Mekong Delta is a land of fruit orchards, paddy fields, swamplands, and hospitality people. It can cost you 2-3 days to know about this place and even more for exploring all of its beauty. We know your time is not unlimited and you are confusing in creating a perfect itinerary for your Mekong Delta tour. Therefore, here we are to help you.
I. MEKONG DELTA TOUR: OVERVIEW AND COMMON KNOWLEDGE
Mekong River is the 12th longest river in the world and the 7th one in Asia. From the Tibet plateau, it flows through 6 different countries in total, includes China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, before it finishes at the South China Sea. The river brings life to everywhere it runs through and ends up creating a boggy delta which now is the “Rice Bowl” of Vietnam – The Mekong Delta – an agriculture miracle that pumps out one-third of Vietnam’s annual food crop, while only taking 10% of the total landmass.
Vietnamese call Mekong Delta as “Cuu Long”, means Nine Dragons, as the Mekong River splits itself into 9 branches when it reaches Vietnam’s territory. Even though, you can’t visit all 9 branches in your Mekong Delta tour as 2 of them have been blocked off, one by nature and one by human intervention since it brought some negative effects to the life of locals.
People in Mekong Delta nowadays are the mix of Khmer, Vietnamese and Chinese with the dominant influence of Khmer’s culture. Before the end of 17th century, this place was inhabited by the Khmer Krom before being recognized as a part of Dai Viet (the ancient kingdom of Vietnam). But it had to be until France took over the reign of government in the 1860s, the fertile land of Mekong Delta was used for farming and taming. Rice may be the staple crop but coconut palms, sugarcane, and tropical fruit orchards are also very popular.
A Mekong River tour is not just about the landscapes but the people as well. People in Mekong Delta have a simple and generous lifestyle as they happily show you how to find the way when you get lost, or easily invite you to enjoy a meal with their family, all without any thinking of gaining something back. They always happy with their current life, even that it’s not an easy one. The sight of conical-hatted farmers hard working on their land from long ago has become one of the most enduring images in Vietnam.
Being contributed by 7 rivers and the dense canal system, floods happen every year. But as you will see in your Mekong Delta tour, the locals don’t consider flooding is a disaster, but a chance to take advantage from the biodiversity of the water for increasing temporary income and cooking the delicious specialties. The people in this region have adapted with that huge amount of water coming up every year with their floating houses and floating markets as they actually can shopping and living without getting onshore much. This characteristic intrigue countless of foreigners and even domestic travelers in their first Mekong Delta tour.
Featuring the peaceful sceneries of Vietnamese rural area: children riding on the back of buffalos, beautiful girls wearing the white Ao Dai cycle in groups to the school, farmers working in the emerald sea of paddies, coveys of storks gliding over the horizon at dusk and locals scampering over monkey bridges or rowing boats on the delta’s maze of channels. Going on a Mekong Delta tour is the journey of escaping the noisy, bustling modern life to the simple and relaxing paradise of authentic Vietnam.
II. THE BEST TIME FOR THE PERFECT MEKONG DELTA TOUR
Mekong Delta has the tropical monsoon climate. Therefore, it is really hot and humid all around the year. There are 2 seasons in Mekong Delta which is the rainy season and the dry season. The dry season is from December to April with sunny weather and almost no rain.
The rainy season lasts from May to November, features a large amount of sudden rainfall, cooler weather, and mosquitos. This is when there are the most fruits, the flora and fauna system is proliferated and the boat trips are also more beautiful. The best time to conduct your Mekong Delta tour, in our opinion, is at the beginning of the rainy season (April, May, and June).
III. LIST OF THE BEST DESTINATIONS FOR YOUR MEKONG DELTA TOUR
You will wish to explore every place in the Mekong Delta, believe me. But whether you can completely discover the area or not, you still need the most highlight places to focus on during the Mekong Delta trip. With our list below, you shall have the chance to plan your best Mekong Delta tour ever. Let’s start.
1. Start your Mekong Delta tour at the entrance city of My Tho
My Tho is the provincial capital city of Tien Giang. Located just 70 kilometers away from Ho Chi Minh City in the southwest, My Tho is the closest city of Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh City. Therefore, My Tho is likely the pinned point for anyone who wants to start their Mekong Delta tour.
Because of its so important position at the northern bank of the Mekong, French colonists built their first railway in Indochina here to connect Saigon (the former name of Ho Chi Minh City) to My Tho, as well as roads and bridges, with the ambition of creating a transportation network in Mekong River. Even though the plan collapsed in 1958, these transport infrastructures move goods and remain the position as an important commercial hub of the region.
