Discover the delights of the Mekong DeltaBen Tre Province, Vietnam
While some will try to convince you that the iridescent seascapes of Halong Bay, Hanoi's motorbike-frenzied streets or rolling hills of Sapa should be your number one pick, we're going to subtly (read: not-so-subtly) tell you that Ho Chi Minh City should take top spot on your Vietnam itinerary. Its a city of organised chaos – backpacker hostels thrive among towering boutique skyscrapers, fancy restaurants and bustling street food stalls dish up delicacies side by side and winning buys can be found in both chic malls and street markets – which makes it a place unlike anywhere else in South-East Asia. It's also the gateway to the intricate waterways, swamps and endless shades of green that makes up the Mekong Delta, the country's most famous body of water, situated south of the city – and a sublime place of respite from the hustle. Often described to as ‘the rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the delta is one of immense fecundity where rice, tropical fruit and flowers grow and blossom (it's got the monopoly on these and supplies the whole country) and a trip here plunges visitors into a world of laid-back river life.
Board your private boat, sailing beneath luscious green fronds and past locals transporting produce along the canals until you reach Ben Tre, where you'll visit the coconut gardens and sample the jams that are made from this refreshing fruit, then enjoy a leisurely paddle in a sampan (small rowing boat) beside the water coconut trees the fringe the waters of the Mekong. The adventure goes beyond the river, too; clamber into a tuk-tuk and zip around the riverside villages, learning about rural life and how the locals make their living from making coconut products. All this talk is likely to make you hungry, and lunch at a restaurant in the heart of the delta, sampling regional specialties such as the famous Elephant Ear fish among others, won't disappoint.
- The scenery as you paddle along the waterways on a sampan will be imprinted in your mind long after you’ve left
- Meeting locals in their homes and learning about their daily lives offers you a fascinating look into how they live and how some of the country’s tastiest flavours make it from seedling to sumptuous dish
- Surging your tastebuds to new heights with local specialties like coconut jam straight from the source, and other more unusual ones like elephant ear fish
- The weather in southern Vietnam is always hot and often humid, so drink plenty of water!
AirAsia fly to Ho Chi Minh City via Kuala Lumpur.
This journey is part of Intrepid Travel’s Vietnam Express Northbound and Vietnam Express Southbound. Tours start from US$940 per person.
It’s a long drive from Ho Chi Minh City (three hours in each direction), so be prepared for a long, but rewarding, day out.
This tip was provided by Intrepid Travel but we’re sharing it with you because we think it’s great.