Craig and I visited the Mekong Delta last time we were Vietnam in 2003, we were really keen to take the kids there and experience it for themselves. Originally Craig had said he wanted to do a homestay on the Mekong but we didn’t have enough time in HCMC to fit it in which was a shame. We were determined they wouldn’t miss out though so a day trip was the only other option.
There are plenty of different tour groups that will take you to the Mekong Delta and they are a well oiled machines. The groups cover off the different districts of HCMC for hotel pick ups ensuring that the buses are on the road and heading to Mekong within the time frames specified. Traffic is mayhem in HCMC and this ensures that the tours run on schedule.
We only had a short stay in Vietnam but if you are able to stay longer I found this brilliant post detailed how to spend 3 weeks in Vietnam and I honestly believe that the longer you have the better and there is plenty of things to do to fill in 3 weeks, a Mekong Delta Homestay would be my first recommendation!
We found that the easiest way to book tours was through the hotel tour desk. As I’ve said in previous posts we arrived in HCMC very late and didn’t realise that our hotel had one, we were out and about the next day and came across the one below and found them to be great also. Once we realised that there was one where we were staying though we booked our tickets to the Vietnamese Water Puppets and our Cyclo City tour through them and were able to charge it to our room.
N: Dai Ly Ve May Bay
A: 187 Le Thanh Ton, Q.1, TP, HCM
T: (84-8) 38 273 880
We also booked our Cu Chi Tunnels tour through them and can highly recommend them for anything you would like to book, their english is good and they write everything down for you.
When booking the tour we were advised to be in the foyer of our hotel, the Signature Saigon Hotel, at 8am for an 8am-8.15am pick up. We were the last to be picked up and then we were on the road heading off to the Mekong Delta. The drive is approx. 2 hours from HCMC and often longer depending on traffic. My favourite thing about sitting on buses is taking in life on the road. I could sit for hours taking it in and I think I took close to 300 photos, heres a couple of my best ones that tell you what life on the road in Vietnam is all about.
Phillip, our tour guide, told us that we would have a stop after about an hour or so into the trip at the Mekong Rest Stop, we stopped for around 20mins, enough time to go to the bathroom and do a spot of shopping or purchase some refreshments. It looked like most of the tours stopped here so the facilities were pretty clean and souvenir shop stocked most of what you see around the rest of Vietnam at the minute. I bought a few hand made book marks for gifts and Alannah wanted a bag that was the perfect size for her iPad mini.
Back on the bus and off we went for about another hour until the bus arrived at a pier at Trung Luang on the Mekong. We left the bus there for the day and jumped on a motorised boat that took us across to My Tho where we tried some locally produced honey tea. The honey is farmed by the local people and after tasting the tea you have the opportunity to purchase some to take home . The lady that served us had a little boy and he was really sweet, I took a photo of him with Caelan.
We then walked through the village and stopped for a fruit basket and listened to some traditional folk songs sung to us by the locals. We sat and listened to 3 singers while we enjoyed our fruit and then walked through to the rear of the village and got into a canoe. A couple of locals paddled us down the canal for 2kms where we got into larger boat which took us to another area that makes coconut candy. If you are going on this tour make sure you have some money to tip people along the way. It doest have to be a lot but a token of appreciation goes a long way and the local village people are very grateful.
The coconut candy mill is also located on the banks of the Mekong. The coconuts are grown locally and the candy produced and wrapped ready for sale. I hadn’t realised Caelan had sat himself down next to the lady that was wrapping the candies, she was showing him how to wrap them and was letting him have a go. It was lovely watching him interact with her and she was very patient with him. The girls joined in on the action although I think once we left the candies might have had to been re-wrapped! You are also able to purchase some of the coconut candies which are now sitting on my kitchen table for visitors to taste.
Next on the list was a horse and cart ride through the village to where the lunch restaurant was located. The ride took us through the back of the village, it was lovely to see how life on the Mekong operates. Its just like any other village, with vegetable gardens, brick double story houses, boat building workshops, people on motorbikes going about their lives and children playing everywhere. We had a short walk down to the restaurant where we were having lunch.
The restaurant was busy, it seemed that the majority of tour groups also go through this restaurant. The food was fresh, traditional and tasty. You could choose to have the local speciality of elephant fish which is found in the Mekong. Craig had it last time and we knew the kids wouldn’t eat it so we stuck to the main standard dish of chicken, rice and pork spring rolls. The restaurant had bikes that you could use free of charge but unfortunately (or fortunately as it was hot and humid) they didn’t have kids bikes.
After eating we didn’t really have all that much time left, we had a look around the grounds and the pools with fish and crocodiles in them. The kids enjoyed looking at the crocs and then we went to the bathroom and headed to the pier. We then had a motorised long boat ferry us down the canal back to the larger boat to take us back across the river to the bus.
The trip back to HCMC went quickly as they now have a freeway from the Mekong to HCMC, this cuts a lot of time from the trip as motorbikes are not allowed to travel on this road. The scenery is beautiful and you pass a lot of rice paddies and people going about their lives in the rural areas.
I recommend booking tours on arrival to Vietnam as it is much cheaper. For this tour I paid for 4 people and Caelan was for half price. I’m not sure what the cut off price is for children but it seems to be around 6 or 7 years old. Following is what we paid:
Per person x 4 350,000dong $22.00AUD
One half price 175,000dong $11.00AUD
Total 1,575,000dong $98.00AUD
That’s under $100 for all 5 of us for a full day tour and drop off and pick up to your door. Happy days!
The kids really enjoyed this tour. I think the main reason they enjoyed it was that the tour was busy and there was plenty for them to do and see and involved a lot of interaction with locals. They didn’t have enough time to get bored as the tour sets a cracking pace! They got a bit unsettled on the bus but that was because they aren’t that interested in looking out the window. On the Mekong there were also plenty of local kids around with was great as they got to interact with them and see how lucky they to live the way we do here in Australia.
Sal and Co.