Ho Chi Minh City: a visit to the Mekong Delta

Ho Chi Minh City is a very chaotic, hot and polluted city. Even if fascinating, you don’t want to spend too much time on the streets dodging scooters and cars.

scooters ho chi minh naturebels

So we decided to join an organized tour in the outskirts and to discover the Mekong Delta region as we heard it is really beautiful.

We visited several agencies and noticed that they sell almost all the same excursions, for the same price. Some tours are organized for big groups (50 people), and some for smaller groups (8-10 people).

The lady at the front desk suggested to go with a small group: you pay a bit more, but the guide has more time to dedicate to everyone and to give deeper explanations.

The ticket costed 550’000 VND per person and included the transportation, entry fee to the attractions, lunch and English-speaking guide.

 

The excursion from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta

The guide picked us up at our hotel in Ho Chi Minh City and we boarded the minivan at around 7.45 am. On board, there were other 7 people. That was our group for the day.

The guide, a funny Vietnamese guy whose name was “Braveheart”, entertained us during the trip with interesting facts about Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, and Vietnamese lifestyle.

In the past, during the Khmer period, Ho Chi Minh’s name was Saigon.

Nowadays the city, which is the most visited in the country, hosts 8.4 M inhabitants (13 M considering all the metropolitan area) and it is considered the financial centre of Vietnam.

Our first stop was at the Vinh Trang Temple: a beautiful Buddhist temple with 3 huge Buddha statues in different positions.

sleeping buddha tour vietnam naturebels

The statues are:

  • standing Buddha: the symbol of joy and compassion.
  • laughing Buddha: the symbol of happiness and fortune.
  • reclining Buddha: the symbol of Buddha before the death (parinirvana)

In the temple, Monks were preparing lunch. They usually eat a little bowl of rice and some vegetables. It seems that there are 2 “kinds” of monks. “Skinny” monks, who always stay in the temple and eat once per day. “Chubby” monks, who go around in the city collecting food alms… in addition to the once-per-day meal.

There was an interesting interpretation of life hanging on the temple’s wall… a bit sad, but it is actually our current society lifestyle. We study, we work, we gain money and, when it is time to enjoy life, we get sick and old, and we die. Let’s live life intensely, as we are only passing on the earth!

life for buddhists naturebels

Afterwards, we drove to the Mekong Delta and, with a small boat, we reached our next stop. During the trip, we saw a floating village, where people really live! It is a complex of wooden floating houses, and it includes also a little market.

floating village vietnam naturebels

We reached a bee farm where artisans produce wax and honey. Bees there were friendly, you could take a piece of a beehive without worrying too much 🙂 Braveheart did it first.

bee farm vietnam naturebels bee farm vietnam naturebels

Somewhere there was also the queen, but unfortunately, we couldn’t see it as the other bees were protecting her.

Anyway, honey was delicious!

Talking about animals, the bee farm hosted also a couple of… pythons, a male and a female. They were friendly too, and kind of domesticated. Everyone took a QUICK picture with one of them… very quick!

Surprisingly, the guy was heavy and not slimy at all. But still, that 20 seconds seemed an eternity to me!

pyton experience naturebels

After another short trip by boat, we visited a local sugar cane firm, producing candies, beauty products and other small handicrafts. Candies tasted like caramel: a bit sticky and extremely sweet. We walked a few minutes and reached a little port on the Mekong Delta. A host invited us to take a seat and offered us some fresh fruits and a cup of green tea. While enjoying our snack, a group of Vietnamese ladies entertained us with local songs and dances. It has been really nice!

Then, with a full belly, we finally boarded one of those little boats that were running up and down in one of the Mekong “canals”.

mekong delta tour vietnam naturebels

Every boat fits 4 people and a “driver”. This place was very touristic, and pagoda’s journey was quite short. Short but hard, as the driver had to paddle and, at the same time, to dodge other pagodas.

The landscape was incredible, we were surrounded by the green of nature, the brown of the water, and the full colours of our hats 🙂

on the boat mekong delta tour vietnam naturebels

That was an intense morning, and we started to feel hungry.

We have been invited for lunch by a local farmer, living in the countryside not too far from the Mekong Delta. He cooked our lunch using his own vegetables. A delicious vegetarian and zero-kilometer meal! We even had time to relax (there were hammocks) and to bike around.

As always, beautiful things don’t last!

The last walk through a garden full of fruits conducted us to the minivan, that drove us back to the hotel.

What an interesting day! We usually are not really pro to join organized groups, but in this case, we had a positive experience and we saw a lot of things that with a DIY itinerary you couldn’t do (unless you rent a car or a motorbike).