The ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the delta is carpeted in a dizzying variety of greens. It's a water world that moves to the rhythms of the mighty Mekong, where boats, houses and markets float upon the innumerable rivers, canals and streams that criss-cross the landscape like arteries.
The bustling commerce of its towns contrasts sharply with the languid, almost-soporific pace of life in the countryside. Here buffalo wallow in rice paddies, coconut- and fruit-laden boats float slowly along the mud-brown waters, and two-wheeled exploration of the narrow lanes is amply rewarded with a true taste of rural hospitality (and delicious river fish).
Elsewhere, mangrove forests teem with a wealth of bird life and bristle with the remains of Viet Cong bunkers, ornate Khmer pagodas and Buddhist temples reaching for the sky, while off-coast islands offer white-sand beaches and tropical hideaways to some, and pirate havens to others.
Mekong Delta is a large region with a lot of sites to check out and it’s understandable if you feel a bit overwhelmed. We list here all the must-have things to do and see in Mekong Delta for a trip under 9 days.
1. Visit floating markets to enjoy the daily life on Mekong River
The most unique and peculiar thing about Mekong Delta is no other than floating markets where you can see all the way of life, daily activities and culture of the people here. Floating markets are not a specialty that can only be found in Mekong Delta. Thailand also has many floating markets. Yet, Mekong Delta’s floating markets have their very own different charms. These markets has been existing just simply for local farmers to sell fruits and vegetables to the folks on the land.
- Cai Rang Floating Market – Can Tho
Cai Rang Floating Market is the most famous and also the most touristy floating market in Vietnam. You can visit Cai Rang Floating Market easily once arrived in Can Tho city. However, don’t forget to set your alarm earlier to catch the market that starts at 5:00AM every day. Rent a boat from Ninh Kieu pier which will take you to the market in 30 minutes.
Cai Rang is a wholesale local market where farmers will hang their what they offer on a tall stick to let the buyers know. Some fruits of the land can be named as Nam Roi grapefruit, Vinh Long pink kiwi kumquat or Cai Mon durian. Visitors to Cai Rang market not only can watch the early activities of the locals but also can have breakfast right on the boat, dishes are mostly southern own noodle soups. Other snacks are also available like coconut-leaf-cake or corn or banana pancake.
- Nga Bay/Phung Hiep Floating Market
Nga Bay or Phung Hiep Floating Market has been around since 1915 as a key trading spot for the locals in Nga Bay Town. This floating market is the most vivid and colorful markets in all Mekong Delta region. A perfect floating market if you don’t like the touristy Cai Rang Market.
Just like any other market, Nga Bay also starts very early in the morning every day. Fruits, vegetables and other household goods all stack up on the sellers’ boats, making it a wonderful sight to behold. This market is also the place where animals like turtles, birds and lizards.
You can get there by bus or taxi to get to Nga Bay province which is about 30km away from the city. Boat rental is available but it’s best to do it with a group to reduce the average cost.
- Cai Be Floating Market – Tien Giang
At Cai Be District, there’s a floating market that caters transporting goods, fruits, veggies and even seafood to not only Mekong Delta region but also to the rest of Vietnam. Cai Be is a perfect choice if you don’t have much time to discover the whole delta since its location is quite close to Ho Chi Minh City. To visit Cai Be Floating Market, you don’t have to wake up too early like the other markets since the market opens until later hours of day.
Cai Be province is located 80km away from HCMC through 1A highway. You can there by booking a private tour or getting a taxi. Once you’re in the province, ask the local people for directions to the market.
Boat rental is available for a 2-hour tour with tour guide costing $2/person. Private boat for group of 10 at cost $25/boat.
- Nga Nam Floating Market – Soc Trang
Nga Nam floating market is the junction of five rivers – Ca Mau, Vinh Quoi, Long My, Thanh Tri and Phung Hiep. And for its special location, Nga Nam market is bustling with all the colors and the sounds of the locals. This floating market is very much untouched by the tourism and still remains the unique characteristics of a Mekong Delta floating market.
Come to Nga Nam floating market, you’ll countless of boats selling local goods like vegetables, fruits, seafood and more. Each boat has a tall bamboo stick hanging what types of goods available.
Nga Nam market starts at 3:00AM, become busiest at 5:00AM and dismisses at 8:00AM. Buses are available to Ca Mau, Nga Nam market, costing about $8-$9 for one-way ticket.