Today, My Tho welcomes a lion’s share of daily tourists from Ho Chi Minh City. As if you purchase a one-day Mekong Delta tour, it’s nearly always My Tho. Unlike Ho Chi Minh City, this place comes up like a great relief with uncrowded boulevards, lively floating market, and the brilliant green paddy fields.
Visiting My Tho, you must enjoy the walking on the riverfront at late night, when everyone getting busy returning home, men playing shuttlecock kicking and some families stroll up and down. Try out an adventure in My Tho in the early morning, walking through the vibrant My Tho Center Market which is always bustling with every kind of product in the area and having a breakfast with the famous Hu Tieu My Tho noodle soup.
Getting on a boat of Mekong Delta tour and start to discover the beautiful islands and the local’s cottage industries. A typical tour usually encompasses boating through the palm-lined canals, visiting the product factories of coconut candies and honey and trying the fresh fruits from the trees at fruit orchards. The river’s traffic is best viewed from Lac Hong Park at the end of 30 Thang 4 Street, where you can see a wide range of boat, from elegant sampans to vast, with a pair of feline eyes painted on their prows.
2. Experience the “Miet Vuon” tourism style in your Mekong Delta tour at Ben Tre
The coconut kingdom of Mekong Delta is an isolated area surrounded by the wide arms of the Mekong River. The travelers who push beyond My Tho City into Ben Tre will be rewarded with the some of the best sceneries in the whole delta.
Ben Tre is suitably covered in coconut trees. Nowhere else in your Mekong Delta trip you see people can use coconut trees so effective like this place: the leaves are used for roofing; the body is used in building and crafting; the root is an irreplaceable ingredient in many specialties; the fruits for eating, crafting, etc. The famous coconut candy of Ben Tre is a must-try experience as well as a meaningful souvenir for your friends and families.
Miet Vuon is the Vietnamese term used to call the way of traveling through the fruit orchards. Tourists will have the chance to pick and eat the fresh fruits directly from the trees for a cheap price and unlimited. You can find this kind of service during your boat trips in Ben Tre.
The Ben Tre is verdant, flat and clean. The roads are spotless, the pavements are tiled and even the markets have little refuse. Ben Tre is the place for people who have enough time in their hand to dawdle slowly through the rivers and canals. If you are on a budget, boat trip in Ben Tre is even better than My Tho with many of amazing spots worth for visiting like Lach Market flower garden, the islands of Phung, Quy, Minh and a small, riverfront museum.
The riverside promenade and the narrow lanes on the river banks are the ideal places for a little two-wheeled Mekong Delta tour with the standout verdant beauty of rice paddies, good roads with little traffic, and the small-town charm, even in Mekong Delta standard.
Ben Tre is a worth place to explore deeply in your Mekong Delta tour’s itinerary. We have a complete Ben Tre travel guide for you includes all the attractions, accommodations, and other useful information.
3. Can Tho – A heart city in your best Mekong Delta tour’s destination list
The biggest city in Mekong Delta – Can Tho, is the must-visit destination for your Mekong Delta tour. Set at the confluence of Can Tho River and Hau River, the hefty city of Can Tho features the good urban planning and the amazing waterfront with the tributaries, canals, and waterways crisscross into the region like veins. Even though being the most crowded city in the region, Can Tho is famous for its authentic retained charm and the idyllic rural life. Thanks to the tremendously fertile soil, Can Tho contributes the largest share in the annual agriculture production of the region.
One of the most famous attractions of Can Tho is its lively Cai Rang floating market. Enjoy your Mekong Delta private tour on a sampan at dawn, when the market is most crowded. Traveling through other wooden boats which are loaded with full of fruits, vegetables, fresh fishes, etc. Because of settling on a vessel, the merchants have to advertise their products by hanging whatever they sell on a pole at the bow.
The smaller boats feature from lottery tickets, coffee to every specialty you ever know in the Delta, even the hot-served dishes like Pho, Banh Duc. Bet you have never eaten a bowl of Pho while floating on a small wooden boat before, haven’t you? If you notice, you will see that boat are their everything. The boat is their house and their way of living. For a further insight of this livelihood which leans on the river, make a trip along one of the narrow backwaters.
Can Tho is another choice for people who are really pressed of time, as it is possible to drop into Can Tho City in 1 night and return to Ho Chi Minh City. With its better tourism infrastructure, Can Tho is more recommended to conduct your one-day trip Mekong Delta tour rather than My Tho. But just a breezing may not satisfy you at all. Mekong Delta has the most relaxing and friendly vibe than any other place in Vietnam, so a quick view can result in nothing.
The food in Can Tho is fantastic and cheap, features all kind of tropical fruits, vegetables, and seafood. If you are the kind of people who can survive by fruits, you might want to consider to live in Can Tho permanently.
