Things You Should Know about the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

Traveling along the Mekong Delta, you will be attracted by the wonderful scenery of the surrounding with floating markets, fishing villages, rice paddle fields or hundred years-old pagodas. However, before you go, here is something that you need to keep in mind.

I.    The weather 

Mekong Delta region is said to be in the area of humid tropical climate weather. The average temperature yearly is 24°C to 27°C and there is little difference in temperature between the day and the night. The region sometimes faces natural disturbances like small storms. Nonetheless, the comfortable weather means that visitors can visit Mekong Delta anytime in year. 
 
Mekong Delta region's weather is quite high but
You can visit the Mekong Delta at anytime of the year

The region only has to separate seasons, the rainy season and the dry one. Rain falls rapidly from May to October, the level of rain during this time is said to occupy 99% total raining time in the year. This offers a specialty of Mekong Delta region, which is the floating season, where visitors will have a lot of fun sailing through the area. 

The dry season stretches from December to April, when the sky falls almost not a single drop of water. The transition time from one year to another – December to April, is said to be the perfect time for travelling due to the ideal weather condition. 

II.    Attractions in Mekong Delta 

1.    Ecological sites

Tan Phong Islet: Tan Phong is a small islet, can be found in the middle of Tien River in Cai Lay District, Tien Giang Province. The place is known for the rich soil which has alluvial deposits and fresh water, makes it ideal for farming and fishing. Nowadays, it also becomes a tourist favorite attraction inside the Mekong Delta region. On the way to Tan Phong, visitors will sail through small canals and enjoy the feeling to be a local once they get there by walking to the path filled with rambutan, durian, banana trees. Here, trying to practice your cooking skills in making southern Vietnamese dishes from locally grown ingredients is a must-do experience. 

Tra Su: Tra Su belongs to An Giang Province, which offers visitors a calming vibe of the river region. Paddling through the route covered with cajuput forest including numerous seasonal plants and animals is an experience like no other. Tra Su is currently the natural habitat of more than 70 different species of birds living in the mangroves and other environments. It also preserves some of the rarest species such as Indian storks, white catfish, cranes. This is one of the most beautiful sites in Mekong Delta and a perfect place for a getaway from the busy city life.

Sam Mountain: Sam Mountain has the height of 284 meters, lying across Long Xuyen Plain, belongs to the region of Chau Doc. The curving paths around the mountain is very intriguing to go on, with nulgar bamboo forest growing on both sides of the roads, highlighted with highly dense shrubs and bushes. The tigon flowers grow a lot around here covering a large area. The birds sing rapidly here, which brings visitor a relaxing and nature-influenced atmosphere. 
 
Looking from the top of Sam mountain in Chau Doc
Looking from the top of Sam mountain in Chau Doc

Tram Chim National Park: Tram Chim belongs to Dong Thap Province. The place is an example of wetland area in Vietnam. The park is special due to the fact that it is the home of many different rare species of birds which are included in the Red Book, notably sarus cranes, black eagles, gray pelicans. Besides, from being a tourist attraction, Tram Chim also has different activities to encourage environmental preservation like cultivating and harvesting. 
 
Incredible eco-system in Tram Chim park
The incredible eco-system in Tram Chim Park

Tan Quy Dong flower village: Tan Quy Dong flower gardens become especially magnificent when the Lunar New Year approaches as flowers blossom in various eye-catching colors. The typical types of flower you might be able to see in the gardens here are apricot, daisy or bonsai.
 
Tan Quy Dong is famous for flower garderns
Tan Quy Dong is famous for flower garderns

Phu Quoc Island: Every time, someone mentions Mekong Delta, we will immediately think about Phu Quoc Island – the most popular tourist destination in Mekong Delta region. It is a large island with a large number of lovely beaches, as many as 99 mountains and a wide area of pristine forests. To the south, we may find about 12 islets in different sizes from An Thoi Islands, and the highlight of the place came from the north, with the marvelous Hon Tay, Doi Moi, Hon Than and Bo Bac Islands. The spots mentioned previously are perfect for tourists to experience different outdoor activities like fishing, snorkeling, nature sightseeing or simply having a picnic with your family. Fresh water beaches, fascinating streams and delicious seafood combined to make Phu Quoc a highly famous destination among travelers to Vietnam. 
 
Phu Quoc - the rising star in the tourist map
Phu Quoc - the rising star among tourist attractions

2.    Historical sites

Khmer Culture Museum: Built in 1995, Khmer Culture Museum holds and preserve many objects and monuments belong to the Khmer people living in the Mekong Delta. The design of the museum is a combination of both traditional Khmer and modern day architectural culture. The ground floor is designed to be the workplace of the directors and staffs of the museum. The museum includes a lake growing many fishes, bringing a peaceful and relaxing feeling when entering the museum. On the upper floor, we can see three art galleries. The first one contains the artifacts belong to the religious temples of Khmer, connecting to a hall for the monks to meditate. Coming to the place, visitors will drift into another dimension, where the spiritual sides of the Mekong Delta come alive. 

