Taking a Day Trip to the Mekong Delta

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The moment I had been waiting for in Vietnam had finally arrived.

I finally climbed into a skinny sampan boat and… yes… was handed a conical hat to put on my head.

Vietnam dream COMPLETE.

Sampan boat ride in the Mekong Delta

Okay, so of course I'm exaggerating a bit; I didn't really have “wearing a conical hat in a sampan boat in Vietnam” on my bucket list. … But, still, it WAS pretty cool.

In fact, “cool” is the word I would use to describe the entire Mekong Delta day trip I went on as part of my Intrepid Travel tour of Vietnam.

Sampan boat ride in the Mekong Delta

I was expecting to enjoy it, but, seeing as how it came towards the end of our tour and we'd already had so many amazing adventures — from an overnight cruise at Ha Long Bay to cycling through the countryside to getting custom-tailored clothing made in Hoi An — that I wasn't sure Vietnam could possibly top itself.

But then it did – I loved my day in the Mekong Delta. 

The Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta is a region in southwestern Vietnam where the mighty Mekong River, a river that runs through six different countries in Southeast Asia, empties out into the sea.

The Delta is an incredibly interesting and important region, covering more than 15,000 square miles. It's biologically diverse, with over 1,000 different animal species. It's the agricultural heart of southern Vietnam. And it's also one of the most important fishing regions in all of Vietnam.

Taking a day trip to the Mekong Delta is something you should definitely consider.

Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Visiting the Mekong Delta

Our trip into the Mekong Delta began in Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City. We took a bus a little over two hours outside of the city to the Delta port town of My Tho. We boarded a boat, and began navigating down the Mekong River, learning about how important its waters are to this part of the world.

Eventually, we transferred into small sampan boats, our conical hats in place, to cruise through the canals and quiet waterways of the Delta.

As the local man rowing our boat took long, sure strokes to propel us through the groves of water coconut trees, we all marveled at the beauty of this part of Vietnam. 

Sampan boat ride in the Mekong Delta

Sampan boat ride in the Mekong Delta

Yes, this part of Vietnam is densely populated and filled with fisheries and farms. But it's still beautiful in its simplicity. 

Mekong Delta, Vietnam

I've heard of others who have taken Mekong Delta trips and hated them. Who have said that they were too go-go-go and included too many stops at local agricultural sites and shops.

It's true that tours in Vietnam tend to include stops at souvenir stands or local factories, but I found this to be true throughout much of Southeast Asia. It's just how things are here, in a place where tourism is swiftly becoming an important industry of its own.

On my Mekong Delta tour, after our relaxing float on the sampans, we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant, where they brought us out delicious fresh spring rolls, whole grilled fish, curries, rice, fresh fruit, and more. We then took about half an hour to laze around in hammocks (yes, this really was part of our itinerary!) before setting off to explore more of the Delta.

Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Post-lunch relaxing time

After lunch, we donned more headgear – helmets this time – and piled into motor carts known as “Xe loi” in order to zip around on the few roads and down jungle lanes.

Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Road in the Mekong Delta

We stopped for some fresh fruit (at a spot where apparently young Vietnamese can come and rent little huts by the hour… if you know what I mean…) and our mischievous Intrepid tour guide tried to fix the pretty owner up with one of the men on in our group.

Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Xe Loi in the Mekong Delta

After laughing until our stomachs hurt at our guide's antics, we piled back into the motor carts and headed to a coconut candy factory — the only really “touristy”-feeling stop on this tour.

We watched them make sticky, toffee-like coconut candy, and were offered shots of coconut wine (yes, apparently that's really a thing) before heading back to the water once more to return to the mainland and eventually Saigon.

Coconut candy in the Mekong Delta
Coconut candy factory

When I think back to this day, I remember us grinning in our conical hats and giggling beneath helmets as the xe loi drivers put on speed. I remember swinging in a hammock in what felt like a jungle oasis and the taste of mango dipped in salt and chili powder.

And those are pretty great memories.

Sampan boat ride in the Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta, Vietnam

If you're headed to Vietnam and are considering going to the Mekong Delta, I can highly recommend it – especially if you have some great people to travel with like I did. It's a special part of Vietnam.

Day tours to the Mekong Delta

The tour I did in the Mekong Delta was the Mekong Discovery trip through Urban Adventures. This company offers day tours all around the world with a focus on truly local experiences. This trip is 7-8 hours from Ho Chi Minh City, and is worth every penny if you ask me!

Other Mekong Delta day trips to check out include:

READ NEXT: Traveling in Vietnam with Intrepid Travel

Would you like to visit the Mekong Delta?

 

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Taking a day trip to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

 

*Note: I visited the Mekong Delta as part of a complimentary tour of Vietnam and Cambodia with Intrepid Travel. However, as always, opinions are completely my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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34 Comments on “Taking a Day Trip to the Mekong Delta

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  1. Your photos are incredible although I can’t get over the color of the water…:)

    I’ve done a couple of boat rides similar to this in other parts of the world and am always amazed by the people whose life is completely dictated by the waterway. I think the coolest was in Argentina when I visited the Tigre Delta and seeing the elementary school kids catch the boat to go home ๐Ÿ™‚ Wearing life vests and all on top of their uniform ๐Ÿ™‚

    I too would love to have the conical hat experience!

