Mekong Delta travel guide: everything you need to know

The Mekong Delta is the general name of the Western provinces. This place has 12 provinces plus some cities including Bac Lieu, An Giang, Ca Mau, Ben Tre, Hau Giang, Dong Thap, Long An, Kien Giang, Tien Giang, Soc Trang, Vinh Long, Tra Vinh and Can Tho City.

Although there is nothing too splendid and lovely like other lands, the Western region always brings the peace and quiet atmosphere for first-time tourists here. However, before packing your clothes to travel, don’t forget to read the following important information on Mekong Delta travel guide.

Mekong Delta - Cai Rang floating market

Cai Rang floating market – Can Tho

How to get there

If traveling by plane, the most convenient way is to buy a plane ticket to Can Tho airport. From here, you can take a coach to move other provinces in Mekong Delta.

If you want to travel by coach, you should come to the Mien Tay station to purchase a ticket. In case you love backpacking, I highly recommend you use motorbike because, in the West, there are many interesting things which you can just feel when traveling by motorbike.

Best time to travel Mekong Delta

Because of the hot and humid climate all year round, you can visit Mekong Delta in any seasons of the year when the weather is mild. On each season, this place has its own beauty as well as its own characteristics that don’t always appear.

However, the majority of tourists choose summer as the time of departure point because this is the season of fruits so it creates a lot of inspirations in visiting the garden areas.

If you visit Mekong Delta around September to November, you will be enjoyed a scene of water, water, and water due to the floating water season. With that condition, although you can’t travel too many places, you will be experienced the incredibly exciting things when traveling on the floating water days.

From December to January, you had better visit the famous flower villages such as Tan Quy Dong, Sadec, and Vi Thanh..

Read more: Best time to visit Vietnam

Some special Festivals in Mekong Delta

If you don’t know which festivals to participate in the West, below are some suggestions for you.

The Bay Nui Ox Race Festival:

This is one of the quite interesting festivals you shouldn’t miss. Held in the period of time from August 29 to September 1 of Lunar Calendar, the Ox Race Festival can be considered as a cultural characteristic of people in the Bay Nui Area, An Giang.

The Chol Chnam Thmay Festival:

This is the New Year Festival of Khmer ethnic group. Because it follows the traditional calendar of Khmer ethnic group, this festival will take place in the mid-April, lasted for about 3 days. People will clean and decorate their houses like the traditional Tet holiday of Vietnam.

If traveling to the places such as Vinh Long, Can Tho, Tra Vinh…. at about this time, you will have the opportunity to experience the atmosphere of this traditional Tet Khmer festival.

The Ok Om Bok Festival:

This is another festival you shouldn’t miss when traveling Tra Vinh or Soc Trang in about mid-October of Lunar Calendar. Simply, this is the Moon Worshipping Ceremony for bumper crops. According to the religious conceptions of Khmer people, the moon is the god of the seasons and the weather.

Some Specialities in Mekong Delta

When traveling Mekong Delta, besides learning nature, people or culture, that’s also a good opportunity to enjoy the extremely unique and attractive dishes. There are several dishes which perhaps you can just eat when visiting this place.

Linh fish and dien dien flowers hotpot (lẩu cá linh bông điên điển):

If asking anyone, this is always the first-mentioned dish. In the event of western locals, all are familiar to this kind of fish. However, with the first eating foreign tourists, they will be impressed with the taste of immensely specific fishes.

Although Linh fishes can be applied in a lot of different dishes, this hotpot is the best option. Many areas have this dish but the most well-known places include Can Tho, An Giang, Long An, Dong Thap.

Fish Paste Hotpot (Lau Mam):

Fish Paste Hotpot has been famous for a long time in Can Tho. It is one of the delicious dishes in this river region so it should be the first priority with tourists.

Its soup is a special kind which is cooked from coconut water or the broth of bones and sauce. Ingredients used in the Fish Paste Hotpot are also incredibly diverse: from eel, pork, chicken to octopus served with several types of vegetables.

Field-mouse (Chuot Dong):

Field-mouse is also one of the quite interesting specialties. Mekong Delta is an area of many fields so the famous dishes made from field-mouse are not too strange.

A lot of people will feel terrified when hearing the name of this dish but once ate, it is extremely delicious and you are able to enjoy it when traveling Can Tho, An Giang or Dong Thap.

My Tho Noodle (Hu Tieu My Tho):

One of the dishes marked My Tho the most is noodle. When mentioning to My Tho, people will refer to noodle. Therefore, it has become the brand of this place, moreover, there are also many differences compared to other regions such as Nam Vang or Sadec.

My Tho Noodle has the small, soft, and chewy noodles with the average sweetness of broth. Besides, there are the salty taste of dried shrimp and gently sweetness of radish. You will have the unforgettable feelings when enjoying this noodle dish.

Son Qui Sweetened Porridge (Che Son Qui):

The name of this sweetened porridge is simply derived from Son Qui land in Tien Giang. Che Son Qui has an exotic taste and a quite complicated process of making. This dish is made from pretty simple ingredients such as puree chickpeas, white sugar, peanuts and so on.

All are spooned out and put into a bowl then pour extra coconut milk to a certain ratio. Perhaps this dish is well-known because of thanks to diligence and effort of the cook.

Water-lily stems fermented fish (bong sung mam kho):

Water lily stems are a kind of vegetable too familiar to the daily menu of people in the Mekong Delta. They usually grow inside the muddy water. One of the most delicious dishes made from water-lily stems is bong sung mam kho.

