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Visiting the Mekong Delta (even if it was just a glimpse!) was our favorite experience in Vietnam. I’d always wanted to see the floating markets here, and this Mekong Delta private tour was the perfect way to do it.
In this post, I’ll share our experience booking a local day tour to the town of Cai Be to see the floating markets (note: this is a non-sponsored post!) I loved my experience so much, I want to share it with others.
Why visit the Mekong Delta?
The Mekong Delta is a must visit for any traveler to Vietnam. If you want to experience and see more traditional parts of Vietnam, away from the big city, this is the perfect place to do it.
The Mekong Delta is the worlds 12th longest river, which stretches across several countries. It runs through China (Yunnan province), Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Yes – this is one long-ass river!
Many towns and cities lie along the Mekong Delta. In Vietnam, there are endless places you could visit here. One of the most famous parts of the Mekong Delta is the Floating Markets.
These are markets which exist on boats. That is – local market holders (or boat holders should I say?) sell their goods and produce on boats.
The most famous floating market is the Cai Rang Floating Market, located in Can Tho. If you book a traditional 1 day Mekong Delta tour, you will most likely visit the Cai Rang Floating Market.
Other markets you can visit include Cai Be, Nga Bay, Phong Dien… And many, many more.
When researching, we found it overwhelming choosing from the different places we could visit.
Our Mekong Delta Private Tour experience
When we booked our trip to Vietnam, visiting the famous floating markets were on our wish list, but we found many of the tours to be very “touristy.”
Most of the tours came with mixed reviews or involved big busloads of tourists. We were after something small and run by a local operator.
For new visitors: I’m a huge fan of traveling sustainably and choosing local tour groups rather than big bus tour companies. I have a guide about responsible travel in Vietnam – check it out if you’re interested in finding out more!
Imagine my surprise when we came across a tour guide by the name of Jason SS Superstar. Jason offers locally run Mekong Delta private tours and comes highly recommended via TripAdvisor forums. Jason’s tours are focused on experiences around Cai Be, where he is based locally.
We reached out a day after arriving in Saigon, and crossed our fingers – after all, it was a little last minute! While Jason was not available, he organized for us to take a tour with his cousin, Mr. Vu who also lives in Cai Be.
We were picked up from our hotel in Saigon at 7 am by Mr. Duong, our driver for the day for a 2hr drive to Cai Be. Located along the Mekong River, Cai Be is a small town of approximately 2000.
Cai Be’s Floating Market
Upon arrival, we were met with our guide for the day, Mr. Vu. Mr. Vu welcomed us to his hometown and explained we were about to get onto a boat for a tour of the floating markets.
Cai Be is not nearly as popular as Cai Rang with tourists, as Cai Rang’s floating markets are larger and busier, but it we loved feeling like we weren’t just another busload of tourists.
Mr. Vu explained that the market boats obtain the fruits/vegetables from elsewhere for resell in the local area. You can tell what each boat sells based on the pole on the boat – it will show what they sell.
We then stopped by a fruit boat, where we disembarked and got to eat a selection of local fruit. It was fun to see the fruit on the boat and watch other boats float by and purchase fruit. We saw other tourist boats float by, but the tour groups were too large to disembark.
Exploring other parts of Cai Be
We then disembarked for a walking tour of the local market. Since Mr. Vu is from Cai Be, this is the market where he shops himself. He counts many of the stall holders amongst his friends.
The tour included Mr. Vu showing us local food and tasting snacks along the way. He also showed us duck eggs that had baby ducks in them. This is a Vietnamese delicacy which I was too chicken to try (I couldn’t stomach it)
We then took the local ferry across the river to visit a nearby temple. Mr. Vu showed us around the garden, and we had a quiet moment inside.
The next part of the trip involved visiting the local island – the trip was a bit further, so we got to relax on hammocks on the boat (a fun and relaxing way to enjoy our time on the boat!)
We floated through the narrow waterways, past the homes of residents. It was an incredibly peaceful 30 mins before we made our way back to the mainland!
We hopped on the back of Mr. Vu’s motorbike to the local hotel to see the view from of Cai Be from the top.
Our Vietnamese Lunch
The driver then picked us up, and we drove 15 min to Mr. Vu’s house, where his parents greeted us. Mama Vu showed us how to wrap spring rolls, and Papa Vu deep fried them.
We enjoyed a delicious home cooked meal from Mamma Vu, and we were treated like family – Mr. Vu even showed us his collection of bottled snakes and his family photos on the wall.
In Summary – Our Mekong Delta Private Tour experience
If you have time on your Vietnam trip, I would highly recommend booking a multi-day experience with Jason, however, if you’re short on time the day trip is a great way to experience the Mekong Delta. Unlike the big bus tours, we didn’t feel rushed at all.
Supporting local tour guides is an essential part of traveling responsibly. The more we travel, we realize the larger tour companies are less likely to take responsibility or look after the local environment. It’s the tour guides who are local to the area who care about taking care of the area they live in for future generations.
For my fellow responsible travelers who want to visit the Mekong Delta, I would highly recommend booking with a local tour company.
If you want to book a tour through Jason SS Superstar, you can find his details below:
We loved our experience and at the risk of sounding a little cheesy, will remember our day for years to come.
Are you planning on visiting the Mekong Delta?
Would you take a Mekong Delta Private Tour?
Leave me a comment and let me know!