Touring the Mekong Delta by boat is an enjoyable way to experience one of Vietnam’s most popular destinations. Most Mekong cruises stick to the main waterways and stop at attractions that are crowded with other sight seers. Some people such as me are more interested in travelling the smaller waterways experiencing the local culture and daily life.
Touring the Mekong Delta by boat is an enjoyable way to experience one of Vietnam’s most popular destinations. Most Mekong cruises stick to the main waterways and stop at attractions that are crowded with other sight seers. Some people such as me are more interested in travelling the smaller waterways experiencing the local culture and daily life. To me, the Mekong Delta is the attraction and not getting a photo with a python or visiting factories that have more gift store than working space. Five years ago, Nghia and Hau from V’Explore Travel and myself (Owee58), designed an off the beaten track tour of the Mekong Delta by boat. Our goal was to create a more authentic experience in a Mekong boat tour. It was designed to start in Saigon and connect with the boat to Phnom Penh, or in reverse. It could also be customized to start and finish in Saigon. We called it “The Lazy Waterways”. We returned this year with our buddy Foun and spent four days to cruise the Mekong River to inspect and update the trip. What a hoot!
We set out for the town of Vinh Long where we would spend the night. Wanting to be more off the beaten path, we selected a basic but comfortable homestay. After a four hour drive through beautiful countryside, we arrived for a lunch of fish and local vegetables. A short nap and then off on bicycles to explore the small local paths that intertwine the area. For dinner we enjoyed grilled fish, soup, and some cold refreshments. The entertainment for the night was visiting school kids learning to play a Dan Bau. I was invited to join in learning how to play the local instrument, but declined. Now it is time to sleep as tomorrow we travel the Mekong by boat.
At 8:30 we made our way to what was going to be our ride for the next 2 days. Our sampan was a beautiful boat complete with kitchen and toilet. It was equipped with safety gear and comfortable chars…. Heck!!… there even was hammocks aboard for those mid afternoon naps. We boarded and made our way through narrower tributaries up the mighty Mekong River. Along the way we stopped at a local riverside village to purchase lunch to be prepared on the boat (included with tour). After a feast of giant prawns it was time to lazily swing with the rocking waves in the hammocks provided. In the afternoon we stopped to see some local attractions and went for an enjoyable bike ride down narrow pathways in places that were surprised to see a foreigner. I spent so much time waving that I almost lost control of the bike a number of times. Back on the boat, we cruised to the City of Long Xuyen where we had a nice hotel for the night. The evening was spent exploring Long Xuyen and the local eateries.
The next morning we boarded our Sampan for Chau Doc. Fist destination was the local floating market. I was surprised to see how big it was. It was nice to have the room to maneuver without all a crown of tourist boats that other floating markets have. As the prior day we stopped at markets, local villages, and places of interest. Another feast on board with locally bought foods left us weary for another afternoon nap. Afterwards we had another bicycle ride before arriving at a fish farm village close to the Cambodian border. We landed at Chau Doc at around 4 pm and bid our farewells to our boat captain. From the dock we were taken to our hotel by bicycle drawn carts. After check in we met in the lobby for a trip to Sam Mountain that borders with Cambodia. Now time to explore Chau Doc and experience the local foods. Again our hotel was nice and very convenient to downtown.
The tour would have ended here if going on to Phnom Penh, however, we were returning to Saigon. A person could continue on a full day tour back to Saigon visiting other destinations such as Tra Sua, Sa Dec, and Xeo Quit Viet Cong base. We returned to Vinh Long by bus where we had left our motorcycles. A bus option to Saigon could also be available to people that do not have the time or budget for the full four days. The four of us had a great time and agree that for people wanting to get away and experience a more authentic and less touristy Mekong Delta, this is the tour for you.