Touring The Ben Tre Mekong Delta | Stories by Soumya

A Mekong Delta Tour In Ben Tre Vietnam

Last Updated on August 5, 2023 by Soumya

A cloudy morning in Ben Tre, Vietnam could not douse our excitement to get to the banks of the mighty Mekong and take a boat tour of the beautiful and biologically super-active Mekong Delta. Often deemed as a “biological treasure trove”, Mekong is home to innumerable species of plants and animals. The delta, therefore, houses and feeds countless families – fishermen, coconut factory workers, farmers to name a few.

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Come, take a virtual tour of the Ben Tre Mekong Delta with us.

Mekong Delta lies to the southwest of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. It is interspersed by a number of tributaries and distributaries of the Mekong River. The river is loaded with tonnes of silt in this area and is slow & sluggish. This makes it extremely rich in nutrients that are required for plants and animals to thrive.

At Mekong, you will find the water is the same color as milk-laden coffee. However, it is not because of trash (though some of that is also present), it is mostly because of all the silt that the river carries. And that is what makes tail ends of tropical rivers extremely fertile.

Slow deltas like these are a great place to people-watch because that is where the hearts of tropical nations lie. This makes Mekong Delta one of the best places to visit in Vietnam and an important part of your itinerary if you are traveling anywhere between 7 to 10 days in Vietnam.

My Tho and Can Tho are two popular places for taking tours down the Mekong here. We decided on a place a little less touristy for our Mekong rendezvous.

Ben Tre is a relatively less touristy version of My Tho and hence, is the perfect place to do a delta tour in peace. Here, you will see fewer boats loaded with unfamiliar faces. And chances that you will have entire canals to yourself is high.

A bridge on the Mekong | Touring The Ben Tre Mekong Delta | Stories by Soumya
The view from a lonely canal on the Mekong River

How to do a Mekong Delta Boat Tour?

When in Ben Tre, we decided on an organized boat tour of the Mekong Delta. It was easy and convenient. We just had to show up at the jetty which was a 10-minute walk from our hotel in Ben Tre.

A lot of tourists also do a Mekong Delta tour from Ho Chi Minh City. Tour providers can pick you up from your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City and drop you back. The tours usually last anywhere between 9 hours to a full day. I am a big fan of small group tours of the Mekong Delta that include a ride through the small canals. It gives you the best views of life and culture in the Mekong Delta.
Click here to book a highly-recommended small group Mekong Delta tour or you can directly contact the local tour guide that we mention below. The rates were fairly similar the last time I checked.

Touring The Ben Tre Mekong Delta | Stories by Soumya
A fisherman lays his net for the day

Our Mekong Delta Tour in Ben Tre, Vietnam lasted 4 hours and here’s how it went.

We arrived at the jetty in front of the Hung Vuong Hotel at 9:30 am for our Mr. Biker Ben Tre Boat Tour to begin. The trip organizer and guide were already present. After an exchange of formalities, we alighted on our motorboat for a trip down the Mekong.

The first part of the trip involved a 40-minute ride on the Mekong river or the Ben Tre river (a Mekong distributary) to be more specific. Morning is a great time to people-watch – fishermen laying out their nets, food vendors venturing out for a day’s work, and coconut factories opening their shutters. We also saw and understood how the river was very much a part of the lives of people there. People lived in permanent as well as mobile houses on the Mekong, they transferred building material on the river, and they got their daily food from here.

Our 1st Stop on Mekong Delta Tour – A Coconut Garden

Coconut garden | Stories by Soumya
The Coconut LadyOwner of the Coconut Garden

Our first stop was a huge coconut garden owned and run by a veteran Vietnamese woman. There were two dogs, small and big, here who barked relentlessly at us. The smaller one wanted to scratch every bit out of the cynophobic me. Due to the timely intervention of our tour guide and effective shielding by my husband, I survived the onslaught.

And then I was too happy to be treated to some sweet pandan-infused coconut water and yummy dried and sweetened coconut strips a little later. My little one reminded the lady of her grandson and it was such a sweet encounter when she straightened my son’s pants just like she would do her own grandson’s. People in Vietnam are wonderful, one of the many things you need to know before visiting Vietnam.

Touring The Ben Tre Mekong Delta | Stories by Soumya
Meeting with locals on the Ben Tre Mekong Delta tour

Related Read: All about people, culture, and life in the Mekong delta.

