The Mekong Delta is a vast maze of rivers, stilt houses, and rice paddies. Scattered within the giant Delta are plenty of things to see that give you amazing insight into what life may be like in the Vietnamese countryside. Here are the must-visit attractions in the area.
Ninh Kieu Wharf is located close to the Can Tho city centre, on the bank of the Hau River, a large tributary of the Mekong River. Over at the wharf is a park that covers an area of about 7,000 m2, running parallel to the Hai Ba Trung street. Many bars, restaurants and hotels are scattered around this area, making it a crowded area that is especially popular among tourists. Wander here around sunset, take a few pictures of the gorgeous waterfront that is packed with colourful fishing boats, have some dinner at a riverside restaurant and then go explore the night market that is only a few feet away. It will be a nice evening in Can Tho.
The Mekong Delta has a water system that is over 33,500 miles (54,000 kilometres) long. The residents of the Delta have built their life around this, and while a floating market to us is merely a tourist attraction, to them it is a way of life. Visit the Cai Rang Floating Market, the most popular and easiest to access of all, to witness how local life thrives on the water. The market is open from as early as 03:00 a.m. but is at its liveliest at around 5:00 a.m. You can easily catch a boat from the Ninh Kieu Wharf.
This pagoda, located in My Tho, Tien Giang province, was built in 1849 and occupies an area of about 2,000 m2. The architecture is a melting pot of Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer and European styles, and the site features various Buddha statues, a beautiful ornate gate built by craftsmen from Hue, mosaic decorations made out of broken pottery, and intricately detailed woodwork inside. Visit around 10:00 a.m. and you will hear the sound of monks chanting peaceful Buddhist prayer verses.
Cai Be Floating Market is one of the largest whole sale markets in the Mekong Delta. It is located in Cai Be town, Tien Giang Province and here you will find not only fruits but also fabric, household items, fresh seafood, food and drinks handed over from boat to boat.
The Mekong Delta provides 70% of the fruit consumed throughout Vietnam, and there are plenty of fruit orchards scattered around the different provinces that make up the Delta. You will be able to find various fruits such as mango, grapefruit, guava, apple, jackfruit, dragon fruit, mangosteen, plums, durian, etc., being cultivated. Cai Be Orchard is the largest fruit orchard in the Mekong Delta. You can take a tour through the premises, pick ripe fruit off the trees and enjoy them right then and there.
Located in the An Giang province of the Mekong Delta, this fascinating ecotourism site is a vibrant forested area that is dry most of the year. However, come end of year during the rainy season, the area turns into a flooded forest, making it ideal for a guided boat tour through the region. Best months to visit are from September to November.
Sam Mountain is near the city of Chau Doc, and climbing it is an adventure. Not only are the views scenic, composed of breathtaking rice fields, stilt villages and beautiful greenery, but you will also pass dozens of shrines, tombs and even a temple on the way to the top. Once you reach the summit you will find a small military outpost with a grand view featuring Cambodia on one side and Vietnam on the other.
Tan Lap Floating Village is an eco-tourism site located in Long An province and is a typical flooded land of the Mekong region. For a mere entrance fee of USD$2.5 (VND$50,000), visitors can walk on elevated paths through a gorgeous cajuput forest or take a boat along the Rung Canal. You can also enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the forests form the observation tower, enjoy local dishes, participate in campfires, barbecues, picnics and other outdoor activities. November is the best time to visit — when the lotuses bloom, adding contrasting colours to all that greenery.
Co Tu Ha is a famous name in the Ben Tre province. When you mention her name to a local taxi or boat driver, they will know who you are referring to and take you to the home of a sweet old lady in her 60’s. By sweet, we literally mean sweet. She makes coconut candies! Co Tu Ha will let you try some of her delicious masterpieces, and also have a go at making some if you wish. Her coconut rice wine is also amazing.
Tram Chim National Park of Dong Thap province is also called the kingdom of birds in Vietnam. The park spans over 7,500 hectares, and houses as many as 200 types of birds (many endangered and rare), and makes up a quarter of the bird population in Vietnam. March or April are the best months to go bird-watching in this part of the region.
Board a sampan, a small rickety wooden row boat, and paddle your way through small canals of the giant Mekong tributaries. This is the best way to get around in the Mekong and you will come across flower farms, fruit orchards, rice paper factories, temples, river restaurants and all sorts of attractions by the water. Ben Tre and My Tho are the best places to do this and you will be able to avoid boats full of tourists that normally head to Can Tho.