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!