Visiting the Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta, often called the ‘rice-bowl of Vietnam’ is the place where the mighty Mekong enters the South Chinese Sea. Picture hundreds of small meandering canals, lot’s of rice paddies, houses on poles and busy floating markets. All subjected to the shifting tides of the mighty river. Being this close to HCMC you really have no excuse to skip this one. Even if you can only spare a single day. 


– What to do? – 

Boat rides

So what is there to see in the Mekong Delta? The main attraction is a boat ride on the canals. You have probably seen similar pictures to the featured image of this article. However the reality looks like the picture below. Yes, the Mekong Delta gets swarmed with tourists.

The reality of most parts of the Mekong Delta canals you visit on a boat-ride

To experience how the locals live with and on the water you can opt for sleeping at a homestay. However, most of these are quite touristy and will feel less ‘authentic’ than you were expecting.

Floating markets

This is partially true as well for the floating markets, the biggest one being in Ben Treh.  What is different is that these markets are actually used by locals too. The early bird gets the treat of experiencing a true symphony of colors, smells and noises as the locals frantically trade in the hours before the heath of the day sets in.

Bird spotting

All this water does not only attract people,  a wide variety of birds also call this area their home. Visit a bird sanctuary, Tra Su Bird Sanctuary,  if you are into bird-watching.


The relatively flat land of the delta also makes the perfect spot to ride around by bicycle, but as a Dutchy I might be biased on that end.

The Buddha’s of Vinh Trang

The big Buddha’s of the Vinh Trang temple in Can Tho are quite impressive but do not plan on spending more than an hour here. 

Next to this there are bee-farms, coconut-candy factories and other farms to visit. Though interesting , these visits are really meant to fill up tour-itineraries (and thus are included in most organised tours). Do not travel the extra mile for it.

Where: My Tho and Can Tho are good bases from which you can venture further into the Delta as these places are well developed and easy to reach from HCMC by public transportation. Ben Treh has an impressive floating market, but furthermore the place is not really inspiring. Rach Gia is the best port if you travel from or into Phu Quoc

Lisan with one of the Buddha’s:)

The 3 big buddhas of Vinh Trang, representing past, present and future


– Practical information – 


November – April is the dry season in the Mekong Delta, with December & January being peak-season. This is the best time to visit. Even though many people will tell you the rains aren’t that bad in the other months, keep in mind that the monsoon also brings a drastic increase in the amount of mosquitoes.

If you only have one day you might want to start very early in the morning. Keep in mind that the shifting tides might make it impossible to visit some places by boat, so inquire about conditions before you leave there.


Daily Budget EUR 30 (35 USD)
Street food EUR 2 ( 3 USD)
Meal in a restaurant EUR 5 (6 USD)
Dorm EUR 5 ( 6 USD)
Double in a 3-star hotel EUR 20-50 (25-60 USD)

In & Out

My Tho and Can Tho are good bases from which you can venture further into the Delta as these places are well developed and easy to reach from HCMC by public transportation. Ben Treh has an impressive floating market, but apart from that the place is not really inspiring. Rach Gia is the best port if you travel from or into Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc to HCMC

Visiting the Mekong Delta can be done by either a day-trip from HCMC (ranging from 120,000-500,000D) or by actually venturing into the delta for multiple days. While a day-trip can show you the highlights, the best way to experience the most of the Mekong Delta in as little as time possible is by crossing through it. Either on your way to Cambodia , or to Phu Quoc.

If you really want to experience the lifestyle of the locals it will take a couple of days to venture to the more remote places. This can be adventurous and rewarding, but also really frustrating. If you are short on time it might not be your best bet. If you are really keen on spending a night at a local family, keep in mind that as long as you can pay a tour-company to arrange this, it means the overnight stay is the business and their ‘authentic lifestyle’ the product.

– Things to take to Vietnam –

Of course these are not the only things you need when travel to Vietnam but I recommend them because I feel they are essentials that might not be on your radar when packing your bag.

Waterproof Bag

A waterproof bag is a lifesaver when caught in the rain but also when kayaking, jungle-trekking or chasing waterfalls. If nothing else it gives you piece of mind when traveling with camera gear or other stuff that just can’t get wet. Get a 5L or 10L version so you can pack it within your daypack. I recommend this one from Mountain Splash. It’s durable and tough, transparent and it has got an easy handgrip.

Hand Sanitizer

Yes I view anti-bacterial hand sanitizer as essential. Not because I am germophobic but because this will save you from diarrhea and food poisoning. Most people that get sick from eating street food in South-east Asia don’t get sick from the shitty hygiene at the street food stall but because they didn’t probably wash their hands. Use hand sanitizer, stay a happy traveler. This set got handy Carabiners to latch it on you any pack.

3MM climbing rope

Even if your not going to do any climbing or trekking, you need a 3MM climbing rope. Most often you will only use this as a washing line. Or to tie stuff to the outside of your backpack. I for one have never needed to use my rope for anything else than that. However 3MM climbing rope takes up as much space as any washing line. It is nice to know it can also take the full weight of any person when needed.

Lonely Planet

Because its just the best compact travel guide out there. I always take a lonely planet with me for its practical information and background on certain sights. It is a lifesaver for when you find yourself unexpectedly off the beaten path in search of accommodation for the night. For me this is still the best way to read up on a destinations in long haul bus rides. You don’t need internet or battery-life and you can keep it dry in your recently purchased waterproof bag!