We left you at the end of our stay in Ho Chi Minh City, at the entrance to the Mekong delta. South Vietnam is full of wonders in any kind. Let’s continue our adventure over the water, to the seaside.
Wonder in the Mekong delta
Several stopovers are possible in various villages and on different islands of the delta. We made our first stop on An Binh, an island located next to Vinh Long, at about 1:30 of Saigon. After 2 nights there, we went to Can Tho, deeper in the delta, in order to discover the floating markets on the river.
Stop no. 1 on An Binh
The trip from Ho Chi Minh to An Binh is an adventure in itself. We booked our trip in minibus in a travel agency of HCMC backpackers’ district, thinking we would save time and not lose money. Now, we know that this is not the case and that you are traveled between agencies before boarding in the right minibus which will drive you (maybe) to your destination.
Drection Vinh Long and then take a ferry to An Binh. Our driver is a bit crazy driving, but nothing too serious for a Vietnamese driver. He just almost got beat by another Vietnamese on a scooter because he had rolled on his Zucchini a few minutes earlier… We know now what looks like the famous “gun eyes”, but not in the same sense as in the song by Marc Lavoine!
Let it be said, the Vietnamese ferry is the equivalent of the “tray” in France. There are only scooters boarding and us, with our big backpacks.
The crossing is really fast (less than 15 minutes) and scooters are on the ground running to be the first to go down, even before the boat has finished to moor at the wharf. One thing very nice after the cacophony of horns to Ho Chi Minh City, there is no car on the island.
The homestay we booked is just superb. The rooms look like bamboo houses and there are hammocks around in the garden and on the terrace.
We tried a walk in the afternoon in order to discover the island, but we quickly realized that here, we spent the afternoon in the shade and enjoy a nap in a hammock. It’s damn hot… 😉
The second day is a wonderful and unforgettable experience. Our owner’s brother takes us on a boat for about 6 hours on the Mekong. This output is really great and we recommend it to you! You start with a beautiful sunrise on the river, which is already a magical spectacle. Life begins on the Mekong River, fishermen go on ship, barges come down to the wire of water, etc. Our boatman is super nice and offers us breakfast, although he doesn’t speak a word of English. He takes us into the meanders of the River, where big boats can’t go. We really loved this tranquility!
During the trip, many stops punctuate the day:
- visit to a honey craft House and tasting tea with natural honey, a real treat!
- fruit breakfast on a small boat in Cai Be floating market. The little lady who runs the boat cut fresh fruits in front of you for the pleasure of our taste. Mangoes, durian, coconut, bananas, etc. It is a delight!
- discovery of a garden filled with bonsais and butterflies, where (once again) we were served tea and delicious fresh fruits
- visit a craft factory of sweets very appreciated in Vietnam. Made of puffed rice and peanuts, these sweets are then coated with sugar before being spread out and then cut into small bars.
It is during this adventure that Mr has made his worst meeting of the stay… Three snakes (a boa and two pythons) sleep in two large cages, next to the candy factory. Everything goes well until the moment our guide decides to open the cage and takes out one of the pythons and lays it on the ground at our feet… Mr would have gone to the other side of the island if he had had a chance. The snake looks pretty harmless and amorphous (maybe he just ate his monthly mouse?). We were proposed to take it around our shoulders. It’s now or never!
First myth, the snake is not cold. Second misconception, it is not slimy, but it feels rather peculiar to touch. This is not smooth.
The animal is quite heavy and begins to awaken just when he is around my neck. It turns its head and starts to go up towards my face, until its tongue is close to my ear. Ahh!
Completed output after the boat tour, it’s nap time in the hammocks before making backpacks for the next day.
Stop n ° 2 in Can Tho
Can Tho is located about 2 hours by local bus from Vinh long. We laughed a lot during this journey in the back of a bus where we kept jumping as soon as the driver was taking a pothole. We were glad to stop him on the road when we saw that we were not very far from our guesthouse. Since then, we are a bit traumatized by the special sound of horns of local buses…
Our guesthouse is a good plan for those who want to stay in Can Tho only for the floating markets. There is about a 30 minutes walk to reach the city center, but the price is much more attractive and it is a brand new house!
Thanks to a good meeting with 3 french guys the day before on An Binh, we found a great deal with a Vietnamese man named Bill (yes it sounds very Vietnamese). Rather than doing a tour of one hour only, with 30 other tourists, we have a 6 hours tour with a Vietnamese woman, juste the two of us, in her small boat?
We spent the whole morning with our little lady who showed us two floating markets. The first at about 1:30 boat of Can Tho, where all the tourists arrive. Their boats are too big, they often turn around, while we could rush into this market hyper rich and living. Continuing on the river for another good hour, we came up on a second market floating, much more intimate, with only a few boats. This is where we had breakfast with a pineapple and banana chips and mango. Our boat was surrounded by other small boats; everyone was laughing, it was super cool!
