The mysterious Mekong Delta is known for it’s floating markets and spacious countryside, but there’s much more to discover! Buffalo Tours staff member Diem Pham, shares their changed perception of the Delta on a tour of the sleepy waterways and the culture beneath the surface.
When I used to think of the Mekong Delta, I’d always picture floating markets and huge and spacious rice fields. However, after having travelled there for a week, I realized that the Mekong Delta is a lot more! Here’s an account of my adventures from Saigon to Vinh Long, Tra Vinh, Can Tho, Ha Tien and finishing up in Chau Doc.
Vinh Long reflects the way I’d pictured the Mekong Delta since high school: a complex network of many canals with riverside water coconut palm, mangrove forests and riverside specialties like shrimp and mullet. You almost can touch the variety of fruits drooping on the shoreline while cruising along the canals or cycling along the small paths of countryside on An Binh Island.
Tra Vinh – Typical Khmer Culture
It took only one hour from Vinh Long to Tra Vinh but it’s seemed as though we had accidentally drifted into a small Cambodian village. Khmer Pagodas dot the riverside. People can be seen working sugar cane fields, weaving mats while also spending their time in the pagodas, helping the monks clean the temple or taking a moment to pray for their families. Pagodas are considered a community center, the pillar for local education and faith, a natural gathering point for this small community.
Can Tho – The Heart of Delta
At the crack of dawn we departed our hotel in Can Tho and hit the waters for Cai Rang Floating Market. Boats from all other province congregate here to sell bulks of produce, casually tossing heads of lettuce or pineapple from boat to boat. Some boats depart their home village in the middle of the night just to arrive at morning sunrise, while others call these boats home. It’s a truly unique experience for anyone to see firsthand!
Ha Tien – A Peaceful Seaside Border Town
The journey from Can Tho to Ha Tien is a lengthy and slightly tiresome journey, but well worth the effort. The town’s still not a tourist spot, and lies close to the border with Cambodia. Despite it’s proximity to the border and Phu Quoc Island, only locals seem to hop to and fro. Our hotel faced a river headed directly to the sea. Staying right beside the beach with a feeling of complete peace was a very special experience for me.
Chau Doc – Immersed in Local Life
I was so eager when we departed from Chau Doc! The route was breathtaking from beginning. Alongside, many roads perfect for cycling line the palm-fringed canals. My favourite moments here, were the cruise to Tra Su Ecological park and the kindness of locals. Despite being my final destination, the warmth of the people and the beauty of the mangrove forest stood out above all else!