Why tourists want to discover the Mekong Delta River, Vietnam?
Touring the orchards, paddy fields and swamplands of the Mekong Delta, you could be forgiven for thinking you've stepped into the pages of a geography textbook. A comma-shaped flatland stretching from Ho Chi Minh's city limits southwest to the Gulf of Thailand, the delta is Vietnam's rice bowl, an agricultural miracle that pumps out 38 percent of the country's annual food crop from just ten percent of its total land mass. Rice may be the delta's staple crop, but coconut palms, fruit orchards and sugar-cane groves also thrive in its nutrient-rich soil, and the sight of conical-hatted farmers tending their land is one of Vietnam's most enduring images.
Surprisingly, agriculture gripped the delta only relatively recently. Under Cambodian sway until the close of the seventeenth century, the region was sparsely inhabited by the Khmer krom, or "downstream Khmers", whose settlements were framed by swathes of marshland.
One of the most attractive aspects of the Mekong Delta is its diversity. Some visitors would single out its sweeping panoramas of paddy, fruit orchards and Khmer pagodas, others the friendliness of its people, but for most it's the delta's skein of waterways, canals and tributaries that makes the region so special. It's difficult to overstate the influence of the river: the lifeblood of the rice and fruit crops grown here, it's also a crucial means of transportation, teeming with craft that ra
One of the most enjoyable ways to experience riverine life is on a boat trip, and trips are organized at My Tho, Vinh Long, Can Tho and Chau Doc. Since they all follow a similar itinerary (a visit to a floating market and stops at cottage industries on the shore), you'll probably want to choose just one. Though Can Tho is most popular for its good range of hotels and restaurants, you're likely to see more tourists than locals in the nearby floating markets. A good alternative is Vinh Long, from where boats head out in many different directions through the canals of An Binh Island to the floating market at Cai Be.
The Mekong Delta at a glimpse
The Mekong Delta is the bottom half of Vietnam's two rice baskets, the other being the Red River Delta in the North . This vast delta is formed by the deposition of the multiple tentacles and tributaries of the mighty Mekong River which has its origin in the Tibetan highland plateau 2,800 miles away. From its source, the river makes its way through China, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam before flowing out into the South China Sea. The Mekong's Vietnamese name, Cuu Long, means Nine Dragons for the nine mouths that terminate the flow of this great river as it is absorbed by the sea.
Cai Rang is the largest floating market in the Mekong and the traders are more motorised, but the markets at Phung Hiep and Phong Dien are more relaxed and less crowded.
Floating market Can Tho - a must see - place
Floating Market in Can Tho City is one of the three biggest in the Mekong Delta. The shops and stalls at these markets are boats of different sizes.
Cai Rang Floating Market is open all day but it is busiest from sunrise to about 9am. The main items sold there are farm products and specialties of Cai Rang Town, Chau Thanh District and neighboring areas. Every boat has a long upright pole at its bow on which samples of the goods for sale
Floating Market Can Tho in details - click here
Mekong River Delta Map
Grand Towns and Cities in the Mekong Delta Region:
Vinh Long province:
Area: 1,475.2 sq. km
Population: 1,055,200 habitants (2005)
Capital: Vinh Long Town
Districts: Long Ho, Mang Thit, Binh Minh, Tam Binh, Tra On, Vung Liem.
Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Khmer, Hoa, Gia Rai.
How to get there
Vinh Long is 70km from Mytho, 34km from Can Tho and 136km from Ho Chi Minh City. The inter-province bus station is 5km from the centre of Vinh Long. There are buses between Vinh Long and Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Mytho, Long Xuyen, Sa Dec, Rach Gia, and other Mekong Delta destinations. National Highway No.1A and No.53 also runs through the province.
Situated between the Tien and the Hau rivers, Vinh Long Province is bounded by Tien Giang Province on the north, Dong Thap Province on the north-west, Tra Vinh Province on the south-east, Hau Giang and Soc Trang provinces on the south, and Can Tho City on the south-west.
The terrain is quite flat. The complex network of rivers and canals make convenient transportation. The soil is rich in alluvium, favorable for rice and various fruit cultivation.
