The Mekong Delta makes a relaxing getaway to the countryside as it is roughly 200 km away from Ho Chi Minh City. The southwestern region of Vietnam boasts diverse tropical biodiversity, immense agricultural value, and a rich historical and cultural background. Read on to explore the natural wonders of the area and plan your perfect next trip.
When and How Long to Go to Mekong Delta
The distinct climate of the Mekong Delta makes it possible to visit the region all year round.
The two main seasons are the rainy season (May – November) and the dry season (December – April). Despite the rain, it is actually a pleasant time to travel to the Mekong Delta during the rainy season (also called the floating season) because you can enjoy a variety of tropical fruits, go fishing by the canals, and take pictures of green paddy fields nearby. The dry season, especially during January and February, when it is the time of the Lunar New Year, is when you can enjoy the bustling holiday atmosphere and warm hospitality of the southern locals.
Tour agencies often host one to three-day Mekong Delta tours depending on how many provinces you want to visit and what you wish to do. We recommend spending a day or two at the Mekong is sufficient, unless you’re doing a river cruise and spending the night on the boat, then multiple days are recommended.
Where to Stay in the Mekong Delta
The most popular choice for many tourists is homestays, as they offer the most authentic and local experience at an affordable budget. If you are traveling to big cities like Can Tho or Ben Tre, it is also possible to find hotels with amenities ranging from basic to luxurious.
See our hand-picked list of Top Hotels in The Mekong Delta
How to Get to the Mekong Delta
You can book a plane ticket to Can Tho Airport with any domestic flights from airlines in Vietnam such as Jetstar, VietJet Air, or Vietnam Airlines. From there, use a ferry or bus to get to your city/province in the Mekong Delta.
Traveling by bus is another choice. Come to the Western Bus Station (395 Kinh Duong Vuong, An Lac Ward, Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City) to get your ticket. There are many bus brands that you can book with to go to any province in the Mekong Delta. When in Ho Chi Minh City, you can also get your bus tickets from the backpacker’s area at Pham Ngu Lao Street in District 1.
Find your tickets to the Mekong Delta on 12Go Asia.
If you are an adventurer who loves riding your own motorbike/scooter and enjoying the exhilarating feelings, you can drive to the Mekong Delta to visit every province. However, you need to prepare some essential things such as a map, money, and a smartphone to support the scooter trip to the Mekong Delta. Admittedly, it would take you more than one day to travel through the Mekong Delta by motorbike or scooter, but it depends on the provinces you wish to cover. If you have time and want to ride the motorbike to explore and discover on your own, we recommend a one-week trip.
By private transfer
You can book a car to visit the Mekong Delta, but renting a car in Vietnam will come with a driver, and you don’t get to drive the vehicle yourself. If you wish to rent a car, we highly recommend you hire a local guide to help you arrange different services when in the Mekong, such as boating and lunch.
Book a Private Mekong Delta Tour
A private Mekong Delta tour will save you a great deal of planning time, and a local tour guide will also accompany you on your travel to show you around the area, with thorough insights and helpful services.
Means of Transportation in the Mekong Delta
The street infrastructure in the Mekong Delta has been sufficiently elevated to make it accessible for most types of vehicles. Motorbike is the prevalent means of transportation to explore the nooks and crannies in the countryside. However, since the terrain of the Mekong Delta is well-known for its complicated systems of rivers and canals, traveling by boats and sampans is also commonly seen by both locals and tourists.
Where to Go in the Mekong Delta
|Province||Main attractions||Description||Address||Opening hours|
|Can Tho||Cai Rang Floating Market||A floating market that offers fresh fruits and local goods||46 Hai Ba Trung Street, Tan An, Ninh Kieu, Can Tho||4 AM – 9 AM|
|Binh Thuy Ancient House||An old house with French colonial architecture and tales of a timeless love story||144 Bui Huu Nghia Street, Binh Thuy, Can Tho||8 AM – 12 PM, 2 PM – 6 PM|
|Long An||Tan Lap Floating Village||An ecotourism site consisting of a vast melaleuca forest, peaceful canals, and various structures for other activities.||QL62 Highway, Tan Lap, Moc Hoa, Long An||7:30 AM – 5:30 PM|
|Phuoc Loc Tho Ancient Village||An area comprised of ancient wooden houses and artifacts.||DT824 Street, Huu Thanh, Duc Hoa, Long An||7:30 AM – 7 PM|
|Dong Thap||Tram Chim National Park||A national park was established to protect various species of rare birds.||Zone 4, Tram Chim Town, Tam Nong District, Dong Thap Province||6 AM – 8 PM|
