Ho Chi Minh and Mekong Delta
Ho Chi Minh
Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnamese: Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh), commonly known as Saigon (Vietnamese: Sài Gòn) or by the abbreviations HCMC or HCM, is the largest city in Vietnam and the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).
Following the fall of Saigon in 1975, Saigon was “officially” renamed Ho Chi Minh City. However the old Saigon name is still used by both Vietnamese and foreigners, especially when referring to the most central part of the city to which most tourists flock.Please keep in mind Ho Chi Minh City is not a sex tourism city like Bangkok or Pattaya,it’s a conservative city Prostitution is illegal and a serious crime.
Weather in Ho Chi Minh
Southern Vietnam covers the Mekong Delta, the extreme southern end of the Mekong River, and the area around Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.
As all deltas, it receives the bounty of the siltation from the upper Mekong, and as such is a very rich and lush area, covered with rice fields. It produces about half of the total of Vietnam’s agricultural output (in fact the delta produces more rice than Korea and Japan altogether), and is the place for timeless sceneries of farmers planting or harvesting rice.
The Mekong splits in Cambodia into two main rivers, the Bassac (Hậu Giang) and the First river (Tiền Giang), then in Vietnam into a more complex system, creating a maze of small canals, rivers and arroyos interspersed with villages and floating markets.
Life in the Mekong Delta revolves much around the river, and all the villages are often accessible by river as well as by road.
The high times of life in the Mekong delta are the lunar new year (Tet, or Tết), and the mid-autumn festival (Tết trung thu), where children will set hundreds of candles on their way on the river on as many tiny skiffs.
If you know how to take your time, or are guided by an able guide, you will certainly enjoy your stay in the Mekong delta.
There are many tours available that start in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). Some of them end in Saigon, others in Phnom Penh (also available the other way around: Phnom Penh to Saigon). You can book them in travel agencies and hotels in Vietnam and Cambodia. There are only a few tour operators available, however, it can be difficult to find out what tour operator is behind the tour you want to book, as many travel agencies pretend that it is their own tour and prices between agencies can vary significantly for the same tour. To make things a bit more complicated, tour operators often share buses and boats when they don’t have enough travelers and they combine different tours (e.g. a 2 day and a 3 day Mekong Delta tour). You may have to change the buses often. Everybody seems to sell the same kind of tour, which is of pretty bad quality.
Beware of Mekong Tours. Their two day tour with crossing Cambodia-Vietnam border means that you spend only 4 hours on a boat. “we take air-con bus to the boat dock. First we take a cruising trip on Mekong river from Cambodia to Vietnam” in reality means, that you spend 3 hours in a bus to go to border, cross it on foot and the boat will be waiting on the other side. Next day you will visit fish farm and Cham minority village, all of them no further than 1 km from Chau Doc, after 1 hour you will be back to Chau Doc. In this one hour you will see both attractions and will travel between them.
All pictures by the author
Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0