Exploring the divine Mekong in Vietnam is a truly life-changing experience. And embarking upon it with children? Truly the stuff that travel dreams are made of!
Going on an adventure with children to anywhere (even the local shops) can sometimes remind parents of a Mission Impossible film (minus the soundtrack and special effects, but with the short, angry person). However, with proper planning and a can-do attitude, you will be able to visit world-class destinations like this and make the most of it while you’re there. If you are looking for things to do in Vietnam or the perfect family adventure, the Mekong Delta is worth a visit.
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About the Mekong Itself
The Mekong Delta region covers a large part of south-western Vietnam. It’s where the Mekong approaches and empties into the sea through a network of tributaries, all rich and ripe for exploring and excitement.
Coined a ‘biological treasure trove’, there have been over 1000 animal species recorded in this area. It’s the home of many species hitherto undiscovered anywhere else. This is rich, fertile land and it is truly the ideal home for adventure.
The opportunity to travel down the Mekong Delta is not to be missed! It’s such an enriching experience for families and life-changing for kids. They’re so captivated by everything they see in terms of diversity along this unique waterway. The people are SO friendly and genuine. This is an educational experience for children as they learn about all the ways that a water system can be used – transportation, business, trade and living! Children can really understand their role as a tourist here and see the importance of supporting the Mekong Delta community.
Travelling the Mekong with Children
There are a variety of boating companies that specialise in travel along the Mekong River Delta. The best advice would be to choose one that has space to move (lest you all be piled up on top of each other for days) and which is designed with families in mind.
To this end, either the Mekong River Cruise or the Nagi of Mekong are the best options. These are more opulent than some of the other choices but, when it comes to travelling with kids, there are times when comfort is best! This is a slow boat ride and it’s far preferable to be riding in style than sliding around on the decking. If these are out of your budget, there are public slow boats that you could investigate as well.
These boats become more like a cruise in terms of the wonderful food on offer as well as the sumptuously soft beds. It’s the perfect way to traverse the river and marvel at all that lies on the banks and under the waves.
Activities and Things to do in the Mekong Delta
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Keep an eye out for the following!
Ninh Kieu Wharf
Complete with night markets, this makes for wonderful photograph opportunities as you play spot the coloured fishing boats and have dinner at the riverside restaurant.
Cai Rang Floating Market
The residents of the area have forged their entire lives around these markets and the building of these structures. This truly is water life!
Cai Be Floating Market
This is one of the largest markets along the system and sells fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, fabric and other items by passing the wares from boat to boat.
Tra Su Mangrove Forest
This is a true ecotourism site. During the rainy season (September – November), this becomes a flooded forest and small guide boats can tour the region.
This is near the city of Chau Doc and it’s an incredible climb. You’ll see rice fields, villages, forests, tombs and temples. At the top, there is a tiny military outpost that offers views across Vietnam and into Cambodia.
Tram Chim National Park
This is known as “The Kingdom Of Birds.” The park covers 75,000 hectares and has 200 types of birds, many of which are endangered. This makes up a quarter of the bird population in Vietnam. The best times to go bird-watching are in March and April.
Cruising in My Tho or Ben Tre
You can board a rowboat and paddle through the small canals of the enormous tributaries of the Mekong. You’ll find flower farms, orchards, factories, temples, restaurants and all the floating markets you could possibly ask for. A true family adventure!
Tips for Travelling with Kids in Vietnam
- Everywhere in Vietnam is a chance for a lesson or for exploration.
- Look into climate variations when planning your journey – wet seasons and dry seasons are very different and will make for markedly different experiences.
- The weather is warm and humid – prepare accordingly.
- Religious holidays and festivals will disrupt normal proceedings – prepare accordingly.
- If you’re interested in purchasing handicrafts, art and artisan products, ensure that you pay the right price for what you are buying. Resist the urge to haggle for a bargain and pay proper respects to the effort and talent that has gone into the creation.
About the Author
Judith is an avid traveller who has spent many years in South East Asia with her growing family. You can read about some of her travels here. Judith is passionate about empowering Vietnamese locals to earn a living wage through her ethical gift store, Temples and Markets. Here, you can read the story of one of her local sources, Mekong Plus, a Social Enterprise with the aim of creating sustainable employment for under-privileged women in remote and rural regions of Vietnam and Cambodia.