Famous for its long tradition of pottery, taking a tour of the pottery village is a unique thing to do in Vinh Long! This guide shares where to stay to take a tour and the best sunset spot over the pottery kilns.
The first stop of our Mekong Delta road trip was the city of Vinh Long, a quaint local city with a century-old tradition of artisan pottery making. So it only made sense to spend a morning learning all about the ancient craft of pottery making during our stay. Here’s what we got up to during our tour of the Vinh Long pottery village with Yenni, the charming host of the Mekong Pottery Homestay.
How to get to Vinh Long
The location of Vinh Long means the city is something of a gateway to the Mekong Delta, and as such, it is well-serviced with bus links all over. The most common routes to Vinh Long are from Ho Chi Minh City or nearby Can Tho city. The best place to book buses online is Vexere.
💰 180k from Ho Chi Minh City
💰 50k from Can Tho
We drove the 2.5hr trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Vinh Long by motorbike as part of a road trip, which, once out of the city was a pleasant drive through the countryside. You can find the motorbike route detailed in our Mekong Delta itinerary.
Stay at Mekong Pottery Homestay
Mekong Pottery Homestay is the only place in Vinh Long offering tours of the pottery factories, so we checked in to use this as our base for exploring Vinh Long. The host, Yenni, has done a really tasteful job creating a home-away-from-home with great facilities and breakfast at her mom’s coffee shop included.
The homestay is located in the midst of the pottery factories which makes it the perfect base for exploring the pottery village. It is a little outside of the city centre, so you might need to rent a motorbike or bicycle from Yenni to explore the other sites of the city.
Book a tour of the pottery factories
Book your own stay at The Mekong Pottery Homestay here.* Don’t forget to let her know you want to add on a tour of the pottery factories!
💰 400k for a two-person tour
Exploring the Vinh Long Pottery Village
After a well-rested sleep at Mekong Pottery Homestay* we headed off to explore Yenni’s uncle’s pottery factory.
I was expecting a small-scale operation, so I was surprised to discover multiple huge warehouses tucked just off the main road. Without Yenni’s insider knowledge we would have been completely clueless, which made me curious about how many other artisan factories are hidden away in the Mekong Delta.
Entering the factory, we head to the rear of the warehouse which backs onto the iconic Mekong River. The Mekong river is a core part of life in the delta, a source of wealth and vital to the transport of goods, and you can bet this applies to the pottery industry that thrives in the region.
Yenni shared that the sand, and subsequent clay, that is used in the factory is dredged from the bottom of the Mekong river and delivered directly from the river to the factories’ back door, hence the location of the pottery factories on the river. Apparently, it is the local sand that creates the red pottery, iconic of the Vinh Long region, while pottery from northern Vietnam has a different hue. Nowadays, the river’s supplies of sand are starting to dwindle and so suppliers are transporting sand from other nearby sources to reduce the strain on the river.
The sand is carefully mixed into clay, before being spun into items using moulds. Moving with a seamless rhythm, the artisans make it look effortless to create a bowl or plant pot in minutes. Working in pairs, the shaped bowl is passed to another artisan who applies the finishing touches, spinning the items delicately to smooth the edges and ensure all the fine details are perfect. Yenni told us that in one day, each pair of artisans can complete upwards of 150/200 items.
Once complete, the pots are left to dry in the warm Vietnam air. This can take anywhere from 3 days to a week, even longer during monsoon season when the air is damp. The dark grey of the wet clay slowly morphs into a muted red.
The most intriguing stage to me is the firing; this is when the dried pots are placed in a kiln and engulfed by flames until they harden. One of the key features of Vinh Long is the hundreds and hundreds of beautiful stone kilns that peak above the buildings, some with strings of smoke emerging to signal the firing is in process. So, getting the chance to get up close to them and ask questions about the process was really cool.
It was at this point we met Yenni’s Uncle, the big boss and owner of the factory. He was taking watch of one of the kilns which he told us had been firing for over a week already. The stone kilns are stacked 8 meters high with dried pottery, the entrance sealed up and a fire set inside. Rice husk is continuously fed in to fuel the fire, and the ash is pulled out and sold back to farmers as fertilizer; a beautiful full-circle process.
Yenni shared how there is a team watching the kiln 24hrs a day, responsible for keeping it aflame and ensuring the valuable products inside are safe. On the morning we visited, her Uncle was relaxing with the watch team keeping an eye on their stock. With the duration of the fire, it’s unsurprising to hear that the heat can reach well into the thousands of degrees celsius.
The final stage of the pottery-making process is polishing and cleaning the end products. All done carefully by hand, the pots are brushed and cleaned before being distributed to stores or glazing factories.
Our morning exploring the pottery factory was so interesting, and not something we would ever have been able to experience without the guidance of Yenni. She shared so much insight and helped us ask the artisans questions about their craft, giving us a real insider look at the craft of pottery making in the Mekong.
Where to find the pottery kilns of Vinh Long
Not quite done with pottery for the day, we said farewell to Yenni and headed further out of Vinh Long on the hunt for the infamous photo spot of the kilns (the ones that comes up when you google “pottery Vinh Long”). Under Yenni’s direction, we found the spot and set up to watch the sunset behind the countless factories. A truly perfect end to the day exploring Vinh Long’s pottery village.
We found that this stretch of the river has the most easily accessible kilns, with some that you can walk up to, and some areas where you can climb down to the river to take in the scale of the area. You’ll need a motorbike or bicycle (you can rent from The Mekong Pottery Homestay) to explore this area, and I highly recommend heading for sunset.
📍 Drive down road DT907 to see the pottery kilns lining the river.
I cannot recommend taking a tour of the pottery factories of Vinh Long with Yenni more highly. It was such a unique experience, that would never have been possible without her insight!
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Planning a Trip to the Mekong Delta
For more information on planning a trip to the Mekong Delta, and other destinations in Vietnam, be sure to check out my Ultimate Vietnam Travel Guide which includes everything you need to know for travelling around the country.