The Mekong Delta, Vietnam

From its lofty source in the Tibetan Himalayas, the mighty Mekong River tumbles down through China’s Yunnan province. From there, it squeezes between Thailand and Laos, then slides through Cambodia before reaching Vietnam. The Mekong Delta is a picturesque region in southern Vietnam that offers visitors a unique and immersive experience of the country's culture, food, and natural beauty. 


Travel tips for visiting the Mekong Delta

If you're planning a trip to the Mekong Delta, there are a few travel tips to keep in mind. First and foremost, be sure to pack light and bring comfortable, breathable clothing as the region can be hot and humid.


Insect repellent is also a must as mosquitoes and other bugs are prevalent. When it comes to transportation, renting a motorbike or bicycle is a great way to explore the area, but make sure to wear a helmet and be cautious of traffic.

Hiring a local guide can also be helpful in navigating the delta's maze of canals and finding hidden gems. Additionally, be prepared for cultural differences, including language barriers and different customs, and be respectful of local traditions.

Mekong Delta in Vietnam © Shutterstock

Mekong Delta in Vietnam © Shutterstock

The 10 most beautiful places in Vietnam – as voted by you: Phu Quoc island, Sao beach, Vietnam © Pawel Michalowski/Shutterstock

Phu Quoc island, Sao beach, Vietnam © Pawel Michalowski/Shutterstock

#3 Learn about Vietnamese culture via a homestay

Homestays in the Mekong Delta offer a unique opportunity for travellers to experience the region's daily life, local cuisine, and customs while staying with welcoming families in traditional homes. Spend the night amid rural communities, observing daily aspects of Vietnamese culture and getting to know your hosts.

#4 Spend time in the Chau Doc region

Visit a Cham village and the fish farms on the river, or explore nearby Sam Mountain. Chau Doc offers a bustling market, temples, and waterside activities, making it a popular destination in the Mekong Delta. Visitors can also explore the Cham community, Sam Mountain, bird sanctuary, and historical sites in the surrounding area.

#5 Visit Can Tho — one of the best things to do in the Mekong Delta

The de facto capital of the delta is also its most appealing city, with a charming riverfront, a decent culinary scene, and some good walking opportunities. Chau Doc offers a unique blend of cultures, stunning natural scenery, and fascinating historical sites, making it a worthwhile destination for any traveller.

#6 Take a boat trip

Boat tours are a great way to explore the Mekong Delta, with options for day-trips and multi-day liveaboard trips available from various cities, including HCMC, My Tho, Cai Be, Vinh Long, Can Tho, and Chau Doc. The tours take visitors through the delta's labyrinthine waterways, where they can witness local life and enjoy stunning views of emerald paddy fields, coconut trees, and markets run by colourful boats.


Mekong delta, Vietnam © Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

Mekong delta, Vietnam © Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

#7 Spend time on the beaches of Phu Quoc Island

Phu Quoc Island is a must-visit destination for those seeking beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, and a relaxed atmosphere. Sprawl through the gorgeous beaches, ride a motorbike through its mountainous interior and dive or snorkel around the coastline. A visit to this region is one of the best things to do in the Mekong Delta.

#8 Visit the infamous floating markets

The floating markets are one of the Mekong Delta's most iconic images, where vendors sell fruits, vegetables, and other goods from their boats. Cai Be and Can Tho are two of the most popular floating markets, but other smaller ones can be found in various parts of the delta.

#9 Explore Tra Su Cajuput Forest

Tra Su Cajuput Forest is a protected area located in An Giang Province, where visitors can take a boat ride through a maze of channels lined with cajuput trees. The forest is home to various bird species, including storks, herons, and cormorants.

#10 Try local delicacies

The Mekong Delta is known for its delicious and unique cuisine, including dishes such as banh xeo (crispy rice pancakes filled with shrimp, pork, and bean sprouts), hu tieu (rice noodles served in a flavorful broth), and ca kho to (caramelized fish in a clay pot). Visitors should also try fresh fruit, coconut candies, and rice wine, which are all local specialities.

