The Mekong River, at over 4 000 km, is the twelfth longest river on Earth. It rises high up to the Tibetan plateau and flows through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam to meet the South China Sea. This is where The Mekong Delta, one of the most fertile river territories, is home to Vietnam`s agricultural heartland.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MEKONG DELTA
The Vietnamese call it Cuu Long, translated as “Nine Dragons”, and the region is crisscrossed with canals to channel the excess flood water in the most practical fashion. The boggy marshlands and abundant rice fields subsequently provide excellent cover for the whole nation. In fact, it is here where there is more rice produced than in Korea and Japan altogether.
The Mekong Delta is essential for travel and transport, and thousands of boats ply up and down these waterways, from tiny rowing boats to cargo ships, carrying rice, sugarcane, flowers and fruit. All life is there to be seen on the water: colourful river villages and markets, pagodas, a myriad of bird colonies and species of rare fish, and even dolphins to be found. The contrast of tranquil, canal-hideaways and the overwhelming floating markets is striking, but it feels just right the way it is.
TRAVEL TO MEKONG DELTA
The Mekong Delta has become one of Vietnam`s premier destinations when it comes to tourism. Most of the visitors would take an all-inclusive tour from Ho Chi Minh as travelling independently requires plenty of time and a good deal of patience (HOW TO TOUR MEKONG DELTA INDEPENDENTLY)
Known as the “Rice Bowl of Vietnam”, the Mekong Delta teems with verdant rice fields, fruit orchards, vibrant villages and bustling floating markets. Maintaining the ancestral way of life, the locals have adapted well to life on the water. Fishing and river trading is all that matters, and many residents have moved to their boats.
The city of Can Tho is Mekong Delta`s epicentre and the largest city in the region. It is a lively place with pretty waterfront, narrow backstreets and wide boulevards, perfect for inspecting the town by walk. The major attractions are floating markets, Buddhist pagodas, and delicious food and tropical fruit as fresh as can be.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN CAN THO
VINH LONG & CAI BE
The town of Vinh Long serves as the gateway to the rural islands, dotting the mighty Mekong River. Dedicated to agriculture, these isles are covered with fruit orchards and vegetable fields, and the local floating villages and markets that decorate the canals and rivers, boast fresh produce.
Cai Be is one of those rustic and authentic (rarely visited) floating markets with great, original value, where wholesalers buy the wares from large boats while customers cruise the market in smaller boats haggling for their purchases.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN VINH LONG
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST IN THE MEKONG DELTA REGION
WHEN TO TRAVEL
The best time to visit the south of Vietnam is between November and April, however, it gets extremely hot at this time of year. During the winter months, October-January, the rainfall increases and it is also the typhoon season.
Suggested time to spend in the Mekong Delta is 2-3 days.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh.
You can either book a package tour from Saigon (typically a 2-3 day trip, all-inclusive) or take a local bus from Saigon to Can Tho which takes 3-4 hours.
For all international flights check out www.skyscanner.com or www.momondo.com
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