Our trip to Vietnam wouldn’t have been complete without witnessing this major natural attraction, so we made sure to add in a couple of extra days in Ho Chi Minh just so we could spend some time exploring the Mekong Delta. This rural area of Vietnam can be explored in a few different ways – day tours are great if you’re short on time, or you can spend two to three nights in the towns of Ben Tre My Tho, Cao Lanh, and Can Tho – the epicenter of the Mekong Delta.
The region is often referred to as the Rice Bowl of Vietnam because it pumps out more than a third of the country’s annual food crop – and this is a country that likes to eat! I’ll be the first to admit that what drew me most to visiting Vietnam was the cuisine, but sailing down the Mekong gave me the chance to learn more about the industries behind some of my favourite dishes. Learning about the sugar cane, rice fields and local vegetables was truly eye opening.
Short on time
Even if you’re short for time (48 hour stop over in Ho Chi Minh, anyone?), you can still get to experience the lush mangroves, working boats, dense palm trees and magic of the Mekong on a day trip. You’ll be busy dusk until dawn but it’s a day well spent. Tours take 100 km out of the city to Ben Trea, small town well known for bounteous fruit orchards. The journey takes two to three hours each way, depending on your luck with Ho Chi Minh’s manic traffic.
If you’re feeling a bit fancy, experience the Mekong Delta in a small group tour. Our day trip on the Le Jarai cruise boat had all the little extras including wifi on board the coach, a five course meal and a spring roll cooking lesson. We feasted in style and were treated to banana flower salad, caramelized claypot pork, sautéed morning glory, fresh fruit and broth noodle soup. Our day trip kicked off in Ho Chi Minh around 7am and I loved every minute of this jam-packed day. We saw how coconuts are turned into mats, oil and sweets at a coconut factory in Ben Tre, before heading out for a cruise along the delta. At a local brick factory we were offered the chance to try snake infused wine, but that was little too adventurous for me! It wasn’t hard to notice the friendly and welcoming attitude of the locals. We were surrounded by a seas of smiles from children we passed and despite being a long day, it’s a journey well worth taking. It’s a place where people are interested in you and likewise, you in them.