Where would you find meandering waterways, lush orchards, trees laden with fruit, slowly swaying palms, rice paddies and every shade of green on the colour wheel? Also known as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is renowned for its fertile soil; the tropical wetlands make it ideal for cultivating rice.
Small boats are the most common form of transport, navigating through the canals past floating stalls, riverside cottages and houses. Water buffalo wallow in the shallows, children cycle along dusty country lanes and vendors spruik fresh fruit from their rickety wooden canoes.
The river itself is one of the longest in the world. At 4,350 kilometres long, it flows from China through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, before splitting off into countless rivers, canals and streams, and flowing into the South China Sea.
Life in the delta
Life here centres around the river and its tributaries. People live in houses on the water, and work in nearby rice paddies or at the floating markets, selling wares from their boats. Life here is languid and leisurely; it’s an easy routine to get used to.
Feel right at home
To experience an authentic connection with the region, we spend a night in a homestay. Travellers sleep in a local family’s home in a dorm-style room, with single camp beds fitted with bedding and mosquito nets. While the accommodation is simpler than our usual Peregrine standard, it’s a brilliant way to get a deeper understanding of this unique community.
What are cottage industries?
Cottage industries are businesses run out of people’s homes, with many operating between rice harvests when people have more time on their hands. Depending on the time of year, we’ll take you to visit a rice paper or ceramic workshop, stop at a candy-making demonstration (with a focus on coconut, rice and banana candy) or to sample locally distilled rice wine.
What to expect at the floating markets
Not so much a case of ducking out to the shops to pick up a carton of milk, a visit to the floating markets in the delta is a more colourful and immersive experience. Open daily from 5 am until midday, the markets predominately sell agricultural products from within the delta. Brightly coloured boats are anchored at the shore, as vendors suspend their produce – mainly fruit and vegetables – from a pole above. If you’re in the mood for watermelon, rambutan or bananas, just look up! Spend some time chatting to the locals, sampling food and practicing your bargaining skills.
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