Mekong Delta Travel Guide from A to Z: What You Need to Know in 2019?
by Hello Vietnam Travel Sep 12, 2019
Served as the rice bowl of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta - famous for its timeless charm with meandering waterways, sleepy riverside villages, traditional workshops, historical ruins and intriguing culture. A trip to this magical maze offers you an insight into the local life and style of typical Vietnamese countryside. Check out the list of top attractions in the Mekong Delta for a better understanding of this verdant land.
Aerial view of Mekong Delta and tourist boat
I, HOW TO GET TO MEKONG DELTA
Where is Mekong Delta? The Mekong Delta or Mekong River Delta is located in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of over 40,500 square kilometres (15,600 sq mi). The size of the area covered by water depends on the season. Before 1975, Mekong Delta is part of Republic of Vietnam (Source: Wikipedia).
The distance from Ho Chi Minh to Mekong Delta is about 200 kilometers, which may take you one to four hours to get there. The travel time from Ho Chi Minh to Mekong Delta depends on what means of transportation you choose. There are many ways of getting to Mekong Delta which can suit your travel styles and interests including flights, boats, bus, motorbike, etc. Check out our recent post of How to Get from Ho Chi Minh to Mekong Delta to learn more and choose for you the most suitable ones.
II, THE BEST TIME TO VISIT MEKONG DELTA
Mekong Delta has been attracting thousands of domestic and international tourists to southern Vietnam each year. Therefore, when to visit Mekong Delta is regarded as the most important thing you should know to have the best journey in this region. The Mekong Delta weather is similar to Saigon with 2 main seasons: dry season and rainy season. The temperature in both seasons is generally stable, so you can travel to this famous destination almost every day of the year.
However, the best time to visit the Mekong delta is from September to November. This period is considered the time of floating season when the water is high and the Mekong Delta climate is more pleasant. Taking a tour to Mekong delta during these months, you can not only enjoy fresh fruits and local specialties but also have a great chance to become fishermen, experience fishing on a Vietnamese traditional boat while admiring the picturesque beauty of the surrounding area.
A local farmer cyling on the rippening rice paddy in Mekong Delta
III, HOW TO GET AROUND THE MEKONG DELTA
Traveling around the fertile land of the Mekong Delta could be a nice journey as you may experience the idyllic landscape of rice paddies, verdant orchards, waterways, small villages and delve into the truly authentic culture of different regions in the delta.
There are a number of ways to get around this fascinating land
A beautiful riverside road in Mekong Delta
1. By Bus
Like many other regions in Vietnam, it is easy to get a bus ride for a journey around the Mekong Delta. There are many bus lines running around the delta, starting from Can Tho – an important point for any trip in the region.
2. By Private Car
If you’re traveling on your own and with a small group, then traveling by private car is an optimal choice. By this way, you can easily make up your own journey with any stop as you wish. It is a great way to get a hassle-free adventure in this fascinating land although it is more expensive than other options.
3. By Bicycle & Motorbike
Adventure seekers will love this way. Hire a motorbike or a bicycle and get around the region, passing the charming scenery, immense rice paddies, plantations, fruit orchards, mangrove forest…, you will find yourself lost in the truly tranquil landscape of Vietnam countryside.
Cycling might be the best way to enjoy the tranquility and peace of Mekong Delta's countryside
4. By boat
Featuring a vast maze of winding waterways, the Mekong Delta is perhaps best explored by traditional boats. Gliding along the narrow and meandering canals and tributaries that link the region, you may feel that you’re stepping back in time or being transported to another world.
This serene and peaceful region with tranquil scenery and friendly locals will definitely leave you in awe. By boarding on local boats, you will get deeper into the heart of the delta fringed with mangrove forests, palm trees and verdant fruit orchards – a lovely scenery to behold.
Tourists enjoying a boat tour in Mekong Delta
IV, MEKONG DELTA CUISINE
Apart from charming scenery, authentic local experience, intriguing culture, the delicious and truly unique cuisine of the region is also a great part to explore during your journey in the delta. A range of delectable dishes below is some of the most delightful specialties you should try at least once when traveling to this hub of culture.
1. Hu Tieu My Tho (My Tho Noodle Soup)
A journey to the Mekong Delta cannot be complete without trying Hu Tieu My Tho – one of the typical specialties of the region.
Hu Tieu is a type of noodle but it’s made in different ways with different methods depending on each region. If you want to get an original bowl of Hu Tieu, My Tho is the place to go.
Unlike any Hu Tieu in other regions, Hu Tieu My Tho consists of locally-made rice noodles, fresh shrimp, stir-fried ground pork, minced garlic, creating a unique flavor of the dish. Its savory broth also blows your mind from the very first bite.
Some delectable bowl of Hu Tieu with seafoods
2. Lau Mam – Salted Fish Hot Pot
Lau Mam is a unique specialty of the Southwest region. The hot pot is made from salted fish (mud carp fish and snakeskin gourami fish) cooked with coconut water or bone broth. For the endless diversity and perfection, many ingredients are added to the hot pot including a dozen freshwater fishes like ca linh, ca sac, anchovies, eel, squid, and shrimp as well as a variety of regional vegetables.
