Tuesday, February 27, 2018

On the Road to Mekong Delta: Graveyards and Mekong Rest Stop in Dong Nai

Visiting Vietnam is probably not complete without at least spending a day in the Mekong Delta River region.

The Mekong Rest Stop - really nice place!

Our minivan, just 8 of us guests plus our driver and tour guide.

The Mekong Delta, also known as the "Nine Dragon River Delta" is the largest river that snakes through the south of Vietnam passing 12 provinces and a large network of distributary rivers.

Choosing a Mekong Delta trip was quite a challenge for us because there were so just many Mekong Delta trips offered. It can really get confusing when they are almost the same. The family has to find the best one that suits the wishes of the family and can accommodate the parent's mobility challenge as well.

[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]

The regions of Vietnam:

We made a decision for the Ben Tre Mekong Delta whole day tour because it fits the most to what we were looking for. We were also informed that this tour will be a small group and the destination is less touristy compared to the other offerings.

The Ben Tre Mekong Delta tour was booked through the travel agency at the hotel we stayed. I did some comparison survey with the travel agencies in Ben Thanh area but most of them are really catering to huge masses in tourist buses. The option given to us by the travel agent at the hotel was more appealing as it is intimate with only 8 guests + tour guide.

The drive from the Southeast (Ho Chi Minh City) to the Mekong River Delta (Ben Tre) took more than 2 hours, please see a map of Vietnam divided into regions above.

During the drive, our amiable yet a bit shy Vietnamese tour guide suddenly became very chatty. He was preparing us with some basic knowledge about Ben Tre, as well as giving us bits of information about the Vietnamese way of life. He stressed the importance that Vietnamese people are very superstitious and in the rural areas, this is the rule of thumb. Such as the positioning of the moon and stars, feng shui, the eyes on boats, etcetera, they all play a major role in the lives of the Vietnamese.

As a visitor, one must, therefore, be careful not to offend the locals, so its always best to tread carefully in matters such as culture, beliefs, and superstitions. I guess it helps that I was born and raised in the Philippines so I understand this part very well.

Another thing he mentioned to us is the sightings of graveyards scattered in the rice fields. It is customary in Vietnamese culture to bury the dead on the land where they have lived. Families bury their loved ones in their backyards, on rice paddies, on the fields or any piece of land that belongs to the direct family or the person who died.

These are some of the graveyards we saw on the fields during the more than 2-hour drive to Ben Tre:

We spotted many graves on the fields along the highway on our way to Ben Tre.

The graves were quite colourful.

Floating houses on the Mekong Delta.

We had a pitstop at this very nice Mekong Rest Stop in Dong Nai that can really take away your cares of this world. It was peaceful and green with traditionally built huts serving the local cuisine. I definitely highly recommend this stop.

But before I will post the pictures of the rest stop, do check out our Mekong Delta Ben Tre itinerary below. I will be blogging the itineraries per destination and transfer very soon.

  • Very early pick-up - We were in a small van with 8 people. 4 from our group (our family), a German couple and a Spanish couple. Quite intimate, not bad at all.
  • Restroom/snack stop at the Mekong Reststop in Dong Nai - This place is really nice and worthy of blogging.
  • First destination - Traditional brick kiln factory
  • Transfer - Riverboat cruise (main river)
  • Second destination - Traditional coconut candy making + Fruits tasting + Local spirits
  • Transfer - Riverboat 
  • Short village walk
  • Third destination - Traditional mat weaving done by ladies from the village
  • Transfer - Open tuktuk (this was so much fun!)
  • Short village walk
  • Fourth destination - Traditional lunch in a nice open-air restaurant
  • Transfer - Canoe cruise (wow, this was so cool, we managed not to topple over, haha)
  • Transfer - Riverboat (main river)
  • Drive back to Ho Chi Minh City

Arriving in Ben Tre.

Here are the pictures of the Mekong Rest Stop:

This is the best long distance rest stop I have ever seen. It felt like I was inside a luxurious resort, hehe.

It has many nooks and huts to while away time or have a little snack picnic.

Water Lillies abound.

Lots of catfish in the pond. The fish with whiskers =)

There are several (elegant) restaurants in the area.

Travel Period: December 2016
Destination: Dong Nai (Southeast), Vietnam

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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