Mekong Delta: 12 interesting facts to know!

Mekong Delta: 12 interesting facts to know!

The Mekong Delta is formed by the alluvium of the Mekong River, one of the most captivating and important rivers in Southeast Asia. This region is often recognized for its peaceful landscapes, with winding canals and tropical fruit orchards. However, many interesting aspects of this region, such as the Mekong River itself, remain largely unknown. In this article, we want to explore this fascinating region in more depth by highlighting 12 interesting facts that you probably don't know. Follow us in this exciting discovery!

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Written by Nhu PHAM (local expert)Updated on 20-05-2024
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1. Where is the Mekong Delta located?

The Mekong Delta, located in the southwest of Vietnam. It is surrounded by Cambodia to the north, the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, and the East Sea to the east. This region is also renowned for being the most fertile delta in Vietnam. The alluvial deposits of the Tien and Hau rivers provide fertile land and vast rice fields. There are also lush orchards all year round, abundant with seasonal fruits. The Delta is intersected by a network of rivers and canals, home to rich biodiversity with its virgin forests and wetlands.

Mekong Delta map

2. Where does the Mekong River originate?

The Mekong River, which stretches over more than 4,000 km, completes an epic journey before reaching Vietnam and dumping its precious alluvium into the Mekong Delta. 

All year round, this majestic river flows through the cold, snow-capped mountains of the remote Qinghai Plateau (Tibetan Plateau), on the edge of the Himalayas, before continuing its course along the Yunnan province in China. Subsequently, it passes through five other countries: Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and finally Vietnam, where it flows into the East Sea.

This is why it is often said that the journey of the Mekong is a great journey and also a river with a sacred source, including the upstream part of the Tibet region, renowned for its sacred and mysterious character. Crossing these varied lands gives the Mekong an aura of exploration and adventure, as it meanders through magnificent landscapes, encounters different cultures and makes a vital contribution to the lives of local populations.

The Mekong journey is great
The Mekong journey is great

Is the Mekong Delta Worth Visiting?

  • The Mekong Delta in Vietnam is renowned for its friendly and hospitable residents, always ready to lend a helping hand. This spirit of camaraderie is deeply rooted in the community, shaped by the region's unique challenges and landscapes.
  • The culture of the Mekong Delta is intrinsically linked to its agricultural practices. With vast networks of rivers and canals, life here revolves around water. The Delta is famous for its distinctive rice cultivation methods, bustling floating markets, and innovative farming techniques. The lush green landscape is dominated by expansive rice paddies and intricate waterways, where boats and floating houses are a common sight.
    The Mekong Delta in Vietnam is renowned for its friendly and hospitable residents
    The Mekong Delta in Vietnam is renowned for its friendly and hospitable residents
  • This region is a blend of vibrant towns bustling with commercial activity and serene countryside scenes, where buffaloes wallow in the paddies. The cuisine here reflects a rich culinary heritage influenced by Cambodian and Thai flavors. An abundance of freshwater fish, tropical fruits, and vegetables forms the basis of many dishes, enhanced by the distinctive use of fermented fish sauce, adding a savory depth to the local cuisine.
  • Whether you are exploring the lively floating markets or savoring the unique flavors of the Delta, the Mekong region offers a rich tapestry of experiences that make it a must-visit destination.
mekong delta
The Mekong region offers a rich tapestry of experiences that make it a must-visit destination.

3. Why does the Nine Dragons Delta have this name?

After a journey of more than 4000 km, the Mekong River crosses Vietnamese territory and divides into two main rivers, the Tien Giang and the Hau Giang, before flowing into the East Sea through 9 small estuaries. These nine arms of the river resemble the sinuous shape of 9 dragons, hence the nickname "River of the Nine Dragons".

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Due to the deposition of alluvium from the upper Mekong over time, a fertile and rich plain was shaped, giving rise to the region known as the Mekong Delta. Due to this nickname "Nine Dragons River", this delta is also called the Nine Dragons Delta. Vietnamese people generally call it that, while foreign tourists often refer to it simply as the “Mekong Delta”.

The sinuous shape, like that of dragons, is why it is called the Delta of the Nine Dragons
The sinuous shape, like that of dragons, is why it is called the Delta of the Nine Dragons

4. The Mekong Delta is the largest delta in Vietnam?

The main deltas in Vietnam are: the Red River Delta (in the north), the Central Coastal Delta (in the center), the Mekong Delta (in the south). The Mekong Delta covers an area of ​​approximately 40,000 km2, making it the largest delta in the country.

5. What is the capital of the Mekong Delta?

Can Tho City, nicknamed "the capital of the Mekong Delta", is a must-visit destination for travelers visiting the Mekong Delta. Located in the heart of the delta, Can Tho is an important river traffic crossroads linking the country's provinces.

