River tours in the Mekong Delta

River tours in the Mekong Delta

There are many ways to explore the hinterland of Vietnam's lush Mekong Delta. Tours of this vicinity range from luxurious boat cruises to cycle tours to cross-country hiking. The latter are popular because the terrain is quite flat, and the roads are all in reasonable condition. But because the whole of the southwestern region of the country is criss-crossed by the Mekong's nine main tributaries and various canals, travelling by boat is undoubtedly the best way to visit the delta.

The good news for cyclists and hikers is that a large number of the passenger boats and cruise ships go out of their way to cater for these modes of transport. They offer facilities that allow cyclists or bakers to bring their vehicles on board, allowing them to use boats to navigate the more awkward parts of the waterlogged landscape. Many of the traditional sampans will also welcome bicycles on-board their little vessels, thus making allowances for the fact that the bike remains the staple form of transport in Vietnam – even in areas where there are abundant rivers and canals!

Much of the Mekong Delta gives the impression of having frozen in time. Sampans still float gracefully along the rivers, with fishermen persisting in their centuries old traditions. Farmers still use water buffalo to help them cultivate the rice fields. Throughout the dense covering of trees and mangroves, you will glimpse ancient pagodas and temples.

The actual vessels plying their trade on this river vary considerably. As mentioned, there are small sampans that allow you to gain an authentic feel for the river as you slowly coast along, a matter of inches above the rippling surface. Closer to the Gulf of Thailand, there are large ocean-going cruise ships, complete with bars and five star restaurants. The latter is surely one of the best ways to view life on the Mekong Delta. As you take your comfortable seat in the panoramic bar, you can enjoy cocktails while watching the world go by.

The more intrepid visitors often take the opportunity to actually get into the Mekong River. Scuba diving is very popular in many Vietnamese locations, but especially the Mekong Delta resorts, or the beaches south of Ho Chi Minh City, and around the town of Vung Tau. There are many interesting indigenous species of wildlife that can be viewed in the delta, although the waters can be fairly muddy, so the serious scuba divers tend to gravitate further north, especially to Ha Long Bay.

The costal resorts cater for a wide variety of activities. Scuba diving is just one of these; your hotels will also be able to point you in the direction of a range of watersports. If you would prefer to simply relax on the beach, then there are miles and miles of golden sands to be enjoyed. Golf is also available at the Paradise Golf Resort. One of Vietnam's best golf courses, this boasts 27 holes. Many of these are played while overlooking the azure grandeur of the South China Sea.

Scuba diving in Vietnam

Scuba diving in Vietnam

Vietnam's diverse natural seascapes, abundant marine ecosytems and tropical waters all lead to one thing: scuba diving has become one of the country's most sought-after holiday experiences.

Amongst the many fabulous resorts, one of the best known is Nha Trang. Basically a central coastal town (Nha Trang) surrounded by islands, the Hon Mun Marine Park was established three years ago. Since then it has gone from strength to strength, and is presently one of Vietnam's principal draws for visitors from all parts of the Far East and beyond.

Diving in this part of the world is particularly popular because of the crystal clear waters. While there are not as many vast shoals of bigger fish as in other parts of the world, with less likelihood of coming across manta rays or sharks, the vicinity is renowned for being teeming with large numbers of brightly-coloured reef fish and molluscs. The high concentration of marine life in a relatively enclosed area means that Nha Trang scuba diving is ideal for the beginner, while those with a bit more experience can spend time getting reacquainted with their favourite pastime.


The environment beneath the surface here is extremely diverse. Coral reefs range from hard and soft and are uniformly in pristine condition. As such, the reefs form the ideal habitat for a large variety of marine creatures. The fish darting to and fro amongst coral, feeding on microscopic sea creatures or, indeed, smaller fish, seem to come in every conceivable colour or pattern under the sun. Often the coral beneath the fish is completely obscured by the huge quantities of damselfish, fairy basslets, and a myriad number of other species. If you are extremely fortunate, you may catch sight of the mysterious dugong – a secretive and extremely rare marine mammal that has often been regarded as the source of ancient mermaid myths.


There are numerous islands in the Nha Trang vicinity that form ideal launch pads for your undersea exploration.

Con Dao is a tight-knit group of islands lying 180 kilometres from Vung Tau. The local population is around 5,000, and the main island's previous claim to fame was the fact it once housed a feared penal colony (you'll be relieved to know this closed in 1975).

Elsewhere in the archipelago, the World Wife Fund for Nature has been actively protecting dugong and sea turtles since 1995. Over 300,000 baby turtles have been released into the waters around here, and over 1,000 adults have been tagged during the same period of time.

Whale Island (or Nha Trang) allows shore diving to a depth of around 15 metres. Wall dives are possible to a depth of 40 metres, with coral gardens commencing at the 15-metre mark. Despite the island's name, sightings of whales, whale sharks or larger rays are rare – although not unknown. You might just be lucky.

Cu Lao Cham Marine Park is around 25 minutes away by speedboat ride. The eight islands that comprise this park are home to an incredibly diverse range of marine wildlife. In all, there are over 150 species of coral, over 80 species of molluscs, four lobster species and over 200 species of fish.

