Saigon and the Mekong Delta
Fascinating region, associated in the western collective imagination with mystery, jungle, wild animals, and adventure with a capital “A”. Having become more accessible, this corner of Asia today reveals its secrets, and deserves to be known for the beauty of its landscapes, cultural richness and its exotic charm which remains intact. Amarita offers you to discover this universe in depth, with a cruise imbued with the flavours of yesteryear, on a boat large enough to ensure all comforts and quality of service, and sufficiently small and handy to be able to navigate in the secondary canals that connect to the main artery. This circuit includes the major communities of the Delta: Can Tho, Chau Doc and Sa Dec.
Day 1: Saigon
Half-day visit of the old colonial city, identified by District 1 and always called Saigon. Depending on the time available, you can do a more complete or essential tour, comprising the main buildings which include the Reunification Palace, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Central Post Office, designed and carried out by Gustave Eiffel, in a very particular style of architecture resembling that of a railway station. Just north of the city centre, the Jade Emperor Temple although one of the least vast and spectacular, remains the most interesting and original. Inside, a small square planted with banyan trees, an introduction to the main sanctuary, where Taoism and Buddhism coexist in sharing the rooms, the altars and the devotionals of the faithful. Returning to the heart of the colonial city, with stops at Ben Thanh market and the small Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, offered by the Tamil community, but attended also by the Vietnamese. Finally Dhong Khoi, already Catinat Street, the heart of nightlife during colonial Saigon that is back in vogue today, thanks to its shops, hotels and its luxury shops.
2nd Day: Saigon – Cai be – cruise
Departure toward 7h00 for the Mekong River Delta. We cross the Chinese District of Cholon, with a stop to Thien Hau Temple, Chinese goddess of the sea. Founded in the 17th century by merchant families, this Cantonese enclave on Vietnamese land was then located 5 km from Saigon when it was connected by the first railway line built by the French in Indochina. We continue by road up to Cai Be, that we reach around 2h30hrs. Boarding at noon, near to Cai Be floating market. A welcome drink, then introduction to the ship and crew, before retiring to your cabin. Departure towards Cho Lach, going downstream on the river to Tien Giang. Lunch on board during the journey, resting on the upper deck and around the bar. Turn off into Cho Lach canal for 30 minutes through the traffic of sand and rice barges, into a scenery of fruit dryers and wooden boat shipyards. Visit of a village on the banks of the Mang Thit river, an opportunity to see the style of life and the hospitality of the inhabitants of the region. Visit to the nearby orchards or rice fields. Boarding, welcome drink back on board. The open bar; resting on the deck to see the sunset. The crew will serve dinner while the vessel is on its way to its anchor point for the night, downstream of the small floating market of Tra On.
Lunch and dinner on board.
3rd Day: Can Tho – Chau Doc
The day starts at 6h30 while the boat is heading to the floating market of Tra On. Then departure towards Can Tho. Arrival in Cai Rang floating market, booking out of cabins and transferal onto a lighter craft for the market visit, of brooks and orchards. Returning then toward Ninh Kieu wharf, arriving in Can Tho, at the end of the morning. Departure by car to Chau Doc (120 km, about 2h30). Backing onto the Cambodian border, this small town is in the heart of the delta, where four peoples coexist with their languages, religions and customs. Viêts, Khmer, Cham and Chinese meet at the central market and blend together along the stilt built alleys in the surrounding area. The walk inside this neighborhood is inescapable: a real fairyland of colours, smells, sounds, not forgetting the stunning glances over this confluence of several rivers. Depending on the time available a boat ride and visit to a cham village of weavers, or seeing the sunset from Mont Sam.
4th Day: Chau Doc – Saigon
Back to Saigon by road through Sa Dec (250 km, 6-7h), a small sleepy town where Marguerite Duras spent her childhood. We can still admire here the many colonial houses, including the “Blue House” seen in the film “Lover”. Two pagodas and the primary school in which the novelist was bought up completes the scene of the journey through the decor of the novel. Returning back at the end of the day. Transfer to the airport in time for your departure flight or to the hotel.
End of suggestions.