For attractions on your Mekong Delta tour to Can Tho, you will find it a lovely spot for late afternoon/evening stroll on a pedestrian-only bridge at the northern of Hai Ba Trung Street with a lot of selfies and colorful lights. The lights are switched off at 21:45, so you should come up early. At the south of the waterfront street of Hai Ba Trung, where was the crowded center market every early morning, is the bustling night market with Vietnamese and foreigners.
If you are interested in religious, the gorgeous 19-century Ong Temple located at Hai Ba Trung Street is a must-visit. At the busy corner of Hoa Binh Street and Nguyen Thai Hoc Street is the modern-built Phat Hoc Temple and the Khmer Munirangsyaram Pagoda nearby.
Most of foreigner-targeted guesthouses and hotels gather at Hai Ba Trung Street. You can also find here central market, night market, tour boats, and travel agent. The traffic is quite manic. Of course, it’s nothing compare with Ho Chi Minh City, but you still should leave the driving for locals.
We have a super comprehensive travel guide in Can Tho in case you decide that a couple days in Can Tho as your Mekong Delta tour’s plan is not enough.
4. Explore more about Can Tho in Hau Giang Province
In the past, Hau Giang Province and Can Tho City used to be one. They have split since 2004 when Can Tho became an independent municipality. You won’t find Hau Giang in any tour or English travel blog because Hau Giang has nothing worth a visit if what you are seeking is boat trips, unique floating markets and handicraft villages. Coming to Hau Giang, you will encounter the less developed version of Can Tho – the more authentic one.
Visiting the local floating market in the early morning is the requirement for every tourist visiting the Mekong Delta, and Hau Giang is not an exception. The local market is the best way to learn about the culture and life of people in the region.
After visiting the floating market, you can spend your day in the salt-marsh forest of Ngoc Hoang Natural Reserve or visit the Tam Vu Victory Monument and enjoy the activities in Tay Do Eco-tourism.
Tourism infrastructures in Hau Giang are designed for domestic Mekong Delta tours. Therefore, you will also have to face the more domestic-traveling problems. It is not so bad, but being warned is always better.
5. Mekong Delta tour – The swamp city of Cao Lanh
The capital of the lowland province Dong Thap is a newish destination among the tourist attractions of Mekong Delta. Cao Lanh is big for business but draws few tourists so your experience will likely be more authentic.
Located at the western edge of the Plain of Reeds makes it an ideal place for bird watching with storks and cranes nest in the nearby swampland, especially at Tram Chim National Park. Beside Tram Chim National Park, Cao Lanh City also offers the adventure tours of Mekong Delta in the melaleuca forests while participating in leisure activities at Giao Giong Eco-tourism or learn more about the tenacious of Dong Thap people at Xeo Quyt Historical Area. The tangerines of Lai Vung, Dong Thap is special delicious and is a good way to dispel the heat of the tropical weather.
Besides the common features of Mekong Delta tours, there are many cultural attractions for you to spend your time on. Visiting the Sa Dec Flour Village with the special flour production technique – the key source of the delicious taste of the famous Hu Tieu Sa Dec or taking a cup of coffee in an outdoor café at the colorful Sa Dec Flower Village is the must. The visiting to the Dinh Yen night mat market is also an interesting, unique experience in the Mekong Delta tour. The market opens from midnight to three in the morning in almost complete darkness. You as the buyer will find somewhere to stand still and the merchants with their mats and a little oil lamp on the hand will come to you.
Otherwise, have you ever tried to stand on a lotus leave? In Phuoc Kien Temple there is a kind of lotus which has its leaves large enough to carry an adult man while floating on the water. Try it out if you visit the Mekong Delta from September to October, when the leaves grow enough.
There is a special attraction for novel lovers who are the fan of the famous novel L’ Amant, written by Marguerite Duras (1984). It is the Huynh Thuy Le ancient house – the mansion of Marguerite Duras first lover, which relationship later became her memoir to write that famous novel.
Want to spend more days of your Mekong Delta tour for Dong Thap. Read our special travel guide designed for Dong Thap travel.
6. Visit the oblong-shaped island of Vinh Long in your Mekong Delta tour
The island of Vinh Long has the feel like a medieval fortress with Tien Giang River and Hau Giang River ring around and besieged by boats and tumbledown slit houses. But it is not peaceful backwater with the hectic, noisy downtown and its streets a blur of buses and scooters. The tourism quarter at the waterfront of the northeast corner, on the other hand, is conjuring up a Riviera atmosphere with restaurants, hotels, and cafés.
Vinh Long is a lush and heavily cultivated area with rice and tropical fruits, crisscrossed with canals and tributaries all flow into Tien Giang River and Hau River. You will be delighted by the orchards on An Binh Island and Binh Hoa Phuoc Island, which feature succulent fruits. Some of the orchards are opened to the public as you can walk among the year-round green trees, take a nap in hammocks and try the delicious fresh fruits.
