If you fly into Vietnam you will most likely arrive in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). Now if you arrive into Hanoi you will find there is plenty to do and see as well Ho Chi Minh, in and around the two main cities. In Ho Chi Minh the must do’s are the Chu chi tunnels, War remnant museum, Thien Hau Pagoda, Notre Dame Cathedral and Binh Tay and Ben Thanh markets. I had done all these on my previous visit so when I arrived into Ho Chi Minh I booked myself to do a day tour on the Mekong Delta in Ben Tre.
I booked the tour through a local agency on Pham Ngu Lao Street which is the Khao San Road of Vietnam. Here you can find restaurants, hotels, travel agencies, exchange booths, banks, basically everything that a traveller would need and for all budgets.
The tour started with a pick up from either your hotel or agency where you booked the tour. I was picked up from the agency as my hotel was down a side street where the minibus could not drive into. The drive itself out of Ho Chi Minh was stunning, passing along provincial roads through paddy rice fields, pineapple plantations, orchards and local villages.
We arrived at My Tho City 2 hours later where we boarded a local motor boat. It took us along Dragon Island and Unicorn Island on the Mekong River which were interesting to see but we didn’t get off here. The Mekong River is a life line to millions of people in Southeast Asia and is the livelihood of many people in Vietnam. Here you can see directly how the river plays a part in their daily lives. People live on the river in houseboats, fish on the river and commute on the river.
Our first stop was Unicorn Island, here we took a short walk to see the fruit garden and got the opportunity to taste the locals tropical fruits including dragon fruit and pineapple. Then we moved onto a bee farm, but don’t worry about because you’re unlikely to get stung, here you’ll get to taste the local honey and I highly recommend to try the honey tea, it was delicious. We were met by the locals on the island who came out with some instruments and played traditional Vietnamese folk songs which was enjoyable.
From here we changed boats to a rowing boat which carried us through the canals. This was probably the most enjoyable part of the trip for me because It felt like we had travelled back in time and we really were in a different world. It was immensely peaceful passing through reeds and water coconuts, you almost feel like you’re in the movie Jurrasic Park but obviously without the dinosaurs!
We then were taken back to the motor boat and arrived at Ben Tre, a province close to Ho Chi Minh. Here we were taken by horse cart to a local village where we visited a handmade coconut candy making workshop. The Ben Tre province is famous for it’s coconut candy and here you can see local women rolling out the sweets next to boiling pots of coconuts and cutting it into squares as the final product.
We then returned back to the motor boat and enjoyed more beautiful lush green canals to ride through and made a stop a local restaurant for lunch. After lunch we were given the option of exploring the village by foot or by push bike. I opted for a ride around the village and it was really interesting to see into the houses and courtyards of the of the locals and get a small glimpse into their daily lives. Once we spent our time here we then made our way back to My Tho and from there we boarded the bus back to Ho Chi Minh where we arrived around 5pm.