Take me to the River

Explore the beautiful tapestry that makes up the Mekong Delta

On a fine Saturday morning I was picked up at 8am and taken down to Saigon Pier where at 8:15am I and several other travelers boarded a speedboat that would take us south to explore the Mekong Delta. I started chatting with a fellow companion who informed me that he had been on the Les Rives Cu Chi tunnels tour the previous day and had loved it so much he booked the Mekong Delta one as soon as they got back. We were soon introduced to the Les Rives team, offered a light breakfast of banh mis, croissants and iced coffee. As we jetted away from the city, I sank back into my seat and listened to our guide Hang, tell us more about the life and culture of the locals.

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Smoothly cruising along, with just the noise of the wind blowing and endless scenes of wetlands, 45 minutes quickly passed and we alighted at our first stop—a Buddhist pagoda. The pagoda was beautiful and the peaceful surroundings seemed like a luxury compared to the chaos of Saigon. We took photos and enjoyed the tranquility before we headed off to the next destination—something surprisingly unexpected before we even had lunch!

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We arrived at Mr. Sau’s homestead, where we were guided to a lovely outdoor sitting area nestled in amongst tapioca fields and coconut trees. We settled in as Hang introduced us to a local favorite, rice wine. There are three types of rice wine on offer—mixed with honey, it was smooth and sweet and reminded me of drinking mead. We were also given fresh coconuts to sip on as we relaxed in the shade and chatted with Mr. Sau, whose family has lived in the home for over 50 years. After finishing our strong libations, we continued our journey down the river and were then transferred into traditional Vietnamese fishing boats for a 15-minute ride to visit rice paddies owned by three generations of farmers. They, along with their giant python, lived under one roof. The hospitality at both homes allowed us genuine glimpses into life in the Mekong.

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On our way to lunch we walked through a market that only hours earlier must have been bustling, however, most vendors and patrons were now enjoying their lunchtime nap. We stopped to inspect items here and there, and as usual our guide was well informed answered all our questions. Our lunch stop was at a lovely outdoor area, and as we sat a round of cold beers were ordered, which went down nicely in the heat. The steamed shrimp with coconut juice was the winning dish, along with a delicious selection of traditional Vietnamese dishes.

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After lunch (and another round of beers) we visited a Cao Dai temple, where we learned more about the world’s youngest religion. The temple is beautiful and bright, and is an ideal last spot for the tour. It has been a great day exploring the Mekong Delta and we hadn’t seen another tour group all day. During the tour we were provided with fresh tropical fruits, chilled soft drinks and water. I was surprised when we arrived back to the Saigon Pier right on schedule because at no point during our trip did I felt rushed—what a great way to spend a day.

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Mekong OI

Operated by Les Rives Authentic River Experience, discover river markets, lush rice paddies, local dishes and genuine countryside hospitality on a speedboat tour to the Mekong Delta. Booked through lesrivesexperience.com or 0.128.592.0018.

Images Provided by Les Rives

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