Soaking up the culture during Vietnam holidays

Soaking up the culture during Vietnam holidays

Vietnam is a land of diverse experiences and changing landscapes. Its location at the tip of the Far East portion of mainland Asia has meant that it has seen more than its fair share of civilizations crossing its land mass. This melting pot characteristic has given rise to an incredibly rich historical heritage. So, for those visiting Vietnam who are looking for a bit more than visits to its renowned floating markets, what are the cultural highlights?

When many visitors first consider visiting the Far East, Vietnam is not always the first choice. Perhaps there are lingering thoughts of all those war films that once featured Vietnam as their backdrop. However, the conflicts that once afflicted this beautiful Asian country occurred decades ago. Since the end of hostilities way back in the 1970s, Vietnam has become one of the most prosperous nations in this corner of the globe. When visiting Vietnam, it is possible to get a hint of what the civil war was like by paying a visit to the Cu Chi tunnels.

Cu Chi tunnels (on history.com)

Lighting in a suburb of Ho Chi Minh City, this subterranean lair stretches for some 300 miles underneath dense jungle. Surprising though it may seem, this tunnel system is actually one of the country's most impressive tourist draws. By clambering down into this hidden world, it is possible to experience what life was like for the forces of the National Liberation Front, who used this hideaway as a secret position for waging guerilla warfare against the occupying American forces and their government allies.

It is possible to see former kitchens, bedrooms, communal areas where children were educated, and even the printing presses where propaganda literature was created, right under the noses of the enemy. Tours to the underground tunnel system are operated from Ho Chi Minh City all year round.

Du Hang Pagoda (on lonelyplanet.com)

While Vietnam certainly has no shortage of pagodas, the Du Hang is one of the most interesting. Dating as far back as the 18th century, this vast temple is renowned for its amazing interior decoration. You'll spend quite some time just taking in the incredible detail of its ornate patterns and ancient furnishings.

Hanoi History Museum

If you are looking to gain a snapshot of Vietnam's rich historical development, then Hanoi's History Museum is a recommended starting point. It contains numerous relics of the country's prehistoric and historic evolution, including many displays dedicated to its earliest civilizations, right through to the Dong Son period. Key to understanding the potent nature of Vietnam's national identity are its struggles against colonial aggressors, particularly the Chinese, and then the French. There is also a diverse range of exhibits which are dedicated to the rise and triumph of the communists, particularly during the American War.

Cuc Phuong

Just outside Hanoi is the National Preserve of Cuc Phuong. Located deep inside the Vietnamese countryside, this area is characterized by primeval forests. Cuc Phuong is known as a large area of tropical vegetation, riddled with caves and exotic subterranean grottoes. As well as a landscape of rich natural history, successive human visitors have left their mark here over the centuries.

Take Notes Before Visiting Vietnam

Take Notes Before Visiting Vietnam

According to Rough Guides, Vietnam for years is among relatively safe country for travelers including solo women visitors. But there are some, in particularly things to be taken into consideration before wanderlust comes to Vietnam. Let's check out below:

When to visit Vietnam?

Sounds like an old question, but yes, really important because it will play a great role contributing to your awesome trip. Luckily, visitors can come to Vietnam anytime in a year but with just some notices and they can choose the right place to go.

Northern area: There are 4 distinct seasons including Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Each season has its own exquisiteness so just arrange suitable time depends on schedule of the trip.

Central area: The most typical climate feature Central is the rainy and dry season, of which summer is the hottest time of this land.

Southern area: Humid tropical climate with 2 main rainy and dry seasons.

Ideal time suggested: Visit Hanoi or Sapa in October/ November/ December; Ho Chi Minh in February/ March; Hue down to Nha Trang from January to July.

What to eat in Vietnam?

Another simple wonder when discovering a new land, then it should be about food and culinary. First-time comers must have been searching much for all related information and here are some popular dishes listed: Pho (noodles), Bun cha (grilled pork, eaten with thin noodles, sauce, herbs and vegetable), Banh mi, Bia hoi (beer), etc. But they are just a small part of various food map in Vietnam, so for more information, have a look at the example list:

Ha Giang: Buffalo meat hanging on the traditional wood stove Hanoi: Pho, Bun cha, Bun thang, etc. Nha Trang: Jellyfish noodles Ho Chi Minh: Rice with pork ribs

If you want to experience all in a guided tour, then we recommend you a gourmet tour with https://vietnamdiscovery.com/gourmet-vietnam-tours-28.

How to cross the streets in Vietnam?

For those coming and staying in Vietnam, especially in big cities like Hanoi/ Ho Chi Minh for the first time, there will have no hassle more than passing the streets full of rushing motorbikes, taxi, cars, buses, etc. Traffic is a little bit scary as you'll still have to watch out although pedestrian lights are on and if other vehicles want to pass you, they signals by horning as much and loudly as they can. It will take you some time to get used to it then!

So here're the tips:

Take it slowly

Look out cars/buses, etc. carefully

Follow locals – they are masters of crossing labyrinthine streets

What to prepare before flying?

Of course it should be about required documents for entering Vietnam including Vietnam visa, air tickets and money.

The first one, visa, can be seen the most complicated procedure to be accepted getting in a country but now it's all so easy with visa on arrival. Applicants will only need to fill in online form, get approval letter via email and then get passport stamped at Vietnam airport, which is definitely stress free!

Vietnam visa on arrival is issued for those who travel to Vietnam by AIR only so please take note this one and have your wise arrangement!