The Mekong Delta is known as Vietnam's 'rice bowl', producing a third of it's agricultural output. The area is incredibly green and lush, covered with orchards, paddy fields and sugar-cane groves all interspersed by numerous palm-fringed waterways. The region is a floating world, with houses, restaurants and even markets all on the water - taking a boat is the best way to explore.
There is no doubt that the very best way to see and experience the Mekong Delta is to take a boat trip on it. This way you can get out in the network of rivers and canals, see the cultivation of all the tonnes of rice, fruit and vegetables that the region produces and to even visit the little cottage industries, such as coconut candies, produced by hand by the locals. The Mekong can easily be explored on a day trip from Saigon, but for a more immersive experience why not spend a night or two in My Tho, Can Tho or Ben Tre, or even a night in a local farmer’s house. A taste of the locally grown fruits at one of the chaotic floating markets is a must. A Mekong Delta experience that we’d particularly recommend is the Mekong Mango cruise where you will explore lush fields, fragrant orchards and narrow canals by xe loi, sampan and bicycle. It also includes visits to the homes of local people from whom you can learn about life on the delta.
The delta’s two largest cities, My Tho and Can Tho both offer a taste of life here. My Tho is just 70 kilometres from Saigon on the edge of the delta, making it the perfect spot for a day trip. Head out onto the water to visit river islands and cottage industries and glimpse the cultivation of fruit such as bananas, mangoes and coconuts and of course, rice. Can Tho is at the heart of the delta and sits on the confluence of two rivers, making it a commercial hub. It is from here that you can real strike out down the little rivers and canals and into the vivid paddy fields and orchards of the region. The city is the best place to visit some of the delta’s wonderful floating markets, where boats piled high with colourful produce ply their trade on the waters.
A laidback and languid river town, Ben Tre is particularly known for it’s keo dua (coconut candy) – during a visit here there is plenty of opportunity to see it being handmade by local women. Ben Tre’s setting is particularly lovely, set as it is amongst fruit orchards and coconut groves. Getting out into the network of channels close to the town gives an especially scenic look at the delta region, and even a more authentic one, passing farmers, water buffalo and little villages as you negotiate these narrow waterways.
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