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An Honest Review of the Mekong Delta Day Tours from Saigon

December 24, 2023
10 Min Read
Women wearing a conical hat on sampan boats in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam
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An Honest Review of the Mekong Delta Day Tours from Saigon
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December 25, 2023
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During our many years of living in Vietnam, we've become a bit wary of the typical day tours that involve hours of transport and have “tourist trap” written all over them. This includes day tours to the Mekong Delta, a vast region brimming with culture and life. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that a day barely scratches the surface.

But when our friends came to visit, wanting a taste of something beyond the buzzing streets of Ho Chi Minh City, we thought, "Why not?” So, we joined them on a day tour of the Mekong Delta.

If you're planning a day trip to the Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh City, here's our detailed guide to everything you need to know! We’ve included what you can expect on the tour, the typical schedule, and our review of the tour company we chose.

Find out if the Mekong Delta day tour from Saigon is worth your time in this honest review.

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Mekong Delta Day Trip Itinerary

Here is the specific itinerary for the tour we booked with Joy Journeys. This is also what a typical itinerary entails for most of the Mekong Delta day trips from Saigon.

Don’t have time to read the whole article? Our recommended Mekong Delta tour from Saigon is Joy Journeys “Authentic Experience” day tour.

A woman wearing a conical hat on a sampan boat in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Saigon to Mekong Delta

Most tours will have a van that picks up guests staying in hotels located in District 1 or 4. If you’re staying outside of these areas, you will be asked to head to a pick-up point in District 1. From Saigon, it takes about 2 hours to get to My Tho, depending on the traffic.

A woman wearing a conical hat on a sampan boat in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Vinh Trang Pagoda

The first stop of the day is the Vinh Trang Pagoda, the largest Buddhist temple in My Tho. You can walk around the beautifully decorated structure of the temple. It is also possible to go inside, but be respectful, as it is still a place of worship and there will be monks praying.


Vinh Trang Pagoda in My Tho, Vietnam

A huge statue of a sitting Buddha and a reclining Buddha can be found outside the temple. The complex also has a lovely garden where you can walk around.


Vinh Trang Pagoda is one of the most visited temples in the region and a popular stop on many Mekong tours, so expect some crowds.

We were only given 30 minutes to walk around the temple. The complex is beautiful and quite big, so we would've preferred some more time to wander around. Our van was one of the first to arrive, and it was noticeably busier when we were leaving.

Interested in visiting temples in the Mekong Delta Region in Vietnam? Read our guide to the best temples in An Giang Province.

A monk at Vinh Trang Pagoda in Vietnam

Island Tour: Unicorn Island

From the temple, you’ll head to the My Tho tourist boat station and visit one or more of the islands in the Mekong River. There are four islands you can visit: Tortoise Island, Dragon Island, Phoenix Island, and Unicorn Island.

To get to the boat, we had to walk past dozens of vendors selling souvenirs. They were not pushy, but we did notice that the snacks and drinks were double in price. This is to be expected in such a touristy place.

Colorful boats in My Tho, Vietnam

We visited Thoi Son islet, also known as Unicorn Island, which took about 15 minutes by boat. And no, you won’t find unicorns on the island! What you will see, though, is a representation of the local life of the people in the Mekong. They grow their own food and harvest their locally produced honey.

A woman sits on her sampam boat in Vietnam

Fruit Tasting

If you visit Unicorn Island, you’ll get a selection of local fruits to try, such as dragon fruit, pineapple, guava, jackfruit, and sapodilla. You’ll also be treated to the locals singing traditional Southern Vietnamese music, also known as Đờn ca tài tử.

We were served different kinds of fruits to taste, and the singing was a nice treat. Towards the end, a tip box was placed on each table, but it was completely optional, and we didn't feel pressured to do so.

Bee Farm

You’ll walk around the island for a little bit and head to a local bee farm, where the beekeepers showcase their bees and let you taste the local honey tea. You can also purchase honey products from the farm. During our visit, a 300-ml bottle of honey cost about 9 USD.


A bee colony at a bee farm in Vietnam

Local Garden

Just across the honey farm, there's a garden where you can find locally grown plants and flowers.

There’s nothing special about the garden, but there’s a souvenir shop that sells locally produced chocolate. They sell many kinds of flavors, and you can have a taste before buying. A bar of chocolate costs about 14 USD each. 

A wooden frame displaying locally produced chocolate in Vietnam

Floating Fishing Farm

From Unicorn Island, you will take a boat to a floating fishing farm close by and observe the traditional methods by which the locals farm their fish.


During our visit, we couldn’t find the owner of the farm, so we ended up just seeing the farm set up from the boat. 

A floating fish farm in My Tho, Vietnam

Boat Rowing

The highlight of any trip to the Mekong River is rowing on a sampan boat through the coconut mangroves. There were a few canals in the area, and the canal you'll visit depends on the tour you've booked.

For us, we got on the boat at one of the furthest canals in Ben Tre, closer to the edge of Tortoise Island. There were no other boats around us, and it was very peaceful. We were on the water for about 10 minutes before we got back on the road.

Tip: Have some small cash on hand to tip your local rower.

Women wearing a conical hat on sampan boats in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Set Lunch

After the boat ride, you’ll walk around the countryside before you take a tuk-tuk to reach the lunch spot. Most of the tours will take you to the same restaurants. We visited a local family who served us lunch.

