Top Tips for Visiting the Mekong Delta in Vietnam
How to Arrange a Mekong Delta Home-stay
When I visited the Mekong Delta I wanted to do something a bit different. I enjoyed seeing all the different islands and the river markets and the canoe trips etc. but I really wanted to experience what it was like to actually live in the Mekong Delta.
And so, at the end of my Mekong Delta tour (a tour that I’d organised from Ho Chi Minh City) as I was dropped off in the middle of the city of Can Tho, I asked around to see if a Mekong Delta home-stay option was available. And, with the help of my tour guide I was hooked up with a local family who offered up homestay options. Half an hour later two guys turned up on my motorbikes. I jumped on the back and was whisked off to my Mekong Delta home for the night.
Pretty soon we were clear of the city of Can Tho and following the course of a tributary of the Mekong River. Signs of developed life were becoming more and more scarce until eventually we started down a dirt track only wide enough for motorbikes. We crossed one bridge, then another, then another passing through several tiny little villages all hugging the sides of this little track. And then just as the sun was setting for the evening we arrived at our Mekong Delta homestay.
Where is the Mekong Delta Located
What to Expect at a Mekong Delta Home-stay
My host couldn't speak much English but we somehow managed to communicate with each other. He showed my to my room which was cute and basic and pretty much what I expected from a Mekong Delta home-stay. I couldn't wait to spend the night here. He then introduced me to his family and tried to explain that they were making preparations for a festival that was happening the next day in remembrance of the life of his Grandfather who had died 10 years previous. He told me to relax while they prepared my special Mekong dinner.
Trying Delicious Home-made Mekong Food
As I waited for my home-cooked Mekong food to be prepared for dinner I grabbed a Saigon beer and lay back in the hammocks surveying my awesome surroundings in the Mekong Delta. For dinner I had a selection of delicious Mekong food including a whole fish that was freshly caught from the river outside the house. It was cooked to perfection and so full of flavour.
To accompany the Mekong fish I had what seemed to be soft small pancakes with fresh salad, vegetables and lots of other delicious accompaniments. This meal was fantastic and I ate with great haste and determination! Once I had finished dinner the host came and talked with me and asked if I wanted to walk to the village bar with him. Naturally, I said hell yes.
Spending an Evening in a Local Village Bar in the Mekong Delta
The village bar was an open space with a basic roof and plastic chairs and tables. There was one guy who worked there who just kind of sat around chatting and drinking glasses of tea like everyone else. It appeared tea was the only drink available until one of my hosts friends pulled out a bottle of vodka which is said he bought in Can Tho.
He took a swig and then passed it to my host. My host then passed it to me. I wasn't sure about this but thought hey, what the hell. The bottle was passed round several more times until it was finished. The only patrons of this bar were men. It reminded me of how British pubs were during the years of my childhood when I used go to the pub on a Sunday Afternoon with my Dad whilst my mom stayed home and made dinner (as out-dated as that sounds now). It was a place where men went to drink and socialise.
Whilst at this village bar some Mekong Delta locals taught me how to play a new game. The game was played on a billiards table with only three balls. I've completely forgotten how the game went now but I remember playing a few games and being totally useless. They took great delight in watching me fail though so at least I provided them with some entertainment. After losing a few games it was time to return to the home-stay.
Mekong Delta photo'sClick thumbnail to view full-size
An Abundance of Fresh Food
The next day I had some more delicious Mekong food for breakfast and had some time to wonder around the grounds of the house and the local area. I saw that the families in this Mekong village had such plentiful food supplies in all kinds of forms.
There were duck farms on the river; everyone had a boat for fishing and taking goods to the river market; everyone had hens and chickens running about. But what really astounded me was the enormous variety of fruit growing all around us. Much more fruit than they could ever eat, so much of it was sold at market. I have included some photos in this article showing all the different fruits growing within metres of our host family’s house. If you’re ever in Vietnam and are considering a Mekong Delta trip (which you must) then I really recommend a home-stay to get a much closer insight into the way of life in this wonderful part of the world.
Mekong Delta Homestay Poll
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If you would like to read more travel guides about popular destinations in Vietnam please click on one of the links below. Happy travels!
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Robert Clarke