Travelling to the Mekong Delta

I always make time for exploration and this time was no different, I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to visit another part of Vietnam! As I needed to do some paperwork in Ho Chi Minh City, I thought I would combine my trip with an exploration of the Mekong Delta. A lot of friends had been selling the beauty of this area and the friendliness of its people to me, so it seemed like a no-brainer. As I’d previously had a very short visit to Chau Doc in the Mekong Delta, I wasn’t convinced I could lead a photography tour there, but that provided even more reason for me to explore.

 

The 5-day trip I had planned quickly turned into a 4 day one… I blame it on the ‘Saigon Suction’. I had a lot of friends to catch up within the city and as it is often the case in Saigon, things tend to last late into the night. Thanks, Quinn and Lee for the warm welcome! By the way, if you ever find yourself in Saigon, my buddy Scott still makes the best Tex Mex food in town, make sure you go check out La Fiesta – you won’t be disappointed!

 

Due to my newly limited time frame, I decided to skip the East side of the Mekong Delta and focus on the areas of Sa Dec, Long Xuyen and An Giang province. On the first day, I started with a 4-hour drive along the busy highway, which was filled with large trucks and buses. I wouldn’t recommend it on a motorbike but it is the fastest way to get there, so I suppose it depends on whether you favour comfort or time!  

Sunrise on the Mekong in Sa Dec

The peaceful Sa Dec

After arriving in Sa Dec, I checked into a local hotel and headed to visit the popular flower fields. After my trip, I was told that I went at the wrong time of the year. According to the locals, it is best to visit the Mekong Delta in September / October time (after travelling to Iran during Ramadan, I should have learned my lesson about checking timings!).

 

Sa Dec itself is a very pretty little town. In fact, it reminded me of Hoi An due to its peacefulness and architecture. The market along the river is great to check out in the morning and afternoon and I had a great time exploring the streets in the evening.

men selling fish in the wet market of Sa Dec in the Mekong delta

Long Xuyen floating market

After Sa Dec, I headed to Long Xuyen via a back road, hoping to find more activity than just trucks and buses on the highway. I was lucky enough to find some people drying red chilli, so I stopped for a while to have a chat. They shared that the chilis are put to dry in the sun for 5 days before being exported to China. In the photos below, you can see the farmers removing ‘bad’ chillies.

people drying red chilies in the mekong delta

When I arrived at Long Xuyen, I visited the floating market. I had a very good time there and from what I saw it was much less busy in regards to tourism than some of the other places in Vietnam (during my time there, I only saw 3 boats containing Vietnamese tourists and not a single foreigner). The locals selling goods on their boats were very easy going and were happy for me to jump on their boats and take photos. Most of them are just sitting and waiting for customers, so they have time to chat if you want to exchange a few words.

 

Long Xuyen wet market is also fantastic, offering numerous opportunities to take photographs in the morning light. If you spend a couple of hours in the floating market from 5 am, you’ll still get a good light for the wet market.

early morning coconut sellers on the mekong in long xuyen

 

An Giang Province

After Long Xuyen, I headed deeper into An Giang province. Here, I met a local photographer via Instagram (I suggest you check out his beautiful images). It was actually his photos that convinced me to go and explore the area. Both he and his friend took great care of me for the time we travelled together. I must say this was the highlight of my trip. An Giang province is extremely pretty and full of wonderful fields, which provided a great contrast to the markets and towns. A lot of Khmer people still live there and it almost feels similar to Cambodia, specifically in terms of people and landscapes.

Khmer woman going to work in the fields in An Giang province

To summarize, I had a great trip and I am thrilled to announce that I am combining these areas with the city of Chau Doc to build an action-packed photography trip in the Mekong Delta. As the locals suggested to me, I will organize this for around September/October in 2019, so there’s plenty of time to find out even more about the area.

 

Vietnamese man portrait in the Mekong Delta

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Etienne

Founder of Pics of Asia, Etienne is a teacher with a photography habit.

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