|Kien An Cung Pagoda||A Buddhist temple built by the Chinese people from Phuc Kien in 1924||Tran Hung Dao Street, Ward 1, Sa Dec District, Dong Thap Province||8 AM – 5 PM|
|Tien Giang||Thoi Son Islet (Unicorn Islet)||On the islet, there are many activities that you can do, such as catching fish, visiting fruit orchards, etc.||Thoi Son Islet, Tien Giang Province|
|Tan Thanh Beach||Best known for its rural scenery and delicious seafood.||Cau Muong Hamlet, Tan Thanh Ward, Go Cong District, Tien Giang Province|
|An Giang||Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb||A national historical relic from ancient feudalist times.||Nui Sam Ward, Chau Doc City, An Giang Province||8 AM – 5 PM|
|Cam Mountain (Thien Cam Son)||A mountain consists of many historical relics, churches, and monuments.||An Hao Commune, Tinh Bien District, An Giang Province||7 AM – 5 PM|
|Ben Tre||Phung Island (Phoenix Island)||Relics of the “Coconut Religion” (Dao Dua), eco-tourism site, and activities to experience the countryside of Southern Vietnam||Tan Vinh Commune, Chau Thanh District, Ben Tre Province||7 AM – 7 PM|
|Nguyen Dinh Chieu Mausoleum||A tomb and shrine of Nguyen Dinh Chieu, a national hero and great poet of Vietnam.||An Duc Ward, Ba Tri District, Ben Tre Province||7 AM – 5 PM|
|Vinh Long||Cong Than Temple||A national cultural relic, the temple is a place of worship for locals.||No. 226, 14/9 Street, Ward 5, Vinh Long Province||7 AM – 5 PM|
|Van Thanh Temple||A Confucian temple surrounded by a large scenic park.||Tran Phu Street, Ward 4, Vinh Long Province||8 AM – 4 PM (Closed on Sunday)|
|Tra Vinh||Samrong Ek Pagoda||A Khmer-styled pagoda that is among the oldest in the area.||Don Hoa Commune, Chau Thanh Ward, Tra Vinh Province||7 AM – 7 PM|
|Ba Om Lake||A famous lake in the area, surrounded by vast forests and natural scenery.||Zone 3, Ward 8, Tra Vinh Province|
|Hau Giang||Tam Vu Relic Site||A historical site that preserves the remnants of four intense battles during the French colonial period||Thanh Xuan Ward, Chau Thanh District, Hau Giang Province||6 AM – 10 PM|
|Phung Hiep Floating Market||One of the largest floating markets in the Mekong Delta||Dai Thanh Ward, Tan Thanh District, Hau Giang Province||4 AM – 9 AM|
|Kien Giang||Phu Quoc Island||The largest island of Vietnam, famous for its natural habitat.||Phu Quoc Island, Kien Giang Province|
|Hang Pagoda||An ancient pagoda with a deep tunnel that connects to the sea.||Binh An Ward, Kien Luong Town, Kien Giang Province||7 AM – 4 PM|
|Soc Trang||Buu Son Temple||A unique temple where almost everything is made out of clay.||286 Ton Duc Thang Street, Ward 5, Soc Trang Province||6 AM – 5 PM|
|Mahatup Pagod||Also known as Bat Pagoda (“Chua Doi”), this Khmer pagoda is an important part of the locals’ spiritual life.||Van Ngoc Chinh Street, Ward 3, Soc Trang Province||7 AM – 7 PM|
|Bac Lieu||Vinh Hung Ancient Tower||An ancient Khmer tower dated back to the 9th century.||Trung Hung 1B Commune, Vinh Hung A Ward, Vinh Loi District, Bac Lieu Province|
|House of the Duke of Bac Lieu||The old house of “the Duke of Bac Lieu”, a famous figure most known for his affluent lifestyle and extravagant spending habits.||13 Dien Bien Phu Street, Ward 3, Bac Lieu Province||9 AM – 6 PM|
|Ca Mau||Mui Ca Mau National Park||A national park which preserves various rare species of animal and plants.||Dat Mui Commune, Ngoc Hien District, Ca Mau Province|
|Hon Khoai Archipelago||A small archipelago that is considered to be the southernmost point of Vietnam||Hon Khoai Archipelago, Ca Mau Province|
Vinh Trang Pagoda
Vinh Trang Pagoda is in Tien Giang Province, the most significant pagoda in the Southwest of Vietnam. It has a mixture of construction styles between sophisticated European and Asian architecture. In 1984, the pagoda was listed as a historical, cultural, the national monument. Vinh Trang is a famous place of worship.
Cai Rang Floating Market
Located 3.5 hours from Ho Chi Minh City by car, Cai Rang Floating Market is a special gathering place of trade in the morning for the Vietnamese. It is located on the Cai Rang River, Can Tho City, about 6 kilometers from the center of Can Tho, and takes about 30 minutes to travel from Ninh Kieu Harbor. You will have to get up early in the morning to see the market because the market often begins at 4:30 – 5 AM and lasts for only a few hours every day. To see this market thoroughly, we recommend you spend a night at Can Tho so that you can wake up early and charter a boat through the market and enjoy the sunrise on the river.
The floating market is made up of many small sampans of the locals selling goods, noodles, and morning coffee. Most of the products sold here are tropical fruits and specialties that are self-grown by the farmers. Occasionally, there are some traditional festivals celebrated on the water in the market such as boat racing competitions, special tropical fruits exhibitions, and other outdoor activities.
