The Mekong Delta

From the heights of the Tibetan Plateau, the mighty Mekong flows through six countries, giving life and a home to millions of people. For this, it was once named “Mother of all rivers”. The Mekong is one of the most speciose rivers of the world, with approximately 1,300 varieties of fish and numerous kinds of reptiles and birds.

After a journey of 4,500 kilometres (3,000 miles) it reaches the South China Sea. Nine estuaries carry enormous amounts of silt to form one of the greatest (50,000 km2) ever growing deltas in the world. Cuu Long (nine dragons) is the Vietnamese name for the nine main estuaries. More than 13 million people live by the timeless rhythm of the river in small fishing villages and boats. There are also many Khmer and Cham who live in the Mekong delta region.

The cultivation of the Mekong delta

The beginning of cultivation of the Mekong delta can be dated back to 1750 when Vietnamese monarchs started to built canals and drain swamps to gain more land for cultivation. But the main part of the development was done by the French at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuaries.

Thousands of waterways form a labyrinth of major currents and secluded canals lined with lush vegetation, mangrove swamps and verdant rice fields. Due to the fertile soil and the production of 16 million tonnes of rice per year (harvested in three crops) the Mekong delta is also called “rice bowl” of Vietnam.

The Mekong delta is an exotic paradise for travellers from all over the world: good climate, an abundance of tropical fruit, sugar cane, coconuts and colourful flowers, a relaxed atmosphere and the generous mentality of the people. Lots of the activities in the area take place on the vast waterways. Most houses have access to the river, not all of them to roads.

The Mekong Delta The Mekong Delta The Mekong Delta The Mekong Delta The Mekong Delta

There are also many floating markets in the region, e.g. Cai Rang, Phong Dien or Phung Hiep near Can Tho. Local merchants offer plenty of fruit and vegetables. To witness the tastes and sounds of a floating market at dawn can be the experience of a lifetime.

Most of the boats in the area have a pair of eyes painted on the bow for good luck and to be able to find their way in the dark.

The Mekong Delta The Mekong Delta

Most people book their tour to the Mekong delta as a daytrip from Saigon. Daytrips usually go to My Tho or Ben Tre - but the travel times are fairly long and people only get to see a glimpse of the area. To get to know this beautiful waterlandscape and its culture, it is highly recommended to spend a few days in the Mekong delta. The best way to travel is on board a cruiser. A great combination is to discover the delta on the way to the holiday island of Phu Quoc or on the way to Cambodia.