The Mekong Delta
Touring the orchards, paddy fields and swamplands of the Mekong Delta, you could be forgiven for thinking you've stepped into the pages of a geography textbook. A comma-shaped flatland stretching from Ho Chi Minh's city limits southwest to the Gulf of Thailand, the delta is Vietnam's rice bowl, an agricultural miracle that pumps out more than a third of the country's annual food crop from just ten percent of its total land mass. Rice may be the delta's staple crop, but coconut palms, fruit orchards and sugar-cane groves also thrive in its nutrient-rich soil, and the sight of conical-hatted farmers tending their land is one ofVietnam's most enduring images.
To the Vietnamese, the region is known as Cun Long, "Nine Dragons", a reference to the nine tributaries of the Mekong River which dovetail across plains fashioned by millennia of flood-borne alluvial sediment. By the time it reaches Vietnam, the Mekong has already covered more than four thousand kilometres from its source high on the Tibetan Plateau; en route it traverses southern China, skirts Burma (Myanmar), then hugs the Laos—Thailand border before cutting down through Cambodia and into Vietnam - a journey that ranks it as Asia's third-longest river, after theYangtse andYellow rivers. Flooding has always blighted the delta; ever since Indian traders imported their advanced methods of irrigation more than eighteen centuries ago, networks of canals have been used to channel the excess water, but the rainy season still claims lives from time to time.
Surprisingly, agriculture gripped the delta only relatively recently. Under Cambodian sway until the close of the seventeenth century, the region was sparsely inhabited by the Khmer krom, or "downstream Khmers", whose settle-ments were framed by swathes of marshland. The eighteenth century saw the Viet Nguyen lords steadily broaden their sphere of influence to encompass the delta, though by the 1860s France had taken over the reins of government. Sensing the huge profits to be gleaned from such fertile land, French colons spurred Vietnamese peasants to tame and till tracts of the boggy delta; the peasants, realizing their colonial governors would pay well for rice harvests, were quick to comply. Ironically, the same landscape that had served the French so well also provided valuable cover for the Viet Minh resistance fighters who sought to overthrow them; later it did the same for the Viet Cong, who had well-hidden cells here - inciting the Americans to strafe the area with bombs and defoliants.
A visit to the Mekong Delta is so memorable because of the region's diversity. Everyday scenes include schoolgirls clad in "white ao dai cycling along country lanes; children riding on the backs of water buffalo; rice workers stooping in a sea of emerald; market vendors grinning behind stacks of fruit; bright yellow incense sticks drying at the roadside; flocks of storks circling over a sanctuary at dusk; Khmer monks walking mindfully in the shadow of pastel pagodas; locals scampering over monkey bridges or rowing boats on the Delta's maze of channels.
It's difficult to overstate the influence of the river: the lifeblood of the rice and fruit crops grown here, it also teems with craft that range in size from delicate rowing boats to hulking sampans, and it forms a backdrop to everyday activities some of the region's biggest markets are waterborne. Inevitably the best way to experience riverine life is on a boat trip. Day trips can be organized in Ho Chi Minh City, My Tho, Vinh Long, Can Tho or Chau Doc, while some tour operators offer 2—3 day live-aboard trips (see box below). Since most day tours follow a similar itinerary (a visit to a floating market and stops at cottage indus-tries on the shore), you'll probably want to choose just one. Though Can Tho is most popular for its good range of hotels and restaurants, you're likely to see more tourists than locals in the nearby floating markets. A good alternative is Vinh Long, from where boats head out in many different directions through the canals of An Binh Island to the floating market at Cai Be.
There are over a dozen towns in the delta with facilities for tourists, though some are rarely visited as they are not on the way to anywhere. My Tho is well geared up for boat trips, and near enough to Ho Chi Minh City to be seen on a day-trip: it affords an appetizing glimpse of the delta's northernmost tributary, the Tien Giang. From My Tho, laidback Ben Tre and the bounteous fruit orchards besieging it are only a hop and a skip away. Cao Lanh is strictly for bird enthusiasts, but Sa Dec, with its timeless river scenes and riotously colourful flower nurseries, has a more universal appeal, while just down the road, Vinh Long is another jumping-oft" point for boat trips.
Many visitors spend a day or two in Can Tho, the Delta's biggest settlement. to take advantage of its decent hotels and restaurants and to recharge batteries before venturing out to the floating markets nearby. From Can Tho, there's something to be said for dropping down to the foot of the delta, where the swampland that surrounds Ca Mau can be explored by boat. Pulling up, en route, at the Khmer stronghold of Soc Trang is especially rewarding if your trip coincides with the colourful Oc Om Bok festival, during which the local Khmer community takes to the river to stage spectacular longboat races. Northwest of Can Tho meanwhile, and a stone's throw from the Cambodian border, is the ebullient town of Chau Doc, south of which Sam Mountain prpvides a welcome undulation in the surrounding plains. The opening of the border here has brought a steady stream of travellers going on to Phnom Penh by boat, and several of them rest up a few days here before leaving the country.
