I stay away from package tours like the plague on most occasions. I just don’t like being told where to go, when to go, and how much time I can have in a given place. Unfortunately, traveling around the Mekong Delta was going to prove difficult and costly without a group tour. A bit reluctantly, but excited to see the Mekong nonetheless, I signed up for a 3-day mostly inclusive tour with an operator in Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 1: The bus picked me up outside of my HCMC hotel at 8 am and we drove two hours to the ferry in the Mekong Delta. We took a boat and made our way across the Mekong, switching into a smaller boat to navigate the tiny canals of the Mekong. With the tour, I visited a coconut candy factory and bought some of the tasty treats on the way out (which I am pretty sure that I could have gotten at the local market for much less), a fruit orchard where we listened to traditional Vietnamese music and a honey bee farm where we tasted lemon tea with honey. Oddly, I got to try on a python at the honey bee farm as well. It was a rather terrifying experience but I’m quite proud that I managed to allow them to get the thing on me in the first place. Afterwards, we took another two hour bus journey to Can Tho, where we had a hotel waiting for us.
Day 2: I was woken up at 6 am (!) by the tour guide and met up with the group at 6:30 for breakfast. After a quick breakfast, we walked a few blocks from the hotel to the boat dock where we boarded a small boat and headed up the Mekong to see the floating market. This was truly a locals’ floating market as it only sold fresh fruit and produce. The most interesting sight was the bamboo stick that stuck up into the air in front of all the boats with the items for sale on display for all to see. Smart idea! After circling the floating market a couple of times, we headed further into the Mekong to a rice noodle making factory. Since I love rice noodles, it was interesting to see how they were made. The afternoon ended with another long bus journey to Chau Doc for our last night. On the way, we stopped at Sam Mountain to visit a lovely Buddhist temple and enjoy the views. From the top, you could see the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.
Day 3: I had decided that I was going to skip the bus back to Saigon with the tour group and continue on to the town of Ha Tien, where I could catch a boat to Phu Quoc Island. I missed out on visiting the fish farm with the group, but I wasn’t all that interested in the first place.
All in all, the tour itself was a bit bland and not my preferred method of travel, but it did allow me to experience the Mekong Delta and exposed me to some things that I normally would have skipped, such as the coconut candy and rice noodle factories. Besides, I got to handle a python around my neck and that was pretty cool, even though I was scared out of my mind!