The rice bowl of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is an idyllic landscape carpeted in a dizzying variety of greens. It is a water world where boats, houses and even markets float upon the endless river, canals and streams that flow through like life-giving arteries. Batting with nature and the seasons, the people produce one of the most bountiful rice harvests on earth.
The delta, which alone yields enough rice to feed Vietnam with a health surplus, was formed by sediment deposited by the Mekong. The process continues today, with silt deposits extending the shoreline by as much as 80m per year, although the effects of climate change could see this growth reverse dramatically in coming decades. The river is so large that it has two daily tides. Lush with rice paddies, the delta plain also nourishes the cultivation of sugar cane, fruit and coconut. Although the area is primarily rural, it is one of the most densely populated regions in Vietnam and nearly every hectare is intensively farmed.
The uniquely southern charm with its welcoming introduction to life along the river is the real draw, and visitors can explore quaint riverside towns, sample fruits traded in the colorful floating markets or dine on home-cooked delicacies, rustic beach getaways like Hon Chong and impressive Khmer pagodas in the regions around Soc Trang and Tra Vinh.
Those seeking a tropical hideaway will find it on Phu Quoc, an island dotted with pretty beaches, freshwater springs and empty dirt roads, ideal for motorbike adventures. Good diving and powdery white-sand beaches have earned it the status of the next big thing with a mix of cheap bungalows and five-star resorts lining the uncrowned coastline.
What to Do ?
Highlights of journeys to Mekong Delta are boat trips through canals, floating markets, exploring the local daily life by staying overnight on islands and visiting family, factories; not less interesting, tasting local specialities. The most renowned places in the Mekong Delta are My Tho, Vinh Long, Mekong DeltaCan Tho and Chau Doc. This is also a natural passageway from southern Vietnam to Cambodia either by road or by river.
When to go?
Trips to Mekong Delta are suitable all year round but the best time is the monsoon from June to September.
If time allowed, Cai Rang Floating Market is really worth visiting on your way to explore the Mekong Delta. Almost floating markets start in the very early morning and finish before noon. Thus, to catch the liveliest and busiest scenery, you should plan to stay one night in Can Tho.
Wherever you go in the delta (except for My Tho), ), be prepared for ferry crossings which may take you few hours.