Highlight: The difficulty of navigating the river has meant that it has divided, rather than united, the people who live near it. The earliest known settlements date to 2100 BCE, with Ban Chiang being an excellent example of that early Iron Age culture. The earliest recorded civilization was the 1st century Indianised-Khmer culture of Funan, in the Mekong Delta. Excavations at Oc Eo, near modern An Giang, have found coins from as far away as the Roman Empire. This was succeeded by the Khmer culture Chenla state by around the 5th century. The Khmer empire of Angkor was the last great Indianized state in the region. From around the time of the fall of the Khmer empire, the Mekong was the frontline between the emergent states of Siam and Tonkin (North Vietnam), with Laos and Cambodia, then situated on the coast, torn between their influence.
The first European to encounter the Mekong was the Portuguese Antonio de Faria in 1540; a European map of 1563 depicts the river, although even by then little was known of the river upstream of the delta. European interest was sporadic: the Spaniards and Portuguese mounted some missionary and trade expeditions, while the Dutch Gerrit van Wuysthoff led an expedition up the river as far as Vientiane in 1641–42.
The French took a serious interest in the region in the mid-19th century, capturing Saigon in 1861, and establishing a protectorate over Cambodia in 1863.
Click itinerary day to expand
In the morning we’ll drive from Ho Chi Minh City to Cai Lay. From there, we’ll cycle to Cai Be. In Cai Be, we’ll take a boat trip along the mighty tributaries of the Mekong River to view the daily lives of those who work and live on the waterways of the Mekong Delta. We’ll take some time to visit the unique "floating" market at Cai Be, and see a family-run business producing rice paper - a key ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. Lunch will be held on an island mid-river, in a local house set amongst fruit orchards and bonsai trees. Then, Vietnam Bike tours’ll enjoy a performance of traditional Vietnamese music. After lunch, Vietnam Bike Tours’ll continue riding to An Binh Island. Along the way we’ll enjoy the peaceful scenes of farmers seeding, ploughing, and harvesting their fields.
We’ll stay overnight in Vinh Long.
In the morning, we’ll visit craft industries and see local residents make tofu, floor tiles, and bricks. Then, we’ll ride to Can Tho and spend the afternoon at a fruit market.
We’ll stay overnight in Can Tho.
We’ll take a morning boat ride from the Ninh Kieu dock in Can Tho to visit the teeming floating market at Cai Rang. Then, we’ll ride on small tracks and stop at a fruit orchard to taste some of the succulent fruits of the Mekong Delta. We’ll enjoy lunch en-route to Ho Chi Minh City to end the trip.
- Air-conditioned bus
- Support vehicle to carry gear, luggage, first aid
- English speaking tour guide
- Entrance fees
- Boat trips and ferries
- Pick up & drop off at your hotel
- Meals as mentioned (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- All biking gear (bike, helmet, tool kit, water cage)
- Water, snacks, soft drinks, and fresh fruit on cycling days
- Travel insurance
- Airport transfer in/out
- Personal expenses