It is distinguished by its intertwined rivers, fertile lands, and fruit trees throughout the year. The city is also full of festivals, traditional artisan villages, etc. The Kinh, Hoa and Khmer ethnic groups create a culture typical of the Mekong people. The list of must-see sites includes Ninh Kieu Wharf, Cai Rang Floating Market, and the charming Binh Thuy Ancient House,...

 Cai Rang Floating Market
 Cai Rang Floating Market

Can Tho Airport is the only international airport in the Mekong region, serving passengers to/from Can Tho, and neighboring provinces, as well as domestic flights to the central and northern regions, and flights to Phu Quoc and Con Dao. Connections with Bangkok (Thailand) also exist, and future international flights are planned. 

can tho ninh hau
The town of Can Tho on the banks of the Hau River

>>> Click to find out What to do in Mekong Delta? Complete guide 2024

6. What is the flood season in the Mekong Delta?

The flood season in the Mekong Delta generally occurs between late July and November. This is a period when the water level of the Mekong River rises significantly due to heavy rainfall. This flood season is a natural phenomenon essential for the ecological balance of the Mekong Delta.

If the flood is moderate, it is a blessing for the inhabitants of the delta. The waters overflow the banks, bringing alluvium to the fields and regenerating the river ecosystem. At this time, everything seems to have new life.

Fishing during flood season in the Mekong Delta
Fishing during flood season in the Mekong Delta

The arrival of floodwaters brings an abundance of produce such as fish, shrimp, and crab, as well as crops such as sesbania flower and water lily. These ingredients are essential in the region's meals during the flood season, offering delicious and authentic dishes.

Unique Mekong Delta ingredients, authentic meal of locals
Unique Mekong Delta ingredients, authentic meal of local

Farmers are also taking advantage of this opportunity by adopting the flooded farming model, which allows them to partially increase their income. The production activities and daily lives of residents during the flood season contribute to the richness and diversity, creating a colorful characteristic for the culture of the Mekong Delta. 

The joy of a bountiful harvest of fish
The joy of a bountiful harvest of fish

7. How to get around the Mekong Delta?

In the Mekong Delta region, whether in large cities or growing central areas, travel is generally carried out in the same way as in other parts of Vietnam. There are the usual means of transport such as motorbike, bicycle, car, and others. 

However, for the slightly more distant regions, daily life in the Mekong Delta is closely linked to river navigation and the commercial activities that result from it. Indeed, transport, just like commerce, depends largely on the use of boats, ferries, etc. 

Daily life in the Mekong Delta is closely linked to river navigation
Daily life in the Mekong Delta is closely linked to river navigation

In rural areas, the landscape transforms into a dense network of canals, where roads are not as developed as in the city. This is why residents mainly use boats to navigate along the small canals.

The lives of the inhabitants of the Mekong Delta
The lives of the inhabitants of the Mekong Delta are closely linked to rivers, canals,...

>>> Ready for a Trip? Let's explore the Vietnam 2-week itinerary with amazing Mekong Delta destinations

8. What is daily life like in this region?

In big cities, life is developing like in other regions of Vietnam. However, a typical scene of this region is still that of boats carrying rice, sand, or even fruits and vegetables, sailing peacefully on the rivers and canals. Along with modern infrastructure, the area is mostly crisscrossed by rivers and canals, making it easy to find those peaceful images.

Sa Dec Flower Village
Sa Dec Flower Village

This characteristic of moving on rivers and canals has also shaped the culture of floating markets, where all trade takes place on board boats. Additionally, the homes in this area are equally unique. As we descend towards the south of the Mekong Delta, we discover more and more intertwined channels. With a distinctive topography, the dwellings here present a distinctly different architecture from those in other regions.

the houses here have a distinctly different architecture
With a typical topography, the houses here have a distinctly different architecture from those in other regions

Another interesting fact is that children in the Mekong Delta experienced a time when development was not as advanced as it is today. To them, the “supermarket” was a boatload of snacks brought back from town. These little floating boats were a source of delight for children.

During your next trip to the Mekong Delta, don't miss a boat trip. This experience goes far beyond a simple excursion, it is a complete immersion in the life of the Mekong Delta! 

9. Mekong Delta, fruit paradise

The Mekong Delta is truly a fruit paradise, thanks in large part to the rich alluvium deposited by the Mekong River. This fertile region of southern Vietnam benefits from a tropical climate ideal for growing a wide variety of exotic fruits.

In these lush orchards, fruits are abundant such as mangoes, rambutans, sapodilla, guavas, pomelos, longans, and many more. Fruit trees thrive in these fertile soils, resulting in bountiful harvests throughout the year.

Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is truly a fruit paradise

Fruits play a vital role in the culture and economy of this region, not only providing fruits to the entire country but also exporting them around the world. 

Looking for an unforgettable taste escape? The Mekong Delta is the perfect place to satisfy your taste buds with an explosion of fruity flavors. Come and enjoy the exquisite fruits of the Mekong Delta on your next visit!

Mekong Delta, fruit paradise
Mekong Delta, fruit paradise

10. How is Mekong Delta cuisine different from other regions of Vietnam?

The cuisine of the Mekong Delta has a unique particularity, marked by sweeter flavors than in the rest of the regions of Vietnam. The people of this region cherish their affection for sweets and generously add sugar to almost all their dishes.

Another feature appreciated by Mekong Delta residents is the abundant use of coconut milk in their recipes, whether for everyday dishes or sweet cakes and soups.

>>> Get more details about Vietnamese cuisine at Discover the Top Vietnamese Dishes to Try in Each Region!

Grilled banana with coconut milk: a delicacy from the Mekong Delta
Grilled banana with coconut milk: a delicacy from the Mekong Delta

The abundant presence of coconuts in the region, particularly in the Ben Tre coconut grove , probably explains why people here make such heavy use of coconut products, such as coconut water, coconut milk and coconut leaves, in cooking.

The abundant presence of coconuts in the Mekong region
The abundant presence of coconuts in the Mekong region

The Mekong Delta is also famous for its folk cakes. These sweet delights, often artistically crafted, are an integral part of celebrations and festivities in the region. An emblematic event of this craze is the Southwest Folk Cake Festival, which takes place every year in Can Tho. 

11. What is the traditional costume characteristic of this region?

The emblematic traditional costume of the Mekong Delta is the “bà ba shirt”. This shirt features a stand-up collar and is cleverly divided into two parts at the front, accented with a row of buttons, creating a charming aesthetic from the neck to the stomach.

The Ba Ba shirt is not exclusively reserved for women, because men also wear it. However, there are design differences between Ba Ba shirts for men and those for women. For men, the Ba Ba shirt usually has two large pockets in the front, while women's shirts have smaller pockets. Both versions of the shirt are characterized by a loose and comfortable fit.

The “bà ba shirt”
The “bà ba shirt”, an emblematic traditional costume of the Mekong Delta

To harmonize their outfit, people often like to pair the Ba Ba shirt with long black fabric pants that go down to the ankle. This combination creates a practice, adapted to the hot climate of the Mekong Delta.

Additionally, certain accessories are often added to complete the style. The most used is the traditional scarf, generally black and white. It can be used as a scarf or to cover the head.

This is the “bà ba” shirt and the traditional scarf of the Mekong Delta
This is the “bà ba” shirt and the traditional scarf of the Mekong Delta

12. What is the iconic artistic and cultural treasure of the Mekong Delta?

The iconic artistic and cultural treasure of the Mekong Delta is “Don ca tai tu”. It is a musical art with both scholarly and popular roots deeply anchored in the soul of the population of southern Vietnam. The enchanting harmonies of his music and songs echo the living landscapes of the fields and rivers of the Mekong Delta. 

The name "đon ca tai tu", literally meaning "amateur music and singing", reflects its entertaining nature for everyone, regardless of social class. This music is performed with a variety of instruments such as the moon-shaped lute, two-stringed violin, sixteen-stringed zither, pear-shaped lute, percussion instrument, monochord, and flute in bamboo.

Born in the late 19th century in the south of the country, đờn ca tài tử is an ingenious fusion between the ceremonial and court tunes of Hue and the sweet, intimate melodies of the countryside and river gardens of the Mekong Delta.

Don Ca Tai Tu show with traditional bà ba shirts
Don Ca Tai Tu show with traditional bà ba shirts

The captivating show of Don Ca Tai Tu integrates the harmony of instruments, lyrics and performances, enhanced by traditional southern costumes, such as the famous "Bà Ba" shirt, a distinctive symbol of the inhabitants of this region.

In 2013, UNESCO recognized Don ca tai tu as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity, making it the 8th intangible cultural heritage of Vietnam to receive this honor and be protected internationally.

The people of the Mekong Delta are very friendly
The people of the Mekong Delta are very friendly

Our last words,

We hope that the information presented in this article will help you better understand and gain perspective on the Mekong Delta. If you would like to discover the must-see places in this region, as well as the activities not to be missed and all the practical information on the weather, we warmly invite you to consult the following article: Complete guide for an unforgettable trip to the Mekong Delta.

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>>> Discover more attractive destinations in Southern Vietnam:


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