ITINERARY BY DAY
Day 1: Ho Chi Minh City – Le Jarai – Can Tho
Head to the town of Ben Tre, a gateway to the delta. Board a small boat to begin touring a region known as Vietnam’s rice bowl. The country is among the world’s top rice exporters, and the Mekong’s climate allows farmers to produce two or even three rice crops per year. The other major export is seafood, especially shrimp and catfish.
Your boat arrives at a small home-based factory where workers process coconuts by separating their oil, flesh and husks to be used in products like matting and candy. Learn how it all works! Then you will transfer to Le Jarai, a converted rice barge, to continue your cruise along the Mekong River. Here you can join in a demonstration of Vietnamese cooking before enjoying a sumptuous three-course lunch of Mekong specialties of spring rolls and claypot! After lunch take in the river scenery as you return to Ben Tre where you will be will be transferred to Can Tho, the delta’s economic hub.
Day 2: Can Tho - Chau Doc
Rise early and travel by boat to the township of Cai Rang to see the hustle and bustle of a floating market. Watch as vendors hawk their wares from boats teeming with produce and buy a coffee from one of the floating cafes. Then, drive approximately three hours to the township of Chau Doc, a colourful and sleepy town near the Vietnam-Cambodia border.
This afternoon drive approximately 20kms from Chau Doc to Tra Su Forest and travel by sampan through endless waterways flanked by mangroves and lush greenery. This eco reserve spans 850 hectares and is an ecological haven for fauna and flora, with more than 100 species of water birds and colonies of bats. The best time to visit Tra Su is from September to November when the water is high, although it is accessible all year round. On the way to the forest you will visit a small village of ethnic Khmer, where you will learn about the importance of Buddhism in the community and have the opportunity to chat with monks at the local monastery.
Day 3: Chau Doc
The Mekong Delta is a land of winding waterways, lush paddy fields and floating markets where life is governed by the ebb and flow of Vietnam’s most iconic river. Today wake early and cruise aboard a small boat to Chau Doc’s famous floating market. Drawing traders and farmers from the surrounding countryside watch as fruits, vegetables and fish are bought and sold en mass. Continue past the floating fish farms on your way to a local Cham Village, where you will hear the story of one of Vietnam’s most fascinating peoples. After return to your boat and continue cruising towards the iconic Sam Mountain, passing along the fascinating Vinh Te Canal built from 1819 to 1823 by Emperors Gia Long and Minh Mang from the Nguyen Dynasty. Arrive at the banks of Sam Mountain and visit two of the iconic temples that draw pilgrims from miles around. Finish with lunch at the beautiful Nui Sam Lodge, with spectacular panoramic views of the countryside below.
The lush green paddy fields of Chau Doc are the perfect place to escape modern life and discover the authentic Mekong Delta at its very best. Cycle out along quiet dirt tracks, through villages where life has changed little over the decades and through fields busy with busy farmers and water buffalo. Stop for a picnic breakfast and recharge over a glass of traditional ice tea or coffee before getting back on the saddle and continuing your journey. Stop along the way for a chat with locals and some of the best views Southern Vietnam has to offer. Return to your hotel and a well earned break! Overnight in Chau Doc.
Day 4: Chau Doc – Ho Chi Minh City
Today your Heart of the Delta tour ends with a transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City, a roughly six-hour drive with plenty of rest stops.