3 days around the Mekong Delta – a DIY travel guide
3 days around the Mekong Delta
Where to go, What to do for your best experience
Heard about and love to travel to the Mekong Delta, the granary of Vietnam, where the sun shines brightly and the locals smile widely? Visiting this land of peace, you’ll see palm trees arch over waterways and boats with painted eyes move silently over pale brown water. Rustic villages, floating markets, and natural landscapes are vibrant and full of life. Wait no more, let’s journey begin and experience the best of Mekong Delta Tours as this article may assist you in planning your perfect 3D2N itinerary of where to go, what to do and more…
Mekong Delta at first sight: What is Mekong Delta about?
Mekong Delta, also called Nine Dragon River Delta is the region in the South West of Vietnam where the Mekong River reaches its end-point and approaches the sea. Comprising 12 provinces, most of the area in the Mekong Delta is covered with many small rivers which are the distributaries of the Mekong River. Therefore, life in this region is very unique and different from other places in Vietnam. In the Mekong Delta, the local people sell and exchange merchandise directly on the water, which is usually called a floating market. Besides, this delta is also famous for its delicious tropical fruits, beautiful nature as well as rich culture.
When is the best time to visit the Mekong Delta?
The weather of Southern Vietnam is very stable throughout the year with an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius, making the Mekong Delta an easily accessible destination on any day. However, travel wise, the best time for visiting is between September and November, as these months are the floating season in the Mekong Delta that attracts not only international but also Vietnamese tourists since there are many interesting things to experience.
Besides, the months between December and April are also a good time to visit the Mekong Delta as they align with the harvest season of fruits, so you will have a chance to enjoy many Vietnamese tropical fruits when they are fresh and delicious.
In the Mekong Delta, the wet season begins in May and lasts until August. However, the rains in this region are usually short and won’t affect your trip seriously. Visiting the Mekong Delta during these months is also not a bad choice at all.
The DIY 3D2N itinerary to the Mekong Delta
Day 1: Visiting Can Tho & the must-try
As the center of politics, economy, culture, and transportation of the Mekong Delta, Can Tho is a buzzing town with a lively waterfront lined with sculpted gardens, an appealing blend of narrow back streets and wide boulevards. It is also the perfect base for nearby floating markets, the major draw for tourists who come here to boat along the many canals and rivers leading out of town. To Can Tho is to admire the very beauty and sweet culture of the busiest urban area of Southern Vietnam.
Cai Rang Floating Market
As being said, the market was formed by the Khmer people (originating in Cambodian) over a century ago, when road and transportation had not been developed yet. Nowadays, in spite of widely developed road transportation, the floating market remains and develops more bustling, still to be one of the largest trading hubs in the region. Opening early in the morning, packed into a section of the river, clusters of boats sell all sorts of fruits and vegetables grown in the Delta. When local people and surrounding areas often use middle-size boats, canoes to carry agricultural products to consume, the big boats are owned by traders to deliver fruit everywhere, even Cambodia and China, and small boats that sell soft drinks, wine, and food for breakfast to serve market-goers and visitors.
Soaking up in the bustling atmosphere of the special market, you can feel and smell the true life here. Small hands of local people give bunches of yellow bananas as if they are moving a beam of sunlight into another boat, accompanied by simple English sentences uttered by sellers, which makes many tourists surprised by the friendliness of the locals. Staying long enough, you will see the life of many families with several generations living together on boats. There are boats as “mobile apartments” on the river with flower pots, animals, and even TV, DVD…, which are not only the vehicle used to carry stocks but also the residence of the entire traders’ family. All daily activities take place on their boats. This is an amazing scene to witness and perhaps, can be found only in Can Tho Floating Market.
My Khanh Eco-tourism Village
My Khanh Eco-tourism area is one of the most attractive eco-tourism spots of Can Tho, as it is a convergence of the quintessential river culture with a lot of specialty fruits and local cuisine. Located between two floating markets, Cai Rang and Phong Dien, My Khanh Village boasts bountifulness of nature and a peaceful atmosphere of a garden that perfectly meets the needs of entertainment and relaxation. The whole garden covering an area of more than 50,000sqm is a large orchard with more than 20 species of plants. Not only plants to see here, But My Khanh garden also has many things to experience like monkey circus, dog and pig races, boating, crocodiles fishing, watching Don Ca Tai Tu performance, tasting southern delicacies like sizzling cake, Khot cake, grilled corn, grilled chicken and fish…
Bang Lang Stork Sanctuary
As one of the few spots in Can Tho to see the biodiversity of the Mekong Delta wetlands, which is located in Thot Not District, Bang Lang Stork Sanctuary is a magnificent 1.3-hectare bird sanctuary with astonishing views of thousands of resident storks and snowy egrets. There is a tall viewing platform to see the birds filling the branches, but the best times to view this incredible sight are around dawn and dusk, as from 6 AM to 7 AM the storks fly off to search for food, and from 5 PM to 6 PM when they return. It’s just a must-see peaceful scene in the rural area of Can Tho.
