One of the top must-try when visiting South East Asia is definitely the Mekong Delta experience. Compared to playing with elephants on the river and watch the sunset by the bank in Luang Prabang, my experience with the Mekong Delta in Vietnam differ a lot. I personally enjoyed getting to know local music arts and cultures of Mekong people in Vietnam, always with curiosity and adrenaline. Hence on my trip to go explore Vietnam starting in the South from Ho Chi Minh city, I could not miss the tour to Mekong Delta.
Top experiences – Places you expect to see
Our 2 day 1night tour with TNK throughout the Mekong delta started from Ho Chi Minh city, continuing towards My Tho, Ben Tre, Can Tho and ended up in Ho Chi Minh. I went with 3 friends of mine, and a mixed group of Westerners and some Vietnamese elders. They were all very easy to talk to and interactive throughout the whole tour. Here are the top experiences I had and favourite places we visited.
Floating along the river bank of Mekong Delta
In the beginning of the itinerary, I already got immersed in the fantastic Mekong Delta experience. The first time is definitely always a thrill. I have been to Bangkok already but missed the floating market experience, so this was a must-do for me when getting back to Vietnam from Europe. We took a boat ride along the river, view the stilt houses and the fruit plantation along the river bank, then headed towards the Tortoise island and have lunch in the orchard.
Listening to Vietnamese folk music
Following the boat tour, we went to visit a family business of making all kinds of products from honey. They also formed a band that play and sing incredible Vietnamese folk music. You will get to watch the performance, enjoy fresh fruits from their garden and drink tea with honey, all at the same time. They do offer honey both as food and beauty product, at a good price.
I did not buy the honey there because though they seem like very green and clean local home-made products great for either souvenir or self-use, their trademark and hygiene certificate didn’t really seem trustworthy to me. But I supposed that’s the common case for most of the traditional home-produced products in Vietnam. Plus, I am very sceptical with the products I use for my facial skin. And I easily get skin allergies from time to time. Just make sure to test their product first before buying.
Hanging out with a new friend, or more like a new friend hanging on you!
After lunch, you will get quite a long break and time to meet up with a new friend – the local home pet!
Out of the all the reptiles, I hate snake the most. Those creepy creatures without leg could kill you instantly within just the blink of an eye. And I did let them hanged on me, unbelievable. That was probably one of the funniest and most extreme experiences of the entire tour. Would I never do it again? Nah.
Watching the locals of Ben Tre making coconut candies
Coconut candy has always been one of my childhood delights. And to actually see how they were made from fresh coconut to a creamy and thick mixture, and eventually the end-product of square-shaped candies wrapped within eatable thin rice papers.
Making Vietnamese noodles by yourself
The tour guide decided to put me in the spot to be his ‘free labour source‘ in demonstrating how to make Hu Tieu – a sort of local Vietnamese noodle. The machine ran extremely fast, and fortunately neither cut off my hand or messed up with my work. I made my first hu tieu ever! Success!
Lunch provided by TNK was okay, not a highlight though.
Dinner by choice – We went for the popular Da Ly Lau Mam (a.k.a fish sauce hotpot), which was great in terms of how much vegetables they served. We almost finished all the vegetable, and trust me, we do eat a lot! Many people told us it’s gonna be super crowded there but it was empty as we arrived pretty late, compared to the local dinner time, which was probably around 6 to 7 PM.
Breakfast on Cai Rang floating market was excellent. We had bun thit nuong (Vietnamese noodle with grilled pork, herbs and dipping fish sauce) and soy milk, literally on the boat floating in the middle of Cai Rang market.
In the evening, you will have 2 options of accommodation, meaning either staying in a hotel in Can Tho city or a riverside homestay in Cai Rang rural district. Both of these are great. For foreigners coming to Vietnam, I’d recommend going for the latter option, which is more authentic as you will get to experience cycling around the suburb, sharing dinner with a local family from the Mekong Delta and enjoy perhaps even an evening of traditional folk music.
I was travelling with a group of 3 Vietnamese guys. We then decided to stay in a hotel downtown so as to explore the city’s cuisine and check out some impressive modern buildings and construction of Can Tho. We walked through the night market, had some dessert and fortunately even found a local boat driver who offered us a great deal for the group so we can leave to Cai Rang Floating market earlier than the tour group on the following day.
Our tour guide was extremely funny, supportive, and fluent in English. One of the best tour guides I have ever met in Vietnam so far. He was very calm and experienced with a good self-presentation.
You would be surprised how many tour guides in Vietnam you’d come across, who are really bad in English, having a terrible accent or just no charisma at all, not to mention the lack of knowledge about the destination. Please keep in mind that tour guides in Vietnam must be certified before working with any company.
All of the customer service arranged by TNK was excellent, in contrast to a couple of situation I have experienced in Vietnam so far (which I will dedicate another article to write in Vietnam). Book your Mekong Delta experience with TNK Travel here.