Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City
A full day activity starting off at 8am. In addition it takes 2 hrs to go to the pier (and another 2 hrs back) so we had a high expectation to it. But it turned out pretty disappointing.
1) Scenery is definitely not "romantic" as some may describe. The Saigon in Hong Kong definitely is better. I can hardly name anything remarkable regarding the scenery
2) There's a short island trip included in the tour. The tour guide took us to see some of the tropical fruits that are not at all exciting for someone who was raised in Asia. There was a brief stay at a local cafe which was obviously a stop for souvenirs. I was shown natural honey and dried fruit that regrettably very common across Asia.
3) A stop at coconut candy making site which is an open space for tourist to see how they make coconut candy. 20,000 dongs/ pack, buy 5 get 1 free. No bargaining margin but I guess it's a reasonable price. Don't pay in USD it's a rip-off.
4) A stop at another cafe where local musicians perform Vietnamese music -- you wish. They perform Japanese and Korean songs alternatively with only one Vietnamese song in their list.
5) Lunch at local restaurant. We ordered Coconut steamed prawns which turned out to be regular steamed shrimps. Giang Yang Fried Rice which disappointedly was a very dry version of the Chinese Yang Chou Fried Rice. Not satisified but whatever. The lunch (including 1 drink) costed each of us approx USD 10.
6) Another short boat trip on "sanpan" meant to "see how local people live" but in reality it is them rowing your boat to let you see how they make money from you. Couple of the boats passed by us would make special remark with a dollar note (USD) so to remind us to tip our rowers. I tipped my rower not because I was reminded but because she is such a cute little girl. (And that upset me because girl of her age should be at school rather than rowing boats for the tourists)
And that is!
1. 2-hr drive from Ho Chi Minh City
2. Enjoy a Mekong River cruise to Unicorn Island
3. Coconut candy workshop
4. Ride on a hand-rowed sampan through small inlets under green canopy of water-coconut trees
5. Enjoy seasonal fruit, honey tea and performance by the locals
Another thing you will come upon on a Mekong Delta trip - see how ricepaper, so essential in those tasty Goi Cuons (or Vietnamese Spring Rolls), are made by hand. See how ladies could sit in one spot doing the same thing all over again and again and the sheer numbers of rice paper drying away in the sun!
You only need ONE day on the Mekong Delta. Everything looks the same. Don't get me wrong, it was a great trip and enlightening but one day is fine. Went through Sinh Cafe to get tickets. I think they are about $25 for the day. Not a bad price for transportation there, a guide, transportation on the boat and lunch. We met some very interesting people on this trip so that in itself was an added bonus.
One of the day trips that you have to take up.. I took a one day trip organised by Delta Adventures at only USD12 (including lunch)..
This trip provides a look at a wide variety of life and scenery on Vietnam River from the peaceful Delta..
We departed from HCMC at 8 am on a bus ride to Mekong and there are beautiful sceneries along the way. The ride is about 2.5 hrs. The tour guide will give brief history and culture of the locals as we passed by some houses and paddy fields..
Upon arriving at the jetty, you will go on board a boat & its here where the jouney began and you get to experience the following:
1. Taste honey tea and enjoy the tropical fruits..
2. The making of Coconut Candy.. Buy some for your friends..
3. Lunch in Mekong Delta - Not that fantastic..
4. Tailboat ride along Mekong Delta River..
5. Taste the snake wine..
Check out my travelogue for more pictures..
Well worth taking time out from the busy streets of Saigon to see more of Vietnam. The organised tours are very cheap (about $5) You start off at Can Tho where you get on a small boat and go down the river to a floating market and you meander through various tributaries. The scenery is fantastic and the people are very friendly.
There are hundreds of tour companies offering to take tourists to the Mekong Delta, but they all offer pretty much the same packages for around the same price. We were advised that it is best to go on a tour, as without a guide you will be hugely overcharged for boat rental and other transport, although I'm not sure how much truth there is in this. We went on a 3 day tour with Happy Tours, located on D Bui Vien, which cost us about $20, including all food, accomodation, transport and a guide. The tour was good, although the 3rd day was a bit of a waste of time as most of it was spent driving back to Saigon. So, unless you plan to carry on into Cambodia (which is a good option) then I'd recommend the two day tour. With this option you get to spend 2 days on the Mekong Delta, and most itineraries include visits to various local factories - rice, coconut candy, rice wine... you get to see performances from local musicians, sample some of the local delicacies and visit a floating market. If you're lucky enough to get a good guide then you can learn a lot about the area and the way of life on the Delta. I wouldn't say that it's a "must-do", but if you have the time, then it's a pretty interesting couple of days.
