The south of Vietnam has its own central economy, based in the southern capital Ho Chi Minh City, which in turn is governed by the Republic of Vietnam. Prior to 1975, during Vietnam’s devastating war, the area was controlled by America, and Ho Chi Minh City was known as Saigon, as in the well-known musical Miss Saigon. Almost the entire region is dominated by the Mekong Delta. The unique topography is famous for its rivers and canals, with many interesting villages dotted along the banks,and floating markets in abundance for you to explore.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) is the central hub of activity. Not only for the economy, but for culture and education as well. It’s well worth you taking the time to visit the War Remnants Museum, where you will see the relics of Vietnam’s long fight for freedom. Don’t miss the Reunification Palace or the Notre Dame Cathedral, and the fascinating local markets while you are there. All of which have their own unique story to tell, that will stay with you for life.
The Mekong Delta is made up of 12 Provinces and is the ‘golden land’ of tourism as far as southern Vietnam is concerned. In the first 3 months of 2015 the area received more than 7.3 million visitors, and the number just keeps growing. Take a leisurely boat trip along the Mekong River and absorb the local village culture. Visit the many tropical fruit orchards, coconut groves and bee keeping farms. Indulge yourself in traditional southern Vietnamese folk music and food.
You can depart Ho Chi Minh City by mini-bus and take the drive to Tien Giang, My Tho or Can Tho Province and hop on a cruise along the river, it’s that easy. For a longer stay you could go to Mui Ne Beach or Phu Quoc Island have a peaceful holiday, and enjoy the friendly local hospitality. No matter which way you decide to visit the Mekong you won’t be disappointed.
Places to visit and things to do in Mekong Delta
- Floating Markets: Floating markets are held every morning from 5:00 to about 11:00. Phung Hiep market is the biggest since it is located at the intersection of 7 major canals. It is also a photographer’s delight because it can be seen above from a bridge. Cai Rang and Phong Dien are two other notable floating markets in the delta. Boats loaded with produce from nearby orchards of the Mekong Delta converge to the floating market. They carry mostly fruits but also coconuts, vegetables and fishes. Buyers are local traders with bigger boats snapping everything by the bushels and resell at local markets or to wholesale dealers from big cities, often for a handsome profit. Large floating markets are not complete without its floating restaurants, floating gas stations and an occasional tour boat filled with tourists.
- Mekong Fruit Orchards: The majority of Vietnam’s fruits come from the many orchards of the Mekong Delta. On any given season, one can find a variety of tropical fruits that are produced by farmers of this region in the markets of Saigon, Hue, and Ha Noi. or many tropical fruits, the season is very short because they cannot be picked green and they don’t last long in storage where they quickly loose their aroma. The greatest variety of fruits is available during the raining season, from June to September in the South. After they are picked, the fruits are transported on small boats to floating markets where they are sold to wholesale dealers. In the off-season, many orchards become flower nurseries to meet the peak demand for flowers during the new year celebration in the big cities. The orchards are divided by a myriad of small rrigation canals with delicate bamboo bridges called “Cau Khi” or monkey bridges crossing them.
- Homestay at Ba Linh’s house: Traveling to Mekong delta, with great time spending on Vinh Long river, tasting “elephant ear fish” you mind have a night at home-stay there. I would rather say “guest house” on Vietnamese style is that of Mr. Ba Linh whose family is very nice and friendly. His house is very clean, it has an ideal setting on the river side. In Mr. Ba Linh’ house, you will have private rooms with clean air, quiet space. You would love nights in with the locals, explore the most authentic moments of the river landscape and the lives of people in the Mekong Delta.
- Bicycle Tours: A bicycle tour along small pathways in the Mekong delta is ideal to explore the vastness of the area. There is not much traffic on these small roads along river arms and canals. They meander along lush green rice fields and orchards and offer the possibility of exploring the beautiful landscape in both, a relaxed and active way… During a bicycle tour you will have plenty of opportunities to talk to friendly locals and learn about their daily life and life in general in the Mekong delta. A perfect combination to explore the Mekong delta are bicycle tours and river cruises. The two different perspectives on water and land will give you a great possibility to get the best insight into the colorful and bustling life of the delta.