The Mekong Delta Travel Guide contains a lot of useful and exciting information about the largest granary in Vietnam!
Once again, The Mekong Delta is Vietnam’s largest rice granary! The area is crossed by the Mekong River which is the 12th longest river in the world and the seventh longest in Asia. It flows through six countries in total (China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam). We call it the River of Nine Dragons (Song Cuu Long) because of the separation of the river into nine branches.
Overview Mekong Delta
At the southern end of the country, between the city of Ho Chi Minh, the Cambodian border, the China Sea and the Gulf of Siam, lies a vast, low-lying, extremely fertile Mekong Delta, crossed by the nine arms of a broken river (“Cuu Long” in Vietnamese, which means “nine dragons”) that flows into the tropical sea.
The most fertile soil in Vietnam is a large area formed by alluvium and sediments deposited by the river. It offers unique landscapes. It is a half-land, half-water world, criss-crossed by a multitude of green canals, rice fields and fruit gardens, islands and villages that live to the rhythm of the river and the sea.
In this naturally rich and prosperous delta, water and rice are the basis of the local economy. The nine provinces that make up the delta account for 12% of Vietnam’s total surface area, but provide a large part of the country’s food production each year. With two annual rice harvests, the country now exports its rice and is said to be the world’s second largest exporter, just after Thailand…
The rice fields describe an infinite shimmering checkerboard. The landscapes of the delta have been shaped by the waters. They owe it a lot. Nothing happens without the river. Farming, fishing, transport, traditions, pleasures, everything depends on the Mekong. Here, people prefer to glide on the water than to ride a motorbike or a bicycle.
Many animals live in the Mekong Delta. The river gives great fertility to this land and has made it a kingdom for birds, crocodiles and all kinds of animals. There is an incredible biodiversity.
This region of the country is the main supplier of tropical fruits (70%) and is also the main producer and exporter of rice (60%) in the country.
Best time to visit Mekong Delta
The subtropical climate of the Mekong Delta makes it possible to explore at any time of the year. Here is the information on the climate of the Mekong Delta to help you make your choice.
The good weather period from December to May is good for travelling and cycling.
The rainy period starts in early May and lasts until October. The rainfall is usually heavy and short-lived. It cleans the atmosphere and nature is cleaner and less dusty.
This period is called “mùa nước nổi” which means season of rising waters: people travel by boat in the countryside, aquatic fauna will spread everywhere, source of food for the population.
The Mekong Delta is also a flower-producing region, in September and October, flowers adorn the plantations as in the region of Mỹ Tho and Sa Déc. The average annual temperature varies from 23 to 34 degrees.
What to see in the Mekong Delta?
There are names of places that are like known music, encountered… engraved in our memories…. The Mekong Delta is undoubtedly one of them. We “recognise” it. So rather than “seeing” things here, we survey and experience a way of life, a part of the world with its original rhythm and habits.
Indeed, travelling is not only about the places you go, but also about the people you meet and the cultures you discover.
Discovering the people of the delta
Visiting the Mekong Delta means you give yourself a chance to experience the authentic life of the people who depend on the river for their livelihood. The people in this land are special, armed with a serenity in keeping with their natural environment. They are very friendly and will not hesitate to help you or even welcome you into their homes for lunch or a night – all without asking anything in return. They are not competitive – they are happy with the life they lead even if it is not that easy.
The Mekong Delta will welcome you with calm and escape from the cars, traffic noise and incessant motorbike horns you find in our big cities.
Here are the main places to discover in the Mekong Delta that allow a soft and warm immersion!
My Tho and its surroundings
My Tho is located in the province of Tien Giang. The area is currently home to approximately 1.7 million inhabitants belonging to the Kinh, Hoa (Chinese), Khmer and Tây ethnic groups. Situated 2 hours from Hô-Chi-Minh, the town has 200,000 inhabitants. They live from the production of rice, fruit and fishing. People come to My Tho mainly because it is
The region is known for its large rice fields as well as huge orchards and other exotic fruit plantations. It provides rice, but above all fruit: bananas, mangoes, longans, plums, soursops, guavas…It is the starting point for boat trips on the Mekong River to visit the surrounding islands in a day.
My tho offers an excellent insight into life in the Mekong delta.
Known by the Vietnamese as the “land of coconuts”, Ben Tre is one of the best places to explore the natural and unspoiled landscapes of the Mekong Delta. You will discover its local life, beautiful canals and traditional activities. An authentic and relaxing experience!
Ben tre is located 14 km from My tho and 90 from Saigon. You can choose to travel the canals by boat. Board a small boat to visit typical workplaces. These include small brick factories and a coconut processing workshop.
