Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City
After asking bus prices and so, I found the Delta Tours offered by many agencies the best and cheapest way to see the Delta area. The ideal stay would be 3 days, so U have time to see the channels, sep there, see farms, visit the Cantho Market and even see the beaches in Bac Lieu?
But 1 day is interesting too. They take U in a minib?s to Mito (the nearest village to Saigon), there you take a m?dium boat to cross the river to visit a farm where they offer U tea, fruits and traditional music. Then U go see how they make products from coconuts. Then lunch (included). Then ride by the channels. Then snake farm, honey farm, and back to Mito, where U take the bus back to Saigon. U leave at 8 and return at 18. 6 USD.00
There are 1 day, 2-day or 3-day trips to Mekong Delta organized by tour operators in Saigon. If you have limited time, a one-day trip will give you some idea but it will never be enough to explore this region. One day tours also have different options such as some visit Cai Be and Vinh Long while some other visit My Tho and Ben Tre. The local people of Mekong Delta earn their living from fish, fruits, rice, honey and tourism. The tours made this region very commercialized and every stop you make during the tour is to sell something to you. However, going through the small canals shaded with green plantation on rowing boats and riding bicycle around a local village gives you enough chance to get away from this commercialized feeling. Daily tour prices range between 10-14 USD while longer tours costs rise due to your accomodation options. It is a good get away from busy city life where you relax in nature.
We went to Pham Ngu Lao St on Sat to look for a travel agency to book a day tour on Mon to Mekong River. The agency we chose was Phuong Trang Tourist (PTRATOUR). It has 2 branches, one in the side road, and the other one facing the main road across a park (where we booked). The buses are parked at the main office (the side road office).
The staff are friendly and speaks good English. The Mekong tour we booked had 15 ppl (Heard it's the average no of ppl going for the daily tour). The mini bus was clean and new, the trip consists of visiting the islands and their farms such as bee/honey farm, making of coconut candy etc. For USD 7, it includes the tour guide, bus, boat, and lunch. The only money we had to fork out in addition was the tip for the longboat ride we had (Paid about 5,000D per person) at one of the islands.
Would certainly go back to this agency should I visit HCM again. They prefer Dong rather than USD although the prices are stated in USD.
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
You get to do this on almost all the Mekong Delta day tours. It's part of the package. Eventually you will reach this village making ricepaper, coconut candies and caramel rice crackers! All day-trippers get a chance to sample the latter 2 (as the ricepaper will be used to make those lovely Vietnamese ricepaper rolls). The coconut candy is very oily but I think the rice crackers are more appreciated - sweet, gooey and crunchy all at the same time. I gave it a pass myself as we Chinese pretty much have the same thing but I could hear the appreciative "umms..." and "yumms...." moaning off the mouths of the many western tourists.
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..
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.
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.
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
This is a common design found on almost every boat at Mekong Delta.
Local believe that those big eyes can help them to see far & beyond any danger ahead of them. The red color was the influents from Chinese believe of bring good luck. Another reason for those big eyes was to scare away crocodiles that once found so abundant at the Mekong Delta.
Had a couple of female friend from UK pop in recently, after a couple of days exporing the town and the mekong they needed to relax. Sent them here and they ended up spending the whole day there being pampered, eating healthy food and sitting by the pool. Well worth the money they said, and compared with europe very reasonable.
The setting alone is worth it, beautifull renovated french villa in District 3
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