The Mekong River rises in the Tibetan Plateau, finally flowing out into the South China Sea 4,500 kilometres later. It is not navigable throughout its whole length but there are some popular cruises in each of the countries it flows through. It is possible to go from Phnom Penh, the Capital of Cambodia, down into Vietnam and the Mekong Delta that stretches across the South West corner of Vietnam. Within Vietnam itself, the Delta is well worth exploring and most Vietnam travel packages include some time in the Delta. It is just to the west of Ho Chi Minh City, one of the main points of entry into the country; a Vietnam visa is available on arrival there incidentally.
Obviously, the Delta is a flat region as the water meander southwards. There are numerous small channels, backwaters essentially, and as this is the most fertile region of Vietnam, there is plenty of activity. Farming and fishing villages are dotted throughout the Delta but you would be mistaken if you thought that was all; there are a number of conurbations, some of which could even be regarded as cities.
This then is the setting that those travelling in Vietnam will encounter and there is no better way to learn more about the region than to take a cruise. You will past field after field of rice, local farmers in their conical hats working hard, often behind water buffalo and plough. Plenty of fishermen work in the rivers and the floating markets that you will be able to visit will be selling fresh produce, including a wide range of fruit and vegetables, fish, coconuts, sugar cane, flowers and some local handicrafts.
Floating markets start early and some quite large boats visit. The produce of the Mekong Delta is sold to food processing companies, wholesalers who take their purchases elsewhere to retail and to individuals such as yourself. Floating markets have become a tourist attraction but they have a much more important function than that and some of the goods sold will even go to Hanoi in the far north.
There is plenty of choice as to how to see the Delta. A speedboat is one but that really is a last option for someone with very limited time. Traditional junks sail these waters and just as in Halong Bay, if you fancy a junk then book one. The wooden cruise boats are extremely comfortable and to do the Mekong justice, you should certainly take a couple of days to cruise its waters.
The Mekong is an iconic river. The region suffered during the Vietnam War but that is long forgotten. It may be a hard life for the locals but they inevitably have a smile on their faces. One of the joys of Vietnam is meeting the people and that applies to those in the Mekong if you book a Mekong cruise. Talk to a Vietnam travel agent and it will all be arranged for you.