Vinh Long is often used as a resting place for travelers visiting Cai Be Floating Market and is known for the homestays in An Binh Island. Even though it is just a small amount of traveler come through, this place is totally worthy for stopping with more affordable boat trips and larger chance to experience the Mekong Delta regular life.
Unlike other floating market in your Mekong Delta tour, Cao Be Floating Market operate well into the day. Therefore, you can easily make a quick trip to Cai Be even being in the rush of time. After arriving Vinh Long in the morning, you can take a boat trip out to the market after 45 minutes of moving and comeback by early afternoon.
Most of Mekong Delta tour operations put Cai Be Floating Market as an attraction after heading to Can Tho so there are very few tourists overnight in Vinh Long. The fact that Vinh Long doesn’t have tourism infrastructures like Can Tho or My Tho but it’s still charming enough to worth you one day or two.
Vinh Long features many temples, pagodas and communal houses as Van Thanh Temple, Tien Chau Pagoda, and Long Thanh Communal House.
7. Continue your Mekong Delta tour while stepping into the Khmer kingdom of Tra Vinh
Featuring one of the prettiest cities on your Mekong Delta tour, Tra Vinh is just 65 kilometers far from Ho Chi Minh City in Southeast. This place is an outback market town with broad, tree-lined boulevards, smattering colonial poles from the previous era and never lack smiles.
With the Khmer community taking a large share of the population, there is no surprise that Tra Vinh is affected deeply by Khmer culture. Even though, the Khmer community in Tra Vinh is seemed invisible on the surface, as they all can speak fluently Vietnamese and there is nothing outwardly to recognize their regular costumes. But if you spend more time to dig deeper, you will find out that the Khmer culture is living well.
The influence of Khmer culture is reflected most clearly in pagoda designs. Having about 140 Khmer pagodas dotting the area, which are painted in the rich pastel shade of lilac, orange, and turquoise with steep, horned roof puncturing into the sky. Visiting one of these pagodas and you will receive the warmly welcome from the monks who are studying in its English school. Some of the most prominent pagodas are Ong Pagoda and Ong Met Pagoda.
There are some rumors about the hinterland of the province which can be explored from the town. How about to make your Mekong Delta tour a bit more fun? The central market of Tra Vinh is also an interesting and photogenic place.
The low-key feeling of Tra Vinh and its pagodas are worth to cost you a couple days of your Mekong Delta tour. But if temples are not your thing, consider skipping this town because there are only a few amazing sights. Unlike other destinations in Mekong Delta, Tra Vinh sits on the bank of a small canal rather than a large river, so the boat trips are not so interested as in the other towns.
8. Visit the largest Khmer community in your Mekong Delta tour in Soc Trang
Soc Trang has the largest Khmer community in the country, which takes 30% of the provincial population and features an interesting base for exploring Khmer-style temples and pagodas.
The influence of Khmer culture is reflected clearly in the architecture of temples, pagodas and the detail-focused design. The most must-visit attraction of your Mekong Delta tour in Soc Trang is Doi Pagoda. The pagoda presents the arts of Khmer with skillful and symbolic decorated pillars, roofs and statues. Furthermore, the pagoda’s roof is so large which becomes the house of ten thousand bats (the name of Doi Pagoda means the pagoda of the bats). Some of the bats have their wingspans of more than 1 meter, hanging upside down from the upper branches like large ripe pears.
Another place which can’t be missed is Kh’leang Pagoda, which is the most ancient pagoda in Soc Trang. Built in 1533, Kh’leang Pagoda was made from wood with thatched and palm leaves roof in the architecture similar to Cambodian pagodas. At present, this place was reconstructed with bricks and titles. Kh’leang Pagoda also houses the ancient books and writings about the origin of Soc Trang and the Pagoda.
If having time, you can visit the Clay Pagoda which is famous for the clay Buddhist statues, dragon sculptures, and 6 giant candles, each can burn for over 60 years.
When visiting Soc Trang, you should notice about the Ooc-Om-Bok festival. It is the traditional new year festival of Khmer people which is held on October 15th in the lunar calendar. The purpose of this festival is asking the Moon deity for abundant crops and fishes as well as health and luck for family members. The festival also includes the exciting boat race, attract thousands of participants and spectators.
