Ultimate 10 Day Mekong Delta Itinerary
Want to know if the Mekong Delta is worth visiting? I promise you it is! This post shares all the details of our 10 day Mekong Delta itinerary from our motorbike road trip, including places to stay, and exciting things to see and do in the Mekong Delta.
After being pleasantly surprised on our first brief road trip to the Mekong Delta, we knew we wanted to return and explore the region in more depth. Encompassing the entire south of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is often overlooked by travellers to Vietnam and considered to be underwhelming. I’m here to change that view, as the region is far more diverse and beautiful than it is given credit for in the guidebooks; the Mekong Delta is worth visiting!
In this Mekong Delta itinerary, you’ll discover a side of the region that few tourists experience, including ancient pottery factories, floating markets, nature reserves and off the beaten path paradise islands!
Where is the Mekong Delta?
The Mekong Delta is a vast region, spanning the entire southern tip of Vietnam. Nicknamed the “rice bowl of Vietnam”, the delta is an agricultural powerhouse supplying the rest of the country with fresh produce.
The Delta is a maze of intertwined canals as the Mekong River makes its way to the ocean, making way for floating forests, seas of rice fields dotted with intricate temples and of course, the iconic floating markets.
Beyond the cliche well-known experiences that the Mekong has to offer, there are a series of tropical islands that you can hop between once you make it to the ocean.
Best Time of Year to Visit
November to March is the dry season in southern Vietnam which can make it an appealing time to visit the Mekong Delta thanks to stable weather and clear blue skies.
However, in my opinion, the best time to visit the Mekong Delta is in the shoulder season (between the wet and dry seasons). Timing your visit around November or May is perfect as the floating forests will be waterfilled and the countryside will be lush, yet the weather will still be relatively dry and hot.
Motorbiking in the Mekong Delta
The roads of the Mekong Delta are well maintained, thanks to the region’s role in supplying fresh produce to the rest of Vietnam. There can be lots of trucks on the roads so it’s important to take caution when driving and limit your time driving in the dark.
Where to rent a motorbike
Tigit and Rentabike are great options that specialise in rentals for road trips with pick up and drop off in Ho Chi Minh City. Unlike motorbiking in the north of Vietnam where a semi-automatic or manual motorbike is more suitable, an automatic motorbike is a good choice as the Mekong Delta is flat so you don’t have to worry about power to get you up steep hills.
Automatic motorbike rentals start at around $10 a day from both Tigit and Rentabike, so you’re looking at about $100 for a 10-day rental to explore the Mekong Delta. This might sound like a lot but it’s actually very budget-friendly when you consider that it covers all your transport and will give you the freedom to get off the beaten path in the Mekong Delta.
✍️ For more information on motorbiking in Vietnam, including safety tips and what to pack, check out my complete guide to motorbiking in Vietnam.
Travelling in the Mekong Delta without a Motorbike
If you aren’t confident motorbiking in Vietnam, you can still explore the Mekong Delta following this itinerary! Instead of motorbiking from place to place, hop on buses to get between places. All of the destinations covered in this Mekong Delta itinerary can be explored without a motorbike, by booking day trips or local drivers from your accommodation.
Where to book buses to the Mekong Delta
I’ve found the best places to book buses online are via Bao Lau* a website that compares different options for transport between 2 locations. You can also use it to book the ferries to the islands of Nam Du and Hon Son for the end of your trip.
10 Day Mekong Delta Itinerary
During this 10-day road trip through the Mekong Delta, we explored Vinh Long, Can Tho and Chau Doc, before taking the ferry from Rach Gia to the paradise islands of Nam Du and Hon Son. Traversing over 700km, this road trip is a biggie but with 10 days to explore it really didn’t feel like too much driving.
This Mekong Delta itinerary shares recommendations on what to do in each place and how long to spend there. Jump to the bottom for the route.
As the gateway to the Mekong Delta, the city of Vinh Long is the perfect first stop on a Mekong Delta trip. Vinh Long is a 3-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City, so set off early and you’ll arrive in time for lunch.
What to do in Vinh Long
Day 1📍 Get local street food at the central market, visit some of the many temples and head into the countryside of Vinh Long. Visit Xeo Quyt nature park where you’ll find hundreds of beautiful lily pads. Or visit a lotus flower farm (Nông trại Ông Bà Tư) where you can take boardwalks through the lotus fields (the lotuses flower around June). Both are about 1 hour outside of Vinh Long and take you on a beautiful drive through the countryside.
✍️ How to Spend a Day in Vinh Long
Day 2 📍 Our second day in Vinh Long was reserved for learning about the town’s tradition of pottery. The highlight of our time in Vinh Long was taking a tour of the ancient pottery village with Yenni from Mekong Pottery Homestay*, followed by driving among the riverside kilns to seeing them billow smoke as the pottery fires.
