The Mekong is an iconic river. It flows from the Tibetan Plateau right down into the South China Sea. Within Vietnam, it spreads out into a huge Delta that regularly appears in Vietnam travel packages. If you are planning a holiday in Vietnam, then you must see the Mekong Delta. The environment and culture are unique and there are few better places to see the daily lives of fishermen and farmers at the same time. The Mekong Delta is the most fertile region in the whole of Vietnam and many overseas visitors enjoy their time in the Delta. It has a significant population and the main city in the Delta, Can Tho, has an airport that the Vietnamese Government intends to expand to become an international airport rather than current tourists having to come into Ho Chi Minh City around 3 hours to the east.
It is possible to cruise all the way up into Cambodia and its capital, Phnom Penh but most visitors to the Mekong Delta make do with just a short cruise in the Delta. Plenty take to the quiet backwaters and channels to visit villages where life has changed little in decades. Trading on the water has been the way business has been transacted for generations and if you want to go shopping in the Mekong Delta, then this is the way to do it.
A tour in Vietnam is easy these days, especially given that a Vietnam visa is generally available on arrival from abroad. When actually in the Mekong, tourists should certainly visit the floating markets:
• Phong Dien is on the Can Tho River just a short distance south east of Can Tho city centre. Parts of it open at 4am because it sells fresh produce for consumption later in the day. Fresh produce is for sale while tourists can sample the cuisine; noodles commonly with meat or fish. The market has much more than food however and most things are available including furniture, tools and handicrafts. Tourists calling in the morning at the market then can continue on to visit villages and look at the lovely orchards. Even if you don’t actually buy, you will enjoy the activity.
• Cai Rang is the other famous floating market of Can Tho. The market is just 6 kilometres from the centre though it takes half an hour from the Ninh Kieu wharf. It specialises in local produce, especially fruit and there is a great range to taste; mango, mandarin, durian (the taste is better than the smell; it has to be), avocado and dragon fruit to name just a few. Families often live on the boats from which they sell their goods.
• Long Xuyen on the Hau River in Long Xuyen City is both the largest and busiest of the Delta’s floating markets. Boats are often tied together to make a large selling area of a particular product. Agricultural products such as bananas, pineapples, coconuts, oranges and papayas are treats that can be consumed there or later in the day. Boats go back and forth to the city where this produce is sold on or served up in restaurants.
A great day beckons if you book a day on the Mekong Delta.