Heading south from Ho Chi Minh City for a few hours, we begin to approach the market garden of Vietnam, with its own monsoon climate – the delta of the mighty Mekong River. At this far point of the Southeast Asian peninsula, the Mekong splits into nine separate rivers, which then cascade eventually into the South China Sea.
As with any major river delta, the area is excellent for growing certain types of grain, fruit and vegetables, however it does have its drawbacks, too. In this part of Vietnam, you will notice a great number of houses built up on stilts, due to the potential for flooding, especially during the rainy season. These characteristics and features give the Mekong Delta a slightly different, although still thoroughly Vietnamese, appearance and ambience.
Not all of the region’s people live in stilted homes, however – there are a number of cities which are well protected from the course of the rivers. These cities have grown up as hubs for the surrounding farming industry, which supplies an incredible 70% of all Vietnam’s fruit and vegetables.
While there are interesting towns with lively markets of their own – such as Chau Doc, close to the Cambodian border – it is a much more thrilling and authentic Mekong experience to travel through the region by boat. This also gives you the advantage of being able to visit a number of the area’s famous floating markets. Here you will see an astounding array of tropical produce – boats piled up with durian, papaya and jackfruit, being transferred to the sampans and paddle boats of large resellers and private customers alike.
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