9. Look at the prosperous of Bac Lieu in Mekong Delta tour
Beyond Soc Trang, the landscapes turn progressively waterlogged. Just 40 kilometers in the southwest from Soc Trang is the province of Bac Lieu. Even though it is not a big city, its prosperous will make you impressed with luxurious and elegant Western-style buildings from long ago. Some of the most prominent places are the Bac Lieu Mandarin’s son villa, the Administration House, the Bo Mansion, the Son quarter official building, etc. In the past, Bac Lieu attracted many rich landowners came to construct their own residences. There is one of the most popular Vietnamese anecdotes which comes from Bac Lieu, the story about the “Bac Lieu dude”, whose father is one of the wealthiest landlords in the whole of southern Vietnam.
Besides visiting the luxurious villas, you can also enjoy the adventure Mekong Delta tour into the mangrove forests on boats, taste the sweet longan right on its trees, participate in the Mekong Delta bird-watching tour in Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary, admire the Vinh Hung Ancient Tower and Xiem Can Pagoda.
10. Mekong Delta tour: visiting the largest river-crossed-border city of Chau Doc
The border city of Chau Doc has boomed in popularity since the Vietnam – Cambodia border is opened a few kilometers in the north of the city. Lying on the bank of Hau Giang River, this is the only city in your Mekong Delta tour, besides Can Tho, where you are likely to see foreigners in any numbers.
Chau Doc is an incredibly friendly and bustling city with a color theme of bright pastel hues of green, blue and purple. This city is a diverse culture melted pot with Chinese, Khmer and Cham community living in harmony. People of this land are known for being so warm and approachable. Most of the restaurants in here have English menu and English is spoken in any foreigner-targeted accommodations.
Boat trip in Chau Doc is a must. For a couple of dollars, they will sail you through many fish farms and floating houses. The best time for this trip is at dawn when the sceneries are very rewarding and photogenic.
Besides the boat trip, you might want to hike on Sam Mountain. Featuring an amazing view over surrounds, your jaunt will be more exciting when combining a visit to the pagodas around the mountain. Another place is Tra Su Bird Sanctuary with pristine swampland and interesting birds, which is really worth to visit.
From here, you can reach to Phnom Penh by boat. It cost you about 5 hours and around US$ 25/person.
11. Visit the An Giang provincial capital of Long Xuyen in the Mekong Delta tour
The second largest city of Mekong Delta is not pinned in most of Mekong Delta tour itinerary. Featuring the wide promenades with colorful lights in the evening and large floating villages, Long Xuyen will offer you a nice stroll in the late afternoon.
The most attractive place in Long Xuyen is a massive floating market lies along the river’s edge to the east of the central pier. You can hire a small boat which charges by hours to enjoy the bustling and crowded atmosphere of the market from 6:00 to 8:00 in the morning.
After that, you can visit the Cao Dai Temple (Cao Dai is the name of a quite popular religious sect of the area in the past). Otherwise, An Giang Museum is well-organized and worth a visit if you have time.
12. Reach the southernmost cape of Mekong Delta tour – Ca Mau
The city of Ca Mau is not just the southern tip of Vietnam but the end of mainland Southeast Asia as well. Ca Mau city is a pleasant place, sprawls in a large area, with wide boulevards and a couple of busy bridges across the Phung Hiep Canal, which divides the city in two.
On this part of the delta, you will understand why they say it is a remote and inhospitable area with dense canal system and boggy terrain created by the silt deposited by Mekong River. Therefore, boats are the most effective means of transport in this part of your Mekong Delta. Besides rice cultivation, shrimp farming is also popular as you will spot countless shrimp ponds separated by the baked-and-cracked-by-sun mud banks.
Ca Mau is popular for its interesting forest and bird watching. The U Minh Cajuput Forest and Nam Can Mangrove Forest are the two most well-known attractions in Ca Mau due to its diversified flora and fauna system. Ca Mau also features many bird sanctuaries like Cai Nuoc, Dam Doi, Ngoc Hien. Among all, Ngoc Hien Bird Sanctuary is the most attractive one.
You can read our detailed travel guide in Can Tho
13. Turn your Mekong Delta tour to the coastal city of Rach Gia
Even though being one of the four pillar cities of the Mekong Delta region, travelers come to Rach Gia just for a jumping off point before arriving in Phu Quoc Island. Rach Gia has little things to see, (in our opinion) even in domestic traveling standard.
If the temples are your things, you might want to visit Tam Bao Temple, which was built in the XIX century by bamboo and wood. At present, the temple has been rebuilt but the architecture is maintained. Another place may interest you is Nguyen Trung Truc Temple, which is the place to bury and worship the national hero of Nguyen Trung Truc. The temple also has a room for studying traditional herbal medicines and providing free health care for poor people in the region.
In the evening, you can visit the An Hoa Park with many activities and cool breezes from the river. Doing a stroll on the sea-encroachment urban area is also interesting with soft-sand beaches, lines of palm trees and a fancy floating restaurant.