Vinh Long is a province in the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam. Its capital has the same name: Vinh Long. It has a population of 1 million and an area of 1,475 km2.
Vinh Long is located about 135 km southwest of Saigon. Situated between the Hau and Tien rivers in the centre of the Mekong Delta, Vinh Long is a province well known for fishing.
Among the many types of fish are Basa and Tra shrimp and catfish. They exist in abundance in the waters of Vinh Long. Its rich and fertile soil makes Vinh Long an ideal place for growing many exotic and delicious fruits. Such as the strange-looking mangosteen, the spiny rambutan and the pungent-smelling durian. These fruits can be bought for a few cents from floating vendors.
Can Tho – Capital of the Mekong Delta
Can Tho is by far the largest city in the Mekong Delta and also the administrative, economic, industrial and cultural centre. The first thing that catches your eye is the long Southeast Asian suspension bridge, a symbol of the future.
Especially after a few quiet days in the delta, Can Tho gives the effect of a big metropolis. Can Tho is a lively city with a beautiful waterfront, many winding streets, large boulevards and lots of industry. It is also the starting point for those who want to visit the floating markets of the region and explore the small canals leading out of the city with a sampan.
The Cai Rang floating market, one of the largest in the Mekong Delta, only a few kilometres from the city centre. The best way to explore the market with its overflowing abundance of fruits and vegetables is early in the morning by boat.
The floating market of Phong Dien is located a little further from Can Tho. It is slightly smaller. This market is visited by few tourists and is therefore more authentic.
Chau Doc (Vietnamese: Châu Đốc) is a small town in An Giang province, in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, bordering Cambodia. The city is located near the Hâu River (a branch of Mekong River crossing Vietnamese territory) and the Vinh Tê Canal. The city is 250 kilometres west of Ho Chi Minh City.
It is the homeland of mainly Cham and Khmer people therefore Chau Doc’s cultural diversity, apparent in the mosques, temples, churches and pilgrimage sites nearby, makes it fascinating to explore. You will have the opportunity to experience Cambodian culture without actually going into the country.
A boat trip to the Cham communities across the river or a trip to nearby Sam Mountain and the Tra Su bird sanctuary are among the highlights of the area, while the bustling market and waterfront provide a beautiful backdrop to a few days of relaxation.
Floating houses in the Mekong Delta
Throughout the Mekong Delta you’ll see private dwellings on high ground. Local residents have adapted to a large amount of water by innovating floating houses and floating markets. Because of this floating lifestyle, Vietnam’s Mekong Delta has intrigued not only foreigners, but also local travelers who wish to explore this interesting way of life.
Sa Dec city in Dong Thap province, 150 km from Ho Chi Minh city is known for having hosted the novelist Marguerite Duras and her family. The town was also the setting for the film “The Lover”, based on the novel of the same name by Marguerite Duras. You can visit the house of Huynh Thuy Le, the writer’s lover in her novel, and some flower growing villages.
In this province, there is also the Tràm Chim National Park, which was created to protect Vietnam’s rare birds and Sa Dec flower village on the bank of Tien river. This area is year round windy, with fertile alluvial and full of sunshine, and is the land of hundreds of flower specie.
Mekong Delta Travel Guide – Getting around
There are several ways to discover the Mekong Delta: group tour with an English-speaking guide, travelling by yourself, cruise on the Mekong River or private excursion. The choice of the way of travelling depends on your desires and tastes, and your budget.
Cruising by sampan or boat is a good way to discover the Mekong Delta. You will be able to fully immerse yourself in a special region where almost all activities depend on the huge Mekong River, admire the beautiful sunsets over the river and witness life along its banks.
However, cruises are more expensive than other options. They are even more expensive than those in Halong Bay.
The cruise itineraries include the main attractions of the Mekong Delta such as: Cai Be floating market, Cai Rang floating market in Can Tho, Sadec city, Long Xuyen, Chau Doc etc.
The 7 days and 6 nights cruise on the boat Le Cochinchine allows us to go to Cambodia and visit the temples of Angkor.
Some recommended cruises:
Cruise of 2 days and 1 night on the sampan Song Xanh:
2 day/1 night cruise on Mango sampan
2D/1N cruise on Bassac boat
2D/1N cruise on the boat Le Cochinchine
Travelling on your own
If you are travelling on your own, here is the simplest 2 day 1 night itinerary:
Buy Futa (Phuong Trang) bus tickets for the HCMV – Can Tho route on this website
Go to the agency at 231-233 Le Hong Phong street, district 5, HCMV: ~ 4 km, ~ 3 euros by taxi
Arrive in Can Tho after 3.5 hours.
