The Best Time to Visit the Orchards
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The fruit gardens in particular and Mekong Delta in general are beautiful to travel all year round. However, if I have to pick one period, I would say summer is the best time to take Mekong Delta group tours to the orchards.
Summer is when the South steps into its wet season, hence, there would expect to be some seasonal rains. Still, the weather is rather pleasant to travel with a lot of dry and bright daylight hours. The average temperature is around 29, which is just perfect for a summer day. More importantly, summer is when the region goes into the harvest season. Being full of fresh ripening fruits, the orchards are in their best looks.
Cai Be Fruit Orchard, Tien Giang
Nestled on the north bank of Tien River, this is perhaps the most visited orchard in Mekong Delta group tours. Cai Be is embraced by a dense network of canals, thus the land is fertile all year round, creating a favorable condition to cultivate fruits to supply for both domestic and international markets. Cai Be is only about 70 kilometers from Saigon so it is quite convenient to reach there: you can go by bus, by motorbike, or by boat. The district currently has around 15,000 hectares of fruit gardens growing different kinds of fruits, namely Hoa Loc mango, Nam Roi pomelo, longan, king orange, durian, guava, apple, and mandarin. There are also some strange fruits with unique taste which are crossbred like the hybrid between mango and durian and the hybrid between mango and pomelo.
Another huge attraction of Cai Be is the floating market, which is one of the largest floating markets in the Southwest.
Cai Mon Fruit Orchard, Ben Tre
If Cai Be is the typical orchard of Tien Giang Province, Cai Mon Orchard is the leading representative of Ben Tre. Located in Cho Lach District, Cai Mon is the reputable source of fruits in Vietnam. Taking benefits of the pleasant weather conditions all year round and the rich soil fertilized by Co Chien and Ham Luong rivers, the gardens in Cai Mon assiduously and successfully cultivate plenty of fruits like durian, mango, pomelo, rambutan, longan, rose apple, etc. Especially, “buoi da xanh Hai Hoa” (Southwestern Vietnam – originated pomelo with green skin and pink flesh) and “sau rieng com vang hat lep Chin Hoa” (durian with yellow pulp and flat seeds) are two Cai Mon’s specialties that have gained formidable reputation in both domestic and international markets.
Ben Tre Province organizes the fruit festival in Cai Mon every summer (usually the first days of the 5th lunar month), creating an open and dynamic space for a promising trip. Travelers will take a tour around the orchards, try the fresh fruits, and listen to the locals about the process of producing visually attractive and tasty fruits while still maintaining the safety standards.
In addition to growing fruit trees, Cai Mon is also renowned for its bonsai and flower villages.
My Khanh Orchard, Can Tho
© Khánh Trung / Baocantho
As My Khanh is located between Cai Rang and Phong Dien floating markets, a Mekong Delta tour to this destination will not only allow travelers to visit the orchards but also enable you to observe the process of trading and sending fruits from the gardens to the floating markets. My Khanh Orchard has more than just a fruit garden: It is a worth-visiting destination for culture tours. Travelers can visit the ancient southwestern houses, listen and get to know more about “Don Ca Tai Tu” – the unique and priceless form of art created by the locals, or listen to the life story of the farmers in the traditional villages.
Currently, there are 20 orchards in My Khanh that boost traditional village tourism and homestay. Here travelers can get involved in several fancy games and activities. There are games for both individuals (bag jumping, cyclo paddling, etc.) and teams (wooden clog racing, monkey bridge crossing, crocodile catching, etc.). When the sun has gone to rest and the moon takes his place, it is campfire time. The intensity and excitement of the orange flames was like they were dancing under the moonlight, which is just mesmerizing to watch. You will be gathering around the campfire to play games and sing together.
“Cu Lao Thoi Son” (Thoi Son Islet), Tien Giang
Also known as “Con Lan” (Lan islet), Thoi Son Islet is nestled in the lower course of Tien River, Thoi Son Ward, My Tho City. It is not just a land of fresh fruits but an ideal destination for Mekong Delta group tours. Thai Son Islet covers an area of around 1,200 hectares with a dense network of canals and ditches and remains intact from mass tourism. However, the primary beauty and the fresh air of this land are still well preserved. Here tourists can row the boat along the small irrigation canals between bushy rows of willow trees to approach every corner of the orchards.
You can also visit the bee farm to see the locals gather honey from the hives and have a cup of sweet honey tea, or go to the coconut candy factory to try a chewy newly-made coconut candy. It would also be fantastic for visitors to jump into the shallow canals and catch fish with bare hands. These are experiences that city dwellers can hardly try in their ordinary life.
Shopping in the Market
It is better for tourists to carefully check the brand, origin, and date of any items before buying. It would also be great if you can assess the quality of the products by yourself in advance. The prices in the floating markets and the local shops are quite reasonable; however, you can still get a good deal if knowing how to bargain. And even though the southwestern people are usually seen as friendly, simple-minded, and honest, it is still advisable to be careful to avoid being robbed.
It is advisable that travelers should not bring along too much luggage for a Mekong Delta trip since it would be quite difficult to transport. The luggage should be as simple as possible, and it is better not to bring along precious jewelries and luxurious items. Electronic devices like smartphone, camera, and iPod should be wrapped in plastic bags in case they are dropped into water.
The weather in the Southwest is quite nice so there will be no need to bring thick clothes and jackets. Avoid wearing white or bright-colored clothes as it would get really dirty when playing games. About shoes, it is better to choose easy-to-put-on sandals and shoes such as rubber sandals, slippers, and waterproof shoes. An indispensable item for any Mekong Delta journey is a broad-brimmed hat which would protect you from the hot sunlight. Also, remember to bring along mosquito repellent because there are plenty of mosquitos here.