Our time in the Mekong delta was without a doubt the highlight of our month in Vietnam, but it very almost didn’t happen in the way it did. If we had followed the Lonely Planet guidebook advice we would have booked a group tour from Saigon through the delta into Cambodia, which is what the vast majority of tourists in Vietnam do, and it’s a great shame. We were just about sick of these kind of tours – where you’re bundled into a minibus and dropped off at different tourist destinations for very short amounts of time and you have no choice over where to stay or what you eat. It’s all pre-booked by the tour agency and usually unappetising, and you don’t get to actually see much of the places you want to see. What’s more, the Mekong tours rush through the region in 3 days/2 nights, and you definitely want to spend longer than that there (we spent 6 nights, it’s very relaxing). Sure, sometimes these group tours are useful in certain situations, for example when there is a lack of public transport – we did an interesting trip to the demilitarised zone between North and South Vietnam which wouldn’t have been possible to do independently except with a private car which isn’t really in our budget. But we were feeling like we had done one too many tours like this recently so we looked into visiting the Mekong Delta independently. (more…)
This post could equally well be titled Hello Halong!, or Hello Hoi An! or Hello Hue! – the point being that we have now left Indonesia behind us and moved onto the wonderful country that is Vietnam, which also seems to have a strange propensity for cities beginning with the letter H. The change of country came just at the right time – although I would have liked a little more time in Bali to discover the interior of the island and an extra week to visit Flores and the Komodo dragons, I was certainly ready for a change from the ubiquitous cuisine of nasi goreng and mie goreng (fried rice/noodle), the expensiveness of all alcoholic beverages and the frustrating lack of transport options for much of the archipelago.