Boat rental is available for cost at $1/person and you can visit the whole market.
*Fun facts about the floating markets:
There is only one rule used in all floating markets of Mekong Delta – the sellers will hang the things they sell on a stick to let the buyers know exactly what the merchant is selling.
Yet there’re still some exceptions:
• Things that are hung but not for sale: a large number of residence in Mekong Delta live on a boat so they might hang their clothes for drying which can sometimes be mistaken for merchandise.
• Things that are for sale but not hung: mostly foods and drinks which are very difficult to hang up a stick.
• Hang one but sell another: when traders hang coconut leaf on the lateral bar, it says that they want to sell the boat.
2. Discover Tan Chau Silk Village – An Giang
You don’t have to go all the way to Hoi An for quality silk. In Mekong Delta, there’s a village that has been around for a long time and made its name for natural silk material. Come to Tan Chau Silk Village to see the process the traditional silk making.
Tan Chau silk is known for the softness, toughness and high absorbability. Tan Chau Silk Village is not to be missed in your trip in Mekong Delta.
3. Discover Tra Su Cajuput Forest – An Giang
If you’re curious about what the wetlands of Mekong Delta look like, come to Tra Su Cajuput Forest – an ecotourism site turning green by the water ferns during the rainy season every year. The whole forest is flooded with green water, making an incredible sight especially when the sunlight reaches down the water surface.
The forest is also the habitat for many colonies of water birds, bats and even rare and endangered animals and reptile species.
The only way to visit Tra Su forest is going by boat, paddled and guided by the local ladies. Entrance ticket costs 130,000VND per person. Best time to visit is of course the rainy season from September to November.
4. Taste freshness of fruits in Cai Be Fruit Orchard – Tien Giang
Since Mekong Delta provides two-third of the fruit consumed throughout Vietnam, tasting the fruits should be while in Mekong Delta. The perfect places for that are the fruit orchards which can be found in most of the region. Cai Be Fruit Orchard is the largest fruit orchard in the delta, offers the tastiness of all kinds of tropical fruits. During your visit to the orchard, you can pick up the ripe fruit right off the trees and enjoy them.
5. Bird Watching at Tram Chim National Park - Dong Thap
Tram Chim National Park is another kingdom of birds in Mekong Delta, located at Dong Thap province and can be easily reached by motorbike or car. Spanning over the total area of 7,500 hectares, Tram Chim National Park is home to 200 types of birds, of which many are rare and endangered. This number makes up a quarter of the bird population in Vietnam. Tram Chim Park is also the place you can see a large number of the rare white lotus in Vietnam.
To go bird watching, you’ll have to book a boat tour that costs 800,000VND per boat for a group of 12 people. The tour lasts between 30 minutes to 1 hour or more.
6. Sampan Cruise in My Tho
My Tho is just two hours from Saigon so it’s perfect for a sampan cruise from the city. Regardless where you start the tour, the boat will take visitors to Dragon (Con Tan Long), Tortoise (Con Quy) and Unicorn (Con Thoi Son) islands. The first stop is local fruit orchards for visitors to taste the fruits like jackfruit, pomelo, guava, with perhaps some local drinks like tea. A short sampan boat ride through the thick leaves of coconut trees. You’ll visit a candy factory where candies made of coconut milk are too cheap and tempting to not buy. Lunch is also included in the sampan cruise to My Tho to it may be varied.
7. Visit the Temples in Mekong Delta Vietnam
- Vinh Trang Temple, My Tho
Vinh Trang temple is a very special temple in the whole region of Mekong Delta, covering an area of 2000sqm, adorned with the greenness of the trees and colors of the flowers. Built in 1849 in My Phong village, Vinh Trang is an excellent combination of European and Asian architecture styles. The splendid façade of the temple will give an impressive on you immediately. With five buildings, two ornamental yards, 178 pillars and two triumphal arches, Vinh Trang is a representative of the Buddhist temples in southern Vietnam.
You can walk to the temple if you’re staying in My Tho.
- Bat Pagoda (Mahatup Pagoda)
Lying 25km southeast of Soc Trang downtown, Bat Pagoda is always included as one of the worthiest destination to visit in Mekong Delta due to its enthralling Khmer architecture features. The name of the pagoda will make you wonder if you can find any bat in the pagoda. In fact, the answer is yes: a large number of bats have been inhabited on the branches of the ancient trees in the yard of the pagoda. This is such an interesting feature that makes Bat Pagoda a must-see site during your trip in Mekong Delta.
