Day 1: Saigon - Cai Be:
Pick up at your hotel in Saigon City and drive to Cai Be.
On arrival in Cai Be, boarding your luxury wooden boat, the Mekong Queen to visit the colorful Cai Be floating market, one of the many well-known and the biggest floating markets in the western region of southern Vietnam, which was formed during the Nguyen Dynasty in the 19th century. The market is always busy, bearing all the characteristics of the local’s life in the Mekong region. All the goods are transported to the market by boats. The floating market lies in the Tien (Upper) river, and is divided into two parts: buying and selling places. Rafts and boats are anchored along the two sides of the river for kilometers. From the floating market, goods are shifted for selling at inland markets or small boats take them for delivery along canals in the Plain of Reeds. Approximately 400 to 500 boats filled with fruits, vegetables, and other products are anchored here and make it very busy from 05:00 am in the morning until late in the afternoon. Traders live on the river and some link their lives with boats like their mobile houses for generations. The products are hung on a pole in front of the boat to attract customers and it is also easier for customers to see the products they want to buy from a far and no need to go from one boat to another to save their time.
After the Cai Be floating market, you will then continue the cruise to a local factory to visit and learn how pop rice, pop corn, rice paper and coconut candies are made. You also have an opportunity to taste these products, served with hot green tea. Returning to the Mekong Queen for a 50 minute cruise to Dong Hoa Hiep island and discover the beautiful and peaceful sceneries together with the typical life of the region along the Mekong river. Stops for visits and photos taken can be made during the excursion.
Taking a 10 minute walk through a local village and fruit gardens, you will be able to stop at a local family scaled Longan process factory, where you have another opportunity to take photo of and interact with the so friendly and hard working local people before coming to an old Mandarin house, built hundred years ago and it is where at least four generations of the family have been living. A so delicious Vietnamese lunch will be served by the owner, Mrs. Kiet. One of the highlights after lunch is to walk around the orchard to get to know what the main contribution to the economy of her family is based on.
Return to the Mekong Queen by walking or taking a small rowing Sampan for another 50 minute cruise on the main river and canals to Mr. Mai Quoc Nam family to visit the orchard and have a talk with the family about the economic growth of the family itself and of the Mekong region. An optional one hour cycling tour to Mr. Sau Giao family to visit his famous Bonsai garden, which he has spent his whole life to train and take care of, then you will have another opportunity to try snake wine and the others while enjoying seasonal fruit.
Back to one of the local families to do check in your home stay, then the balance of the day will be at leisure on your own or take a walk around the village yourselves for more discovery of the area before dinner. The family will be your host for this evening and tell you more about the typical life in the Mekong region. Another option is to go down the kitchen for part of the cooking class if you wish. A traditional music show, called Tai Tu will be performed by the locals after dinner in a quiet Bonsai garden while hot green tea will be served by your hosts. Over night at local house
Day 2: Vinh Long - Saigon
After breakfast, you start walking on a small trail along the river to see the daily life of the locals, and visit the village market which is just held early in the morning for the so busy farmers to buy things for the day. The market is also a place where you can interact with and take photo of the locals. Afterwards, you bid farewell to your hosts and take your morning boat trip to Vinh Long. Stop on the way to visit Mr. Tam Ho (No.8 Tiger) family and take a walk around his nursery garden to learn how the seedlings of several tropical fruit trees are grown in order to provide to almost all farmers in the area. You then continue the excursion to the handicraft village to visit a ceramic tile factory, a tofu and fish sauce factory, a blacksmith’s, a roof Thatcher’s and a rice husking factory which are all run by the local families and also one of the places where some local people can earn their living.
Getting back to the Mekong Queen to cruise to Vinh Long where you board your vehicle to drive back to Saigon. The excursion will end at the Vinh Long pier around 12:00 noon.