Tourists help farmers harvest rice during a Mekong Delta farm tour.
Intrepid travelers across Vietnam are stepping out of their stuffy offices and fleeing the noisy, crowded city for a taste of life on the farm.
Farm Tours in the Mekong Delta have taken off, with weary city dwellers opting to enjoy the quiet, space and freshness of the rice paddies alongside local farmers.
More than 250 kilometers southwest from Ho Chi Minh City, is An Giang Province’s Long Xuyen Town, a busy commercial hub along the Hau River, a major Mekong distributary. But a 20- minute ferry ride across the river, reveals the peaceful farming village of My Hoa Hung Islet, a popular destination for tourists wanting a taste of the simpler Vietnam.
On the ferry ride approaching the village, the water is peppered with fish cages and the shoreline dotted with rice paddies and fruit and vegetable orchards by which local residents make their livings.
Tourists who would like to book farm tours should contact the Farm Tour Office:
6A, Le Loi Street, My Binh Ward, Long Xuyen Town, An Giang Province Phone: (076) 3 955 931 (076) 6 271 931
Farm tourists walk with local farmers through the shaded paths of the orchards and accompany them on the water to help breed and catch fish. Farmers teach the visitors proper cultivation technique and let them do the fishing, hoeing and plowing themselves. Tourists have even been known to get their hands dirty handling manure at the mango and cherry orchards.
Chau Van Ly, deputy chairman of Vietnam Farmers’ Union’s An Giang branch, said tourists liked to contribute during their travels by breaking a little sweat farming rice.
Thanh Tung, a representative from An Giang Province’s Farm Tour Management Board, said all farming families selected to host the specialized tours were trained to speak English.
And the homes that accommodate the travelers have also been upgraded for comfort, he said.
“Taking care of our plants and wandering the islet is pretty exciting for tourists,” said Dinh, head of one of the farm tour host families.
After a “hard day’s work,” tourists can relax and enjoy the quiet atmosphere by wandering the islet’s orchard lined paths in the afternoon. They can also drop into street-side restaurants to enjoy cheap local snacks like fertilized duck eggs. They’ll also be served large home-cooked meals at their host families’ houses.
Not far from My Hoa Hung is Tinh Bien District’s Van Giao Commune, an ethnic Khmer community in the foothills.
At Van Giao, farming tours offer travelers the chance to enjoy traditional Khmer music, said Thanh Tung from the Farm Tour Office.
He said the trips were extra exciting if they coincide with local Khmer weddings, festivals, or other community events.
Tourists in Van Giao can also visit brocade weavers and household factories that make lap xuong (Chinese sausage), banh canh (southern pork noodle soup), and mam (fermented fish sauce).
If tourists visit An Giang during high-tide, they can help harvest bong dien dien (sebania sesban flowers), also known as Egyptian peas, and water lilies. Local residents use the plants to make special dishes.