The Beautiful Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

This region of the Mekong Delta is known as Cuu Long (Nine Dragons) by the Vietnamese as a reference to the nine tributaries of the Mekong River.

The Mekong River makes it's journey of over 4000 kilometres from it's source in the Tibetan Plateau and flows through China and round Myanmar (Burma).Chau Doc boat in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. From there it then acts as the Laos and Thailand border before continuing through Cambodia and finally into Vietnam. The Mekong River is the third longest river in Asia and much of the area consists of villages and towns which are surrounded by water from both rivers and the numerous canals which have been dug over the years. Within the Mekong Delta, The River Mekong can also be named on maps with a specific "river" name - for instance at Chau Doc it's called the Bassac River. The canals coming off the Mekong River have been constructed to such an extent that many of the villages and towns have become in effect islands. There are around 2800 kilometres of canals in the Mekong Delta. The area is one huge agricultural region and over one third of Vietnam's rice is produced here and together with the fruit orchards, sugar cane groves and coconut palms this is a very fertile and profitable area for Vietnam.
How much you see of the Mekong Delta obviously depends on how much time you have. Organised day trips are widely available especially those leaving from Ho Chi Minh City but these short visits can only give a glimpse of the vast area. These often as not just whizz people out to My Tho - do a few hours boat trip and then leave again.
A more enjoyable and relaxed option is to make your own travel arrangements which may seem daunting when you look at a map of the Mekong Delta but buses are inexpensive and connect most towns. On one of our previous touring holidays to Vietnam we had hired a car and driver for our trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Can Tho and simply made several short stops on the way. On a subsequent holiday to Vietnam and the Mekong Delta we allowed more days and used public transport and stopped over for at least a day or two at various locations along the Mekong River. There are several towns where there are - albeit sometimes quite basic - accommodation and restaurants available for overnight or a few day stays including My Tho, Ben Tre, Cao Lanh, Se Dec, Vinh Long, Can Tho and Chau Doc. As tourism is developing in Vietnam the hotel standards, availability and choices as well as finding decent restaurants and so on can and is improving.
The Hau Giang Ferry - Mekong Delta (Vietnam).Three bridges have been constructed across the Mekong River and helps cut down journey times - the bridge at My Thuan which crosses the Tien Giang is open and also the bridge at My Tho which links into Ben Tre Province. The brand new bridge which crosses the Hau Giang at Can Tho was opened in the Spring of 2010 and at the time was one of Vietnam's most expensive bridges. An alternative way to cross the river is to use the chaotic river ferry. This river crossing is really interesting - vehicles are all over the place in the last kilometre or so to the quay. Drivers have to leave their vehicles and rush off to a ticket booth - other drivers behind get irritated so blaring horns, shouting and chaos ensues.
The ferries are rather old and quite rusty - you can get out of your car and look at the river and the boats but this would probably not be a good idea for young children as their are "hazards" all over the deck. Getting off the ferry is nearly as bad as getting on - one gap and everyone wants it so lots more chaos - the cars even try to get off before the gantry is down i.e. jump the gap. One of the features of the region are the variety of boats plying the rivers and canals - from very small rowing boats to massive rice barges. The "eyes" at the front of the barges are magic and watch out for and protect against evil sprits which live in the waterways.
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Cai Be barges - Vietnam. Cai Be boats - Vietnam. Cai Be boats on the River Tien Giang - Vietnam Cai Be stilt house - Vietnam.

Looking at and around Vietnamese Floating Markets and Floating Villages in the Mekong Delta.

It is very easy to organise trips round the waterways from local town and villages - these often include visiting local floating markets and fish farms. Most boat owners have a sort of fixed idea of where you will want to go too and you should always fix an agreed price before setting out. However they are happy to extend the trip if something or other takes your interest - though of course a little more money would be involved. Seeing the stilt houses and floating villages from water level is extremely interesting and make a few hours ride along the canal most relaxing and good value. Stilt houses can be seen all over Vietnam but perhaps the best examples are those found around the Mekong Delta. When you lean over a bridge perhaps in Chau Doc or Can Tho or maybe just go for a wander or bike ride into the countryside for a few kilometres these houses built along the canals and rivers are really picturesque - especially the reflections in the water when seen in the "creamy" sort of light you often get early evening.
Cai Be warehouse - Vietnam. Mekong Delta barges - Vietnam. Chau Doc thatched cottage - Vietnam. Chau Doc Mekong Delta views

A little about Mekong Delta Stilt Houses and floating houses in Vietnam.

Stilt houses and floating houses are designed to allow for the huge change in water levers during the annual floods in the monsoon season. During the dry season you can clearly see the bamboo stilts which can be up to six metres long and the ladders used to access the houses but during the rainy season the water comes right up to floor level and access is by boat. The floating houses and villages are "floated" on old oil drums and simply rise and fall as the water level changes - these are not only houses but can also be shops, warehouses and businesses. One advantage of a floating house is that it can be moved elsewhere as opposed to the fixed stilt houses.
Chau Doc river views - Vietnam. Chau Doc floating market boats - Vietnam. Chau Doc reflections Chau Doc river views - Vietnam.
Although some stilt and floatng houses are very basic quite a lot more have had verandas added together with pot plants and so on to make them into nice looking "houses". The roofs of both types of these stilt houses used to be of thatch but these days they use corrugated iron sheets which gives better weather protection and last much longer - but do then tend to look a bit rusty.
Our items about Vietnam's beautiful Mekong Delta and Mekong River.
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