Mekong delta

Mekong delta

Things to do - general

The Mekong Delta, as a region, lies immediately to the west of Ho Chi Minh City (also called Saigon by locals), roughly forming a triangle stretching fromMỹ Tho in the east to Châu Đốc and Hà Tiên in the northwest, down to Cà Mau and the South China Sea at the southernmost tip of Vietnam, and including the island of Phú Quốc. The Mekong Delta (Vietnamese: Đồng bằng Sông Cửu Long “Nine Dragon river delta”), also known as the Western Region (Vietnamese: Miền Tây) is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. The Mekong delta region encompasses a large portion of southwestern Vietnam of 39,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi). The size of the area covered by water depends on the season.

The Mekong Delta has recently been dubbed as a “biological treasure trove”. Over 10,000 new species have been discovered in previously unexplored areas of Mekong Delta, including a species of rat thought to be extinct

The Mekong Delta region of Vietnam displays a variety of physical landscapes, but is dominated by flat flood plains in the south, with a few hills in the north and west. This diversity of terrain was largely the product of tectonic uplift and folding brought about by the collision of the Indian and Eurasiantectonic plates about 50 million years ago. The soil of the lower Delta consists mainly of sediment from the Mekong and its tributaries, deposited over thousands of years as the river changed its course due to the flatness of the low-lying terrain.

The Mekong Delta is the region with the smallest forest area in Vietnam. 300,000 hectares (740,000 acres) or 7.7% of the total area are forested as of 2011. The only provinces with large forests are Cà Mau Province and Kiên Giang Province, together accounting for two thirds of the region’s forest area, while forests cover less than 5% of the area of all of the other eight provinces and cities.

The inhabitants of the Mekong Delta region are predominantly ethnic Viet. The region, formerly part of the Khmer Empire, is also home to the largest population ofKhmers outside of the modern borders of Cambodia. The Khmer minority population live primarily in the Trà Vinh, Sóc Trăng, and Muslim Chăm in Tan Chau, An Giang provinces. There are also sizeable Hoa (ethnic Chinese) populations in the Kiên Giang, and Trà Vinh provinces. The region had a population of 17.33 million people in 2011.

The population of the Mekong Delta has been growing relatively slowly in recent years, mainly due to out-migration. The region’s population only increased by 471,600 people between 2005 and 2011, while 166,400 people migrated out in 2011 alone. Together with the central coast regions, it has one of the slowest growing populations in country. Population growth rates have been between 0.3% and 0.5% between 2008 and 2011, while they have been over 2% in the neighbouring southeastern region.[10] Net migration has been negative in all of these years. The region also has a relatively low fertility rate, at 1.8 children per woman in 2010 and 2011, down from 2.0 in 2005.

The most interesting thing to do in Mekong is take a boat ride through canals and visit the floating markets are a very lively scene, accommodating much of the goods exchange throughout the area, and can be quite freely visited on board smaller boat. Followings are some of the most visited floating market of the area. -Cai Rang floating market is the main wholesale floating market near Can Tho. It is better going there early (as early as 06:00), and come back through the small tributaries to Can Tho river; about 1 - 2 hours. -Phong Dien floating market is further upstream the Can Tho river, and worth seeing as it is a retail market. It is very active at dawn, but slows down early too, so you may want to go there by land. The arroyos back to Can Tho are also very much worth a ride on a small boat.

 cairang floating market cairang floating market

Mekong cairang floating market

-Phung Hiep is much farther away, in the neighboring Hau Giang province, but deserves a trip if you are going to stay more than a few days, as it is always bustling with activity.

-Tra On in Vinh Long province, is just over an hour downstream the Bassac (the lower Mekong branch, also called Hau Giang or Sông Hau). It is a small floating village's market anchored near the clouds' island (Cu Lao May).

-Canals The canal system around Can Tho is a fascinating travel network, much more relaxed than the bustling roads. Taking a small row boat (probably with a small diesel motor as well) that can lead us through the small canals that the larger tour boats can't navigate.

-Outside of the town is the stork garden at Thot Not where hundreds of egrets, herons and cormorants gather in the treetops to roost late in the afternoon. -Can Tho is usually combined with the trip to Chau Doc, a little town near Cambodian border

Culture and history info

The Mekong Delta was likely inhabited long since prehistory; the empire of Funan and later Chenla maintained a presence in the Mekong Delta for centuries. Archaeological discoveries at Oc Eo and other Funan sites shows that the area was an important part of the Funan Kingdom, bustling with trading ports and canals as early as in the first century C.E. and extensive human settlement in the region may have gone back as far as the 4th century B.C.E.

The region was known as Khmer Krom (lower Khmer, or lower Cambodia) to the Khmer Empire, which likely maintained settlements there centuries before its rise in the 11th and 12th centuries. The kingdom of Champa, though mainly based along the coast of the South China Sea, is known to have expanded west into the Mekong Delta, seizing control of Prey Nokor (the precursor to modern-day Ho Chi Minh City) by the end of the 13th century. Author Nghia M. Vo suggests that a Cham presence may indeed have existed in the area prior to Khmer occupation.

Beginning in the 1620s, Khmer king Chey Chettha II (1618-1628) allowed the Vietnamese to settle in the area, and to set up a custom house at Prey Nokor, which they colloquially referred to as Sài Gòn. The increasing waves of Vietnamese settlers which followed overwhelmed the Khmer kingdom—weakened as it was due to war with Thailand—and slowly Vietnamized the area. During the late 17th century, Mac Cuu, a Chinese anti-Qing general, began to expand Vietnamese and Chinese settlements deeper into Khmer lands, and in 1691, Prey Nokor was occupied by the Vietnamese.
Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh, a Vietnamese noble, was sent by the Nguyễn Lords of Huế by sea in 1698 to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the area. This act formally detached the Mekong Delta from Cambodia, placing the region firmly under Vietnamese administrative control. Cambodia was cut off from access to the South China Sea, and trade through the area was possible only with Vietnamese permission.[2] During the Tay Son wars and the subsequent Nguyễn Dynasty, Vietnam's boundaries were pushed as far as the Cape of Ca Mau. In 1802, Nguyễn Ánh crowned himself emperor Gia Long and unified all the territories comprising modern Vietnam, including the Mekong Delta.

Upon the conclusion of the Cochinchina Campaign in the 1860s, the area became Cochinchina, France's first colony in Vietnam, and later, part of French Indochina. Beginning during the French colonial period, the French patrolled and fought on the waterways of the Mekong Delta region with their Divisions navales d'assaut (Dinassaut), a tactic which lasted throughout the First Indochina War, and was later employed by the US Navy Mobile Riverine Force. During the Vietnam War—also referred to as the Second Indochina War—the Delta region saw savage fighting between Viet Cong (NLF) guerrillas and units of the United States Navy's swift boats and hovercrafts (PACVs).

Following independence from France, the Mekong Delta was part of the Republic of Vietnam and eventually the country of Vietnam. In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge regime attacked Vietnam in an attempt to reconquer the Delta region. This campaign precipitated the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia and subsequent downfall of the Khmer Rouge.

Unfortunately there are no accommodations at this location at the moment.

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