✍️ Exploring Vinh Long Pottery Village
Where to stay in Vinh Long
We stayed at the beautiful Mekong Pottery Homestay* which is essential if you want to join a tour of the local pottery factories (Yenni is the only one in Vinh Long offering these tours). An Binh Island is another great place to stay in Vinh Long with lots of cute homestays, such as Mekong Riverside Homestay*, where we stayed there on our shorter 3-day road trip (plus you get to experience the local ferry to get there).
Next up on our tour through the Mekong Delta was the city of Can Tho, the hub of the Mekong Delta. We left Vinh Long on the evening of our second day for the quick 1-hour drive to Can Tho, arriving in time for dinner and bed before an early rise on day 3 of our Mekong Delta itinerary.
What to do in Can Tho
Day 3 📍 The most popular thing to do in Can Tho is experience the Cai Rang floating market. The market is an early morning event, so we booked a private sunrise tour with a local guide who picked us up at 5am and took us into the depths of the market on his boat. He was great at explaining what we were seeing and took us to try noodles from a floating street vendor. After the market, he took us to a local noodle factory and fruit farm which rounded off the day nicely.
✍️ Visiting the Cai Rang Floating Market in Can Tho
Where to stay in Can Tho
With only 24 hours in Can Tho, we picked a random hostel for the night. That hostel is no longer open, but there are lots of options for accommodation in Can Tho*. Somewhere nearby Ninh Kieu Wharf is a good idea if you are planning to book a group tour of the floating market.
The tour of the floating market ended at lunchtime and we quickly headed off en route to the next place on our road trip through the Mekong Delta; Chau Doc.
Chau Doc is a small town on the border with Cambodia. The drive from Can Tho to Chau Doc takes about 3 hours, along which you’ll spot more temples than you can count. These temples are very ornate, covered in gold and Khmer scripture; you might forget you are in Vietnam for a second.
We arrived in the evening of day 3 and grabbed some food before heading to bed ahead of exploring on day 4.
Day 4 📍 The main attraction to see in Chau Doc is the Tra Su Cajuput forest, one of Vietnam’s most extensive floating forests. So we headed there on day 4 of our tour of the Mekong Delta. The forest is magical, and you’ll experience both a speed boat through the marshlands and a sampan boat ride from a local through the densely packed floating forest. The quintessential Mekong Delta experience.
On the way back to Chau Doc we explored Sam mountain, a peak outside of town that is dotted with temples and views of the surrounding countryside.
✍️ Visiting Tra Su Cajuput forest in Chau Doc
Where to stay in Chau Doc
We opted to stay in the heart of Chau Doc town, mostly for the ease of finding food in the evening but there are a number of cute looking homestays in the countryside as well as some luxury resorts like Victoria Nui Sam Lodge*.
We stayed at Nhà Nghỉ Lucky* (Lucky Homestay) which wasn’t the most luxurious of homestays but it was clean, the hosts were nice and it was super budget-friendly.
After all the driving around the Mekong Delta, it was time for some well-deserved rest and relaxation at the beach.
For this, we continued south to the port town of Rach Gia where you can catch the ferry to two off the beaten path paradise islands; Nam Du and Hon Son. The two islands are unique, each with a different vibe. For this reason, I recommend spending 24 hours on Nam Du, then taking the short ferry ride to Hon Son to explore for the next 24 hours.
✍️ How to Visit Nam Du and Hon Son Islands
Day 5 📍 We decided to take it easy during the morning on day 5 in the Mekong, before setting off on the 3-hour drive to the harbour town of Rach Gia; ready to travel to the islands the next day. For this drive, I recommend tracing the border with Cambodia so you can explore more of the ornate Cambodian-style temples.
Where to Stay in Rach Gia
In Rach Gia, we stayed at Stay Hostel* which was the perfect choice thanks to its location just 5 minutes from the ferry terminal. The hostel was brand new when we visited in 2021 and was one of the best rests we had throughout our Mekong Delta itinerary.
There is long-stay parking available at the ferry terminal so you can leave your motorbike there for the duration of your trip to the islands.
Nam Du is one of Vietnam’s greatest secrets; a truly off the beaten path paradise island with turquoise waters and powdery white sand beaches. It only recently opened to foreigners and is yet to come onto the radar for international tourism, making it a haven for those wanting to escape the tourism that dominates the nearby more popular island of Phu Quoc.
How to get to Nam Du
Located the furthest from the coast, we decided to head to Nam Du first and hop back to the mainland via the island of Hon Son. We booked the ferry from Rach Gia to Nam Du online via Baolau*.