Motorbike taxi to Nguyen Shack Mekong: VND 100,000 per person or taxi: more than VND 100,000/car. Green Village Homestay is located a little further. Lunch in town or at Nguyen Shack Mekong/Green Village Homestay.
Afternoon: Bicycle rental at both hotels. Bike ride through villages, rice fields, orchards and discover the daily life of the inhabitants. Dinner at these two hotels.
Day 2 :
Return to the two hotels for breakfast.
Participate in a tour organized by these 2 hotels, for example: boat trip around Nguyen Shack Mekong, bicycle trip around the villages of Green village homestay, tour in Can Tho city and tasting of local dishes… Each tour costs between 10-15 usd per person.
Taxi or moto-taxi to Can Tho bus station. Take the Futa bus to Ho Chi Minh city.
Top activities in Mekong Delta
Known for its fruit orchards, huge rice fields, lush natural landscapes and lively floating markets,… the Mekong Delta is considered one of the must-see stops on a trip to Vietnam. You want to visit this bewitching land, but what to see and do here? Here are the 10 must-do activities in the Mekong Delta:
Visit the floating market
The Mekong Delta is known for its floating markets. For a long time, the floating market has been deeply rooted in the lives of the locals, becoming an essential part of the region’s culture. It is not only a place to trade goods. It is also a place to meet people and share any life story. A visit to the market is a must, it will help you feel the uniqueness of the culture here.
Also, don’t miss the opportunity to taste local specialties on small boats. In the vast space of the river, what better way to enjoy a bowl of hot noodles and a cup of coffee with a delicate aroma.
We recommend you visit early when it is not too hot and the buzz is at its peak!
Some recommended markets:
– Cai Rang: Located 6km from Can Tho town or 30 minutes cruise from Ninh Kieu pier, open all day but is most active at around 9am.
– Cai Be: Located 45km from My Tho and 80km from Can Tho, open from 5am to 5pm.
– Long Xuyen: Located on the Hau River, 2 km from Long Xuyen town, An Giang province, open in a few hours in the morning, between 6am and 9am.
Visit Binh Thuy ancient house
- Ticket: 20,000VND
- Spend-time: Half an hour (approx)
- Hours: Daily 7 am to 12 pm & 2 pm to 6 pm
- Food: a small coffee shop
- Shop: a painting shop
- Parking lot: Yes, for coach
- Address: 144 Bui Huu Nghia Street, Binh Thuy District, Can Tho City
One of the best highlights to see and do in Mekong Delta is the Binh Thuy ancient house. The Ancient house is a very beautiful residence imbued with features of the southern delta. The Binh Thuy ancient house is a French-styled building with Gothique-styled four-step staircase and spacious front yard.
Taste the fruits in the yards
Filled with fertile alluvium, the Mekong Delta is an ideal place to grow fruit trees. To discover the lush orchards, the summer period between May and August is the best time. Coming to the orchards of Cai Be, Vinh Kim (Tien Giang), Cai Mon (Ben Tre) or My Khanh (Can Tho),… you will be immersed in a real festival of delicious fruits: mango, longan, guava, rambutan, durian… so many flavours and colours.
Taste the specialities
Unlike many other places, the Mekong Delta is not famous for its luxurious dishes but for its popular dishes made from natural ingredients with strong local flavours. The specialties of the Mekong Delta will satisfy the most demanding gourmets.
Coconut sweets (Ben Tre speciality)
Ben Tre is the largest coconut growing area in the country. Coconut sweets are considered a specialty of this land, attracting all visitors when they come here. The sweets are made from coconut extract and caramelised with malt syrup. They are wrapped in delicate rice paper and a layer of paper on the outside that is environmentally friendly.
Hu Tieu My Tho
Hu Tieu is a specialty of My Tho province. This dish is the perfect combination of many different ingredients: pork organs, bones or seafood, soft noodles accompanied by fresh vegetables and bean sprouts to enhance the flavour.
Where to eat hu tieu in My Tho?
Hủ Tieu chú Năm Hòa
Address: 207 Trưng Trắc, district 1
Price: 20,000 – 25,000 VND
Address: 481 Ấp Bắc, district 5
Time: 6am – 10pm
Price: 25,000 – 60,000 VND
Hu tieu Hạnh
Address: 21/1 Nguyễn An Ninh, district 8
Time: 5am – 11am
Price: 30,000 – 70,000 VND
Banh Cong (bánh cống) Can Tho
The mixture is made of chickpeas, minced meat (already sautéed before), fresh shrimp. Công cake is best when it is still hot. The sauce is essential! It is made according to the traditional recipe which is sweet, sour and spicy.
