Mekong Delta - A Destination For Every Vietnam Travel Itinerary

December 22, 2019

Where to go in Vietnam? Better yet – where to go in Ho Chi Minh City?

For those of you planning to visit Ho Chi Minh, you would have understood that Ho Chi Minh is slightly different than its sibling city, Hanoi. While people seek for pristine beaches, amazing island scenery and centuries-old architecture in Hanoi, travelers visiting Ho Chi Minh might be served with significantly different types of destination. Despite being a former capital of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh is still the center of economy of the country, making it a more crowded and modern city. Wandering around the city will take you to numerous landmark.

But there’s more. A lot more.

Some kilometers away from the city, are the kind of attractions to satisfy your lust towards the natural tropical sightings. Mekong Delta is the king of them all.

A stroll inside the Mekong River
A stroll inside the Mekong River

The Mekong river runs a long way passing through multiple countries like China, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia before finally reaching the Vietnam region. Now it acts as a vital support for economy for the surrounding communities.

The biggest cities near Mekong area are Can Tho and My Tho. Can Tho is larger in size, and has more activities and lodging options, making it the most popular city to start the Mekong Delta trip. Myself, I started the Mekong Delta trip from My Tho. I went with three other travelers, and we made appointment with a local Vietnamese girl living in My Tho. She guided us through the whole trip; grab yourself a local guide for a wholly better trip experience. She knows everything about the Mekong trip, even has her own regular go-to boat charter guy.

By the time we arrived at her house, we were greeted very nicely by her family. Turns out, she has already informally guided hundreds of visitors to Mekong Delta, clearly implied by the money collection she received from each of the visitors coming to her house. The experience strengthen my belief on how friendly and warm the Vietnamese people are. Along the way we were walking towards the boat, people residing nearby greeted us nicely with a simple shout of “Hello!”.

Royal Jelly and Tea
Royal Jelly and Tea served by the locals

The first stop was to a traditional cafe. Here, we were served with tea and royal jelly produced from the small bee farm beside the cafe. They also have a tropical snake you can take a picture with and coconut candy home factory in the area. Exotic fruits were also given for us to try, though I have them all in my home country. Right after that, we came to the main event of boat stroll in river/swamp of Mekong Delta. Again, the paddlers were extremely friendly – even voluntarily posed in front of the camera when I was taking pictures of the river. There was not any fixed fare for the boat ride, you can pay accordingly based on the service given and your own kindness.

Cultural heritage as one of the main attraction
Colorful Temple remains of the coconut religion as one of the site’s attraction

After a full immersion of the tropical beauty of Mekong River, we were taken to an island where greater wonders await. Cồn Phụng is an island widely called as Phoenix Island or “Island of The Coconut Monk”. Decades ago, there was a Western-educated local Vietnamese called Nguyen Thanh Nam who invented the “coconut religion”, a blend of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism, space exploration, and an abiding love for the coconut. He lived as a coconut vegetarian, which was really extreme even to vegetarian standards. To the time of writing, the colorful “Coconutland” has turned into a beautiful tourist attraction from all over the world, driven by the curiosity and admiration of eccentric architecture and history.

Traveling across Asia can be an eye-opening experience if you pick the right places to go. I can say with absolute confidence that Mekong Delta fits the criteria: you get everything starting from the natural beauty, beautiful ancient landmarks and a glimpse of how life is in rural Asia.