Picture this, a warm tropical climate surrounded by mango, jackfruit, and durian trees. The prices are low and the options are plenty. Welcome to the Mekong Delta. Located at the southern tip of Vietnam the Mekong Delta comprises an area about the size of Switzerland. The Mekong river flows through many islets providing good steady water supply to growing plants. The area is responsible for most of the fruit and vegetables eaten and sold around Vietnam. There is over 300,000 hectors of fruit orchards yet 90% of all fruit and specialty fruit grown is distributed and sold locally in Vietnam. When researching the typical cuisine of this region a pattern arises. Fresh tropical fruit is the must-try for all visitors and locals alike. I consider myself quite the fruit expert, but the mekong threw me a few surprises.
Located about 5 hours from Ho Chi Minh City the Mekong Delta is often visited by tourists on the way to Cambodia or on a day trip. The region is famous for it’s floating markets, coconut candy, rice fields, and tropical fruit gardens. Although the region borders Cambodia it was cheaper for us to return to Ho Chi Minh by bus and bus from there to Cambodia (it was a long night)
The Mekong Delta is an area where people would much rather lay on hammocks than sit on seats. Bus stops are filled with lines of hammocks as locals sway in the wind awaiting their transportation. Coconuts line the riverside and products made from them fill the stores. The Mekong Delta is the most vegan friendly area in terms of snack foods that we have seen in Vietnam. Coconut candy is everywhere (coconut, cane sugar, malt) as well as coconut ice cream, fresh coconuts, and much more coconut products. Rice-based snacks similar to what I had eaten in India were also popular such as steamed coconut and rice cakes, fresh rice noodles and cakes, even banana candy can be found anywhere.
The real treat is the price of fruit here. Fruit in vietnam surprised me and was not as cheap as I had hoped or expected. Many times no matter how good you are at bargaining the fruit sellers at markets simiply will not lower a rediciulous inflated price simply because I am a visible tourist. It can be extremely frustrating at times especially when I am buying sometimes 3+ kg without a discount. The fruit in the Mekong Delta was very fair priced even in November when mangos were more scarce they were still about 1USD for 3 large ones.
If you are planning a trip to south east asia or Vietnam make sure to include a few days in the Mekong Delta to taste and try many varieties of fruit you may have never seen before and be prepared to feast to your hearts content on fresh young coconuts. I could not resist to buy some fruit although I was only there for a few days. I am currently sitting on a bus to Ho Chi Minh City next to 3kg of clemintines, 2 kg of mangos, a few persimmons. PS: Can you guess the fruit above? I'll give you a hint. 1. It's best eaten yellow and spotty. 2. its the most popular fruit in the world.