The rice basket of Vietnam
Located in the southwest of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta region is where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea via a network of distributaries. With water levels rising and falling with the seasons, the area enjoys a unique way of life with most towns accessed by canals instead of roads and flora and fauna flourishing to account for over 10,000 new species.
Encompassing a large portion of south-western Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is mostly made up of flat flood plains, with the area covered by water depending on the season. With such abundant water, the Mekong Delta is a popular farming region with 2.6 million hectares of the area used for agriculture. Commonly nicknamed as the 'rice basket' of Vietnam, farming in the area mostly consists of rice paddies and fishing, while fruit, coconut and shrimp are also farmed in the area.
While the natural landscape itself is incredible to see,it's the quant riverside towns and floating houses that tend to draw the most curiosity. The best way to visit the region is on a tour, with many cruises departing daily from the Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh. Most tours will encompass a few nights stay and usually involve an authentic home stay, allowing a glimpse of local life in the Mekong Delta complete with traditional food, celebrations and history.
The most popular places to visit in the area are Can Tho and Vinh Long. Can Tho is the largest town in the Mekong Delta and is famed for its university and floating markets. Typically operating in the morning until 11:00 am, the floating markets feature local farmers touring fresh fruit from rickety boats. Tours of the markets are also available, allowing you to meet the local vendors and persue what is on offer. Can Tho is also home to the famous Binh Thuy, a 300 year old village comprising old houses as well as an orchard, rice field and fishing pond.
To see the Mekong Delta at its best, visit the area during the earlier months of the dry season from December to February.