One of the most attractive features of the Mekong is the local hospitality. Whether you want to come and discover a charming river town or enjoy the most fascinating landscapes in Vietnam, the Mekong Delta will never make you disappointed. A camera is a must in your pre-departure list when travelling to this land.
Mekong Delta is very potential in tourism which is original and different form all other regions of the country. The delta has a pleasant tropical monsoonal climate with two alternate seasons: dry and rainy. Dry season runs from November through April/May with average temperature around 28 °C and the rainy season from May to October.
Mekong Delta gets plenty of rain and hot, humid weather during the southwest monsoon from April to September, with June and July being especially wet. The southwest monsoon brings most heavy rains from May through October, giving additive effects on Mekong high flows, thus causing floods at various depths in scattered areas. However, there is no problem to visit the Mekong Delta in the rainy season – typically the rain lasts for about an hour.
The beginning of the rain season, mostly in April, May and June, has a comfortable climate with light rain and warm weather so that the visitors can have a good time exploring the river areas and fruit gardens. Furthermore, travelers may be interested in festivals which occur in Can Tho around this time such as the Cholchonam Thomay (New Year) Festival and the Opening Crop Festival.
From June to September, it may be hot and humid but the greatest variety of tropical fruit is available only in these months.
During October and November, occasional flooding is expected, especially in remote areas around Dong Thap and Tra Vinh, so stay informed of regional weather forecast ahead of your trip if you are travelling in these months. Flood season, also known as the floating season, often last from August/September to November. Inhabitants of the Mekong Delta region don’t consider flooding as natural disaster. The flood, however, sweeps everything away and brings a new face to the delta with its rich brown alluvial water. This is also the income season for local people with abundant fish and water vegetables. Farmers engage themselves in fishing either for home consumption or as an 'off-season' business. The waterfront life is most fascinating in this season. During the floating season in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, wild water lilies grow everywhere in rice fields covered by water. Even though the weather at this time is not necessarily perfect, you have the advantage of more favorable prices and significantly fewer tourists.
Given its seasonal flooding, the Mekong Delta reveals its best during dry months from December to May when the sky is crystal clear, the land is lush and the water is calm.
To sum up, Mekong Delta can be visited all year round with fruits in the four seasons and fresh environment. It is most vibrant in spring (flower season: late January - March) and early summer (fruit season: April - May), the best time to visit Mekong Delta, also the best time to visit Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam in general.
How to get there?
Located quite near Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta is easily accessible.
From Ho Chi Minh City driving is both tourist and local buses to Ben Tre, My Tho and Can Tho. A bus ride from Ho Chi Minh City to Ben Tre takes four hours and costs VND 69,000 (around $3). 2 main bus stations in Ho Chi Minh City are Mien Dong Bus Station and Mien Tay Bus Station.
From Cambodia, it is easy to travel from Kampot to Ha Tien in Kien Giang Province. Besides, bus connection between Phnom Penh and Can Tho are now available.
It is quite easy and convenient to travel from Cambodia to Mekong Delta by waterway. Several daily boats are available, connecting Phnom Penh and Chau Doc in An Giang Province, from slow boats to fast boats. Visa (e-visa is not accepted) can be obtained at the border, boat crew will handle the entry process. A journey on a slow boat can take up to 10 hours while the fast boat takes around 5 hours. Fast boats by Hang Chau Boat Company leave 7.30 every morning from International Phnom Penh Port at Sisowath Quay. Going by waterway is absolutely a perfect way to enjoy the beauty of Mekong River.
Talking to Mekong Delta, the first image appearing is crowded and bustling floating markets. Floating markets are very popular in Mekong Delta, among which Cai Be, Cai Rang, Phong Dien and Ninh Kieu are the biggest and most outstanding ones.
