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  Mekong Travel Guide
 

 

 
     
   
   
   
 
  Discover the authenic Mekong delta and cruise the river in comfort !

Get there:


The Mekong delta is near to Ho Chi Minh City, and Can Tho (Cần Thơ) is merely 4 hours' drive away, so it is easy to access by road, although there is only one main road, and as such it is rather crowded.

There are some flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho, and Ho Chi Minh and Rach Gia. There are also some flights and speed boats between Rach Gia and Phu Quoc Island.

The Mekong delta is also a natural passageway from southern Vietnam to Cambodia, which can be entered overland or by river. Visas on entry to Cambodia are possible at some (but not all) entry points, however visas for Vietnam must be obtained in advance.
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Floating markets

The floating markets are a very lively scene, accommodating much of the goods exchange throughout the area.

Cai Be, one of the many well-known floating markets in the western region of southern Vietnam was formed in the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century. The Cai Be Floating Market is always busy, bearing all the characteristics of the locals’ life in the western region. All the goods are transported to the market by rafts and boats.

The floating market lies in the Tien River, adjacent to three provinces of Tien Giang, Vinh Long and Ben Tre. The market is divided into two parts: buying and selling places. Rafts and boats are anchored along the two sides of the river for kilometres. Approximately 400 to 500 boats filled with fruits, vegetables, and other products are anchored along the banks of the river. The merchandise sold in each boat is hung on a pole in front of the boat to attract customers. From the floating market, goods are shifted for selling at inland markets or small boats take them for delivery along canals in the Plain of Reeds.

From three 3.00 am in the early morning, rafts and boats are crowded because Cai Be is one of the biggest wholesale markets in the region. Traders live on the river and some link their lives with boats like their mobile house for generations. Cai Be seems to be an inseparable part of their daily lives. On each boat, goods are hung on poles that are called dialectically “cay beo”. Hundreds of such poles point the sky wards. Boats also operate like “taxis,” very convenient for tourists around the region. Along the criss crossing canals, people in the Plain of Reeds take not only goods of each countryside to the Cai Be Floating Market but also their unique cultural characteristics, creating such a beautiful river painting.

Cai Rang (Cái Răng) floating market is one of the most interesting sights in the Delta are the floating markets and associated river life. Cai Rang Floating Market is open all day but it is busiest from sunrise to about 9am. The main items sold there are farm products and specialties of Cai Rang Town, Chau Thanh District and neighboring areas. Every boat has a long upright pole at its bow on which samples of the goods for sale are hung.

During the early morning market hours, larger sized boats anchor and create lanes that smaller boats weave in and out of. The waterway becomes a maze of hundreds of boats packed with mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even smuggled goods like cigarettes. Sellers do not have to cry out about their goods because their goods can be seen in a distance and their cries would not be heard in the vastness of the river and the noise of boat engines. Small boats that sell beer, wine and soft drinks go among the other boats to serve market-goers and visitors. Sellers tie their goods to a tall pole so that buyers can see from a distance what they are selling.

Each boat is loaded with plenty of seasonal goods. Activities at the market are also an occasion for tourists to study the cultural aspects of southerners. You can see the market in the distance, it does not look like much, just a mass of boats. The boats all display their wares on a mast so you can see what they have available.

To visit Cai Rang Floating Market, visitors can join a tour of the Mekong Delta. On the way to Can Tho, visitors can stop to visit My Tho and take a boat trip to visit orchards, bee farms and coconut candy establishments in Ben Tre.

Phong Dien (Phong Điền) is further upstream the Can Tho river, and worth seeing as it is a retail market. It is very active at dawn, but slows down early too, so you may want to go there by land. The arroyos back to Can Tho are also very much worth a ride on a small boat.

Phung Hiep (Phụng Hiệp) floating market is much farther away, in the neighboring Hậu Giang province, but deserves a trip if you are going to stay more than a few days, as it is always bustling with activity.
Phung Hiep is the biggest floating market in the Mekong Delta. The market open at 4.00 am and are open till 11.00 am. To visit the floating market, you should stay in the Mekong Delta area, wake up early and take one of the boats first hour in the morning. If you do a one day excursion, the market will be already closed by the time you get here. On a typical day, you might see coconuts, mangoes, a heap of turtles, a box of snakes or even a pot-bellied pig being paddled from a riverside village to be haggled over in the floating market. Trading begins as early as 4.00 am, and by sunrise, the waterways are clogged with the sampans of marketeers and customers. Vendors of smaller items hoist a sample of their wares on a bamboo pole. Shoppers come by land and water, and as they stumble from boat to boat, they often interrupt their shopping to enjoy bowls of noodles prepared, rather alarmingly, on open fires in special ‘fast food’ sampans.
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What to see

Most of the interest of the place resides in its floating markets, and the life around the rivers criss-crossing the area; also the national parks and nature reserves.

