Welcome to the Mekong Delta
A Mekong River cruise is the perfect way to escape the crazy streets of Saigon and immerse yourself in the lush nature.
The Mekong River is one of the biggest rivers in the world, flowing from high up in the Tibetan Plateau, all the way to the South China Sea. The waterways move through 6 countries in total and harboring an astonishing array of wildlife, landscapes, and cultures along its banks. When embarking on a Mekong River cruise, visit the local villages to get a fascinating insight into the rural way of life, including the chance to see some of the region’s best-known sites, along with plenty of hidden gems.
A brief day-trip out of Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong will simply not do. In fact, there’s so more to this river than a floating market. This region is home to unique ecosystems, diverse communities as well a wide range of peaceful landscapes, unlike anywhere else in the world. It really does deserve more than an afternoon in your itinerary — and this guide will show you why.
Get a glimpse of the way of life, daily activities and culture of the people here. Floating markets can also be found in other countries in Southeast Asia. Yet, Mekong Delta’s floating markets have their very own unique charms. These markets have existed to trade goods such as selling fruits and vegetables to the folks on the land.
Cai Rang Floating Market
One of the best highlights of the Mekong Delta is Cai Rang Floating Market. The market opens early at dawn so visitors usually spend the night in the city as there hardly enough time to leave from Saigon and arrive on the same day before it closes.
Nga Bay/Phung Hiep Floating Market
Nga Bay or Phung Hiep Floating Market has been around since 1915 as a key trading spot for the locals in Nga Bay Town area. This floating market is considered the most vivid and colorful markets in all Mekong Delta region. Visitors can get overwhelmed by inspirational colors of fruits, vegetables, seafood, poultry products, handicraft goods, domestic utensils as well as aquatic products of the waterway region. Goods come with various and abundant categories. Along with fruits, what make you amazed is the supply of snakes, birds, tortoises, iguanas and all year around.
Nga Nam Floating Market
The best time to visit Nga Nam floating market is early in the morning when the sun is crawling up east and many locals are already there, ready for trading – boats after boats. It is quite possible to find nearly anything here from rice, meat, fresh fruits and other staples to TV and electronic goods. Nga Nam is undoubtedly one of the busiest floating markets in the South of Vietnam. Mingle with the residents by chatting with them.
Tra On Floating Market (Vinh Long province)
Located at the intersection of the Hau and Mang Thit rivers, Tra On is the last floating market on the Hau River. Goods are sold as wholesale and delivered to boats which means the ambiance of the market is less bustling compared to other floating markets. Wholesale goods are usually seasonal agricultural products yams, such as sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and many exotic fruits. Another distinguished feature of Tra On market is the canoes selling exotic flowers. Starting as early as 2 am, it is very interesting to see the morning rituals of the vendors as they prepare their boats for the day.
Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta and is a place to experience the local life in a relaxing way. Of all the things that the city is known for, a few aspects stand out such as its floating markets, Buddhist pagodas, delicious food, and fresh fruits. A visit here is real-life cultural experience with a load of things to do, especially is famous for its floating markets, street-food tour, bird sanctuary, canals, and rice paddies. Also, you’ll be welcomed by the friendliness of the local inhabitants.
Called the ‘Gateway to the Mekong’, Ben Tre Province, a tour takes you to the languid backwaters of this lush province, where verdant greenery fans out from the shores of the Mekong River and its tributaries. Sit back and relax on a local rowing boat as you drift serenely through placid waters lying beneath high-rising coconut trees; truly a picture of paradise. Visit the various handicraft villages around Ben Tre and see the graft of workers and they make hundreds of objects out of the province’s iconic symbol, the coconut, as well as various other crafts like pottery and weaving. Check out the fruit orchards which are abundant in the area, as well as the dense jungle where many battles were fought during the American War.
Sa Đéc is another traditional village with a history over hundreds of years situated on the banks of the Tien River. The village is a flower haven where many locals flock to during the Tet period to buy flowers. There are hundreds of types of flowers such as bonsai, ornamental plants such as Daisy, Moth, Orchids, Marigold… Besides, while visiting the flower gardens, you have the opportunity to understand the daily life of farmers and learn about their unique cultivation methods.
Along with distinctive features about farming and trading, Mekong Delta has rich coastal mangrove ecosystems in Vietnam. The most ideal time to visit mangrove forests is from September to November.
During this time, the forests are filled with seawater and all of the water surfaces is covered with the green color of water-fern. It is a wonderful feeling of relaxation when rowing along lush melaleucas and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere among the vast space of the forest. There is no noisy sound of vehicles in big cities. Instead, it is a tranquil space with impressive twitter of birds and the sound of paddles gliding through the water surface. Tra Su melaleucas forest and U Minh Ha forest are the most famous mangrove forests in Mekong Delta.
Tram Chim National Park
The National Park is an ideal destination for bird lovers. With an area of more than 7,500 hectares, the park is home to more than 200 types of birds, many of them are listed in the Vietnam Red Book. In particular, you will have an opportunity to watch the beautiful dance of red-headed crane – one of the rare birds listed on the Red Book of the world.
Jump onto a boat, row among vast wetlands, and watch thousands of birds on the top of trees. In every morning, flocks of birds turn back their nest under the sublime sunset. It offers a taste of peace to our soul among the wildland in the park.
Vinh Trang Pagoda
Vinh Trang is the most popular Buddhist pagodas in Mekong Delta, located in the idyllic riverine countryside of My Tho, Tien Giang province. Built in the early 19th century in an area of 2000 square meter, the highlight of Vinh Trang is the combined architectural styles of both Asian and European influences.
When visiting this unique pagoda, you’ll get an insight into the development of Buddhism in Southern Vietnam as well as the strong beliefs of local people in this sacred religion. With over 60 impressive wooden and bronze Buddhist statues, you will have an opportunity to enjoy the green space inside the pagoda with fresh bonsai gardens, orchards, fish ponds. For cultural explorers, this sacred site is one of the best places to visit in Mekong Delta.
As one of the most fertile lands in Vietnam, Mekong Delta is famous for luxuriant orchard gardens. Visiting here, you will have the opportunity to taste wonderful native fruits in Mekong Delta, which is picked down directly from their trees. You can also enjoy many fantastic daily activities of local people in this place such as harvesting fruits or catching fish on small canals in the garden. Some suggestions for large orchard gardens may be useful for you such as My Khanh orchard garden in Can Tho province and Cai Be orchard garden in Tien Giang province.