Homestay in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta
A trip to the Mekong Delta is one of the best things you can do when visiting Vietnam. Except, most travelers go to one of the dozens of travel agencies in the backpacker’s district and pay too much for a trip that makes you feel like you’re apart of herd of cattle being roped from one place to the next. We’ve been to the Delta a few times and have finally figured out the secret to the BEST TRIP you can take there! The answer is, Phuoc and his family’s homestay.
Phuoc is one of the nicest men you’ll meet in Vietnam. He lived in Saigon a few years ago and worked as a travel guide for tourists so his English is great, and along with his family he runs a great little homestay in the Delta. It’s seriously one of the best things we’ve done in our year and a half living in Vietnam. We were lucky to find his homestay on one of our “cattle herding” tourist trips through the Delta we were being shuffled by his homestay when I darted over to him said, “Wow, this place is amazing! Can I have your card? I’m definitely coming back to stay here!” A few months later I sent him an email and asked if we could come stay, and he was as thrilled and as happy to have us as we were to be there! Rhys and I were the first people to contact him directly (and not through a tour company) asking to come stay. We were treated like royalty, his family is so sweet.
Included in the price of the homestay ($10/night per person) you get dinner and breakfast and a bicycle tour around the Delta. The area around his home is so beautiful, huge palm trees sprout from the banks of canals, tiny canoes scattered everywhere, and the locals welcome you with the biggest smile and wave. The meals are out of this world delicious. Phuoc treated us to the Mekong’s signature fish an Elephant Ear Fish. It’s really popular to eat in the South and only found in the Mekong Delta. The food is amazing and as authentic as you can get! If you like to cook, you can even help his family cook dinner. I opted out of cooking and choose to take a nap in one of the many hammocks scattered around his home. Lazing in a hammock with a good book, life doesn’t get much better!
Guests can also choose to pay extra and hire a boat for the afternoon ($20-30 for the boat, not per/person) to explore the canals around Phuoc’s home. Again, you don’t have to, but it’s a great way to explore more of the Delta. You will have a guide and they will take you all over and you’ll get a great idea of how the people there live and how they make things like coconut candy. It’s really interesting, but after about 3 stops we were over the tourist thing and wanted back to our hammocks!
How to get there:
You will need to get a mini-van from Saigon to Ben Tre. The minivan station is near Windsor Plaza Hotel in District 5. The company is called Thao Chau and is on Su Van Hanh Street (the number is 0838339954). They operate out of a small store nearby the hotel. People do speak English who work there, so you can give them a call and reserve tickets or just show up. Minivans run every 30-60 minutes. Tell the company you want to go to Ben Tre and get out at Hung Vuong Hotel where Phuoc will be waiting to pick you up. He will take you back to his house by boat, it’s $10 for the boat ride to his house ($10 total, not per/person) It’s a really nice ride!
To make reservations with Phuoc you can send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org , and his number is 0903100055. Make sure to tell him that Rhys and I said hello too!
I promise you’ll have an amazing time. He’s an awesome guy, food is incredible, and you don’t have to worry about being ripped off by damn travel agents! It’s one of the best opprptunities you will have to sit down with a Vietnamese person and talk about life over rice wine. We talked about the war and how his family was affected, how life is so simple and easy in the Delta, and how crazy the city life is in Saigon! If you go, I’d love to hear how your time was there.