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Experience the Mekong Delta on a Once in a Life Time Adventure!

July 31, 2013 Tour Operator No Comments Email Email

The Mekong Delta is a fascinating destination with an incredible history, diverse cultures, stunning scenery and rich heritage.

The Mekong River runs through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and is the longest river in Southeast Asia. Rich in history and culture, it’s one of the last travel frontiers, with stunning natural beauty and incredible diversity.

Traveling from Saigon to Vinh Long by a private car, you will embark on a two day cruise on a traditional river barge or sampan. Traditional sampans in the Mekong Delta are small, flat-bottomed boats, propelled by oars or a rear-mounted oar. The sampans used for the new Mekong tours are larger, luxury versions of the smaller traditional vessels. These 22m-long and 4m-wide wooden boats, with two bedrooms and a living room, offer a relaxing way to cruise the waters.

Pham Ha, founder and CEO of Luxury Travel Company, says the tours let visitors see local life on the water as visitors pass through the provinces of Tien Giang, Dong Thap and to Can Tho City.

“Visitors can join locals on the banks of the river, feast on local cuisine in lush tropical gardens, visit handicraft villages and travel down the tributaries of the Mekong Delta,” says Mr. Ha.

David Nguyen, a sales manager at Luxury Travel, says the company’s sampan tours start at around 10 am, setting off on the Tien River in Cai Be Town.

Each boat carries a maximum of four tourists along with the crew. The sampan also tows a smaller junk, which is used to penetrate deep into the delta’s many narrow canals.

After stopping to taste some coconut treats, the boat heads for the Cai Be floating market, cruising among local barges that are stocked with fruit and vegetables, before heading upstream on the Tien River and on to Vinh Long and Sa Dec.

“Sa Dec Town in Dong Thap Province has a long history. The village has changed a lot during the last decade,” says David. “Houses with roofs made from coconut fronds now increasingly have roofs made from sheet metal. But the local people still keep their lifestyle and tradition of hospitality. People are so friendly here that visitors can feel free to stop at any house they like, where hosts often offer tiny cups of rice wine.”

With the sampan anchored, tourists have two hours to walk around Sa Dec and explore the local market, schools, pagodas and houses in the area.  Sa Dec is like a small, Asian-style Venice, with numerous narrow canals crisscrossing the land. There’s also a local market, which is the lively centre of town. The town’s narrow streets still have many beautiful French houses and Chinese temples, built in the 19th century.

After exploring the town on foot, dinner is served at an old house in Huynh Thuy Le (dating back to 1890) with the spread of food including dishes made from fresh vegetables and fish caught in the river by local fishermen.  Then, it’s time to get back on board the sampan to cruise down to Can Tho City.

At night, the crew anchors the vessel in a peaceful part of the river. A surprise for us is that we can watch the famous movie “ l’Amant” or “the Lover”, a wonderful and evocative story of love between a Chinese landlord and a French teenage émigré during the Indochina war.

Most families in the Mekong Delta make their living by catching fish. “It’s not unusual to see entire families living on small boats in the delta,” says David.

But for those on the sampan tours, there’s plenty of room to stretch your legs. The boat’s bedrooms, with their timber furnishings, are cozy and romantic. Blankets are provided to keep travelers warm, as the Mekong’s breezes can make the night time quite cool. But with the boat gently rocking on the water, a good night’s sleep is guaranteed.

The second day starts early in the morning. Breakfast is served on board while approaching Cai Rang floating market–the largest in the Mekong Delta.

The sampan will cruise through the large cluster of boats selling everything from sand and rice to fruits, vegetable, fish and flowers.

“Visitors can bargain with the locals, but they will not overcharge you as most trading here is wholesale,” says Pham Ha.

The cruise ends around 10 in the morning, when the boat stops at Ninh Kieu Wharf. Tourists will hit the road to have lunch in Can Tho, before cycling around the large town.

With their journey almost complete, visitors can make a four-hour car trip to Ho Chi Minh City in the afternoon or stay for an additional night at Victoria Can Tho Resort and Spa in Can Tho.

For cruise details, visit www.luxurytravelvietnam.com

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