The Mekong Delta is located in the South West region of Vietnam. It is a real delta because a series of tributaries from the mighty Mekong River enter the sea through this region. The region’s terrain is largely low lying. When it comes to demographics, the indigenous people of the Mekong Delta are mostly Viet. Khmers, who are mostly found in Cambodia, are also a minority population in the Mekong Delta region. Statistics also show that the Mekong Delta region has a negative net migration; the population growth rate in quite low and so is the fertility rate.
The region is strongest economically in the agricultural sector. It produces over half the total output of Vietnam’s rice. It is a very suitable region for rice cultivation as evidenced by the total output. The delta region is also a very important region for fishing, producing millions of tons of fish per year. If one is traveling to Mekong Delta in South West Vietnam, they are sure to be welcomed to the country’s “rice basket” by the friendly inhabitants whose lives revolve around the life-sustaining Mekong River. The people of Mekong Delta mostly speak Vietnamese and Khmer, so getting a guide with whom you can communicate will be a great idea.
There are interesting activities that visitors traveling to Mekong Delta can engage in and enjoy themselves; from hiking to site seeing and visiting old temples and monuments. The Van Thanh Mieu Temple, the Guangzhou Assembly Hall and the Nguyen Trung Truc Temple are all religious sites that hold great significance to the Vietnamese people. These are ancient buildings with a great history behind them.
The An Thoi Islands and the Long Beach are beautiful and excellent places to hike, swim, snorkel, fish and sight-seeing. One can even charter a boat and cruise around the islands. Other white sand beaches like the Bai Sao even have kayak renting areas. The San Chim Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary is a delightful place to see the large storks of the Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta has so much more exotic plants and animals that visitors can see.
Where to Eat
There are dozens of places where people traveling to Mekong Delta can enjoy the local Vietnamese dishes. Cafes by the roadside are common every few kilometers and travelers and bikers can get refreshing drinks of fresh coconut. However, a few selected restaurants that offer affordable, delicious and local bites are scattered all over the delta region. In Can Tho, the Restaurant Alley and the Phuong Nam are popular local eating spots that offer a variety of foods; sea foods, barbeques, vegetables et cetera. One eatery that really stands out in the Can Tho region is the Cappuccino. This little Italian haven has delightful Italian treats such as risotto, pasta, pizza, mushroom sauce and not forgetting the tempting tiramisu.
The Bay Bong in the Chau Doc region is a restaurant that has great soups and a variety of fresh fish dishes that will water your mouth. In Phu Quoc Island, there are numerous dining hotspots for travelers. First and foremost are the popular Night Market stalls that serve a variety of traditional Vietnamese foods; grills, sea foods, vegetables, soups and other options. A bit of modernization can also be found in the menus of the Buddy Ice Cream, Pepper’s Pizza and Grill, Pepper Tree et cetera restaurants.
When traveling to Mekong Delta, one cannot leave the region without vising a few markets, at least to get a memento. The Central Market is well known for its fresh fruits and vegetables and delicious snacks too. The people of the Mekong Delta are obviously gifted in making handicrafts. Beautifully designed and hand-made bags, jewelry, candles and even cutlery can be bought at the Phu Quoc market. This market is just opposite the airport and it is a sort of a gallery. Such hand-made items make great reminders of the visit to this small yet vibrant region of the Mekong Delta.
My Tho Central Market, different from the Central Market mentioned earlier, is the place where real trading happens. This market features almost everything that can be sold and bought from the Mekong Delta region. Goods are sold and bought in both wholesale and retail. It is a busy market. Lastly, for the visitors who fancy taking home sets of real and authentic pearls, the Phu Quoc Pearls shop is the place to go. Earrings, necklaces and other ornaments made of pearls can be bought here.
Where to Have Fun
The Mekong Delta teems with great places to have fun; especially at night after a long day’s excursion. Bars and discos are common in this region in its different cities. In Can Tho, Xe Loi or the Cyclo Club is a popular nightclub. With impressive gardens, a beach and lots of sitting places available, the club springs to life with Discos and live music to entertain the revelers. In Chau Doc, Lobby Bar and Le Jarai are on top of the list. These two have great and wide drinks’ menus and pool tables for the game’s lovers. Gio Dong and An Tuong 2 are also popular among the locals and they are good spots for interaction with the local youths.
Lac Hong in My Tho and Eden and Rainbow Bar in Phu Quoc Island are also popular among revelers. These bars are set up in the colonial era and they boast of large lounges with cool night time breezes. Free Wi-Fi access and pool tables make them fine places to hang out.
How to Get Around
When traveling to the Mekong Delta, one needs to be aware of the region’s transportation system. There are express buses and the local buses. Express buses may be a little bit more comfortable than their counterparts but they only stop at designated stations. The adventurous tourist who wants to experience first-hand traveling around the Mekong Delta could board the local buses. They make stops on the way to pick and drop passengers; they are slower so one can enjoy the beautiful scenery of lush rice fields, the region’s terrain and un-spoilt nature. Public transport between towns is well connected.
Exploring the Mekong Delta while riding a bike or a motorcycle can be an experience of a lifetime. The flat terrain and the well maintained roads make riding easy. One can rent a motorbike or even better, buy their own cheap bike for the tour around the region. In the heart of the Mekong Delta, villages are accessible by boat. Off the main roads, boat rides and cruises are popular and they allow the tourists to enjoy delta adventures and cruises for up to 3 day tours.
At the end of the day, traveling to Mekong Delta can be really fun and memorable if well planned. Get a guide who enjoys showing you around and then ensure that you keep safe. Avoid swimming in rivers as they could be infested with waterborne parasites. Make your trip comfortable by booking a hotel in a relaxing environment. Sleep under a mosquito net and look out for weather forecasts lest you plan your tour during the flooding seasons. Above all, have fun during your visit.