Cham Village in An Giang: Da Phuoc Cham Village was established nearly 120 years ago, mainly formed in Ha Bao and has the size of 2 small villages, stretching along the National Highway 91C on one side, and Hau river on another. This is the place where Ehsan Cathedral and Sunnah Cathedral are located. Both of them are the center of many religious activities of the Cham minorities in An Giang. Cham village has a reputation for having an unique style of architecture, including churches and wooden houses that was built more than a century ago.
 
Cham Village in An Giang
A little sight of Cham Village in An Giang

Ba Chua Xu Temple: Ba Chua Xu is a mythical character founded 200 years ago. The temple is said to have been built in the 1800s and the village where it is located benefitted greatly after the completion of the construction. Ba Chua Xu Temple received almost 2 million visitors annually, not only from the nearby areas, but also tourists from the East and Central area of Vietnam. 
 
Ba Chua Xu temple
The 200 year-old Ba Chua Xu Temple 

3.    The floating markets

a.    Cai Be floating market 

Founded for as long as 300 years, Cai Be floating market sits in the intersection between three provinces: Vinh Long, Ben Tre and Tien Giang. It is considered as the earliest established floating market in Mekong Delta and drawing attention from both locals and tourists. The variety of products being sold here were impressive, it had many things from fruits, poultry, seafood, even home appliances or textiles. If you are fond of buying gifts for you friends, you should consider buying some of the place’s specialties like sugar, coconut candy or coconut soap. The market opens and closes very early in the morning, from 2.00 am to 8.00 am. 

b.    Cai Rang floating market 

Cai Rang market is well-known to anyone who visited Can Tho. The market usually focuses on selling fruits and locally made horticultural products. The market opens every morning from 5.00 am to 9.00 am, compiling hundreds of small boats parking and exchanging products like no other market on land. Visitors can also enjoy a simple but delightful breakfast while shopping on the floating market.
 
Cai Rang floating market
Buying local products in Cai Rang Floating Market
 
c.    Phung Hiep floating market 

Phung Hiep floating market can be found in the south of Hau Giang province. Some people also call the place Nga Bay Hau Giang floating market. Phung Hiep also offers a lot of different products, but focusing on West style handicrafts resemble the looks of gecko, turtle or lizard. 

d.    Long Xuyen floating market 

In order to get to the market, visitors only have to travel for about 2 kilometers from the city center. Long Xuyen floating market offers various tropical fruits like pineapple, watermelon, coconut, banana or mango. The fruits here are carefully chosen so as to they have the best quality possible, both in its look or its taste. The price is ridiculously cheap here, as for a big watermelon only costs you 5,000 VND per kilogram and a dry coconut costs only 6,000 VND. Not only an exchange spot, this place is home to many sellers in the market.
 
e.    Tra On floating market 

Tra On floating market is located on the shore of Hau river and has the length as long as 300 meters. The market often known as a wholesale market where other sellers come to the place looking for goods to be distributed. The market mainly sells local-made farming products such as yams, sweet potato, cucumber or specialties like Hoa Binh star apple or Luc Thanh durian. The boats in Tra On are strangely decorated in many colors and shapes. Don’t miss the market’s specialty called ‘firefish’ that cannot be found anywhere. 

III.    Things to know when visiting Mekong Delta

1.    Means of transport

Going by plane will save you a lot of time when travelling to the Mekong Delta region. Once you arrive at Can Tho airport, rent a car at Can Tho Station, which is located in National Highway 1, Hung Thanh Ward, Cai Rang District in order to travel to other places. 
 
Taking flys to Mekong Delta
There are many options to transfer to Mekong Delta

You can also travel by bus if you are in Ho Chi Minh City, starting from Mien Tay Bus Station. The tickets are cheap. It is a good way to save your money during your trip. You can buy them at 395 Kinh Duong Vuong, An Lac Ward, Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City. 

Traveling by bike is another option: just go on the route 1A Highway, it will lead you to other provinces in the Mekong Delta like Long An, Tien Giang, Ving Long or Dong Thap. However, remember that the roads leading to the provinces here are quite uneasy and therefore, we recommend you to choose the other two options above, instead of try travelling on your own.

When you begin exploring the Mekong Delta, traveling by boats or canoes is the most suitable way, so kindly ask for a life jacket in order to ensure safety during your trip. 

2.    Clothes

The weather is quite comfortable here, however, the temperature is often high, so it is reasonable to bring thin jackets, scarf to prevent sunburn and wear summer clothes like T-shirts or shorts. In order to have the best experience without any issues, you should wear sport shoes as some places can be quite muddy and dirty in the raining season. 

Make sure your clothes look formal enough when entering religious sites like temples or pagodas. 