We saw this wonderful part of the world with Sin Cafe tours who picked us up from our hotel for the 3 hour drive to the Mekong. We boarded a river motor boat and toured the floating markets,saw rice paper being made along with traditional sweets,snake wine and popped rice. Crossed the river by ferry then stayed overnight ready to head off again the next day. We saw more floating markets, local villages making rice noodle, river snakes,local tropical fruit and gardens, beer, a kip in a hammock. we couldn't have fitted any more in if we'd wanted too. Headed home via Vin Long and some Bonsai gardens. All this for US$32. WOW
I think two days for Mekong, haft day for Cuchi and the rest for exploring Saigon is a good plan
Why should you see 2 days Mekong? Then you can see the real Mekong with its maze of canels and a very amazing floating market. This is different from Thailand's that only for tourists, this is only for the local and you will see their life on the river
Flying from HCM to SiemReap is not a problem, you can book at the Vietnam airlines at 114 Nguyen Hue St. If it is full you can have another option: by Bus. There is a bus run by Mailinh company and you can ask that at the crossroad of Hai Ba Trung st and Nguyen Sieu St that nearby your tourism place
We did a one day trip to/on the Mekong Delta. It is a long day but worth going. We went on a speed boat to My Tho, then transfered to another boat. We went to a coconut candy factory, saw bee keeping, tried exotic fruits, tried banana wine and snake wine (tasted better than we thought it would. You have the chance to extract honey, hold a cobra, hear live music and singing. It was our first ever tour and it was a bit staged. As you go between the islands, you are rowed along whilst wearing traditional hats. We started at 7.15 am and got back at 7pm. It is interesting, but a little staged.
If you havent ride any boat in your life, this is a very good opportunity.
I take a one day trip organised by Sinh Cafe - normally for backpackers - to Mekong. We departed from HCMC at 8 am on a bus ride to Mekong. Beautiful sceneries along the way of the 2 1/2 hrs trip. The tour guide will also explained some monuments that u can see on the paddy field just behind the local houses on both sides of the roads u pass.
Upon arriving at the jetty, u will go on board a boat & its here where the jouney began. Depending on which tour you booked, my1st stop was at the rice paper making outlet. You will have a chance to test the local delicacies made from grinded rice. Dont forget to purchase few packets to bring back.
Part of the tour include stops at bee farm & candy making outlet. And of course different kind of boat ride...from the biggest - can accomodate about 20 to 30 ppl - and the smallest only for 4 ppl! The medium size brings 8 ppl.
All this at USD8/pax and one whole day experience.
If you have the possibility to go on a tour of the Mekong River Delta, do by all means go! It is an enriching experience. The life style on the river delta is different from city life, and you can see how modern conveniences (like TV) are combined with an age-old lifestyle (on boat).
We went on a tour to Vinh Long, which is one of the less touristy areas, for a day-trip. Start from the hotel in the morning, then a 3 hour bus trip, then boat trip until mid-afternoon and finally a 3 hour trip back. For more info, read my travelogue about this memorable trip!
Time: reserve a whole day minimum
Price: our tour: USD50/person incl. transport, guide and lunch
Saigon River Express offers VIP speedboat tours to the Cu Chi Tunnels - the Mekong Delta - and jungle canal tours around Saigon. This is the service that was recommended as part of "Three Perfect Days: Saigon" in United Airlines inflight magazine and has been recommended in many other international publications. With a fleet of brand new speedboats and providing five star service - Saigon River express offers the most exciting way to see the best attractions around Ho Chi Minh City. Even a sunset tour around Saigon involves exploring narrow jungle canals with a village made of bamboo and thatch as well as visiting a spectacular floating Temple. This is definitely a must for any visitor to Saigon. http://www.saigonriverexpress.com
HCMC isnt very far from My Tho, the closest city on the Mekong river. Most tour packages from HCMC will take you through this port and depending on the length of time, will just zip you around on the river & through some canals or take you further upriver/deeper into the Mekong delta. It's worth seeing this huge lifeline of southern Vietnam....but to really get a feel for it try to spend a few days exploring.
One of the tours I did was a trip to the Mekong Delta. This is a 2.5-hour journey outside of Ho Chi Minh along a well-paved road to the Mekong Delta area. The mighty Mekong River, originating in Tibet and flowing through China, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia before its 120-mile course through Vietnam, divides into nine river mouths, aptly called the 9-Dragon River or Mekong Delta. The flourishing delta area is inhabited by more than 25 million Vietnamese. Numerous natural and man-made canals serve the local traffic.
CAI BE FLOATING MARKET
Following your drive through villages and small towns, one arrives at a branch of the Cai Be River. Here plenty of options are available to board a local long boat for an interesting ride past villages and lush vegetation to the Cai Be floating market. Cruise among the many boats from which vendors offer all kinds of merchandise. Traditionally, families live on the boats, buying fruits, rice and flowers from local farmers, which are then sold in the floating market.
Rising above the river bank of the busy Cai Be village you can spot the bell tower of a Catholic church built in the 19th century when the French tried to spread Christianity in the delta region.
SCENIC CANAL CRUISING
Make sure you cruise along the Cai Be River to Tan Phong Island and the surrounding small canals, lined by gardens and farmers’ houses. Here you enjoy pictures of local sampans full of fruits and flowers being rowed to the market, or children on their way to school. The scene offers some great photo opportunities and a vivid view of life along the canals.
VISIT BINH HOA VILLAGE
After crossing the Mekong River, one can disembark at the Binh Hoa village and visit a local farmer’s home and garden. Meet the family and admire the home’s beautiful furnishings. Take a stroll in the garden and enjoy a look at the bonsai yard. Enjoy a taste of local fruits and some tea. Then cruise back toward Cai Be village.