Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City - Stein Travel
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Mekong Delta

The delta is a vast network of waterways formed by the Mekong River, and the surrounding fertile patchwork of endless green rice paddies, orchards and swamplands is where most of the country's rice is grown. Not only does the Mekong River irrigate what is known as 'the rice bowl of Vietnam', but it also serves as a vital form of transport. A unique way of life has evolved among the villagers that have lived on or beside the river for centuries. The best way to experience the delta is by boat, joining the rowing boats and fishermen, rickety houseboats, ferries and traditional sampans on the brown water. On the banks are small villages, vegetable gardens, fish farms and stilted houses. Trading is carried out between boats at floating markets, where whole sections of the river are covered by bobbing merchants who publicize their wares hung from the top of a long bamboo pole. There are several towns in the region from where visitors can arrange boat trips if not already on an organised tour. Try to avoid the rainy season as the tides may be too high for canal travel. Local food dishes are a speciality and besides seafood there are opportunities for the adventurous to sample such delights as snake, eels and bats.

Information & Facts

Language

The official language in Vietnam is Vietnamese. Some Chinese, English and French are spoken. Tour guides can also speak Russian and Japanese. Numerous ethnic languages are also spoken in parts.

Money

The official currency is the Dông (VND). There are no smaller denominations. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change, hotels and on the black market. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are becoming more widely acceptable, particularly in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, but it is best not to rely on them elsewhere. It is recommended that visitors bring travellers cheques in US Dollars, which can be cashed at major banks in the main cities and tourist areas. US currency acts as unofficial tender and is useful as a back-up when banks won't cash travellers cheques outside the main cities, but notes must be relatively new and unmarked. Dông can be withdrawn from ATMs, which are becoming more widespread.

Time

Local time in Vietnam is GMT +7.

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