16.07.2016 – 19.07.2016
The Mekong Delta or Rice Bowl of Vietnam is our last stop in Vietnam before we head to Cambodia. Over three nights we stayed in two towns, Can Tho (2 nights) and Chau Doc (1 night). It is one of the main rivers that run through Southeast Asia, and Vietnam hosts the mouth of the water system. It is the 12th longest river in the world! Meaning the region boasts an agriculture dream land, with the population focused around the daily water life!
This town is the largest and most vibrant along the Mekong, and is best known for its floating market. We opted against booking a tour of Can Tho and just did it ourselves. We booked a bus with FUTA Buslines (would highly recommend this company) and when we arrived found a lady by the river who would take us on a day tour of the river, floating markets and the surrounding canals.
We still had time to explore the town, not terribly exciting, but we did find some delicious Fried Chicken. The restaurant is a few streets back from the river, but serves flash fried quarter chicken with rice for $2.50 each. We went back both nights!
The highlight of our time in the Mekong Delta was our day tour on the river. It started at 5:30am and we were back by 11:30am. Up at 5:30am, we were driven in a wooden boat by the son of the lady we booked with the night before, down the Mekong to the floating markets. They were impressive and the amount of fruit and vegetables being bought by locals and restaurants or store owners was incredible. Each boat had a bamboo pole at the front that informs everyone what they are selling. For instance, if you have potatoes and carrots, you tie a bunch of each to your bamboo pole and everyone then knows what goods you have.
For the remainder of our trip we went to a smaller local market and then cruised through the main canal that connected local villagers to the Mekong. We saw a few “supermarket boats”, well that’s what we call them. Essentially, someone goes to the morning markets and has supplies that they then sell to all the people who live along the river. The “supermarket boat” has fresh meat, fruit and vegetables along with many other household supplies.
Situated three hours north of Can Tho, Chau Doc is right on the Cambodian border. We travelled here to be able to catch the speed boat up the Mekong River to Phnom Penh (Cambodia), a different way to cross a border. Chau Doc, is a very transient town, especially for tourists, as almost all would spend just one night and then move across the border. The centre of town houses a huge market that services many of the smaller islands and villages nearby.
We only spent the afternoon in Chau Doc, which consisted of a walk through the centre of town and catching the ferry across to Cham Village. The ferry, that cost just 12c per person (return), was so rusted and old, I doubted it could carry us across the river. This service is vital to the people of the Mekong. There are 3 ferries constantly in use and they are full every 5 minutes with trucks, cars, motorbikes and pedestrians making the journey to or from home or work.
The next morning, we had breakfast at our guesthouse, which was run by an Australian, before we were picked up and taken to the boat terminal (just a jetty on the river) to head to Cambodia!
OUR FAVOURITE BITS
- Day tour of the floating markets and canals around Can Tho.
- Fried Chicken at Can Tho Restaurant.
- Taking the boat from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh. A cool experience and different way to cross the border.
- In Can Tho, going to the river the night before and finding a boat driver. It will be much cheaper than organising it through your hostel/hotel.
- Taking the FUTA Bus company. Great service and price.