Travel Vietnam

The Not so New Story of a Mekong River Cruise

I didn’t want to do the usual touristy stuff in Vietnam but that’s exactly what I ended up doing. It’s not that I was trying to be hipster it’s just that I wanted to write something different. Many bloggers have gone to the Mekong River and wrote about it so what more could I say that you haven’t heard of already? But I loved the Mekong River. It was a simple experience, but it was enough to remind me to focus on the joys of traveling and not dwell on the scamming incident that I had the day before.

One of the popular tours you can take in Ho Chi Minh is the Mekong River Delta. Vietnam doesn’t own the Mekong River okay, so if you hear someone say that “No, the Mekong River is in (insert the name of the country here),” don’t Kung-Fu the shit out of that person because this river flows through Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, China, and Myanmar. But if he mentions a country that is not on that list then go ahead and Kung-Fu the shit out of that person.

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Anyhoo, I availed the services of Happy Tour and again we were led by Cuonz, whom we’re better off calling by his English name, Andy to save us the trouble. The tour package rate is VND540,000 ($24 – PHP1136.52), with the inclusion of meal and a side trip to Vinh Trang Temple. [Read: How to Avoid Offending the Monks at Vinh Trang Temple]

I hardly talked with my fellow travelers during the Cu Chi Tunnel tour, save for Bing of course, but I was able to make friends during this tour. There were only 5 of us, Bing and I included, then a father and son, Huan and Steve, who are Vietnamese but are based in the States, and this tall white guy from Europe, Phil, who was traveling in his lonesome.

On our way to Vinh Trang we stopped by a nameless restaurant that has hammocks instead of chairs; well they did have chairs but only small ones. I was naturally confused whether I should drink coffee or catch some zzs; I tried the latter didn’t work so I went to the store owner, who seem to be a mother and daughter and asked for coffee. I said “coffee,” but they couldn’t understand me, so I said cà phê (that’s how they spell it). The girl’s face lit up in recognition then went to the back to prepare my coffee. In Vietnam, they like their coffee black and iced so that’s exactly what I got. I saw the girl pouring black liquid in a plastic cup, filled it halfway, added some ice to it then voila, I have my iced coffee.

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As I went back to my hammock, I heard my companions guffawing over something. Apparently, the tall white guy fell on the floor as he was trying to sit on the hammock. I wanted to join in the fun but I didn’t witness the whole thing, so I guess I got blitzed. Aww man!

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Our journey continued all the way to the port where we took a boat to get us to the river.

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The Mekong River tour is not just about taking a boat ride across the river. There were other activities including free tasting of honey tea, which was so good I found myself singing Mariah’s Honey in my head. It reminded me of the delicious fruit tea of Bo Tan. [Read: Bo Tan Bubble Tea and Café]

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And then got persuaded to buy some, but nope I didn’t buy anything. That’s what happens when you’ve lost a lot of money from a scam, suddenly everything seems expensive to you. To  know about the scamming incident, click the link. [Read: Braving the Streets of Ho Chi Minh]

After the tea, we were taken to another restaurant where we listened to some women singing traditional Vietnamese music. Later on, I asked Steve what they were singing about. He said that the songs were in fact, depressing as they told the story of how fucked up a person’s life is. I was like wow, that’s heavy.

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As the singer sang about how fucked up her life is, we were served a plate of fruits. There’s logan, dragon fruit, pineapple, chico, and rambutan. It was served with salt with crushed chili.

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Eventually, Andy led the way to the small port where the boats for the tour are docked. Initially, I didn’t want to take the Mekong River tour because I was thinking, why waste money on a boat ride in a muddied river, without even a scenic view to enjoy along the way. Good thing, I changed my mind lest I would have missed one of the best things that you could ever experience in Vietnam.

