The world’s renowned travel guide, the Lonely Planet, has rated Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region ninth out of the top 10 destinations for 2012.
“Vietnam’s rice basket, the Mekong River Delta is a watery landscape of green fields and sleepy villages, everywhere crisscrossed by the brown canals and rivulets fed by the mighty Mekong River,” the Lonely Planet said in its website
The inhabitants of this region – friendly and easygoing people – have long toiled on the life-sustaining river, with the fruits of their labour depending on natural cycles that govern the waterways.
The delta, which produces enough rice to supply the domestic market and a sizable surplus, was formed by sediment from the Mekong River over many years. The process continues today, with silt deposits extending the shoreline by as much as 80m per year. The river is so large that it has two daily tides.
Lush with rice paddies and fish farms, this delta also nourishes the cultivation of sugarcane, fruit, coconuts and shrimp.
Although the area is primarily rural, it is one of the most densely populated regions in Vietnam and nearly every hectare is intensively farmed.
“The uniquely southern charm with its welcoming introduction to life along the river is the real draw, and visitors can explore quaint riverside towns, sample fruits bartered in the colourful floating markets or dine on home-cooked delicacies before overnighting as a homestay guest,” it said.
Other highlights include visits to local orchards, flower markets and fish farms. There are also bird sanctuaries, beach getaways and impressive Khmer pagodas in the region.
In addition to highlighting the Mekong Delta as one of the top ten best destinations, the travel guide also said that Vietnam is always a good value destination for tourists.
The nine other top destinations include the northeast of the US, San Francisco, Japan, Tajikistan, Porto in Portugal, Lesotho in southern Africa, Iquitos in Peru, Ohrid in Macedonia and Merida, Mexico.
Earlier, the US Tourism Association (USTOA) named Vietnam as a top destination for 2012.