Top 11 Things To Do In Mekong Delta
Shop at the Floating Markets
Wares being loudly hawked, plenty of bargains to be had, incessant haggling going on, stores laden with flowers and ripe fruit, smells of freshly cooked food wafting tantalisingly – this sounds like a regular market, but in the Mekong Delta, it all takes place on boats and sampans. Long before becoming a top tourist attraction, the floating markets of the Mekong river have been integral to local life and culture. Some historians believe that they have been around since the early 1800s during the Nguyen Dynasty. The floating market attracted peoples of different ethnicities and backgrounds, Chinese merchants, Malay seafarers, Khmer and Vietnamese locals and more came together to engage in pre-colonial trade and commerce.
Get Fruity at Fruit Orchards
Imagine setting foot into a lush garden with tree boughs bowing down laden with ripe fruit, birds chirping in the background, and you are breathing a hearty lungful of fresh air, this is basically the tropical paradise the Mekong Delta has to offer. Summer would be the best time plan your visit to a fruit orchard, where you can pluck the fruits straight from the branches and take a big, juicy, bite.
Visit the Vinh Trang Pagoda, My Tho, Tien Giang Province
The Vinh Trang Pagoda is renowned across the country for being an enchanting historical, religious, and architectural treasure. Not to be missed, this Buddhist pagoda cultural relic is nestled in a series of ornamental gardens located in My Tho, Tien Giang Province.
The Vinh Trang Temple complex houses four large, interconnected sections, five buildings, 60 statues, and 178 pillars and a bell made in 1854. The central gate, constructed from steel, is always closed, while the two side gates are accessible, they are made from concrete and are cheerfully ornate with colourful mosaics showcasing folktales and nature symbols. Some consider the pride and joy of the Vinh Trang Pagoda to be the 18 arhats carved out of jackfruit tree wood in 1907.
Bird Watching at the Tra Su Bird Sanctuary, Chau Doc, An Giang Province
If you are an aspiring ornithologist, or you simply enjoy the sweet notes of bird songs, Tra Su Bird Sanctuary is the place to visit. A serene and scenic spot of over 800 thousand hectares, it is situated just 23 kilometres from Chau Doc in An Giang Province, most of the sanctuary is closed off to visitors, allowing for conservatory work and for the bird population to nest peacefully.
Tan Lap Floating Village, Long An Province
The mysterious floating forest that rises from swampy rivers in Tan Lap is known as a spot eco-tourism across Vietnam. Suitable as a day trip from Ho Chi Minh City, it is 100 kilometres from the city, and only takes over two hours to arrive at the Floating Village via motorbike or car. Exploring this gem will take about three to four hours, leaving you ample time to return to hectic Saigon. If relaxation and rejuvenation in nature is your goal, there are also accommodation options within the village.
Tra Vinh Province’s Khmer Pagodas
Visit Tra Vinh province, once part of the Khmer empire, is home to over 300,000 Khmer people, forming about 30% of the ethnic make-up in the region, the highest in the Mekong Delta. 140 Khmer temples rise from across the landscape, beautiful golden structures that give the area its unique flavour.
Coconut candy wrapped in delicate rice paper is a specialty of Ben Tre. Coconut trees abound in this region, and the precious silky coconut milk is extracted from the fruit and caramelised with malt syrup to form the candy. Cooked at a high temperature, the creamy mixture is poured into wooden moulds. The result is a sweet, luscious, and chewy treat. Many Mekong Delta tour operators also run candy making workshops for interested tourists ready to get their hands sticky.
Noodle Soup: Hu Tieu My Tho
Ubiquitous in the My Tho city in Tien Giang Province, this rice noodle soup dish has its origins there. What makes this Hu Tieu different from its counterparts is its noodles made from local rice – a glassy and tough noodle with a bite to it. Served with pure fish sauce, typical dressings also include pork meat, liver, ground pork, scallions, and chives. There is nothing better than a hot bowl of noodle soup for a peckish stomach.
Elephant Ear Fish
The Elephant Ear Fish may be the number one must try dish in the Mekong Delta. A local delicacy fried in its entirety and served standing upright, it looks slightly intimidating at first sight. Crisp on the outside, and soft on the inside, the fish is a culinary delight. The tender flesh is planted onto rice paper sheets and topped off with fresh herbs and pickles. Do not miss this classic Mekong Delta dish!
Small Pancakes: Banh Khot
Banh Khots are basically the perfect snack – a small, savoury pancake made from rice flour and coconut milk. What makes the Mekong Delta’s Banh Khot different from its perhaps more famous rival, the Vung Tau Banh Khot, is the addition of turmeric. The lightly yellow Mekong Delta Banh Khot is slightly softer and thicker and is usually cooked with prawns, pork meat, or mung beans. To no one’s surprise, Banh Khot is served with fish sauce and fresh herbs. Try not to fill up on Banh Khots before dinner!
Did someone say fresh fruits? There are plenty to choose from and be sure to visit at least one fruit orchard while you are in the Mekong Delta. Known for being a tropical fruit paradise, these sweet, juicy offerings are endless. Copious fresh and ripe fruits await you everywhere, dragon fruit (thanh long), longan fruits (nhan), rambutan (chom chom), mangosteens (mang cut), and pomme de lait (vu sua), are only some examples of the fruits that might not be as easily found elsewhere even in the gastronomic heaven of Ho Chi Minh City.