The tour continues on a small canal of the River, more quiet. We make a few stopovers throughout the visit. We walk a little on the banks, we discover the manufacture of rice noodles, which are in fact cakes before being sliced… Here again, you are just contemplative!
The Mekong delta remains one of our best memories of Vietnam, because we have seen it in a typical way with friendly and smiling people. A journey of 8 hours of bus waits for us now to join our next destination: Mui Ne.
Mui Ne, the resort of Vietnam
We’re not very fresh when we arrive in Mui Ne, even if the sleeping bus (bus bunk) is very comfortable to travel long distances.
To the fairy stream
The Mui Ne adventure truly begins the next day. Known for its white sandy beaches, we walk along the edge of sea to the Fairy Stream. It may seem a little difficult to go back on the road once we’re on the beach, resorts and residences are all glued to each other.
Someone may ask you 5 000 VND (about € 0.20) to access the river. Be aware that there is an other free access across the bridge. Once in the water, you understand why the river is called the “fairy stream”. You walk around barefoot in a small trickle of water. The sand of the corner is ochre/orange and tint the water. It’s really impressive. The ochre mountains on one side and the green vegetation across the Creek make a striking contrasts of colors! You can easily spend 2 hours to walk along the stream, to the waterfall, before returning. We invite you to make a stop in one of the small cafes, feet in the water to cool off.
Sunrise on the white sand dunes
After a wake up at 4 in the morning, then 1 hour of scooter along the coast to reach the entrance of the white sand dunes, we arrived in time for sunrise. Two feelings mingle.
First wonder, because it’s like a full African desert. We wonder how these dunes were created and why here. Sunrise is just beautiful. You can see the sand becoming gold as the sun rises in the still cloudy sky. A pure moment of contemplation.
But we also feel irritated. Why allow quads and 4 x 4 companies to open an agency just at the bottom of the dunes? Can tourists no longer walk 20 minutes in the sand to reach the top? The incessant noise of shuttle break a little the charm of the place, even if it’s still magical.
We recommend you to stay a bit, once the tourists are gone. There is no one and that’s where you really enjoy the place. Anyway, we loved to jump, play, and trudge in the deserted dunes.
The conquest of Mont Ta Cu
We must enjoy the scooter and the landscapes that are offered to us to enjoy the journey of an hour and a half to join the Ta Cu mountain. The Banh Mi break, the famous Vietnamese sandwich, is more than recommended.
Once arrived at Ta Cu mountain, you have 2 options.
- The first, that we chose, is to take the “path” to reach the summit by foot. It takes a good hour of climb, first fairly sturdy with stairs, and then more quiet in the middle of the jungle.
- The second allows you to take a cable car to reach the summit, at a 5 minutes walk from the big lying Buddha directly.
So why sweat and getting in the way? First, because the ascent/descent by cable car costs 180 000 VND (that is approximately €7.5) per person. And two, you feel a lot more pride to reach the restaurant at the foot of the Buddha, when sweating like cattle in the jungle for more than an hour. The path, or rather the arrow track, is not the cleanest we have to admit it. A recurrent bad, when you’re walking in Viet Nam…
Arrival at the Buddha is exceptional. You still have to climb a hundred steps to be able to see it, but this is well worth. It’s the longest lying Buddha from Asia, since it measures 46 m long. Bonus, you will have a magnificent view on the surroundings.
We confess we took the cable car back down, because it was very hot and the path was not of the finest because of the garbage.
On the way back, our scooter, a little “warmed up” by 40°C and a top speed of 60 km/h for a little while, forced us to stop in a small restaurant where we tasted probably our best Com Ga (rice with grilled chicken) of the stay.
So much for our adventures in the South of the delta of the Mekong to Mui Ne. We took the road in a minibus to death the next day for Da Lat. There are only 190km between the two cities. But it takes over 3 hours to arrive in the town nestled in the middle of the lakes and mountains. Da Lat, our favorite city will be our final article on the South of the country. Meeting new people (more pleasant than the snake this time), sumptuous landscapes and trekking will take part. See you very soon!
- Trip Ho Chi Minh – Vinh Long by minibus: VND 200,000 per person (8.3€)
- Ferry: 1,000 VND per person crossing (0.04€)
- Stay in An Binh in the Ngoc Phuong Homestay (Booking) for 27€ for 2 nights
- Boat trip to An Binh: VND 200,000 per person (8.3€)
- Bus An Binh – Can Tho: 30,000 VND per person (1.25€)
- Stay in Can Tho in the no Sao GuestHouse (Booking) for 18€ for 2 nights
- Boat trip in Can Tho: 400 000 VND for the boat (16.6€)
- Bus Can Tho – Ho Chi Minh – Mui Ne: 240 000 VND per person (10€)
- Stay in Mui Ne in the 247 A/C Guest House (Booking) for 26€ for 3 nights
- Scooter rental: 100 000 VND per day (4.2€)