Taste local food tours are the perfect way to explore and dive into Mekong Delta and make you feel like a local. Mekong Delta 1 day tour will feel like you are walking around with your friends who together go to all the best food shops in town talk about the interesting taste about the food, the people and the beautiful landscape. Best 7 things to eat and drink in Mekong Delta will help you to decide how to find the best food and drink in Mekong food tour.
Bun mam – Fermented fish soup
This is one of the most famous noodle soup during Mekong Delta tour 1 day that we couldn’t stop mentioning it. Solely a bowl of noodle soup consists of rice vermicelli topped with several chunks of crispy pork, slices of squid, a juicy prawn, raw vegetables, white thick noodles and herbs, and covers in the pungent Mekong Fish Mắm to serve the customers. And the true way to have a taste of Mekong in a specialist bowl. You’ll find yourself finishing the whole dish on your own and make your thump up as well.
Lau mam – Fermented fish hotpot
If you’re that kind of person prefers a wide array of choices and want to have food together with your friends while you are traveling. Lẩu mắm (Mắm Hotpot) will address your great idea for this concept. You should do that get a table and be waiting for a variety of broths cooked from coconut water, pork bone and macerated fishes. They also will have a wide range of Mekong ingredients such as “Điên Điển” flower, Giọ Mùng (Dropwort), bean sprouts, spinach water, straw mushroom for you to add into your boiled soup. The vibrant, hot salted fish soup, a medley of flavors spicy, bitter, salty-sweet and pungent of Lau Mam here is no joke. Definitely, one of the best dish in Mekong 1 day tour you must grab.
Hu tiu My Tho
Hu tiu My Tho is considered to be one of the cuisine symbols of the Mekong river with influence from Cambodia, Chinese recipe and mix with Vietnamese taste. It is a fine example of all good things come in a bowl to serve the customers. This noodle soup is a very popular street food and boat food in the Southwest region of Vietnam. In others words, Hu tiu is very rich and tasty cooked with pork bones and dressed up slices of pork, dried squids, fresh and dried shrimps, quail eggs and veggies. Other than that, if you are looking for something lighter during Mekong tour 1 day, Hu tiu My Tho will be your perfect choice.
Banh tam bi
In fact, you can only find special Banh Tam Bi only in the best Mekong Delta tour 1 day. And, you will get in your mind that you find a very new food and it’s absolutely delicious though. Locals here make a plate of Banh Tam Bi consists of rice and tapioca thick noodle look life silkworms, slices boiled lean pork, shredded boiled pig skin mixing with roasted rice powder. In addition, a bowl of Banh Tam Bi will be appearances with a combo cooked coconut cream, fish sauce dip made from fish sauce, coconut water, garlic, chili, lemon juice and fresh vegetables such as bean sprouts and herbs. Let have a seat, eat it slowly so you can feel taste salty, sweet, sour, hot taste blending in your mouth.
Grilled Mekong river fish
Grilled Fish is one of the most delicious foods with a wide variety of fresh fishes and taste crunch from Mekong river that you must try. The grilled fish is sure to impress on your tabe, bursting with the taste from garlic, chili, pepper, salt spreaded in fish skin. Then, having with rice noodles, some kinds of vegetables of cucumber, green banana, herbs and starfruit followed by special sauce. It is on a promise that you will love them because of so much flavourful and healthy.
Banh xeo – Crispy Mekong Delta Pancake
Bánh xèo is not only the famous Vietnamese Pancake but also originally comes from the Southwest region of Vietnam. It is a yellow crispy pancake stuffed with shrimp, pork and bean sprouts. The crispiness comes from the rice flour mixes with coconut liquid ingredient and the yellow comes from the turmeric powder. You can eat Banh Xeo with various herbs and large lettuce which keep balancing between the fatty and freshness and dip into the sweet, sour, hot fish sauce makes. Literally, you will find all the taste of agricultural products from Mekong land.
Last but not least, coconut water is a very popular beverage with the typical taste of tropical fruit and summer. Coconut water naturally has a sweet and nutty taste. It is also a very healthy water because of being less sugar than many kinds of soda and fruit juices. Mekong Delta is as know as the land of the coconut, for this reason, you will easily grab it in your Mekong Food tour and it’s cheap.
