The Mekong Delta - new centre of attraction in Vietnam
The year 2010 was a successful year for tourism in the Mekong Delta: 1,46 million international visitors were counted in the region, a 20 percent increase compared to the previous year. Therefore a third of all foreign Vietnam travellers visit the vast Mekong Delta.
The estuary with its countless river channels has a lot to offer. Most famous are the floating markets of Cai Be and Cai Rang (near Can Tho). But there are other attractions too: the floating villages near Long Xuyen and Chau Doc, Khmer settlements and Khmer pagodas on the way to Cambodia and the fish farms under floating houses where a type of catfish is farmed, which is especially known in Europe.
The best way to get to know the life in the Mekong Delta is on board a river cruiser. Thousands of waterways form a labyrinth of major currents and secluded canals which form the heart of the region. The views from the river are impressive: the traffic of boats, traditional wooden freight ships, dockyards and manufactories as well as the lush vegetation and landscape along the canals. It is not comparable with a journey by car along streets lined with new buildings and busy villages.
A well kept secret is charming Sa Dec - a small town which so far is far away from tourism crowds. The charming town still has a lot of colonial architecture, in particular the old market, a church and many old villas and trader's houses. It is one of the few places in Vietnam where people can peacefully stroll along the river side promenade or enjoy a traditional Vietnamese coffee. A highlight of Sa Dec are the original settings from Margeruite Duras' novel "The lover" which can be visited. Another attraction of the region is a gorgeous flower village, where people farm flowers and plants for the local markets.
Besides colourful and cultural landscapes of abundant fruit orchards and rice fields, there is a wide range of natural sights such as national parks, the bird sanctuary of Bang Lang or the forest of Cajeput.
Many travellers only take a daytour from Saigon to Ben Tre in the Mekong Delta. They are missing out on the true experience of the delta and spend most of the day travelling in a bus to get there and back. Two or more days in the region offer the opportunity to explore the beautiful river landscape and the life beside the river.
The lack of infrastructure or good hotels provides a challenge for many people. Only Can Tho and Chau Doc offer hotels with international standards. This is another reason why cruise vessels are the perfect way to travel in the Mekong Delta. Besides the conventional cruises there are also operators which offer longer trips (two to four days) on small but very comfortalbe boats.
The geographical position of the Mekong Delta between Saigon and the holiday island of Phu Quoc as well as Cambodia is ideal for combining a trip in the delta with an extention to those places. Phnom Penh can be reached by boat, Phu Quoc with daily flights from Can Tho or a ferry from Rach Gia. Phu Quoc can be reached within only two days, including an exploration of the colourful Mekong Delta.
The company Mekong Eyes specialises on exclusive tours in the Mekong Delta. They offer various tours and extentions on their traditionally built luxurious vessels "Mekong Eyes" (15 double or twin cabins) and "Dragon Eyes" (2 double or twin cabins). They provide all the comfort travellers need to cruise the Mekong in style.
For more information, visit mekongeyes.com.