Mekong Delta or Nine Dragon river delta is where Mekong river approaches and empties into the sea through hundreds of distributaries. This region covers about 39,000 square kilometres and is considered as “biological treasure trove” with over one thousand species. Mekong Delta with beautiful sights and unique lifestyle has become one of the most visited tourist destinations in South Vietnam. In this blog, I’d like to share 10 best things to do in Mekong Delta for whom interested in.
1. Cruise on rivers and row sampan through small canals
There are always different feelings between traveling on the road and water. Mekong Delta is a region where boats, houses and markets float upon the innumerable rivers. The best way to explore Mekong Delta at its best is river cruise. Most of Mekong Delta tours include river cruise and sampan rowing through small canals.
From the boat, you can see beautiful sights of lush orchards, green or yellow rice paddies, stilts in quiet villages and lines of coconut trees. You can also see brick factory and coconut candy factories along the river. You can see locals go to markets or go to school on boats and sampans which make Mekong Delta different from other regions in Vietnam.
In Mekong Delta, there aren’t rivers but also small canals through gardens and villages. Rowing a sampan through zig-zag canals under shadow of water coconut trees is one of the most interesting that any tourist shouldn’t miss. You will go under small bridges made of bamboo or wood. It’s time for you to get closer to lush orchards with various tropical fruits as well as local houses.
2. Plug fresh fruits in local garden
Mother Nature gives Mekong Delta a wide range of tropical fruits such as plump, orange, mandarin, dragon fruit, mango, durian, jackfruit, coconut and rambutan… If rowing sampan bring you closer to the fruit garden, how about entering that garden to explore many amazing things. What’s better than visit a fruit garden, listen to the story of the garden’s host and plug ripe fruits by your hands. You have to use a long pole to harvest plump, mango and rambutan because the trees are usually high. Be careful with the thorns of big and smelling jackfruit and durian.
There are some coconut trees which is as tall as you so that you can plug the coconut tree easily. You can peel what you plug to enjoy the freshest fruits which you may haven’t tasted before. It’s just a play around the fruit garden to be a real gardener.
3. Visit floating market
Floating market is one of the most special things in Mekong Delta where main transportation means are boats and sampans. All goods with sellers are on boats floating on the river and the only way you can buy something at the market is taking on a boat through each “floating store”. There you can see numerous strange things in Mekong Delta from fresh fruits to lively animals. Some boats or sampans serve as a coffee shop where you can enjoy tea, coffee and orange juice… You can also have breakfast with local specialties such as Hu Tieu (Vietnamese Clear Rice Noodle Soup), Bun Ca (Rice Noodle Soup with Fish), Banh Canh (Soup Cake), Xoi (Steamed Sticky Rice) and many other delicious dishes. It’s a big chance for you to interact with local people who are very ingenious and friendly. All makes you like locals when you immerse yourself into Mekong Delta’s life at a floating market. The fresh and peaceful atmosphere will totally make you refresh. So that if you come to South Vietnam, don’t miss visiting floating market.
The most visited floating markets are Cai Rang (in Can Tho) and Cai Be (in Tien Giang). There are also interesting floating markets in Tra On, Phong Dien, Long Xuyen and Chau Doc. You can join a full day Mekong Delta tour from Ho Chi Minh city to Cai Be to visit Cai Be floating market. If you have more time, a Ho Chi Minh-Can Tho tour for 2-3 days including visiting Cai Rang floating market would be a great choice.
4. Feed and catch fish at a fish farm
If you would like to enjoy the best fish in Vietnam, let’s come to Mekong Delta. This region is a good natural environment for many kinds of freshwater fishes. It’s the best place to grow fish so that there are many fish farms in Mekong Delta which are worth a visit. There you can feed the fish with the farmer’s help. They eat natural foods such as vegetables, and banana trees and artificial foods. You can also catch fishes and cook delicious dishes from fresh ingredients. You can use bucket to catch small fishes in the ponds but it’s not easy with big fish such as elephant ear fish and basa fish… Sometimes it needs a fishing rod made of bamboo to catch snakehead fish, carp and catfish. It’s not like you go fishing in a lake or the ocean.
Sweet and Sour Soup with Fish and Vegetables is one of the most popular and flavorful home-cooked dishes in Mekong Delta. Braised Fish with Caramel is also a favorite of local people which you should try.
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5. Listen to local folk song (Don Ca Tai Tu)
There’s nowhere you can listen to a better folk song than in Mekong Delta. Don Ca Tai Tu is a kind of musical art featuring both scholarly and folk roots. It flourished in Sothern Vietnam in the late 19th century and still remains as one of the most favorite traditional music in recent days. The reason is that it reflectss the lifestyle of Mekong Delta people, helps them express feelings and encourages them in a hard life. If you join a tour to Mekong Delta, it usually includes folk song’s performance. There are instrumental group and singers who usually wear traditional Ao Dai.
