Vietnamese People Pictures

Mekong Delta water bus, Vietnamese people, Southeast Asia

A Vietnamese water bus, the Mekong Delta, South Vietnam

Mekong River People

A Mekong Delta water taxi for Vietnamese people

A Mekong taxi.

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta is an immense fertile wetland, 40, 000 sq kms (15, 000 sq miles) on the southwest tip of the country, though you don’t have to take a boat to enjoy it – unless you go in September.

Getting there from Ho Chi Minh City is a straight 4 hour (170 km) drive down to Can Tho (which hosts a floating market), but there’s only one road and we all know about following agricultural machines on small roads!

However, for those flush with funds taking a speedboat from Saigon is an option. There may be a high speed ferry (again) soon doing this route, so check when you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City.

How to see/meet Vietnamese people

Mekong Delta stilt village, Vietnamese accommodation, Southeast Asia

Mekong accommodation ranges from the crude to the concrete.

The Mekong Delta offers a good example of Vietnamese agriculture lifestyle and the best places to visit are Vinh Long or Can Tho for the boat trip, Cai Rang for the floating market, Chau Doc for the boat houses or Soc Trang and Tra Vinh for Khmer pagodas.
There are also bird sanctuaries at Cao Lanh and Long Xuyen.
If you haven’t much time, try a short boat trip along My Tho, for just a taste of the Delta but you will still need 5-6 hours and it’s not recommended in September’s flood season.

Naturally tour operators in Saigon offer many Mekong tour options but do compare and question schedules as some tours deliver very poor value for money.
Another interesting alternative for serious travellers is to visit the Mekong en route to/from Cambodia, specifically Ho Chi Minh City – Phnom Penh.

And BTW, do not swim in the Mekong, there’s all sorts of disagreeable bacteria bubbling around.

Local Food

Mekong market Vietnamese women, Southeast Asia

. . . but the local people are relaxed and friendly, even if they are lacking in in the style of the Hmong.

Local Vietnamese cuisine is light, fresh, inexpensive, diverse and delightful. It’s less spicy than Thai food, and less oily than Chinese.
Fresh ingredients are always used with lots of herbs. The fish sauce ‘Nuoc-mam’ is deservedly famous.
Street food, especially Pho (noodle soup, in beef or chicken form) is definitely worth trying for seasoned travellers.
Each region has its own speciality – dog meat in the suburbs of Hanoi for instance. Excellent seafood is served everywhere, while Chinese or French influenced food is widely available, particularly in Hanoi and Saigon. Tourists will also enjoy fine local coffee and Asia’s best French bread. Cafe culture is well established, especially in Hanoi.

Hmong Tribes

Vietnamese Black Hmong tribal females, Vietnam

The Black H’mong (more of a navy blue? ).

The Hmong are rural people who live by agriculture and hunting, though they sometimes keep chickens, pigs and cows, for food but also sacrifices for shamanistic rituals. When times are hard the Hmong hunt for animals in the forests, such as squirrels, birds and rats and and fish in rivers.

Red Hmong tribal people, Vietnamese.

The Red H’mong. Photo by Guerinf.

Colourful Flower Hmong women, Vietnam, Southeast Asia

The Flower H’mong, mostly living in Vietnam’s northern hills. Photo by Brian Snelson

Sapa

Sapa is a remote town in the scenic northwest of the country where colourful hill tribes such as the Dao, H’mong, and Kinh people gather kaleidoscopically for market days. The famous Saturday market is inevitably touristy but still a dazzling experience.
380 km from Hanoi, it needs a 3 day trip to make it worthwhile.

The most colourful H'mong market at Can Cau in Sapa, Vietnam

The most colourful H’mong market in Vietnam takes place at Can Cau in Sapa. Photo by Arian Zwegers.

The H’mong culture crosses mere national boundaries and can be found in several Southeast Asian countries such as China, Thailand in addition to Laos and Vietnam. Traditionally the H’mong fought for/with countries at war with Vietnam, so the H’mong sided with both France and USA during those wars, unofficially and known as the secret war, suffering considerably as a consequence.