A woman prepares lunch in Vietnam

There were only two groups at the dining area, which was very calm compared to the places we saw nearby. We ate our filling lunch next to the canals, and we saw many small boats passing by. It was much busier compared to our boat experience.

A table filled with food, including fish and rice.


After lunch, you have the chance to explore the surrounding area by bicycle. You’ll ride around small country roads surrounded by coconut trees, which give you a taste of life in the Mekong Delta.

Coconut Candy

After the bicycle ride, you’ll hop on a motorized boat through the coconut mangroves. You’ll pass multiple restaurants where flocks of tourists have lunch. The boat will take you to a famous factory where they make coconut candy.

You can taste the candy, and it is, of course, possible to buy some. We found the place very touristy, as most tours end here before taking the boat back to My Tho.

A man sits in the back of his tuk-tuk in My Tho, Vietnam

Van Transfer to Saigon

Once you get on the boat, you’ll be served some fresh coconut as you head to the boat station. This is the last leg of the journey before heading back to Saigon.

Tip: There is a toilet at the boat station you can use before taking the van back to Ho Chi Minh City.

A woman wearing a conical hat on a sampan boat in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Tour Review: Joy Journeys

Picking a day tour to the Mekong Delta can be daunting, with so many tour operators to choose from. Given its popularity, it is critical that you choose carefully to get the most out of your trip. 

Women wearing a conical hat on sampan boats in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

After thorough research, we chose Joy Journeys because of their high ratings online. The booking process was easy and seamless, and after much thought, we decided to go with their Classic “My Tho” Life one-day tour for a small group.

We got picked up at 7:30am and dropped off at 4:30pm. Overall, it was a 9-hour tour, and there were only 5 people in our group.

As mentioned when booking, their Classic Tour is a typical tour to the Mekong with itineraries similar to most of the tours being offered online.

However, what we liked best about the tour was that they tried their best to make sure that some of the places we visited were not as busy with tourists.

A man transports fish traps on a boat in Vietnam

Throughout the tour, we only encountered sizable crowds on two occasions: during our fruit tasting and at the coconut candy factory.

During the fruit tasting, a group of more than 15 tourists arrived with just one guide. The guide seemed overwhelmed, and the tour felt rushed, as they came in after us and left before us. This made us appreciate being on a smaller tour. 

A woman wearing a conical hat on a sampan boat in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

We also enjoyed the boat tour through the coconut mangroves. It was very peaceful, in comparison to most of the photos you’ll see online.

Women wearing a conical hat on sampan boats in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Do we Recommend Joy Journeys for Your Mekong trip?

Yes! It was an enjoyable day tour and definitely worth the trip from Ho Chi Minh City. Everything was well planned, and despite visiting some touristy areas, they tried their best to offer something different to their guests, which we appreciate.

A man on a boat looks at the camera, Vietnam

You’ll hear some horror stories about tourists getting forced into buying products during the tour, but this was not the case during our tour with Joy Journeys. Our guide was sensible, and there was no hard sell involved. In fact, he even told us to try the products first before buying them and gave us his recommendations.

Joy Journeys also offers a less-touristic and a more authentic experience, which is an 11-hour tour. We were actually thinking about taking this tour, but we were limited on time, so we opted for the shorter version instead.

Is the Mekong Delta Day Trip Worth it?

Overall, we would say yes.

We recommend a day trip to the Mekong from Ho Chi Minh City only if you have limited time in Vietnam. Do your research and find a good tour operator that will not only take you to less-touristy areas but also in smaller groups.

Otherwise, you'll be in for a tourist trap!

Tuk-tuks in My Tho, Vietnam

To really experience the Mekong Delta, we recommend exploring it on your own and spending at least a few days in the area. It’s easier to get out of the touristy parts if you can drive a motorbike.

Otherwise, you can base yourself in a small town like Ben Tre and stay at a local homestay. From there, coordinate with your host to hire a local guide that can take you to places not catered to tourists. 

People on a boat navigating through canals lined with coconut trees.

There are plenty of beautiful places you can visit in the Mekong Delta, and a day trip does not really do justice.

With that in mind, know that rowing in the coconut mangroves is the highlight of any Mekong tour and thus is a touristy place on its own. It will be difficult to access these canals on your own unless you go on a tour.

If you’re staying in My Tho, it is also possible to go to the boat station and take a boat to the island. However, we do not recommend this, as you won’t be able to guarantee the number of people on your boat or which areas to visit.

Where to Next?
Cai Rang
People on boats trade watermelons at the Cai Rang floating market in Vietnam
Long Xuyen
Birds-eye view of blue boats laying along the shore in Long Xuyen, Vietnam
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And that’s our honest review of the Mekong Delta day trip from Ho Chi Minh City.

To put it simply, the Mekong Delta tours from Saigon are designed for visitors with limited time and are a great way to see local life along the Mekong River.

If you are looking for a more authentic experience in the Mekong, read our 4-Day Mekong Delta motorbike trip. This itinerary will take you to some of the most beautiful temples in the region, as well as some hidden gems along the way!

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Some links in this Mekong Delta Day Tour Guide may be affiliate links.

This means that if you make a purchase after clicking on one of our links, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please know that by doing so, you are supporting Colorful Journeys in continuing to provide free high quality content to help you in your travels!

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