We were able to choose a fam trip destination somewhere around Saigon. It was already more than 8 years ago I was in the South of Vietnam the last time so I decided to go on a Mekong Delta tour and see if I could still remember something of my trip around the world in 2009.
What is the Mekong Delta
The Mekong River is one of the biggest rivers in the world and connects almost all the South East Asian countries. It starts in Tibet and follows its path southeast to the Southern tip of Vietnam. On its way it forms the border between Thailand and Laos and pierces right through Cambodia to finally reach the South China Sea in Vietnam. Just before it reaches the ocean the Mekong River spreads it wings to a point where it is kilometers wide, forming thousands of islands of which some are connected by bridges some are not. This is what we call the Mekong Delta. As it is located not far away from it is perfect to visit Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh City.
Mekong Delta points of interest
It is really hard to tell you where to go exactly as this area is extremely vast. It is not just one place where all the Mekong Delta tourist attractions are located. As I said before there are numerous islands and I bet if you go three times in a row you would still discover new places. I have now visited the Mekong Delta twice and both times I did it on an organized Mekong Delta tour. Tours are cheap and can easily be booked everywhere around Ho Chi Minh. I am sure you can explore the things to do in Mekong Delta on your own and I reckon it would even be better, but to be honest I would have no clue where to send you to or where to start exploring this region.
Tip: if you are staying in a guesthouse but you want a tour with young people pop in at a popular hostel and visit Mekong Delta with them. Success guaranteed!
Things to do in Mekong Delta
There are numerous things to do in Mekong Delta but since the area is so big I cant really tell you where everything is exactly located and most of the things like boat trips, cooking classes and other local experiences can be done in multiple locations. There are probably thousand little islands and to me this region feels like a maze. So to make the most of it I would recommend booking a Mekong Delta tour. I know that sounds lame and I am never really a fan of these things but this is an honest tip. I can already tell you it is very touristy, but at least you are not wasting time trying to find all these activities yourself. Mind you that transportation here is very complex: not all islands are connected by bridges and to most places you have to take boats.
As also discussed in my blog about ITE Ho Chi Minh City scams are pretty common and in a place where you constantly have to haggle for prices and you know that as a foreigner you will end up paying more I again think taking a set tour is the best option to visit Mekong Delta.
Buddhas at Vinh Trang Pagoda
Make sure your tour includes a visit to this amazing temple complex. I think in fact our guide said something about this not being a temple complex but we were looking at shrines or probably pagodas as that is the name of this tourist attraction in Mekong Delta. At least these religious statues were related to Buddhism as all I could see were Buddha’s. The ‘temples’ were super detailed and make a great photo spot.
To be honest I am not a fan of looking a caged animals, but this is Vietnam, this is Asia. Western habits and believes are not the standard plus we do have tons of zoo’s ourselves so think twice before you judge. The most venomous snakes where locked up in smaller cages but there where also a lot of bigger habitats. You can also find a bunch of crocodiles and other endemic animals.
One of the coolest activities in Mekong Delta is to visit local villages. See how they live, how they sustain, what they eat and what they drink. We went to see how they make candies from coconuts, how they prepare food, have fruit plantations and how they live. I also got to drink their shots. Venomous dead snakes and other reptiles are kept in a large pot on alcohol. This strong ‘water’ supposed to make you untouchable! 😉 I know for sure how locals will look like after a couple of these shots and that is not promising I can tell you. Asians and alcohol are a funny combination! 🙂 I already tried this in 2008 but because about 40 eyes wanted to see me downing this shot I did it again. It is just an extremely strong shot of alcohol.