Touring the Mekong Delta (a.k.a Getting from Ho Chi Minh to Cambodia)

In order to get from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh, we had two (well, three) options:

  1. Take a 13 hour bus ride
  2. Take a two- or three-day tour through the Mekong Delta, ending in Phnom Penh via boats and buses, or
  3.  Fly (not really an option for us, but it’s there if you wish)

The Mekong Delta being one of the things we wanted to see while in Vietnam, we opted for the 2-day tour from Ho Chi Minh through the delta and into Phnom Penh.  The tour cost $50 each and included (supposedly) lunch the first day, accommodation that night, breakfast the second day, and all the transport and sights on the way.

We left Ho Chi at 8:00am on a bus heading down to the Delta.  The bus ride was a few hours, and once we got there we split into two groups:  those doing a 1-day tour ending back in Ho Chi, and those doing the 2-day tour ending in Phnom Penh.  We ended up in a group of 13 people heading toward Cambodia.

At this point we headed down the Delta, taking in the sights along the way, including the floating market.

mekong delta

Touring down the river.

mekong delta

Houses along the river.

Market

The floating market that we passed on our tour.

After the market we made a series of stops to check out some local items

honey

A honey comb from where they make local honey.

tea

We got to try the honey in some green tea, it was delicious!

puffed rice

We also tried a kind of puffed-rice cake, similar to puffed wheat but with rice, and a ginger/honey tasting coating

puffed rice

Cutting the puffed-rice-cake

Coconut candy

We also saw how they made coconut candy, they boil the coconut milk down until it turns into a type of caramel.

coconut candy

They use the leaves from the coconut tree to tint the candy green.

We also visited a crocodile farm!

One of the big crocodiles

One of the big crocodiles

croc

Someone was using a trick with a long string attached to “play” with the crocs

crocodiles

A literal pile of crocodiles.

After visiting all these sights—and ending many, many coconut candies—we returned to the bus that would take us the town where we stayed at the Floating Hotel, which was just a hotel build out over the river.  It being past 7:00 in the evening at this point, Braydon and I were starving and headed toward the hotel restaurant, which seemed like it would be a good spot for a meal.  Probably the most disappointing dish I had my entire time in Vietnam, I had fried noodles with shrimp that had next to no flavour at all and were luke warm.

On the plus side, this tiny gecko decided to sit beside us the entire time we ate.

wpid-20131102_200327.jpg

Day two we woke up early for breakfast and to depart toward a fishing village, a Muslim village, and the Cambodian border.  Our “included” breakfast cost $2.50 each, but we did get to enjoy it while looking out over the river.

After breakfast we hopped straight from the side of the hotel into the boat that would take us to a little fishing village just a few minutes up the river.  While there we were told about the kinds of fish that were there, and watched our guide feed some fish and watched them flail and flip about for the food.

fish

Fish jumping around for food. Things got so vigorous one even got flipped right up onto the deck.

Next it was onto the boat again, toward the Muslim village.  Initially we were told that we would go to visit a Muslim temple, which I was looking forward to.  However, it turns out we simply wandered around the town, seeing the local houses and tasting some coconut pancake-type things (which were delicious).  It was neat to see, but definitely not what I was expecting.

coconut

A woman made some kind of coconut cake/bread that we got to try.

A Mosque in the town

A Mosque in the town

 

Touring the town over, we were onto the boat for a couple of hours to reach the Cambodian border, then dealt with getting all of our passports and visa’s sorted.  Thankfully our guide took care of this, it just meant that we had a bit of time to kill while the border agents worked through all the passports.

Thankfully …

But there were puppies!

But there were puppies!

Puppies make waiting for boarder crossing so much better.

Puppies make waiting for boarder crossing so much better.

… there were puppies to entertain us!

Visa’s sorted and everyone allowed into the country, we hopped into yet another bus for the few hours into Phnom Penh.

All in all, a pretty painless trip through the border, but I’m not sure the $50 tour was worth it.  The Mekong Delta was cool to see, but it felt like a lot of “We’ll show you this one local thing, then give you 20 minutes to think about buying it”.  To do it again, I would have done a 1 day tour of the Mekong, then hopped the bus into Phnom Penh.

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