Our 2nd Stop – A Coconut Candy Factory

After another ride of about 30 minutes, we alighted at a Coconut Candy Factory where we got to witness the entire process of coconut candy-making right from the peeling of coconuts to stuffing the candies inside wrappers.

Here you get an opportunity to do some more touristy stuff like listening to traditional Vietnamese music, taste some tropical fruits, and take a sip of Vietnamese honey and lemon tea. The honey tea was surely not my cup of tea – a little too sweet for my taste. I am way too addicted to the usual India Chai. However, the performance by the musicians was beautiful. You are expected to tip at the end of the performance.

Tropical Fruits | Stories by Soumya
What’s on my plate? – Tropical fruits: In clockwise direction – Mango, Jack-fruit, Longan, Pineapple, Bananas

Our 3rd Stop – Mat Factory & Lunch

Next, we got off our motorboat and walked the roads of a Vietnamese village to reach a mat factory where we saw workers diligently involved in weaving straw mats at impeccable speeds.

Mat factory | Stories by Soumya
A family-owned mat factory in Ben Tre

The next part of the tour was mostly on land until we got to our rowing boat. We got into a tuk-tuk to traverse the narrow, winding roads of the village in order to reach the place we had been most looking forward to. Yes, the restaurant where we would have lunch. And what a memorable lunch that was!

Touring The Ben Tre Mekong Delta | Stories by Soumya
Fried elephant ear fish in the Mekong delta

Lunch was a scrumptious affair. It included fish soup, fried elephant ear fish made into summer rolls, steamed shrimp with coconut juice, the traditional Vietnamese “Bánh Xèo”, fried rice, vegetables, and fruits. Quantity was more than sufficient for the three of us. Quality was good. Frankly, we were almost full at the end of the third course. I still dug into the rest to have one of the most amazing Vietnamese meals of my life.

Related Read: More about food in South East Asia.

The last part of the Ben Tre Mekong Delta Tour was on a small, rowing boat.

This was the most exciting part of our Mekong Delta Tour in Ben Tre. It involved getting into a tiny, wobbly, rowing boat which almost touched the river surface. We had to then sit one behind the other while our helmsman propelled the boat forward on the sluggish Mekong waters.

Touring The Ben Tre Mekong Delta | Stories by Soumya
On the rowing boat

During this time, we sailed the winding canals of Mekong while viewing water coconut palms and various fish-trapping mechanisms up close. You can almost hear the steady din of the river making its way through the complicated canal maze. And it is such a peaceful time to be all on your own soaking in the Mekong way of life.

Touring The Ben Tre Mekong Delta | Stories by Soumya
Fish trappers in the Mekong delta

It is quite possible to get bitten by mosquitoes in this part of the tour. I got bitten by tonnes and my husband and little one by none! Maybe the Mekong mosquitoes prefer O+ over B! But who knows! Better carry a repellent to stay safe.

Helpful Tips for visiting the Mekong Delta in Vietnam

  1. Toilets are available at all the stops during the trip. Some of them may be squat-toilets but most are usually Western-styled since they cater mostly to tourist traffic.
  2. It is not mandatory for you to make purchases at all stops. You need to tip performers but you need not make a purchase everywhere.
  3. Some parts of the narrow Mekong canals do have a lot of mosquitoes and other bugs. Carrying a bug spray and knowing what to wear in Vietnam help.

How To Get To Ben Tre from Ho Chi Minh City?

The distance between Ho Chi Minh City and Ben Tre is a little less than 90 km. Therefore, Ben Tre is a 2-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. You can either take a bus or a private taxi. The most popular and the cheapest option is to take a bus from the Mien Tay bus station in Ho Chi Minh City. You can find all the details about Mien Tay such as bus schedules, ticket prices, and directions here.

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City quite late in the night with a sleepy kid. So, we decided to take a private taxi to get to Ben Tre. It was a 4-seat Toyota Vios. The taxi took approximately 2 hours door-to-door and cost us USD 69 / 1,600,000 Viet dong inclusive of fuel charges, driver cost, toll gate fees, and airport fee. The driver was waiting for us at the arrivals with a picture of my husband on his phone (which we had sent earlier) and he came up to us. The drive was smooth and we slept through most of it.

If you do not want to stay in Ben Tre and just wish to do a day trip to Ben Tre in order to see the Mekong Delta, that is also possible. You can either take a taxi early in the morning or do a guided tour which will include pick up and drop off in Ho Chi Minh City. Here are a few popular guided tours.

