Since Ho Chi Minh was my first time going somewhere completely solo (no meeting up with friends or acquaintances), I decided to book a Mekong Delta day tour to transition myself into the travel mindset. Visiting the Delta was on my wishlist for HCM, it seemed pretty difficult to go by yourself anyway, and at least with a tour I knew I’d be taken care of in terms of transportation and being shown around. I usually don’t like doing organized tours purely because I don’t like being given time limits on places or paying for something I can figure out on my own pretty easily. I was also pretty terrified of getting a “bad” delta tour that would leave me flustered and annoyed, but the Youth Tourist Joint-Stock Company (YTC) was actually pretty awesome. I never felt rushed, and I never felt bored. They kept the tour running pretty smoothly, our tour guide was lovely, and everything we ate was delicious. There are chances to do multi-day tours in Mekong that include a lot of other places, but I thought I’d give you an overview of what a Mekong Delta day trip might look like!
Our guide came around 8:00 a.m. to gather anyone who was a part of the tour, walking us to where the bus was located along the main road. It was then a two around ride to My Tho, where we’d bored a boat to take us into the delta. The bus is really nice, air conditioned, and comfortable for the drive. You can leave some things on it if you want, but, as always, don’t leave anything you’d be devastated losing! Also, dress appropriately in sleeves and longer pants or skirts. It can get really sunny in that exhausting kind of way, and on the flip side you might have a few moments feeling a little cold! I wore a white shirt, my Uniqlo lounge pants, and comfortable sandals, and I was fine the whole day. One girl wore a really low cut romper style with an open bag, and she actually got pretty cold with the shade and wind despite the 97 F temp. There’s a bathroom you can use at My Tho before getting on the boat as well as a shop to buy hats, sunglasses, etc.
There are four main islands in the Mekong Delta, considered the “holy islands.” I made a map here, so you can see a layout of the area. We only visited three of the four islands as apparently many of the richer residents live on Dragon Island (Con Tan Long), and do not want tourism there anymore.
We went to three islands in the delta with our guide talking about its history all the meanwhile. The first island is Dragon Island. Here you’ll be able to take a boat ride through its creeks (which is where you’ll see a lot of Mekong Delta pictures come from), and this will take you to the Eco Bee Farm. There you can see some of the bees at work and try honey straight from slate. Being allergic to bees and not a big fan of honey on its own, I obviously opted out and just watched from quite a far ways away. Afterwards, we sat down to try a honey drink and some honey treats where I brought some snacks for the future train rides Michelle and I had.
Next we went to Turtle Island where we sat around some fresh fruit (oh, fruit, how I’ve missed you), listened to some traditional music (and not so traditional when the singers cutely began singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” We then went to a little factory where they were making coconut products, and we could sample some candy.
CON PHUNG ISLAND
Our final stop was at Phoenix Island, and it’s also where we had a simple lunch of steamed rice, meat or tofu, and some vegetables. You could order this giant fish for four people, but the memories of food poisoning in Gangwondo we still pretty fresh in my memory, so I wasn’t will to risk it with two and a half weeks of travel ahead. We had some free time afterwards, where I wander around the resort and explored this abandoned monastery and its interesting sculptures. Apparently there once lived Dao Dua, the Coconut Monk, who was considered crazy by some and followed by others. The author of the VietSpring author describes the monastery as a sort of Delta Disneyland, which is the perfect description.
We were then back by 5:00, dropped off by the Ben Thanh Market, and I somehow managed to find my way back to my hostel before passing out!
- Cost: 650,000 VND/Person
- Pick-Up Time: 8:00 a.m.
- Tipping: I recommend tipping the people who row you down the creeks and the singers.
- More Information on My Tour
- (Mis)adventures on the Mekong Delta | That Backpacker
- Mekong Delta II: Phoenix Island | Lady Bougeotte
- Con Phung Island | Alo Trip
- Turtle Island | Alo Trip
- The Coconut Monk | VietSpring
Have you been? What did you think of the experience? If I ever go back, I’d love to do a longer stay!
Words and Photographs by Samantha