When cooking, the cook can also use other different fish types, depend on demands of each one or season. Fish will be cooked with lemongrass, mussels and tiny shrimp. The unique crunchy taste of water-lily stems combined with the strong taste of fermented fish creates a typical dish of this place.

Goi Sau Dau Long Xuyen (Gỏi Sầu Đâu Long Xuyên):

Traveling Long Xuyen land, An Giang Province, you had better enjoy this dish. Its interesting feature is the bitter taste of neem tree leaves. Neem tree is known as a kind of woody plant and is quite similar to leaves of China tree.

In spite of its bitter taste, when mixed with shredded dried fish, pigskin or sour mango, peeled shrimp and the bitter water, that bitter taste has drowned out somewhat. Instead, all of the flavors are blend to create a taste with full of flavor colors you can feel.

Nau man Tien Giang (Nấu mẳn Tiền Giang):

Nau man Tien Giang is one of the pretty strange names in Vietnamese cuisine. However, this dish has the somewhat characteristic flavor and color of the Mekong Delta.

It isn’t s kind of sour soup and isn’t also entirely a braised fish dish. Nau Man is cooked from the types of white fishes which have been cleaned without removing scales. They will be absorbed all the typical spices such as vinegar, salt, and pepper.

The combination of soup and braised way makes this dish have enough the sweetness and fragrance of fish as well as the extremely special greasy taste. Eaters ought to enjoy Nau Man with rice and several kinds of vegetables to feel the full flavor of the dish.

Tourist destinations in the Mekong Delta

Can Tho City:

Can Tho City has 2 prominent tourist destinations and they have just recognized recently: Truc Lam Phuong Nam Zen Monastery and Cai Rang floating market.

Truc Lam Phuong Nam Zen Monastery

This place is considered as one of the largest pagodas in the Southwest region with an area of up to 4ha. This pagoda was built from the Ly-Tran Period so its architecture is greatly influenced.

The inside of the pagoda has a bronze statue of Gautama Buddha about 3.5 tons and other countless Buddha statues such as Samantabhadra Bodhisattva statue, the bodhisattva of wisdom, and Bodhi Tara. In the precinct of the pagoda, you can visit other places such as Guanyin Temple, One Pillar Pagoda, Di Lac Temple, and so on…

Cai Rang Floating Market

Cai Rang Floating Market, Cai Rang District is one of very famous floating markets in the Mekong Delta region. This place specializes purchasing and selling farm produces and fruits of the region. The market works extremely lively in the morning every day. There are hundreds of different small and big boats on the river to trade.

Some kinds of agricultural produce are hanging on the pole in front of the nose of the boat. When immersed in this bustling atmosphere, tourists can learn about the lives of the families living on these boats daily. When looking at some models, you will feel they like the “mobile homes”.

Read more: Top things to do in Can Tho

Bac Lieu:

In Bac Lieu, there are 3 fairly new tourist destinations including Hung Vuong Square, the Artificial Beach in the Nha Mat Resort and Prince of Bac Lieu House. These are quite suitable for the Western trips of 2 days and one night.

Hung Vuong Square

Hung Vuong Square in Bac Lieu City is considered as the most beautiful Square in the Mekong Delta. It has an area about 4ha even the buildings was built and arranged into a high aesthetic, very unique and harmonious area.

Typical, it can mention Cao Van Lau Theater, Culture-Art Exhibition Center, The Memorial of Heroic Martyrs, the Monument of Mau Than Event… Thus, you will take a long time to discover this square.

The Artificial Beach in the Nha Mat Resort

This is the Mekong Delta’s biggest artificial beach now with the very modern systems such as man-made waves, chute with a height of up to 30m. This artificial beach is divided into 3 small areas: one for children, one for adult and another for thrilling games.

Besides this beach, there are a unique artificial mountain especially a stage about 2000 seats as well as a plant system which is shaped to resemble the cutest animals.

Prince of Bac Lieu House

Now, it has become one of the hotels with the largest number of tourists in this city. This also has a place for playing where has attached to the name of Prince of Bac Lieu – the most well-known prince in Nam Ky from the 20th century. The building area was built in 1919 and was designed by the French engineers.

This white house has the very magnificent and splendid architecture. Its furniture was also made from the very rare materials. Up to now, its main parts are still kept to serve tourists visiting.

Dong Thap Province:

Dong Thap Province in the Mekong Delta also has 2 typical tourist destinations including Nguyen Sinh Sac Relic Site and Tram Chim National Park. If you are wanting to backpack the West or western eco-tourism, you had better come to these places.

The Nguyen Sinh Sac Relic Site

The Nguyen Sinh Sac Relic Site, Ward 4, Cao Lanh City is one of tourist destinations attracting to a lot of home and outside tourists. The whole relic site is about 3.6ha and is divided into 3 main areas.

First, tourists ought to visit Tomb of Junior Doctor Nguyen Sinh Sac then visit Uncle Ho’s Stilt House, finally, it is Lotus pond in order to not be an interruption of emotions. This is really a unique cultural architecture even has been recognized and ranked a national monument in April 1992 by the Ministry of Culture.

The Tram Chim National Park

The Tram Chim National Park likes a Dong Thap Muoi in miniature. With an area of up to 7588 ha, this place has several different plant species as well as about 200 species of wetland birds, among these are many types of rare species in the world.

Red-headed crane is a kind of bird which is the most famous and typical one in this national park. A red-headed crane will be high around 1m7 and has a very silky gray fur, long neck, red head and very wide wingspans. However, a sad fact is that this kind of bird is in the danger of extinction without the help of human being.