The Magic of The Mekong Delta
When you mention the Mekong to most people, they immediately think of the might river in South East Asia, and they wouldn’t be wrong. The Mekong is one of the longest rivers in the world and connects numerous countries all the way from Vietnam through Cambodia and Laos into China and finally Tibet. With the mouth of the Mekong located in southern Vietnam in an area known as the Mekong Delta, the river flows southwards from the Tibetan Plateau and Yunnan in southern China where two drainage basins are located and finally enters the South China Sea through the complex network of tributaries in the Mekong Delta.
The Mekong Delta is more than just a wetland filled with rivers and tributaries though. It’s got both a history all its own and also plays a massive role in the production of much of Vietnam’s overall agricultural output annually, making it a hugely important part of the country and the industry. If you’ve ever been curious about this part of the world, read ahead to learn more about the Mekong Delta, or better yet, visit it on one of Explorient’s many Vietnam tours, such as our Spectacular Vietnam tour, which includes a tour of the Delta as part of the Ho Chi Minh City itinerary.
The Delta itself is home to a combination of both ethnically Viet and Khmer people, with the Delta having formerly been a part of the Khmer empire. Over time, Vietnamese people slowly began to move south from Vietnam into the Khmer area of the Delta, leading to an influx of ethnically Viet people that over time became the majority in the region. Eventually, the Delta was annexed by Vietnam and became a part of what is within the present day borders.
Life in the Delta region of Vietnam is focused around water and so the common mode of transportation is boat rather than car. Many of the villages are accessible only by boats that intertwine through the network of maze-like canals and rivers, often lined with various types of water-loving flora, making for excellent photo opportunities.
Agriculture and Other Farming
As mentioned, the Delta is probably the most important region in Vietnam for both farming and agriculture. The rice production in the Delta makes up more than half of Vietnam’s overall output, while fishing is another enormous industry in the area. While offshore fishing vessels produce huge amounts of fish, aquaculture is a popular and productive form of farming fish as a type of crop to help support a sustainable fishing industry.
Not only is the Delta a haven for farming things such as rice and fish, but the ecology of the area has been dubbed one of the most diverse regions of biodiversity, with over 1000 species of animals calling the Delta home, including some previously thought to be extinct.
Sights To See
Getting into the Mekong Delta is often done through Ho Chi Minh City where many tours to the Delta can be booked through hotels or travel agents. If you’re on an Explorient Tour though, you don’t need to worry as some of our Vietnam Tours have already included the Delta in your tour itinerary.
The Delta is a mainly flat area with many patchwork rice fields and very little in terms of mountains or hills. The one exception is Sam Mountain, a short distance away from Chau Doc. This popular Buddhist pilgrimage site is an easy climb for most at only 160 meters tall. The path up the mountain is paved and with stone or concrete the whole way, so there are no real tricky bits that could trip you up. Along the way are colorful temples that you visit as well as cafes, but for the best views save your cafe stop for the cafe at the very top of the mountain where you can relax over a cup of Vietnamese coffee while admiring the stunning views from a hammock.
Can Tho is one of the main cities in the Delta and is a great place to spend a day or two exploring the back lanes and floating markets. It’s got numerous markets to get lost in, the perfect way to spend a few hours running into local experiences as well as local food. There’s a number of great experiences waiting for you in Can Tho, including the entertainment park of Luu Huu Phuoc, perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but a cultural experience nonetheless. For a relaxing hour or two, consider heading to a hairdresser for a head massage – a real treat and the perfect way to unwind. Visiting this city is included in some of Explorient’s Vietnam tours, including the Mekong Delta Explorient tour.
Ben Tre is another impressive city that you can visit in the area with a number of truly impressive local activities and sights to experience. The coconut candy factory is one such thing, a look behind the scenes at one of the region’s favorite treats. You can also visit a rice wine distillery to see how this popular spirit is made before taking on the role of a local farmer for a truly unique experience helping them to farm their lands or even jumping in canals to help catch river fish. Alternative clothing provided, of course! Ben Tre is one of the places you’ll visit if you choose to book the Majestic Vietnam tour through Explorient. If you’re looking for something a bit quieter for Delta tour options, consider booking the Splendid Vietnam and Ha Long Bay Impressions tour, which will take you on a boat tour to the sleepy Vinh Long village, a dustier and quieter option for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of bigger towns for a while.
For those who like to stay active, a popular activity in the Mekong Delta is to rent a bicycle and cycle around the various farms in the area. The mainly flat topography makes for excellent cycling, and as long as you avoid falling into rice paddies, even non-cyclers should find a leisurely bike ride easy. Most of the excitement in the Delta can be seen from roadsides – whether it’s large water buffalo chewing grass or farmers working their fields. Often you will find that you run into unique experiences while on a bicycle, allowing yourself the opportunity to stop and explore areas more easily than with motorbikes or by car. The ability to cycle into farmer’s fields can sometimes net you interesting opportunities to get your hands dirty, or even get a tour and explanation from the farmer himself.
For something a bit special, consider taking a tour of some of the Delta’s most interesting areas such as Cai Be, My Tho, and An Binh. Cai Be is known for some of the areas most impressive floating markets, and you can easily get lost amid the maze of market boats, not that that’s a bad thing.
One of the most popular things to do in the Delta is to explore the region by sampan – or small wooden boat. The popular routes are often packed with boats of tourists but these are easily avoidable if you ask to go off the beaten trail a bit. You can find floating markets, especially in Can Tho where you can try local delicacies and flavors as well as stop for meals in boats as well.
The towns and villages all throughout the Delta are each unique in their own special ways, and arranging to visit at least one of them will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. Whether it’s sleepy Vinh Long or more eclectic Cai Be, there’s more than enough things to see and do in the Mekong Delta to make your trip one to remember.