The cheapest and simplest way to see the river is to hop on the An Binh Ferry on Phan Boi Chau, and cross the Co Chien River (5min; 5000?) to reach An Binh Island. Sometimes called Minh Island, it’s a jigsaw of bite-sized pockets of land, skeined by a fine web of channels and gullies, eventually merging, to the east, with the province of Ben Tre. This idyllic landscape is crisscrossed by a network of dirt paths, making it ideal for a morning’s rambling or cycling, though you’ll need to take your own refreshments.
However, most people fork out for a day or half-day boat trip to see several aspects of delta life, organized either through Cuu Long Tourist or Mekong Travel, or through local boatmen always on the look-out for customers near the tourist jetty. These tours often include the option of overnighting in a home-stay in a totally rural environment, though as they increase in popularity, some start to resemble guest houses rather than home-stays, with visitors put up in custom-built bamboo huts separated from the family home.
Most tour itineraries head upriver to the floating market at Cai Be, stopping to visit fruit orchards, and rice-paper and candy factories en route; some tours also stop for a fish lunch at a rural outpost. Watching the river traffic, from the tiny rowing boats to huge sampans loaded with rice husks (fuel for the nearby brick kilns), is fascinating, and stepping ashore from time to time reveals insights into the lifestyles of the locals.