Where to eat banh Cong in Can Tho?
Bánh Cống cô Út
Address: 86/38 Lý Tư Trọng, Phường An Cư, Quận Ninh Kiều
Time: 9am – 9.30pm
Price: 10,000 – 30,000 VND
Quán Bánh cống 292
Address: Số 292, đường 30/4, Quận Ninh Kiều
Time: 7am – 8pm
Price: 20,000 – 39,000 VND
Bánh cống Trần Phú
Address: Số 134/1A Trần Phú, Quận Ninh Kiều
Time: 9am – 7pm
Price: 11,000 VND
Read also: Top popular dishes in Vietnam
Spend a night in a local’s house
Spending a day at a local’s home in the Mekong Delta is a good way to discover the local culture and life and to exchange with the people your own culture. The locals will welcome you warmly, giving you a feeling of comfort and closeness. In the home, you have the opportunity to participate in their daily life through activities such as preparing a meal, gardening, taking care of animals (buffalo, ox, pig,…). A meal shared with local people will also be a precious moment, full of happiness.
You can spend a night in a homestay in almost all the villages of the Mekong Delta: families of the Kinh ethnic group (My Tho, Ben Tre, Can Tho, Long Xuyen…) or Khmers (Tra Vinh).
During your homestay, don’t miss a bike ride around the village. Early morning, when the air is cool, is a great time for this activity. You’ll ride through small country roads, past countless rice fields and vegetable farms.
Compared to cycling in Ninh Binh, cycling in the Mekong River does not offer you a spectacular mountaintop adventure but a tranquil and refreshing experience. Along the way, you can stop anywhere to enjoy delicious food, savour a cup of tea or coffee to fill your hungry stomach and get ready for another day of travel.
See more: Cycling in Vietnam, why not?
Visit the melaleuca forest in Tra Su
Tra Su Melaleuca Forest is an ideal choice for those who love wilderness and find a romantic getaway. Coming here, you will be overwhelmed by the lush natural landscape. In addition, you also have the opportunity to explore the wetland ecosystem, the diversity of flora and fauna.
Take a boat ride through the forest, feel the movement of the oars, the whispering of the wind, the singing of the birds,… What could be better? A unique experience not to be missed!
Visit the floating village of Tan Lap
Like an island surrounded by flooded Melaleuca forests and a maze of intertwined canals, the floating village of Tan Lap is a perfect destination for travellers who love eco-tourism.
Navigating the river through attractive wetlands, walking on trails among floating mangroves and towering Melaleuca trees is the highlight of a visit to Tan Lap. Especially from September to November, you can admire the water lilies that fill the lake, emitting a sweet fragrance into the air. What a peaceful and romantic space!
Visit Sadec City
An ideal weekend destination, especially every spring! This place is the biggest flower paradise in the Mekong Delta. Discovering the process of flower cultivation from experienced farmers will be one of the special experiences for you.
In addition, with a history of over 300 years of existence, Sa Dec also has many beautiful and long-standing architectural works and historical sites to explore. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the former house of Huynh Thuy Le. The house is a treasure trove of nostalgia, decorated with antique furniture, stained glass windows and painted cement tiles, an interesting place for history and literature lovers.
Visit Vinh Trang pagoda
Located in the city centre of My Tho, Vinh Trang Pagoda is a must-see destination for tourists seeking spirituality. It is considered a large pagoda with unique architecture and one of the oldest in the southwest region.
The pagoda is the result of a harmonious combination of many different architectures: French, Roman, Thai, Mien and Cham, creating a beautiful work. On the outside, visitors will be impressed by the large Buddha statues that stand, sit and lie on their backs during meditation. The green space with hundreds of green trees, a large lotus pond makes this place ideal for enjoying the cool and calm atmosphere and for meditation.
Listening to southern folk songs (Đờn Ca Tài Tử)
For a long time, don ca tai tu – UNESCO Heritage sites in Vietnam has been an indispensable part of the spiritual and cultural activity of the people of southern Vietnam. The four main instruments of this art form include the moon-shaped lute, the two-stringed viol, the 16-stringed zither and the monochord. The harmony between these traditional instruments creates a captivating melody. Attending a don ca tai tu performance helps you feel the rustic, familiar but equally romantic characteristics of the folk art of the southwest region.
With so many interesting sites to see and things to do, Mekong Delta is a favourite destination for many visitors to Vietnam. To have the best experience and discover more interesting activities, do not hesitate to come to this charming region.
Many tourists think they can see enough of the Mekong Delta during a short day trip from Ho Chi Minh City. However, there is so much more than a pagoda and a floating market. This region is home to unique ecosystems and various unique communities. Let’s go!