Cruise On The Mekong River Delta From Can Tho City To Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
Mekong River Cruise
On my first trip to Can Tho City, I had decided it would be nice to cruise back to Ho Chi Minh City along the river by boat. Unfortunately when I looked into it, there were no companies offering service between the two cities. While eating lunch at a local restaurant on the waterfront of Can Tho City, I saw a beautiful wooden boat docked just in front of the restaurant. I was so intrigued by this impressive looking boat, that I had to investigate (even though I knew I could never afford it). I was able to get the phone number of the owner of the vessel from the waiter at the restaurant. It turned out that the cruise was from Can Tho City to Cai Be, just 2 hrs south of Ho Chi Minh City by car. The trip was 2 days and 1 night on the boat and the cost was 160USD per person (price varies depending on when and where you book). My first thought was that it seemed expensive, only because everything else in Vietnam is so cheap. After taking the cruise, I think that it may be the best value of all the money I spent in Vietnam.
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The Bassac III
When I first came aboard the boat, I was more than impressed, it was much more luxurious than I could have ever imagined. It felt like I was staying in a 5 star hotel, that just happened to be on the water. The name "Bassac", is ancient Vietnamese, meaning "Lower Mekong River". The Bassac III is the newest and the largest of the 3 vessel fleet owned by the tour company. The Bassac III is 32.6 M in length, made entirely of Mahogany hardwood. The maximum capacity for the 12 cabins aboard the Bassac III is 24 passengers not including the crew. Each cabin is air conditioned and includes a full sized bathroom with shower and toilet. Cabins are available with two single beds or one double bed for couples. There is a dining room and a sundeck on the upper level of the vessel. The back deck has a covered area with shaded seating. The galley below decks is spotlessly clean, and passengers are welcome to inspect the kitchen at any time during the voyage.
The crew were all very polite, and most of them were able to speak English, and some even spoke fluent French. The service was excellent during the entire voyage, I always felt like I was being treated like royalty. The captain was a serious looking fellow, and he seemed to be very professional and taking his job quite seriously. He was a man of few words as he seemed to be concentrating fully on the task of navigating the vessel. The boat and all the facilities were well maintained, and everything seemed to work as it should. I have spent most of my life working on boats, and I have never seen a vessel as well maintained as the Bassac III.
There were two guides on the boat, one French speaking and one English speaking. Half the passengers were French, and they were taken care of by the French speaking guide. I did notice that the French passengers seemed very pleased about the way the French guide took care of everything they needed. For the rest of the passengers of various nationalities, there was an English speaking guide. Our guide was absolutely fantastic, and she did an amazing job of taking care of us, and explaining everything to us in perfect English.
My time aboard the boat seemed to me to be much like staying in a five star hotel, and the meal service was no exception. All the meals were very well presented, with appetizers followed by several main courses, followed by desert. The portions were more than generous, and the quality of the food was fantastic. I was very impressed by the fresh baked croissants at breakfast, the fresh baked bread and the freshly squeezed juices. It is fair to say that the food aboard the boat exceeded my expectations.
Tour Of The Rice Fields
On the afternoon of the first day, we stopped to view a local village of rice fields and fruit trees. It was interesting to see how the locals maintain their farms, and the interesting fruits and vegetation that grows in the mangroves. Our guide did an excellent job of explaining everything to us, and educating us about local customs. This tour lasted just over an hour, and by the end of it, everyone was looking forward to getting back on board and enjoying the luxurious facilities aboard the boat.
The Floating Market
We took a long tail boat briefly through the floating market at Cai Be, and there were several boats selling fresh grown fruit and vegetables. I am not particularly interested in floating markets, so I was glad that this was a brief tour. After living in Asia for more than a decade, I have seen enough temples and markets for a lifetime. For tourists that have never seen anything like it, it is likely a lot more interesting.
The Handicraft Village
At the end of the tour you will arrive at the handicraft village in Cai Be. I found the village to be quite interesting, as they were showing us how they make the local favourites such as rice paper, popped rice and local sweets made with rice products. There were various souvenirs for sale for those people who wanted them, I always like to travel light, so I was not interested in adding weight to my backpack.