Since Ho Chi Minh City was my first time going somewhere completely solo, I decided to book a Mekong Delta day trip to transition myself into the travel mindset. Here’s what to expect if you visit yourself!
I literally got to my hostel at night and asked about booking the tour for the next day. It pretty much ran from morning until dinner time and was a great way to get acclimated to Vietnam while seeing somewhere beautiful!
I’m not going to lie, I had heard horror stories about Mekong Delta tours going terribly wrong or feeling like a constant ripoff, but I really enjoyed my tour company. I’m not sure if they’re still around, but they’re called the Youth Tourist Joint-Stock Company (YTC). It was just an overall relaxing day where you get to see more of the Delta culture and eat some delicious food.
vietnam travel guide
Tips for a Mekong Delta Day Trip
What is the Mekong Delta?
The Mekong Delta takes up a big chunk of southwestern Vietnam and comprises of 12 provinces. It has over a thousand animal species as well as a huge variety of plant life. People have inhabited the delta since prehistoric times, and the delta is currently a huge source of agriculture and aquaculture.
Should You Visit with a Tour?
Like I said above, I took a tour. I actually looked for tips about visiting in some travel groups beforehand, and they mentioned how difficult it was to visit alone. I distinctly remember reading about some girls getting a bit stranded because they couldn’t figure out how to get back. Unless you’re super experienced with Vietnam and own your motorbike, a tour is your best bet.
Most trips are either a full day excursion or an overnight experience. If I visit HCMC again, I think I’d like to stay overnight because you get to see so much more and learn more about the local culture.
Here are some tours consider:
- Mekong Rural Life Day Tour – You’ll also visit Cao Dai Temple and have lunch at a local’s home. Check here for prices + availability
- Full Day Excursion to the Mekong Delta – This is pretty similar to the tour I took — visiting fishing villages, snacking on fruit and tea, sampling some coconut candy. Check here for prices + availability
- 2D1N Mekong Delta Tour – This tour also includes visiting an early morning floating market, a visit to a fruit plantation, and an overnight stay at Can Tho. Check here for prices + availability
What to Wear to the Mekong Delta
Dress appropriately in sleeves and longer pants or skirts. While it can be pretty humid and sunny in that exhausting way, it can also get pretty chilly in the shade. I wore a white shirt, UNIQLO lounge pants, and Birkenstocks.
Overall, I was fine the whole day. One girl wore a really low cut romper with a huge open back, and she was visibly shivering in the shade and wind. Also, if I’m being frank, she looked kind of inappropriate for our surroundings.
My Mekong Delta Day Tour
Our guide came to my hostel around 8:00 a.m. to gather anyone who was a part of the tour, walking us to where the bus was located along the main road. It’s about a two-hour ride to My Tho. The bus is air-conditioned and super comfortable. You can leave some things on it if you want, but, as always, don’t leave anything you’d be devastated losing!
From My Tho, you’ll board a boat to take you into the Delta. Also, there’s a clean bathroom and a shop to buy hats and sunglasses if you forgot yours!
Into the Mekong Delta
There are four main islands in the Mekong Delta, considered the “holy islands.” I made a map so you can see a layout of the area:
We only visited three of the four islands. The residents on Dragon Island (Con Tan Long) don’t want tourism anymore.
Unicorn Island (Thoi Son)
The first island we visited was Unicorn Island. You’ll first take a boat ride through its creeks to get to the Eco Bee Farm. This is usually the part where you’ll see a lot of photos from the Mekong!
At the farm, you can see some of the bees at work and try honey straight from the slate. Being allergic to bees and not a big fan of honey on its own, I obviously opted out and watched from quite a far ways away.
Afterward, we sat down to try a honey drink and some honey treats where I brought some snacks for the future train rides Michelle and I had.
Turtle Island (Con Quy)
Next, we went to Turtle Island where we snacked on some fresh fruit and listened to some traditional music (and not so traditional when the singers cutely began singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”) We then went to a little factory where they were making coconut products, and we could sample some candy.
Phoenix Island (Con Phung)
Our final stop was at Phoenix Island. It’s where we had a simple lunch of steamed rice, meat or tofu, and some vegetables. You could order this giant fish for four people, but the memories of food poisoning in Gangwondo we still pretty fresh in my memory, so I wasn’t will to risk it with two and a half weeks of travel ahead.
We had some free time afterward, where I wandered around the resort and explored this abandoned monastery and its interesting sculptures. Apparently, the monastery once belonged to Dao Dua, the Coconut Monk. He had his followers but was also considered crazy by others.
We then made our way back and were dropped off by Ben Thanh Market around 5:00 pm. I somehow managed to find my way back to my hostel and passed out!
Have you ever been on a Mekong Delta Day Trip? If I ever go back, I’d love to do a longer stay!