Miracles of the Mekong
Immerse yourself in Southern Vietnam's Wet Lands, The Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta is one of the most fascinating and culturally-rich areas in the world, let alone Vietnam, and it blooms into vivid, miraculous life during the October flooding season. On this 10 day photo adventure, we’ll explore the very best this region has to offer, from Saigonese street photography to awe-inspiring riverside brick factories, from bustling water markets to tranquil mangrove forest, and the unforgettable highlight of the Khmer Ox Racing Festival in An Giang. Our journey takes us out towards the coast, where we’ll spend time photographing Can Gio’s rustic fishing communities. Along the way, we’ll develop a visual story of life in all its variety and color on the mighty Mekong.
This is a premium photographic adventure, and we’ll enjoy the best accommodation available in the region, from stylish bamboo eco-lodges to riverside resorts. We’ll also taste the most delicious cuisine in a part of the world already renowned for its culinary excellence.
Our close connection to the people of this region, local friendships and many years of experience give us unparalleled access to the authentic life of the ethnic minorities and the area’s most stunning vistas. As working photographers and journalists, with many years of teaching experience, we provide you unique insights and knowledge about Vietnam and photographic storytelling.
The Mekong Delta is the jewel of the south. Slow and extremely relaxed. expect to be overwhelmed with color set against the earthly tones of muddy water banks and rivers. The Miracles of the Mekong is a photographic adventure which involves moderate activity: travelers should be in good health, comfortable walking or standing for extended periods, and prepared for several hours of activity on some days. Excursions may include navigating uneven terrain, and walking on paths with steep ascents/descents.
Flights arrive at various times of day. You’ll be greeted at the airport by your photographer guide and driver and taken to your hotel. We’ll have our first get-together this evening with a welcome dinner and tour orientation.
We’ll have a photographic exploration of two areas of Saigon in the morning, with our Down in Chinatown tour and District 7 walk The River’s Edge. In the afternoon, we leave for Long Xuyen, in the Mekong Delta. Overnight near Long Xuyen.
We wake at dawn for our first market of the tour – and this one is on water. Long Xuyen floating market is one of the most colorful and authentic markets of its kind in the Mekong Delta. We’ll be working on a photographic story about the market, including a variety of images to capture the color and chaos of the event. After breakfast, we head over to Tri Ton, where preparations are afoot for the Ox racing festival. We’ll spend the day photographing the arriving participants and set-up for the event.
We have a full day photographing the opening selection round of the Ox racing festival, known as ‘Hu’. The competitors warm up and show their skills to the audience, steering the oxen round the raceground. This also gives us an opportunity to get our composition, angles, locations and settings right for the following day’s finals. There’s plenty to shoot throughout the day, including portraits of the competitors with their trusty oxen.
We’ll rise early to beat the crowds and capture the drama at the raceground. The final round is called ‘Tha’, and we’ll be focusing on images of all the spills and thrills, plus the spectators at this traditional event. In the afternoon we’ll explore some Khmer villages specializing in traditional weaving, before heading over to the fascinating multi-cultural border town of Chau Doc. Overnight near Chau Doc.
Chau Doc has a fascinating floating market of its own, and we’ll get up early for a sunrise shoot among the boats and traders. After breakfast, we head out for Tra Su Cajuput forest, via road 943, and several classical Mekong villages and a canal where we’ll stop for shots of local life. At Tra Su, we’ll enjoy a beautiful, extremely photogenic boat ride through flooded mangroves. We’ll capture sunrise from spectacularly-set Nui Sam mountain.
Today we head over to Sa Dec, a sleepy French colonial town, famous for its setting in a novel by Marguerite Duras. The town retains much of its old charm, with plenty of crumbling colonial architecture, a market, and of course classic riverside life. We’ll explore the town on foot, in particular photographing the farmers at work in the town’s famed flower gardens. In the afternoon, we travel to Mang Thit, an epic complex of traditional brick factories which make for stunning images of working life in the Mekong, against a truly awe-inspiring backdrop. We overnight at nearby Vinh Long.
We depart early for Long An. We’ll visit the atmospheric Tan Lap floating village, where we can photograph lotus ponds deep within the forest. The afternoon will include a longboat trip and visit to local beekeepers, an opportunity to document aspects of working local life. We overnight at a stilt house ecolodge within the forest.
We travel by road to Can Gio, where we’ll visit mangroves and a bird sanctuary to capture images of birds in flight. In the afternoon, we take a boat to a nearby island, where we’ll explore traditional fishing villages. This is a great location for portraits of the fishing community, at work with their nets, returning from the sea, or simply spending time with family and friends. Overnight in Can Gio.
We return to Saigon in the morning, enjoying a final lunch before flights depart in the evening.
- Digital Camera or Film Camera
- Selections of lens
- Cable release
- Memory cards
- ND Graduated filters
- Storage device
Throughout the trip, we stay in quality 4 & 5 star hotels or the best mountain eco-lodges available locally. In some places there are shared bathroom facilities. There is a surcharge for single bookings. If you are open to sharing with someone outside your group, we will do our best to make sure your preferences are met
The detailed list of accommodation for the tour is –
Saigon – TBC
Long Xuyen – TBC
Chau Doc – TBC
Vinh Long – TBC
Long An – Stilt House Ecolodge
Can Gio – TBC
Throughout the tour we travel by comfortable, air-conditioned 16 seat private minibus. There will be enough room in the vehicle to carry our maximum 5 guests, guide, driver, luggage and camera gear. Please however bring a maximum of 1 large suitcase, small daypack and/or camera bag.
Pricing and Dates
Prices are per person based on double occupancy and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the tour. Single supplement is available at $TBC per person. On private tours, surcharges may apply to certain travel dates based upon international or local holidays, as well as local events and festivals. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and are subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.
Early Bird Bookings
We offer an early bird discount of 5% if tour bookings are made at least 12 months in advance of departure.
We take an initial holding deposit of $500 per person, which is non-refundable. The remainder is due 3 months in advance of the departure date. We also confirm tour departure at this point, and people can go ahead and book flights.
Tour cancellations incur a fee based on your time of notice before the tour commences.
The time frame and fees for cancellations are as follows –
90 to 61 days before departure is 25% of the trip price.
60 to 46 days before departure is 50% of the trip price.
45-0 days prior to departure is 100% of the trip price.
We take a maximum number of 5 guests per tour leader. With larger groups we will split between 2 tour leaders
Tour departures will be confirmed 3 months in advance, and depend on a minimum number of guests. Guests should not book flights until they receive confirmation of the tour departure.
This is a small private group tour with designated departure dates. However we can tailor this tour or something similar to your required dates.
- Transfers upon arrival and departure
- Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
- All transportaion
- Meals as indicated in the itinerary
- Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
- All gratuities
- local guides and government permits
What's not included
- Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
- Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
- Alcoholic beverages