Getaway Fact sheets
You are here: ninemsn > Travel > Getaway > Give me a Break
Sunset on the Mekong River.
Sunset on the Mekong River.
Ben finds a drink stop.
Smiles in the markets.

Mekong Delta

Thursday, April 8, 2004
Ben heads along the Mekong Delta River, mixes with the locals and tries his hand at some market haggling.

The Mekong River floats along for 4200km, and during its journey, crosses cultural and political boundaries and borders of other countries, while at the same time supporting 50 million people. It begins near Tibet and comes to an end in the south of Vietnam's Mekong Delta, before spilling into the South China Sea. The Delta has a maze of rivers providing the transport system, intersecting the way streets do.

It comes in 11th in the world's major rivers list and crawls through China, Mayanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. When the river reaches Vietnam it becomes Cuu Long, "Nine Dragons", and fans into a rich delta, offering its final rewards.

The wet season provides wonderfully fertile soil responsible for plenty of food for the growers' own use and to sell at the many floating markets.

The Cai Be Floating Market is about four hours south of Ho Chi Minh City by bus, passing emerald rice paddies, small towns and inquisitive locals. The market resembles a huge city on water, made up of about 50 large boats, each usually having a family of six living, working, sleeping and washing on board. Their colourful cargo is fruit, vegetables, drinks and snacks, rice wine, fruit wine and live snakes.

The area is sprinkled with little islands and one, known as Mr Yow's, is a great place to stop for lunch. Local, crispy-fried fish is popular, and for those brave enough, you can make friends with a python.

If you want to really get a taste of local life, you can stay overnight and eat with a family. You only need to take an overnight bag — beds and mosquito nets are provided.

Thirty kilometres north-west of Ho Chi Minh City is the Cu Chi district, home of the Cu Chi Tunnels, one of the Vietnam War's most infamous battlegrounds. This is where the Vietnamese mounted their operations in 1968 and there are 200km of tunnels measuring a half to one metre wide. The complex system has many branches, connecting to underground hideouts, shelters and entrances to other tunnels.

Thousands of visitors from around the world explore the Cu Chi Tunnels each year, and seeing the tunnels provides an understanding of the prolonged resistance war of the Vietnamese, as well as their persistent and resourceful character.

The upper soil layer is between three and four metres thick and can support a 50-tonne tank, and resist light cannons and bombs. The intricate underground network provided sleeping quarters, meeting rooms, hospitals and social rooms.

Tourists can rent vests, cone-shaped peasant hats, clothing in camouflage colours and real rifles — fortunately these days without ammunition.

Spring Rolls:
Rice paper spring roll wrappers
Pork mince
Salt and Pepper
Diced Chinese mushrooms
Spring Onion sliced
Grated carrot
Grated yam
Peanut pieces
Lightly beaten egg to bind


South Vietnam, four hours south of Ho Chi Minh City.


Intrepid Travel has 20 day small group adventures including return economy airfares from Australia, accommodation, guide, all transport and some meals starting at $2595 from Perth and $2760 from Adelaide and the east coast, per person.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

More information

Intrepid Travel: Ph: 1300 360 667
Qantas: Ph: 13 13 13

Related links


Brochure Search

Free electronic brochures with information, resources and holiday ideas for unique getaways.

Select a destination:
Sign up nowTo Receive the free Getaway newsletter