Mỹ Tho is located in the Mekong Delta region of South Vietnam, this city is known for the local soup ‘hủ tiếu Mỹ Tho’. It’s popular with tourists who stop here for boat trips on the Mỹ Tho river and surrounding canals which is part of the Mekong Delta river network.
We decided to spend a full day in My Tho (two nights) so that we could take a boat tour of this part of the Mekong Delta – Eddie had read up a little online and it appeared to be a fairly straightforward operation of walking along the riverbank and haggling for a good price with the tour boats, and sure enough this is what we did.
After a substantial brunch in a large riverside restaurant, and after waiting for a downpour of rain to pass, we walked along the riverside and turned left past a large statue where we saw a few boats anchored. We negotiated a price of 450,000 VND for a private boat with a super friendly boatman and hopped straight on the boat ready to set sail.
The first stop was to a river petrol station, which in itself we found pretty fascinating. Then it was a ten minute trip across the river to Dragon Island (Con Tan Long) and a bee farm where we got off the boat and sampled the local honey tea (made of tea, honey, royal jelly and pollen) and some sugared ginger, peanut brittle and honey-dried bananas, so delicious!
After the honey tea we were escorted over to see a pet Python – we could have held it but our nerves gave out and we just stroked it instead – very smooth and um, cold!
We then walked back to the boat and set sail back up the river for ten minutes or so and the next stop was to Unicorn Island (Con Thoi Son), our first stop here was at a coconut sweet making hut where our guide showed us each of the stages of making the natural coconut sweets, it was really interesting to see each of the stages and the tools that are used.
We then walked out of the sweet hut and past some market stalls, into a large seated area where two traditional guitarists were playing to local women singing traditional Vietnamese songs. They were all hooked up to an amplifier which gave off a tinny sound and a few screeches, but nevertheless we were impressed by the skills of the musicians and singers. We sat there for around 15 minutes and were given local fruit to eat which was all pretty good – we even unknowingly ate durian fruit and it tasted pretty good – how confusing!
After leaving the musicians we then walked up the path further to a very small jetty onto a Mekong canal, we were ushered into a long canoe boat and then an elderly couple rowed us down the canal and through the palms, reeds and mangroves. The canals are right-hand driven and extremely busy so we were in a long procession of boats heading towards the river. The trip lasted for around 20 minutes and when we reached the river our boatman was waiting to pick us up – we jumped out of the canal onto a small floating pier in the river, then back onto our boat – that was all pretty exciting!
For the last part of the tour our boatman took us over to the sanctuary on Phoenix Island (Con Phung), where we disembarked and walked through the buildings of the Coconut Monk (Ong Dao Dua). His religion, Tinh Do Cu Si, was a mix of Buddhism and Christianity. The sanctuary has beautifully kept gardens and a crocodile sanctuary where Eddie fed the infant crocs some chicken at the end of a fishing line – apparently they are super strong already with a tight jaw grip. There are also large ponds of carp fish and some that look like sharks too.
After our tour of the island it was time for light refreshments (we declined lunch after our mammoth brunch!) before jumping back on the boat and heading back to My Tho. All up, the tour lasted for around three hours and was thoroughly enjoyable.
Back to My Tho
We arrived back to My Tho mid-afternoon and had a stroll about the city where we walked past some huge government buildings and a hospital before reaching the busier central shopping area. It was a very hot afternoon so after an hour or two of walking and collecting a few essentials (new bungee cords to replace snapped cords and freshly squeezed orange juice) we walked back to our hotel room and chilled for a while.
For dinner, we noticed a fancy looking outdoor restaurant next door to our hotel, so we got ready and headed straight over. Dinner was fried calamari, diced beef and morning glory washed down with local beer, an excellent meal.