The dry season lasts from December to April, the rainy season last from May to November. The annual average temperature is 27ºC. Average rainfall is from 1,300mm to 1,500mm.
Silt from Tien and Hau rivers has raised the level of the field. The majority of inhabitants live on farming, fruit planting and cattle rising.
Coming to there, visitors have chance to walk among the trees, relax in hammocks, try all kinds of delicious tropical fruits in the gardens of An Binh and Binh Hoa Phuoc islands. Several popular places are Mr. Sau Giao's Flower Garden, Mr. Muoi Day's Stilt-House, and Mr. Hai Hoang's Old House.
Vinh Long has many pagodas, communal houses such as Van Thanh Temple, Long Thanh Communal House, Tinh Xa Ngoc Vien, Phuoc Hau, Tien Chau, Saghamangala pagodas...
My Tho province
My Tho is the capital city and municipality of the Tiền Giang Province in the Mekong Delta region of southern Vietnam. It has a population of approximately 160,000.
It is a popular starting point for tourists to take a boat trip on the Mekong River.
Taking a boat trip on the Mekong is the undoubted highlight of a stay in My Tho, and most people come straight in and out on organized day-trips from Ho Chi Minh City. If you plan to charter a boat by yourself, it's important to know first what your priorities are. There are four nearby islands: Tan Long Island, Thoi Son Island, Phung Island and Qui Island. All are regularly visited by boats, though you'll get more time on the water if you ask to explore the north coastline of Ben Tre Province, or just idle along the river.
The cheapest way of getting onto the water is to travel by public ferry to one of the islands: those to Tan Long leave from the eastern tour boat jetty; Thoi Son ferries leave from another jetty further west along 30 Thang 4; boats to Phung and Qui Islands use the Ben Tre Ferry Terminal, so you first need to take a public ferry from My Tho across to Ben Tre.
Moving on from My Tho
Bus departures are from Tien Giang station; there are numerous express buses to and from Ho Chi Minh City plying the route. Ferries for Ben Tre depart from the Ben Tre Ferry Terminal. A three-kilometre-long bridge is currently under construction to the west of My Tho, which will render this ferry obsolete when complete. Cargo and passengerboats heading deeper into the delta use the jetty below Vong Nho Market, 200m west of the foot of Tran Hung Dao.
There are daily departures around noon to Vinh Long (3hr) and Chau Doc (17hr), though it's best to enquire at the jetty beforehand as prices and departure times tend to change.
Can tho City
Area:1,390 sq. kmPopulation:1,135,200 habitants (2005).
- Districts: Ninh Kieu, Binh Thuy, Cai Rang, O Mon
- Rural districts: Phong Dien, Co Do, Thot Not, Vinh Thanh.
Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Khmer, Hoa, Cham...
How to get there
Cantho is 34km from Vinh Long, 62km from Long Xuyen, 63km from Soc Trang, 104km from Mytho, 116km from Rach Gia, 117km from Chau Doc, 169km from Ho Chi Minh City and 179km from Camau.
Road: Cantho has National Highway No.1A, 91, 80 linking to An Giang, Kien Giang provinces.
Waterway: Cantho has Cai Cui international seaport. The city is the centre of waterway network of Mekong Delta. There are daily hydrofoils between Ho Chi Minh City and Cantho City.
Airline: There is Tra Noc Airport.
Cantho City is located in the center of the Mekong Delta. It is contiguous to 5 provinces: An Giang on the north, Dong Thap on the north-east, Hau Giang on the south, Kien Giang on the west, and Vinh Long on the east. Cantho has a complex of rivers and canals such as Hau, and Can Tho rivers, Thot Not, O Mon canals. Among them, the Hau Riveris considered a benefactor of this region, since yearly floods deposit large quantities of alluvia to the rice fields. Thank to that Cantho becomes "the green lungs of the Mekong Delta".The climate is harmonized with few of storms. It is hot, humid all year. Rainy season lasts from May to November, and dry season lasts from December to April. The annual average temperature is 27ºC.