3.    Baggage

The weight of your luggage should be minimum when coming to the Mekong Delta and avoid bringing expensive stuffs or wearing precious accessories. Remember to safeguard your electronic devices like cameras, cellphones or laptops with a waterproof plastic bag. 
 
pack light stuffs and don't bring expensive things
Packing light stuffs and avoiding bringing expensive things

IV.    What to eat in Mekong Delta

1.    Duong Dua

Duong Dua is the name of a kind of larvae – a very well-known specialty of Mekong Delta. They are often found on the body of the coconut trees therefore people don’t have many difficulties catching them. However, in order to gather them, people need to cut down the coconut trees.

Far from its appearance, Duong Dua is very rich in nutrition and delicious in taste. It has a lot of proteins along with different vitamins like A, C or B1. There are different ways to process Duong Dua such as fried Duong Dua, Duong Dua salad or Duong Dua flour.

2.    Fish noodles

Fish noodles is regarded as a simple dish but it contains the delightful taste of the Mekong countryside. Depending on places you visit, you may find different variations of the dish such as Chau Doc fish noodles, Kien Giang fish noodles, Soc Trang fish noodles. Each place has its own unique formula.  Although the name was ‘fish noodles’, the dish is made of snakeheads caught by the farmers in the rivers and rice fields nearby. 

3.    Grilled snakehead

Grilled snakehead is a dish that you may find anywhere in the Mekong Delta region. Snakehead fishes are caught in the river. Normally, people use a long bamboo stick to hold the fish, season it, grill it on fire or plug these sticks into the ground, cover it with dry haystack then burn until it’s done. In particular, the snakehead fish weighing 700-800 grams or more, so you should put water into the stomach of the fish and then grilled, under the effect of the temperature of boiling water in the belly of the fish, the meat will be cooked perfectly.
 
grilled snake head fish
Enjoy grilled snake head fish dish

4.    Crabmeat porridge

Crab meat porridge is another popular dish in Mekong Delta travelling guide. The dish is good for health due to low amount of sugar. Apart from enjoying the dish alone, you should add some other ingredients to it to upgrade the flavor such as duck balut or vegetables like spinach or broccoli. 

5.    Mushroom hotpot

Mushroom Hotpot has been a signature dish in Can Tho. It is also considered the most delicious food in Mekong Delta and visitors cannot ignore it. The secret to the wonderful taste is the mam linh or mam sac originated from Chau Doc – An Giang, then combined with fish sauce and coconut milk. 

6.    Pia cake

Pia cake originally made in Soc Trang, the dish is moderate in sweetness and also creaminess, making its taste perfectly balanced. It is often bought by visitors as gifts to their friends and families.  
 
Pia Cake
Tourists often buy Pia Cake as a gift 

7.    Crab hotpot

This specialty tastes differently depending on where you choose to visit in Mekong Delta, other variations might include crabs or shrimps with vegetables. Nonetheless, the sweet taste of crab meat still being retained and the dish is perfect for a hot summer day in the Mekong Delta. 

8.    Mouse meat

Bizarre as it may sound, but mouse meat is very popular among not only the locals but also the tourists visiting Mekong Delta. 
 
grilled mice meat
Field mice meat is able to make different dishes.

During mice season, farmers have to hunt mice in the fields in order to prevent them from destroying the crops, creating another source of food for their families. It slowly became popular and now it is a dish used to serve the tourists as well. 

 

Some notes when visiting Mekong Delta :

  • It is advisable to find out in advance the itinerary, stops, rest and attractions
  • There are many temples and shrines in Mekong Delta, so when you come to these places you should dress modestly and elegantly, in accordance with local regulations.
  • If you go on the occasion of the festival, you should avoid getting lost, keep money, phone carefully prevent pickpockets.


Travel Conversation Questions

Timothy L :
We are flying into Cam Tho and spending two nights at the Mekong Delta before travelling to Phu Quoc. We would like to experience as much of the Mekong as possible in the time we are there.
Thanks for any suggestions!
Karia G : 
Spend those nights in Can Tho and then fly to Phu Quoc island.
Green Village or Nguyen Shack homestay is a good one
Memcey F :

Vinh Long will be backtracking.
Besides, you don't really have that much time.
Staying at one of the above homestays will be better.
Only if you have an extra day/night that I recommend traveling further to the Nga Nam floating market and onto Rach Gia for the ferry.
It will be dry season, so no problem with the ferry.
Cheers,

Alex Levanne :

02 nights in Cantho is fine. 01 day for floating market and its surroundings.
2nd day to Soc Trang or TraVinh/ Vinh Long

Timothy L :

Thank you for your suggestions. The options of flying from Danang to Can Tho would be a Vietjet flight just before noon and a Vietnam flight in late afternoon. I have read mixed reviews on Vietjet - if you have experience with them what are your thoughts? Would be wonderful to arrive earlier in the day to Can Tho.

Karia G : 

Jan is traditionally a "dry" month; ie., the chance of bad weather is very low. Consequently, you're less subjected to a flight delay. The main concern is the holiday period in the last week of January, when all the airlines will be operating at full capacity. The earlier the flight, the better.

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