Ninh Kieu Wharf at night
Lying on the bank of Hau River, Ninh Kieu Wharf is the symbol of the harmonious life of Can Tho. Not only being the gateway to discover Can Tho’s floating markets and orchards, but also a charming park on an area of 7,000sqm, featuring a flower garden, walking street, floating restaurants and night market. Stand on the ground of Ninh Kieu Wharf, you can enjoy the beautiful scenes of Hau River, Can Tho Harbor and Can Tho Bridge – the longest cable-stayed bridge in Southeast Asia.
Can Tho’s specialties
Banh Xeo (Sizzling Pancake):
Is the favorite street food of Can Tho. Raw materials for making pancakes are rice flour mixed with coconut milk, turmeric, shrimp, meat … The pancake rolls with rice veggies (spicy green mustard, lettuce, aromatic herbs, basil, bananas, sliced star fruit …) Depending on taste, you can put pancakes with fish sauce or soy sauce.
Bun Rieu Cua (Noodle with crab):
A noodle soup with tomato crab and rice vermicelli and a dumpling/cake made of paddy crab and shrimp paste. The broth is rich with flavors, served with fresh herbs, making it an ultimate breakfast dish.
Lau Mam (Fish-sauce Hot Pot):
This hotpot has a unique combo of saltiness, sweetness, and an aromatic flavor of fish sauce, and is made with numerous types of fresh vegetables harvested in the delta. A must-try dish when you travel to Can Tho and expect authentic cuisine.
Day 2: Visiting Ben Tre & the must-try
Known by Vietnamese as the “Land of Coconut”, just 80km away from the bustling Ho Chi Minh City, Ben Tre is one the best area of the Mekong Delta that seems to retain the feeling of being a complete backwater, to fascinatingly invite tourists to the untouched and natural landscapes to discover its rustic local life, beautiful canals, and traditional activities. Sedate and serene, Ben Tre the calm town is a delightful getaway option for anyone seeking a quick and easy break from city life.
Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary
Located in the two communes of My Hoa and Tan Xuan, Vam Ho is a mangrove forest with many wild plants and 84 different kinds of birds. Visit Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary, visitors can trek across the mangrove forest, visit the resistance base, go through the bamboo bridge and enjoy the fresh air. When you are tired, you can lie back on the hammock swaying under the shade and breathe the fresh air of Ba Lai River.
Cai Mon Orchard Village
Cai Mon Orchard Village is considered as the kingdom of bonsai in Vietnam, and the cradle of fruit trees in South Vietnam, with fruit available in any season. Cai Mon’s professional village annually supplies products such as durians, mangosteens, mangoes, longans, and varieties of citrus. There are also many grafts and multiplication artisans who create the diversity of bonsai shapes by the very spectacular figures of deer, stag, dragon, phoenix… Walking along winding paths around lush green gardens and enjoying the melodious tune of Don Ca Tai Tu music and song, you will realize this is truly a like-no-other place to discover.
As one of the typical tourist destinations in Ben Tre, Phung Island is designed as a green oasis in the middle of the Tien River. Located on an area of approximately 1.500m², Phung Island is where you can explore the unique countryside lifestyle of the locals. There are many activities such as fishing, catching fish by hand, sailing, swimming in the river… This island also contains the relic of the Coconut religion in an area of 1,500 m2, attracting a lot of visitors.
Situated between the Ham Luong and Co Chien Rivers, the Lach Market has abundant silt, vast sand dunes, lush orchards, and prosperity – nowadays especially bonsai prosperity. It is very popular for its specialty of ornamental animal plants, ornamental shape plants, uniquely shaped by skilled hands of artisans. There are several attractions at Lach Market that visitors find simple yet adorable. It is considered a “paradise” for fruit lovers. With sufficient infrastructure modification and a more effective promotional strategy, Lach Market may very well compete with the other modern tourism sites and mark its name worldwide.
Ben Tre’s specialties
Cake soup cracked:
This dish is a specialty of the western specialty made from rice flour, often dressed with duck meat ginger sauce. The reason is called sliced bread sliced to make bread flour soup people will use rice flour, kneaded according to individual recipes of each person. Often, it is difficult to find a place to sell because they usually carry the burden, only local people know the journey, but you can ask any local people.
Broken rice (Com Tam):
Tourists say Com Tam here is better than in Saigon. The meat is usually roasted pork, sliced thin, in addition to chicken ram, small rind, fried egg quarters, cucumber, tomatoes, pickles… Both make this dish eye-catching and rich-nutrition.
You can’t talk about Ben Tre without mentioning Coconut candy. The best Coconut candy is produced in Mo Cay District. It is soft, tasty, greasy and slightly sweet in a unique way that you can’t find it anywhere else. They use a combination of coconut and other fruits like durian and peanut to create a more flavorful candy that will leave your mind unforgettable experiences. Making coconut candy is considered an art, with the secret recipe only transmitted in the family.