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How do I explain it? Well, let me try. Each boat is manned by one or two people. It is interesting to note that most of them are women. We were each given a non la (a traditional Vietnamese conical hat) to wear during the trip. Our boatman used a long stick to help the boat move forward. Soon we were sailing, to the view of the other boats navigating through the murky river. It was such a serene experience. I heard Andy singing a song and though I couldn’t understand a single word, I loved it.

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Bing was busy taking pictures and selfies. I, on the other hand, was busy observing the other boats. I noticed that the boats on the other side of the river are empty while the boats on our side were carrying tourists. I figured the empty boats have dropped their passengers somewhere and they were sailing their way back to the port to get passengers.

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The non la felt light on my head. I love that it is also comfortable to wear, in fact, much more comfortable than my straw fedora hat.

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The cruise ended to an open area where all the big boats are. I was enjoying the cruise so much I found myself feeling a little disappointed that it ended quickly. Soon we were back on our boat, which took us to our next stop, the Coconut Candy factory.

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Here we saw how the candies are made. Andy tried to explain to us the process but his accent was so thick I didn’t catch a thing. So I just took pictures and watched the factory workers do their thing. We were able to taste the candies in their just-cooked state hence they were still warm and soft. It was really good I gotta say. Again, I didn’t buy anything for reason already stated.

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Food was not included in the Cu Chi Tunnel package, even when it was clearly stated in their promotional pamphlet that it includes meal, so when Andy said that this time there would be food I almost French kissed the poor fella from excitement. Don’t judge me, I love eating! I mean seriously, who doesn’t? [Read: A Crawl inside the Cu Chi Tunnel]

Andy took us to a restaurant where we feasted on fish, spring rolls, and vegetables. To be honest, I haven’t been enjoying Vietnamese food since I arrived because they are too damn healthy. I’m used to Filipino food where everything is fried you know, so switching to healthy food was a big adjustment. Anyway, on this restaurant, I truly enjoyed the food, still healthy, but at least, more flavorful than the food that I tried the day before.

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On our way back to the city, I heard Steve and Phil talking about how Vietnam is like a whole new world in their eyes. The contrast of its culture, the people, food, and scenery are so different from where they came from that they were really fascinated. Obviously, I couldn’t say the same thing because there are many things in Vietnam that you can also see in my country. It’s probably the reason why I really appreciated the Mekong River tour. Sure, the Philippines has many rivers but definitely nothing like the Mekong River. I know I didn’t say something new about this tour, but I hope I’m able to convince you to take the Mekong River tour (if you haven’t yet) when you travel to Vietnam.



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Comments (31)

  1. Irma

    Most of us from Europe still imagine Vietnam through Hollywood movies. So when you finally arrive there, you have to be shocked and amazed. I loved everything, particularly tea and food. But I did not take this tour since I was a bit afraid. Perhaps I will do it next time since your pictures look great. It does not look that scary now either.

  2. Elisa

    Mmm mmm. . . from what you tell I liked the boat thing but I would not do all the activities included around so In the end I don’t know if I would take the boat tour or not. The Mekong looks very crowded in this area, by the way!

  3. Christina

    I hadn’t read much about the Mekong river cruise before so I was able to learn a lot from your post. I am glad the tour was relaxing for you. I would not have been able to resist buying the candy!

  4. Corinne

    I’ve never been on a Mekong Cruise, but it sounds like I will really have to pay attention to the options. I love your small boat ride.

  5. Harvey (H-Bomb's Worldwide Karaoke)
    Harvey (H-Bomb's Worldwide Karaoke)

    And the Mekong also flows through (and in fact originates in) Tibet. In fact, it’s the 12th longest river in the world — over 4,300 km.

    I would totally do a boat ride on the Mekong. It reminds me of a boat ride I took on and near the Chao Phraya in Bangkok (although I didn’t get to wear a conical hat). Oh, and there are parts of the Mekong that are much cleaner than the brownish section near Ho Chi Minh City. 🙂

  6. Elizabeth @ Compass & Fork
    Elizabeth @ Compass & Fork

    We took a cruise on the Mekong. One of the things that stood out for me was the way they farmed fish under their houses! The volume of fish was just incredible! I really enjoy Vietnamese food because it is so fresh, now you have me worried to go to the Philipines!

