Wordtravels

Wordtravels

Mekong Delta

Mekong Delta © William Cho
Mekong Delta © William Cho

The delta is a vast network of waterways formed by the Mekong River. It is surrounded by a fertile patchwork of endless green rice paddies, orchards and swamplands, where most of the country's rice is grown. Not only does the Mekong River irrigate what is known as 'the rice bowl of Vietnam', it also serves as a vital form of transport.

A unique way of life has evolved among the villagers that have lived on or beside the river for centuries. The best way to experience the delta is by boat, joining the rowing boats and fishermen, rickety houseboats, ferries and traditional sampans on the brown water. On the banks are small villages, vegetable gardens, fish farms and stilted houses. Trading is carried out between boats at floating markets, where whole sections of the river are covered by bobbing merchants who advertise their wares, often hung from long bamboo poles.

There are several towns in the region from where visitors can arrange boat trips, if not already on an organised tour. Try to avoid the rainy season, as the tides may be too high for canal travel. There is an impressive range of local dishes on offer and besides seafood there are opportunities for adventurous travellers to sample snake, eel and bat.

Transport: It is best to use a tour operator or local guide to navigate the region.