Cantho is over its 200 years as the main town, once known as Tay Do and now one city of Vietnam. All of economic, culture activities closely relate to river and canals which like the 'street'. Cantho has simple, poetic beauty with well-off villages under shade of coconut trees.It is wonderful to take a boat trip along the riverbanks on fine weather days. On the east bank of Hau River is Ninh Kieu Wharf, which is well known for its beautiful location. Other interesting places are Bang Lang Stock Sanctuary, Cantho and My Khanh Tourist gardens and Cantho Market.
As the capital of An Giang province, Long Xuyen plays a very important role in the commerce of this region. Many of the produce grown in the vicinity are shipped here before being transported elsewhere. With a population over 100,000 people, it has a significant number of catholics as the city boasts the largest Catholic church in the region, seating up to 1000 people.
Long Xuyen is a big town with slow pace living. Unlike its motorized cousin in Can Tho, "Xe Loi" here is pulled by bicycle. 40 km from Long Xuyen is the hilly area of Ba The where the ruins of the Oc Eo civilization dating back to the first century A.D. were discovered. The Oc Eo civilization reached its height in the 5th century and was part of the foundation of the Phu Nam (Funam) kingdom.
Sa Dec used to be the capital of Dong Thap province, formerly inhabited by the ancient Phu Nam Kingdom and later the Chan Lap (Tchen La) civilization. In the 1700s, the area was exchanged with the Vietnamese for military aid. Since then many Vietnamese have settled in this area and effectively annexed this whole area. The Chan Lap were subsequently wiped out and assimilated by the Vietnamese and today the population consists mostly people of Chinese, Khmer, Cham and Thai origin.
Sa Dec has become less and less prosperous ever since Cao Lanh was named capital of the province to reward communist cadres from the area after the war ended. New constructions and developments are now occuring in Cao Lanh, the commercial hub of the region.
Chau Doc is the last town in Vietnam before entering Cambodia. The town is located on the right bank of Hau Giang, 5 km away from Sam mountain, the highest point on the Delta. This mountain gets the name from its shape of a king crab, which is "sam" in vietnamese. It is a sacred mountain for many locals since it is dotted with pagodas and temples. Chau Doc is very famous for "ma('m", a type of fermented fish used regularly as food ingredients or garnishes.With a population of 85,000, Chau Doc is a bustling city with heavy trade of illegal goods crossing the cambodian border. From smugglers on bicycle carrying cartons of cigarettes on their back to boats loaded with VCR and TV sets to new cars originating from Thailand, it seems like anything is fair game in the wild west of Vietnam.
Area: 3,223.3 sq. km
Population: 1,272,200 habitants (2005)
Capital: Soc Trang City
Districts: Ke Sach, My Tu, My Xuyen, Thanh Tri, Long Phu, Vinh Chau, Cu Lao Dung, Nga Nam.
Ethnic groups: Viet (Kinh), Khmer, Cham, Hoa...
How to get there:
Soc Trang is 231km from Ho Chi Minh City, 60km from Can Tho. National Highways No.1A links the province and Can Tho, Bac Lieu.
Situated in Mekong Delta, Soc Trang is surrounded by Tra Vinh, Vinh Long, Hau Giang, Bac Lieu and East Sea. There are 72km seaside, two river mouths and 30,000ha alluvia ground.
Influenced by oceanic weather, the province has two seasons: the rainy season lasts from May to November and dry season lasts from December to April next year. Annual average temperature is 27ºC. Annual rainfall is 1,840mm
Soc Trang is covered by vast rice paddies, shrimp lagoons, luxuriant fruit gardens like longan, rambutan, durian, and orange.
Viet (Kinh), Khmer, Hoa ethnic groups live together here. The province has 89 pagodas of Khmer group, 47 pagodas of Hoa people. Ma Toc (Bat), Khleang, Chruitim Chas, Chen Kieu, and Buu Son Tu (Set) are famous pagodas.
Coming to there, tourists like to taste tropical fruit in My Phuoc River Islet, or join many recreation and entertainment activities in Binh An Tourist Resort. Chol Chnam Thmay, Oc Om Boc festivals, Ngo Boat Race also attract many visitors.
Main attraction to visit:
Dat Set Pagoda
Location: Dat Set Pagoda (Buu Son Tu) is located on Luong Dinh Cua St., Soc Trang Town, Soc Trang Province.