  7. Paul

    This looks like it would be so cool, definitely will look into doing something similar when we visit Vietnam. Wouldn’t want to fall into that water though!!

    • Marjorie Gavan
      Marjorie Gavan

      Ah yes, you might emerge as the chocolate man hahaha…

  8. Alice Teacake
    Alice Teacake

    Bwahaha damn girl you’re funny! Your commentary makes me laugh >< You've got good photos too! Sorry to hear you got scammed though 🙁 Vietnam can be pretty bad for that.

    • Marjorie Gavan
      Marjorie Gavan

      Thanks Alice, you’re like the only person who noticed my effort to
      be funny hahaha…

  9. melody pittman
    melody pittman

    This is definitely an epic adventure. I would love that! Gorgeous views, interesting culture, cool food, and lots of new experiences; however, that water looks extremely gross.

    • Marjorie Gavan
      Marjorie Gavan

      Yeah, but it’s clean, in a sense that I didn’t see floating garbage. It’s brown because of the mud.

  10. Claire

    This made me want to visit Vietnam. Very interesting post.

  11. Melissa

    What a lovely article! Thank you for sharing your experience with the Mekong River Cruise! It sounds like a wonderful adventure!

  12. Leticia

    Nice itinerary! Did you book it there? My friends are visiting Vietnam in the next couple of months and this would be a nice gift.

  13. bluedreamer27

    I only remember Mekong River from the text books hehe but I came across a blog article before saying that once you cruise the river.. it feels like crossing two countries at the same time since it borders Thailand and Laos .. not sure if he took the same tour though ^_^

    • Marjorie Gavan
      Marjorie Gavan

      It is really possible given the fact that the Mekong River flows through a few countries.

  14. Katie

    I didn’t get to the Mekong Delta the last time I was in Vietnam, but I know I will visit there eventually! I am surprised at how crowded the river was…there were so many boats as you were floating down, wow!

    • Marjorie Gavan
      Marjorie Gavan

      Oh yes, there were lots of boats, but it was a lot of fun.

  15. Angela

    Some activities have been written about a million times and some sights are considered tourist traps, but in my eyes there’s usually a good reason if people keep going and doing the same thing. Glad you didn’t miss out on a great experience just because you were looking for something unique!

    • Marjorie Gavan
      Marjorie Gavan

      I’m glad too. The Mekong River cruise is my absolute favorite when I went to Vietnam.

  16. Violeta

    I would definitely take a Mekong tour. Unfortunately, I had to postpone my travel to Vietnam for now. Maybe some day I’ll get there. Your article put me in the travel mood 🙂

  17. Mr. Tripster
    Mr. Tripster

    I laughed at what you said about the singer and her song about her fucked up life. hahahaha! And yes, do not miss out on things such as boat rides. Such activities may seem banal, but i think experiences like that add more color and beauty to the memory of your travels.

    • Marjorie Gavan
      Marjorie Gavan

      True. Good thing about me is, I’m flexible. 😉

  18. LJ

    What’s the name of the tour company? I think it’s a bit pricey because I paid the same tour for VND160 last year August. 🙂

    • Marjorie Gavan
      Marjorie Gavan

      It’s Happy Tour. It’s a bit expensive indeed, but I just went along with my companion, I didn’t really had the time to find the tour myself.

  19. Christine Maguire
    Christine Maguire

    Such an interesting post! I went on the Mekong in Laos, but your cruise looks so much more relaxing! I love Vietnam, than you for reminding me of my time there!

    • Marjorie Gavan
      Marjorie Gavan

      I’d probably go for the Mekong river cruise again when I go to Laos.


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