Where to stay

The Mekong Delta offers a range of accommodation options to suit different budgets and preferences. Larger cities like Can Tho and Chau Doc have a good range of hotels, from budget options to higher-end resorts.

Homestays are also a popular choice, offering visitors a chance to experience local life and hospitality. These are available in various villages throughout the delta. For those who prefer a more unique experience, floating homestays and eco-lodges are available in some areas, allowing visitors to stay on the water and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

  • Bassac Victoria (Chau Doc). Expect imaginative iterations of Western and Asian dishes, such as roast loin of lamb or roasted duck breast, as well as cheaper meals such as pho.
  • Phuong Nam (Can Tho). While here, try the snake meat, curried or with satay sauce. Or the crocodile steak with fries. Ostrich in steak or sautéed form is another favourite.
  • Chuon Chuon Bistro (Phu Quoc Island). This restaurant features one of the best views on the entire island, and features an international menu.

Floating market in Mekong delta, Vietnam © Shutterstock

How to get to here

The Mekong Delta is easily accessible by road, waterways, and air from various cities in Vietnam, such as Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, and Rach Gia. One of the most popular ways to get to the Mekong Delta is by taking a boat tour from Ho Chi Minh City, which allows visitors to explore the picturesque canals and floating markets of the region.

For those who prefer a faster mode of transportation, flights are available from Ho Chi Minh City.

By plane

You can cut a fair bit of travel time by taking a flight to or from the delta. Phu Quoc Island has the most connections, with services to the mainland cities of Can Tho, Rach Gia and Ca Mau as well as some from within the delta area itself.

Mekong Delta boat tours

Boat tours provide a great way to explore the Mekong Delta. There are plenty of options for day trips and multi-day liveaboard boat trips available from various cities. However, we recommend choosing just one destination since most day tours follow a similar itinerary.

How many days do you need here

The number of days needed in the Mekong Delta when travelling there depends on personal preferences and interests, but generally, a 2-3 day trip is recommended to explore the highlights of the region.

This allows for enough time to take a boat tour of the delta's waterways, visit local villages, and sample the region's delicious cuisine. However, for those who want to really immerse themselves in the area's laid-back atmosphere and way of life, a longer stay, perhaps up to a week or more, may be ideal.

Looking for inspiration? Check our Vietnam itineraries

Mekong Delta Vietnam © ImaginativeGifts/Shutterstock

Mekong Delta Vietnam © ImaginativeGifts/Shutterstock

Tips for getting around

The Mekong Delta offers boat tours, motorbike rentals, public transportation, private cars/drivers, and diverse attractions. Planning ahead is key, especially regarding weather conditions. Heat, humidity, and heavy rain can affect the region. Dressing appropriately and staying hydrated will make your travels more comfortable.

By motorcycle and bike

With the main roads in the Mekong Delta often congested with traffic, it's a great idea to rent a bike or motorbike. This is a fantastic way to fully immerse yourself in the unhurried life of the region.

By boat

Locals used to do much of their travelling on the cargo boats that still crawl around the delta’s waterways. However, the increased prevalence of motorbikes has led to many routes being cut, and this is no longer a viable way of getting around for visitors.

By bus

There are plenty of bus services to and around the delta, though journeys can be long, and the scenery samey and uninspiring. Traffic has to stop occasionally at the ferries that make road travel in the delta possible, though the completion of some long-awaited bridges has sped up travel times.

The best time to visit the Mekong Delta

The best time to visit the Mekong Delta is during the dry season, which lasts from December to May. During this period, the weather is generally sunny and dry, and the water levels are lower, making it easier to explore the region's waterways.

The wet season, from June to November, can be more challenging for travel due to frequent heavy rain and flooding. However, it's also a great time to witness the vibrant greenery and lush landscapes of the delta, as well as experience the annual floating markets that take place during this time.

RoughGuides Tip: read all about the weather in Vietnam in Best time to Visit Vietnam

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written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 21.09.2023

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