THE MIGHTY MEKONG
The Mekong Delta is one of Vietnam’s most unlikely pockets of geography. The Mekong River, one of the world’s great rivers, begins in Tibet, descends through China, touches Myanmar and Thailand, winds through Laos and Cambodia, and ends right here in southern Vietnam. But before it spills into the sea it splinters into several smaller rivers, feeding the land with nutrients and perfecting the land for farming.
An enormous nutrient-rich patch of land didn’t go unnoticed by early settlers, which is why it’s been fought over for thousands of years, from early struggles between the Cham and Khmer right up until the civil war. But peace won out in the end, and now it’s one of Vietnam’s must-see landscapes.
Explore our Mekong Delta itineraries that give you plenty of opportunities to devour fresh food from Vietnam’s “rice basket”, lose yourself in the vast display of canal networks, and crisscross farms and rice paddies by bicycle.
Eternalized and romanticized in films such as The Lover, the Mekong Delta is one of Southeast Asia’s quintessential landscapes. But behind the serene and tranquil vistas lies a compelling history that concerns large chunks of the world. The Vietnamese conquered the Cham and claimed this land from the Khmer, only to be colonized by the French soon after.
Understanding the agricultural value of the delta, European and Asian business-people set up shop here and built grand mansions along the riverbanks. Ho Chi Minh reportedly worried that without the food production capabilities of the south, the north would starve.
You won’t learn about this on a Mekong Delta day-trip, so if you especially love learning about history and culture, have a look at some of our favorite experiences in the area, which include a little bit of history, sight-seeing, and cultural immersion, as well as overnight stays in rustic Mekong lodges and simple cruise ships.
The Mekong Delta is synonymous with floating markets, and it’s easy to see why. These vibrant hubs have spread throughout the region, showcasing the indomitable spirit of the Vietnamese and their ability to make-due with any obstacle in their paths, from small affairs with just a few boats to grand spectacles where market “stalls” number in the hundreds. You’ll see boats filled to the brim with colorful tropical fruits and buyers and sellers striking animated deals.
Many of the most interesting floating markets can be found in and around Can Tho, the largest city in the Mekong Delta. Board a modernized sampan (traditional-styled boat) for a breakfast cruise and drift through the stalls of Cai Rang Floating Market, the largest wholesale floating market in Southeast Asia, on our specially developed Can Tho Mekong tour. This is the best way to get a view of the unique cultural identity of southern Vietnam.
Like virtually every other river delta in the world, the Mekong Delta is entirely flat. This makes it a great place to hop on a bicycle and craft your own adventure, whether you’re an avid cyclist or not. Most 1-day Mekong Delta tours offer some time to experience the views from the soft seat of a comfy easy-rider bicycle, and guide you along from temple and farm to traditional house and make-shift floating market.
To enhance the experience, we recommend spending at least 2 nights in a Mekong Delta homestay like this one to get to know the locals – the people in southern Vietnam are famous for their friendliness – and to enjoy a much-deserved sundowner after a day of cycling.
The Mekong Delta may be Vietnam’s rice bowl, but don’t think that’s all you can find down south. Just as in Halong Bay, Mekong Delta cruises are growing exceedingly popular with tourists who want to absorb their surroundings in a relaxing fashion.
Most cruises run between Cai Be and Can Tho, stopping at tropical fruit orchards to let you sample the tangy mangos, sweet pineapples, juicy dragon fruits, and fresh coconuts as well as sightseeing in floating markets. The cruise ships are smaller than the ones you’ll find in Lan Ha Bay or Bai Tu Long Bay, but feature delicious cuisine and cozy cabins. Start in Cai Be with this itinerary or along the banks of the Can Tho River in this eco-friendly option to include a cruise in your Mekong trip.
Dive deep into Vietnam’s magnificent landscapes and warm culture with these destination-focused itineraries designed to take you further into the country. Or mix and match to create the adventure of a lifetime.
Our Mekong Tours
5 days | Culture From 11,700,000 VND
This 5-day itinerary explores the wonderful traditions and history of Vietnam’s vibrant Mekong River Delta from the comfort of the chic Mekong Riverside Boutique Hotel and Spa in Cai Be. Learn about Caodaism, a religion created in Vietnam, and visit craft villages for hands-on opportunities to create regional products. Then, set sail for Can Tho and the gigantic wholesale floating market of Cai Rang on an overnight cruise.
5 days | Family From 10,700,000 VND
This 5-day itinerary explores the wonderful traditions and history of Vietnam’s vibrant Mekong River Delta. Spend your days navigating the exotic landscape of Vung Liem by sampan and bicycle before visiting the largest city in the Mekong, Can Tho — home to Southeast Asia’s largest wholesale floating market.
5 days | Culture From 13,500,000 VND
This 5-day itinerary explores the vibrant culture and traditions of Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta from the comfort of the chic Can Tho Ecolodge in Can Tho, the largest city in the region. Cycle through lush scenery, join a southern-cuisine cooking class, and participate in local workshops to gain insight into daily life in the Mekong. Then, set sail for Cai Be, stopping along the way at Cai Rang Floating Market on an overnight cruise.
4 days | Culture From 7,850,000 VND
This 4-day itinerary explores the wonderful traditions and history of Vietnam’s vibrant Mekong River Delta. Navigate exotic canals in Ben Tre, learn how to cook regional cuisine at the Coco Riverside Lodge, and cycle through nature rarely seen by travelers in Vung Liem.
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