It is possible to take tours on small boats around My Tho (Mỹ Tho) and the islands north of Ben Tre (Bến Tre); around Cai Be (Cái Bè) and the An Binh peninsula; and around Can Tho (Cần Thơ). Both Cai Be and Can Tho feature floating markets.

Delta Adventures run 2 & 3 day tours. The 3 day misses much of the Cai Be (Cái Bè) and the An Binh peninsula. It is a long trip home on day 3, and avoid it if you can. 2 day appears to be a little better, although again the trip home is 7 hours by boat, followed by 3 on a bus.

It is also possible to get away from the main road and into the more remote rivers on board larger river cruisers for discovery cruises of the area in comfort.

Mt. Cam is a notable but not very advertised attraction worth seeing. It is a mountain in the An Giang province where you can either hike or take a motorbike tour to the top to see a lake, a very large buddha statue and a temple with a few pagodas.
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Major Cities

My Tho
My Tho, the quiet capital city of Tien Giang province, is the. closest city in tile Mekong Delta to HCMC, and visitors on whirlwind 10-day Vietnam tours come here tot day trips to catch a glimpse of the famous river.
In order to visit floating markets, however, you'll need to continue on to Can Tho.

Being located so close to booming HCMC, one would expect My Tho to have profited handsomely from the country's economic reforms. Sadly, this is not the case - My Tho is one of the poorest cities in the Mekong Delta, though it is said tc have the richest government and one of the strictest police forces.

My Tho was founded in the 1680s by Chinese refugees fleeing Taiwan for political reasons. The Chinese have virtually all gone, now, having been driven out in the late 1970s when their property was seized by the government. The economy - or what's left of it - is based on tourism, fishing and the cultivation of rice, coconuts, bananas, mangoes, longans and citrus fruit.

Vinh Long
Vinh Long is a the capital of Vinh Long Province in Southern Vietnam. It is located at one of the many branches of the Mekong river.

Vinh Long is 70km from Mytho, 34km from Can Tho and 136km from Ho Chi Minh City. The inter-province bus station is 5km from the centre of Vinh Long. There are buses between Vinh Long and Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, Mytho, Long Xuyen, Sa Dec, Rach Gia, and other Mekong Delta destinations. National Highway No.1A and No.53 also runs through the province.

Can tho
Since the beginning, Can Tho was already given the title Tay Do or Western Capital. It is also the meeting point of the various waterways of the Mekong Delta. Today, it has become an industrious city with big bottling companies and fish sauce factories. It is is home to 220,000 inhabitants.

Can Tho is a busy port capable of accomodating large ships from neighbouring countries. Hau Giang or Hau River is the main channel that passes through Can Tho. The land mass surrounding the river was developed very early so the population in this area is probably the largest in all of the Delta region. The land here is said to be the most fertile because of the deposits from the various branches of the river.

Ben Ninh Kieu is probably the most well known landmark in Can Tho. The port lies on Hau Giang and crosses the city of Can Tho. The city opens to the water front where port Ninh Kieu is the focal point of all activities on the river. Frequent ferries carry passengers to Xom Chai island, just a short distance away and a beautiful sight at sunset.

Cantho is 34km from Vinh Long, 62km from Long Xuyen, 63km from Soc Trang, 104km from Mytho, 116km from Rach Gia, 117km from Chau Doc, 169km from Ho Chi Minh City and 179km from Camau.

Road: Cantho has National Highway No.1A, 91, 80 linking to An Giang, Kien Giang provinces. Waterway: Cantho has Cai Cui international seaport. The city is the centre of waterway network of Mekong Delta. There are daily hydrofoils between Ho Chi Minh City and Cantho City. Airline: There is Tra Noc Airport.

Soc trang
Soc Trang is 231km from Ho Chi Minh City, 60km from Can Tho. National Highways No.1A links the province and Can Tho, Bac Lieu.

Chau Doc
Chau Doc is the last town in Vietnam before entering Cambodia. The town is located on the right bank of Hau Giang, 5 km away from Sam mountain, the highest point on the Delta. This mountain gets the name from its shape of a king crab, which is "sam" in vietnamese. It is a sacred mountain for many locals since it is dotted with pagodas and temples. Chau Doc is very famous for "ma('m", a type of fermented fish used regularly as food ingredients or garnishes.

With a population of 85,000, Chau Doc is a bustling city with heavy trade of illegal goods crossing the cambodian border. From smugglers on bicycle carrying cartons of cigarettes on their back to boats loaded with VCR and TV sets to new cars originating from Thailand, it seems like anything is fair game in the wild west of Vietnam.


                                                                                                                          

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