Beginning in the early 17th century, colonization of the area by Vietnamese settlers gradually isolated the Khmer of the Mekong Delta from their brethren in Cambodia proper and resulted in their becoming a minority in the delta.
Prey Nokor was the most important commercial seaport to the Khmers. The city’s name was changed by Vietnam to Sài Gòn and then Hồ Chí Minh City. The loss of the city prevented the Cambodians access to the South China Sea. Subsequently, the Khmers' access to the sea was now limited to the Gulf of Thailand. It began as a small fishing village known as Prey Nokor. The area that the city now occupies was originally swampland, and was inhabited by Khmer people for centuries before the arrival of the Vietnamese.
In 1623, King Chey Chettha II of Cambodia (1618-1628) allowed Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trịnh-Nguyễn War in Vietnam to settle in the area of Prey Nokor, and to set up a custom house at Prey Nokor. Increasing waves of Vietnamese settlers, which the Cambodian kingdom, weakened because of war with Thailand, could not impede, slowly Vietnamized the area. In time, Prey Nokor became known as Saigon.
In 1698, Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh, a Vietnamese noble, was sent by the Nguyen rulers of Huế to establish Vietnamese administrative structures in the area, thus detaching the area from Cambodia, which was not strong enough to intervene. Since 1698, the area has been firmly under Vietnamese administration. The Vietnamese became the majority population in most places.
When independence was granted to French Indochina in 1954, the Mekong Delta was included in the state of South Vietnam, despite protests from Cambodia. In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge regime attacked Vietnam in an attempt to reconquer those areas of the delta still predominantly inhabited by Khmer Krom people, but this military adventure was a total disaster and precipitated the invasion of Cambodia by the Vietnamese army and subsequent downfall of the Khmer Rouge, with Vietnam occupying Cambodia.
Click itinerary day to expand
We’ll rendezvous at your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City and have a quick transfer to Cailay. Then, we’ll take back roads to Cai Be, where we’ll board a boat to Can Tho Island. We’ll spend some time visiting artisans; we’ll watch coconut candy making, rice paper making, and popcorn/ popped rice making. Then, we’ll enjoy lunch on the island before continuing on to our local home stay run by a lovely retired couple, Mr. & Mrs. Bay. The Bay’s live in a typical Mekong delta Vietnamese house, with airy rooms and an outdoor kitchen. The rest of the afternoon you’re free to bike around the home stay.Day 01: Ho Chi Minh City - Cai Be - Vinh Long 25km+ (L)
After breakfast with the Bays, we’ll have a short boat trip to Vinh Long, one of the famous fruit towns in the Mekong. In Vinh Long, we’ll bike along narrow country lanes through tiny orchards. You’ll witness colorful life along the riverside, as you pedal past picturesque delta homes and villages. Easy Indochina Bike Tours’ll cross narrow canals on a local sampan, before boarding a ferry for a refreshing boat trip across the expansive Co Chien River. Then, we’ll ride the final few kilometers to the very pretty Khmer town of Travinh. There will be plenty of time to explore side tracks and trails, as the cycling distance for the day is not far. We’ll stay overnight at a local hotel in Tra Vinh.
On the third day, our ride will be very special; much of the area is populated by Khmer people. The regional architecture is interesting and there are many Khmer temples to stop and admire en route. You will have the freedom to cycle as much or as little as you prefer; the road is peaceful, narrow and very pretty all the way to Can Tho! We’ll cycle to Ba Om Pond to see its magnificent lotus flowers, and observe local women having their futures predicted in the small temple nearby. En route, we’ll also stop to visit a local Buddhist temple school. We’ll stay in Can Tho overnight.
We’ll spend the morning riding to Phong Dien where we’ll board a boat to visit the Cai Rang floating market. It’s a fun boat ride as we weave through teeming early morning market bustle along the banks of an active riverfront. Then, Vietnam Bike Tours’ll continue by bike on the narrow lane and loop round to the main road. Along the way you’ll absorb sights of endless cottage industries, timber merchants, coconut shredders, and small docks loading/unloading rice. Lunch will be held at a local restaurant before heading back 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, ferry & speedboat tickets
- Airport transfer in/out
- 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
- Personal expenses