The sweetness of delicious fresh vegetables mingled with the typical aroma of fish sauce, fish, squid, eel, lemons leaves you unforgettable culinary experience.
A Signature Cuisine of Mekong Delta - Lau Mam
3. Sau Dau Salad Long Xuyen
When traveling to Long Xuyen in An Giang province, it’s a pity if you don't try Sau Dau Salad – a unique specialty of the region. The special feature of the dish lies in the bitter taste of Sau Dau leaves. Sau Dau is known as a woody plant which is quite similar to the leaves of chinaberry in North Vietnam. The bitter taste and the immature smell of Sau Dau leaves is mixed with diced pork skin or pig ears, shredded dried fish, shrimp, sour mango, creating a dish of all the different attractive flavors.
A Flavorsome dish of Sau Dau Salad - A Must-try specialty
4. Ca Linh (Linh Fish)
Ca Linh is considered a specialty in the Mekong Delta as you cannot find them anywhere else. If you come in the right season, you will have a special chance to enjoy various delicious dishes made from this fish. Some typical dishes that can be named include Ca linh hotpot, ca linh splintered with tamarind, sour fish soup or fish sauce..
Fried Linh Fish, eaten with special fish sauce
5, Mud Roasted Chicken
This typical dish is quite popular in the Mekong Delta, special for the cooking process. The chicken is covered in mud from rice fields and then placed under many thick lays of straw or hay, then light it on fire. After roasting for an hour, you can peel off the mud and enjoy. It is absolutely delicious and tastes even better with spicy chili salt mixed with a few drops of lemon.
The mouth-watering mud roasted chicken
V, WHERE TO STAY IN MEKONG DELTA
As a major hub for interesting excursions in Southern Vietnam, there is a wide range of accommodation available from luxury, sprawling resorts, comfortable hotels to simple hostels or cozy homestays. Depending on your own travel style and budget, you can choose your favorite from the immense collection.
If you’re looking for a luxurious retreat where you can indulge in the spectacular scenery and make the most of the property’s facilities such as swimming pool, indulgent spa or well-equipped spa, then a boutique hotel or resort is definitely your place to go. You can find a range of luxurious 5 and 4-star hotel around big cities, especially in Can Tho. To name a few, you may wish to stay at Vinpearl Hotel Can Tho, Azerai Resort Can Tho, Victoria Can Tho Resort, Muong Thanh Luxury Can Tho Hotel, Ben Tre Riverside Resort and more.
Vinpearl Hotel Can Tho
For travelers who wish to stay up close with the locals of the Mekong Delta, a homestay is a perfect option. Staying at a homestay means you will be staying a local’s house, sharing meals with them and of course experiencing their daily lives.
There is no doubt that this is the best way to get a true glimpse into the local’s life and delve into their traditional culture and customs, hardly affected by modernity. Still, staying at a homestay you may expect to experience a bit more basic than a hotel. A shared bathroom or a bedroom without air conditioner might not be your favorite part but the experience is totally worth it.
Unlike luxurious hotels and resorts which are located in big cities, homestays can be found around the region. Some of the most popular ones are Green Garden Homestay in Can Tho, Flower & Frog Homestay in Sa Dec, Happy Farm Tien Giang Homestay in My Tho or Jardin du Mekong Homestay in Ben Tre.
Flower & Frog Homestay
III, TOP ATTRACTIONS TO SEE IN MEKONG DELTA VIETNAM
1. MY THO
Seventy kilometers from Ho Chi Minh City lies the sleepy riverside town of My Tho nestled on the north bank of the Mekong River. Its proximity to Ho Chi Minh City and convenient location alongside a major tributary of the Mekong River making the town a major trading hub of the whole region.
Aerial View of My Tho city on the Mekong River with development buildings, transportation, energy power infrastructure
Less than 2-hour drive from the bustling city of Ho Chi Minh, this town is often overlooked by travelers but it turns out to be a great escape with many amazing activities await.
The best way to get a feel for this verdant land is enjoying a languid boat trip, navigate along its winding waterways and canals, visit its lush orchards, farms and local attractions and experience the authentic life of the locals here.
Houses by a river in My Tho
2. BEN TRE
As one of the major destinations in the Mekong Delta, Ben Tre is a little laid back town, known for its friendly locals, intricate waterways, lush fruit gardens and coconut products.
A traditional boat with tourists floats through the jungle of the Mekong Delta near Ben Tre, Vietnam
Ben Tre, however, is still off beaten track for tourists, giving it a bit atmospheric feel with rustic life around the delta.
Ben Tre has a lot to offer than just a sleepy riverside town. Hop on a bike and pedal down narrow lanes lined with green palm trees, through lush farmland and verdant orchards and drop by the traditional factories for a true insight into local life.
Coconut candy workshop in Ben Tre
3. CAN THO
Considered as the capital of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho is the hidden gem of the region, best known for its incredible floating markets, amazing maze of canals and rivers and idyllic landscapes. Can Tho can easily be reached by our Saigon to Can Tho 1 Night Cruise.
