Mekong Delta Day Trip – Experience the Authentic Lives of Locals That Depend on the River to Make a Living
April 14, 2018
Due to my lack of research before visiting Vietnam last year, my friend and I ended up spending only a day out exploring the Mekong Delta River. One day is certainly not enough! We were not able to fully see the locals’ way of daily life and fully experience how it feels to live on water. We wouldn’t recommend one day tours to the Mekong Delta River unless you are really pressed for time. Before sharing about the one-day trip, I shall begin with a little background on the massive Mekong Delta River.
The Mekong River is the 12th longest river in the world and the 7th longest in Asia. It runs through 6 countries in total, starting from the Tibetan Plateau through China’s Yunnan province, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before reaching the South China Sea. Despite being one river, the locals of the different countries have given it different names which mean different things. The Vietnamese refer to it as the Nine Dragons River (Song Cuu Long) because of the separation of the river into nine arms. Unfortunately, only seven arms remain today due to two arms being blocked off.
The Mekong Delta River is a huge area comprising 13 provinces and each one has its own unique charms. I wish I knew this before embarking on the trip because I would have planned for a longer time out on the river. This area is the main supplier of tropical fruits and the major producer and exporter of rice in Vietnam. The locals have already adapted to life on the river so you will pass by many floating houses while you cruise along the Mekong Delta.
If you arrive early at the river, you will also get to visit the floating markets. Don’t get your hopes too high because the floating markets here are extremely different from the touristic ones in Thailand. Over here in Vietnam, the fruits vendor’s boat will pull up beside your boat and you have to get across onto their boat to make your purchases before crossing back onto your boat. All thanks to a Vietnamese traveller on our boat, we were introduced to the star apple fruit, grown mostly in Can Tho. We enjoyed the sweet juices and milky white flesh so much. You should definitely give this fruit a try.
We also visited some local shops where coconut candy and rice cakes/crackers are made before having lunch at a very traditional eatery. When our boat brought us back to the jetty, we were given an hour to visit the local market near the jetty.
It’s best to visit the Mekong Delta between May and August as it is the summer season in Vietnam. Many fruits will grow in the area so you can drop by the fascinating orchards and try the fresh fruits right then and there. Try to avoid visiting between September and December because it is the rainy season and there might be floods.
The Mekong Delta River is a stark contrast to Ho Chi Minh City’s environment. I personally preferred the serenity and laid-back atmosphere on the Mekong Delta River as compared to the rowdy and noisy city due to the incessant honking of motorbikes and cars. The river offers a great escape if you had enough of the traffic noise.