The Mekong River, which begins high in the mountains of Tibet, ends its journey in Vietnam's southern delta. Before flowing into the sea, the river branches into nine tributaries, known as Cuu Long or the "Nine Dragons" . These rivers are the south's life-blood, nourishing the delta's paddy fields and fruit orchards.
Eighty percent of Vietnam's population lives in rural areas and no region provides a better glimpse into traditional country life than the Mekong Delta. Take a cruise through the delta's tiny canals in an open boat and you'll pass stunning tableaus of people hard at work in their paddy fields, water buffaloes, tangled fruit orchards, simple, thatched-roof huts, fishermen, and excited, waving children. In the delta's towns, the river remains the central focus of life, ferrying travelers and goods to market and linking the delta with the world beyond. Take a few days to explore the floating market in Can Tho, the islands around My Tho, and the hillside pagodas of Chau Doc.
Just a few hours from the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, life in the Mekong Delta unfolds at its own, slow, steady pace. This is Vietnam's heartland, a place where time is still dictated by the river and the rice harvests.