Even though Mekong Delta is a quiet and tranquil city nestled in Southern Vietnam, there are several spectacular places here which offer a lot of things to do once the sun sets. It is the capital of Mekong Delta which is known to offer cozy and peaceful surroundings, but due to the increase in the number of visiting tourists, many bars and nightclubs have opened in this region.
Iris Skybar is the amongst the trendiest Can Tho nightlife destinations. Located on the topmost floor of the famous Iris Hotel and centrally located in the heart of the city, Iris Skybar boasts a vibrant night view of the beautiful city. The ambience of this bar is completely cosmopolitan and sophisticated, but the prices of the various alcoholic drinks and appetizers offered here are quite reasonable.
This is another bar cum restaurant which is quite popular among couples who come here to enjoy Can Tho nightlife. Delicious dishes from European and Asian cuisine are served here which can be accompanied with selective divine wines from Europe. One can opt to dine in the veranda which offers magnificent views of the city or travelers can also choose to savor the dining experience in the wine cellar.
Tiny Corner Cafe
Tiny Corner Cafe makes for a very unique experience of Can Tho Vietnam nightlife. One would find many youngsters hanging out here, who are enthusiastic to talk to travelers to improve their English speaking skills. This place has a functional bar as well, which serves a variety of spirits and mocktails. This cafe also hosts live acoustic music performances which livens up the ambience.
Holiday One Sky bar
Holiday One Sky bar is one of the famous bars in Can Tho which provides an open-air rooftop setting with a swimming pool, making it an ideal place for summer parties. One can have a relaxing experience here while sipping on high-quality liquor and spirits with a touch of Mekong ingredients. Authentic traditional Vietnamese food is served here which satisfies the taste buds of every food fanatic.
This is an ideal place for all the non-alcoholics, serving freshly brewed Vietnamese coffee and several other cold and hot beverages. Take a break from visiting the nightclubs in Can Tho and doing the usual stuff and visit this place to witness the hustle bustle of Ninh Kieu Quay while relaxing along the street. Amavo Cafe is a sleek and modern cafe which is a perfect evening hangout spot for travelers. One can even venture into Kim Tho Cafe of this area, which is a rooftop cafe offering splendid views of the sunset.
Can Tho Night Market
Can Tho Night Market is the ideal place to shop for souvenirs and Vietnamese handicrafts, traditional clothing, jewelry and much more. It’s a great place to enjoy the popular street food of Can Tho at the stalls, which offer an assortment of Southern Vietnamese delicacies. The prices of all the goods, as well as the food here, are surprisingly very low. Another night market which is worth a visit is the An Binh Market, which is at a walking distance from here.
One can experience nightlife in Can Tho Vietnam in the form of fine dining at the famous Sao Hom restaurant which serves highly palatable traditional Vietnamese dishes which are creatively curated by the talented in-house chefs. Every food item here has been wonderfully created to taste as well as look delectable. This has the most perfect riverside setting for a romantic getaway with cool breeze brushing against your skin and clear starlit sky. The highly recommended dishes here are pumpkin flowers, shrimp dipped in mango hot sauce, cooked banana and coconut ice cream.
Nam Do is a famous restaurant among the locals for the truly flavorsome authentic Vietnamese food. Along with the Mekong specialty dishes, Nam Do offers many meal choices from Chinese cuisine as well. A waterfront restaurant with colonial interiors and architecture perfect for dinner with friends and family lures every traveler who passes by this restaurant. Different variety of sauces are placed at every table which can be experimented.
TransMekong Tours is a popular name among the tourists, as they offer exciting touring options to experience nightlife in Vietnam. Private or group sampan can be hired which takes the on-board tourists through the river where you can enjoy the peace and calm of the river with vibrantly lit city lights in the surroundings. After the ride, the boat stops at one of the famous restaurants of Can Tho.
A private group of local guides going by the name “Mekong tours” offer fascinating touring options of the streets of Can Tho on a bike to explore the best restaurants and best bars in Can Tho. One can hop on the back of a bike and the guide will take them through a series of city streets to explore the best nightlife in Can Tho.
Go on a food tour
Can Tho is a city filled with good food, a place where the old intertwines with the new. What better way to explore it than on the back of a motorbike? Hop on a bike with a local guide as they take you around some of the city centre’s hidden street food gems, from fresh nem nuong to local beer and more. Guaranteed to satisfy you in every way.