You can also buy tickets from the ferry terminal in person. If you plan to do this, I recommend visiting the ticket office the night before you plan to take the ferry to avoid tickets being sold out.
What to do in Nam Du
Day 6 📍 After taking the almost 3-hour ferry to Nam Du, we were ready to spend the next 24 hours exploring a secret of the Mekong Delta. We rented a motorbike from our homestay, to drive a loop of the island to see the local villages, secluded beaches and some beautiful views of the island.
In the afternoon we joined a boat tour, organised through our homestay (all the homestays offer the same tour), where we stopped at a number of sheltered bays to snorkel before relaxing at the most beautiful beach I’ve seen in Vietnam on a nearby island. After watching the sunset from the boat, we grabbed some fresh (and cheap!) seafood along the harbour front.
Day 7 📍 We spent the morning before the ferry to Hon Son unwinding at one of the best beaches on the island; Bãi Cây Mến. There are some rustic cafes here where you can grab a fresh coconut and swim in the ocean. We left around noon to catch the afternoon ferry from Nam Du to Hon Son.
Where to stay on Nam Du
We stayed in the harbour village at Nhà nghỉ Sáu Có homestay (their website is in Vietnamese but we just texted them on Zalo to book). There are also a few options on Booking.com* though not many so if you don’t see any available try messaging some of the homestays you see on Google Maps.
Hon Son Island
Hon Son is another paradise island in Vietnam that’s worth a visit! Hon Son island has a different vibe to Nam Du which is why it’s worth experiencing both; aside from being larger and a bit more developed, the coastline is different to Nam Du. On Hon Son, you’ll find some white sand beaches, but also lots of rocky bays that are perfect for snorkelling.
How to get to Hon Son
There are a few daily ferries that run between Hon Son and Nam Du, but you cannot buy them online. Instead, head to the harbour in Nam Du and buy a ticket in person for only 70k ($3) per person. The ride only takes 45mins, so you’ll be ready to continue exploring when you arrive.
✍️ How to Visit Nam Du and Hon Son Islands
What to do in Hon Son
After taking the afternoon ferry from Nam Du, we checked into our homestay and rented a motorbike for the next 24 hours to explore Hon Son island.
Day 8 📍 For your full day in Hon Son, be sure to check out Coconut Beach (Bãi Cây Dừa) where there is a simple resort with a restaurant you can get lunch at. The beach lives up to its name, complete with coconut palm swings. There are some rustic local villages you can explore on the southern tip of the island, and a beautiful road that loops the island passing by many beaches where you can take a dip! In the evening, visit Bãi Dương Quán Võng, a quirky bar that’s perfect for sunset drinks. As in Nam Du, the harbour town of Hon Son has lots of fresh seafood for you to try!
Where to stay on Hon Son
We stayed at Nhà Nghỉ Gia An homestay which was clean and a short walk from the ferry port, with various food options nearby and motorbike rentals available. They aren’t on any booking platform, and we just found them on google and sent them a message on Zalo to book (when we visited there weren’t many options for booking online).
The other side of the island has a couple of beachside resorts, but you will need to book them via Zalo or phone call as they don’t have websites.
Return to Ho Chi Minh City
I recommend splitting the journey from Rach Gia to Ho Chi Minh City over a couple of days as the drive is long. We opted to spend the night in Can Tho, but if you wanted to add another place to your Mekong Itinerary then I suggest spending the night in Ben Tre. Ben Tre is a popular spot for overnight trips into the Mekong Delta and is just a short drive back to the city.
Day 9 📍 Take the ferry from Hon Son Island to Rach Gia, pick up your motorbike from the long-stay parking and get ready to loop back to Ho Chi Minh City. We stopped at Can Tho, though I would suggest spending the night in Ben Tre instead. Unlike Can Tho which is a city, Ben Tre is surrounded by lush countryside and has many cute homestays* to stay at.
Day 10 📍 Continue the final leg of your return to Ho Chi Minh City. Don’t skip exploring Ho Chi Minh City; it’s a vibrant city and a youthful hub with some cool spots to explore.
This is the route that we drove during our road trip and it follows the Mekong Delta itinerary here. Click the star next to the map title to save it on your google drive for later!
There you have it – a 10-day itinerary for the Mekong Delta, stopping in one of the most underrated places in Southern Vietnam! Whether you travel by motorbike or by bus, your sure to fall in love with the region.
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Planning a Trip to Vietnam
For more information on planning a trip to Vietnam, be sure to check out my Ultimate Vietnam Travel Guide which includes everything you need to know for travelling around the country.
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