotic roads for a row down the beautiful Mekong and see how the people of the South live on the waters. Whether you’re travelling from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, or vice versa, make sure to add the Mekong Delta to your trip, either at the start or finish. Read on to find out exactly how to make a trip to the Mekong Delta hassle free.
What is the Mekong Delta?
The Mekong Delta, more commonly known to locals as the Nine Dragon River Delta, is the region in southwest Vietnam that is famous for its swamp land, tangle of rivers, islands, and its thriving production of Vietnam’s rice. In fact, the Mekong Delta region produces over fifty percent of the country’s rice, so there’s no wonder it’s known as the “rice bowl” of Vietnam. The rice that is cultivated in the region provides nourishment to locals and is an integral part of Vietnam’s economy.
The region not only provides sustainability with rice, but also with its fish, harvesting over sixty percent of the state’s fish yields. Life on the Mekong Delta revolves around the waters, so expect to see plenty of distinctive sights, from children riding water buffalo to women selling dried squid from a rowboat.
The Mekong Delta spans a tremendous 40,577 km2 with the mighty river passing through numerous countries. Starting in Tibet, the river runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and then eventually ends in Vietnam, where it empties out into the sea. More specifically to Vietnam, the Mekong Delta runs through 12 provinces; Ben Tre, Can Tho, An Giang and Ca Mau are just to name a few of the most popular ones for tourists to pay a visit.
How to book a trip to the Mekong Delta
As there are so many places and so much to see in the Mekong Delta, it would be impossible to visit all of it in just one day. If you’re limited on time, fortunately you can opt to take a day trip to the Ben Tre area of the Mekong. As it’s just a 1.5 hour drive away, you can easily make the trip in a day.
With so many Mekong Delta trips on offer at the countless tour shops dotted along the tourist street, it can be overwhelming to choose the perfect tour. Don’t worry though, as most tours consist of the same itinerary, the only difference in the day tours to Ben Tre is the level of luxury. Do you prefer a private tour, so you can go at your own pace? Or do you prefer to be transported there in style with a grand VIP minibus? The choice is yours.
When it comes to booking the trip, just pop by at the nearest tour shop and ask about the trips on offer. Prices start from as low as 220,000 Vietnamese Dong ($9.50) and surge past 1,160,000 Vietnamese Dong ($50) for more luxurious, smaller tours.
No need to worry about booking too much in advance either. You can just pop by a day or two before you wish to go, and the travel agent will book your place. Once your trip is booked, all that’s left to do is sit back and relax and enjoy the events of the day.
A day trip to the Mekong Delta at Ben Tre
As the wheels on the bus start to roll out of Ho Chi Minh City, the landscapes start to bless passersby with views of endless rice paddies. Not long before leaving the chaos of the city behind, you will find yourself at the foot of the market, where the trip to the Mekong Delta truly begins.
Once you reach the waters, you board a boat that will take you to multiple islands to enjoy Mekong delicacies. Sip cups of honey tea, chow down coconut candies, and sink your teeth into local fruits such as dragon fruit, jackfruit and guava. Whilst on the boat between the different islands, expect to see charming fisherman ports, row boats with women selling freshly caught seafood, and stilt houses lining the steep banks with kids waving over excitedly as you pass by.
Aside from the island hopping and the performances of folk music by women wearing traditional ao dai (traditional Vietnamese dress) accompanied with the non la (the iconic triangle hat), the highlight of the trip is the journey along the narrow waterways in a tiny row boat.
Hop into a local’s boat, and enjoy the ride through overgrown mangroves, breathtaking green foliage and the surrounding serenity. The row-boat ride only takes around fifteen minutes, but it will be a memory that is sure to last you a lifetime.
Tips for visiting the Mekong Delta
Consider the season you’re visiting – Any day is great to visit the Mekong Delta, but just note that the rainy season starts around early May and lasts until the end of November. During this time, the waters are perfect for navigating and the flora flourishes. During the dry season, from December to the end of April, you decrease the chance of getting caught in a blitz of rain. Therefore, if you don’t mind potentially getting wet, the best time to visit would be between May and November, so you can see the flora in full bloom.
Wear the right gear – The weather is usually hot, so make sure to wear comfortable clothing. Shorts and a t-shirt are great for this type of trip. Pair them up with comfortable walking shoes and you’re good to go. It’s also advisable to bring along a rain coat too, just in case the rain does fall. You can buy plastic raincoats from almost any street corner in Ho Chi Minh City for a dollar.
Don’t forget mosquito spray – With the swamplands, there are bound to be blood thirsty critters around, ready to suck the life out of your skin. Make sure to protect yourself with a good insect repellent.
Make sure you have small notes for tips – Tips are not compulsory, but they are a nice gesture to the people who prepare your fruit and provide you with entertainment. Make sure to have a few small notes with you to avoid any awkward situations.
All in all, a trip to the Mekong Delta is totally worth it! Even if it’s only for a day, you would be missing out not to take a glimpse of this stunning region and the beautiful people that live there. Get that trip booked, witness life on the river, tuck into local delicacies, and take that peaceful row boat journey through enchanting waters. What a way to end your time in Ho Chi Minh City before taking the bus journey to Da Lat!