A bustling fishing port due south of Chau Doc on the Gulf of Thailand, Rach Gla is a convenient place to catch a boat or short flight to Phu Quoc Island, whose splendid beaches are a big draw for tourists. Northwest of Rach Gia, Ha Tien, a remote border town surrounded by Khmer villages, now also has daily boats'to Phu Quoc.The town has recently become popular for its international border crossing, which allows beach bums to slide along the coast from Phu Quoc Island to Sihanoukville in Cambodia or vice versa.
Given its seasonal flooding, the best time to visit the delta is, predictably enough, in the dry season, which runs from December to May.
- Best time to visit Vietnam
- Cost of daily items & tipping
- Tips and advice to help you stay safe during your trip
- Business travellers
- Vietnamese money and currency
- Medical & health information
- 20 biggest travel mistakes
- Customs and immigration
- Motorbike hire
- Travelling by bus or coach
- Public Train in Vietnam
- Domestic Flights Vietnam
- Cheap Flights to Vietnam
- Taste fried Vietnamese spring rolls-Top things to do in Vietnam
- Sapa Homestay-Top things to do in Vietnam
- Hanoi City Tour-Top things to do in Vietnam
- Drink like a local-Top things to do in Vietnam
- Halong Bay in the ricefields-Top things to do in Vietnam
- Climb Fansipan Mountain-Top things to do in Vietnam
- Cruise Halong Bay-Top things to do in Vietnam
- Vietnam Government
- Vietnam Religion & Lifestyle
- Origins of the Vietnamese Language
- Vietnam History
- Vietnam travel safety - How is safety to travel to Vietnam
- Best time to travel to Indochina
- Gay and Lesbian Travel Tips
- Three steps to avoid fraud when booking travel online for your Vietnam holiday
- Best time to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia
World Heritage in Vietnam
- Son Doong Cave History
- Structure of Son Doong Cave
- Son Dong Cave
- Stone Stele Records of Royal Examinations of the LE and MAC Dynasties
- Buddhist Sutra Woodblocks of Truc Lam Zen
- Art of Don Ca Tai Tu Music and Song in Southern Vietnam
- The Space of Gong Culture in Central Highlands of Vietnam
- Nha Nhac - Vietnamese Court Music
- Ca Tru Singing
- Quan Ho Bac Ninh Folk Songs
- Xoan Singing
- Worship of Hung Kings in Phu Tho
- Giong Festivals at Phu Dong & Soc Temples
- My Son Sanctuary
- Hoi An Ancient Town
- Complex of Hue Monuments
- The Citadel of the Ho Dynasty
- The Central Sector of Imperial Citadel of Thang Long - Ha Noi
- Dong Van Karst Plateau
- Phong Nha - Ke Bang National Park
- Halong Bay - World Natural Heritage
Top 10 Most Interest
Son Doong Cave History From an early age, local man Ho Khanh used to spend weeks on end trekki...
Structure of Son Doong Cave The first expedition had been halted by an 80m high calcite barrier, ...
Son Dong Cave Phóto: Internet Son Doong Cave is in the heart of the Phong Nha Ke Bang National ...
Kong: Skull Island Trip & Sapa- 8 Days Starts : Hanoi City , ends : Hanoi City Trip code: KSIT &SP...
Kong: Skull Island Trip- 2Days Starts : Hanoi City , ends : Hanoi City Trip code: KSIT-2D Ages: Mi...
Vietnam visa fees granted to US tourists set to skyrocket from late August The Vietn...
Vietnam to launch e-visas in tourism drive
Vietnam named a favorite destination for Chinese tourists
Visa waivers lift Vietnam's foreign tourist arrivals
'Charm the senses': Vietnam launches new national tourism website The site aims ...
Son Doong Cave HistoryFriday, 25 November 2016 02:18
Structure of Son Doong CaveFriday, 25 November 2016 02:15
Son Dong CaveFriday, 25 November 2016 01:50
Kong: Skull Island Trip & Sapa- 8 DaysThursday, 24 November 2016 03:23
Kong: Skull Island Trip- 2DaysThursday, 24 November 2016 02:01
Vietnam visa fees granted to US tourists set to skyrocket from late AugustThursday, 24 November 2016 01:50
Vietnam to launch e-visas in tourism driveThursday, 24 November 2016 01:48
Vietnam named a favorite destination for Chinese touristsThursday, 24 November 2016 01:46
Visa waivers lift Vietnam's foreign tourist arrivalsThursday, 24 November 2016 01:44
'Charm the senses': Vietnam launches new national tourism websiteThursday, 24 November 2016 01:43