The latest trip with my company’s colleagues to Tien Giang and Ben Tre last week was a great experience to discover the culture and daily life of local people and to build our team-building spirit in just a one-day trip by bus and boat.
I have been to the Mekong Delta provinces of Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Can Tho, An Giang and Ca Mau for numerous times during my business trips. However, the latest trip with my company’s colleagues to Tien Giang and Ben Tre last week was a great experience to discover the culture and daily life of local people and to build our team-building spirit in just a one-day trip by bus and boat.
From HCMC, travelers can easily take a bus to the Mekong Delta at numerous tourist agencies in the backpacker area of Pham Ngu Lao-De Tham-Bui Vien streets in District 1 or at a bus station on Le Hong Phong Street in District 10. Or they can book a tour with some popular agencies like Saigontourist and Fiditour at the price from VND650,000 per person for a one-day trip, inclusive of meals, drinks, and transportations.
Travelers can also drive their motorbikes for 1.5 hours to explore the location. Tourists are advised to wear simple clothes and sandals to easily move on boats. Sun cream, insect repellent, hats and overcoats are also must-have items.
The first destination of the journey is Tien Giang, about 70km from downtown HCMC. After having breakfast with com tam (broken rice) and hu tiu My Tho (My Tho-styled noodles), tourists will get on a wooden boat at Ba Muoi Thang Tu Wharf to cruise around the Tien River.
Tourists can admire My Tho fishing port and four islets named after four sacred animals of Long (dragon), Lan (unicorn), Qui (turtle) and Phung (phoenix). The boat will dock at Thoi Son Islet so tourists have time to visit an immense of fruit gardens of nhan (longan), chom chom (rambutan), thanh long (dragon fruit), du du (papaya) and thom (pineapple) and enjoy fresh fruits accompanied by don ca tai tu (traditional music of southern Viet Nam) performance by local artists. The southern folk music was acknowledged as the Unesco intangible cultural heritage of humanity earlier this year.
A highlight of the trip is when tourists get on a small boat with a capacity of six people, including two local paddlers to drift along a small canal under the shades of coconut trees. A bustling atmosphere of a hundred of boats hustling in a small channel with the sound of paddles beating the water surface might be an unforgettable moment to tourists. According to a local paddler, thanks to the tourism industry there are 600 people earning their livings from sailing boats. They are paid VND15,000 per person for a boat trip plus tips from travelers.
Leaving the small boat, travelers will be back to the big boat to visit venues that raise bees and make coconut candies. Tourists will be served hot lemonade with honey and eat freshly made coconut candies. There are bottles of honey sold at the price of VND100,000 each. Tourists can also take souvenir photos with a python and bees.
A not-to-be-missed activity is dressing up like a farmer to catch fish in a muddy canal and then enjoy all the caught fish that are grilled in local style together with other rustic dishes like braised pork, canh chua (sour soup cooked with fish) and stirred vegetables for lunch. After the meal, tourists are ready to head to Phung Islet which restores artifacts and properties of Ong Dao Dua or Nguyen Thanh Nam, a founder of Dao Dua religion in Ben Tre Province.
When the sun starts going down on the horizon, it is the time tourists turn back to the city to wrap up a one-day trip to get an insight into daily life of people in the Mekong Delta.