Tay Do Night Market – Can Tho Market
This market is about 1 kilometer from the center of Can Tho. Besides trading, there are other activities to try such as window shopping, eating street foods, playing video games, and watching live art performances. At night, it attracts not only locals to come and go shopping but also many tourists as well. Check out other interesting night markets in Vietnam.
Coconut Milk Candy Factory
Ben Tre, one of the provinces in the Mekong, is famous for its abundance of coconut trees, hence varied creations of coconut products, namely – coconut milk candy. Chau Thanh village is one of the many communities that have earned their living for decades by making this fantastic treat. Known as one of the tastiest Vietnamese specialties, coconut milk candies have been exported to many markets around the world. Traveling to Ben Tre, you could see the traditional process of making coconut candy with the original techniques. You will get to sample the pieces when visiting the factory of this conventional technique.
Local Fruit Gardens
The fertilized soil in the Mekong Delta is conducive to growing all sorts of tropical fruits all year round; such a prosperous land that the area is dubbed “the country’s fruits bowl”. You would often come across a variety of tropical fruit trees in the local gardens, such as durian, jackfruit, mangosteen, watermelon, bananas, pear, and pomelo (learn more about Vietnamese fruits).
Most of the fruits in the Mekong Delta eventually will be consumed domestically, and some are even exported around the world. These local orchards are where you can experience a farmer’s life, picking fresh fruit, and bringing some home at an incredibly reasonable price, too. The price depends on seasonal demand for that kind of fruit. See here for some addresses of local fruit gardens to visit.
An Hiep, a traditional brick-making factory, is located on Sa Dec Island (Dong Thap Province), on the bank of the Tien Giang River. The most impressive thing about this attraction is the amazing structure of the kiln. The kiln is where the clay is burnt and made into firm bricks; it is also where they store the newly created bricks. The kiln is made of blocks tightly stacked on one another, forming a small dome.
These kilns which were used to produce the building material are not strange to the locals because they have been around since the 1970s. The brick factory has become a tourist attraction for foreign and local visitors in the Mekong Delta tours. Only about 10% of the kilns are still in use on domestic demand because of the air pollution concern.
What to Eat in the Mekong Delta
Fermented Hot Pot – Lau Mam
”Lau Mam” is a delicious rustic hot pot that is popular with many locals in the Mekong Delta. “Mam” is fermented shrimp paste and it is used to flavor the broth along with ingredients such as garlic, lemongrass, beef, fish, shrimp, and greens. In Vietnamese cuisine, Lau Mam is claimed as the specialty of the south and has a very distinctive smell, complemented by the taste of natural ingredients. If you are a foodie and do not mind the fact that one of its ingredients is fermented shrimp paste, you can go to any local restaurant in the Mekong Delta and order the hot pot to enjoy it like a local. It is kind of similar to “bun mam”, but a lot bigger so that you can share with many people.
Vietnamese Pancake – Banh Xeo
While the recipe for Banh Xeo differs from region to region, the Banh Xeo in the Mekong Delta is a must-try. All ingredients are made from local products, from rice flour, turmeric powder, and coconut milk in the batter, to the fresh shrimp in the fillings. Complemented with Vietnamese herbs and fish sauce, the Vietnamese Pancake provides an exquisite taste of the Mekong Delta’s cuisine.
Grilled Snakehead Fish – Ca Loc Nuong Trui
Snakehead is a fish that is commonly used in the daily meal of many Vietnamese, especially those from the Southwest. It can be used to make many dishes and can be found easily in the countryside. The grilled snakehead is traditionally cooked without a stove or other cooking tools. The locals usually use bamboo roasters to place the fish on the ground, then cover the fish with a lot of straw, and start roasting until all of the hay becomes ashes. It just takes about 7 minutes to cook the fish in this traditional way, and you can enjoy the fish right after it is grilled. Another way to enjoy it is by pairing it with fish sauce and wrapping them in rice paper.
Crispy Fried Elephant Fish – “Ca Tai Tuong Chien Xu”
One of the most famous delicacies of the Mekong Delta, the Crispy Fried Elephant Fish is a delicious and healthy dish. The fish is deep-fried with the scales on to create a crispy texture on the outside, while the meat retains the tender and juicy taste of freshly caught fish.
Rice wine is also known by the local name “Ruou De”, which is usually made from glutinous rice. In the Mekong Delta, Go Cong, a place in Long An Province, is famous for its rice wine made from a particular recipe. Winemaking is a traditional culture and a way to make a living for the Vietnamese in the Southwest. If you have an opportunity to visit the Mekong Delta on your Vietnam tour, do not miss out to see the crafting process of making rice wine by the locals and take a sip of this specialty beverage once.
Summary of the Mekong Delta Travel Guide
The Mekong Delta is a vast maze of rivers, canals, and trenches. Annually, there are many tourists who travel to this region to explore and visit the place of diversified cultures, traditions, and cuisines. This travel attraction impresses a high number of visitors every time they come to see and experience it. Known as an interesting place for a visit, the Mekong Delta never fails to impress any visitor because of the local’s friendliness, natural sights, simple lifestyle, and authentic cuisine. These exciting reasons always make tourists want to spend their time visiting the Mekong Delta.