Experience the beguiling Mekong Delta by river and land for this 3 day trip. Visit Cai Rang floating market and a fascinating Muslim Cham village, and learn how palm sugar is produced. Tra Su Cajuput Forest, where you’ll cruise in a small boat in its serene and peaceful atmosphere is a particular highlight of this tour and you’ll stay in 4 star French colonial style at Victoria Hotels throughout.
Day 1: HCMC – Vinh Long – Can Tho
Depart Saigon at around 8am and drive to the Mekong Delta. The Mekong Delta is known for its rich agriculture and the area is the biggest source of rice exports in Vietnam. Life in the Delta revolves around the river and its many tributaries and many villages are accessible only by boat.
Arriving in Cai Be at around 10am your tour of the Delta begins with a cruise to Dong Phu and An Binh. See Mekong life from the water and visit local orchards and an old provincial house built by the French over 150 years ago. Journey along meandering arroyos and creeks before joining Tien Giang River, one of the two large ‘arms’ of the Mekong, where you’ll see heavily-laden boats and other facets of this bustling regional economy which depends on the river for transportation. After a Vietnamese lunch, take a local boat to Vinh Long where you will collected by car for the journey to Can Tho. You will arrive at Can Tho at around 4.00pm.
Day 2: Can Tho – Sa Dec – Chau Doc
Depart early, ideally at around 6.00pm, to travel by boat to the fruit gardens in Can Tho and the floating market at Cai Rang. Then drive to Sa Dec, a romantic and charming little Mekong town, for a walk through the lively and authentic local market before a visit to the house of ‘The Lover’ of the famous love story written by French novelist Marguerite Duras. The family house of ‘The Lover’ in this apparently autobiographical novel has been lovingly and faithfully restored and you will lunch here. After lunch, drive from Sa Dec to Chau Doc, arriving at Chau Doc at around 5.00pm. Overnight in Chau Doc.
Day 3: Chau Doc
Depart at around 8.00am for the Chau Doc River Life tour. Cruise along the Mekong on a traditional sampan and discover the role of this immense river in local trading when you visit a floating market. Gain an unique insight into the history and culture of the Muslim Chams with your visit to a Cham village. The Kingdom of Champa encompassed an area of modern-day Vietnam from Hue in the centre to the Mekong Delta in the south from the 7th to 18th centuries. See traditional Cham stilt homes and a local mosque to understand more about this ages-old culture.
Continue your river cruise with visits to floating fish farms and local houses. Experience a cruise through the Vinh Te Canal, an 87 km long canal which stretches from Chau Doc to the South China Sea at Ha Tien. Completed in 1824, the canal was built using the labour of 80,000 Vietnamese and Cambodian workers and is a vital piece in Vietnam’s transportation network. The canal is also geopolitically important since it shadows the border between Vietnam and Cambodia.
Lunch at a local restaurant in Chau Doc and then depart at 2.00pm for the drive to Tra Su Nature Reserve, an ecological haven for over 100 species of water bird and colonies of bats. This protected forest nature reserve abounds with flora and fauna. Enjoy a walk through the deep forest, cruise by small boat amongst half-submerged trees and experience the stillness and serenity of this unspoilt natural environment. Your expert guide will help to locate and identify bird, animal and plant life and give you an insight into the ecology of this undisturbed reserve.
On the way to Tra Su Nature Reserve, you’ll visit a Khmer village to see sugar being produced by hand from palm trees. The Khmer (Cambodian) minority in the Mekong Delta favours work with palm trees because all parts of the tree – stem, trunk, leaves and flowers – can be used in some way. Return to Chau Doc around 5.00pm. Overnight at Chau Doc.
Day 4: Chau Doc – HCMC
Depart for Ho Chi Minh City or Can Tho according to your itinerary. Travel time to Can Tho is around 2 ½ hours and to Ho Chi Minh City around 6 hours.