Characteristics: This pagoda is visited by many local and foreign tourists who come to burn incense and to see the display of precious clay items, such as the thousand Buddha statues and the four sacred animals (dragon, unicorn, turtle, and phoenix).
Location: Doi Pagoda is located on Le Hong Phong St., 2km from downtown Soc Trang, Soc Trang Province.
Characteristics: The pagoda is famous for its beautiful architecture, especially its very large roof that houses tens of thousands of bats.
Doi Pagoda (Bat Pagoda) also called Ma Toc Pagoda, or Mahatuc Pagoda was built during the 16th century, and it has been renovated several times since. The pagoda is famous for its beautiful architecture, especially its very large roof that houses tens of thousands of bats. They cling to tree branches all day, fly away at night to seek food, and return the following morning. The bats never eat the fruit in the garden.
An ancient Buddha statue and a number of Buddhist books written on sugar palm leaves can be admired there.
Tan Long Stork Sanctuary
Location: The sanctuary lies at Long Binh Commune, Nga Nam District, Soc Trang Province; 17km from Phu Loc Town.
Characteristics: Over the past 20 years, this sanctuary has been home to thousands of storks. It has been recognized as one of the green tourist attractions.
Binh An Tourist Resort
Location: Binh An Tourist Resort is situated at No. 71, Ward 2, Soc Trang Town, Soc Trang Province; by the Highway No. 1A.
Characteristics: This resort resembles Dam
Ben tre Province
Natural land area : 2,315 square kilometres
Population : 1,400,000 people
Administrative units : 1 township & 7 districts
Ethnics : Kinh (Viet Nam's main ethnic group)
Climate : Tropical monsoon, with rainy season from May to October, then dry season from November to April next year.
Rainfall : Annual average between 1,250mm and 1,500mm.
Annual average temperature between 26oC and 27oC.
BEN TRE, located at the end-stream of Mekong River, is one of the 13 provinces that make up the Mekong Delta. It faces the South China Sea and provinces such as Tien Giang, Tra Vinh, and Vinh Long. The Province's central point is 86 kilometres from Ho Chi Minh City- one of the largest cities in the country - by road to the North-East. That is, travellers from Ho Chi Minh City should ride (bus or motorbike) Southwest through Long An and Tien Giang provinces before arriving in Ben Tre. The Province's main rivers are Tien, Ba Lai, Ham Luong and Co Chien Rivers, depositing and enriching the soil with layers of alluvium for centuries, and cutting it into three large islets: An Hoa, Bao, and Minh. You can see on the map the land spread into a pie shape, with its peak at the upstream, and the River's branches like the pokes of a big hand-shaped pie spreading out to the East. The Province has a natural land area of 2,315 square kilometres and a population of 1.4 million. It has a flat terrain, with sand elevations intermittantly intermingling with orchards, coconut woods and rice fields. There are almost no woodlands here, and the main land is surrounded with rivers and sea waters.
How to visit Ben Tre
There are two ways to reach Ben Tre by road. The first one is going from Ho Chi Minh City on the National Highway 1A to the Trung Luong T-junction in My
Tho City, then turn right into the National Highway 60 to Rach Mieu Ferry (about 4 km from Trung Luong). The total length of this way is 86 km.
It takes each of the large ferry boats about 22 minutes or so to finish its journey to the Ben Tre side, while the small ones travel in only 15 minutes. The Ferry operates round the clock (24 hours a day). At the moment, there is an express ferry boat which crosses the river in a little more than 10 minutes. There is no peddling on the ferry boats, and Rach Mieu Ferry is considered the cleanest and best organized in the country.
The other way is to go from Can Tho City to Vinh Long province, then take the National Highway 57 after crossing the (small) Dinh Khao Ferry to Cho Lach District going on to Ben Tre Township. The length is 50.7 km.
Besides, visitors can also reach Ben Tre by boat on the Tien River, or take tourist ships traveling by sea and sailing up-stream the Tien River. However, this way is currently a bit inconvenient for there are no harhbours with enough capacity to receive large sea-borne ships.
There is no airport in Ben Tre province.
Mekong delta Map