Mekong Delta

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Mekong Delta - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Binh Thuy Ancient House

    One of the very few remaining examples of 19th-century residences in the Mekong Delta, this house has been designated an official national relic by the Ministry of Culture. Built in 1870, the privately owned house is now managed by the sixth generation of the Duong family. The exterior looks French, but the interior is quintessentially Vietnamese, and all five rooms are furnished with antiques. The house appeared briefly in the 1992 film The Lover, based on the novel of the same name by French author Marguerite Duras, as the ancestral home of her Chinese lover (the actual home of The Lover still exists in Sa Dec but at the time of filming it was being used as a government office). Binh Thuy Ancient House is a 10-minute taxi ride from most hotels, and it's worth visiting Binh Thuy Temple, an ornate structure that predates Binh Thuy Ancient House, along the way.

    144 Bui Huu Nghia, Binh Thuy, Can Tho, Vietnam

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  • 2. Huynh Thuy Le Ancient House

    This house is famous for being the home of Huynh Thuy Le, upon whom French novelist Marguerite Duras based the title character of The Lover, a 1984 semiautobiographical book about a schoolgirl's love affair with a rich Chinese man. The house, built in 1895 by a wealthy Chinese family, was used as a government building for many years (which meant the 1992 film The Lover was shot at another colonial house in Can Tho). But it's been restored reasonably faithfully—without the original gold leaf decorations—and it's possible to stay in one of the bedrooms for about $25 a night, including dinner and breakfast. The architecture is interesting—French colonial on the outside but ornately Chinese on the inside—with many photographs of the "The Lover," both in real life and as he was portrayed on screen.

    255A Nguyen Hue, Sa Dec, Dong Thap, Vietnam

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    Rate Includes: 30,000d
  • 3. Mac Cuu Tombs

    Sometimes referred to as the hill of tombs, this site is a garden cemetery containing the remains of General Mac Cuu and his family. Mac Cuu is credited with establishing Ha Tien in 1670, when the region was part of Cambodia. The family mausoleum, with its traditional Chinese tombs decorated with dragons, phoenixes, tigers, and lions, was built in 1809. There's a small temple dedicated to the family at the base of the complex.

    Mac Cuu, Ha Tien, Kien Giang, Vietnam

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  • 4. Mubarak Mosque

    One of nine mosques serving An Giang Province's Muslim population, Mubarak Mosque is a short ferry ride from Chau Doc's passenger pier. First built in 1750, the mosque is the spiritual heart of the area's Cham community. Take some time wandering the surrounding streets to view the Khmer-style wooden houses.

    Phu Tan, Chau Doc, An Giang, Vietnam
  • 5. Sam Mountain

    It's possible to walk to the smallish (230 meters) Sam Mountain, 5 km (3 miles) southwest of Chau Doc, although it is a long walk. Or you can get a xe om or a taxi to the top of the mountain and walk down (there's a surcharge for navigating the steep bumpy road; make sure you organize a round-trip unless you want to walk back to town). There are several interesting shrines on the mountain, known as Nui Sam in Vietnamese. The first, at its base, is Tay An Pagoda, originally constructed in 1847 and renovated several times since, with a mix of Vietnamese and Indian architecture. A little way past Tay An Pagoda is Ba Chua Xu (Lady Xu Pagoda), dedicated to a goddess whose origins have been lost in the mists of time and legend. Farther along is the Tomb of Thoai Ngoc Hau, an official of the Nguyen dynasty who died in 1829, and his two wives. Hang Pagoda (Cave Pagoda), at the top of 400 steps, has amazing views of the surrounding countryside, the flat rice paddies, and flood plains that stretch out beyond the Cambodian border.

    Nui Sam, Chau Doc, An Giang, Vietnam
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  • 6. Ang Pagoda

    Originally built in the 10th century, Ang Pagoda has been rebuilt and restored several times. Set on 10 acres among ancient trees, the pagoda still retains its beautiful Khmer architecture. Ang Pagoda is 5 km (3 miles) from the center of Tra Vinh, a short walk from Ao Ba Om pond, and right across the road from the Khmer Culture Museum.

    Luong Hoa, Tra Vinh, Tra Vinh, Vietnam

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  • 7. Ao Ba Om

    A relic of the glory days of the Khmer civilization, Ao Ba Om, which poetically translates as "square pond," is now a peaceful and serene body of water surrounded by tall trees. The pond, about 5 km (3 miles) from Tra Vinh, is a nice place to visit in the early morning, when the mists make the area seem even more romantic. Combine your exploration of the pond with visits to the nearby Ang Pagoda and Khmer Cultural Museum.

    Ao Ba Om, Tra Vinh, Tra Vinh, Vietnam

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  • 8. Ba Chua Xu Temple

    Ba Chua Xu is the prosperity goddess of the Vietnamese folk religion Thanism, and this is her temple. It was built about half way up Sam Mountain in the early 1800s after, legend has it, villagers discovered in the forest a female statue dating to the 6th century. The temple is constructed in what is commonly thought of as Chinese style, with four levels, and the tiled roofs have become green with age. Within is the statue of Ba Chua Xu, and locals come here to ask for protection. During the fourth lunar month, the 23rd–27th are festival days and locals celebrate with dances, praying, and by making offerings. Surrounding the temple are pleasant gardens and some small caves, and from up here there's a sweeping view of the surrounding countryside; on a clear day you can see neighboring Cambodia.

    Nui Sam, Chau Doc, An Giang, Vietnam
  • 9. Bac Lieu Bird Sanctuary

    In a mangrove forest about 5 km (3 miles) from the township of Bac Lieu is a large bird sanctuary that is home to 46 species of birds, including the endangered painted stork and small king cormorant. An estimated 40,000 birds live here, within a 951-acre mangrove ecosystem. The best time to visit is when the birds nest during the rainy season between May and October. Time a visit for dawn or dusk, when thousands of birds take to the skies.