It is another specialty of Ben Tre. Unlike other wine, drinking coconut wine won’t make you get drunk but just a little groggy and something special in the throat. The wine is cool sweet with coconut flavor. Ask the local or your accommodation staff to buy the genuine coconut wine.
Day 3: Tien Giang & the must-try
About 70km from Saigon to the North, Tien Giang is very famous for its luxuriant orchards. The economy here is largely built around fishing and agriculture. And it should come as no surprise that in the late 19th century, French colonialists, in their quest to exploit and export, built the Saigon-My Tho (the capital of Tien Giang) railway line to connect the then capital to the river highway. If you love traveling, enjoy exotic tropical fruits and exploring the beautiful watery areas, Tien Giang will be an ideal destination for you.
Cai Be Floating Market
The market is in Cai Be District, the charming town with lots of colorful fruit orchards, vegetable gardens and traditional crafts, and is one of the most bustling and hustling markets in Tien Giang. This market is the place for exchanging and selling products operating from early morning to night. In the floating season, a great number of domestic and foreign visitors come to visit this special destination on an exploration tour by taking a boat to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Cai Be floating market with various goods and fruits.
The Four Major Islands (Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix & Turtle)
A boat tour to the four islands of My Tho City is considered a must when traveling to the Mekong Delta. The tourists sailed across the narrow canals among the islands on wooden rowing boats. The wooden boats can take five or six people by means of oars, and most of them have eyes painted on the bow of the boats. Navigating on the calm water through low jungles in complete tranquility and peace must be an amazing and unique experience.
Tan Thanh Beach
For those who love beaches, this will be an ideal option. The beach is only 50km from My Tho. You will totally enjoy sea activities on the Tan Thanh beach. As soon as you arrive, you will find a soft sandy beach. Tan Thanh is also considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Vietnam.
Dong Tam Snake Farm
Located on the bank of Tien River with an area of 30 hectares surrounded by green trees, this place is considered as the first museum of snakes in Vietnam, where you can see many types of snakes (over 400 species) from poisoned to normal ones. Also, you will have a chance to see how people take the venom from snakes which will be served for medicine and other uses. There is a snake-breeding zone with dozens of species to feed or even to play with. There are also crocodiles and other species of birds and animals on hand.
Tien Giang’s specialties
My Tho Rice Noodle Soup:
The famous dish has a naturally sweet broth, soft noodles serving with fresh vegetables and bean sprouts to make the flavor become stronger. The special thing to make the unique flavor for this special food is the ingredients that are only available in this province. Pig organs, bones or seafood are the main materials to be put into the bow. The fresh local vegetables and bean sprouts are added along with fried onion and pepper. All the essence of the food converged in the bowl of delicious noodles is incredible with the smell of spicy. This dish is a must for those who ever come to visit Tien Giang.
Grilled Snakehead Fish:
This is a specialty dish of the South of Vietnam in general, and in Tien Giang in particular, with the outstanding taste of the food coming from special ingredients and unique method of cooking. The fish must be grilled evenly to be delicious and is served with girdle cakes, fresh vegetables, rice vermicelli, and cucumber. The sauce for this dish is also very simple with the only salt mixed with chili and pepper or fish sauce mixed with chopped star fruit, lemon juice, sugar, and chili.
Bloating Fern-Shaped Cake:
A familiar and tasty food in My Tho, the cake consists of three parts, including the plain cake made from rice flour; the filling made from dried shrimp, bread, mung bean, pork skin, deep-fried onion; and the dipping sauce made from fish sauce, sugar, garlic, chili pepper. The dish can be eaten hot or cold. To serve, the seller tops savory dried shrimp, buttery mung bean paste, crunchy pork skin strips, crispy deep-fried cubes of bread onto the white cake. The dipping sauce is made from fish sauce, water, lime, sugar, chili pepper, garlic, and carrots. The buttery, greasy and smelling sweet Bloating fern-shaped cake is made from rice or rice flour, coconut cream, pandan juice or magenta juice. The filling is made from mung bean and coconut cream.
Grilled Pork Cake:
This dish is very popular here. The main ingredient is pork meat. The pork is washed, boiled well, sliced thinly, stir-fried with shallot and garlic. Then the stir-fried pork is mixed with duck eggs, shallot, garlic, ground pepper, and fish sauce. The book uses a cast iron pot to grill the pork. It is necessary to cover the pot with a layer of banana leaves, the pork and egg mixture, a thin layer of oil, and lastly a thin layer of egg yolk. To serve well, these cakes are cut into small pieces. The locals often wrap vegetables and herbs in rice paper into the roll, which is cut into 5-cm-long chunks, and served with sweet and sour dipping sauce.
Throughout this article, we wish you to have an idea of how to travel to the Mekong Delta in 3 days for your best experience. In case you are looking for your own travel agent, who can offer a wonderful and hassle-free trip to the Mekong Delta, please feel free to let us know. We always commit our best to make it your once-in-a-lifetime journey.