Thanks to a recommendation from our friends, Eddie and Jen, we finally decided to visit another part of Vietnam that we hadn't yet been to! We always wanted to see the Can Tho floating market, so when they told us how much they loved the 3-day bike tour with Sinh Balo Tours
, we decided to give it a try.
Our 3 day journey in the Mekong area had us riding about 130km along quiet village roads and bike/motorbike trails that run amid various farms and fields.
Day 1 (Saigon–LongAn–MyTho–VinhLong ~43 km)
Our first day was pretty busy. Our guide, Loc, picked us up at our Ho Chi Minh hostel at 8am and we drove about an hour out of the city to begin our biking adventure with another couple from Denmark.
The first 25 km were though rice fields.
Along the way, we stopped at a factory to see how rice noodles are made.
Then the van then drove us 30 minutes to a local vegetarian restaurant where we ate an assortment of delicious local dishes.
After lunch, we did another 18 km before taking a couple of boat rides to enjoy the beautiful sunset. We crossed over to a smaller fruit-farm island where we tasted several types of local fruits and home-made "happy water".
At our homestay we ate some fresh seafood that our guide purchased from local fishermen during our boat ride along the river.
Day 2 (VinhLong to CanTho ~50 km)
Another busy day packed with interesting sights and fun/unique experiences, starting with breakfast at 8am and then back onto the bikes!
We stopped at:
a market where you can buy skinned frogs... that are still alive :(
several fruit plantations: Banana, Rambutan, LongAn, Pomelo, Papaya, Durian, etc.
a Khmer temple
another delicious lunch at a local restaurant in the middle of nowhere :)
Since it was nearing the end of the Chinese New Year (Tet) holiday, we saw (and heard) several small house parties blasting loud, distorted Karaoke through the normally serene farm fields.
Our guide took an unexpected turn into one of the local homes along the way. Apparently he decided to stop in to "say hi" to some locals he had met here while scouting routes for the bike tour. The locals welcomed us all in as though we were good old friends, and offered us typical Tet celebration foods such as candy, biscuits, fruits with chili-salt, "happy water", and some dog-stew.
One of the locals grabbed his guitar and they all started singing for us. The best part was that it felt so local, authentic, and unscripted - a very rare experience when you're on a tour!
After our last ride, our butts hurting. When we finally arrived at our guest house, we thought the days was over, but no… we had a 1 hour shower break and then it was time for a little cooking lesson! The owner of the guest house taught us to make yummy Spring Rolls and Vietnamese pancakes. After dinner, we all crashed… exhausted, but happy.
Day 3 (Can Tho to Saigon ~35 km)
We woke up early and hopped onto a boat to visit the Can Tho floating market. We originally thought the market was where locals go to buy food, but it turns out that it's actually a wholesale market where farmers sell their fruits and vegetables to middle-men who then transport the food to other areas of Vietnam. Our guide told us the minimum orders are somewhere between 50 and 100 KG.
There were a handful of smaller boats selling food for the hard-working traders.
We returned to shore and biked 16km through the suburb of Can Tho. This section was well paved, so our butts were happy :).
Our last ride 20km ride was to a Pomelo farm where we stopped to pick our own Pomelo.
After a quick drive back to Ho Chi Minh, our trip concluded.
Overall we had an amazing time and we were extremely impressed with the organization of our tour. Tthe bikes were in great condition, the group was small and felt very personalized and most of the activities didn't feel overly-touristy. In particular, we felt especially lucky to get Loc as our guide, as it really felt like he put a lot of effort into showing us as many local and authentic experiences as possible.
Thanks Eddie and Jen, for recommended the trip to us! We also highly recommend it to anyone else thinking of visiting the area!!