Getting Oriented

The Mekong Delta stretches from the Plain of Reeds in the northern reaches to the wet mangrove forests of Ca Mau at the southernmost tip. Some parts of this sprawling region can be somewhat difficult to travel around because of the poor state of the roads. More than any other destination in Vietnam, tours are a recommended way to travel around the delta for short trips as logistics can prove awkward. Most tour operators offer hotel pickup and transportation from Ho Chi Minh City, though bear in mind river cruises will not begin until you reach the top of the delta. Sadly, there is an overabundance of cheap, generic tours operating in the Mekong Delta. The best advice is to choose a quality, reputable—and more expensive—tour company that will lead you down the roads and rivers less traveled. In many cases, you can continue your travels on to Phu Quoc Island (or even Cambodia) after exploring the delta.

Northern Mekong Delta. The most accessible area from Ho Chi Minh City can be interesting if you only have a few days, taking in My Tho, Vinh Long, Long Xuyen and Chau Doc, a jumping-off point to Cambodia. Farther along the coast, Ha Tien is the gateway to Phu Quoc Island.

Phu Quoc Island. This rapidly developing island has powder-white sand beaches and a growing number of luxury resorts, many set right on the beach with views of the beautiful warm turquoise waters. The island has so far managed to retain its idyllic charm, and is a great spot for some laid-back exploring of remote beaches and jungle.

South-Central Mekong Delta. Can Tho, at the heart of the Mekong Delta, is an ideal base for exploring the deeper parts of the delta. Southeast of Can Tho is Soc Trang and Tra Vinh, both with large Khmer populations, and farther south still is the pleasant city of Ca Mau.

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