See The Mekong Delta In a Day: Bến Tre Private Tour Review

I’ve lived in Saigon for about nine months now, but I had never taken a trip to the Mekong River Delta. Luckily, having my parents visit me in Vietnam was the perfect excuse to go check it out! We decided to book a private day tour with a company called Mekong Delta Tourism (AG Travel), which meant we got our very own guide and driver for the entire day.

The Mekong River is only about 40 miles away from Ho Chi Minh City, and you don’t need to go as far as Cần Thơ to see why the delta is such a popular tourist destination. Instead, we traveled to the city and province of Bến Tre. In this post, I’ll share what we did and end with a quick review of the company we went with.

What We Did on the Day Trip

1. Hotel Pick-up

The tour began with an 8:00 a.m. hotel pick up. The tour guide was right on time and met us in the lobby, then brought us out to a large van which we had all to ourselves. We took the main road out of the city (Võ Văn Kiệt) before taking the highway (Quốc lộ 1A, or QL1A) the rest of the way to Bến Tre.

2. Quick Rest Stop

At some point before reaching the city of Bến Tre, we stopped for a few minutes at a rest stop. It looked like they offered coffee and food if we wanted to get breakfast, but we had already eaten earlier at the hotel.

3. Crossing the Mekong River

We didn’t get out of the van to stop here, but we did get panoramic views of the Mekong River as we crossed it on the Rạch Miễu Bridge (Cầu Rạch Miễu). It was interesting to see just how wide the river really is, and our guide pointed out the houseboats and fishing communities floating on the water as we crossed.

4. Brick Factory

Our first real stop on our journey was a brick production facility on the banks of the river. Despite being quiet that day, our guide informed us about the clay in the region being ideal for bricks, which are made by hand.

Seeing the firing kilns on site was probably the most interesting part of this stop. Since they weren’t being used when we visited, we even got to step inside and check them out up close!

5. Motorboat Ride

Since the brick factory happened to be right on the banks of the river, we walked over to one of the boats and got in. Fresh coconuts were served on board, and we enjoyed the view as we passed by palm trees, vegetation, other boats, and the occasional waterfront house.

6. Coconut Candy Production

Our next stop was short and sweet: a quick look at a local producer of sweets based on coconut and chocolate. We had some delicious samples and watched as the women working cut and packaged the treats they were making.

7. Mat Weaving and Fresh Fruit

We then made our way to another house, where two women were making a traditional mat. They also ran a small souvenir shop, and we were treated to a plate of fresh local fruit while sitting down for a few minutes to rest.

8. A Lunch to Remember

After enjoying our fruit appetizer, we were more than ready for lunch. We got into the back of a small truck, which took us through palm groves down dirt roads. After ducking our heads to avoid the low-hanging fronds, we finally arrived at the remote but beautiful Ba Danh Homestay, where we had lunch.

Although every dish we were served was great, the highlight had to be the massive fish shown above: the giant gourami. This fish was delicious and crispy, and our waitress showed us how to make delicious spring rolls with it. Some other side dishes we enjoyed are shown below.

9. Rowboat Back to Bến Tre Town

It was time for the second portion of our journey by boat, except now, we had no motor to propel us forward. We moved at a much more leisurely pace as two rowers paddled us through the river under the hot sun. It was the perfect way to relax after a big meal.

10. Ride Back to Saigon

We concluded our short boat ride right in the center of Bến Tre town, where our van was waiting for us. We drove back into Ho Chi Minh City the way we came and were back in time for dinner.

Was the Trip Worth It?

Although this tour was probably about as expensive as they get, it was really enjoyable and well-planned. A day trip was the perfect way to see a glimpse of the Mekong Delta without having to commit too much time. Needless to say, I’m sure a multi-day journey through the swamps and towns here would have its own rewards.

If you’re willing to shop around (both on the streets of Saigon and online), you can basically find a tour for any budget that should include the activities you care about most. Most people probably visit the Mekong on a group tour. I’d bet that the itinerary is similar, but without as much flexibility.

Have you been to the Mekong Delta before? If you have, did you see some similar sites? Or did you happen to book with the same company we did? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading, and if you’re about to check out this stunning region in Vietnam, enjoy!

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This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Fiona Mai

    Reading this feels so nostalgic to me, as I also took a group tour to the Mekong last year and visited the same places. The tour I went with was quite good but surely there was much less flexibility compared with a private tour. I think your tour would be perfect for those who want to enjoy the Mekong at their own pace and get to know more about the local culture. Thank you for sharing!

  2. uoprincess

    I do love how out-of-towns guests get us to explore our own backyards. Looks like an enjoyable day was had by you and your family.

  3. Medha Verma

    I was in Vietnam recently but didn’t make it to the south and was curious about what a trip in the Mekong Delta looks like, and here I am! I loved Vietnam and I can see that you had a great lunch in the tour, which was the highlight of my trip, the food! Even the river boat rides in general are really cool in Vietnam so I see that the motorboat in the Mekong Delta would be a nice experience too. The brick factory looks like an interesting place to explore. I’ll visit when I go to Ho Chi Minh on my next trip!

  4. Woraporn

    Vietnam is quite popular by now, this is good that vietnam open the country for traveler to visit. Also Im the one who live in Thailand and the journal and the place where you go is similar to Thailand. Those of activities are quite same, it is local and cultural place to visit.

  5. Vietnam is still on our travel wish list. Having people visit is always a great reason to try new tours. Love the thought of having your own car and driver for the day. Love that you could stop at multiple places along the way. I would never have though of visiting a brick production factory. But coconut candy would make me want to stop. A row boat ride would certainly be a picturesque way to travel.

  6. Sandra Papas

    We did a very similar day trip from Saigon last year. I’m afraid the fish just did seem appetising to us ( and I’ll never eat Basa again after seeing how it is farmed there) but we did enjoy our day, especially riding bikes around the island. Vietnam really is wonderful.

  7. We had a similar trip in the Mekong Delta when we visited Vietnam back in 2014. We also visited the coconut candy production and had a tasty fish at that same restaurant! haha…But when we were there, it was pouring rain. Many other travelers chose to return to Saigon, but with our travel guide we decided to take the boat anyway. So in the end we were the three only visitors for the whole day! It was really unique!

  8. Susanne

    Every time I see pictures of the Mekong Delta I wonder about the color of the water. Is it so sandy or loamy? I think I have to go there myself …

  9. Danik

    I would really like to do this whenver I get to Vietnam. This is a great way to explore some of the country and see some of the locals en route. Would pay for the tour as this would save the hassle of trying to do this by myself (if that was at all possible).

  10. Carol Colborn

    I love crispy fried gourami and have been missing it for so long!!! You had a lot of stops and found out about the local industries!

  11. Shutterbug Sage

    As someone who has yet to travel to this part of the world, it was fun to ride along with you via your words and photos. I’d especially love to try all the foods and to see the brick factory. How cool!

  12. What a great day trip and so fun that your parents were able to enjoy it with you. That meal looks outstanding but the fish would have been intimidating. I’m glad to hear that your guide showed you how to eat it.

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