Mekong Delta Travel Guide - 6 Things You Need to Know

Mekong Delta Travel Guide - 6 Things You Need to Know

By Ruby ZhaoUpdated Sep. 24, 2021
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Located in South Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is considered to be a must-see area for a genuine visit to this lovely country.

The mighty 4,909-kilometer-long Mekong River starts in the Tibetan Plateau in China, runs through six countries, and ends at the Mekong Delta where it discharges silt into the East Sea, forming a continuously expanding sediment bank in southwestern Vietnam. It takes 3 hours to get there by car from Ho Chi Minh City.

Mekong River Mekong River

Highlights

  • Enjoy the breeze, being rowed on a sampan
  • Interact with some people of the ethnic groups in their villages
  • Capture the sunrise and find your way between floating merchants
  • Sip your morning Vietnamese coffee on a floating café
  • Broaden your knowledge about tropical fruit in the orchards
  • Savor the weird looking yet famous elephant-ear fish of the Mekong Delta
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1. 4 Reasons You Must Visit the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

A Floating Market

The Mekong Delta is the only area in Vietnam where you can visit a floating market. Crisscrossed by rivers and rivulets, some villages are often more accessible by waterways than by road. This has nurtured the floating market culture. Unlike the floating markets in Thailand, the floating markets in the Mekong Delta, such as Cai Rang Floating Market, are still the main way for local people to trade. Although you will still see travelers there, it is a good chance to be like a local villager, buying a simple breakfast (pho) in a breakfast boat and tasting this famous Vietnamese delicacy while the beef in the soup is still hot. Trying to bargain when buying fruit is another highlight.

cai rang floarting market cai rang floarting market

Remember to get up early as the best time to enjoy the floating market is from 4 to 7am. Fewer trading boats will be seen after 8am.

Read more about the floating markets in Vietnam.

Learn about the History and Culture of the Vietnamese Minority People

As the home of ethnic minority people (predominantly the Viet people who comprise the largest population of Khmers outside Cambodia, the Muslim Cham, and the ethnic Chinese Hoa), diversity in the Mekong Delta has melded into a harmonious society which is just too beautiful to be overlooked.

A short candy-making class is a great choice of activity to help you blend in with the culture of the locals, while earning the skill of how to make a tropical sweet.

Candy Making Candy Making
Candy Making Candy Making

Enjoy the Countryside Scenery by Escaping the Hustle and Bustle of Ho Chi Minh City

Just 2–3 hours away from Ho Chi Minh City by car, you will discover a totally different vibe. Numerous rivers, canals, orchards, rice fields, boats, and floating houses will lead you to see the authentic village life of South Vietnam. You can feel this rice bowl’s past and present in person.

Visit the Tropical Fruit Orchards in Villages

In the Mekong Delta, hectares of fertile soil are vastly cultivated, creating – beside being Vietnam’s rice bowl – a huge and famous fruit garden with various tropical fruits such as rambutans, durians, jackfruits, mangosteens.

Mekong Delta Fruit Garden Mekong Delta Fruit Garden
mekong delta fruit garden mekong delta fruit garden

With its pleasant tropical climate and nature, the fruit season seems endless and the vegetation always green. Broaden your knowledge about exotic fruit and learn how to pick it by accompanying a local farmer in the tropical fruit garden.

Some of the famous fruit orchards are Cai Be Orchard; Tien Giang, Phong Dien, and My Khanh Orchard; Can Tho, Cai Mon Orchard; Ben Tre. By visiting a fruit garden, you enrich your local experience while directly supporting the local economy.

2. Top 5 Destinations to Visit in the Mekong Delta

Visiting the Mekong Delta can be a challenge when it comes to the details of where to go, what to do, when to visit, and so on. Prepare for the journey and pack lightly for the following cities, which are the Mekong Delta’s main cities with suitable facilities for travelers.

Mekong Delta Mekong Delta

Can Tho 

Can Tho is about 3 hours away from Ho Chi Minh City by car. It is also the best place to stay overnight for a morning visit to Cai Rang Floating Market (30 minutes by boat).