And the last, which we bet you know about it even before you know about Rach Gia, is Rach Gia Port. Besides being a gateway to reach Phu Quoc Island, it also a place of eye-catching photos.
14. Head to the border city of Ha Tien
Located on the Gulf of Thailand, Ha Tien is slightly different from other destinations you visited in your Mekong Delta tour. There are dramatic limestones peppering the area, featuring many caves, some of them large enough to have temples inside.
Like Chau Doc, Ha Tien changes in an incredible speed since the border of Xa Xia/Prek Chak is opened, allow travelers to reach the Cambodian city of Kep and Kampot without passing through Phnom Penh. Besides, Ha Tien is the land gateway before you can head to Phu Quoc Island. But this town is not simply just a bus stop in your Mekong Delta tour, it’s fun enough to worth you one night.
The town features a languid charm with crumbling villas and the lively beautiful waterfront market. The river is most beautiful at sunset and the wide path along the banks is a lovely place for strolling around. Ha Tien has a high concentration of hotels and guesthouses, even though it’s still a small town. You can visit the River Hotel in the evening to join in its TV shows with other travelers and local with cold beers.
You can also find many local eateries around the central market and Tran Hau Street. They have everything from the cheap bowl of Pho to hotpot restaurants which serve pay-by-weight seafood. If you look for some familiar fare, find the Oasis Bar at 42 Tran Phu Dat Street. It is the only western restaurant in the town, featuring dinners with fresh salad, baguette sandwiches and daily special dishes like massaman curry and chili con carne for VND 60,000 – VND 90,000; a full English breakfast for VND 80,000 and free useful pieces of advice from the friendly restaurant owner.
Try to visit the Hai Tac Island when you are in town. This is one of the rare islands in your Mekong Delta tour which is really less foreign tourists. This little sweet “Pirate Island” features sparkling water, deserted beaches, and fresh seafood and completely flies under the radar. You can access there via regular ferries for an hour. The tourism infrastructures on the island are still rudimental so you can finish the trip within daytime or stay overnight in local houses for more experiences.
The Xa Xia border is 6 kilometers from Ha Tien City in the north. There are 2 ways to get to Cambodia through Xa Xia. First is that you can pay for an agency or hire a taxi for the thru-service and they will take you to Kep. In fact, you can’t walk a block without meeting some motor-taxi drivers offering you the thru-service. It usually costs you VND 200,000 for the motor-taxi service and about VND 800,000 if you use a private car. The second option is you do it your own. Hire a motorbike from Ha Tien to Kep costs VND 160,000 – VND 200,000. You should not have to pay for the petrol and should try to negotiate to pay on arrival. The Xa Xia/ Prek Chak border is pretty quiet so don’t expect much.
The border open from 6:00 to 18:00 daily. We recommend that you should go in the morning when you have more options and bargaining power.
If you head to Phu Quoc, you will find the pier for the ferry to Phu Quoc at the other side of To Chau Bridge. The city’s bus station is also located on this side, about 2 kilometers from the center city.
15. Add in your Mekong Delta tour the “Mini Halong Bay” of Hon Chong Peninsular
This sleepy little fishing village at the southern coast of Mekong Delta is known as the “Mini Halong Bay” because of its rocky karsts and stony outcrops.
There are not many activities happen in Hon Chong and there isn’t a whole lot to going on, the beaches of Hon Chong can’t be compared with the well-known beaches of Phu Quoc Island (which cost the same time to move as Hon Chong). But if you are looking for the secluded, exotic palm-fringed beaches, quiet and more private space, this part of Mekong Delta tour is for you.
Most of the villagers work out on fishing boats, the bay is the harbor and the beach itself is the workshop. The new boats are built and the old is fixed right under the palms. Along the Duong Beach, there is a part at the end requires the entrance fee, where features food stands, fresh fishes for sale, karaoke bars and many of Vietnamese delicacies.
Get off the fishermen village, you should pay a visit to the local market and enter the Cave Pagoda – which is set against the base of a stony headland. The pagoda is crowded with pilgrims within 15 days before and 30 days after the Tet holiday.
16. Get into the resort paradise of your Mekong Delta tour – Phu Quoc Island
The Vietnamese largest offshore island of Phu Quoc is located 15 kilometers off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand. Just a decade ago, this island is unknown by the outsiders. At present, Phu Quoc Island rises to challenge Nha Trang as becoming Vietnam’s best beach destination.
Featuring soft-sand beaches, swaying palms, limpid water, world-class resorts, and an international airport, Phu Quoc is more than ready to satisfy your every desire.
Coming to Phu Quoc, you can relax lie on the beach and enjoying the spectacular natural sceneries when eating the delicious fresh seafood. Despise of the proliferation of resorts and tourism infrastructures, there is still ample room for exploration and escaping as swimming in the rivers deep on the island, navigating old cave systems, diving the coral reef, kayaking on the bays and driving motorbike across the island.