      It really was quite fascinating! But yeah… definitely not “inviting” water. Haha.

    I thought those hotels, hour by hour, were only popular in Ghana ๐Ÿ˜›

    Looking nice, although must agree with you and Julie, the color of the water is certainly something else ๐Ÿ˜›

      Haha, I thought our guide was joking at first, but then we actually saw two people come in to use one of the huts!

    Amanda your blogs are amazing .they so make me want to return …….your photos are fantastic,
    IIm loving your stuff.The Australian leg of my trip was thrilling ,but how I wish you’d been thereto highlight things I missed .Hope you’re well all the best Robin.x

      Aww thanks so much, Robin! I’m glad to hear that the Australia part of your trip went well! It was so fun traveling with you guys.

    I’d love to do this someday! I think it would be so interesting and you have shown me how beautiful it is with your lovely photos.

    Despite having spent nearly 5 months total in Vietnam and having visited the country twice I’ve yet to make it south of HCMC and visit the Delta. I don’t know what’s wrong with me! Looks like you had an awesome time!

      Haha I don’t know what’s wrong with you either! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just kidding! But, really, you should definitely go next time!

    I would be in heaven there!

      It was surprisingly really peaceful at times – and then insane at others!

    I would love to take this trip someday and would definitely want to wear the hat! I’ve never minded the mandatory stops at tourist traps on my Asian tours. It’s just another facet of the trip to me.

      The hats were such a highlight! Haha.

      And yeah, if you haven’t traveled much in Asia the tourist traps can be a bit jarring. But if you just accept that it’s the way things are there – that people are struggling to make money and feed their families and you are incredibly rich by comparison – they aren’t so bad. In fact, I’ve met some fascinating people a “tourist traps” and also bought some really unique souvenirs that now decorate my apartment!

    The colour of the river is jarring. But that’s beautiful dirt and silt in that water, that organic material which is the basis of all that grows in Vietnam, all that is served onto our tables wherever we are in Vietnam. Beautiful creamy dirt and silt that is the Mekong. Thanks for helping me to relive my own memories, Amanda!

      You are absolutely right, Henry! Being a river delta, there’s tons of silt in these waters. But the helps the ground become so fertile! It didn’t really bother me too much, to be honest.

    Love this!! And the hat ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews of the Mekong Delta, I think it really depends on your tour company and guide. So glad you had a good trip!

      I agree – it definitely depends on the tour and the guide. I was lucky to go with my Intrepid group and with our Intrepid guide, who was fantastic and so knowledgable. I’ve read mixed reviews of other tours. But I would still recommend going! Just maybe read some reviews beforehand…

    Love the description in this post, Amanda! We’re going to do the overnight (Farmstay) tour with Intrepid when we go. Can you tell me anything about tipping the Vietnamese guides, etc.? or even general tipping advice in SE Asia (Thailand, Vietnam). Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Oh awesome! That sounds really cool, Meredith! If you’re going with Intrepid, there should be a section about tipping your guide in your trip notes. I know that for multi-day tours, they usually suggest tipping your guide $2-$3 per person per day. As for general tipping advice, I would usually round up my restaurant bills in Vietnam, and usually left the equivalent of $0.5-$1 elsewhere, depending on the service and my bill. But that’s just the American in me used to tipping everywhere! Some Australians I met didn’t tip at all.

    Nice narrative blog to remind me of our trip to Vietnam almost a decade ago. I have a plan to join our educational tour to Saigon next month. I have got some inspiring ideas from your blog. You use friendly language. You are friendly and talkative too.

      I’m really glad you liked the post, and my blog in general. Enjoy Saigon when you go!

    This sounds great, specifically the conical hats and the coconut wine, which I am brainstorming all sorts of uses for now.

      Haha I didn’t try the coconut wine and the reviews on it were mixed. But I did love the hats! And the coconut candy was pretty good.

    I loved the Mekong Delta too! However, I was happy we didn’t take a tour from a big city and instead made our way to one of the villages and booked a short trip from there. There were very few other boats out and about, which made it feel less of a tour. I loved the “mandatory” conical hats, was definitely on my Vietnam bucket list ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Haha, the “mandatory” hats were fun. And, after wearing one, I can totally understand why you see them everywhere – they work REALLY well!

    […] incredible landscapes, from the limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay to the braided waterways in the Mekong Delta. I was constantly surprised by how different different parts of the country looked — beaches […]

    The mekong delta is a beautiful and often overlooked area by travellers. I did the mekong day trip in 2014 too and it was great. I also got to wear the hat. I think its a requirement ๐Ÿ™‚ we just spent a month in the mekong and it didnt disappoint. Ita a beautiful area.

      I think the hat is definitely a requirement!

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