Can Tho is the Mekong Delta’s main city and transportation center, where the Mekong River meets the South China Sea. You can wake up early in the morning, roam around on foot or rent a bike, or take a ride in a sampan at a floating market.

Can Tho will be the best choice if you’re planning an extension for 1 or 2 nights from Ho Chi Minh City.

mekong delta mekong delta

My Tho 

My Tho is commonly visited by travelers for a 1-day Mekong Delta tour from Ho Chi Minh City as it is only 2 hours away by car. It is renowned for its boat trips in the Mekong Delta region. It is also known for its special soup, hu tieu My Tho.

The floating market works only in early morning, thus this will be missed if you take 1 day tour from Ho Chi Minh.

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Ben Tre

A similar distance from Ho Chi Minh City as My Tho, Ben Tre is an industrious city with friendly and warm inhabitants. It is relatively laid-back and quiet compared to other cities and is a place where you can comfortably wander around and witness the daily lives of the local people.

Chau Doc

Travelers who choose to take a boat trip from Vietnam to Cambodia will choose this destination. Board the boat there and you will reach Phnom Penh in Cambodia in about 5 hours. In this city, you can find inner peace and listen to the soothing water flow at Tra Su Bird Sanctuary.

Read more about three ways to get from Vietnam to Cambodia.

Sa Dec 

It is a river port and center of agriculture and trade. It is one of largest cities in the Mekong Delta.

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3. Getting To and Around the Mekong Delta

Boating, mostly by bamboo raft or motorboat, is the main form of transportation in the Mekong Delta. To get there, you will first need to take a private car or bus from Ho Chi Minh City to one of the port cities that service it, namely Cai Be or Can Tho.

As the fourth largest city in Vietnam, Can Tho has its only airport with direct flights to Hanoi and Da Nang.

Read more information about transport to and around the Mekong Delta.

4. Food and Drink in the Mekong Delta

Although it’s named the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, rice is not the only delicacy in the Mekong Delta. You will get to taste local dishes that originated in or have been popularized by the Mekong Delta region.

Read more information about food and drink there.

vietnam food vietnam food
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5. Where to Stay in the Mekong Delta

If a floating market doesn’t appeal to you, you can stay overnight in Ho Chi Minh City. Would you like to try some special accommodation? No problem — why not rent a private boutique boat or try a homestay? Contact us to arrange it for you.

To enjoy an early morning floating market, an overnight stay in one of the port cities is necessary. We highly recommend Can Tho as it is nearest to the biggest floating market, Cai Rang Floating Market, with a journey of just 30 minutes by boat. Also, being the fourth largest city in Vietnam, it provides accommodation that ranges from hostels to luxury 5-star options.

Hotels Recommended for a Comfortable Stay

3–4 star:

  • Iris Hotel Can Tho
  • TTC Hotel — Can Tho
  • Muong Thanh Luxury Can Tho Hotel

5-star:

  • Victoria Can Tho Resort
  • Azerai Can Tho
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6. A Brief History about Mekong Delta

Though currently a part of Vietnam and inhabited by people who are predominantly ethnically Vietnamese, the Mekong Delta has experienced a number of changes throughout its history.

The Delta is thought to be the ancient capital of the Funan Empire – a multi-ethnic empire that dominated the area from the first to the sixth centuries. After the fall of the Funan Empire the area was much influenced by the Chinese and Khmer Empires.

In Cambodia, the Mekong region is still known as Lower Khmer due to its long occupation by the Khmer people. In 1979 the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia to stop attacks on Vietnamese villages and ultimately the Mekong Delta became Vietnamese territory.

Today, there are still sites where ruins of these ancient empires can be observed at Oc Eo and other similar locations.

Visit the Mekong Delta with Us

Our experienced and friendly one-to-one travel advisors are ready to ensure you get the right information about historical events in the Mekong Delta. We will assist you in selecting destinations, accommodations and activities that best suit your requirements.

Why Travel with Asia Highlights

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10-Day Best of Vietnam with Mekong Delta

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