You can see how instrumentalists play moon-shaped lute (đờn kìm), a 16-string zither (đờn tranh), a 2-string fiddle (đờn cò) and a Western guitar adapted to Vietnamese music (ghi ta phím lõm). And certainly, you have chance to listen to beautiful traditional music, sweet and soft voice of local singers.
6. Enjoy specialties
Food is culture so that it will be a big miss if you don’t try tasting Mekong Delta specialties which are cooked from fresh ingredients. There are enormous delicious dishes you should eat. I’d like to recommend you to enjoy crispy Fried Elephant-ear Fish. The fish meat is usually wrapped in rice paper with rice noodles and fresh herbs and eaten with sweet and sour fish sauce dip. The second dish I would recommend you is Rice Noodle Soup with Fish (Bun Ca). It’s fish dish again but fish meat in Mekong Delta is very tasty because they eat natural foods in the lakes and rice fields.
There are also many exotic desserts such as Cow Cake (Banh Bo), Square-cylindric Glutinous Rice Cake (Banh Tet) and Pig-skin Cake (Banh Da Lon)… Mekong Delta people love to eat candies made from banana and coconut. It would be a great idea to visit a banana and coconut candy factory in Ben Tre province where you can witness the process of making the candy and buy some to bring home. Pia cakes – a specialty of Soc Trang province are famous for its special taste and attractive smell. This cake is sold popularly in Mekong Delta for tourist of both domestic and international to enjoy and bring home as gift. The lightly sweet and healthy honey from Mekong Delta is very unique to this region. You can visit a bee farm and sip some tea with honey while listening to the host’s story.
Read more about Top 10 Foods in Mekong Delta
Read more about What to buy in Mekong Delta?
7. Ride bicycle around quiet village
Some tourists said that they felt like being in a peaceful world far away from our world – a world of business, war and making money for living. In Mekong Delta, people don’t have to worry about their life because Mother Nature gives them so much. They have fishes in the lake and river, rice on the fields, fruits and vegetables in the gardens. They have bamboo, leaves and trees to build their houses.
Life is peaceful and people are always friendly. That’s why villages in this region are extremely quiet. The best way to explore the village is by riding a bicycle along one land dirt road. It’s time to see a slow life, calm yourself, and just relax.
8. Visit islands around My Tho
The gate way to Mekong Delta is My Tho around which there are numerous river islands for you to visit by boat. The four largest islands are Con Long (Dragon Island) – the most densely popular and the closest, Con Lan (Unicorn Island) (the largest island with a tropical garden), Con Quy (Turtle Island) – the smallest island and Con Phung (Phoenix Island) – the special with a temple of the coconut monk.
The islands are very green, quiet and pretty romantic islands overlooking the river and a magnificent garden. These islands are most-visited stops on Mekong Delta tours from Ho Chi Minh city, especially full day tour.
9. Climb Sam mountain
Sam mountain is almost 6 km far from Chau Doc town, An Giang province. This is the highest mountain in Mekong Delta with beautiful landscapes and historical stories. There are dozens of temples and pagodas, some of them are set in caves which attract many tourists climb the mountain to discover. It’s a chance to visit Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb, Tao Ngo Garden, Ba Chua Xu Temple, Tay An Pagoda, and Bach Van Hill. You can have a short walk up on Sam mountain to visit Khmer village and witness the daily life of people living on mountain. If you reach the top of the mountain, it’s an ideal view to see the countryside and look over Cambodia. There is a military outpost which was considered a legacy of the days when the Khmer Rouge made cross-border. This military outpost still function and tourists are free to take photos there.
10. Discover wild nature in Phu Quoc Island
Phu Quoc Island is a must if you have a few days to spend in Mekong Delta. The island is famous for long and beautiful wild beaches with lines of green trees, soft sand and sunlight. In addition, there are many other beautiful natural sights in Phu Quoc such as Tranh Stream, Da Ban Stream, Ganh Dau Cape and Dinh Cau Cap… You should visit Ham Ninh old fishing village, pepper garden, fish sauce factory to learn more about the life of people on the island.
Dinh Cau night market or restaurants on the beach are good places to enjoy fresh seafood and specialties such as herring salad, ocean crab and sea urchins…
Read more about Phu Quoc travel guide
I’ve just shared 10 best things to do in Mekong Delta and introduce you top things to do in this beautiful and peaceful region. I hope you like the post and it helps you as much as possible. Don’t skip your trip to Mekong Delta more!