Riding on a tuk-tuk | Stories by Soumya
On a tuk-tuk in Ben Tre Mekong Delta

Where To Stay In Ben Tre

Ben Tre is a medium-sized town and has a number of accommodation options starting from decent, affordable hotels and remote homestays to the more posh options such as the Ben Tre Riverside Resort, a top pic in the town. Or the eco-friendly Mango Home Riverside, another great place to stay.

Homestays are usually located by canals and provide you with better and closer views of the river and hence, greater opportunities to watch people go about their daily lives. Mekong Home is a family-run homestay with exceptional ratings. You get fresh food, solar-heated water, and private balconies here. What more can you ask for!

Finding the perfect accommodation in Vietnam can require a lot of research. We are glad we found the Ham Luong Hotel in Ben Tre and absolutely loved the place. The room was pretty decent with two double beds and a well-stuffed bathroom. Breakfast spread was good and some of the staff could speak good English.
Click here to book your stay at Ham Luong in Ben Tre.

Touring The Ben Tre Mekong Delta | Stories by Soumya
Planning the day’s itinerary at our hotel in Ben Tre

I had a great time on the Ben Tre Mekong Delta boat tour. Apart from the usual touristy fare, I had a good time watching and interacting with locals, giving back smiles, and witnessing a day in their lives. It was a usual day for them but a special one for me. So, are you all motivated to take a trip down the Mekong? Are you considering packing your bags right this moment? That is great! Because you won’t regret it.

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Soumya is an acclaimed travel writer who has traveled to 30+ countries and lived in 8 while pursuing her passion for history and culture. Her writings have been published in BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, National Herald, and many more. She loves exploring world heritage sites and has a deep affinity for everything ancient, especially the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica!

28 thoughts on “A Mekong Delta Tour In Ben Tre Vietnam

  1. Oh my God! Mekong looks so so gorgeous and reminds me of Pichavaram, a mangrove close to Chennai in India.
    I can totally understand why they call it a Biological Treasure Trove.
    So many fruits, tender coconut water, coconut candy, straw mats – Whoa! This is just an awesome experience…

  2. What a lovely virtual tour I had through this post, Soumya. Enjoyed viewing the coconut candy making, the intricate patterns of the fish traps, the weaving of the mat and of course the boat ride.Never been to Vietnam.Hope to visit the country soon !

    1. There was just so much to see in Mekong. So much life and activity. Must do when you get to Vietnam. Happy travels.

  3. Thank you so much for this virtual tour!! Seems like you guys had a lot of fun. The making of coconut candy reminded me of a sweet coconut chewing bar I used to get back home in Odisha. There is so much packed in this Ben Tre Mekong Delta Tour!!! Would love to visit and explore the area one day. BTW i had never seen the flower of water coconut palm – it looks so interesting 😀

  4. Thank you for taking me to this tour with you. It definitely looked like something I would enjoy! First of all, I would love not only the coconut garden, but also the coconut candy factory. That must of been so much fun. Also the views on this trip seem to be great. Thanks for warning about the mosquitos, not my favourite friends.. ha ha.

  5. I have heard already so much about he Mekong Delta but unfortunately did not make it yet to visit this place. Your impressions make me even more want to go there and not only because of the very good looking dishes. The fish looks very interesting, i have never seen something like that before. Also the Flower of the water coconut palm and so much more, I can see that the Mekong Delta in Ben Tre is a very unique and beautiful place!

    1. Yeah some of the plants and animals in the Mekong are not to found anywhere else. A very unique place with very friendly people.

  6. Touring the Mekong is such an amazing experience! I did it in both, Laos and Vietnam and it was a great authentic experience. The Mekong has been a giver and taker of life and this region, it’s really fascinating. Thank you for this virtual tour, I really enjoyed it and it brought back so many nice memories.

    1. Absolutely! The Mekong is such a beautiful experience. A lifeline for all these countries. I would love to do one in Laos too.

  7. This looks like such a beautiful place. I did a tour of the Mekong but it was very busy and touristy, your experience looks much more authentic. Thanks for the helpful tips as well, those mosquitoes can be a bit of a pain particularly on a river.

  8. Great article and very timely for me as I am planning to spend time in Vietnam this year. The Mekong Delta was high in my list of things to see and do. There are some great tips here.

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