Often referred to as the “rice bowl of Asia” for its emerald-green rice paddy fields, the Mekong River Delta is surrounded by fertile land. On Vietnam’s mighty Mekong, sleepy floating communities live alongside an abundance of tropical fruits, buffalo wallowing in paddy fields, and mangroves rich with birdlife.
The Mekong River Delta ranks among the most popular day trips or overnight excursions from Ho Chi Minh City. It’s pleasant to forget the commotion of the big city as you float along the serene mud-brown waters, and there is much to learn here about Vietnam’s past and present. Travelers can combine a ride through Saigon’s canals with a sunset Mekong River cruise, or take a private tour of the unspoiled countryside in southern Vietnam.
If you have more time to spare, set out on a multi-day tour of the Mekong River Delta’s rural settlements, to get a taste of local life. Many longer tours also cruise through Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A tour of the Mekong River Delta is a must for adventure travelers and those interested in the local culture of Vietnam.
- Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water, as much of the Mekong Delta is unshaded.
- Day trips to the Mekong Delta typically last upward of eight hours, while multi-day tours are usually two to three days.
- How to Get There
- The easiest and most convenient way to experience the Mekong Delta is on a guided tour from Ho Chi Minh City. Those who’d prefer to visit independently can take a bus from Ben Thanh bus station to My Tho or Can Tho, two of the larger villages in the Mekong region.
When to Get There
To get the most of your visit to the Mekong River Delta, plan for an early departure from Ho Chi Minh City so you’ll arrive when the floating markets are still in full swing. Multi-day tours allow you to experience the atmosphere in the early morning and evening hours, when the light is most beautiful.
Floating Markets of the Mekong Delta
The iconic floating markets are a star attraction in the Mekong Delta, and for good reason. Cai Rang, the largest floating market, specializes in exotic fruits and food vendors selling fish noodle soup. Cai Be Floating Market is the closest to Ho Chi Minh City—an accessible option for independent travelers. Farther afield is Tra On, a market that starts very early in the morning to sell seasonal agricultural goods, including fruit brought straight from nearby orchards.