Photo: Hanging out in Ben Tre's wet market.

The Mekong Delta forms the far southern region of Vietnam and is the rice bowl of the country. Dominated by the Mekong River and its many tributaries, the surrounding lands are a waterworld comprised of low-lying paddies and rivers bordered by dense mangroves and palms. The tributaries form a vast, dizzying network of canals and channels and for the independent traveller, these waterways are a great way to explore the Mekong Delta, best done at a leisurely pace.

Down to onward travel

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You could easily spend a month exploring this part of Vietnam, yet the vast bulk of travellers spend no more than a handful of days here, generally as a part of a hurried tour organised out of Saigon. If you do it yourself, the journey will take longer, it will cost more and it won’t be quite so comfortable — but you won’t be stuck in a prepackaged bubble throughout the region and chances are you’ll get to meet some ordinary people. See our Mekong Delta primer for the best way to tackle it independently.

Phu Quoc Island is developing rapidly and considerable steps are being taken to make it into the next big thing in Southeast Asian tourism. A new airport, paved roads, a slew of construction and a rare visa exemption deal for select nationals are being thrown in to sweeten the pot and lure Asian travellers.

The island’s dozen bays, fishing villages and pretty beaches are begging to be explored by motorbike. Phu Quoc will do the trick for beach bums looking for a fancy resort, budget digs or something in between.

Highlights

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