Must try food
For those who are looking to get a taste of the local culture, cuisine in the Mekong can be quite interesting. Local favorites include:
- Tropical fruits: Mekong Delta is not only famous with rice but also tropical fruits as the majority of Vietnam's fruits come from the many orchards of the Mekong Delta. Visitors can enjoy the seasonal fruits all round year. The real treat is the price of fruit here. Some suggestions for visiting Mekong Delta fruit orchards: Phong Dien orchards (Can Tho), Cai Be (Tien Giang), Tan Quy (Tra Vinh), Tam Binh (Vinh Long), Cho Lach (Ben Tre) with the famous brands of fruits like Vinh Kim star apples, tangerine Cai Be, Vinh Long grapefruit, Cai Mon durian, Hoa Loc mangoes, Hau Giang oranges... The region offers some of the world’s most interesting eco options of rice paddies, fruit orchards, flower growers, and riverbeds. Taking tours in this area supports the local economy and encourages responsible environmental stewardship.
- Elephant’s Ear Fish: You’ll find Elephant’s Ear Fish as a speciality dish in the Mekong Delta. So-called because of its appearance, the lightly fried, crispy fish is served upright, with its scales and teeth still attached and a flower in its mouth. You assemble a spring roll yourself with the fish meat and herbs.
- Coconut candy in Ben Tre: Coconut candy is not only a specialty but also a traditional handcraft product of Ben Tre Province. Food artisans in Ben Tre have created and developed the technique of making coconut candies. For a long time, coconut candies have become a major commodity which bring economic benefits as well as introduce Ben Tre food cuisine to the outside world.
- Steamed coconut rice in Ben Tre: Vietnamese at least once listen to the song: "Who is standing in the charming posture of a coconut tree. Her hair is flying in the breeze?"
- Pia Cake in Soc Trang: Coming to Soc Trang, tourists not only have chance to take part in bustling festival but also enjoy specialties of three ethnic: Kinh, Hoa and Khmer.
- Grilled "climbing" fish in An Giang: Two branches of Mekong Delta have brought An Giang rich and abundant source of fish among which "climbing" fish are the most delicious ones with toned flesh and tasty crunch. "Climbing" fish are most available in August and September.
- Purple Tet Cake in Can Tho: Purple Tet Cake is one of the most colorful and beautiful cakes in Vietnam Cuisine. Its outside appearance is quite similar to other kinds of Tet cakes; however, its inside is absolutely gets you amazed.
- Hu Tieu My Tho Originating as an age-old Chinese noodle soup, Hu tieu My Tho was changed to suit My Tho people’s taste and became a famous dish in both the north and the south. The main ingredients of Hu Tieu My Tho are meat, pig’s intestine, pig liver, sliced barbecue pork, dried shrimp, noodles and broth but the feature to distinguish Hu Tieu My Tho from Hu Tieu Nam Vang (Cambodia Kuy teav), Hu Tieu Tau (Chinese noodle soup).
- Snake: For the more adventurous try snake. This local delicacy tastes, believe it or not, a lot like chicken. What makes it interesting though is the wide range of dishes that can be produced from the animal such as “thit con ran” which is snake blood mixed with rice wine.
- Banh Bo: These tiny rice flour and tapioca cakes are not unique to Vietnam, however the Delta puts a special twist on them by sweetening them with coconuts, sweet potato, sweet onions and mint.
- Ca Kho To: This speciality of Can Tho consists of sea bass caramelized in a clay pot served with steamed rice and clear soup. Simple, yet delicious.
- Bun Rieu: Again, this dish can be found throughout Vietnam, and in some variation in neighboring countries. However, in the Delta this dish is served with a wider range of choices than usual. Choose from soft shell crabs, prawns, fish and the ubiquitous blood pudding. Combined with the freshest vegetables you’ll ever find and it’s a mouth-watering surprise.
In general, the Mekong Delta is truly a unique experience, unlike anywhere in Vietnam. One of the most attractive features of the Mekong is the local hospitality. Whether you want to come and discover a charming river town or enjoy the most fascinating landscapes in Vietnam, the Mekong Delta will never make you disappointed. A camera is a must in your pre-departure list when travelling to this land.