You leave Cambodia behind and cross into Vietnam today, delving into a region where traditional and modern lifestyle elements mingle: Agriculture may still reign supreme, but TV satellite dishes dot rooftops of houses built on stilts. Thousands of boats ply the waters of the Mekong—wooden cargo boats, water taxis, dredges, fishing craft. Traditional and modern elements mingle in this region, but the river rules everything.
More authentic encounters await you today, starting with a cruise through the canals to Evergreen Island, where village houses are built on stilts. Stop at a temple devoted to Vietnam’s homegrown religion, and hop aboard a rickshaw for a ride to a factory that makes handwoven reed baskets. Later, take a sampan ride through the floating villages lining the banks of the great river.
Daily life on the great delta
In the Mekong Delta, hardworking residents live and labor on the water, harvesting what the delta gives them and turning it into products they can sell to earn a living or food they can eat, wasting nothing. Today you’ll get a taste of this way of life during a sampan tour that carries you through the floating villages that line the banks of the great river to the town of Tan Chau. Stop at a temple devoted to Vietnam’s homegrown religion Cao Dai (a faith that incorporates most major world religions, including Buddhism, Islam and Christianity, as well as a pantheon of saints that range from Joan of Arc to Thomas Jefferson and Victor Hugo); an image of the Divine Eye appears in every temple, and each color that decorates the temple has a specific meaning. Hop aboard a rickshaw for a ride to a factory where you can watch baskets and mats being handwoven from reeds grown on the delta, and check out a floating fish farm. The raising and harvesting of seafood is one of Vietnam’s fastest-growing industries, and you’ll be amazed by the efficiency and ingenuity on display. You may even get a chance to feed the fish. Embark your sampan to cruise through the canals to Evergreen Island, where a rickshaw ride through the village reveals traditional houses built on stilts, an essential precaution during the rainy season, when the Mekong rises and spills into all of the towns that line the river.