Cycling is a perfect way to experience real Vietnamese rural life, still unspoilt by modern day living. Your guided tour takes you past local farmers harvesting rice, children tending their buffalo and lush countryside scattered with Cambodian sugar palm trees. Full day tours include a lunch in a local home where you can witness the secrets of Vietnamese cooking and a visit to the Khmer pagodas and temples at the foot of Sam Mountain.
Half days are rated easy and cover 25 km, while full day tours cover 60 km and require a moderate level of fitness. Prices range from US$40 to US$73 per person (based on a min of two people) including private guide, transfers, bike hire and lunch.
On the river route between Cambodia and Vietnam, Chau Doc is an eclectic mix of Cham, Khmer, Vietnamese and Chinese communities. Today about 80% of the population worships a mixture of Buddhism and culture to ancestors, while Hinduism is still present in the many temples and pagodas as a remainder of the Champa Kingdom. This half day tour takes in sites of all three religions including a visit to Sam Mountain, a pilgrimage site for devout Buddhists with its traditional pagodas secluded in caves and fantastic views across the delta and Cambodian border. From US$62 per person.
Mekong life river tour
The river here close to the Cambodian border is a hive of activity with vast numbers of boats of all shapes and sizes constantly passing by. Explore like a local on a sampan, a traditional fishing boat, departing from the hotel’s private pier to explore canals lined with wooden and banana leaf houses and peaceful backwaters which snake off the mighty Mekong River, to floating fruit markets and Cham villages where life goes on as it has for centuries. This half day tour costs US$ 18 per person
The Tra Su forest and wetlands has been turned into an 845 hectare nature reserve and bird-watching haven. Over 106 species of birds can be found at the nature reserve including thousands of Little Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons and a large breeding colony of the rare Asian Openbill. Visitors may also see oriental darters, red-collared doves, little cormorants and purple herons. Colonies of bats, turtles, snakes and freshwater fish also live in the forest and meandering canals. Victoria Chau Doc Hotel can arrange bird watching tours from July to January but the best time to visit is during the high water season (August to November), when the forest’s canals are flooded and turned emerald by the clusters of water ferns, lotus flowers and water lilies, cultivated by local farmers. A five hour tour costs US$53 per person (based on two participants) including transfers, private guide, boat cruise and entrance fees.
Your stylish base
The four star Victoria Chau Doc Hotel provides Vietnam’s most stylish window onto life on the Mekong Delta. Built in a French colonial design, the hotel has the best location in town, with breathtaking views across the Three River Crossing to floating villages, markets and the giant riverfront statue of a basa fish, the local catfish which is both a local livelihood and favourite meal. The Victoria Chau Doc Hotel features 92 wood floored rooms, including four suites, most offering spectacular views of the river. Each room combines the elegance of traditional Vietnamese handicraft and colonial old world charm. The Victoria Spa, located on the rooftop terrace of the hotel, offers panoramic views over the river as does the swimming pool and alfresco dining area.
The hotel also runs a fleet of speedboats to take guests on the five-hour trip from Chau Doc to the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Rooms start from US$140 a night. www.victoriahotels.asia
Until September Victoria Chau Doc is offering 25% off and a free Mekong life river tour when you stay two nights. The Great Holiday Collection has a 6 day package from £997pp including accommodation at Victoria Can Tho and Chau Doc, breakfast, international flights and private transfers with a bonus free tour of Chau Doc’s canals and floating villages.
Note to Editors:
Emirates will launch its first route to Vietnam on 4th June, flying to Ho Chi Minh City from a range of UK airports. The airline operates 15 flights a day from the UK (Heathrow, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Glasgow) to Dubai where passengers can connect to the daily service to Vietnam.
Emirates (0844 800 2777 / www.emirates.com/uk) offers a return Economy Class flight from London Gatwick to Ho Chi Minh City from £595 per person including taxes.
Victoria Hotels & Resorts is a Vietnamese-owned collection of six luxury retreats distinguished for their natural design and great locations in the most fascinating and scenic areas of Vietnam and Cambodia.
The group also offers some of the best ways to explore its stunning locations, from operating the luxury Victoria Express Train from Hanoi to the Victoria Sapa Resort & Spa in the remote northwest highlands, to sidecar safaris in vintage motorcycles from the Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort.
In the Mekong Delta there is a converted rice barge which cruises the great inland waterways from the colonial style Victoria Can Tho Hotel and the Victoria Speedboats which transport guests from the Victoria Chau Doc hotel past lush countryside and bamboo-stilt houses to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa has three vintage Citroën cars which run private tours to the temples of Angkor, around Siem Reap and nearby beauty spots such as Tonle Sap Lake. www.victoriahotels.asia
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