Like other destinations in Vietnam, Cai Rang dials up the activity, color, and sound a notch to the point of overstimulation. Duelling long-tail boats float by and sell everything from turnips to steaming hot soup. At the Mekong Delta’s bazaar on water, transactions take place at every turn and boats jostle for the next deal. To appreciate the scale at a bird’s eye perspective, we hopped onto the roof of our boat. As with the streets of Vietnam, we had to step back for it to snap into view in some mysterious way, snatching order from the jaws of chaos.
Our Mekong Delta Tour
- Boat trip from Saigon to My Tho
- String of shameless buying opportunities in the form of coconut candy, honey and tropical fruit production outlets on an island near My Tho. This is the epitome of Vietnamese conveyor-belt tourism
- Short lunch visit on the island of Ben Tre. Terrible, tasteless, overpriced, and totally inauthentic tourist slop not included in the price of the tour. Note to tour operator: this is a disservice to your country, its culture, and the fabulous cuisine your country is capable of serving in its sleep.
- Overnight in Can Tho. Hot water shut off and all staff mysteriously unavailable to turn it back on.
- Cai Rang floating market
- Cai Rang market on land with a tour of a rice noodle production (one of the other factories was already closed for Tet – darn!)
- Chau Doc with a visit to near by floating fishing villages
- Cham village – a minority Muslim ethnic group
- Boat to the Cambodian border and on to Phnom Penh
Video: Vietnam’s Mekong Delta Highlights
Arranging a Mekong Delta Tour
We don’t particularly enjoy organized tours, but the Vietnamese make it very difficult to piece together a 2-3 day Mekong Delta trip on your own using public transportation. Organized tours are easily booked at any travel agent in Saigon (Pham Ngu Lao backpacker neighborhood has dozens). Choose whether to return to Saigon or continue on to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
We booked our tour with Kim Travel, combining two tours in one to give us the maximum amount of time on water. The tour cost $43 per person, including two nights (basic) accommodation and three days of transportation, tours and tour guides (there were times we wished the last two points were not included). It was a commodity tour for that price – not great, not awful and it got us to where we wanted to go.