The Mekong Delta or ‘The river of nine dragons’ is at the Southern point of Vietnam. The Mekong flows through a total of 6 different countries and has 9 main tributaries (hence the name), which is why I believe that the Mekong River itself it the heart of South East Asia.
Throughout our trip we have seen the Mekong in numerous states from the boat ride in Battanbang to Luang Prabang in Laos. The best way to see the Mekong for what it is, has to be by boat; ideally not one of these tourist ones that ship everyone around on mass.
The Mekong delta is surrounded by rice paddy fields which are highly productive and the source of about half of Vietnam’s food production (rice, banana, coconut and other tropical fruit).
Can Tho is the largest and most popular city in the Mekong delta, but if you want to see the real delta and get away from the traffic in Saigon it is best to choose other areas, like the Ben Tre provience.
Due to the new bridges in the area it only takes about 2 hours to travel on the bus the 86 km from Saigon. But that is a small adventure in itself!
From Ben Thanh market in District 1(Saigon) you have to take the local 38 bus to Mien Tay station. From there you can buy a ticket for an air conditioned mini bus to Ben Tre, via the bigger town of My Tho. And then from there get to your accomodation.
Due to our home stay, the next bit of our journey was simple as they had organised it all for us. This involved swiftly moving from a 4×4 car to a motorbike taking us about 20 minutes further into the delta region.
Fortunately we were able to stay the night, so during the day we went to visit the nearby market to see what this area is known for. This wasn’t really a surprise as the roads are all lined with coconut trees. Coconut productions is big here with stalls selling coconut candy or fresh coconuts seen down the road, but we did see the drying out of ‘My Long rice cakes’.
As the road connections are new, tourism isn’t that big at this moment in time in the area ( a massive bonus). By walking down the road and at the market, the locals, especially the young children did like to stare at us and have a bit of a laugh. For further exploring scooters are a good option to see the roads and towns or to take a boat down stream. But after a day or two in Saigon this area is a perfect relaxing get away for a couple of days.