Vietnam is a country of contrasts, tasty food, and jaw dropping natural beauty.
As a place that’s full of rivers, bays, thousands of miles of coastline, and even islands, you can imagine that many of the ideal spots to visit in Vietnam are near the water.
However, one place that stands out and brings the best aspects of the country together is the Mekong Delta.
Most travelers put Halong Bay high up on their list. Its dramatic scenery, green waters, and moody landscapes are what you picture when you think of Vietnam.
Options range from backpacker party boats to quiet and luxurious overnight journeys around the bay.
Although Halong Bay is definitely worth a visit in the north, many travelers miss out on a Mekong River experience when they’re in the south.
It’s a shame because it’s where so much vibrant diversity and traditional Vietnamese culture can be found.
The Mekong may not have the same striking beauty or popularity as Halong Bay, but it has its own charms, culture, and attractiveness that are unique.
This is why cruising the Mekong River in Vietnam is an experience that you shouldn’t miss.
The River Itself
The Mekong River has a rich agricultural history in Vietnam and Asia in general.
It’s the 12th longest river in the world and winds itself around six countries. Chances are if you’re backpacking through Asia, you will come across the river multiple times.
Vietnam, specifically, is an ideal place to see the river because it’s home to the Mekong Delta, where the river ends and empties out into the sea.
The Mekong Delta has been a key agricultural area in Vietnam for many years.
It has been an important area for producing much of the country’s food crops; even today it provides more than one-third of Vietnam’s food.
It’s also one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world, second only to the Amazon River.
Witnessing Mekong Culture Firsthand
If you’re cruising the Mekong River, you’ll probably leave from My Tho, or another small city along the river or near the Delta.
Life around the Delta is a different kind of snapshot of daily Vietnamese life that revolves around fishing and agriculture. It’s a place that has a culture that is uniquely its own, the pace of life is slower here, and the locals welcoming and friendly.
Stop in at the little islands along the river to find traditional music, try fresh fruit, visit eco-bee farms, and sip on fresh coconuts.
There are countless opportunities to learn more about the local culture and discover why the Mekong is such a captivating place.
The Natural Beauty
Southern Vietnam sometimes gets passed over because everyone wants to see the dramatic beauty that is so well known in central and northern Vietnam.
After visiting Ho Chi Minh City, many travelers start their journey up north without a second thought about going further south.
The landscape is completely different in the south, but I’d argue that it has its own attractiveness and draw.
Even though the Mekong River is a notorious muddy brown color, the scenery around the river can be stunning and charming.
There’s a reason cruising the Mekong is seen as a romantic experience.
The lush green branches overhanging the rushing water, the slow sampan boats that can be found floating down the small canals, and the abundance of wildlife.
As soon as the strong Vietnamese sun goes down and the pink and orange hues come out over the water, there’s nowhere else you’d rather be.
Use it for Travel
If you want to encapsulate all that the river has to offer, signing up for package tours in Vietnam can be a great option.
There are Mekong cruises that stop in at a few other cities, even going to Phnom Penh in Cambodia, so you can see various parts of the river and travel around the area at the same time.
And if you’re enjoying a multi-day journey, this allows you to see the river when it’s at its most serene at sunrise and sunset.
As mentioned above, the river and this area of Vietnam is known for its agriculture.
The nutrient-rich soil is the perfect base for growing crops, and this makes the Mekong Delta one of the leading food suppliers for the rest of the country.
You can bet that you will find some of the freshest food in Vietnam around the area.
Try popular Mekong dishes such as Elephant Ear Fish, com tam (broken rice), banh canh (soup cake), bun ca (fish noodle soup), and Sa Dec noodles.
One of the best parts about Vietnam is the fresh food, so why not try it from the source?
This story was brought to you by BestPriceTravel.
Mimi McFadden is a travel blogger and freelance writer. Originally from California, she has been slow traveling the world since 2013. When she’s not writing, she’s probably sipping on a pint of craft beer, practicing yoga, chasing waterfalls, or losing track of time with a good book. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and her blog, The Atlas Heart.