    Cao Van Lau, Bac Lieu, Bac Lieu, Vietnam

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    Rate Includes: 40,000d
  • 10. Bang Lang Bird Sanctuary

    On the road to Can Tho, 15 km (9½ miles) from Long Xuyen, Bang Lang is home to an estimated 150,000 storks, which create an amazing spectacle at dawn and dusk. Eleven species of stork, egret, and heron have been identified in this 1.3-hectare sanctuary, which, sadly, isn't as well-kept as it should be. The sanctuary is named after the Queen’s Flower trees (bang lang) that used to line the road.

    Off DL91, Thoi Thuan, Can Tho, Vietnam
    012-4356–4152-cell phone

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    Rate Includes: 20,000d, Daily 6–6
  • 11. Ben Tre

    A 20-minute ferry ride from My Tho (and then a 10-minute xe om ride) is Ben Tre, considered the Mekong Delta's coconut capital. Many Mekong Delta day trips from Ho Chi Minh City stop at Ben Tre, which has many interesting waterways and river islands to explore, as well as several coconut candy factories.

    Ben Tre, Ben Tre, Vietnam
  • 12. Ca Mau Market

    The wet market here is small, but a bustling hive of activity from early in the morning to dusk. Few foreign tourists visit Ca Mau, so expect a lot of attention if you walk through.

    Phan Boi Chau, Ca Mau, Ca Mau, Vietnam
  • 13. Cai Be Cathedral (Nha Tho Cai Be)

    This 1930s Gothic-Romanesque cathedral seems an anachronism in a small Vietnamese town, but it's a reminder of Vietnam's colonial past. The bell tower stands 171 feet tall and its bells, which were cast in France, weigh in at a whopping 400–2,000 kilos (880–4,400 lbs.).

    Just off the river, near Van Hoa K3, Cai Be, Tien Giang, Vietnam
  • 14. Cai Be Floating Market

    The smallest of the Mekong Delta's floating markets, with only 10 to 12 boats, this is an easy excursion from most of the region's homestays. Be aware, however, that the floating markets around Can Tho are much bigger and livelier. The benefit of this market is that it runs all day, until about 5 pm.

    Off Cai Be Wharf, Cai Be, Tien Giang, Vietnam
  • 15. Cai Rang Floating Market

    A bigger market than Phong Dien and used by many wholesalers, Cai Rang is crowded and noisy (with many tourist boats), but still fascinating. The market, about 6 km (4 miles) or 40 minutes by boat from Can Tho, starts trading at around 4 am, in the dark, and is usually finished by 10 am. It really is worth making a superearly start to watch dawn break over the market. Coffee and breakfast are included in most floating market tours from Can Tho.

    Cai Rang, Can Tho, Can Tho, Vietnam
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  • 16. Can Tho Museum

    The Can Tho Museum has a large collection of artifacts from the local region. Displays illustrate the lives of former Chinese and Khmer occupants, and there's a life-size pagoda and a traditional teahouse. You will find a lot of English signage here.

    1 DL Hoa Binh, Can Tho, Can Tho, Vietnam

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  • 17. Cao Dai Temple

    Established in 1926 in the southern Vietnamese city of Tay Ninh, Caodaism is a monotheistic religion, in which Cao Dai is believed to be the creator of the universe. The temple in My Tho is a smaller offshoot of the main Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh (also called the Holy See Temple), and was built in the early 1970s. The colorful structure, which is done up in every shade of the rainbow and then some, has impressive wooden carvings of deities, immaculately painted iron grillwork, and handsome tiles.

    85 Ly Thuong Kiet, My Tho, Tien Giang, Vietnam
  • 18. Cao Dai Temple (Sa Dec)

    A riot of color, this Cao Dai Temple, on the far side of the river, off Lac Hong, is pale yellow, with sky blue, red, and green accents, and inside the floor tiles change color from one to the next. At the front of the temple, on a carved wooden table with drawers, sit thick gilded candlesticks and offerings while ceramic egrets stand on either side. Established in 1926 in the southern Vietnamese city of Tay Ninh, Caodaoism is a monotheistic religion, and this temple is similar to the one in My Tho; both are branches of the main Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh, also called the Holy See Temple. Adherents worship Cao Dai, whom they believe is the creator of the universe. From the temples towers, take in the view of the river and surrounding countryside.

    102D Le Loi, Sa Dec, Dong Thap, Vietnam
  • 19. Chen Kieu Pagoda

    Twelve kilometers (7.5 miles) outside Soc Trang, in the village of Dai Tan, this is the largest Khmer pagoda and religious school (for novice monks) in the area. The original pagoda, built in 1815, was destroyed during the Vietnam War and was rebuilt in 1969 using bowls and plates—hence the name (chen means bowl). The garden has several thatched huts in which pilgrims can meditate, and a lively market operates in front of the pagoda gates.

    Dai Tam, My Xuyen, Soc Trang, Soc Trang, Vietnam

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  • 20. Coconut Tree Prison

    Established by the French and used by the Americans as well, the Coconut Tree Prison, also known as Phu Quoc Prison, is a chilling visual reminder of the atrocities the human race is capable of, as well as a stark record of history. Like many other war-related sites in Vietnam, the Coconut Tree Prison uses life-size mannequins to show the horrors committed in the past. The prison is right at the southern end of Phu Quoc.

    350 Nguyen Van Cu, Kien Giang, Vietnam

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    Rate Includes: Free, donations welcome

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