Backpacking Vietnam: Mekong Delta

Chris and Emily on the Mekong
The Mekong Delta was the most overly-touristy, and controlled places we visited in Vietnam. It’s a gorgeous area, with lots of fresh fruit and warm weather, but the tours shuffle you from sight to sight without much freedom to explore on your own.
Mekong Boat Rice Husk Boat Boat Laundry
It was fun traveling around by boat. We were only in the Mekong for two days, but we traveled on 6 different boats and 2 buses. The highways are faster, but are lined with truck stops and are boring to look at. The rivers are a lot more interesting. There are barges filled with rice or fruit; people living on boats showering on the deck or hanging their laundry up to dry; and temples and stores with their main entrances facing the water.
Captain's Chair Mekong Boat Paddling the Mekong
On Sunday we visited the floating market in My Tho, where vendors park their boats full of fruit and hoist poles into the air to show off whatever they’re selling.
Mekong Floating Market Waterfront Cabage Store Watermelon Grab
The sight-seeing portion of our Mekong tour involved a lot of being shuffled between heavily touristed sights – honey apiary, coconut candy and rice paper making workshops, traditional music, fruit orchards, and a congested row boat adventure.
Coconut Candy Making Rice Paper Rice Paper
Rush Hour in the Mekong Mekong Traffic Mekong Tourists

The rest of the time we got to relax, hang in hammocks, and cycle around the islands.
Lounging on the Mekong Hammock Emily Vietnamese Sweets
Bike to School Vietnamese Cyclists Sour Apple

5 thoughts on “Backpacking Vietnam: Mekong Delta”

  1. Hi there. I am going to be in Vietnam in May and am wanting to do a trip to the Mekong Delta. Did you book your tour before you arrived in Saigon? Or did you book it once you arrived? Would you do it via a tour again, or try to do it by yourself? The tours seem so confined and structured, I like a bit of leeway to do what you want and take your time with something or skip it depending on how much you enjoy it!! Any information would be much much appreciated. Thanks!

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    1. We booked our trip in Saigon through Delta Adventures the day before the trip left and didn’t have any problems. The morning we left, there were dozens of tour buses lined up in Pham Ngu Lao (the backpackers district) waiting to take people to the Cu Chi tunnels and the Mekong.

      Confined and structured is probably the best way to describe our trip. The second day was better. Everyone doing day trips and overnight trips had a common first day, and they really jammed everything in.

      If you travel on your own, you will have to barter and negotiate for everything (which is tiring but part of the adventure) and it will likely cost more than the tours at the end of the day. If you have more than a day or two, one option would be to take a tour there, get a sense of the area, and then leave them to travel on your own and explore the area. That’s what we did in Halong Bay and it worked well. I recommend the boat trip to get to the Mekong instead of the bus if you have an option.

      Hope that helps. Enjoy your trip. The Mekong is beautiful even if you’re in a confined tour.

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      1. Great that really helps. Good to know we can organise it all basically when we are there, rather than in advance. And will try to do the boat trip rather than bus 🙂

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