Phu Quoc is not really a part of Mekong Delta, nor its rice productivity area. Instead, black pepper is the main cultivation. Phu Quoc is also famous for the high-quality Nuoc Mam (or fish sauce) – an important ingredient of Vietnamese diet. Some Nuoc Mam factories open for tourists, but beware of its strong smell.
Phu Quoc Island is the destination you can’t miss in your Mekong Delta tour. Notice that during peak season is really crowded and you will have to prepare everything in advance. For detail instruction, read our Phu Quoc complete travel guide
IV. ITINERARY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 1-DAY MEKONG DELTA TOURS
You have to be really pressed of time to find the 1-day Mekong Delta tour. The lifestyle of Mekong Delta is slow and peace, and so as its way of exploring. Therefore, you can’t expect a guaranteed satisfying Mekong Delta tour in one day.
1. The Mekong Delta tour in one day: Ho Chi Minh – My Tho
This is the most common Mekong Delta tour as you can find it in every travel agent you meet in Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately, it is the least recommended tour as most of the tourists feel it is too rush and boring. On the other hand, this tour features all of the experiences you will encounter in the Mekong Delta tour (even though it is just in the rudimental level). It is still fine, but only if you have no other choice.
2. The Mekong Delta tour in one day: Ho Chi Minh – Cai Be – Vinh Long
This tour is specialized in exploring floating markets. It is extremely short and only satisfies your selfish hobby for a certain experience. Even though it includes Cai Be, one of the best floating markets in the Mekong Delta. We don’t know when you should choose this tour. Maybe when traveling with your cranky, garrulous uncle?
3. The Mekong Delta tour in one day: Ho Chi Minh – Ben Tre
This tour is pretty rush as you won’t have enough time to explore completely the beauty of Ben Tre. Getting on the boat trips to the islands of Ben Tre is an interesting experience. The famous coconut candy and the coconut-depended lifestyle of Ben Tre will worth your day. Do you know that there was a religious called Dao Dua (the coconut religious) in Ben Tre? You can find some of its relics on Phung Island.
4. The Mekong Delta tour in one day: Ho Chi Minh – Can Tho
It is the more advanced one-day Mekong Delta tour for people who have more flexible time. You have to spend more time moving from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho but it will pay off. The tourism infrastructures in Can Tho is far better than My Tho as it will lift your experiences to a new level.
Therefore, we highly recommend this tour instead of My Tho.
V. ITINERARY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2-DAY MEKONG DELTA TOURS
1. The Mekong Delta tour in two days: My Tho – Ben Tre – Can Tho
It is the most common Mekong Delta tour among its kind. It’s likely the tour which features the most experiences, includes boat trips, floating market, handicraft villages and a long list of natural exploration sites. If you choose this itinerary, don’t purchase the tour from travel agents, they are likely to put you into a cookie-cutter tour factory. Do it yourself is far better.
2. The Mekong Delta tour in two days: Cao Lanh – Vinh Long – Can Tho
This tour features the best boat trips among all. You will spend 2 days to visit the places which have the best boat trips among Mekong Delta tour’s destinations. The food of Can Tho and Cao Lanh are remarkable and cheap. Besides boat trips, this tour also offers a number of interesting places like the Phuoc Kien Temple with man-carried lotuses, Tram Chim Bird Sanctuary or enjoy the non-tourist quiet of Vinh Long
3. The Mekong Delta tour in two days: Ben Tre – Vinh Long
Raise your hand if an islands exploration Mekong Delta tour makes you excited. Ben Tre and Cao Lanh tours feature the best islands tour in 2 days. Experience the simple life of Ben Tre people, participate in traditional games and folk music on the islands of Ben Tre. And as we mentioned above, Vinh Long is really well-known for the interesting homestays in An Binh island.
4. The Mekong Delta tour in two days: My Tho – Tra Vinh – Soc Trang
This tour is born for culture and religious explorers. After a quick look through the most prominent features of the delta, the rest of your Mekong Delta tour is about the unique culture of Khmer culture and their gorgeous temples.
5. The Mekong Delta tour in two days: Ben Tre – Vinh Long – Chau Doc
It is a nice glance of Mekong Delta tour before you head toward Phnom Penh. You can visit the handicraft villages of Ben Tre by boat, then experience Cai Be Floating Market before taking a rest in Vinh Long. You will arrive at Chau Doc in the next day and take a jaunt on Sam Mountain will not a bad idea to finish your Mekong Delta tour
6. The Mekong Delta tour in two days: Can Tho – Tra Vinh – Chau Doc
This is truly a flash-speed Mekong Delta tour which includes the lively floating market, Mekong Delta cuisine, and Khmer culture before heading toward Cambodia through Chau Doc. Yes, you picked the best places to go through, but this is not a recommended Mekong Delta tour as you can’t feel satisfied due to its rush. Choose this Mekong Delta tour if you really hate this place and visiting this place is just because you have to.
