Mekong Delta Holidays: An Overview

The Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam is the rural heart of the country: green, growing and gently moving with the flow of the Mekong River. The pace of life slows considerably as you leave Ho Chi Minh City and venture toward the nine sprawling rivers which make up the delta. Instead of mopeds and mobs of people you'll find boats and buffalo and instead of winding streets, it's the winding waterways which rule here.

All along the various waterways, boats, markets and houses float and offer activity to the area's otherwise tranquil atmosphere. When you reach one of the towns, the countryside peace is happily shattered by the buzz of locals trading and selling produce or, in late November, singing and dancing in honour of the Ok Om Bok Festival which celebrates the harvest on the day of the full moon. The delta is a place where life is loved and lived to the full.

During a stay in Mekong Delta take a boat cruise on the Mekong River to witness the rural life of the delta from the water. Cruising through the traffic of sand and rice barges and visiting floating markets, boatyards and timeless villages with their traditional industries, you'll get a full taste for how this traditional life exists at one with its surroundings. The cruises also provide great photographic opportunities, with dawn and sunset particularly beautiful.

Aside from rural villages and farms, the delta is also home to a scattering of towns. Can Tho is one of the most attractive and bustling towns of the delta, thanks largely to the annual floods which leave rich alluvial deposits and make this area exceptionally fertile. As a result Can Tho is renowned for its fresh fruit and vegetables, so we suggest you take in its Cai Rang floating market - the largest in the Mekong Delta - and make sure you buy some from a local trader to taste for yourself.

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Cai Rang Floating Market
If You Do Three Things
Visit a Floating Market

Take a local boat out onto the delta to see the Cai Rang floating market in full swing. Here, during the early morning market hours, the delta becomes a maze of boats packed with mangos, bananas, papayas, pineapples, and even floating pho vendors. Practise your bartering skills purchasing something tasty and soak up the lively atmosphere as your boat winds through the narrow waterways formed by the larger vendor boats.

Riding Bike in Mekong
If You Do Three Things
On Your Bike

Rent bikes and spend several hours exploring the beautiful countryside surrounding the delta. Travelling via pedal power means you're free to stop and get off the road whenever you like and you will often meet friendly locals wanting to stop you for a chat. As you cycle, look out for winding waterways, organic farms, villages, and little cottage industry workshops.

Houseboats in Mekong
If You Do Three Things
Stay on a Houseboat

For a really unique experience, explore the Mekong Delta and then stay overnight on a private traditional wooden houseboat. These small flat-bottomed boats can access shallow tributaries of the delta, allowing you to also get away from the tourist traps. Relax on your private deck and soak up the atmosphere at the floating markets in the day, and then fall asleep to the boat's gentle bobbing at night.

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Mekong Delta
Mekong Delta
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Map of Mekong Delta

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A Note on Price

Vietnam is pretty good value – a good 10-day itinerary (staying in four star accommodation) costs around £2,600 per person including guides and domestic transport. Those with a bigger budget should expect to easily spend around £5,000 per person.

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