Nestled amidst the lush area of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho is blessed with pleasant conditions, fertile soil, tropical fresh fruits, delicious food and distinct local culture.
Wooden bridge over a canal of Can Tho, Vietnam. Can Tho is the biggest city in the Mekong delta.
Whether you’re going on a day trip or planning to stay for several days, this bustling riverside town has something for everyone that keeps you busy for days. To name a few, pay a visit to its famous floating market, delve into the local life on the water, get acquainted with its exciting waterway system with a delightful boat tour, treat yourself to some local specialties or learn more about local culture.
Small factory of rice noddles for vietnamese food near Can Tho
4. CAI RANG FLOATING MARKET
Lying around 6 kilometers from Can Tho is the vibrant Cai Rang Floating market, the largest among all floating markets in Mekong Delta. The first impression of this interesting point is definitely its extremely lively and boisterous trading scene.
Stare in awe as you see a bunch of small boats full of regional products gathering at a point. It is interesting to see what the life of the locals likes on the water while enjoying the cool breeze of the great river. Hop on a local boat, delve into the crowds and get the chance to taste some local products on one of the lovely boats. That’s an interesting experience.
5. CAI BE FLOATING MARKET
If you cannot be an early bird for a visit of Cai Rang Floating Market, then Cai Be Floating Market is a great alternative. It’s also one of the largest wholesale markets in Mekong Delta. From the break of dawn, the region is so busy with hundreds of trading boats flocking together at the market. You can easily mingle with the bustling vibe and chaotic ambiance of the market while rejuvenating your soul in the vastness of the Mekong River
You can have coffee & breakfast, noodle and even pineapples on the boats in Cai Rang.
6. VINH TRANG PAGODA
Lying at the heart of the Mekong Delta region, this sprawling pagoda is one of the most famous attractions in the Delta.
Surrounded by ornate gardens, this exquisite pagoda allures tourist from the first sight for tranquil atmosphere, intricate architecture which blends seamlessly between Japanese and Vietnamese style. Just one kilometer north of My Tho’s center, this little gem is a great escape to delve into the amazing culture in the southern part of Vietnam.
Aerial View of Vinh Trang pagoda
Beautiful Architecture in Vinh Trang Pagoda
7. TRAM CHIM NATIONAL PARK
If you consider yourself an animal and nature lover, then Tram Chim National Park in Dong Thap Province should be added to your excursion. Located around 155 kilometers to the west of Ho Chi Minh City, this green island is a large sanctuary for plants and animals of different kinds, especially some rare bird species.
Aerial view of Melaleuca forests, Tram Chim National Parks, Dong Thap, Vietnam
You may wish to experience the peaceful life of the Mekong Delta and learn more about the rich biodiversity that the region has to offer. Whether you’re going to make a half day or full day excursion or intend to stay here for several days, you’ll find it a relaxing and interesting place to be.
White stork flying in the wild in Tram Chim National Park
8. HUYNH THUY LE ANCIENT HOUSE
Believed to be the residence of Huynh Thuy Le - a son of the most reputable family in Dong Thap in the past, this wonderfully atmospheric house is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Mekong Delta. The house witnessed in the passionate love affair between the famous French writer - Marguerite Duras and Huynh Thuy Le - the son of one of the richest Chinese businessmen.
Not only famous for its moving love story, but this ancient house is also a fascinating place to soak up unique architecture – a stunning mixture of French, Chinese and Southern Vietnamese style.
Inside Huynh Thuy Le ancient house
9. SAM MOUNTAIN
Just a stone’s throw from Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta, Sam Mountain offers a nice escape from the height of 230 meters. The mountain is not a scenic spot, but its surroundings including green rice fields stretching along two sides, beautiful plains and numerous cave temples and pagodas make it a picture-perfect place to take in.
Enjoy a trek up to the mountain summit and treat yourself to the panoramic views of imposing mountains and blue sky, get lost in the tranquil atmosphere here.
Stunning view on the top of Sam Mountain
10. TRA SU INDIGO FOREST
Another interesting destination to immerse into the wild and natural beauty of the Mekong Delta Region is the impressive Tra Su Indigo Forest. Covering an area of 845 ha, Tra Su is filled with mangrove forest habitat, an abundance of flora and fauna with about 140 plant species, 11 mammal species and many fish species.
Traveler sightseeing over the traditional boat in tra su forest, Mekong Delta travel, vietnam
Its picturesque scenery and diversity of resources make it an ideal spot for researchers and tourists alike to come and explore nature. Traveling to this ecotourism area in flooding season (during September and October), you can take in the incredible beauty that the region has to offer.
A wild heron spotted in Tra Su Indigo Forest
With a plethora of interesting places to visit, Mekong Delta is a gorgeous getaway to explore the hidden wonders of Southern Vietnam. From colorful floating markets, amazing historic ruins, untouched natural landscapes and warm-hearted locals, this verdant land has no shortage of it. For more information about Mekong Delta and many destinations in Indochina, please do not hesitate to find out on our website. For those looking for extraordinary experiences, please consider the tour to Indochina on our Mekong River Cruises.