An artery of life for large parts of Southeast Asia, the Mekong Delta is a combination of verdant beauty and cultural exploration. The river stretches across vast swathes of Vietnam’s rural areas, splitting off in multiple directions to bring vital sustenance and commerce to countless villages and communities.

While the views along the river are stunning in their own right, the entire experience of a cruise along the Mekong Delta is what makes this such a popular and memorable trip. Here are some of its best bits.

Angkor Wat

The highlight for many, a trip to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat is a must for everyone visiting the city of Siem Reap. This stunning network of temples is one of the most remarkable wonders in Southeast Asia and it dates back as far as the 12th century. As one of the most important sites in the Khmer Empire, this expansive complex of temples has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status. Surrounded by a vast moat, the spires and turrets within are a fantastically preserved example of old Khmer architecture. Although it was originally a Hindu place of worship, its use was transformed to Buddhism towards the end of the 12th century.

Ho Chi Minh City

There’s so much going on in HCMC that it’s impossible to just highlight one thing that you must do. Luckily, with a day at your disposal there will be plenty of time to explore a few of the city’s finer points. As the city is filled with stunning temples, you must take the time to visit at least one. Consider the Jade Emperor Pagoda for the sheer beauty of its construction and its solemn interior. Also, the Khanh Van Nam Vien Pagoda is worth a visit due to its status as the only pure Taoist temple in the city. Other must-sees include the HCMC History Museum, the Ben Thanh Market, the Reunification Palace and the impressive Cao Dai Holy See

Tan Chau

The floating villages that line the banks of the Mekong are a remarkable sight, no matter how many you see during your trip. As you approach Tan Chau, you will notice a number of these unique settlements. From the town, you can take an excursion and meet the locals first hand, seeing how they live from day-to-day. The Tan Chau area is dotted with small villages and traditional farms; agriculture, as well as the Mekong itself, is hugely important to the people of the region. As well as meeting the locals, you are encouraged to take a ride on traditional rickshaw; it’s a great way to get around the town.

Phong Dien Floating Market

Floating markets are a common sight up and down the banks of the Mekong Delta, but their fascinating nature makes each and everyone a joy to witness and attend. Considered one of the best, Phong Dien Floating Market has fewer tourist and motor boats, adding to its authentic feels. See Vietnamese people go about their local shop, gossip and connect as they buy and sell from the confines of small, wooden craft.

 

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