VI. ITINERARY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 3-DAY MEKONG DELTA TOURS
1. The Mekong Delta tour in three days: Ben Tre – Cao Lanh – Bac Lieu
This is the best bird-watching itinerary among Mekong Delta tours. Of course, the bird-watching tour usually not end up in 3 days, but we mention it in here because the period of 3 days is the minimum time it costs. Spending your trip in Van Ho Bird Sanctuary, Tram Chim Sanctuary and Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary will surely satisfy the bird lovers.
2. The Mekong Delta tour in three days: Can Tho – Vinh Long – Soc Trang
It is an adventure of experiences Mekong Delta tour. You will have the chance to feel the taste of life in Mekong Delta deeper, as well as the unique culture of Khmer people in Soc Trang. Spending one to two days for visiting Cai Be and Cai Rang floating market is not a bad option.
3. The Mekong Delta tour in three days: Can Tho – Bac Lieu – Hon Chong Peninsula
Choose this tour if you want a leisure and alone Mekong Delta trip. Spend one day in Can Tho to experience the highlight of Mekong Delta then admire the prosperous of Bac Lieu with the hard-to-believe stories of how the upper class in this town spent money in the past before lazily lying on the hammock at the deserted beaches of Hon Chong Peninsula.
4. The Mekong Delta tour in three days: Cao Lanh – Long Xuyen – Ca Mau
It will be a long traveling itinerary, but we think it’s worth for people who like natural attractions. Cao Lanh City features more forest than the number of which you can visit on/within one day a day. If bird-watching costs you too much time, try the Xeo Quyt forest with the historical lessons; Long Xuyen features the interesting crocodile farm and you can spend the rest of your time in the salt-marsh forest of Ca Mau Cape.
VII. ITINERARY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 4-DAY – 6-DAY MEKONG DELTA TOURS
1. The Mekong Delta tour in four days: Ben Tre – Vinh Long – Can Tho – Chau Doc
Experience the “coconut lifestyle” of Ben Tre people before resting in Vinh Long. You might have a beautiful evening in Vinh Long before continuing to explore the highlights of Mekong Delta in Can Tho and spend the last day in Chau Doc. From here, you can choose whether crossing the border to Cambodia or not. This tour is really suitable for people who add their Mekong Delta tour as a part of their Southeast Asia tour. In that case, you might need 10 tips to create the perfect Southeast Asia tour.
Otherwise, Tra Su Bird Sanctuary in Chau Doc is a really highly-recommended attraction by travelers and bird lovers
2. The Mekong Delta tour in five days: Ben Tre – Vinh Long – Can Tho – Phu Quoc
This is a leisure tour added with culture exploration. The standardized Mekong Delta culture tour with combo Ben Tre – Vinh Long – Can Tho in two days will offer you an overview of Mekong Delta life and its culture. After that, you will return to Ho Chi Minh City and catch a flight to Phu Quoc Island before enjoying the world-class services on this Vietnamese resort paradise island.
3. The Mekong Delta tour in six days: Ben Tre – Vinh Long – Can Tho – Tra Vinh – Phu Quoc
The full-experienced-and-leisure Mekong Delta tour. It’s basically the previous tour but added one day more to explore the unique architecture of Khmer temples scattering in Tra Vinh. It might force you to travel more frequently between the prominent temples of Tra Vinh but all of your tiredness will blur out right away when you set yourself down on the soft-sand beaches of Phu Quoc.
4. The Mekong Delta tour in nine days: My Tho – Can Tho – Tra Vinh – Long Xuyen – Ca Mau – Ha Tien – Phu Quoc
Choose this trip and you can proudly claim that you conquered Mekong Delta. Starting with a floating market, handicraft villages and boat trips in My Tho – Can Tho in one day, it might be a little rush but there are a lot of experiences waiting for you. On the day after you should spend to visit the interesting Khmer temples. Being a bit lazy in the crocodile farm in Long Xuyen will gain you back your energy, or you can just quickly get done with Long Xuyen and head to the mangrove forests of Ca Mau.
When arriving in Ha Tien, you should relax and maybe have some fun in this place before leaving the mainland to the resort paradise.
Those are our recommendations for your amazing Mekong Delta tour. Most of the mentioned tours above are based on your opinions to give you the best experiences and they are not perfect. Therefore, please comment below if you have any idea for sharing.